Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, christian podcast, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, podcast, politics, Uncategorized

Contend for the Faith

Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  Hebrews 10:33-35

Our country has become a virtual cafeteria of different religions, cults, and non-Christian world views that are all vying for supremacy on America’s religious landscape.  Our country is also currently confronted by many tough domestic and global issues.  We need Christian wisdom and biblical discernment as never before.  

Ron Rhodes, 5 Minute Apologetics for Today

That phone call that dreary night will never be forgotten, at least by me.  And I wasn’t even the person in trouble.  I wasn’t the one who desperately needed to hear the right words to save a life.  But I was in need of knowing the right words to say.  And because I didn’t have the wisdom, the strength of faith I have now, I must take part of the blame for ending a life that night.  

My friend’s voice was filled with desperation.  She was pregnant.  She was also just 19, a college student far from home, a woman who was having an affair with a married man (who had also gotten another woman pregnant).  I had counseled her before, over and over, trying to get her to stop seeing this man.  He was slimy and untrustworthy.  But of course, he was oh so different with her – a genuine prince apparently.  And so, a life of unwanted, unprepared motherhood was staring at her in the face.  What would she tell her parents?  How could she show her face?  My immediate response? “You must get an abortion of course.”  

This young woman who dreamed of being married one day and having many children was looking for a way to erase her mistakes.  To reboot her dream of becoming a nurse first then having a family.  And I helped her take what seemed to be the easy path.  We washed our hands of it all and moved forward with both our lives.  But I have never forgotten what I did.  And I doubt she has either.

I wasn’t a Christian at the time but I was a member of the human race.  A person that valued fairness and justice.  A person who for the most part thought she was a “good person.”  I had no one in my life telling me different, showing me a different way.  It wasn’t until I drew closer to Jesus that I realized how far from the truth I was really living.  

The problem was I then swung too far in the other direction.  I took up the mantle of “truth” and forgot about the Royal Commandment – to love one another.  And I think when we Christians get ourselves mired in political and social issues we can forget about that place of balance that God seeks for us.  We can forget about what we are really needing to accomplish in God’s name.

In the United States, the Republican/conservative/right leaning parties are automatically associated with Christians.  And yes, there are many of the same values involved.  But to assign our faith to one political party’s platform is a mistake in so many ways.  For one, it politicizes the message of Jesus. For another it assumes that all party stances are within the biblical realm.  It also assumes there aren’t people in other parties that profess their Christian faith.  

And so, when we come personally up against a faith/biblical/moral issue we may frequently pull back from our commission of helping others out of a sin-filled life because we don’t want to be labeled a “right winger,” a “bigot,” a “nut job” or any other derogatory statements.

To be fair, too many of our churches have either abdicated their responsibility to teach their flock about so many hot button issues such as homosexuality and abortion and how to respond correctly.  While others have so politicized their churches you can’t tell the difference on a Sunday between a patriot rally and a sermon.

A new friend of mine told me how she was visiting various churches trying to find a new church home.  One visit took place on the 4th of July – the U.S. Day of Independence.  As she stood for the beginning worship, she noticed all the songs were patriotic ones.  And when the US flag was marched in by worshippers, she got up to leave.  At the door the pastor stopped her and asked why she was leaving.  Her response?  “I came to worship God, not the United States.”  She loves her country but her love of God doesn’t have anything to do with her country.

And so, like the women in my Bible study groups we ask questions that our churches fail to address or in the way they need to be addressed.  We feel safe to dig deep into what the Bible truly says about homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, and more.  But we aren’t theologians – that’s why we go to church.   To hear the Word of God taught to us in ways we can turn around and use them out in the world.  It’s sad, to be honest, to hear Christians desperate for knowledge and yet left unfed week after week.

