Feeling Fearful? (F.U.D.)

In these days of tensions created by an on-going polarization on many fronts, I’ve been Image result for rock in a stormstruck by the need to return to my roots of leaving breadcrumbs of truth for the generations that follow. I love leaving nuggets of truth behind so that others might be able to find their way back to the Truth. The analogy of footprints in the sand breaks down quickly as sand is quickly blown by the wind of the day and washed away by the waves of the sea. The truths we leave behind must be eternal and able to withstand the pressures of societal shifts.

We just celebrated the birth of the Christ child but some 700 years before Christ came into our world, the prophet Isaiah shared the following words of eternal truth from God Himself. “For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:11-13) This is eternal truth that seems particularly appropriate in our day. 

Let’s not allow the debates and accusations that weigh so heavily in our public square cause fear in our hearts. These will have little consequence in matters of eternal significance. Our world is looking for truth and people are grasping at statements by men and women of notoriety who are knowingly working diligently to manipulate the opinions of ill-informed people, who are looking to have their ears tickled, counting on their lack of a firm foundation. As God’s people, we are called to look to “the LORD of hosts” for our confidence, trust, and truth that really matters.

For thousands of years, the eternal truth of God has told us that fear, uncertainty, and doubt (F.U.D.) based on debates in the public square is ill-founded. God’s people are not to be tossed about by the winds of the culture and definitions of righteousness that change with the press of the media. Ephesians 4:14 counsels, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

Even in the past year, we have seen views on behavior that disrespects women swing from immediate retribution and calls for justice, as defined by some editorial writer, to a belief that maybe we’re being too harsh. This media indignation has taken out some of the best spokespersons of the humanistic worldview agenda, so now we are hearing suggestions that we need to rethink our system of retribution. We must remember that eternal truth is not swayed by the influencers of public opinion. Eternal truth is not subject to a vote.

If we fear anything, we should fear that our very existence and eternal future lies in the hand of the Almighty God, who came to earth as a baby for the purpose of showing us how God Himself would navigate the travails of this world. God chose not to share any incidents of Christ commenting on the frailties of governmental rulers. Instead, He recorded for us that we were to honor the leaders of our government. Romans 13:1-2 give us this word, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.”

At times we behave as though our very survival depended on the next election. Yes, we want to see biblical values upheld by those who are elected to office. But our future is not dependent on who wins an election. Regardless of who is in office, we are to honor them and be lights representing the Christ who we celebrate at Christmas time.

After Jesus began His ministry, He gave us advice by comparing the wise man who built his house on a rock and the foolish man who built his house on the sand. The life built on sand will be blown about by the ever-shifting winds and storms of society and public debate. The wise man who bases his life on the solid rock of God’s eternal truth will be able to stand firm in God’s world and economy. Those truths do not change with societal mores nor with public opinion.

Let’s follow the instruction of 1 Peter 2:17, “Show proper respect to everyone. Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.” Think about these eternal truths.

Grace and Peace to all.

Breaking the Code v. 6

In many instances in the Bible, grace (see Breaking the Code 3) and peace are linked Related imagetogether. The fact that these two are so often linked together ties also with the passage from Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The Philippians 4 passage is given in the context of our anxieties, our anxious tensions, our inner turmoil and lack of peace. The preceding sentence reads, “The Lord is at hand, do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” The Lord is near, so, do not be anxious about anything. When the Lord is near, our anxieties fade and we can have peace in any situation.

The 23rd Psalm is one that calms the soul. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. There is a word picture in the book of Revelation showing that in front of God’s throne there is a sea like crystal, smooth like glass, so calm, no storms.

I mentioned in Breaking the Code v. 5 on prayer that I frequently used my commuting time to talk with God. Better said, I would dump all the issues of the day and complicated relationship challenges on Him. His Spirit would very often respond with pieces of Scripture that would both let me know that my God was listening and He would calm my heart by giving me God’s perspective on my turmoil.

