TOMORROW’S TROUBLES

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We only worry about 3 days of our lives; YESTERDAY, TODAY or TOMORROW. Since last weeks article looked at letting go of YESTERDAY, let’s see how to handle the worries of TODAY & TOMORROW.

Everyone, at one time or another has had anxiety about some future event. We worry about making our payments, our health, or facing someone that we need to face. There are more emergency room visits & heart attacks on Sunday night & Monday morning than any other day of the week. Why? Because people are worrying about tomorrow. (I confirmed this on a recent hospital ER visit.) People are dying to go to work.

Jesus had much to say about worry over TOMORROW’S things; “Take therefore no thought for the morrow:” [Mat 6:34].  The command is for us not to fret over tomorrow, but did He give us any instructions as to how? I think He gives 2 steps, and we find them in the same passage of Mat 6:25-34.

THE REMEDY TO REDUCE WORRY

The FIRST thing we learn about reducing stress & worry is in finding PERSPECTIVE. Jesus gives 3 examples to help us gain perspective.

  • Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? [v26]
  • Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? [v27]
  • And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: [v28]

These 3 examples are there for us to have PERSPECTIVE on life. As faithful children of God, we can trust in His promise of care [cf. Psalm 37:25; 1Pet 5:7].

The SECOND thing we learn about reducing stress & worry is in taking PRIORITIZED ACTION. Jesus said it this way,

  • But seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. [v33 emphasis mine seb]

This remedy is so simple that we overlook its great power. He is teaching us about having the right PERSPECTIVE and then taking PRIORITIZED ACTION. When a person devotes himself to “seeking the kingdom of God, and His righteousness,” that person will discover the prescription from the creator on how to live, how to survive this life and how go to heaven.

Without His guidance we’re left to worry & stress over how to wander through a broken world. Jesus continues saying, “Sufficient for today are its own troubles.” [v34] This is just another way of telling us to have PERSPECTIVE and to take PRIORITIZED ACTIONS. The only affect we have on tomorrow are the activities we do today. If we seek God’s way of doing things, we’ll have made the best use of today giving the best chance for tomorrow.

This strategy helps us to better understand what is meant in James 5:14; “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”

The context is about concern over tomorrow’s work without having PERSPECTIVE about the frailty of life and taking notice of the PRIORITIZED ACTION needed today. That FIRST action must be getting ourselves right with God. Paul reminds the child of God, “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [2Cor 6:2b]

Would you desire peace today with release from worry? Prepare today to go to heaven and make that the first decision you make each day. Having PERSPECTIVE and deciding on a PRIORITZED ACTION, then all the rest of your decisions will have already been made. You’ll be free to concentrate on, enjoy & fully live each and every day.

Whether tomorrow comes or not, you’ll have done the very best you could possibly do. If it comes, it will begin on the very best possible footing, His righteousness.

If it doesn’t come, you’ll have ended today on the very best possible footing, having sought the kingdom of God and obeying the gospel.

—-spencer

What are you Doing about it?

We can all agree that Jesus the Christ did not sin. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:” [1Pet 2:22]. The rest of us have “sinned and come short of the glory of God” [Rom 3:23].

We’re not alone. The great bible characters dealt with this realization:

Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Peter & Paul. Each of these faced the reality of their own sin, Paul saying; “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief” [1Tim 1:15].

This fact is no authorization to continue in sin even as Christ came to save sinners. Paul also wrote; “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? [Rom 6:1-2]

Through our obedience to the gospel we have found redemption through Christ Jesus, having our sins washed away in water baptism [Acts 22:16]. Although we’ve been washed, sin leaves a terrible mark on our psyche and scars on our bodies. What are we to do with this?

Paul wrote to the Philippians about this, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” [Phil 3:13-14]. However, in another place he reminded the church of their past sins, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” [1Cor 6:11]. What are we to do with that?

Putting these two passages together we come to this conclusion; Remember from where you’ve come and from what you’ve been saved, but close the door on your past so that you can move onward to do the work of God. There are THREE things about our past that need “forgetting” so we can please God today.

