The sound of heresy…

February 16, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I know that it’s been awhile since I wrote something other than the Bible study, newslinks, or Persecution Friday spots. I’ve been kinda busy, but I haven’t forgotten. Something I saw the other day made me have to write this though. It’s going to be a long read, so if you have to take a potty break or get a cup of coffee, do it now…:)

I heard about something the other day that just about made me sick, but I didn’t want to say anything about it until I had some proof from the horse’s mouth. Now I have it and this needs to be put out in the open.

For a long time, I’ve been talking about false teachers and men who call themselves pastors. I see many both locally in my home town, nationally in the U.S., and (unfortunately) they are now spreading to other countries. Not that there weren’t false teachers there already, but the American style of prosperity gospel preachers is sadly reaching into other parts of the world that are just now opening up to real Christianity. It is one of these types of people that I am writing about today. Continue Reading The sound of heresy……

Arm Yourself – Prodigals

August 17, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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There is a large, and growing, class of individuals in the church today (especially in America). This group is known by many and even seems to have their own passage of scripture: Continue Reading Arm Yourself – Prodigals…

By this we know

June 29, 2009 at 6:30 am | Posted in Blogroll | Leave a comment
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There are many in the church today who seem to have things all figured out. They know exactly what makes someone a Christian and have no qualm in letting others know. Like the Pharisees they have their list of religious obligations and duties someone must perform to show they are a Christian. If someone fails to do this, then they fail the test and (in this person’s mind) couldn’t possibly be a true Christian.

These lists often form the basis for denominational difference. Some were the reason one church split from another. While most of the lists come form personal opinion and not scriptural authority, they are the works of man and not of God. Having said this, some lists do have scriptural basis and can help us to have an informed idea of what Christians should look like. When I say this, I don’t mean how they dress. I also don’t necessarily mean what they say either. Many today call themselves Christians and are so in name only. When I talk about what Christians look like, I’m not talking about superficial appearance; I’m talking about how they live their lives. This is important. What’s also important is the fact that I’m not just talking about short term, where they do one or two things that go along with the Christian faith. I’m talking about living life scripturally for the long haul.

So, is there a place in the Bible that gives us a list of things we should recognize in Christians? Actually, there are many. Galatians 5:22-23 gives us the fruit of the Spirit; characteristics that Christians should be exhibiting in their lives. There are many other places as well, but on I want to look at in particular is 1 John.

I just started doing a Precept Ministries PUP study on 1 John, and I noticed a phrase the apostle John used numerous times in his letter. All throughout the epistle, John says “by this you’ll know” or “By this…” John’s purpose in writing the epistle was so that those who believe in the name of the Son of God will “know they have eternal life” (5:13). This in and of itself is an important statement. Those who believe eternal life and those who don’t believe don’t (5:12). This means that unless someone beliefs in Jesus Christ, they cannot have eternal life. When John says, “believe in the Son of God” he’s not just talking about believing Jesus exists. James 2:19 says that even the devils do that (and they have the common sense to tremble…). When John talks about believing, he’s talking about understanding who Jesus is and who you are in relation to Him. He’s talking about respecting the Son of God and living in obedience to Him.

How do you know if you’re a Christian? First, John says that we are Christians (we’ve “come to know Him”) if we keep His commandments (2:3). What are Jesus’ commandments?

“You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your mind, and with all you strength” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.

Unfortunately, many Christians today seem to think that these supercede the Ten Commandments, but they don’t. Jesus boiled the Ten Commandments down to two. If you love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and strength; then you’re not going to have other gods before Him, you’re not going to make idols (with your hands or your mind), you would keep the Sabbath, and you’re not going to take His name in vain. If you love your neighbor as yourself, you’re not going to hate/kill (1 John 3:15), lie, steal, cover other people’s things, lust/commit adultery (Matthew 5:28), and you’ll honor your parents. If you can look at your life and see that you’re consistently doing these things without concern for God or others, then you’re not a Christian. Now, it should be said that I’m not saying that keeping the law saves people. It doesn’t. But, doing things by God’s law shows our love for Him and others. It shows that we’re saved and growing in holiness. If you don’t keep His commandments, John says the truth is not in you and you’re a liar (2:4).

