If the gospel is good news, then why did they need boldness?

IN ACTS 4 and verse 29, the early Christians prayed for boldness, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word.” They sent up this prayer since Peter and John had just been arrested and released for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In chapter 5, they will again be arrested and we will see the fulfillment of their request when they told the council, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Immediately after this bold statement they also preach to them the Gospel (the Death, Burial & Resurrection of Jesus [1Cor 15:1-4]) in verses 30-32.

If the Gospel is such “good news,” then why where they arrested and beaten? Why was there such negative reaction to ‘good news?’ Why do we see the same reaction among folks today?

As we look through God’s word, we can find at least 3 reasons

FOOLISHNESS: For many people of their day, the Gospel appeared to them as foolishness. They didn’t believe it and thought it to be like a fairy tale. Paul wrote about this in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” This is as true today as it has ever been. Many today have placed their faith in evolution and ignored the signs of creation that point to an Almighty Creator. Paul noted about folks like these, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” [Romans 1:20].

In the same chapter, his example encourages us to remain faithful and bold against those who find the Gospel to be foolish, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth;” [Romans 1:16]

FOES: There are also enemies to the Gospel. The main enemy of the cross for those in the 1st century is very much the same for us today. There will be some who will hate the Gospel because it requires an end to a hedonistic life. Paul wrote that some will follow the Gospel, “Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.” Then he said there will be some whose life is spent on their own lusts, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” [Phil 3:17-19].

In his warning was an encouragement for us, follow those who are living a godly life. It takes boldness to be different from the world, but it is extremely important that we succeed. “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” [Matthew 7:13-14].

FALSE TEACHERS: Perhaps related to the other 2, there will be some who will lie about the Gospel and speak against it. For the first Christians, the false teachers were the Jews and they spoke against the Gospel because of envy, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming” [Acts 13:45].

There were also false teachers who tried to look like believers. In Paul’s time, he had to deal with people who wanted to exalt themselves, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” [2Corinthians 11:12-13]. How true is this today? Men, owners of denominations, have become the center of attention and the main attraction. Professing to be Christians, they are, in reality, false teachers leading so many toward destruction. This is the most dangerous kind, for Paul compared these to Satan who, “himself is transformed into an angel of light” and calls these people Satan’s ministers [v15].

Boldness is needed here as well. Paul combated these through humble and faithful service. He preached the Gospel with a humility such as that of Jesus Himself. “For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more” [1Corinthians 9:19].

So, you see, we are in just as much need of courage as they, for the Gospel, though Good News to us who are being saved, it is bad news for those who are perishing.

Is church a pill?

A couple of things first. I’m referring to the weekly assembly on Sunday when I say ‘church’, since that is how much of the world uses it. The scriptures clearly teach that the church is actually the people. [1Cor 12:14]

When I say ‘pill’ I’m referring to the idea of a prescription but could just as easily work as “something disagreeable that must be swallowed”.

Do we treat church like a pill? 

Many folks take pills to treat some illness, and in most cases, they seek the pill rather than change the underlying behavior that caused the condition. Take diet pills as an example. For many, rather than reduce their calorie intake, increase their exercise and eat better quality food they will take a pill as if it will solve their condition.

That’s what I mean when I ask, “do we treat church like a pill?” Do we believe we can act ungodly all week long, and if we take a pill (church attendance), that our sinful condition will go away?

Please understand what I am saying. The weekly assembly of God’s people is a necessity for continuing in the Apostles doctrine and shouldn’t be forsaken [Heb 10:25; Acts 20:7; 1Cor 16:2], but it is not a ‘pill’ one takes to offset our bad behavior and sinful heart.

James wrote; “For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” [James 1:23-24]

Here’s a question for you, how long after assembling with the saints before you revert to your sinful conduct. 24 hours or 24 seconds? I must confess that I’ve been guilty of this as well. For my family, we had screaming car fights before arriving to the assembly, acting all lovey dovey during the worship, then picking up where we left off with the battle as soon as we got back into the car.