FIRST, we need to forget our past sins. Paul had plenty of sins in his past especially as it related to his persecution of the church. “And I persecuted this way unto the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women” [Acts 22:4]. Our past sins are forgiven, but unchangeable. They are what they are and we cannot undo them. Therefore, they are to be forgotten.

SECOND, we need to forget our past successes. Whatever good we may have done, however many people we may have helped in the gospel, we cannot rest on those successes. We must continue to press toward the goal. Nowhere is “once saved, always saved” taught in scripture. Not after faith, baptism or any good deed.

THIRD, we need to forget (in a figure) our past sorrows. We’ve all experienced loss & pain, but those sorrows should not prevent us from moving forward with God. Some let the pains and losses of their past to paralyze them from continued service in God’s kingdom.

Rather than let our past paralyze us, it ought to MOTIVATE us into more & abundant service to our King. Being reminded of the forgiveness we have through Christ; our past sins should MOVE us to continual repentance [Acts 8:22-24; 1John 1:7-9].

Our past wins should continue to MOVE us to do more service for our King. “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” [Titus 2:14].

Lastly, the pains of our past should MOVE us to reach out to the lost with the gospel message so that nobody dies outside of Christ. You can feel Paul’s sense of urgency about this for the unconverted Jewish nation; “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” [Romans 10:1, cf 9:2-4].

We have no control over our past selves and we have no control over our future selves except as it relates to our TODAY selves. Today is the largest amount of time within our ability and with that it is our only opportunity to serve God.

Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts… Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” [Heb 3:7-14].

How does The Holy Spirit work on your heart?

While talking with a denominational preacher about reaching the lost he said, “Some people just aren’t interested in spiritual things, they don’t study and don’t have many conversations about spiritual things. In these cases, all we can do is let the Holy Spirit work on their heart.”

This man would say that he doesn’t accept Calvinism, but he was vocalizing the false doctrine. To remind you of what Calvinism teaches allow me to summarize…

  • Total Depravity: All mankind is born into sin, including babies.
  • Unconditional Election: God picks and chooses who will be saved or lost and it’s unchangeable.
  • Limited Atonement: That God picks only a few individuals to be saved and all else will be lost and you can’t change it. Including babies.
  • Irresistible Grace: That if you’re among those being chosen to be saved, then you cannot prevent it nor resist it.
  • Perseverance of the Saints: Once God saves you (even if against your will) then you can never lose your salvation ever, no matter how sinful a life you lead or even if you change your belief.

Now this is my summary of their belief and if you asked a Calvinist, he will spin it so it sounds better, but the result will be the same; IT’S UNSCRIPTURAL. Another thing you might find is that there are denominations that accept all or part of the above. Belief (faith) comes from hearing the written word of God [John 20:30-31; Rom 10:17].

A partial belief is what this preacher had accepted. He rejects most of Calvinism, but his statement, that the Holy Spirit will work on a person’s heart even as they have no interest in spiritual things, no reading, nor studying with others from the bible, proves it.

HOW DOES THE HOLY SPIRIT CONVERT?

No Bible believer questions the fact the Holy Spirit saves sinners (John 3:5), the question is HOW? We only have 2 options a) direct operation of the Spirit or b) through the influence of a medium (the Gospel, Romans 1:16).

The Scriptures teach us that the Holy Spirit’s work, in the redemption of mankind, is the work of divine revelation. God originates, Christ procures, the Spirit reveals.

Review the chart on the next page to see HOW the Holy Spirit works to save sinners. What you will find is that people are converted through the Holy Spirit revealed word of God that utilized teaching, preaching or reading of the scriptures. Yes, the Holy Spirit does work on our hearts, but He does it through our diligent study of God’s divine word.

ILLUSTRATION: When a person says, “my spouse made a nourishing dinner,” who did it? Were they nourished by the spouse or the food? If a person and an instrument perform the same task, the person is working THROUGH the instrument.Thus, the Holy Spirit saves through the influence of the written word of God [John 3:5; 1Pet 1:22-23].

