A fool and his folly

Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned. Titus 3:10–11, NASB

Secular humanism, relativism, pluralism, et cetera are worldly philosophies that have invaded the visible Church. These ways of the world when applied to the Church are some of the things that “stirs up division” within the Body of Christ. Other things that cause this would be majoring in minors such as taking things from the Bible that are not explained in detail enough to be taken literally because they are given to us in an arbitrary fashion. Some take these minor points and make them major points in the gospel stirring up division. Also, some simply want to argue. They hate the truth and are not interested in it being explained to them in detail. These are the ones Paul was speaking of in Titus 3:10–11 (above). It is a total waste of time to contend with these people continually. There comes a time when, through God’s wisdom, that we move on and have nothing to do with these divisive people.

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All Scripture is breathed out by God

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16–17, NASB

Over the years that this blog has been online I have received numerous negative comments from people that I have never allowed to be posted. Why? It is because those who made those comments either do not bother to follow the rules clearly posted, which are assiduously enforced, or they have failed to read them. Their error is that they they attack what is posted here from sacred Scripture as truth, in context, clearly exposited and exegeted with innuendo, human philosophy, but never, I repeat, never do they go to God’s Word and make any attempt to show me where I have erred in my exegesis of the text. In fact, I cannot remember anyone ever doing that since this blog has been online, but I have received more attempts than I can remember to protest and derail the truth from God’s Word from the humanistic platform of outrage that God is Sovereign and they are not. One hot topic has always been the fact that sacred Scripture is the inspired Word of God and that makes it infallible and inerrant, but what makes it so abhorrent to those who insist on protesting, it also means that the truths it presents are God’s truths and that our sovereign God is going to hold all outside of the Body of Christ accountable to His Law and are, therefore, liable to His wrath. They, therefore, hate God’s truth and resist it as such hoping, I suppose, that this will somehow remove their liability.

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The Shepherd of the sheep

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. John 10:1–2, NASB

Just because a person claims to be a Christian does not mean that he or she is regenerate, justified, sanctified, or adopted into God’s family. Many base their standing as a Christian on religious acts they have done. Others claim salvation based upon their good words plus their religion. Tragically, there are also many, and more each day it seems, “Christian leaders” who preach and teach things that they portray as the Good News, but are, instead, only the result of marketing techniques. What is Jesus’ standard of being one of his shepherds? Look at the passage I placed at the top of this post. Who was Jesus speaking to when he made that statement? We have to back up a few verses for that.

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Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?

As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17, NASB

The natural man cannot conceive of eternal life coming to anyone who does not “earn” or somehow “deserve” it. Jesus’ teaching set the record straight, but many today still do not regard what He said. Even preachers and religious leaders have bent the truth and twisted it in such a way so as to provide a way for professing believers to have a “work” they could point back to that marks them as having done that one thing that enables them to inherit eternal life. The Kingdom of God is not earned by people who somehow elevate themselves higher than others through their good works or their religiosity. No, our Lord used children as examples whom He referred to this way, “For the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

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God must be the focus of all our worship and praise

Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. And while He was praying, the appearance of His face became different, and His clothing became white and gleaming. And behold, two men were talking with Him; and they were Moses and Elijah, who, appearing in glory, were speaking of His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and his companions had been overcome with sleep; but when they were fully awake, they saw His glory and the two men standing with Him. Luke 9:28–32, NASB

Much of this ministry is focused on exposing the makeup of the dividing line between genuine Christianity, that which is God centered, and counterfeit Christianity, that which is man centered. We will now look at the vast difference in how each side understands the concepts of God’s glory and the praise that is His due. The word most often translated as praise in the New Testament is δόξα or doxa. It is also translated even more often as glory. However, in secular Greek, δόξα means opinion or conjecture, especially favorable human opinion, which then includes an evaluation placed by others, such as fame, repute, honor, or praise. Is this what is meant in God’s Word when δόξα is used in reference to God’s glory and the praise that His due? I submit that that definition exactly defines most professing Christians’ understanding of praise and worship, but is not in any way shape or form Biblical δόξα.

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You are not under law but under grace

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be. Romans 6:14–15, NASB

Most of the formative years of my Christian walk were spent in one church from February 1987 through February 2000. During that time we had three pastors. I was in some form of teaching for most of that time. One of the things that always came up when we studied the Old Testament was Romans 6:14–15. It was as if someone always had to make sure that we were not being legalistic. They cast the law as far from them and our church as the East is from the West. Is that how we are to treat God’s Law?

