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

WHY MEMORIZE VERSES? Part 2

Last week we looked at 4 of 8 reasons to begin a Bible Memorization Plan. To recap here are the first 4

1: DEFENSE FROM SIN.

2: HELP IN TIME OF NEED.

3: AS A BIBLE STUDY AID.

4: EVANGELISM.

Today we will look at 4 more reasons to commit to bible verse memory.

5: TO LIVE SOBERLY & RIGHTEOUSLY. God’s word contains the instruction for Purity, Holiness and Godliness. “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;” [Titus 2:12] For us to live the best life we can that glorifies God, we need to know what He expects. Peter reminds us of God’s word when he wrote; “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” [1Pet 1:16]

6: TO LIVE A JOYFUL LIFE. God’s word reveals so much about human nature and gives us hope that we can do better. In Proverbs we read; “The hope of the righteous shall be gladness: but the expectation of the wicked shall perish.” [10:28]. That HOPE exudes from us during times of trial, drawing others to ask; “of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Pet 3:15b] Another proverb says; “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine:” [17:22]. Not many of us have faced such a difficult life as Paul, but he could still say; “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.” [Phil 4:4]. We can find delight in the study of God’s word; “But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” [Psalm 1:2]

7: TO RIGHTLY ENCOURAGE BRETHREN IN THEIR TIME OF NEED. Many times, we don’t have the words when one of our loved ones is facing tragedy & loss, but that doesn’t prevent us from speaking. Oftentimes we say the wrong thing, or worse, say something unscriptural. This should not be. We can encourage others much better with sound words from God’s book. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” [Heb 13:5]. There are words in scripture that, “…comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.” [1Thess 5:11] The entirety of scripture can bring comfort; “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” [Rom 15:4]

I’ve saved the best for last…

8: JESUS DID. I saved this one for last so that it remains foremost in your mind. Jesus quoted nearly 200 verses from the Old Testament. He quoted God’s word when He faced Satan in the wilderness. He quoted scripture as He taught. He quoted scripture as He faced those who tested Him. Over and over He quotes scripture. Having been raised in a Jewish home, memorizing scripture would have been a part of His upbringing, “And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.” [Deut 6:4-9] Why wouldn’t you follow His example?

WHERE SHOULD YOU BEGIN?

In the last article I suggested you begin with those verses on God’s plan of Salvation. Another helpful set of scriptures to memorize would be those that answer the critics. Paul wrote; “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” [Col 4:6] this can only be accomplished by knowing what some of the challenges are and how to answer them.

  • What about the Thief on the Cross?
    • Luke 23:43; Col 2:14
  • Salvation by Faith Only?
    • James 2:24
  • The bible doesn’t say we can’t have instruments in worship.
    • Col 3:16-17
  • We can have fellowship halls to eat and drink in.
    • Rom 14:17; 1Cor 11:22

Brethren, the scripture is a treasure trove containing the wishes of God for us in how we are to live, how we are to love and how we are to get to heaven. But it must be mined, learned and written on our hearts.

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide. [Psalm 37:31]

Hearing Jesus

There was an old TV commercial where an actor in some public place would say, “My broker is EF Hutton, and Hutton says…” then everyone would immediately go silent, not a sound could be heard. You could hear the proverbial pin drop. Then the narrator would break the silence saying, “When EF Hutton talks, people listen.”

You’ve had that feeling before. That moment when you knew you were in the presence of someone with whom you cherish, or someone who’s words would have a profound effect on the world. It may have been that time when a loved one was taking their final breath and you held yours straining to hear their final words.

That’s what it was like for some who were in the presence of Jesus as they listened to His final public teaching, prior to the cross.

After Jesus cleansed the Temple, He was teaching them daily. Whereas some were seeking a way to destroy Him, others hung on His every word.