The Holy Spirit converts a person when they engage in seeking the Kingdom of God, Bible reading and a diligent study of God’s word, rightly divided. [Matt 6:33; 2Tim 2:15]

HOGS & CHRISTIANS

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An Evangelist once visited a farmer to talk to him about Christ. “I wouldn’t come to church up there,” the farmer said. “I know old So and So (insert a name) church goer who claims to be a Christian and So and So (insert another name) church goer who claims to be a Christian, and they don’t live any differently from me. I’m as good as they are.” Everywhere the farmer went, he told about the hypocrites in that Church.

A few weeks go by and the Christian went to see the farmer again. “I want to buy a hog,” said the Christian. The farmer showed all his best hogs to him. “I believe I will take that one,” the Christian said. “BUT you don’t want that one. He’s the worst runt in the litter.” “I sure do,” said the Christian. So, they loaded the runt in the truck. The farmer then asks, “What are you going to do with this runt hog?”

The Christian replied, “I plan to take this pig here from your farm and ride all over this area telling folks that this is the kind of hogs you raise?”

“THAT’S NOT FAIR!” the farmer exclaimed. “I have some nice hogs and you want to show people that runt?”…to which the Christian replied, “If it’s fair for the church, it’s fair for your operation!”

It’s a real problem. We face this situation, not with hog farmers, but with our friends, family & co-workers. We fear inviting because they may call us hypocrites. They’d be right because we’re flawed, we’re often broken, but that’s why we’ve come to the Lord. They’d also be wrong because what they don’t see is our desire to repent and grow into the mature Christian that our Lord & Savior wants us to become.

Unfairly, our flaws become obstacles to many. They don’t see that we’re learning and changing. “Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?” [Romans 2:21; cf. 2Sam 12:14]

There will be occasions when a member of the Lord’s Body sins and should be rebuked or withdrawn from [cf. 1Corinthians 5:5], but their sinful behavior is not representative of the congregation as a whole, and it’s certainly not representative of the doctrine of Christ! As the farmer said, “THAT’S NOT FAIR!”

Fortunately, the Lord will not judge us as a church, we will face him as individuals [2Corinthians 5:10]. He addressed this issue in the church at Sardis; “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy” [Revelation 3:4]. Read the letters to the church at Corinth. If we measure every person in the congregation by the actions of a few, then no one can be saved.

Since others will judge the church as a whole based on the actions of a few, it’s vital that we all strive to grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul rebuked those in the church at Rome; “For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” [Romans 2:24].

Don’t let folks get away with judging the Lord’s body for the actions of a few. Rather, let them see our Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Gentleness, Goodness, Faith, Meekness, & Temperance. Each of which are present in this beautiful congregation. A congregation that exists to serve the Lord as He commands. A congregation that seeks to remain pure from the influence of the world. A congregation that fights the compromises of denominational division. A congregation that desires to keep the commands of Christ out of the great LOVE that He showed them and that we have for Him.

Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1Peter 2:12].

“WHAT ABOUT HIM?” That’s what a child says when they’ve been caught in their bad behavior. Moms & Dads never accept this as an excuse for bad behavior. Neither does the Lord and neither should we.

A sound congregation of the Lord will have decent, but flawed, folks striving to serve the Lord. It will also have some not striving so much. A sound congregation will have mature Christians and some that are young in the faith. It will have a mix of individuals (cf. 1Cor 12:12-26].

Don’t make a decision about the Lord’s body based on those who are working on their flaws. Decide based on the truth of God’s word and your own need for repair. Besides, you would never refuse a gym because of all the overweight people, would you?

Do you remember when you were without hope?

You may be thinking that this title refers to that time in your life when you had great financial distress, but it doesn’t. Or you may suppose that it refers to that time when you may have been in fear for your life at the threat of a thief or a maniac, but it doesn’t. Or you may be thinking it’s referring to the loss of a parent or a spouse, but it doesn’t.