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Bearing much fruit

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. John 15:1–8, NASB

Are Christians commanded to be fruitful? Are we to be productive in the Kingdom of God? Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. In v. 1 our Lord Jesus tells us that He is the vine and that His Father is the vinedresser. In v. 2 He makes it clear that there will always be professing Christians who are not genuine. How do we know this? They bear no fruit at all. They are lifeless branches that are taken away and burned. A person who does not bear fruit is not a true believer and will one day be taken away to an eternity in Hell. Here is v. 2 from the Greek: πᾶν κλῆμα ἐν ἐμοὶ μὴ φέρον καρπόν, αἴρει αὐτό, καὶ πᾶν τὸ καρπὸν φέρον, καθαίρει αὐτὸ, ἵνα πλείονα καρπὸν φέρῃ. The word used here that is translated as “bear” is φέρον the present active participle version of φέρω or pherō. In other words, this is talking about continuous or repeated action. Branches who bear no fruit (μὴ φέρον καρπόν), are so as a way of life. On the other hand, our Lord says that genuine branches in the vine who do bear fruit (καρπὸν φέρον) do so as a way of life and he adds that the Father prunes them in order to make them even more fruitful. Then, in vv. 5 and 8 we read that some branches will bear “much fruit.” In other words, some believers will be exceptionally more fruitful than others, but all genuine believers will be fruitful. How can we reach this “much more fruitful” level?

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Post tenebras lux

The Doctrine of Justification by Faith alone, or sola fide, was the key of the Protestant Reformation. Its recovery was from the darkness created by the dominance of man-made religiosity, which held that justification was accomplished through faith plus good works. This grew into people being required to do religious acts in order to be considered righteous. The driving force of the Reformation was captured by the Latin phrase post tenebras lux (after darkness, light).

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Fellowship/koinōnia

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42, NASB

Most of the churches I attended in my life had something called “fellowship” and some even had space dedicated to it called “fellowship hall” or something similar. We had time after “church” that was called “fellowship time” that always seemed to be a relaxed time of visiting together and just being friendly with each other outside of normal “church stuff.” In the New Testament the word that is translated as “fellowship” as in Acts 2:42 (above) is κοινωνια or koinōnia, which Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest has defined as, “joint participation in a common interest or activity.” Instead of simply a friendly time of visiting together or a coming together for relaxation, κοινωνια, then, is a partnership, a sharing of something in common.

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Preaching error and making confident assertions with seemingly full assurance

For some men, straying from these things, have turned aside to fruitless discussion, wanting to be teachers of the Law, even though they do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions. 1 Timothy 1:6–7, NASB

God is not the author of confusion. His truth is clear and discernable by the regenerate heart. On the other hand, our enemy, being the source of lies and deception, must create a climate in which what his false teachers expound is disguised as the truth and there will be attempts by those defending these false teachings to demand tolerance so that their error will not be open to detailed scrutiny. It is all a paradigm of smoke and mirrors. Rob Bell has taught, for instance, that it is wrong to use the Bible as our plumb line, our standard of truth. Whenever any of us address these things he says, out come his defenders with their smoke and mirrors attempting to redirect the focus from Bell to those demanding that he be held to account as a false teacher. They call us divisive and all sorts of other things in their attempt to deflect our scrutiny. The Church must withstand false teachers. Just because they preach with assurance does not mean they are right and that the source of what they are teaching is from God.

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The depths of God

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.” For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 1 Corinthians 2:6–10, NASB

I’m sure the title of this post struck some of you in a way hard to explain. When I first started this study, I could not help but think back on an investigation I did many years ago into some false teachings by a man who claimed that his ministry was based entirely “in the deep things of God.” That mysterious statement seemed to be used by him as a smokescreen to hide the fact that he was teaching rank heresy and that heresy was claimed by him to be coming to him as a direct revelation from God. Well, if that were true then it would indeed be “the deep things of God,” but what he was teaching was very shallow spiritually and really called for people to become submissive to him as a prophet based on one thing; he said so. This is not what the depths of God (the deeps things of God) are. Let us take a closer look.

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Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord … but suffer together in the Gospel by the power of God

μὴ οὖν ἐπαισχυνθῇς τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν μηδὲ ἐμὲ τὸν δέσμιον αὐτοῦ, ἀλλὰ συγκακοπάθησον τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ κατὰ δύναμιν θεοῦ, τοῦ σώσαντος ἡμᾶς καὶ καλέσαντος κλήσει ἁγίᾳ, οὐ κατὰ τὰ ἔργα ἡμῶν ἀλλὰ κατὰ ἰδίαν πρόθεσιν καὶ χάριν, τὴν δοθεῖσαν ἡμῖν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ πρὸ χρόνων αἰωνίων 2 Timothy 1:8–9, NA28

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, 2 Timothy 1:8–9, NASB

The Apostle Paul’s understanding of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and that of most of what we refer to as the visible church in our time is quite different. I’m not talking about Reformed theology as opposed to Arminianism or semi-Pelagianism or even Pelagianism here. No, I am talking about the Good News itself and its impact on the believer and all those whom God touches through it as it preached and shared by obedient disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember, the real, un-doctored Gospel must contain the offense of the cross. It must be offensive in that it addresses the fact that each and every one of us is hopelessly lost and and on our way to an eternity separated from God in judgment because we are sinners who can do nothing to save ourselves from God’s Wrath which must come upon on all sin with no exceptions. That is why the Gospel is “Good News” and glorious, my brethren.