One of the ladies in my study group recently had a profound breakthrough related to this topic.  She is very sweet and prides herself on creating good relationships.  But she realizes her desire to not “rock any boat” has also been an excuse for not speaking the truth + love when it is needed most.  “I’ve realized that in the past I had the excuse of being naïve as to the expectation of what God wants from me.  But I can’t use that excuse anymore.  I know he wants me to contend for the faith.  I know what is truly at stake.  I’m now struggling to see what that looks like for me,” she said.

I’m not going to take each major issue facing our world today because I am not a theologian with lots of important degrees to back up my words.  But I will direct you to the steps you might take to be better prepared when your friend tells you their daughter wants to start hormone treatments to become a man.   Or, when your co-worker tells you that having a nice house in a nice neighborhood is white privilege and you should be ashamed.  We also need to be prepared to step back and know when a political issue maybe doesn’t have any biblical connection at all and just must be looked at from a “good citizen” point of view.  Because yes, not everything we deal with is a faith hill to die on – but how we deal with those issues is.

You’ll remember at the beginning of this post I referenced the book 5 Minute Apologetics for Today.  It was written in 2010.  But you’ll find most of the issues we face currently.  It’s a great, easy read for giving us biblical perspectives.  In addition, here are 4 steps that were recently explained in my current Bible study on Jude.  

As background, Jude (Jesus’ brother) was writing to a church that was infiltrated by false teachers.  Teachers who were leading lives and encouraging believers to give themselves over to sexual immorality and more.  Towards the end of his letter, before he tells the believers how to confront the false teachers, he gives them these four pieces of advice:

  1. Build up your knowledge and confidence in the Word.  Learn about and study the Bible, God’s character, His promises and the judgment to come.  Be immersed by also finding a good biblical teaching church – not one that just tells you some good stories each week.  Join Bible studies and do the work! Jude 20/Eph 2:19
  2. Pray not in the flesh but in the Spirit.  Go to the Holy Spirit and ask for help in what to pray.  By doing so you’ll show God your dependence on Him.  Ask for help in knowing what issues you should be concerned about and which you should just leave alone. Jude 20/Rom 8:26-27
  3. Keep yourself in the love of God.  Fight to resist your own passions and doctrine that keeps you separated from God.  Lean into God for His promises and His direction. Jude 21/John 15:9
  4. Stay in the hope of the mercy that is waiting for you.  As Jackie Hill Perry says about this, “We have been saved from God’s wrath for God.”  The knowledge and hope of what is to come when Jesus returns should feel like a protection.   We have something better in store for us than man’s approval.  We need to keep our sights on this so the persecution we might face doesn’t silence us. Jude 21/Heb 11:25-26

On a final note, I want to encourage you to do a study on Revelation.  It helps to do it with others.  Don’t just read Revelation.  It’s probably too confusing to be honest.  A good study with people you trust will reveal to you what so many of our churches seem to fail to remind us each and every week – that judgment is coming to all.  We have a greater commission than just being “nice Christians.”  We are commissioned to help God save souls.  We might want to start in our own households.

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

The Sword of God

Life Lesson #15: Our best defense against false teaching is to stay rooted in the Word of God.

But even the archangel Michael, when 
he was disputing with the devil about 
the body of Moses, did not himself dare 
to condemn him for slander but said, 
“The Lord rebuke you!” 
Jude 1:9

We find ourselves at the end of the Tiny Yet Mighty series appropriately enough with a lesson on defensive strategy against false teaching.  False teaching comes in many forms.  We may initially think it’s just a televangelist telling followers if they pray hard enough all their financial woes will be eliminated.  But the world of false teachers reaches so much farther than our Christian leaders.

You’ll notice in our Jude verse today that even the archangel didn’t take up an argument with the devil using his own words or knowledge.  He relied on God’s Word.  And when unbelievers or doubters take verses out of context it’s our opportunity to use the truth of God’s Word in reply.

But we can’t stand for a God we don’t know.  

Too many Christians are not Bible scholars.  And yet, it is our greatest comfort and weapon against the devil.  I, for one, in the first 10 or 15 years of being a Christian rarely even opened a Bible.  During one season of sermons at my church we tried something “out of the box.”  The pastor wanted each of us to take the pew Bible and mark it up as he spoke.  You could see the hives break out on people instantly!