It’s referring to Ephesians chapter 2: “Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh,… That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.”

Too many people are hopeless, and far too many Christians are displaying hopelessness as well. It’s very easy to get caught up in the concerns for this life and to forget that there’s an eternity awaiting us. Paul is saying that without Christ this life is hopeless. Without Christ this life holds no promises.

The writer of Ecclesiastes makes the same point in a very powerful way. He writes about seeking success, wealth, joy and meaningful work, but at the end of the day it’s vanity, “grasping after the wind.” He’s not suggesting that these pursuits are worthless. His conclusion is the same as Paul’s, without God in your life all these things are hopeless. His conclusion of the whole matter is, “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.” [Ecc 12:13]

Have you ever met someone that appeared to have nothing, no money, had physical disabilities or otherwise devoid of many of this world’s goods but was happy? I have, many times. I met a man, whom I’ve told you about, who had a disease called Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP). It is a disorder in which muscle tissue and connective tissue are gradually replaced by bone (ossified), forming bone outside the skeleton. He was one of the happiest guys I knew. I loved being around him because he brightened every room he entered.

How can anyone in a condition like that be happy? It was by no cause of his own, it happened to him beginning from his youth up. He experienced daily pain because of his disease but brought joy to those around him. How did he do it, what’s the key? I’ll tell you, he looked forward to being with God. In other words, he had purpose. This is true of nearly everyone who, despite the difficulties of life, are happy. They have found purpose, meaning and a direction.

THE KEY TO TRUE JOY…PURPOSE

People with purpose are some of the happiest people on the planet. They will endure great pain & struggle because of purpose.

I read about a study where scientists tossed lab rats into a jar of water that had been placed in total darkness to see how long they would swim to survive. In total darkness it took 3 minutes before they gave up. Then they took the rats and placed them in the same conditions, but this time with a small ray of light at the top. How long did the rats struggle this time? 36 hours! When they had a light, a possibility of escape, they were able to endure.

Think about how strong we can be when we have hope, true hope that is in Christ. We can face tomorrow when we know that we’ve been reconciled to God in Christ. Paul finishes his command to remember by saying, “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

So, let us be reminded that without Christ we are without hope, without the promise of heaven, but IN CHRIST we have both the promise of heaven and hope that He will return to take us there. [Gal 3:27 put on Christ in baptism]

The next time life gets you down, and it will, look up and be reminded that God loves you, and that He sent His Son to provide you a way of escape.

Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful (compassionate), and of tender mercy.” [James 5:11]

SPOTTING A FALSE TEACHING

 

 

 

 

It is absolutely clear, God has warned us over and over to beware of false teachers, false doctrine & perverted gospels.

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you,” [2Peter 2:1]

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” [1Timothy 4:1]

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.” [Galatians 1:6-8]

This being said, the next question becomes, how do I spot a false teacher, teaching or doctrine? Below are three easy ways to distinguish a false teaching from the truth.

3 SIGNS OF A FALSE TEACHING

ONE: MAKING ASSERTIONS WITHOUT BIBLICAL EVIDENCE. No BOOK, CHAPTER or VERSE. A young man once told me that he knew his denomination to be true because he FELT it was. Another person told me that he knew his denomination was true (different from the other man’s) because he FELT it. Yet another said something similar, they FELT that God had led them to the truth. Each of these folks are in different denominations teaching different things about the same subjects.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Corinthians 1:10]

TWO: REDEFINING TERMS TO FIT THEIR NARRATIVE. Some false teachings just try to change a single word or the definition of that word. Satan added “not” to the command of God in Genesis 2:16-17. Today, folks are adding “not” to Mark 16:16. In another example, they change the definition of the word “for” in Acts 2:38, from “used as a function word to indicate purpose” to make it mean, “because.”

In another example, the word “baptism” in the original Greek language means, “to immerse.” Change agents have modified the definition to include “sprinkling or pouring.” If you can change the definitions you can change the doctrine, or so you think. Read the following verses and see if “for” means the same thing.

