38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. Acts 5:38-41 NASB
A good friend informed me of an incident in his life in which he had suffered some extreme personal costliness by standing firm and not giving in to the lies about God and our faith. I could tell he was in a great deal of anxiety and pain. He was also perplexed about many things. I asked God what I should do. Should I try to comfort him? Should I try to encourage him? How was I to do either? All through this there was a nagging voice attempting to blame me and what I teach here as being the cause of my friend’s pain. This voice also attempted to warn me not to try to encourage him with the passage from Acts 5 (above) that was being laid on my heart as I prayed because then that would open me up to criticism.
21 “ Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? ’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from ME, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23 NASB
The best test of everything is not how it appears here and now. Unlike those preachers who draw throngs of people to hear their, “Have your best life now!” sermons, those with real godly wisdom know that the best tests of everything is how it will appear in the moment of death, in the morning of resurrection, and at the day of judgment. Thankfully, the Word of God does give us the truth about these things. Let’s take a long slow look at Matthew 7:21-23 where our Lord lays it out very clearly about people who will find that what they believed to be true about their eternal state is nothing more than the product of self-deception.
3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Jude 1:3-4 NASB
Carefully read the passage above my brethren. The writer of the Epistle of Jude is the brother of James, the well-known leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21;18; Galatians 2:9) and, therefore, the half-brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. In v3 we read that Jude had intended to write a letter on salvation as the common blessing enjoyed by all true believers. This intent was probably to emphasize unity and fellowship among believers as he reminded them that God is no respecter of persons, however, his plans were changed. He doesn’t say why he “found it necessary” to write something else, but what we have in this letter is actually a call to battle for the truth in light of the appearance and infiltration into the Church of apostate teachers.
12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.
13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.” John 2:12-16 NASB
Some today have made a caricature of our Lord Jesus Christ. This man-made image is far from the truth we see in Sacred Scripture. There have been some who have even portrayed the Bible as revealing two separate “Gods,” the mean, angry God of the Old Testament, and the kind, gentle Jesus of the New Testament. The former is an image contrived by those who resent God’s commands for holiness and righteousness while the latter is vastly incomplete and derived by those who are either ignorant of what the New Testament teaches about our Lord or they are deliberately ignoring what it says.
8 καὶ ὁ καρδιογνώστης θεὸς ἐμαρτύρησεν αὐτοῖς δοὺς τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον καθὼς καὶ ἡμῖν 9 καὶ οὐθὲν διέκρινεν μεταξὺ ἡμῶν τε καὶ αὐτῶν τῇ πίστει καθαρίσας τὰς καρδίας αὐτῶν. (Acts 15:8-9 NA28)
8 And the knower of hearts, God, bore witness to them having given to them the Holy Spirit just as to us, 9 and He differentiated nothing between them, and us having cleansed their hearts by faith. (Acts 15:8-9 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
God is omniscient, which means that He knows all things. What is puzzling to me at times is that so many who profess to be Christians either do not understand what this really means or, their hearts are so hard in their unbelief that the “god” of their “faith” is one of their own making, hence, they live and “do their religion” in ways that are “of the world” and in no way could be called Biblical Christianity. Within that paradigm are all forms of man-focused religiosity that came into being, at least in the U.S., about the time of the Second Great Awakening. It was at that time that preaching the Gospel, coming together as a local body of believers to worship, pray together, and hear the Word of God opened and rightly divided was hijacked and made to be seen as something “old fashioned” or “boring.” Instead, so-called Christian leaders sought the tent revivals and continual crusade atmosphere that was much more conducive to large numbers of “conversions.” Forget the fact that very few of those “conversions” actually “stuck.”
7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:7-8 NASB
Relativism is the fatal disease of the unregenerate heart. Obviously, it is a self-focused relativism. Everyone is unique, but we have this built-in sense of ‘fairness’ that is antithetical to God’s Sovereignty. Several years ago, before our brother Ken Silva died, he came under attack from some “emergence boyz” in a satirical article portraying him killing a beast on the beach. The creature was called an EvanJellyFish. Ken killed it even though every now and then the beast said something that might be considered edifying. Ah, now we are back in that comfortable realm of relativism. It goes something like this, “Hey man, why are you attacking this brother in Christ? Look, he may practice Yoga and Contemplative Prayer and lead his congregation to pray to Mother God, but hey, look at all the edifying and nice things he says in this book he just wrote!” Is this ancient history? Just a few days ago I was on Facebook and was reading a post about Rick Warren. I was reading some of the comments then, BOOM, out of nowhere there was a very angry commenter descending from a cloud of self-righteousness condemning everyone who dared say anything negative about Rick Warren. Oh sure he had issues and said some heretical things here and there and was buddying up with the Pope, but hey, look at his terrific Daniel Plan… That my brothers and sisters in Christ are the words of someone who thinks that the truth is truth because they think it is, but they do not know the words of God, the truth, because they do not hear them (John 8:46).