I’ve been in plenty of Bible study groups where more than half the people didn’t read any of the study, hadn’t been to church the Sunday before to hear the sermon, or hadn’t gone on-line to hear the sermon being studied.  And somehow we expect to be filled with the Word of God.

No soldier, no athlete, no surgeon, no salesperson would ever enter their arena of expertise expecting success without first preparing.  So why, as Christians, would we expect any different?

Put on the full armor of God, 
so that you can take your stand 
against the devil’s schemes.  
Ephesians 6:11

The full armor includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness given by Jesus, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit – the word of God.  Without any of these we are left to the evil devices of false teachers.

But let’s back up and start at the very beginning of false teaching.

"Now the serpent was more crafty than 
any of the wild animals the Lord God 
had made. He said to the woman, “Did 
God really say, ‘You must not eat from 
any tree in the garden’?” 
Genesis 3:1

We were babes in God’s glorious garden when the first false teacher spoke to Eve.  He tried to weave his way around God’s Word and deceive her.  One of the ways I’ve personally experienced this is concerning how God communicates with us.  How often have you heard someone say they received a directive from God but yet claimed God doesn’t “speak to them.”  I’ve heard famous preachers dismiss the idea of God actually speaking, using words, to speak to people.  We seem to have the need to define God “speaking” as someone standing before us speaking out loud.  This unfortunate definition has led so many people to feel as though God is ignoring them. 

I have a friend who has frequent interaction with God through others, music, signs, etc, and yet she spoke with sadness that she had never heard God speak.  The parsing of God’s messages, directives and laws to find the “out” or the “exception” is the devil’s work.  

“You will not certainly die,” the 
serpent said to the woman." 
Genesis 3:4

Sure, Eve wasn’t going to physically die (although she couldn’t know that for sure) but the death she was to experience would be much harsher.  Satan was relying on Eve not trusting the Word of God.  

In our modern times sexual immorality has become our apple in the Garden.  “What’s the big deal?”  “God didn’t actually say a man can’t marry a man.”  Like the statement to Eve of death, this one is true on its surface.  But God does, throughout the Bible state that a man shall take a woman for his wife.

That is why a man leaves his father and 
mother and is united to his wife, and 
they become one flesh. 
Genesis 2:24

But the Bible was written long ago and cultures change and we evolve, right?  There was only one great change in our Christian history – Jesus.  He did not come to remove the laws of God.  He came to fulfill the law.  God’s law reveals our sin, our brokenness.  We can never completely fulfill the law through our own means.  Jesus gives us the grace and righteousness needed to be right with God. 

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday 
and today and forever. 
Hebrews 13:8

These are but a few examples of how both believers and non-believers twist and turn the truth of God’s Word.  It’s all an attempt to live in the world of the flesh.  We are called to be a people set apart.  To know God as best we can.  To stay in constant communion with Him.  

To him who is able to keep you from 
stumbling and to present you before 
his glorious presence without fault 
and with great joy— to the only God 
our Savior be glory, majesty, power 
and authority, through Jesus Christ 
our Lord, before all ages, now and 
forevermore! Amen. 
Jude 1:24-25

When we find ourselves in the midst of false teaching it is Jesus Christ who we can draw on, both in Word and Spirit, to keep us from the fire.  Stay close to Him and the devil cannot strip you of God’s blessings.

I hope you enjoyed this series, “Tiny Yet Mighty!” Stay tuned for my next series, “Fresh Fire — 25 verses to invigorate your faith,” starting March 29. Just in time to celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice and amazing resurrection!

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

A Tiny Message #10

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did 
we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger 
or needing clothes or sick or in prison, 
and did not help you?’ “He will reply, 
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not 
do for one of the least of these, you 
did not do for me.’ 
Matthew 25:44-45

The other day during my BSGs’ study on Easter we had a discussion about humbly serving. It was interesting to hear how some of us took the line “the least of these” to solely mean people in poverty. We also tended to look at serving only as a physical or financially act.