How to take a pill

When you’re given a prescription from a doc, he also gives you a list of things to change. The weekly assembly can be viewed in much the same way. The lesson, prayers, songs, our giving and the Lord’s Supper all have an ability to teach us and remind us what manner of person we ought to be.

The medications we take, very often, would be much more effective if we also modified our behaviors that caused the illness. Without the modification of behavior we will remain sick and possibly die. Paul said something similar to the church at Corinth; “But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.” [1 Corinthians 11:28-30]

Church attendance should remind us of the sacrificial gift of Christ, and the promise of His return when He will gather up the saints and destroy the world.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,” [2Peter 3:11]

 

2 Responses to every sermon Pt. 2

truth set you free

LAST WEEK, we began the discussion on the 2 responses to every sermon, WALKING OUT or WALKING FORWARD. We noted that these can be literal actions where a person really walks out of the building or comes to the front to confess sin, or it could be done mentally.

To recap WALKING OUT

We walk out on a sermon for a few reasons. We may be TIRED, we think it’s about SOMEONE ELSE or we just DISAGREE. Regardless the reason, we “check out” mentally or physically.

Now let’s look at…

Walking forward

It’s common for folks, when pricked in the heart by God’s message, to leave their pew and proceed to the front of the auditorium to confess the sin in their lives in a public way. This is good, it’s an accountability measure, especially for sin committed publicly. It’s not only good, it’s Godly for it is a confession of sin along with a vow of repentance. The Jews on Pentecost, upon hearing how they had been party to the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ, the text says; “they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” [Acts 2:37] These folks recognized their sin, recognized their need for forgiveness and made an immediate, public response.

If we’re paying attention to the message, and studying the Word of God, eventually we come to some area of our lives in which we’ve failed. We’ve sinned. I know this is true for John said, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” [1John 1:8] At this point we must either reject the word of God, or accept it and submit to it. What makes this difficult is when someone else comes to us and points out our error. [Matt 18:15-17; 1Corinthians] It’s in those moments that we’re most resistant to repentance. Honest folks choose the latter, as did those on Pentecost and Saul of Tarsus [Acts 9:1-19], they repent and “WALKED FORWARD.”

Whether the need is to make a public confession because of public sin, or a private confession which is a natural part of Christian growth, both require a Godly sorrow. When Paul wrote the 1st letter to the church at Corinth, he pointed out several problems, flaws and sins. His worry was that he had made them sorry in a worldly sense, but it turned out that it was a sorrow in a Godly manner [2Cor 7:9-10]. He wrote, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

Did you catch it? “Godly sorrow” produces repentance and this repentance leads to SALVATION! Did you also see the other kind of sorrow, “sorrow of the world?” To fully appreciate what the Holy Spirit wants us to hear, let’s break this verse down.

For godly sorrow – A RESPECT for God’s word. A Godly sorrow is produced by faith in God which seeks to please God. Faith comes from hearing the word of God. [Romans 10:17]

WorkethRESULTS in the heart. ‘Worketh’ means to produce, or leads to; the word of God produces an effect on our heart which produces something. [Matthew 26:75]

repentance – the REVERSAL of a decision. The respect of God’s word, working on our heart produces a change, first in our heart and then in our activities. I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. [Luke 13:3]

to salvationREDEMPTION. Godly respect of God’s word which produces the Godly sorrow and repentance gives us access to the ransom paid by Christ Jesus. [Ephesians 1:7]

not to be repented of – no REGRET. This kind of repentance brings about the joy of knowing you’ve been pleasing to God the creator. [Acts 8:39]

but the sorrow of the world – selfish REASONS that are carnal, and fleshly which elevates the concern for self over the concerns of God. [1Corinthians 3:1-4] For some, the only reason to change is a concern for how others perceive them. This is the wrong kind of sorrow. This is why some are ‘rebaptized.’ They recognized that the only reason they originally submitted to God’s will was to be pleasing to mom & dad or because that is what everyone else was doing. Folks, this kind of obedience to God will fail us in the judgment.

