False Teaching Friday – Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative prayer has become increasingly popular in the church. What is it? Surely prayer is good, right? Prayer is good if it is prayer as taught to us in the Bible. However, contemplative prayer cannot be found in the Scriptures, but rather was developed by the Desert Fathers during ancient church history.  According to the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society, the definition of contemplative prayer is: “Contemplative Prayer is a prayer of silence, an experience of God’s presence as the ground in which our being is rooted, the Source from whom our life emerges at every moment…. Contemplative Prayer is the opening of mind and heart – our whole being – to God, the Ultimate Mystery, beyond thoughts, words and emotions. We open our awareness to God whom we know by faith is within us, closer than breathing, closer than thinking, closer than choosing – closer than consciousness itself.” (source) 

Contemplative prayer, also known as listening prayer, is used in an effort to “hear from God.” One quiets the mind in order to hear what God has to say. While this was primarily among Roman Catholic monks and mystics, it has been brought into Protestantism through proponents such as Richard Foster in his book Celebration of Discipline (Foster was influenced by Thomas Merton, a Roman Catholic Trappist monk who was drawn to mystical practices in Hinduism and Buddhism). This practice incorporates Eastern meditation techniques, such as the repeating of a word or phrase in order to enter a trance-like state or altered state of consciousness. Former New Agers tell us that this is what they would do to contact their spirit guide when they were in the New Age! The Bible forbids contacting mediums or sorcerers (Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Biblical prayer is our communicating with God, not His communicating with us. God communicates to us through His Word, the Bible.

Others have done a much better job at explaining what contemplative prayer is and why it is not biblical. I urge you to take a look at these articles to see why this practice is so dangerous and why it is one that we must not participate in if we are to follow God’s Word.

Contemplative Prayer at Berean Research

Contemplative Prayer by Gary Gilley at Southern View Chapel

Contemplative Prayer at Christian Answers for the New Age

Contemplative Prayer by Sola Sisters

Sola Sisters interview regarding her experience with contemplative prayer

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Anthropology – The Study of Man

Man was created in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27 (ESV) tells us, “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 2 gives more detail on human creation. “then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (Genesis 2:7 ESV) “The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:20-22 ESV) Both man and woman were created without sin (“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1:31a ESV).

Humanity started off in perfection, with an unbroken relationship with God and each other. But then they chose to sin, breaking God’s command, and thus died spiritually (and eventually physically). From then on, all humans are born with a sin nature and an inability to live righteously on their own. Hamartiology is the theological study of sin, while Soteriology is the study of salvation and how God planned for the redemption of those He chose. We will look at each of those theological disciplines in separate posts.

While man is now affected by sin, he still bears the image of God. This is why Christians have such a high view of human life, for we bear God’s image. All human life is precious because of this. Our doctrine or belief on man affects how we treat other people. If we believe that all humans are created in God’s image, we will treat them differently than we would if we think they are just a higher version of the animals. That is why it is important to recognize that man is a created being, not just something that evolved from lower life forms.

Further Resources:
Anthropology – SV Chapel
Articles on Anthropology from Monergism
The Nature of Man by R.C. Sproul

Wednesday Worship

Zayin

Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that your promise gives me life.
The insolent utterly deride me,
but I do not turn away from your law.
When I think of your rules from of old,
I take comfort, O Lord.
Hot indignation seizes me because of the wicked,
who forsake your law.
Your statues have been my songs in the house of my sojourning.
I remember your name in the night, O Lord,
and keep your law.
This blessing has fallen to me,
that I have kept your precepts.

Psalm 119:49-56 (ESV)

Monday Meat – Ephesians 2: Before and After

After all the rich, spiritual blessings talked about in chapter 1, Paul reminds his readers that before all this lavish grace was heaped on them, they were spiritually dead. They were part of the world that followed Satan (see also 2 Corinthians 4:4, “the god of this age”). Satan is described here as the prince of the power of the air and the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience. We were once among them. All we knew was our sin; it was how we knew to live. We were dead and saw nothing wrong with the world or our lifestyle. Paul switches from ‘you’ to ‘we’, indicating that he also was once dead, just like they were. All we knew were the passions of our flesh, our earthly desires, what made us feel good. We lived for our desires – both physical and mental (“the body and the mind”). Our very nature was children of wrath. God’s wrath was against us in our sins for His holiness cannot tolerate sin. “like the rest of mankind” tells us that the whole world is in this state, passionate about their own desires and eager to live for self. We don’t have to look very far around us to see this played out in our world. Man is self-centered and is his own god.