And yet Jesus said that He brings living water to the thirsty. Who are the “thirsty” around you? You might be surprised that there are many Christians who remain hungry and thirsty for what Jesus has to offer. They have accepted Him as His savior but are not living out the fullness of life God wants for them.

When we talk about sharing the gospel with others we usually mean the message of salvation. And yes, we must make as a priority the saving of souls through the introduction of the true message of Christ. But the Good News is also about the peace and joy and love of God. It’s also about the helping hand of the Holy Spirit.

When we dismiss the work of helping all God’s people, not just the poor, we create a hierarchy of “needs” that just isn’t present in God’s Holy kingdom. He see us all. He loves us all. And if we are called to help guide and teach a group of young, new believers that is exactly where we need to be — keeping them from being pulled back into the world. Or it may mean we speak the truth plus love to a friend who has been led to false teaching.

Wherever you have been called to humbly serve and share the gospel — be it with believers or non-believers — rest assured that your work is loved by God.

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Our Brother’s Keeper

Life Lesson #14: Your gift of salvation is not a private affair.  We are to be our brother’s keeper.

Be merciful to those who doubt; save 
others by snatching them from the fire; 
to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating 
even the clothing stained by corrupted 
flesh. 
Jude 1:22-23

When I first started going to church, I had two other friends who were also exploring their faith.  It was a great time when we gathered with our families and openly shared our questions and concerns about religion and our beliefs.  One friend became a devout Catholic – the faith of her husband’s family.  Another followed me into the Presbyterian church – which was my husband’s background.  At one point my fellow traveler baptized her youngest and we were honored to be his God parents.

Shortly after joining the church the horrifying event of 9-11 happened.  It drew many of us to church each week.  But as the months went by, my fellow faith traveler began to drift away.  As a new Christian I wasn’t skilled or knowledgeable enough to help draw her back in.  I felt it was none of my business.

And there lies one of the great debates of the Bible.  Are we our brother’s keeper or not?  Before we got to the message in 1 Thessalonians of caring for our fellow Christian’s state of faith we heard from Cain.

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is 
your brother Abel?” 
“I don’t know,” he replied. 
“Am I my brother’s keeper?” 
Genesis 4:9

Setting aside the audacity of Cain speaking so flippantly to God, we see the immediate need to shrink from our duty to care for our fellow man.  Of course, in Cain’s situation, it was to cover for a great sin.  This is the “I have my own problems so why should I be concerned about anyone else’s?” way of looking at the question of are we our brother’s keeper.

God does not ask or require of us to take on all the burdens of our fellow man.  In fact, throughout the Bible it’s made clear that a heart change and therefore a behavior change is a very personal responsibility.  Something that can only be accomplished between an individual and God.  

No man can be his brother’s keeper in the sense of taking upon himself another man’s responsibilities.  

Charles Spurgeon

A friend once told me that after a long, difficult day of being a school counselor, in a particularly troubled area of town, she would go home and eat an entire pint of ice cream.  The stress of responsibility she felt was physically taking its toll.  God does not require us to be this heavily burdened with a person’s faith conversion.  But what if we took it at least as seriously as we do so many other things in our lives?  

Our responsibility is heavy enough without our exaggerating it; we are not men’s sponsors, and if they reject our Saviour whom we faithfully preach their blood must be upon their own heads.

Charles Spurgeon

So what of our verse from Jude today?  What is our responsibility to being our brother’s keeper?  So often, I believe, when we hear this phrase, we imagine ourselves constantly correcting and judging someone.  But a careful study of the Bible’s message about this topic leads to one conclusion – speaking the truth of the Gospel and nothing more.