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” [Acts 2:38]

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” [Matthew 26:28]

Is Jesus saying in the second verse, stated BEFORE He shed His blood, that His blood is shed “because” sins have already been remitted? Certainly not! Keep the definitions true and you’ll read the truth.

THREE: THEIR ARGUMENT RELIES ON IGNORING OTHER BIBLE PASSAGES ON THE SAME SUBJECT THAT CONTRADICT THEIR POSITION. While it is true that salvation is by Grace [Eph 2:8-9], and that it’s by faith / belief [Acts 16:31], it IS NOT TRUE that we are saved by “faith alone.”

 

Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?  Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:21-24]

 

Recently, a person I had been studying with took some of the questions to their ‘pastor.’ They sought evidence from him for his assertions about ‘faith only’ & ‘once saved always saved.’ They questioned his ‘proof’ with the REST of the scriptures. He then said to this person that it would be better if they left this denomination. WHAT?! A false teaching or teacher may have a ‘proof text’ but it doesn’t stand in light of the whole counsel of God.

A truth teller will use the Bible for his teaching, will use the Biblical definitions of words (defining words by the meaning they had at the time of the writing) and will take the “whole counsel of God.”

The false teacher, will add to God’s word, take away from God’s word, or they will “wrest the scriptures” to find the meaning they want [2Peter 3:16], which are condemned in God’s word.

We here, in the church of Christ, strive to remain pure & true to God’s word. We seek to know God’s will in all matters great & small. We do it for the simple reason that we want to go to heaven. We hope you want that as well.

–Spencer

APATHEISM IS THE WORST

As you might can tell, the word ‘APATHEISM’ is a blending of the words ‘apathy’ & ‘theism / atheism’ meaning that one is unconcerned as to whether a deity exists or not. An APATHEIST doesn’t care if God exists and furthermore, has no interest in discussing it because the answer wouldn’t change anything about their lives and or behaviors.

Do you see why I say that it’s the worst? At least with the antagonists toward faith, there’s dialogue. The APATHEIST has zero interest whatsoever with talking about it. For them, any discussion about it is meaningless.

There’s more to this APATHEISM picture. It’s one thing to have zero interest in the existence of God, but this same APATHEISM shows up among believers of God regarding the issues that have created denominations. For many, the discussion about…

  • The one Body– Mat 16:18;
  • The one Holy Spirit – John 16:13; Eph 3:3-4
  • The one Hope – Eph 1:18
  • The one Calling– 2Thess 2:14
  • The one Lord – 1Cor 1:13;
  • The one Faith – Jude 1:3:
  • The one Baptism – Mark 16:16
  • The ONE GOD – Mal 2:10;

…are meaningless [Ephesians 4:4-6]. They’ll say something like, “we’re all in different ships heading to the same harbor.” After this they are saying by their APATHEISM, “the discussion is over, the theology is settled, the debate is over, the time for talking has passed. The experts have reached a consensus. Any other point of view in this day and age is hateful, divisive & judgmental. If you disagree, then you’re not welcome. It’s legalism, it’s pharisaical, it’s old fashioned, it’s outdated. You’re lost for believing such things, and I will only help you out of your lost state if you just listen, don’t ask any questions and totally agree with me and especially if you don’t ask me to show you any scriptures.”

You may think what is written above is mocking. I assure you it is not. Each of these statements have been outright stated or implied to me on a near daily basis. I once scheduled a study with 2 young men in white shirts from a particular denomination, for which they arrived late. They wanted to speak first. After they were done, I said, “I have a couple of questions for you.” After the first question (which they refused to answer) they had to leave or they would be late for their next appointment. The time for talking had passed.

Another time a fellow said, “I don’t want you to tell me that my beliefs are wrong.” Another once screamed at a colleague of mine, “YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE BAPTIZED TO BE SAVED!!!” On another occasion when I kindly asked a person if they wanted to see the only time “faith only” was used in the Bible they said, “nope.” By the way, it’s in James chapter 2 and it says, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”

I find it amazing when folks approach me to tell me about their faith as if time had no meaning, but are suddenly out of time when I ask them a few questions. The debate is over, you’re a legalist.