The perspective of the Christian who considers it all joy when he or she encounters various trials (James 1) comes from a worldview that has Christ and the truth of his word in the center. Without this perspective, the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7) is elusive and generally non-existent. The storms rage around us and we need God’s help in the form of bringing people into our lives to express God’s love for us. We serve a living Savior who wants to be active in our lives. All we need to do is to invite Him into our world.

At times, He tells us to “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps 46:10) Waiting on the Lord takes us out of our comfort zones, but His timing and His solutions are always better than our wildest dreams. Ps 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”

If Jesus can calm the wind and the waves of the sea, we can count on Him to calm our hearts and our spirits. We’re not talking about yoga stillness here. Yoga is something we conjure up internally through posturing, breathing deeply and thinking good thoughts. The peace of God is that comfort of knowing that the God who made the heavens and the earth loves us enough to give Himself up for us. (John 3:16) Our God tells us to cast all our anxieties on Him because He cares for us.  (1 Peter 5:7) It is the peace that comes from knowing that we are loved … unconditionally.

The desire of every human is to be loved. We live in a broken world and complete unconditional love, even between husband and wife, is rare. I love my wife and tell her of that love as often as I have the opportunity. She loves me even better than I am capable of loving her. But we have this agreement between us. It is our desire that both of us will love God first and foremost, and then we’ll be able to love each other well in second place. Living in God’s love helps us to have His love flow through us to each other. This works because we both have the same source of unconditional love.

In describing the relationship of the sheep to the Shepherd, He tells us in John 10:3 that “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Yes, God loved the whole world, but still He knows you and calls you by name. Take comfort in the fact that He knows you by name and Jesus said that your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. (Matt 6:8)

So, what is our takeaway on the peace that is available to those who are God’s children? We are not of this world, and the cares of this world that might otherwise weigh heavily on us, should be given to the God of the universe for resolution. Use the vehicle of prayer that Jesus Himself used when He was on this earth, to talk directly with the Father and ask that His will be done on earth (in our world) as it is in heaven.  This peace is beyond the comprehension of most people in our world. It is a precious gift that God has promised to those who love Him and trut Him.

Have a blessed day!

 

The Dumbing Down of Christianity

This author is on to a thought that resonates with me. We need to know what we believe and why. Enjoy the article!

ethan renoe

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The other day I was (surprise, surprise) in a coffee shop in the mountains, seated near the counter. A guy in his early 20’s walked in wearing a TOOL shirt and a long ponytail. I could overhear his conversation as he approached the barista and they began chatting. Somehow it came up that she attends a Christian university and he clearly didn’t approve.

“Do they incorporate religion into all the classes there?” he asked. “Even the science classes? How does that work?”

She valiantly began explaining how they pray before every class and teach from a Christian worldview, but it soon became evident that she was being crushed in this conversation. He was well schooled in the writings of Dawkins, Hitchens, and Nye and began doling out the punishment.

I use the word punishment because this poor barista has herself been punished by a church system which, for the past…

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The Examined Life

Sharing another post that is worthy of consideration. Living the unexamined life leads to Image result for looking through a magnifying glassmaking the same mistakes over and over but still expecting different results. Some would refer to that as insanity, but then, that would mean there are a lot of insane people in this world. My belief is that many of us live our lives without looking at cause and effect, or looking for help in those areas where we are weak. Today’s post was written by Jason Helopoulos, an associate pastor in East Lansing, MI. He challenges us to consider things that are of eternal consequence.

Living without thought is one of the greatest errors men make. As Socrates once stated, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Christ could have uttered the same words as an introduction to the parable in Luke 16 concerning the rich man and Lazarus. If we would live for God, we must consider our living.

In the parable, the rich man simply goes about his day. It is easy to do. We busily engage in our work, families, recreation, rest, and duties. And all the while, we are distracted. None of these things are bad; in fact, they are quite good. But subtly and simply, our adversary has distracted us with the cares of the world. The immediate takes priority. We live for the moment.

The peril of such living manifests itself as the rich man loses everything, even his very life, for lack of considering it. This rich man is enjoying himself. There is nothing wrong with a good meal and some nice clothes in moderation. The problem is that he lives for these things. They have taken over. The rich man lives for self. And he doesn’t see it. Sin often makes us blind to our own folly.