5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is freed from sin. Romans 6:5-7 NASB
Several years ago Rick Warren made the follow statements in a tweet that he claimed were from his sermon that day:
“To change ask: WHERE am I now? WHAT do I want? WHY do I want it? WHY don’t I have it already? WHAT’s my plan? Is it worth it?”
Every time I come across this it is like my spirit is startled and I ask, “really?” What or who is the focus of these questions? It is self isn’t it? I have another question for you. Do you see any need for Christ and the Cross or repentance with the help of the indwelling Holy Spirit in any of that? Again, this is just another example of the natural outflow from one whose theology is Pelagian. Rick Warren and his disciples discount the Cross of Christ and the Gospel and put the person at the center of all things. This is why they continually insist that their disciples look within to find their true self while covenanting with them to keep certain values and obey their commitments. In other words, this is a form of law keeping and has nothing to do with grace nor the Gospel. Let’s look at what the Bible says about our true nature and what we can and cannot do as Christians.
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, 6 and in your knowledge, self- control, and in your self- control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, 7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short- sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; 11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you. 2 Peter 1:3-11 NASB
In the visible church in our time one of the key terms that we are hearing and seeing everywhere is rooted in the word “transform.” Rick Warren likes to say that his church is responsible for thousands of transformed lives for instance. In the incarnation/missional/dominionistic push right now we are seeing some call their particular flavor of that “transformational.” This word is a good biblical word. For instance, in Romans 12:2 we have Paul saying, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” The words “be transformed” are translated from the Greek word μεταμορφοῦσθε. Paul used this word to describe God’s process of the Christian being transformed by the renewing of their minds. That is, Christ has come to give us a new way of thinking, which is not legalistically following a fixed set of rules and regulations, but desiring to serve Jesus with all our heart and mind. It is this transformation that produces true godliness that cannot be faked and is a mystery to those outside of God’s grace. Is this the same thing that is being described by Rick Warren and the Dominionists?
21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:21-23 NASB
Was it just a couple of years ago that we were vociferously debating what was going on in the seeker sensitive churches all around us as they abandoned expository preaching, replacing it with topical sermons, entertainment, drama, dance, videos, et cetera? Things sure have progressed, or is it actually the opposite with the gospel contextualization having replaced all of that with the goal of church globalization within the framework of Dominonism? I remember some of the debates from that time and as I look back on it now, I see what was actually happening. Of course, at the time, as the Hegelian Dialectic is in play and Diaprax is in one of its incremental changes, it is difficult to see the “big picture.” As we look back at what was done and how it was accomplished by these devoted to their globalization agenda we can see clearly that we were dealing with the forces of our enemy who were dedicated to “ministry” via the practice of cunning in disgraceful, underhanded ways as they tampered with God’s Word for their own ends 2 Corinthians 4:1-2. That is not what He called us to do nor does He allow us to do.
16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self- control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:16-23 NASB
The clarion call of Emergence Christianity, New Calvinism, Missional/Dominionism, Seeker Sensitivity, et al is for people to come be part of their group or push and be “transformed.” It is as if the “transforming” is done via their ministry. They have the secret. They have the formula. They have the anointing by God and via their “group salvation” people are also “transformed” as a group. Into what? That is not said. What is not said by them is that the key process used here is Diaprax which is the Hegelian Dialectic put into motion to create change for the sake of change. It is based on the concept that truth is never found in the thesis nor the antithesis, but the synthesis of the two through many cycles of the Diaprax process. This new synthesis is the “truth” they are looking for. They combine unbelievers and believers together and force synthesis. This is the transformation they are talking about. This is also called compromise in the Word of God and those who proclaim to be Christians who buy into it are also called hypocrites and apostates. This is not the transformation that Christians are called to in God’s Word nor is it the end of what we will look like if we obey God’s command to be imitators of Him.