Folks, eternity is much too long a time to spend it in regret of having not learned the truth about salvation & faithfulness. When Paul said, “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” he wasn’t authorizing that as a position of safety [1Cor 14:38]. Ignorance may be bliss in this life, but in the next one it’s misery. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” [Acts 17:30]

PS: There is an authorized time when the time for talking has passed and it’s found in Mat 7:6; 15:14. When is the right time to be apatheistic? When you discover you’re talking with an APATHEIST. I’m never apathetic toward the lost who are willing to engage in discussion. It’s only when they tell me, “the debate is over, the time for talking has passed, Any other point of view in this day and age is hateful, divisive & judgmental. The theology is settled, the discussion is over…”

–Spencer

Declaration of an ATHEIST

When you meet an Atheist, you’ve met a person with a serious problem. Atheism is declaring that there is no God. For this to be an honest statement, one must first have complete knowledge of LIFE, the UNIVERSE & EVERYTHING. If you don’t know everything, perhaps God is in that missing knowledge.

Here are a few questions for the Atheist…

  • What happened at the beginning of everything? Were you there?
  • Do you know everything about the bottom of the ocean?
  • Do you know everything about what happens to the soul at death?
  • Do you know everything about deep space?
  • Can you explain how we have consciousness?

These are only a few of the 72 questions God asks in Job 38-41. Several of the questions have multiple parts. Man is still searching for the answers to these questions and more. Yet, the atheist declares with certainty, “THERE IS NO GOD!” That’s arrogance.

“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.”

Psalm 53:1

Pride is at the center of atheism. I’m not impugning anyone’s motives, God is, for He knows the motives of us all. “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” [Psalm 10:4; cr Heb 4:12]

Atheism searches for answers without a Divine source, but it’s an exercise in futility. Every time they introduce a theory stating a natural beginning, the question remains, “who / what created that?” Ad infinitum. Whereas the Christian doesn’t have this dilemma. We believe in a self-existent God who has always been and will always be. It’s the more logical conclusion.

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.”

[Rev 1:8]

Above is a ‘DECLARATION of an ATHEIST’ for the next time you meet someone claiming to be one. The intent is not to mock, rather to help them see the futility of atheism and to encourage looking at the possibility there is a God.

 

–spencer

I don’t know

One of the biggest obstacles to personal evangelism is this question, “What if they ask a question that I don’t know the answer?” The feeling of terror, the strong impulse to say something so as not to appear stupid. What do you do?

Before we proceed, we need to be reminded that none of us are expert at every question that may arise, but take heart, God is, and He has given us everything we need for faith, doctrine, and instruction for how we ought to act. [cf. John 20:30-31; 2Tim 3:16-17]. The following are some suggestions on how to handle a question for which you don’t know the answer.

FIRST; Never let what you don’t know stop you from telling what is certain. If we did that, there’d be no personal evangelism whatsoever. Our efforts will become more productive as we mature, but we’ll never mature if we don’t put what we know into practice.

One way to look at a hard question is as an opportunity to learn and to grow. You may not be able to answer it this time, but you’ll be ready the next. [Heb 5:12].

SECOND: When asked a question for which you don’t know, resist the temptation to make one up. That’s much more dangerous for it may pass along error. Silence is a much better answer than giving a bad one. Look at Job’s friends, they were in a much better position when they said nothing at all. If you are asked and you don’t know just say, “I don’t know.” What’s better, not giving any answer or giving a bad one and needing to go back to the person for correction? Here are 3 things you can say instead of making up a wrong answer:

  • Compliment them: Say, “That’s a great question, I don’t know.” This will make the person feel like you’re really listening and respect them. Admitting that you’re human demonstrates humility, a most valuable attitude as we go about teaching others.
  • Ask for more information: By asking them to clarify the question you may discover that you do know the answer, or it will give you clarity as some people ask a question seeking direction for a different underlying issue.
  • Ask if you & they could look up the answer together: By doing this, you show them how much you value the truth and that you’re willing to learn. This also affords you an opportunity for another study. Here’s a tip from my experience, SET A DATE & TIME for when you will come back together to discuss the answer. Otherwise, you may never have the chance again.
Here’s how this might sound;

“That’s a great question, you may be the first person to ever ask me that question. I have no idea what the answer might be, but you’ve piqued my curiosity. I don’t know the answer, but I know who does, God and He’s written so many answers to our questions in the bible [2Pet 1:1-4]. Why don’t we write this question down and study it? Then we can meet again, same time next week over coffee, to see what we can learn?”

Following are some helpful ideas about this situation;

Not knowing the answer is not a problem, it’s awareness and an opportunity. None of us knows everything and people dig deep to try to stump us. See it as an opportunity for more personal study and a way to set up a regular home bible study with this person. Here are 2 more considerations:

  • This may be a topic you’ve never considered and now see why others are struggling with coming to the knowledge of the truth.
  • Hard questions sometimes show us how folks are thinking about things that other underlying issues, ie Authority, how God communicates, defining words biblically etc.

The ramifications of faking an answer can be devastating. You may be wrong and teach a lie. Your friend may see through it and not trust you for any spiritual advice. Lastly, they may see it as an attempt at hiding something which never helps at developing trust.

May all our connections lead to more finding & obeying the truth, just like God wants [2Pet 3:9].

Spencer

REPLACING THE GOSPEL

If you were to ask 100 secular people what the gospel is, you would likely get 100 answers. If you asked 100 religious people you may get 1,000. The reason I say this is because over the last 2,000 years (and particularly the last 100) mankind have been coming up with all sorts of gospels. Which are not other gospels, but a perversion of the one Gospel.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” [Gal 1:8].

The recent past is nothing new, we can read about men replacing God’s word in the Bible and it was going on long before the 1st century. Turn in your Bible to 1 Kings 12:26-33 and you’ll see a story of one man changing the worship of God for his own purposes.

If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me,” [v27]

In this story we can identify 5 steps in which Jeroboam was able to pervert the truth of God’s word so that he could have control over the population…

FIRST, he found counselors who would tell him what he wanted to hear [v28a, cr. 2Tim 4:3].

NEXT, they used a well known biblical story and altered it for their own purposes [v28b]. It was true that Aaron made some golden calves and said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” But this too was a perversion of the truth to control the people. This perversion would be easy if you kept people from reading the word for themselves and proving all things [1Thess 5:21].

THEN, he placed the two calves at biblically significant places, Bethel and Dan [v29. cf. Ge 28:19; Jg 18:29;].

AFTER THIS, he perverted the teachers of the people by replacing the authorized priests with teachers of his own choosing whom he could control, not being guided by God’s word. [cf. 3John 1:9]

LASTLY, he set up special days, again, like the feasts authorized by God with just a subtle change. “And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made” [v32 cf. Lev 23:33-34; Rom 14:5-6].

It didn’t take much to convince the people especially if they didn’t take the perversions of Jeroboam and compare it to God’s word. Sound familiar? We must be careful not to repeat the mistakes of the past in allowing the subtle trickery of error to creep into the church that Jesus Himself built. Paul warned the church;

That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” [Eph 4:14].

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL? We find the answer in God’s word [1Cor 15:1-4], “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ DIED for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was BURIED, and that he ROSE AGAIN the third day according to the scriptures:” (emph. seb)

The Gospel is to be obeyed [2Thess 1:8; Heb 5:9] and is obeyed when a person HEARS, BELIEVES, REPENTS, CONFESSES and is BAPTIZED [Rom 6:3-4].

The record of history is clear, men have and continue to pervert the Good News of God drawing men away from obeying the truth [Gal 5:7; cr. 2Tim 3:1-7]. Don’t be one of them.

— Spencer