So here is the question: Have you examined your life? Some will go months, years, even a lifetime without examining their lives. They will never ask, “What have I been living for?” And ultimately, they never consider, “What will be the final destination of my soul?”

Yet, if a lawsuit were brought against us, we would ask our lawyer, “Will we win this case?” If we stood as a defendant and the death penalty was a possible sentence, we would anxiously desire to know whether guilty or not guilty was a likelier verdict. If we are sick, we ask our doctor what the likelihood of recovery is. If we are scheduled for invasive surgery, we ask the surgeon about the chances of survival. And yet, some of us think little to nothing of our eternal soul. Why? Because we live in the moment. Eternity is not in view. And the awful truth is that we will lose everything because of it.

This parable is clear—everyone dies. It is not a matter of if, but when. Everyone will suffer death. Some will retire. Some will have kids. But all, every single person, will die. All must face it. It is the great equalizer. There is nothing like it. It unites us all and strips us all bare. We can’t use our influence, power, position, or riches to avoid it. It comes.

And when it comes, our destination is immediate. Notice what Jesus says in Luke 16:22–23: “The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment.” There is no in-between, no holding ground, not a hair’s breadth between “he died” and “he went.” When they die, they go. Jesus said to the thief on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise” (23:43).

Death is not only immediate, it is fixed. Death seals our fate. There is no purgatory, no second chance, no further opportunity. May we not let another minute pass without examining the state of our soul. Eternity truly hangs in the balance.

Hard Truths from Jesus

This is not going to be a popular post because it has little to do with the junk that is filling social media, but everything to do with things that are of lasting importance. As I’ve Sunday Truth: Hope In The Hard Days - Julie Lefeburestudied the Scriptures and the life of Jesus, I find that he rarely mentions what is going on with the Roman governors. He had no comment on the horrific way they treated people or the good things they did. Those issues were not why He came to this world. He came to this world to help us see God and to provide a way for us to receive the gift of salvation.

I believe that there are believers with a variety of perspectives because of the environments in which we were raised. Still, God’s word is faithful and true. If we could only press ourselves to pursue God’s perspective in all aspects of life we would not be swayed by this pastor or that pastor who are so easily led by public opinion. He tells us to love our neighbors and our enemies. Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:44-45) Our goal in life is not only to have faith that secures eternal life for ourselves but to live in such a way as to give light to others who are also looking for that relationship with the One True God.

Jesus talks about the anger that is being expressed in our world this way, “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matt 5:22) To be sure, Jesus got exasperated with people who were desecrating His Father’s house by selling trinkets in the temple courtyard. He was so angry that He overturned the tables containing their merchandise and threw them out of the temple. (Matt 21:12-16) That was an anger that was righteously motivated and proved that God, Himself, does get angry.

The anger we are experiencing in our world is far from such a holy anger. We tend to get angry over things with which we disagree. We need to learn to contain and reserve our anger for those things that matter to God. We should be constantly seeking to avoid the judgment of an angry God. In our colloquialisms, we sometimes infer that we have put the “fear of God” into someone. Our society would do well to have a healthy dose of the fear of the God they have banished from our schools and are banishing from our government. The kind of fear that is a reverent respect and awe for His sovereign power and righteous holiness.

The apostle Peter penned these straightforward words as given to him by the Holy Spirit, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:13-17)

This gives me pause as I reflect on the rhetoric of today by some of our Christian leaders who want so desperately to be relevant. In so doing they never have the opportunity to share, what John wrote about in the book of Revelation as, the eternal gospel. (Rev 14:6) This gospel is of utmost importance to every man, woman, and child and contains the Truth all men are seeking.

Some may scoff at this simplified perspective but, as Christians, we have to learn to keep the main thing the main thing. We have to remember that our purpose here on this earth is to spread the eternal gospel in such a way that it is magnetic and facilitates rather than hinders God’s work of drawing all men to Himself.

Just a few thoughts for the day.