And could not find what they might do: for all the people were VERY ATTENTIVE TO HEAR HIM.” [Luke 19:48]

According to Luke’s account, He TAUGHT and PREACHED the GOSPEL [Luke 20:1]. Oh, can you imagine hearing the gospel message from the very lips of the one who was about to endure it? The Gospel is “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:” [1Cor 15:3-4]. They may not have realized the full meaning of what they heard, but Jesus did. In just a few days He would be betrayed, falsely accused & tried, scourged & then death by crucifixion.

Can you hear Him pleading? Can you imagine His passion? If you could sit in on that sermon, in our time, what would you be doing? Would you be playing on your phone? Would you be thinking about lunch? Would you be wondering how much longer He will go on? Would the cares of the world block out the voice of the Savior?

The Gospel Message:

The message of the cross is so important to our lives that it must be heard and understood. Although we can’t go back to that time, it becomes even more important for us to pay attention. We have not His voice, but we have His words.

“He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

It’s so amazing and yet so sad that a message so important is being ignored by our friends and our family. If that weren’t bad enough, there are those who seek to destroy it. Just as there were back then. Earlier in Luke, Jesus warned, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” [Luke 11:23]

The message of the cross is still strange to many ears today, just as it was foolishness to some back then [1Cor 1:23]. The message is too difficult for some today, just as it was to some back then.

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? … and walked no more with him.” [John 6:60,66]

As the new year approaches, and as we ponder our resolutions, let us take time to silence the noise of the world and take time to listen to the Son of God through His revealed Word. To read it, ponder it and to incorporate His teaching into our lives. Let it continue to convert us and be incorporated into every aspect of our lives so that others may see a light of hope emanating from us. May we hang on His every Word. [2Timothy 3:16-17; 1Peter 3:15; Matt 5:14-16]

Becoming a Butterfly

We may never know what is going on in the mind of a caterpillar. What we do know is that its singular purpose seems to be the devouring of every leaf in its path until such time that it stops eating, hangs himself upside down and spins around itself a silky cocoon. Within about two weeks, the caterpillar breaks out of its self-imposed prison emerging as a beautiful butterfly.

You probably already have an idea of the 2 normal lessons of the caterpillar;

FIRST, it’s about devoting our time to nourishing our minds with the word so that we can go through our own metamorphosis.

Peter said, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:” [1Peter 2:2] He uses the metaphor of a newborn babe to express the same idea, that of devouring the word of God to grow and to change.

Jesus also used the idea of eating when He spoke about His word in John 6; I am that bread of life…I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” [48, 51]

THE SECOND typical lesson is about transformation. Romans 12:2a states; “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,” The Greek word ‘transformed’ is ‘METAMORPHOO’ which means to change. Just as the caterpillar goes through a metamorphosis, we also go through a transformation through the ‘renewing’ of our minds. This involves taking what we have devoured of the word and pondering it, thinking on it and learning it so that it causes that renovation of our mind.

“But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” [2Timothy 3:14]

THERE IS ANOTHER LESSON we can learn from the caterpillar, it is the lesson about sharing. You see, the butterfly acts very much like bees in that they are pollinators for plants. Without the likes of these creatures, there would be no plants, no flowers and no food. In addition to this vital role, they are beautiful and share with us the splendor of God’s handiwork.

The lesson on sharing is, for me, the more fantastic of the lessons. The key to incredible and lasting growth is to share what you learn. Sharing has a certain transformative effect on the one doing the teaching.

As scary as it is, talking to people about God, Jesus & the Word has a powerful effect on your own personal growth. When you teach 10 separate people about the Gospel, they only hear it once, whereas you get to HEAR IT 10 TIMES! Every telling of the Wonderful Story of Love strengthens the next.

Another incredible benefit to you is when they oppose you with their denominational views. In your struggles to learn how to answer each one [Col 4:6] you become even stronger and more knowledgeable. These are the keys to lasting knowledge; teaching it and defending it.

It’s been said that a person who never uses what they learn will lose it. This agrees with the Scriptures. “For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.” [Mark 4:25] In children it has been identified as ‘summer learning loss.’