My brothers and sisters, if one of you 
should wander from the truth and someone 
should bring that person back, remember 
this: Whoever turns a sinner from the 
error of their way will save them from 
death and cover over a multitude of sins. 
James 5:19-20

Wandering from the truth.  Remember my fellow faith traveler?  She is the person mentioned first in the verse today – “one who doubts.”  She wasn’t sure she believed in all that Christians teach.  She was being called back into the world daily.  What she and all new Christians need from their fellow believers and churches is special care and compassion.  

I love how my younger daughter’s church places new members (and even non-members) immediately into a small faith family.  That’s where they can share their questions without judgment.  They are welcomed weekly with open arms and open hearts.  On the opposite end, I’ve been in churches where small groups are barely mentioned and seem to be a place only for mature, involved Christians.

“It is much easier to instruct new Christians and keep them away from the false teachers than it is to snatch them from the fire.”  

Warren Wiersbe

Jude then goes on to admonish us to snatch others from the fire.  According to Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe, these are people who have left our Christian fellowship and are now part of an apostate, or false teaching, group.  What is our responsibility to them?

We might be led to think we have no responsibility at all.  “Who am I to tell them what they think is wrong?”  It’s a refrain I’ve heard from quite a few long-time Christians.  But who are we?  We are the recipients of the greatest sacrifice of all eternity.  A gift that has always been meant to be shared.

I tell you a cold-hearted Christian makes worldlings think that Christianity is a lie.  

Charles Spurgeon

I have friends who consider themselves “spiritual” but not “religious.”  What I’ve come to understand is the word “religious” is actually a substitute for believing that Jesus is the one and only Savior.  Usually in the same conversation I hear “who am I to say there’s only one path to God?” 

If we are not secure enough in our own faith and the Word of God, we won’t have an answer.  We may not be responsible for someone’s heart decision but it is clear that we are responsible for knowing that Jesus is the Way.  And that knowledge is not to be held in a lockbox.  Jesus isn’t for some people.  He is for all people – every race, creed, and nationality.

With truth plus love we can stand for God in the face of our “spiritual” friends.  When the opportunity arises in conversation, we must see it as God’s open door.  And if we refuse to take the step through the door, we must then accept some responsibility for that person’s place in eternity.

If you want to destroy a man you need not teach him to drink or swear: keep back the gospel from him. Be in his company and never say a word for Christ. Be where you ought to speak and be sinfully silent, and who knows how much blood will be laid to your door. 

Charles Spurgeon

Our burden is to do God’s bidding.  Not for God to do ours.  How many times have you had the opportunity to speak God’s truth yet shrunk back in fear of reprisal or embarrassment?  

And so, we come to the last person described by Jude.  The person or people to whom we should show mercy mixed with fear.  Not many of us are equipped to deal with false teachers or with their ardent followers.  These days people have turned from the religion of God to the religions of the environment, of self-love, of wokeness, of the state, and so on.  And their followers are admirably zealous.  To stick a Christian toe into the mind of one of these believers can be quite dangerous.  But that doesn’t mean God wants us to forget about them.

The very fact that there is a Christ at all means that there was one who cared for others, and that our Lord became a man means that he loved his enemies and came here to rescue those who rebelled against his authority. 

Charles Spurgeon

I was praying the other day for something I realized later was wrong thinking.  I prayed that this blog would have a larger audience.  That same day I watched a video by a pastor from Colorado titled, “What does the Bible say about homosexuality.”  It was a great deep dive into related scripture.  And then came the comments.  I will summarize them by saying his responses to the vitriol were very Christ-like.  Notice the title wasn’t, “What I think about homosexuality.”  And yet the personal attacks were disturbing.  In reading his responses I realized that in no way am I prepared to dive into that pool.  

So, what is our responsibility in situations like these?  Again, if God opens the door, He will also have your back.  But if He doesn’t, He always asks us to pray for others.  Knowing who and what we need to pray requires us to be mature in our faith.  We need to pray fervently for the saving of souls.

And, you saved ones, you owe much to God, but do not think that you are saved for your own especial benefit alone. 