Hard Questions of Faith

This past weekend we were impacted by the homegoing of a man of God who, as many would say, died way before his time. He was 34 years old. Nabeel Qureshi is a former Muslim who became a world reknown Christian apologist with a ministry that impacted millions. My friend Natasha Crain asks one of the hard questions of the faith in her blog posted yesterday. Her reflections and conclusions, posted in Christian Mom Thoughts, are worth sharing here so that more people will reflect on God and how He responds to our prayers.

We are currently going through a series on prayer in our church, so the timing of this piece is appropriate.

Why Didn’t God Heal Nabeel Qureshi?

 

Why Didn't God Heal Nabeel Qureshi?

I don’t know.

I simply do not know the answer to this question, nor can I fathom what it might be.

But I was heartbroken when I learned that Nabeel succumbed to cancer this weekend at age 34, leaving behind his wife and young daughter. My tears just kept coming after the news, even though I never had the opportunity to meet him personally.

For those who haven’t followed his story, Nabeel Qureshi was a Muslim-turned-Christian Apologist who authored the best-selling books Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters ChristianityAnswering Jihad: A Better Way Forward, and No God But One: Allah or Jesus? A Former Muslim Investigates the Evidence for Islam and Christianity.

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus tells the incredible story of Nabeel’s journey to Christ through an extraordinary set of investigations, dreams and visions. After committing to Jesus, Nabeel became a Christian apologist and spent the rest of his life writing and speaking, with a heart for bringing light to the Muslim world.

When you read his story, it is amazingly clear that God chose him for this important role.

But that clarity was also the reason so many people were shocked when he was diagnosed last year with stage 4 stomach cancer, which has a 5-year survival rate of 4 percent. The obvious question everyone wanted to ask was, “Why would God so clearly raise someone up with such an extraordinary testimony, only to let him die at this young age?”

Instead of accepting the grim outlook, however, Nabeel made it clear that he was not giving up. He started filming regular videos to document his treatment and reflect on faith during a difficult time. He prayed fervently for healing and strongly believed that healing would come, for the glory of God. Tens of thousands of people prayed for him and fasted over the months of his treatment. He attended healing services. In his videos, he recounted many experiences with people who told him they “heard a word” from God and that they knew he would be healed. On his Facebook page, thousands of people commented every time he posted a new video, and many of the comments were from people who said they, too, “knew” he was going to be healed.

I, like so many others, anxiously awaited each video in the hope of a miracle. After all, that same question from when he was diagnosed sat firmly planted in the back of my mind: Why would God so clearly raise someone up with such an extraordinary testimony, only to let him die at this young age?

Surely, this must be for the glory of God so He can perform a miracle and demonstrate to the Muslim world that Christianity is true!

But on Saturday, Nabeel died.

When Your Faith is Wounded

Many people have shared beautiful tributes to Nabeel’s life, and my Facebook feed is overflowing with posts proclaiming that Nabeel received ultimate healing. They are celebrating his life, and there is much to celebrate.

But I’m still crying.

To be honest, it’s a very complex mess of tears.

Tears for his wife and daughter, tears for the ministry he can’t continue, tears that many Christians were wrong about having “heard from God” that he would be healed, tears that Nabeel himself believed he would be healed but wasn’t, and tears for all those I’ve prayed for God to heal but who ended up dying anyway.

Though I don’t want to admit it, many of these are tears of disappointment in God. And though I really don’t want to admit it, there are some tears of bitterness in there too.

While I believe many people do experience modern-day miracles, I have not witnessed one myself despite praying for people to be healed on many occasions. At times like this, I find it incredibly hard to ask God for anything in prayer.

I don’t want to be let down again.

If God doesn’t answer the prayers of tens of thousands of people for Nabeel’s healing when there are SO many apparent reasons to do so, why should I bother to ask God for much smaller things—like for my kids to stop fighting so much?

Or so the disappointed logic goes.

You see, my faith has been wounded.

I know that’s not the response people expect from an apologist—someone who is supposed to be a strong defender of the faith. But perhaps that’s why I wanted to write this today.