worketh deathRUIN. A sorrow of the world produces complete ruin of our eternal future. [Matthew 7:21-29] When we’re only worried about what others may thing about us, we’ve set our sights too low. We haven’t sought to be pleasing to God, instead we seek to be pleasing to man. [Luke 16:13]

Another way the Bible describes ‘godly sorrow’ is with the phrase, a broken and contrite heart [Psalms 34:18]. A broken & contrite heart is a heart of sadness and regret for failing to serve the Almighty King, the Loving Creator who gave Himself as a payment for our sin against Him. [Romans 5:8-10]

Are we sad when we sin against God? Does our heart break when we fail Him? If it does, it will lead us to find out how to have eternal life.

THINGS JESUS NEVER SAID

Some of the biggest challenges I face as an evangelist are the things people THINK are in the Bible or they BELIEVE Jesus taught.  The evangelist, like the statue carver, must chip away everything that doesn’t belong. Some of these beliefs are so firmly attached that it requires a lot of pounding. Below is a list of things folks THINK Jesus said, but never did. Perhaps this list can help you in your personal work. (editors note; there are far more than these listed and may show up in a future article. Seb)

The uppercase words are ‘things Jesus never said’

Jesus never said… “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, TO ASK ME INTO THEIR HEARTS.”

What He really said…  ”…baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” [Mat 28:19]

 

Jesus never said… “Mt 7:1 Judge not, AND REMAIN SILENT WHEN YOU SEE FOLKS DO EVIL.

What He really said… “that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.” Mat 7:1-2

 

Jesus never said… “And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them TO CHOOSE 1 OR MORE OF 58 GENDERS?”

What He really said… “made them male and female,” Mat 19:4 [cr. Gen 1:27]

 

Jesus never said… “IT’S MY OPINION”

What He really said… “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Mat 28:18 [cr. Mt 7:29]

 

Jesus never said… “If the world hates you, REMEMBER, CHANGE WHAT YOU TEACH TO CONFORM WITH THE TIMES, MAKING IT EASIER TO FOLLOW SO EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOU AGAIN.

What He really said… “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18

 

Jesus never said… “Neither do I condemn you, go and DO WHATEVER MAKES YOU HAPPY.

What He really said… “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” [John 8:11 the woman caught in adultery]

 

Jesus never said… “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to ETERNAL LIFE, and many there be which go in thereat:

What He really said… “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” [Mat 7:13-14]

 

Jesus never said… “I am A way, A truth, and A life: ANYONE CAN GO TO THE MOTHER ON THEIR OWN.

What He really said… “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [John 14:6]

 

Jesus never said… “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my churchES;

What He really said… “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” [Mat 16:18]

 

He also said… “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:” [Mat 7:24]

And, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15]

If we have time, preach the Gospel

THIS IS NOT another article on being busy, or wasting time. Neither is this article going to tell you never to help the needy. No, this article looks at some complicated issues facing the church. Below are two questions that get to the heart of the matter…

  • Why did Jesus come to Earth?
  • What is the work of His church?

Answering these questions incorrectly can lead to a misunderstanding of the work of the church. We must know the answer, we’ve got to get it right. To do otherwise will cause a lot of us to be lost.

Recently, a brother in Christ stated, “In my Bible, Jesus spent His life helping poor and the needy.” It is statements like this that have led to a complete departure from the God given work of the church. Many denominations have deprecated the work of the church and turned it into a benevolent organization. If that is what God wants us to do, we had better do it. However, what if He gave the church, that He built, a different task?

To find out what our work is, we need to answer those two questions.

Why did Jesus come to Earth?

Looking to what Jesus Himself said on the matter, we find a few passages…

And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? [Luke 2:49] Did Jesus say this as the carpenter’s son or as the Son of God? Clearly, He spoke as Emmanuel, God with us.

And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. [Luke 4:43] In this passage, Jesus is plainly saying why He came to earth, TO PREACH THE KINGDOM OF GOD.

