January 15, 2018 by missionsandmysticism
“Only those who have learned well to be earnestly dissatisfied with themselves, and to be confounded with shame at their wretchedness truly understand the Christian gospel.”
– John Calvin
Lately, we have heard from quite a few people, (referred to us by Berean Research’s article on AIM) that are concerned about the effect false teaching has had on their families and friends connected with AIM. It saddens us because, for those families, the road to undo what has been taught their children or other loved ones may be long and painful…though not without hope that God’s truth can prevail.
While on the World Race (or any of AIM’s trips), not only are young people far from their church and family, but they are under the influence of men and women who are not teaching from a firm foundation of Scripture. The Bible mandates “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God.” (1 John 4:1) Scripture also lauds the “noble Bereans” (Acts 17:11) who tested and examined the scripture.
Seth Barnes, leader of Adventures in Missions, announced on his blog a class he would lead, “A free course: Learning how to cope with pain”. In an effort to emulate the Bereans we evaluated the first class in light of scripture. Titled, “Becoming aware of our brokenness”
(the post was originally title “We are broken because Christ is broken” as evidenced by the link… http://www.sethbarnes.com/post/we-are-broken-because-christ-is-broken)
Seth says, “I’ve asked God why it’s so important that we embrace our brokenness. He showed me that he takes us into brokenness in part to make us whole, and in part so that we can become more fully a member of the body of Christ.
Jesus was broken for us. And his body (that’s us, the body of Christ), is broken insofar as we don’t function as a unit – we work in isolation, but rarely in the coordinated way that we were intended to function.”
Seth claims a one on one conversation with God for his teaching. This claim is not able to be tested, of course, so how should one discern if his words are from God? We must go to Scripture, our unquestioned authority, to determine whether what God supposedly said to Seth contradicts God’s Word. If it does, the Bible would declare Seth a false teacher. (Jeremiah 23:16)
First, we disagree with Seth, we don’t become broken because Christ was broken. He became broken because we were broken (under the weight of sin). Seth assumes brokenness is ongoing in the life of a believer, but in salvation Christ has healed our brokenness. Seth does not use the term “broken” correctly. Did God tell him this then?
What does Scripture say? In the Old Testament, brokenness can refer to grief, despair, hopelessness, suffering, (Job 17:1, Proverbs 15:13, Jer 23:9).
It is also used in recognition of guilt as we are aware of our sinfulness before a Holy God. (Psalm 51:8). In the same Psalm, verse 14, David cries under this brokenness, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.”
Alistair Begg writes, “Observe that David was evidently oppressed with the heinousness of his sin. It is easy to use words, but it is difficult to feel their meaning. The fifty-first Psalm is the photograph of a contrite spirit. Let us seek to display the same brokenness of heart; because no matter how excellent our words may be, if our heart is not conscious of the hell-deservingness of sin, we cannot expect to find forgiveness.”
Interestingly, the New Testament never refers to brokenness with regard to anyone, not Christ, the believer nor the unbeliever. The Greek word for broke (klao) in the passages where Christ refers to the bread symbolizing His physical body only refers to the breaking of bread…not spirits, bodies or objects. (Acts 20:11, Acts 27:35, Matt 14:19)
Luke 22:19 “And He took the bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is GIVEN for you. Do this is remembrance of Me.” Christ’s physical body was, at this point, standing before them, the disciples could not have missed the metaphor of bread representing His body not being His actual body.
Jesus was not broken at the Cross. His physical bones were not broken (Ps 34:20, John 19:26) and He was not broken in Spirit, He died with a shout of strength, not a broken whimper. (Mark 15:37-39)
Was Christ forsaken on behalf of the forsaken? Yes. Was he made sin on behalf of sinners? Yes. (2 Cor 5:21) However, Seth uses the word broken to mean something other than sin.
In the last paragraph he writes, “Most of us feel disconnected in life. We long for closer friends, better church, and greater intimacy. To get there, we have to first connect with our brokenness.”
Do we need to “connect with our brokenness” as Seth says before God can make us whole? Only if we connect an attitude of brokenness with sin as displayed in Acts 2:37-40 “Now when they heard this, they were cut (stabbed, grief, remorse, intense spiritual conviction) to the heart…what shall we do? And Peter said, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.'”
God does not leave us broken!! He saves us (John 3:16-17), delivers us from wrath (John 3:18) , gives us His Spirit (Rom 5:5) makes us new creations, (2 Cor 5:17) and causes us to walk in a new pattern of life (Rom 6:4). We are not made sinless in behavior, but we are fundamentally changed.
If salvation produces no change in our lives we have no reason to believe we are saved. Is God so inept as to leave us as we were before? Is His seed in us so powerless? “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” 1 John 3:9
In Romans, Paul rejects the idea that true believers continue in sin and then go on to praise God for His forgiveness, a common teaching in certain circles today. Romans 6:1-2 says, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” Sin describes the old life and righteousness must describe the new. A believer has a new nature, although still wrapped in unredeemed flesh and still with an ongoing struggle against sin daily. Before salvation, we cannot win the battle, but after we have been given a new nature we can! We should not expect to connect with our brokenness as a believer; we are freed if we are in Christ!! Brokenness should NOT be considered a normal pattern for a believer. The New Testament refers to believers not as broken but as “holy ones” or “set apart ones”. Sin is no longer our master, we are slaves to Christ and righteousness.
The Church is not the assembly of the broken, but of the (spiritually) healed!! He has not left His children helpless and broken. For Seth to say this is what God showed him is the ultimate contradiction with what God’s Word says and undermines the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of those He is sanctifying.
What about this statement from Seth? “Jesus was broken for us. And his body (that’s us, the body of Christ) is broken…”
Was Christ broken is the same way Seth defines? To say Christ became lonely, discontent, or lacking anything good would make Him less than God.
Seth assumes that whatever is true of Christ’s physical body is true to the church body (i.e. The people of God must be broken because Christ’s physical body was broken.) This is not defensible by Scripture. The terms cannot be used interchangeably. The “body of Christ” (referring to the church) was not offered as a sacrifice for sin. Christ’s physical body was not made up of Jew and Gentile as the church “body” is.
Col 1:18 says, “He is the head of the body, the church” and Eph 1:23 “and He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is his body…” This is a clear metaphor for God’s redeemed people. The physical body of Christ cannot be used interchangeably with the metaphorical “body” of Christ, the church. Christ’s physical body was clearly not the same as the church body.
Seth’s teaching undermines sin, undermines Christ’s sacrifice for sin, and puts the emphasis on our “felt needs“. This is dangerous teaching. Sadly, nowhere in the “free course” on dealing with pain does Seth share the Gospel. Here is a more biblical lesson from Pastor Voddie Baucham in place of Seth’s misguided teaching. It is excellent! Straight from the written word of God.
Here is the simple truth.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” 1 Tim 1:15-16
That is our problem. Christ is the only solution.
“There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12
Again, we are grateful for our seminary friend in helping us think through these truths, pointing to Scripture for all the truth and power to expose lies. We pray it is helpful to some. Give Glory to our God, who has not left His children broken!
Many faithful churches, pastors, parents and young people are missing the evidence of error in Seth Barnes and Adventures in Missions teaching. The lack of discernment shown by the churches and families of hundreds (thousands?) of young adults being sent out with AIM is very concerning.
We were once one of these families, having trusted that a “Christian” mission organization with a seemingly standard evangelical statement of faith would not harbor false teaching at it’s core and in it’s practice.