Knowing a lot of answers to questions about subjects like God’s existence, the historical resurrection of Jesus, and the reliability of the Bible does not mean you never experience difficulties with faith. Everyone experiences difficulties, to varying degrees, in their spiritual journey. As such, if your faith is only rooted in the summation of your personal experiences, it can easily fall prey to fickle human emotion. Given the number of people with cancer for whom I’ve prayed in recent years, only to see them succumb to death anyway, it wouldn’t be too hard for me to never again pray for a person’s healing…if I gave in to my feelings.

I am extraordinarily grateful I can say during a difficult time, however, that the strength of my faith rests on far more than feelings. Because I have studied apologetics in depth, that understanding is an objective anchor I can reach for when my emotional ship has been rocked. This is precisely what we should want for our kids as well.

Apologetics isn’t just about dealing with skeptics.

It’s about dealing with life.

The fact that God didn’t heal Nabeel doesn’t change the fact that the evidence for God’s existence is extensive, that there is compelling historical evidence for the resurrection, or that there’s excellent reason to believe the Bible is God’s word. Those intellectual anchors hold me firm even when life is making me feel seasick.

So Why Didn’t God Heal Nabeel Qureshi?

On Saturday, the day that Nabeel passed away, I received the first printed copy of Talking with Your Kids about God in the mail. A bit ironically, I opened it to the chapter on talking with kids about how we know God answers prayers. I thought I’d end this post by sharing the conclusion to the chapter. I needed to be reminded of this as much as anyone this weekend.

In the book, this is addressing a particular question on why God doesn’t heal amputees (a question often asked by skeptics). But I’m replacing the word amputees here with Nabeel in brackets. The same conclusion applies.

So what have we learned the Bible says? God answers prayers, but there are many reasons why he doesn’t answer all prayers in the way we’d like. The question of why God doesn’t heal [Nabeel Qureshi] is no different from numerous other questions we could ask: Why doesn’t God answer a prayer for a million dollars to instantly appear in a person’s front yard? Why doesn’t God answer a child’s prayer to fly like a bird? Why doesn’t God answer a prayer for a child’s burn wounds to heal immediately rather than gradually? If we know from the Bible that God doesn’t answer allprayers, we logically can’t look at the outcome of any particular prayer to determine whether God ever answers prayers. What we’re looking at may be one of many examples of requests that God, in his wisdom, does not grant.

A lack of certain prayer outcomes is not inconsistent with the Bible. What would be inconsistent with the Bible is if God never answered prayers.

But millions of people throughout history have claimed they’ve received answers to prayers. Today, according to Pew Research, almost one-third of Americans say their prayers result in “definite and specific answers from God” at least once a month, with almost one in five adults saying they receive direct answers to specific requests at least once a week. While a skeptic might claim every single one of these millions of people is mistaken every single time, that’s a belief worth being skeptical about.

There’s no way for Christians to prove God answers prayers, just as there’s no way for a skeptic to prove God doesn’t answer prayers. But if (1) there’s good reason to believe God exists (as we saw in part 1), (2) the Bible claims God answers some but not all prayers, and (3) it’s the overwhelming experience of Christians that God does, indeed, answer prayers on a regular basis, then the fact that God [didn’t] heal [Nabeel] has no logical bearing on the truth status of Christianity.

Yes, my faith has been wounded for a time. But not mortally so. Never mortally so. My conviction runs too deep.

Rest in peace, Nabeel. I do not understand now, but have no doubt I will someday.

Learn to Discern: Knowing When to Speak Up

At times there are items from other bloggers that are great pieces. This morning I found such a piece at Growing 4 Life which is written by a right thinking woman named Leslie.

Discernment and wisdom are critical to successful living and in living out the Christian life. The apostle Paul wrote “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders, make the most of every opportunity.” (Col 4:5). Today’s blog in a series Leslie is doing on discernment provides some practical advice in choosing our battles. Her blog follows:

was mindlessly moving a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer. My mind was on other things and I wasn’t really paying attention to what I was doing. Without thinking, I grabbed a dime that was laying near the dryer’s lint trap and tossed it in the trash.

Oops!