When people came to Jesus in John 6, He perceived that they only came for the physical food. What He says to them speaks volumes about why He was here. Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. [John 6:26-27] If Jesus’ job was to provide for the physical needs of the poor, why didn’t He feed them again? If you didn’t get it, read vs 29; Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. The work of God, the job Jesus came to do, was to teach people about the Kingdom of God, to pay the penalty for sin so that we could be reconciled back with God. He did the miracles of feeding and healing to CONFIRM that this message, which was alluded to in the OT, was from God [John 20:30-31].

When we look at other passages, we learn what others thought of Our Lord’s work. The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. [John 1:29, 36] John the baptizer knew why Jesus had come, it was to reconcile man back to God.

At the circumcision of Jesus, Zacharias said, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,” [Luke 1:76-77]. We are separated because of sin and need a Savior. If we understand the principles of sacrifice from the scripture, then we will have a better understanding of why Jesus came to earth. He came to bring salvation from sin.

Lastly, when we look at the last command He gave while still on this earth, we learn the answer to question two.

What is the work of His church?

What was the last command Jesus gave while still on earth? He gave it after His DEATH, BURIAL & RESURRECTION.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. [Mat 28:18-20; cr. Mark 16:15-16]

Jesus, the founder and builder of the church which bears His name, gave very clear instructions; PREACH THE GOSPEL, MAKE DISCIPLES (through hearing, believing, confession, repentance & baptism) and to TEACH those disciples to obey His commandments. THIS IS THE WORK OF THE CHURCH! Can people feed the poor, YES. Should people feed the poor, once again, YES. And the bible gives us instruction on how and who. It also limits the church collective to needy saints [1Tim 5:16]. We need to focus on preaching the Gospel, to do anything less is to place salvation as a secondary activity to physical concerns, something we do IF WE GET TIME.

What is the key to effective evangelism?

IS THERE A ONE WORD ANSWER to getting more bible studies? The key to evangelism is not probing, listening, preaching, talking, assessing, pain, and especially not manipulating. The key that opens the heart is HARMONIZING.

But you’d never know that from most or our actions. Evangelism is about understanding the other person and their needs. Their fears. Their desires. And their sense of need for the Gospel. People have different motives to respond, and it’s the evangelist’s job to uncover them – and harmonize with them.

REALITY: No two opportunities are alike.

We must adapt to uncover the motives and objectives, understand the opportunities and barriers, meet the needs and desires, and harmonize with the person and the personality. This is the point Paul was making in 1Corinthians 9…

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]

Ever since becoming a Christian, I’ve searched for magic verses, those one or two passages that answer every error. I’ve collected tracts with hopes that these one sheet papers could somehow win souls without much difficulty or controversy. And I’ve tried different methods & systems designed to lead people to obey the Gospel. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” tract, verse or method. It’s not that these can’t work, rather that they don’t always work. What I’ve found is that I focused too much on getting through the material rather than focusing on and HARMONIZING with the individual. One instance, a person had asked a specific question, though I knew the answer was much deeper, they couldn’t hear it. I never heard from them again.

No one tract, verse or method will work all the time — BUT specific elements of any may apply. I’m NOT saying don’t learn the tract, verse or method — all Bible knowledge is valuable. What I am saying is be yourself, not the method.

REALITY: People don’t always respond the way you expect or hope.

Here are some more clues:

  • The more we believe in Christ, the Scriptures, and yourself, the more opportunities you’ll have. [Romans 8:35-39 …height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.]
  • The more care we show toward others, the more people will come to know, respect us, and listen to us. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]
  • The more we follow up and follow through, the more growth God will provide. [1Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.]
  • The more we study, the more we will know how to react to any situation. [2Timothy 2:15-16 Study to show thyself approved unto God]
  • The more we harmonize with the person’s situation, and offer answers they can apply — answers they perceive as truth, the MORE CONVERSIONS. [Acts 18:28 ‘Apollos’…showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.]