12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— 13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13 NASB
God is Holy. God is Righteous. God is Just. God is Sovereign. Yehōwāh (יהוה) our Adhōnāy (אדן אדון), God our sovereign one, our Lord, our κύριος or kyrios, is also Love, Mercy, and Grace. We must not have a view of God that emphasizes His love, mercy, or grace over His Holiness. We are commanded to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phlippians 2:12). We are commaded to delight in God and come boldly to His throne of Grace, yet we must never take His Holiness for granted. This is why we have so much exhortation in the Bible to put to death the deeds of the flesh and then become Spirit-filled thereby walking in repentance.
18 Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before stumbling. Proverbs 16:18 NASB
At the root of hypocrisy is, of course, pride. Pride is the antithesis of humility, which is exemplified for us by Paul’s attitude to the Ephesian church in the following passage.
8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory. Ephesians 3:8-13 NASB
On the other hand, pride is absolutely never portrayed in the Bible in a positive way. Never is pride tolerated. Never is it praised as it is today. However, in the visible church in our time don’t we hear sermons and read teachings about “positive pride” and the building up of self or the searching inside to find that real “you” that God is deeply in love with and only wants you to find it so He can show you what a fantastic you you really are? Well, I have a Greek word for that, σκύβαλον. In any case, let’s look at the Greek words in the New Testament translated as “pride,” “proud,” and “puffed up.”
1 Πόθεν πόλεμοι καὶ πόθεν μάχαι ἐν ὑμῖν; οὐκ ἐντεῦθεν, ἐκ τῶν ἡδονῶν ὑμῶν τῶν στρατευομένων ἐν τοῖς μέλεσιν ὑμῶν; 2 ἐπιθυμεῖτε καὶ οὐκ ἔχετε, φονεύετε καὶ ζηλοῦτε καὶ οὐ δύνασθε ἐπιτυχεῖν, μάχεσθε καὶ πολεμεῖτε, οὐκ ἔχετε διὰ τὸ μὴ αἰτεῖσθαι ὑμᾶς, 3 αἰτεῖτε καὶ οὐ λαμβάνετε διότι κακῶς αἰτεῖσθε, ἵνα ἐν ταῖς ἡδοναῖς ὑμῶν δαπανήσητε. 4 μοιχαλίδες, οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἡ φιλία τοῦ κόσμου ἔχθρα τοῦ θεοῦ ἐστιν; ὃς ἐὰν οὖν βουληθῇ φίλος εἶναι τοῦ κόσμου, ἐχθρὸς τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσταται. 5 ἢ δοκεῖτε ὅτι κενῶς ἡ γραφὴ λέγει· πρὸς φθόνον ἐπιποθεῖ τὸ πνεῦμα ὃ κατῴκισεν ἐν ἡμῖν, 6 μείζονα δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν; διὸ λέγει·
ὁ θεὸς ὑπερηφάνοις ἀντιτάσσεται,
ταπεινοῖς δὲ δίδωσιν χάριν. (James 4:1-6 NA28)
1 From where do wars come and from where do fights come among you? Is it not from here–from your pleasures warring in your members? 2 You desire and you do not have. You kill and you envy and you are not able to obtain. You fight and you war. You do not have because you fail to ask. 3 You ask and you do not receive because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your pleasures. 4 Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Therefore, whoever chooses to be a friend of the world is made an enemy of God. Or do you think that it is in vain the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us“? Be he gives greater grace. Therefore it says,
“God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:1-6 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The Church since its inception in the 1st Century AD has been plagued by quarrels, disagreements, feuds, splits, et cetera. According to God, the problem is not with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ or His doctrines, but with the fact that people in the Church are not submitted properly to Him or to each other. Pride is behind most disagreements just as it is behind those who break away from the truth to lead their followers with false doctrines and a focus that is on self rather than on God and his glory. Instead, those who cause these problems are in love with self and, therefore, in love with the world, its ways, and the things of the world.
24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated ME without A cause.’ John 15:24-25 NASB
Let us never forget that those of us who stand for God’s Truth not only being knowable, but binding on all, are in a serious war. This is not a skirmish or a battle. It is a war. In his book The Truth War John MacArthur exposed the tremendous battle that is being fought over what is truth and what isn’t. The Church is wounded and compromised to an extent greater than most of us can imagine. Brian McLaren has said that the primary purpose of Jesus’ incarnation was not to provide a way for His people to be saved from their sins, but to show people how to be Kingdom people. He makes the message sound so right and our flesh loves that message, but it isn’t Biblical. This statement is nothing more than unbelief packaged as an alternative truth to designed to deceive people into discounting the truth from God’s Word thereby keeping them in darkness. It should be clear that this is a direct attack on the Gospel.