I looked at the trash and I pondered the worth of the dime. And then I turned back to my task. I simply did not find the dime to be valuable enough to warrant digging through the trash can. This made me wonder about what amount of money I would consider worth digging in the trash? A quarter? A dollar? At what point would I deem the amount valuable enough that it would propel me to work to get it back?

I think we need to consider this same principle when we are looking at discernment. Recently, there was a huge “to-do” in the discernment world (if you aren’t familiar with what’s going on, I am not going to fill you in. I have no desire to give it any more attention than it has already received). But what I saw happening there was someone who was making a huge deal over a “dime”. While I did agree with this person’s point of view on the subject matter at hand, I did not see that it was worth a fight. A few other Christian leaders had the same opinion as me and ended up being maligned by this other man who thought everyone else should be making as big a deal over this “dime” as he was!

One of the hardest things we must learn to do as we grow in discernment is know when something is worth a confrontation. Romans 12:18 teaches us that we are to be at peace with all men, as much as it is up to us. This is an important verse, giving us a framework in which we are to live all of life. Unfortunately, this is not going to always be possible. We know from scripture that we are going to be hated by the world and that there will be many false teachers. This naturally means that we will have some run-ins, as we try to stand for the truth.

So, how exactly do we know if something is important enough to speak up about in our families, churches, or anywhere else?

Here are a few guidelines to follow–

1. The situation at hand is about God, His Word, and His reputation. This is by far the most important key to discerning when something is important enough to stand up for. It should never be about our pride, our reputation, our importance, our need to prove ourselves. Something that is worth standing up for will always be about God’s glory and about protecting the truth of God’s Word.

It is never about ME. 

But this is oh, so tempting, isn’t it? Sometimes it is hard to discern if we are standing for God or for our own pride. We have this need to prove ourselves or to be “right” and we can get all entangled in our own selfish agenda–sometimes even when are standing up for the true and right thing! We must have humble hearts that are on the constant look-out for sins like pride, selfishness, and anger. And let’s regularly ask the Lord for a right heart and attitude and that He will fill us with His love and grace as we fight the good fight.

2. It is morally wrong. There are an abundance of verses expounding on the things that are an offense to our Holy God. We know that sexual sins, lying, sorcery, anger, pride etc. are always wrong and therefore should be something that those who claim to be Christians should avoid. (Check out these passages for more clarity and detail on the sins that God hates: Exodus 20:1-17Colossians 3:5-6Galatians 5:19-212 Timothy 3:1-7.)

If we know God hates these things, then this should be our guideline of things we want to avoid in all aspects of our lives. This would include our entertainment, which is something that believers mostly ignore now and, for some reason, practice a strange “disconnect”–as if somehow this is irrelevant from the rest of their spiritual health.

We should–we must–stand for pure and holy living. God’s Word clearly teaches that, as regenerated souls, we are to live pure and holy lives that are clearly different and separated from the world (I Peter 1:15-16Jude 1:20Philippians 1:9-102 Timothy 2:22Romans 12:1-2I Peter 2:9Romans 13:14-15Colossians 3:10).

This is not a wildly popular thing to stand for. In fact, it is not even marginally popular. But we need to speak up because God’s glory and reputation are damaged by those who live worldly, sinful lives while claiming to belong to Him.

3. Scripture is misinterpreted and twisted2 Thessalonians 2:15 tells us this: So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. Since scripture was written there has been an accepted interpretation. Oh, there have been councils and meetings to discuss things, but God has miraculously protected the integrity of scripture throughout the years. However, Satan is always trying to mess with it just enough that he will mislead people. He has done this through the ages, but I highly doubt it has ever been so much as right now.

When someone gives some wild, out-of-context interpretation of scripture it is time to stand up! When someone tries to rationalize worldliness, homosexuality, evolution, or any other ungodly sin or philosophy, it is time to stand for the truth of God’s Word. We cannot let our enemy win this battle –for this is the battle’s core. Is scripture 100% true, inerrant, and inspired, or isn’t it? Because we know it is, we must speak up when it’s maligned.

Of course, the problem with this is that most of us do not have enough biblical knowledge to really provide a biblical defense. This is really why I write. I want to encourage you to know the Word so that you can live godly lives and contend for the faith.