Always Keep this in mind. We are all EVANGELISTS, and people are expecting us to ask for a change. Don’t disappoint them. Just remember that God gives the increase and it’s our duty to serve Him. When people see that in us, they will be more likely to respond.

As mature Christians, our job is to identify with the person and take what we’ve learned in the Scriptures to lead them to the truth about Christ, which is the only true motivation that leads to conversion. Without a conversion to Christ, there is no conversion.

Harmony is understanding, not manipulating. It’s sensing the tone of the situation, and comfort level of the person — And gives them enough trust to hear.

Even though I haven’t found the perfect “system of evangelism,” I am still searching for “the best way” to teach. And what I have discovered along the way are elements, mostly personal (non-manipulative), that when mastered will create an atmosphere where people will listen to the Word.

Here are four elements to master in acrostic form, when mastered, are the surest (and shortest) formula to long term success. A.M.E.N. These have nothing to do with systems, manipulation, or pressure. These words, elements, and characteristics create harmony.

  • ATTITUDE – a positive & joyful countenance. [1Peter 3:15]
  • MEANING – Having a firm understanding of what you are saying and what you are affirming. [1Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 5:12] “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” [1Peter 4:11].
  • EMPATHY – Love is kind…does not envy…does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [1Corinthians 13:4-6]
  • NECESSARY – Realize that without evangelism, neither you, I nor anyone else can be saved and that it’s necessary for our own salvation as we seek to obey Christ. [Matt 28:18-20; Romans 10:13-17]

Every evangelist I have ever met wants to have more meaningful studies — and the best way to do that is to never manipulate. Manipulation makes people defensive, reluctant, and distrustful. Mastering these elements will make people attracted to you, like you, trust you, believe you, have confidence in you — and then — study with you.

The Caterpillar

A noted French naturalist, Jean Henri Fabre, took a flowerpot and placed upon its rim a group of processionary caterpillars one behind the other to form a circle. He then placed their favorite food in the middle of the circle. Each caterpillar followed the one ahead, never diverting from the one in front. For seven days, these instinctively driven animals circled the flowerpot until one after one they started dropping dead from either exhaustion or starvation. To avoid death, all that was needed was to feast upon the food within their grasp. Unfortunately, the processionary caterpillars were locked in a cycle of following and were unable to extricate themselves from a path of death.

If you’re like me, this story probably hit a little too close to home. Many of us are caught up in the cycle of following even if it leads us to endless and mindless toil. We go to college, get jobs because that’s what everyone else does. After work, we come home, eat a little dinner, watch a little TV, go to bed and repeat. We call it, “the Rat Race.” Why? Because that’s what we see everyone else doing. For many, the only reason to go to work is to pay the bills. How miserable a life?

What’s true about life is also true about the religious choices. I’ve made a habit of asking people, who go to church, why they chose that one. Many say, “that’s where my family goes.” The rest choose a church based on size and programs, once again, looking at what others are doing rather than examining the word of God for the truth.

This processionary process also happens with churches themselves. I asked a member of a local congregation, who were looking to hire a youth pastor, “where did you get the idea of a youth pastor?” They realized they only know about the office of a “youth pastor” because of what denominations have done.

This reminds me of 1 Samuel 8. The nation of Israel desired to have a king. What reason did they offer to Samuel? They said, “now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” [v5b]. What they had forgotten was that they already had a King, His name is I Am. “They have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” [v7b].

If the reason for doing a thing is because that’s what everyone else is doing, then we’re destined to starve. Our moms where right when they said, “If everyone else wanted to jump of a bridge would you want to also?” Our Lord said it this way…

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

[Matt 7:13-14]

Human beings are different from caterpillars in that we can change our direction in life. Unfortunately, we often confuse motion with meaning or achievement. We find ourselves in ruts, often dug by others.

Yes, we all want our lives to have meaning, to have a purpose. God, our creator, gave us purpose, He showed us a direction. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” [Ecc 12:13]. Before Jesus left this earth, He commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” [Matt 28:19-20].