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Mars Hill “Global Fund” contributors with concerns invited to contact Washington State Attorney General’s office

Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, who was first introduced to the world by being featured as a keynote speaker at John Piper’s 2006 Desiring God conference, and who quickly gathered a large following along with a “bad boy” reputation, has now resigned. However, questions still remain about alleged improprieties having to do with the handling of some of the finances while he was the lead pastor at his church, particularly with respect to the Mars Hill Global Fund, a fund to which Mars Hill attendees were encouraged to contribute, and which was positioned as being for missions.  View article →

Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll resigns, claims he is not “disqualified from future ministry”

Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll, who was first introduced to the world by being featured as a keynote speaker at John Piper’s 2006 Desiring God conference, and who quickly gathered a large following along with a “bad boy” reputation, has now resigned. However, in his resignation letter, Driscoll appeared to leave open the possibility of his return to public ministry by stating that he was thankful to the Mars Hill church oversight committee for making it clear that he (Driscoll) has not been disqualified from future ministry. His basis for making such a claim seems to rest on the fact that the oversight committee had stated that Driscoll had not been charged with “criminal activity, immorality or heresy.” It should be noted, however, that these things, while important, are not the entire standard against which a pastor is to be held. View article →

How the inspiration of sacred Scripture benefits the Church

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16–17, NASB

If you pay close attention to the enemies of the truth, apostates, heretics, and pagans, they all attack the doctrine of the inspiration of sacred Scripture. In this post we will take a closer look at the five things that, since Scripture is inspired, for which it is profitable or useful or helpful. Of course, the enemies of God’s truth reject all of this because they insist on things being man-centered while the deeper we dig into these truths there is no way we can come away from what we find without the understanding that God is sovereign and those who belong to Him do so for His glory not theirs.

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For many are called, but few are chosen

The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful. Revelation 17:11–14, NASB

There are three attributes of those who belong to Christ. No one else has these attributes. We see them in Revelation 17:14. Those with Christ, the Lamb who will conquer all His enemies for He is Lord of lords and King of kings, are called and chosen and faithful. In Matthew 22:1–14, our Lord tells a parable called “The Parable of the Wedding Feast.” In it our Lord describes the consequences that will befall those who believe their religiosity or position in the visible church is what earns them a place in the Kingdom, but who, in reality, are not among the chosen.

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The parable of the sower and the soils

That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach. And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:1–9, NASB

There’s something about Jesus’ parables that has always fascinated me. I have heard “stories” from others that were designed to drive home some relevant point, however, His parables are succinct and not only drive home His point, but reveal mighty truths straight from God to our hearts. The parable of the sower is not only important and relevant, it is vital for the Church to understand. Our complacent society has infiltrated the Church. No one seems to have an attention span longer than a few seconds. If some entertainment feature isn’t before our eyes or pounding into our ears, then panic sets in because our hearts are desperate for fulfillment, yet we are lazy and addicted to media, games, or music which tie directly into our flesh bound souls.

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Sola scriptura – the Word our only rule

I have been in a “discussion” with a Roman Catholic about the doctrine of Justification by Grace alone through Faith alone. His contention was that the epistle of James actually teaches against what Paul taught, but it is canonical as are all of Paul’s epistles. What is he saying? He is saying the tie breaker is Church tradition and the Pope. I used Biblical exegesis to show that there was actually no disparity between what Paul taught and what James taught, but it was like trying to describe an elephant to a blind man. In response to this I am reposting John Calvin’s excellent article on Sola Scripture. Enjoy and be blessed.

The Word our only rule

by John Calvin

To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. Titus 1:15–16, NASB

St. Paul hath shown us that we must be ruled by the Word of God, and hold the commandments of men as vain and foolish; for holiness and perfection of life belongeth not to them. He condemneth some of their commandments, as when they forbid certain meats, and will not suffer us to use that liberty which God giveth the faithful. Those who troubled the church in St. Paul’s time, by setting forth such traditions, used the commandments of the law as a shield. These were but men’s inventions: because the temple was to be abolished at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those in the church of Christ, who hold this superstition, to have certain meats forbidden, have not the authority of God, for it was against His mind and purpose that the Christian should be subject to such ceremonies.