Next, John says that we are Christians (“in Him”) because we walk in the same manner as He walked. Our lives should be a reflection of Jesus. It won’t be a perfect reflection because we’re sinful wretches; but we should be striving to make our lives the best reflection of Christ that we can. How we react to circumstances (good or bad), how we treat others, and how we deal with adversity are some of the ways we should be reflecting our Lord. When some people read this, they will take that to mean that we must always be soft-spoken and non-confrontational; making every effort to conform to what’s around us. Tolerance is probably something many will think about that too but, if you do, make sure that you understand the definition. Tolerance is being able to disagree with someone and still put up with them. It’s not giving in to them and their beliefs. When we truly begin to reflect Jesus, we reflect all of Him. We show understanding toward those who have been ravaged by sin and are humbly looking for answers. We speak the truth to all, especially those who would pervert it for their own ends. We reach out to help those we can without overreaching. We preach the good news and call people to repentance so they might be saved from the wrath of God to come. This is reflecting Jesus. Our Lord never compromised Himself or His message in order to gain followers, fame, or fortune. Instead, He preached repentance and faith and droves of people listened to Him because they weren’t hearing it anywhere else.

The next time we see the phrase used, it is found in Chapter 3, verse 10. Here, he tells us that the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious. Those who fail to practice righteousness or love their brother (Christians) are not of God. Again, (as throughout), John makes it clear that it’s not the person who talks Christianity or even does a good thing or is righteous here or there. It is the one who practices righteousness. This means it is a constant, ongoing process for them. John continues this thought in verses 16-20. Here he says that we will recognize Christians in two more ways. The first is through sacrifice. If we are truly Christians, we will sacrifice even our lives for our brothers and sisters. Would you die for other Christians? Jesus said that there is no love greater (John 15:13). He then shows that it’s more than just being willing to die. We should also give if we are able. There are many in our country who are hurting because of the economy. Are you doing what you can to help them? If you see a brother in need and can help them but don’t, John says the love of God doesn’t abide in you. We are to love not “with word or tongue, but in deed and truth” (3:18). It is when we love “in deed and truth” that we know we are of the truth (3:19). The deeds don’t save, but they are evidence that we are saved. John even says that this will assure our heart!

He finishes chapter 3 by saying that it is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to us that we know God abides in us. Unfortunately, there are many claiming to be Christians and “filled with the Spirit” who are nothing more than charlatans and fakers. We are to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (4:1). If the are not, they are false. How do we know if they are true or not? Those that are true confess Jesus (4:2). I don’t believe that this means that they just say the name of Jesus or talk about Him. They also line up with scripture in word and deed. If they do or say something that goes against scripture, they are not of God.

John continues by telling us that those who are of God listen to the apostles (biblical writers). The apostles Jesus chose (including Paul) were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write what they did. If we do not listen to them, men who saw and even touched the Lord while He was here, then we cannot be from God. If we are unwilling to give God-breathed writings (2 Timoth 3:16-17) the place of authority and respect they deserve, we’re not of God. The same cannot be said of so-called “apostles” today. Many gladly claim the title for the power and prestige it brings. Of course, having a title doesn’t make you an apostle any more than standing in a McDonald’s make you a hamburger. John then talks about how we know we abide in God (4:13). God’s Holy Spirit will be the one that confirms that we abide in God. Paul said that “the Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16). This testifying by the Spirit is not some emotional thrill we get. It is a quiet confidence, even when we stumble, that we are children of God. It is knowing that we are in God. The last two times John uses this phrase, it is in reference to love. John tells us that those who abide in love abide in God and that it is in this way that love is perfected in us. As this love is perfected in us it gives us confidence. When it is fully perfected in us, we will have confidence in the day of judgment (4:17). The final time John uses the phrase, it is to talk about loving the children of God and brings the topic full circle. He says that we know that we love God’s children when we love God and keep His commandments. He then reminds us of something that I think we forget many times. God’s commandments are not burdensome (5:3). If we are truly saved, we will desire to love and please God. We will hate sin and strive to live holy lives before Him.

Are you keeping the Lord’s commandments (Matthew 22:37-39)? Are you walking in the same manner in which He walked? Are you practicing righteousness? Is His Holy Spirit confirming that you’re His child? Do you love your brethren, whom you can see, to show your love for God, whom you can’t see (4:20)? If you are not, please go to God in prayer and confess to Him. Get things right and then live it out before God. Remember, “by this you know”…

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