We have a purpose higher than the 80-100 years we live on earth. We have an eternity to consider.

Spencer

PS. Do you remember in the experiment of the caterpillar how the food was within sight? The bread of life, God’s word, is never too far away that we’re unable to read it and be filled. [cr. Ac 17:27]

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

[John 6:35]

Is God Speaking to you?

MANY FOLKS I MEET say that God is speaking to them (separate and apart from the written word of God). It’s obvious to me that God is not in fact speaking with them. You can see it as well, because these folks are…

  • worshiping differently from the word,
  • acting (often with sin) different from the word
  • speaking differently from the word.

Ironically, these folks are lousy at quoting scripture, correctly referring to scripture and generally ignorant about scripture. If God is speaking to you then why are they so ignorant about scripture? Only 2 conclusions can be drawn, either they aren’t being spoken to by God (my belief) or God is an author of confusion. “For God is NOT the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” [1Co 14:33]. (emphasis mine)

There are 4 major problems with this position. Not only is it ERROR but it has a problem with AUTHENTICITY, a problem of REPEATED REVIEW by others and a problem with ACCESS to others. The written word of God solves every one of these problems. Let’s look at the first 2; ERROR & AUTHENTICITY.

The 1st Problem of A Personal Revelation, ERROR.

God speaks to us through His divine written word. Jesus said that “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” [Matt 28:18]. He also said that the Holy Spirit would come to guide the Apostles into all truth [John 16:13]. This is exactly what happened, and as the Holy Spirit guided them, He provided signs & wonders as a confirmation that what they spoke was from God [Mark 16:20; Acts 5:12; 14:3; 1Cor 2:4-5; Heb 2:4]. These men both spoke AND wrote what they received from God [2Peter 1:21; Eph 3:3; John 20:30-31]. Finally, after the revelation from God was completed, the signs & wonders also ceased [1Cor 13:8-10].

Therefore, when we read, we can understand and believe what they understood and believed about Jesus the Christ [Eph 3:4]. A person that studies God’s revealed, written word, can know EVERYTHING he needs to know regarding life, godliness and salvation [2Tim 3:16-17]. To suppose that God is speaking directly to you today (separate and apart from His written word) is to say that God is doing something that scripture shows to be a very RARE occurrence and that you’re somehow more special than everyone else making God out to be a respecter of persons [Acts 10:34].

Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.”

The 2nd Problem of A Personal Revelation, AUTHENTICITY.

How do you know that what you’re “hearing” is from God and not due to a feeling, desire or lust? James wrote that we are drawn by our own lusts, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” [Jas 1:14-15]. How do you know that the “voice” you’re hearing is not a Mental health problem? You may hear voices if you experience psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression.

IF you’re being spoken to by God, how do WE know? In the Bible, the person who received instructions from God also had signs to CONFIRM that what they said was from God. He even gave us tests to know the difference between someone speaking from God from one who was not.

4 TESTS of a PROPHET;

First, do they deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh [1John 4:2]? Second, does what they’re saying match the written word [1John 4:6; Gal 1:8, 9]? Third, does what they predict or affirm come true, or if they say a miracle will happen, does it [Deuteronomy 18:21-22]? Last, even if by some chance their sign does comes to pass, do their teachings contradict the teachings that have already been written [Deuteronomy 13:1-3]? If they’re able to perform a wonder, the accompanying teaching still must match the written word! Each of these tests has one thing in common, it must be consistent with what has already been revealed and written.

Conclusion:

To believe that God is speaking to you today (separate and apart from the written word) contradicts scripture and creates a huge problem of AUTHENTICITY. The next article will address the problem of REPEATED REVIEW by others. The only way to know what God’s will is for your life is through a diligent study of His divine word, rightly divided.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”   2Timothy 2:15

Arguments I can (not) answer

THERE ARE THINGS people say to me that are so very easy to answer, yet impossible to answer. Sounds confusing? Allow me to explain…

Recently, a man I was sharing the gospel with told me that God speaks to him directly. I asked, “how do you know that the voice in your head is God and not something else?” He emphatically replied, “you can’t tell me that God isn’t talking to me!”