Each time you share the Good News, not only will you continue to be transformed, but the other person may as well. You may have caught them at the right time or because of your own relationship with them your words penetrated their otherwise closed heart.

Why else should we develop the transformative mindset? In the same principle that tells us to use it or lose it, it also teaches that we shall receive even more than what we already have!

“Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” [Matt 25:28-29]

The amazing thing about teaching is also found in love. It’s said that to receive even more love you must give it. The more you give, the more you get of love AND SHARING.

The bigger & better you get enables you to give even more, and the more you give, the more you will receive.

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” [Luke 6:38]

Making the Best Choice!

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

 

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” Isaiah 66:10

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, was very angry with His people because of their poor choices. It wasn’t as if He hadn’t given them clear direction on making good choices. God gave them, and us, all that we need for life and godliness [2Peter 1:3]. Look at what He spoke to the children of Israel about repentance and turning back to Him.

DEUTERONOMY 30:1-20

1-10 God had given clear direction to the children of Israel before He brought them into the land. If they chose to obey His commands, He would have compassion on them, protect them from their enemies and give them prosperity.

11-14 He tells them that His commands are never too difficult, never too far away, but are accessible by all so that they can keep it.

15-20 Here He makes a contrast between the BEST CHOICE and the worst. To Love the Lord thy God is the BEST CHOICE, and to walk in His ways and to Keep His commandments, statutes and judgements. By this He gives a promise of blessing.

However, by making a BAD CHOICE, that is, to turn away from hearing His commands, to worship false gods, then He will DENOUNCE them, remove His protection and not allow them to keep the land.

In verses 19-20, He makes it clear about the two basic CHOICES. Life is to CHOOSE GOOD, which is serving Him, or CHOOSE BAD, which is death. Choosing wrong is a matter of life or death.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” [Hosea 14:9]

THESE 2 BASIC CHOICES ARE STILL BEFORE US. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. Jesus said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” [John 12:26]. Do you see the connection of God’s blessing to the one who follows?

These TWO BASIC CHOICES, following God or turning away from Him, are before us in all our day to day decision making…

  • The WORK we choose to earn our living. Eph 4:28
  • The FRIENDS we choose to keep. 1Cor 5:6; Gal 6:7-9
  • Our choice of SPOUSE. 1Corinthians 7
  • In how we choose to spend our MONEY. 1Timothy 6:17-19
  • In the way we WORSHIP God. John 4:24
  • By the way we choose to spend our TIME. Eph 5:16; Col 4:5

Don’t be confused, all this is to point out that we have free will. Just because we have choice doesn’t mean that God will accept that choice when we go against His commands. We can choose to ignore them, and when we do, we will pay the consequence of our BAD CHOICE.

God is not, as some suppose, a micro manager. He isn’t deciding whether you go to a specific place or another. He is letting you make those decisions. Those TWO BASIC CHOICES are ever before you. To do GOOD or to do BAD.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 11:25; 14:6]. When He appears, this world of sin and doubt shall be dissolved. Since this is true, Peter asked, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” [2Peter 3:11]

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” [Romans 6:17-22]

Crowdsourcing Sin

Crowdsourcing is the new term being used to describe the method folks are using to raise money. Due to the people connecting power of the internet, crowdsourcing has become the way to finance business projects, or to assist in paying medical expenses after an illness or injury. However, crowdsourcing is also used to gather information, as in the example of Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, which gains all its information through crowdsourcing. Contributors from around the world write, on the website, about any and every subject under the sun.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of obtaining information, money or input into a task or project by enlisting the services of a large number of people, either paid, or unpaid, typically via the internet. The practice has become so common, that Wikipedia has become a valid source of information, and a new TV program is set to air that uses the power of the crowd to catch criminals. This idea is not new. The Mormon church has been using crowdsourcing for years through their Ancestry website. When people sign up to do genealogical research, the information gathered allows them to practice their error of “baptism for the dead” as the one being baptized is immersed multiple times for the unfaithful deceased of their family.