11 ἔρχομαι ταχύ· κράτει ὃ ἔχεις, ἵνα μηδεὶς λάβῃ τὸν στέφανόν σου. (Revelation 3:11 NA28)
11 I am coming quickly. Hold what you have that no one takes your crown. (Revelation 3:11 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
3 τοῦτο πρῶτον γινώσκοντες ὅτι ἐλεύσονται ἐπʼ ἐσχάτων τῶν ἡμερῶν [ἐν] ἐμπαιγμονῇ ἐμπαῖκται κατὰ τὰς ἰδίας ἐπιθυμίας αὐτῶν πορευόμενοι 4 καὶ λέγοντες· ποῦ ἐστιν ἡ ἐπαγγελία τῆς παρουσίας αὐτοῦ; ἀφʼ ἧς γὰρ οἱ πατέρες ἐκοιμήθησαν, πάντα οὕτως διαμένει ἀπʼ ἀρχῆς κτίσεως. (2 Peter 3:3-4 NA28)
3 knowing this first of all, that there will come during the last of days mockers with their mocking according to their own lusts; 4 saying, “Where is the promise of his coming? From the time the fathers fell asleep all things are so continuing as from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
It is one thing to say, “Come soon Lord Jesus!” and quite another thing to live as if you mean it. There are even some today who are of the emergent or “emerging” or “seeker” mindset that teach we should live this life with our focus on the here and now rather than eternity. Why? This is to create a better world or make this world a better place. However, I also tire of those who treat eschatology much like the world handles conspiracy theories always looking for the right combination of “signs” that our Lord’s return is imminent. I used to do that myself, but I do not pay attention to that stuff anymore. Why? My focus is on living this life for the glory of God and that means I focus on my relationship between my Lord and myself first and from that flows my relationships with everyone else. Yes, the sad shape of the visible Church grieves me and, to me, this is the most telling sign that our Lord’s return is imminent, that is, this age is coming to an end ushering in the age to come.
1 When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2 “ You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; 4 and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. 5 But they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.” Matthew 26:1-5 NASB
This ministry is geared primarily around presenting God’s Truth from His Word succinctly and in context to all professing Christians. That would include both genuine Christians and those who are Christians in name only. The purpose in this is to present God’s Truth as THE TRUTH. All else is incomplete or false. Within God’s Truth are the absolute doctrines of Christianity. These are indisputable. Therefore, when a Christian leader changes the focus of his ministry by departing from these doctrines or embracing as a fellow Christian leader one whose doctrinal believes are contrary to these doctrines calling that person “doctrinally sound” we have the responsibility, within the godly discernment given to us by God, to call all this into question and make the proper examinations to determine the soundness of all those in question. We do not do this to persecute anyone. We can do this correctly, however, because God’s Truth is absolute and objective not subjective like man’s truth.
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Ephesians 5:18-21 NASB
The proper worship of our Lord is done by Spirit-filled Christians and no others. Perhaps the number one attribute that is evidence of being truly Spirit-filled is the submission of our will to the will of God, proper submission, as He has defined it. Our God is all about order, not chaos. There are many who insist that God is all about setting His people free from bondage and we have no business throwing a bunch of “law” at them. We have to be careful here. Yes God has set His people free, but from what? Isn’t it from the bondage of sin? Wouldn’t the attitude stated above lead those who hold it into being “antinomians?” Even more confusing, many who do hold that attitude would agree with us that we are saved by Grace through faith alone apart from works, but where we depart ways is when it comes to all that obedience stuff. I suppose these same people would have a huge problem with the subject of this post for they would see it as an attempt to put people into “religious bondage.” Well, let the Word of God speak…
In a piece over at The Watchman’s Bagpipes, Glenn E. Chatfield takes on the producer of a video, an atheist, who hoped to undermine the Creation account in the Bible.
A fellow blogger referred me to this video and asked me if I could refute it on my blog, bearing in mind that it should be understood by children. It is an atheist’s understanding of how the whole concept of Adam’s sin affected the human race. However, he starts off immediately with a straw man argument because he teaches a concept which is not the Christian view. So before we review the video, I want to give a brief explanation of what the Bible says. (There are some different teachings on the subject, albeit mostly similar, but I will do the best I can to keep it simple.)
1 O Lord, the God of my salvation,
I have cried out by day and in the night before You.
2 Let my prayer come before You;
Incline Your ear to my cry!
3 For my soul has had enough troubles,
And my life has drawn near to Sheol.