No, I can’t…tell him. Oh, I could give him a sound, Biblical answer like, “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” [2Thess 2:11]. I could show him the example of Jacob believing a lie about his son Joseph being dead, then NOT believing the truth when he was told that Joseph was alive [Gen 37:12-33; 45:26]. I could show you passage after passage directing us to the WRITTEN WORD OF GOD for our communication from Him. I could show you that the written word of God…

  • Must be Read – Eph 3:3;
  • Is Complete – 2Tim 3:16-17
  • Devine – 1Thess 2:13
  • Final – Jude 3; Gal 1:6-9
  • Causes Belief – John 20:31
  • Calls – 2Th 2:14

…but he already told me I can’t tell him, therefore I can’t.

It’s sad really. Folks are so convinced of lies (I blame the false teachers in denominationalism [Mat 24:5,11]) that it’s near about impossible to convince them of the truth. In another instance, I showed a “faith only” fellow 1Peter 3:21 [The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us] and asked him what it meant. He said, “I know what it doesn’t mean, it doesn’t mean you need to be baptized!” He was already convinced of what it DOESN’T mean, that he couldn’t read the words and learn the truth.

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It’s easier to convince a person of a lie than it is to convince them that they’ve been lied to.

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Rather than become discouraged, the Scriptures from God teaches us that the real problem is a lack of love for the truth. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” [2Thess 210]. Once the moral compass of truth is gone, then all we have left is our own lusts and desires.

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Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts. Rom 1:24

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When the moral compass of God’s true written word [John 17:17] is ignored, is it any wonder why people are all over the map with their beliefs, worship, methods for salvation and so many other erroneous ideas? Without the truth of God’s written word, it becomes easy to be tossed about with every wind of doctrine.

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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

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Friend, if you’re one of those people who believe that God is “CALLING YOU” or The HOLY SPIRIT is leading you separate and apart from God’s written word, then you’re just being led by your own personal thoughts, lusts and desires. [Mat 22:29]

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Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:13-15

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Let’s look at it one more way…

If God is telling men what to do, separate and apart from God’s word, then why are there over 30,000 different Christian denominations? Is God an author of confusion, does He mind that we’re all saying different things?

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For God is not the author of confusion.

1Corinthians 14:33 

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

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Is it a Happy New Year?

IS THIS GREETING A declaration, or a question? Is your happiness in the coming year a wish, or is it a resolution? I suppose it depends on whether you believe happiness is contingent on circumstance, or a matter of commitment.

If you’re one of those people who believe that conditions outside yourself determine happiness, chances are you also believe:

  • That people “fall in love,” rather than that they DECIDE to love.
  • That anger is something others “MAKE YOU FEEL,” rather than a CHOSEN response.
  • That for all practical purposes, God is impotent, and His promises are meaningless.

Whether life is LUCK or PROVIDENCE depends on one’s orientation to the Sovereignty of God. Unaided by divine intervention, the most careful planner, the shrewdest manager of life, may be undone by unkind circumstance.

On the other hand, the most innocent babe traveling through this jungle will not be deprived of true happiness if he responds to life’s adversities out of conviction that “in all things, God works for good.” [Romans 8:28]

HAPPY NEW YEAR” is a choice. To deny that is to deny the faith. God’s people are NEVER at the mercy of circumstance. If that be true, why not commit yourself to a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

  • I will do more than BELONG – I will PARTICIPATE.
  • I will do more than CARE – I will HELP.
  • I will do more than BELIEVE – I will PRACTICE.
  • I will do more than be FAIR – I will be KIND.
  • I will do more than FORGIVE – I will LOVE.
  • I will do more than EARN – I will ENRICH.
  • I will do more than TEACH – I will SERVE.
  • I will do more than LIVE – I will GROW.
  • I will do more than be FRIENDLY – I will be a FRIEND.

Author Unknown