Charles Spurgeon

The gathering of souls for God should be every, single Christian’s mission in life.  Starting first in our homes, then amongst our friends, our neighbors and then the world.  We may not always have a one-on-one conversation but we can always pray.  We can give with open hands to mission programs.  Most importantly, we should always be asking God, “who can I help you save today?” And then walk through that door.

The Charles Spurgeon quotes used in this blog come from the sermon titled, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper.” Check it out and be energized for our mission of sharing the gospel!

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

Identifying The Enemy

Lesson #13: To win a battle you first need to identify your adversary.

For certain individuals whose condemnation 
was written about long ago have secretly 
slipped in among you. They are ungodly 
people, who pervert the grace of our God 
into a license for immorality and deny 
Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. 
Jude 1:4

About 10 years after I started at my first professional job out of college, I decided I needed a new experience.  So, I accepted a job at one of our vendors.  I was worried that I wasn’t as experienced as the other professional staff because I had only worked at one job.  But almost instantly I was able to identify the warring factions.  

You see, the fire I went through starting a new public relations and marketing department at the age of 21 prepared me in more ways than I had realized.  While others at my new company struggled with office politics I already knew how to work around the “up, in your face, dragon lady” and the “she speaks sweetly to your face and then stabs you in the back.”  These two women were powerful forces who worked solely for their benefit and at the expense of others.  Had I not quickly assessed the situation I would’ve been tossed about in turmoil like the rest of the staff.

They are wild waves of the sea, 
foaming up their shame; wandering 
stars, for whom blackest darkness 
has been reserved forever. 
Jude 1:13

A number of the letters written by Jesus’ disciples include warnings to churches about the enemies within their midst.  It’s appropriate that our next mini-letter, written by our LORD’s half-brother Jude, is a call to arms against the infiltrators.  Why? Because it also is the last book before Revelation.  It’s almost a final warning to secure the gates, gather the brethren, and stand strong against the enemy before Christ comes.

These people are blemishes at your 
love feasts, eating with you without 
the slightest qualm—shepherds who 
feed only themselves. They are clouds 
without rain, blown along by the wind; 
autumn trees, without fruit and 
uprooted—twice dead. 
Jude 1:12

So how, as Christians, are we to discern who the “blemishes” are in our churches and protect our hearts and minds from them?

Let’s first state that every false teacher, every apostate comes from Satan. He is the enemy. As the Great Liar, Satan has plenty of fodder to create chaos in our midst. When our motivations stem from fame or popularity, greed, lust, and more, Satan is quite happy to make us like yeast — using us to spread his lies about God and Jesus.

I am currently looking for a new church.  But I’m going about it much differently than in the past.  For the first time I’ll be able to truly evaluate whether the teachings of a church are biblically based.  It’s amazing how what God has led us through in our lives always serves to prepare us for the next trial.  I could never had known that starting a small Bible study over a year ago would be one of my greatest weapons against falling prey to apostasy.  

apostasy uhpos-tuh-see ]

a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.

When I first started going to church, we selected the church of my husband’s family.  I trusted my in-laws’ choice and therefore felt comfortable with attending the same denomination.  As for the theological ins-and-outs, I really didn’t understand them or care to know much about the details.

And there lies the dangers.  Satan loves when we are ignorant about God. Sometimes we take more effort dissecting the ingredients in our cereal than what is taught to us from a pulpit.  We think, “Hey, they’ve got training and approval from someone higher up so they must know what they’re talking about.”  And for the most part that’s probably true.  But there’s plenty of churches that have few ties to standard, accepted, religious teaching. There are also all the authors, TV and radio preachers, podcasters, Instagrammers, and yes, bloggers.

Dear friends, do not believe every 
spirit, but test the spirits to see 
whether they are from God, because 
many false prophets have gone out 
into the world. 
1 John: 4:1

My younger daughter was mentoring a new, young member of her church.  This young woman was distraught and thought she had failed God.  Why? Because she couldn’t speak in tongues.  Her church, in which she had grown up, taught that every single person who truly is a follower of Jesus speaks in tongues.  In one short conversation based on scripture this woman’s life was changed.  Because of the truth of the Bible. 