Which brings us to our topic, Crowdsourcing Authority. As the years progress, and each new generation grows more dependent upon an internet connected society, we’re being trained to see crowdsourcing as a legitimate method of understanding Biblical Authority. THIS IS DANGEROUS!

Every generation has had to overcome the use of erroneous sources of Biblical Authority…

  • Men / Parents – “Well my Daddy said…” or “My Pastor told me…”
    • The Bible Says: “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 7:7]
  • Tradition – “We always did it this way.”
    • The Bible Says; “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” [Colossians 2:8].
  • Feelings & False Reasoning – “I think this” or “God wants me to be happy”
    • The Bible Says: “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” [Jeremiah 10:23]
    • “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 2:10]

Now we have a new one to deal with, crowdsourcing. But it isn’t new, nothing ever is (Ecc 1:9), crowdsourcing authority has been around since there have been crowds.

  • In Babel – “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” [Genesis 11:4]
  • In the Wilderness – “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” [Numbers 14:2]
  • Jesus warned about the crowd – “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]
    • And again, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” [Matthew 7:22]
Crowdsourcing Sin

What we find from these passages is not the crowdsourcing of authority, rather, we find the CROWDSOURCING OF SIN. In each example, if the source of the activity came from the crowd, God condemned it. Do you suppose that we’re any less susceptible to this problem? Sin is never acceptable to God, no matter how many people are doing it. Your momma may have said it, but God gave her the idea, “if everybody wanted to jump off a bridge would you follow them?” As we view the crowds in our society, we see the biblical warnings being ignored as crowds (majorities) try to shape it. Crowds become nothing more than bullies when driven by the emotionalism and confusion emanating from the ignorance of God’s divine Word. [Hosea 4:6; Matthew 22:29]

There is only ONE source of Authority, for life AND godliness. It’s found in Christ Jesus. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:” [2Peter 1:3] Jesus made this very direct claim; “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” [Matthew 28:18] This statement of fact covers a lot of ground, HEAVEN AND EARTH.

When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he reminds the church of this fact about Jesus when he wrote, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” [Colossians 1:18] Some claim that Jesus was a good teacher, ney ney. Christ Jesus is PREEMINENT. Preeminent means He surpasses all of us and is superior to all of us. Jesus is not A SOURCE of authority, HE IS THE SOURCE OF AUTHORITY! This information will never be found through crowdsourcing, but only in His word, which He promised to give.

Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.”

John 16:13-14

A Godly Attitude About Reading

WHAT ARE PEOPLE THINKING? How come people don’t understand God’s will? We tend to tell people what is good in our own minds, rather than finding out what truly is good.

In life, there are two kinds of attitudes, a right one and a wrong one. God has said that we should have an attitude that desires to read His word. Reading the Bible is an important task. It is so important He had it written so we can understand His will, and His commandments. 1Co 2:12 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Also in Eph 3:3-5 “How that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets:” We need to read or hear, we need to know, what God’s Word says, for it reveals His will for us. Everybody’s destiny will be determined by whether we understand and obey those words, the Bible.

To meet fulfilling this command we need to have the right attitude. It is our attitude which will determine whether we understand. In Matthew 13:3-8, the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught about different hearts or attitudes toward the Word of God. The seed, which is His word, fell on the wayside, some among rocks, some among thorns and some upon good ground.

In 13-15, we find the meaning. Some cannot understand because of closed ears, eyes, and minds, Jesus explains. It states, Mt 13:13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.  And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” It’s possible, with a wrong attitude, to read the word of God and be wrong because we’re not seeking to discover what He wants, rather we seek to find what we want to find.