Josh Buice writes thisThe absolute best method of testing a theology or a popular catch phrase is by Scripture. If any teaching will stand the intense scrutiny of Scripture, it proves itself to be a trustworthy doctrine. This is true on all matters of theology—from bumper stickers to historic creeds and confessions. The question that we must be asking ourselves as we build our positions is, “What does the Bible say?”

Yes, yes, yes! This is exactly right. You see, the Bible isn’t all that hard to understand. If we accept the Bible as it is written, literally, it all makes so much sense. And, even more amazing, the facts presented in science (I am talking about facts and not theories) and the historical record supports it all! You will find it incredible and even miraculous when you give yourself to serious study of this amazing book. But we don’t know because we don’t study. And– if I may be so bold–we don’t study because we don’t care. Oh, if this blog accomplishes one things –I hope it is that you would start to care about growing in your knowledge of the Word of God!

4. Christ’s role is diminished. Oh, how many false teachers diminish the role of Christ. If you are deciding whether something is worth the fight, ask yourself this: How do they treat Christ? Do they turn His sacrifice on the cross into a mere event? Do they teach that Christ is one of many ways to be reconciled to God? Do they teach that man is basically good and that Jesus is just a good example to follow? Do they teach that Christ is there to do one’s bidding? Do they teach that Christ is simply a good teacher? You will be surprised how even the most mainstream teachers and authors are teaching error in regards to Christ. And this is worth the fight! While Jesus Christ is the theme of the whole Bible (yes, even the Old Testament!), you can start by reading the Gospels. This is a great place to get started in knowing your Savior and will help you to defend Him!

5. Primary Christian Doctrines are compromised. As believers, we do need to know doctrine (contrary to what you have probably been told). Being unfamiliar with words like justification, sanctification, and glorification leaves you vulnerable to false teachers. Having at least a basic understanding of what the Bible teaches about (to name a few) the Trinity, God’s Sovereignty, salvation, God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and about the Church strengthen and prepare you for the vicious and unrelenting attacks that Satan wages against these doctrines. (Understanding what the Bible teaches us about the the last days and about Israel are secondary issues but are still beneficial–and interesting!– to study.) Find a good resource, such as Biblical Doctrine by John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue and start increasing your knowledge. If you’d rather have something a little less intimidating and not quite as deep, try Fundamentals of the Faith by MacArthur, which is a 13-week guided study of basic Christian doctrines.

6. Be socially wise. Now, with the final two items on this list, we are moving from biblical compromise to having social discernment. If someone you barely knows starts sharing about how much they love The Shack or Jesus Calling, don’t start off on a long monologue on why they are not doctrinally sound books. Go ahead and say something casually and if they express interest, then, by all means, have a conversation. But don’t confront acquaintances and strangers. They have absolutely no reason to listen to you. Gauge their interest and be wise. And, most importantly, pray for them.

7. Consider the spirit of the person you are confronting.  We must evaluate the person we are speaking to and ask ourselves: Is this person humble or proud? You see, if you are dealing with someone who thinks they know everything, who won’t bend, who doesn’t listen, then feel free to bring up your concern, but don’t argue or debate with them. Only the Holy Spirit can remove that blind pride. You could talk for forever and not move them an inch. So allow the Lord to use you to plant His seeds and to challenge them with some thoughts but do not become a thorn in their side that pricks at every opportunity. This is not how we practice discernment.

This is not an exhaustive list. Practicing biblical discernment is no picnic and I can honestly tell you that there is little personal reward for speaking up. I have mentioned this before and I will mention it again–most people do not want to hear. And because they do not want to hear, they will view you as (and call you) all kinds of negative things. But don’t let this stop you because we know that the truth of the Bible has the power to save! We know that the souls of those who are deceived and lost are going to hell! We know how this all ends! We know what is coming in the future! Let’s keep our eyes focused on what is important and not get embroiled in our hurt feelings and relational skirmishes here on earth. Study the Word and don’t be afraid to speak up when you must!

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:12

Have a blessed day!

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