My parents are in their 80s.  I find that when they speak to their doctor, they treat what he says with almost reverence.  They don’t question a word any doctor says.  I keep telling them that doctors are just people.  They also don’t always have the best bedside manner.  So, questions go unanswered.  And fears and missteps with their health abound.

The same is true with faith leaders, be they pastors, priests, elders, deacons, Bible study leaders, famous authors, or church committee members.  They are all people.  Yes, they may have at some point received a calling but they are still people.  And people sin.  Some get greedy.  Some lie to protect themselves.  They all make mistakes.  It’s our responsibility as Christians to know the Word of God enough to question if something doesn’t sound right.

The short letter of Jude has an emphasis on sexual immorality and its promoters who have burrowed into our Christian lives.  How many of us are willing to say to our pastor search committee that our applicants must not be living with someone outside marriage or can’t be homosexual?  In fact, our major denominations have decided neither of those is a “big deal.”  And I ask, is that biblically based?  

If we want to escape the (Christian) struggle we have but to draw back and accept the currently accepted low-keyed Christian life as the normal one. That is all Satan wants. That will ground our power, stunt our growth and render us harmless to the kingdom of darkness.

A.W. Tozer

The struggle, the battle, the enemy.  The Christian life is not a playground.  Yes, we have peace in the fact that Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit have our backs.  They direct us and empower us.  But to truly live a complete Christian life is to face the enemy.  We are to be always on watch for those that would twist the Word of God.  

It sounds harsh to say but according to the renowned Bible commentator Warren Wiersbe an apostate is not a true believer who has abandoned his salvation.  Instead, it is a person who said they accepted the truth but then turned away from the truth.

These are the people who divide you, 
who follow mere natural instincts and 
do not have the Spirit.  
Jude 1:19

As Christians we want to live by Jesus’ admonishment to love one another, especially our brethren.  But at the same time, he called out the “den of vipers.”  Jesus has never asked us to forgo the truth in the spirit of getting along.  Our first steps are to be honest as to who our adversaries are and to acknowledge that Satan is always at work creating chaos.  Only then can we pray for direction and preparation for any battles that may ensue.

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, Christian women, Faith, Jesus Follower, Uncategorized

One Truth

Life Lesson #4: Know the truth of God’s Word

Anyone who runs ahead and does 
not continue in the teaching of 
Christ does not have God; whoever 
continues in the teaching has 
both the Father and the Son.
2 John 9

We hear a lot of “my truth,” “your truth” these days.  What that really means is telling someone that their experience of a situation makes the facts of that situation flexible.   The use of this term makes it clear you aren’t to question someone’s opinion.  For example, we all know how human life is created.  When a human sperm fertilizes a human egg, the new life begins its process toward a fully created human baby.  Those are facts.  The circumstances surrounding that creation of new life may be slightly different for one person or another.  But those circumstances don’t create a “new truth” about the creation of life.  

We have now entered into the teachings found in the small letter by John (2 John) to a woman, whom scholars believe to be a home church host. In it, he reminds her that there are self-professed “teachers of the word” who have either added to or distorted Jesus’ words. He cautions her to not even allow people like that into her home for fear that people will be led astray.

There is a frightening movement in our time that says we can’t agree on even basic truths.  In the world of “church,” entire denominations have turned away from scripture by voting on accepting “new truths.”  I’m not sure what the end goal is behind this movement except chaos.  And as Christians we know who the king of chaos is – Satan. 

“If ‘moving forward’ leads us away from the doctrines of the person and work of Jesus Christ then that is dangerous.”

Warren Wiersbe on 2 John

I had a great discussion with a friend about the Gnostic texts found at Nag Hammadi.  Once the apostles trained more and more missionaries, the Word spread far and wide. But that also meant the Word of God got more and more distorted.  In fact, all the letters written by the apostles and included in the Bible have some focus on sticking with the truth of the Gospel and Jesus’ words. Sure there were folks that simply misunderstood the message but there were also those that craved power and the possibility of making money off new believers (something that still happens today!)