Jesus applies the prophecy from Isaiah to the religious people of His day. They had preconceived ideas about the Christ, since Jesus did not fit their beliefs, they rejected and crucified him. Why did they not understand? It was neither because God’s word was incomprehensible nor because the teacher was incapable of teaching. The reason was because of a wrong attitude? Their preconceived ideas of a savior, didn’t match with the word of God about His Anointed one. Neither will we understand if we approach Bible study only to prove what we already believe, or want to believe.

What you or I do with Scripture is dependent on our attitude. We need a plan. We need a way to start off with a right attitude. Your attitude determines your understanding which springs to action and it is action the Lord seeks.

Set up a time where you can read your Bible, take time to reflect and think of what is God trying to communicate rather than searching to make His word fit your belief. Determine what is involved with obeying His commands, and then plan to do it. Will you be like those in Acts 17:11?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Will you also learn from these people at Berea who searched the Scriptures daily? The people searched. This is what we do at Franklin St. Church of Christ.  Join us by reading, studying, and practicing the commandments of God. Let us find this right attitude.

Daniel Surges

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.

Is God Speaking to you? pt 2

LAST WEEK’S article began the discussion about the problems with a personal revelation from God today. These articles are a response to those who believe, feel or otherwise think that God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit is communicating with them SEPARATE & APART from God’s written word.

In the previous article, we discussed the first 2 problems. FIRST, it’s error and is contrary to God’s word about His own revelation. TWO, is the problem of AUTHENTICITY. How are we (or you) to know that this feeling inside of you is coming from God.

Allow me to clarify something. I do believe that God is communicating with mankind, but that the communication is through His divine, preserved written word, as was shown in the last article.

The next two problems are; REVIEWABILITY & ACCESS.

The THIRD problem with a personal revelation is REVIEW:

If Personal revelation is true, then why are there over 30,000 different “Christian” denominations? How would we become unified except by some standard upon which we all could review? I’m unable to STUDY your statements because of 3 problems;

First, It’s all in your head. Have you noticed that not everyone is hearing these voices? You might say that it’s a problem of “faith”, and you’d be right. But Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. This means that it is YOUR faith that has trouble. For we have faith because of God’s written word. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;” If this “revelation” is in your head, how are we to know what God said? Furthermore, how am I to REVIEW the information? Oh, I know a way; IT COULD BE WRITTEN DOWN. Which is what God did in the first place.

Second, there’s the problem of memory. A person’s recollection of conversations is very poor. A study revealed that you remember approximately 20 percent of what you hear, 30 percent of what you see and 50 percent of what you hear and see together. Here’s a question; How much can you recall when you have at your fingertips the entire revelation of God? Answer: All of it, because you can look through God’s word continually.

Third, human communication is difficult, even under the best of conditions. But with all the communication methods available, the only one that allows for a continual REVIEW of God’s word is when it is written. A WRITTEN WORD IS REVIEWABLE BY EVERYONE.

This is what happened in 2Kings 22-23. The book of the Law was found in the temple. It was read to King Josiah (22:10), then it was read to the people, both small and great (23:2) and they could obey it. Today, we can read God’s word and understand the mystery of Christ. This is what made the Berean’s honorable. They searched the scriptures daily [Acts 17:11].

Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).” Eph 3:3-4

The FOURTH problem with a personal revelation is ACCESS:

Are you going to come over to my house at 3am to let me study God’s word? What if I’m out of cell range? What about the different languages of the world? These difficulties were solved by God when He directed the inspired writers of His word to WRITE IT DOWN. 1 Corinthians 14 demonstrates the difficulties that come from oral communication. One man said to me, “you can verify what I’m saying by comparing it to the Bible.” If I must go verify it with the written word anyway, why do I need you?

What does the bible say about ACCESS to His word?

I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. 1Thess 5:27

And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed2Thess 3:14

For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end; 2Cor 1:13

Well over 100x in the New Testament, both Jesus and His Apostles refer to the written word. We could continue with more scriptures to drive the point home, but these are sufficient. The question of “WHY ARE THERE SO MANY CHURCHES” now has its answer. We’re not all speaking the same thing, and the best way to become unified is when we all go back to the written Bible of God.