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Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God

Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3, NASB

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ἐὰν μή τις γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, οὐ δύναται ἰδεῖν τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ. John 3:3, NA28

The more I deal with those who are adamantly against the fact that God’s Word is absolute truth as they claim the correct way to understand the gospel is as if it is some sort of smorgasbord or rotating buffet in which the sound doctrines taught to us from the Bible are simply one of untold numbers of various ways to God, the more amazed I become at the abject spiritual blindness exhibited by them. These same people want an understanding of the Bible that is loose and easy to hedge. Why? It is so they can include every person on planet earth as on “a” path to God regardless of status as a Christian or not. This multi-path concept to God is a perfect seedbed for the apostate authors such as Brian McLaren who wrote A Generous Orthodoxy. McLaren and those like him are rethinking “Christianity” so that it becomes the all-inclusive container for all religions. The end-product of this rethinking of Christianity is not Christianity at all. It is an open-ended, man-made false religion that has as its foundation the philosophies of men, not the Word of God.

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Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13–14, NASB

The sad state of the visible Church is both the product of the famine of hearing solid preaching of the Word of God and the cause of it. When the Word of God is seldom heard or read or taught then it’s purifying power is muted. The world and its ways now coexist with the visible Church. Genuine believers are new creations, God’s workmanship, and because they are new creations they now crave the pure milk of the Word of God. It is necessary for their Spiritual Growth and their new character craves it. This is not an attribute of the natural man. The unregenerate have no desire to know the Word of God and really don’t like to hear it preached to them. Therefore, the genuine believers in those churches which are apostatizing by neglecting the Word are leaving to find church homes that still preach it, teach it, and hold it as the revealed Word of God.

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Self-righteousness versus humility

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! Matthew 23:23–24, NASB

A huge trap that Christians can fall into is self-righteousness. It is a form of idolatry and that always causes spiritual blindness (Romans 1:24–25). Self-righteousness puts all effort towards godliness in the wrong place. It creates a form of piety that is all about outward appearances while putting little or no priority on matters of the heart. It is all about being concerned about appearances and what others think rather than being totally committed to abiding in Christ from within first. The self-righteous are consciously holy. However, that is not what we are called to be. Christians must be consciously repentant and unconsciously holy. The difference is huge for these are totally opposite walks.

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Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:10–17, NASB

This ministry began primarily to bring Christians from the darkness of dead religiosity into the light of an obedient, vibrant, growing, daily walk by faith as a living sacrifice. However, it soon became apparent that a huge number of those who God sent this way were refugees from churches that had been taken over by the Purpose Driven paradigm. They had stood against the takeover and had been asked to leave or told to leave. They were no longer welcome in churches in which they had served for years. In many cases, generations of their family had served there. Now, that local church had become a local Purpose Driven franchise that only welcomed the world and cared nothing for real Christians. In our analysis of this and our ministering to those who were dealing with this we soon found ourselves also dealing with the PDC apologists who were allied with another group. That group was a loosely defined bunch of people we called the “emergent village.” We had other names for them, but that name will work for now.

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The golden calf of the church growth movement

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.” John 14:1–4, NASB

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:1–4, NASB

Those familiar with the Exodus of Israel from bondage in Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan know that the journey was long and arduous. Only two men from those who left Egypt made it through the journey. The rest died on the way. Their children were those whom Joshua led to conquer and claim the land flowing with milk and honey. God tested them in the wilderness. They were put in circumstance after circumstance by God to see if they would repent of their stiff-necked resistance to His Lordship, and time after time they proved that they were temporal, fleshly people who did not trust Him. In this post we will look at a parallel between one of those circumstances and the condition of the Church in the early 21st century.

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Obedience and accountability

For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness, “When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work. “For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways. “Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.” Psalms 95:7–11, NASB

Preaching or teaching from God’s Word is nothing to trifle with. The responsibility that goes with each is eternal. Those who minister through the Word will be held accountable and that should be very sobering for all of us. We must ask each time we preach or teach, “Did I treat what is Holy as it deserved? Have I fallen into doing my ministry perfunctorily?” Those of us who teach must never do so in way that is in any way motivated by anything other than our love and devotion for our Lord. Yes, there will be circumstances that we respond to and use as inspiration or input, but, even in that, we do a tremendous disservice to our Lord if we don’t go to Him in prayer first before we respond, write, preach, or teach. While the leader has a huge responsibility to minister by the Spirit, those who hear the truth from God’s Word will also be held accountable.

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