This chapter brings out the whole “death to life” idea. “Before this, now this” compares the past with the present. Paul is reminding his readers of what they once were and what they now are. We appreciate the grace of God so much more when we understand how totally depraved and dead we were in our sins. This chapter contains some of the most well-known verses explaining the gospel, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (verses 8-9). The early verses in the chapter explain why we could not attain this on our own for we “were dead in our trespasses and sins”. A dead person has no life, no ability on their own to accept God. Once again in this chapter we see the phrase “in Christ”, a reminder that all this is because of Jesus Christ and not ourselves.

The “before and after” concept is seen in the “were dead” and “made alive” along with the “far off” and “brought near” found in verse 13. Comparing and contrasting is one of the things we look for when studying a passage. The idea of being separated and alienated is talked about, followed up with peace and being made one. Read through chapter 2 and write down all the contrasts that are given.

Next week we’ll continue our look at chapter 2 of Ephesians.

False Teaching Friday

Introducing a new segment here at Solid Food Ministries – False Teaching Friday. Part of growing to maturity is learning discernment and developing the ability to compare all teachings with Scripture to make sure that they line up. This is often referred to as being “Bereans” based on Acts 17:11 where it tells us, “Now these Jews [referring to the Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Even Paul was checked against Scripture! We need to not be so attached to a particular teacher that we neglect to compare what they teach against the truths of Scripture.

For this segment, we won’t necessarily be looking at specific teachers as much as the actual teachings that are false but have infiltrated the American evangelical church. Some teachers will be named as examples of those who promote a false teaching, but the primary focus will be on the actual teaching itself which is false. The Bible tells us that false teachers will come and we must be aware. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (ESV)

Other passages that talk about false teaching coming into the church and admonishing us to be alert and discerning:

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

“For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (2 Peter 1:21-2:2 ESV)

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 3-4 ESV)

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14 ESV)

Let’s learn to be discerning and know our Bibles so that we can determine what is truth and what is false. Join us next week as we look at the first false teaching: Contemplative Prayer.

Pneumatology – The Study of the Holy Spirit

Oftentimes in conservative circles, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is neglected or downplayed. This is due in part to some of the excess that is seen in charismatic circles. Too often we go to one extreme or the other. But the Holy Spirit is God, one of the persons of the Trinity, and is to be worshipped just as we worship God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son of God. What does the Bible tell us about the Holy Spirit?

Genesis 1:2 is the first mention of the Spirit – “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” (ESV) All 3 persons of the Trinity were involved in the act of creation. The gospel of John tells us much about the Holy Spirit. In chapter 15 and verse 26 Jesus is talking to His disciples and tells them,  “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” The Holy Spirit bears witness of Christ. John 16 tells us more about what the Holy Spirit will do: “he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment:  concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (verses 8-11). John 16:13-14 continues, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” 

In the Christian’s life, the Holy Spirit is involved in various ways:

  • He dwells in us (Romans 8:9-11)
  • He helps our weakness and intercedes for us (Romans 8:26)
  • Upon salvation, He seals us, guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephesians 1:13-14)
  • He is building us (community of believers) into a dwelling place for God (Ephesians 2:22)
  • “He leads us and gives us assurance of our salvation” (from Strange Fire by John MacArthur) (Romans 8:14-16)
  • He produces fruit in our lives of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • He sanctifies us (1 Peter 1:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:13)

We will also look at the role of the Holy Spirit in salvation when we study soteriology.

Further Resources:
Pneumatology by Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel
The Holy Spirit by A.W. Pink
The Holy Spirit: Old Testament and Today by R.C. Sproul
The Ministry of the Holy Spirit at Grace to You
The Holy Spirit teaching series by R.C. Sproul

Wednesday Worship

Waw

Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
your salvation according to your promise;
then shall I have an answer for him who taunts me,
for I trust in your word.
And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
for my hope is in your rules.
I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever,
and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts.
I will also speak of your testimonies before kings
and shall not be put to shame,
for I find my delight in your commandments,
which I love.
I will lift up my hands toward your commandments,
which I love,
and I will meditate on your statues.

Psalm 119:41-48 (ESV)