4 I am reckoned among those who go down to the pit;
I have become like a man without strength,
5 Forsaken among the dead,
Like the slain who lie in the grave,
Whom You remember no more,
And they are cut off from Your hand.
6 You have put me in the lowest pit,
In dark places, in the depths.
7 Your wrath has rested upon me,
And You have afflicted me with all Your waves.
8 You have removed my acquaintances far from me;
You have made me an object of loathing to them;
I am shut up and cannot go out. Psalms 88:1-8 NASB
Despite what many so-called Christian leaders are teaching in our day about the necessity of repentance in the life of the believer, the Word of God teaches us something entirely different. In it, we learn that the life, vigor, and comfort of our spiritual life depends much on our actively and deliberately mortifying the sin that clings so closely. This teaching has unfortunately been neglected much over the last several decades to the point that some scoff at its necessity in the Christian walk. However, if we go back and read the Puritans and others that came before we find that personal holiness has not always been neglected in the Church as it has been in our day.
1 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:1-4 NASB
The Lord’s Day approaches. While many will go to church in a few days and hear expository preaching and worship God in spirit and truth, many more will hear sermons that the preacher bought from Sermons.com or some other source. While I understand the pressures these men are under trying to be “successful” in growing their churches, I contend that those doing this are serving an idol rather than the Living God.
To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 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.
But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.
1 Timothy 1:2–11, NASB
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. What is the aim of the charge of a true disciple? It is to produce the good fruit of of love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. That is the good fruit of genuine prophet of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, our Lord Himself told us in His Sermon on the Mount how to discern whether a prophet was false or not.
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:15–20, NASB
31 And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. 33 But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and *said, “Get behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:31-38 NASB
One of the major weapons of our enemy is attacks centered on provoking our pride, to incite us to be deeply concerned about what others think of us in relation to our profession of faith and how we walk the narrow path set before us by God. Our Lord warned us that this sort of attack would be coming our way and it causes professing Christians to lose their boldness as they actually seek to preserve “their life” for their own sake. When we are more concerned with our image and standing before men rather than for Christ and His gospel then we compromise because we have set our minds on the things of man rather than then things of God.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1 NASB
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NASB)
If we listen to some today it is as if the Incarnation of Christ was to show Man how to live in such a way that there would be no war, no hunger, no sickness and that the Earth be recovered back to the pristine state of Creation. Was this His mission? If you go to any secular book store either such as Barnes and Noble or even Amazon.com and browse the religious/theology section you will find a large number of books that attempt to blend Jesus Christ into all religions or even non-religious causes. I found one recently that was a supposed list of the parallel sayings of Buddha with those of Christ.
12 οἶδα καὶ ταπεινοῦσθαι, οἶδα καὶ περισσεύειν· ἐν παντὶ καὶ ἐν πᾶσιν μεμύημαι, καὶ χορτάζεσθαι καὶ πεινᾶν καὶ περισσεύειν καὶ ὑστερεῖσθαι· 13 πάντα ἰσχύω ἐν τῷ ἐνδυναμοῦντί με. (Philippians 4:12-13 NA28)
12 I know both how to be humbled and how to abound. In everything and in all things I have learned the secret both to be filled and to hunger, both to abound and to have lack. 13 I can do all things in the one empowering me. (Philippians 4:12,13 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
The enemy of our souls, Satan, does not attack believers in such a way that we should recognize him as being who he is. Instead, he comes disguised as the voice behind the theologian from the best seminary who may be the leader with a huge church empire and also be the author of many best-selling books. How does he attack what we call the Orthodox Christian faith? You know, the preaching of the gospel, the weekly opening of the Word of God, the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s supper, et cetera. He attacks that by putting people in place that both insist on and those who promise to deliver “more.” You know, taking emphasis away from all that stuff above and giving people “what they really want!” Sometimes the leaders doing this think this is what the people really want, but it is not. That is when the sheep go to their pastors and ask to be fed rather than be entertained. What happens most of the time nowadays when that takes place?
8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, 10 and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; 11 and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:8-15 NASB
The more I deal with professing Christians, no matter how conservative they may be, it can be somewhat trying at times to encounter the growing nature of Christ in some of them. There are some who are so ruled by their flesh that the only fruit that I ever witness in them is of this world, full of bitterness, anger, resentment, and a complete disregard for the commands from own Savior to deny self, forgive, turn the other cheek, et cetera. I know that in my own case that my flesh must be continually kept reigned in and controlled or it will cause me to slide right back into those habitual sins it loves so much. However, the mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting this fight. That being said, let’s look at two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.”