I’m always surprised when I’m in faith-type discussions with fellow Christians and a statement about God or Jesus is said that just doesn’t find its truth in the Bible.  For some, studying and reading the Bible just isn’t a priority.  Yet those same Christians go out into the world professing to know and understand its truths.  Here’s a few you might recognize:

  • “Jesus is a socialist.”  
  • “Jesus says to love and accept everyone no matter what.”  
  • “The Bible doesn’t have a problem with homosexuality (or any kind of sex outside marriage).”
  • “The Bible hates women.”
  • “I love Jesus but there are lots of different ways to salvation and God.”  
  • “The Bible teaches us to hate rich people and the accumulation of wealth.”  
  • “If you pray hard enough God will answer you.” 
  • “If God doesn’t answer you then you obviously have done something wrong.”  
  • “The Bible teaches that women are less respected than men.”  
  • “Jesus was just a man.”  
  • “Christians aren’t supposed to express their beliefs if in a government job.”  
  • “Christians are supposed to obey the government no matter what.”
  • “Faith should be private.”
  • “Sharing the gospel is like being a used car salesman and isn’t something we should do.”
  • “Jesus wants you to give up everything you own and follow him.”

A few years ago, the denomination that I’ve been a member of for about 20 years authorized same-sex marriages and voted to divest from Israel.  I wrote to the leadership and made a simple request.  “Show me where your decision is based on Biblical truth.”  And what I got in response was crickets. Because, “who do I think I am questioning those in the know?” But the great thing about Jesus is He brought the Word to all of us.

“I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in me and I in you, you 
will bear much fruit; apart from me 
you can do nothing.”
John 15:5

In other words, our job is to stay tightly attached to Jesus.  Stay anchored in His Holy Word.  If we could even stick with the basic message of Jesus day in and day out, we would be victorious in living out the one, most important truth – that God sent His son to give us redemption for our sins.  And our acceptance of this truth leads us to behave like saved people, attached to the great vine.

Keep this Book of the Law always 
on your lips; meditate on it day 
and night, so that you may be careful 
to do everything written in it. 
Then you will be prosperous and 
successful.
Joshua 1:8

Throughout the Bible we are told to have His Holy Word on our lips, on our hearts and on our minds.  How do we do that?  For many it stops at going to church occasionally.  But what my BSGs (Bible study girls) have discovered is that to truly know and understand the great truths of the Bible is to be immersed in His Word.  To truly study on it, meditate on it, sing it, speak it and even defend it.  And then it becomes imprinted on our hearts and minds.  Too many of us go to the once a week lecture in the lecture hall and then fail to do the assigned homework.

If our homes and churches are to be true to Christ and oppose false teachers, we must know the truth.

Warren Wiersbe on 2 John

There is no true love apart from the truth of God.  He sets us on the right, good and loving path.  Love, because we know the truth, becomes action. 

Stand firm then with the belt 
of truth buckled around your waist, 
with the breastplate of righteousness 
in place.
Ephesians 6:14

We hear a lot about the need to be “progressive” in our faith so that it has relevance – or new “truths.”  Yet, when we read the Bible we see the same sinful behavior played out year after year, century after century.  The Greek word prokopé (progress) means something different to Christians.  

For the believer, this means going forward in sanctification, cutting through obstacles by the Lord’s power.

Strong’s Concordance

“By the Lord’s power” – His Spirit and His Word.  Progress to a Christian is not about creating a “new truth.”  It’s about applying God’s truth to our lives and cutting out our worldly ways.  It’s about resting in the knowledge that God is the God of yesterday, today and tomorrow.  It’s about having peace that Jesus taught us what is right and good.  It’s about knowing that the Holy Spirit guides us through the chaos of this world.  It is our responsibility as God’s people to know the truth of His Word.