“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]

Is God telling me what to do #2

LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE was about a man who said, “you can’t tell me that God’s not talking to me!” though I could show him, through God’s word, that God’s not talking to him separate and apart from the written word, but he just doesn’t want to hear it. He wants to do what he wants to do.

Even before the article was printed, I was hearing this excuse for sin and knew that more needed to be said. So, this article could be titled; “How to stay in sin without repenting.” Allow me to illustrate the main point of this article using instrumental music (I-M) in the worship as the object.

After answering the question about I-M, with a couple I met, using Scriptural proof, they told me, “God is putting it on my heart to play music during the worship.” In effect, even after showing HOW TO DETERMINE SCRIPTURAL AUTHORITY [Acts 8; Acts 15] & showing that SILENCE IS PROHIBITIVE [Heb 7:14; 2Sam 7:7; Acts 15:24], their “proof” for remaining in sin was “God put it on my heart.”

I asked them, “I’m really good at making signs, can I bring in a neon transformer, hook it up with some wires and light up a “Jacob’s Ladder” and tell everyone to start worshipping? (The Jacob’s Ladder is a high voltage climbing arc, when an electric spark jumps between two parallel wires. The spark then “climbs” up the ladder.) They had to admit that a Jacob’s Ladder would NOT be authorized, but still couldn’t see how the mechanical instrument was ALSO unauthorized.

In another example, I was listening to a popular financial radio program. A caller said, “I have a wife and a kid, I have $100,000 in student loans as I am pursuing a PHD in music composition. We make under $30k a year and we are paying $2500 per month in a mortgage. How do I get out of debt with these numbers knowing that GOD IS CALLING ME TO THIS CAREER?”

Are you kidding me?! You think that God is calling you to huge debt, to poverty, to financial struggle, to a career that may very well keep you unemployed? I’m not saying you need to be wealthy or to have a prestigious career to serve God, but don’t blame your struggles on God.

You try it.

The next time you want to stay in a sin, when a brother or sister comes to you about it say, “God has put it on my heart to be happy.” Which sin? Any sin.

  • an unscriptural marriage (especially if kids are involved)
  • Leaving the church for a denomination or go nowhere
  • Drinking
  • All Forms of Fornication (Rom 1:26-30; 1Cor 6:9-11)

God DOES want you to be happy, but that happiness must be derived from serving Him according to His written word. What I’ve observed is that people are looking for an excuse to do what they want to do and need to ignore the written word to accomplish it.

God IS CALLING people, by the gospel. “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” [2Thess 2:14]. Some will ask, “didn’t Jesus say we will hear His voice?” [John 10:27] Yes, but we hear that voice through His inspired written word [1Tim 3:16-17].

Below are 3 steps to “hear” the voice of Jesus…
  1. Read His written word. Any feeling you have, to do something, must be measured against what God has revealed in His written word. [Ephesians 3:4]. It’s only by this comparison can we determine if this “call” comes from a study of His word or if it’s just in yourself.
  2. Keep His commandments [John 14:15]. It’s when we commit to a study of God’s written word AND doing it that sets us on the correct path of righteousness.
  3. Memorize His word. In many places, God has said, “Write them on the tablet of your heart” [Prov 7:3; De 6:8; 11:18; Prov 3:3; 6:21]. Peter sought to “remind” Christians. “I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth” [2Pe 1:12]. Not only Peter, but Paul, Timothy & Titus went about to stir up the brethren’s memory [1Cor 4:17; 2Tim 1:6, 2:14; Titus 3:1].

Conclusion: God is speaking to us, through His written word. The only way we’re going to know what God’s will is for our lives is by a diligent study of His word. He’s given us the authority to choose the details of our lives, as long as those details don’t interfere with service to Him.

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” [1Thess 5:18 ]