love you, man

June 12, 2017

It’s love your brother/sister day

The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters” (13:1). The Greek term used in this verse—philadelphia—means “love of brother or sister,” the affection one has for their family members. In the New Testament it refers to a sense of affection for a fellow Christian.

 Mutual affection is showing the same care and concern for fellow believers that we would show family members. As members of God’s family, we are expected to truly treat one another as siblings in Christ. Are you working to develop the same intimacy with your church family as you would your biological family?

 Here are three mini-habits that help us to develop mutual affection:

  1. Memorize and meditate on Romans 12:10: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” Ask God to increase your affection for other believers.

  2. Make a list of four brothers and sisters in Christ. Over the next month, select one a week for whom you will perform a special act of kindness. Make note of how this changes your relationship with them.

  3. If you have your own home, set a date once a month to invite a college student, widow, military service member or someone who lives alone to come over for coffee or dinner. If you don’t have a place of your own, make a habit of taking a meal to a shut-in or inviting a lonely church member out to lunch.

Surprise, yes, you actually have to tell brothers’ and sisters’ in the Lord to “love one another”, hard to believe but true.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

Summer is here, chill

June 1, 2017

I don’t remember where I first found this, but I have it written in my bible, and with summer here and all the fun it brings don’t forget to have some fun and enjoy living life to its fullest.

1.Sunshine is Refreshing…Fuel up your soul with a day rejoicing in God’s creation.  Take a few hours and spend time at a park experiencing the warmth and brightness of His love.  Find a bench and sit and bask in His sunshine as the warmth of His Son warms your heart.

2.Laughter is Contagious…Fuel up your soul with people who make you laugh.  Surround yourself with godly people who make you laugh and experience a fun-filled day.  Laughter is contagious and a good belly laugh each day helps rejuvenate your soul.

3.An Adventure is Exhilarating…Fuel up your soul with something you have never experienced before.  Take an adventure on your day off, such as kayaking, sailing, climbing, jet sky riding, or any other adventure that interests you.  First time adventures can be very enjoyable and exhilarating.

4.Music is Uplifting…Fuel up your soul with worship music that speaks to your heart.  Close the door of your office and listen to your favorite Christian musician.  Music can sooth the heart and calm your spirit.

5.Drawing is Fun…Fuel up your soul with a drawing that is inspired by how you are feeling.  Use pencil, crayons, markers, water colors, pastels, oils…whatever you desire and spend time expressing yourself on paper.  Expressing your thoughts on paper can be very energizing and a lot of fun. yes, real men can finger paint and do coloring books.

6.Walking is Energizing…Fuel up your soul with a short walk.  A short walk can give you energy that may be what is needed to complete your day without burn out.  Taking a short walk away from the office to reflect on God’s mercy and grace will power you up to press on to another day.

7.Readingis Stimulating…Fuel up your soul with a new book.  Reading on a biblical topic that interest you can fill you with new insights and new ideas.  Spending time in the evening reading instead of watching TV will improve your sleep.  Filling your mind with God’s word will calm your soul and allow you to wake up more rested and ready for another day with fresh new ideas.

8.Writing is Meaningful…Fuel up your soul with a poem or journal entries.  Write something about God asking Him to reveal Himself to you in a way He has never done before.  God will show up, touch your heart with His presence, take your words, and bring glory to His name.

9.A Friend is Calming…Fuel up your soul with lunch and a friend.  Close sincere godly friends have a way of calming your spirit and keeping you focused.  Friends are vital to pray with, cry with, and just hang out with.

10.A Vacation is Necessary…Fuel up your soul with rest.  A vacation is always necessary to recharge and rejuvenate your soul.  Make time and ask for time off. Turn off the computer and IPhone and enjoy your time away.  A vacation without distractions from church responsibilities will give you a new perspective and charge you with vitality.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!” Philippians 4:4  Be ready for fall, allow God to refresh and rejuvenate you this summer!

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember Joe R, in your prayers for his shoulder

Doug B, and his broken back

Rick B, and the death of his mom

 

who manages who

May 28, 2017

Firefighters know the danger of letting a fire get out of control. They are trained to respond quickly. You, too, must respond quickly to control the flames of anger before they consume your life and leave a smoldering ditch of destruction. “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins” (PROVERBS 29:22).

 WHAT ARE THE DEGREES OF ANGER? Anger is an emotional agitation that occurs when a need or expectation is not met. Like heat, anger has many degrees, ranging from mild irritations to hot explosions. Indignation—simmering anger provoked by something unjust and often perceived as justified Wrath—burning anger accompanied by a desire to avenge Fury—fiery anger so fierce that it destroys common sense Rage—blazing anger resulting in loss of self-control, often to the extreme of violence and temporary insanity

WHAT ARE MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT ANGER? Is it a sin for a person to be angry? No, the initial feeling of anger is a God-given emotion. The way you express this emotion determines whether your anger becomes sin. Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin.” How can a person keep from feeling guilty when he is angry? Your anger is a signal that something is wrong. The purpose of the red warning light on a car dashboard is to propel you into action—to cause you to stop, evaluate, and do what is needed. For example, Jesus became angry at the hypocritical religious leaders who interpreted “resting on the Sabbath” to excess: “He looked around at them in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand’…and his hand was completely restored” (Mark 3:5).

WHAT ARE THE FOUR SOURCES OF ANGER?

Hurt—Your heart is wounded. Everyone has a God-given inner need for unconditional love. When you experience rejection or emotional pain of any kind, anger can become a protective wall that keeps people and pain away.

 Injustice—Your right is violated. Everyone has an inner moral code that produces a sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair, just and unjust. When you perceive that an injustice has occurred against you or others (especially those whom you love), you may feel angry. If you hold on to the offense, the unresolved anger can begin to make a home in your heart.

Fear—Your future is threatened. Everyone is created with a God-given inner need for security. When you begin to worry, feel threatened, or get angry because of a change in circumstances, you may be responding to fear. A fearful heart reveals a lack of trust in God’s perfect plan for your life.

Frustration—Your effort is unsuccessful. Everyone has a God-given need for significance. When your efforts are thwarted or do not meet your own personal expectations, your sense of significance can be threatened. Frustration over unmet expectations of yourself or of others is a major source of anger.

WHAT IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF ANGER? When we feel that our real or perceived rights have been violated, we can easily respond with anger.

 Wrong Belief: “Based on what I believe is fair, I have the right to be angry about my disappointments and to stay angry for as long as I feel like it. I have the right to express my anger in whatever way is natural for me.”

Right Belief: “Because the Lord is sovereign over me and I trust Him with my life, I have yielded my rights to Him. My human disappointments are now God’s appointments to increase my faith and develop His character in me. I choose to not be controlled by anger, but to use anger to motivate me to do whatever God wants me to do” (see 1 Peter 1:6-7).

HOW CAN PAST ANGER BE RESOLVED? Unresolved anger is a bed of hidden coals burning deep wounds into your relationships with God and with others. This powerful emotion robs your heart of peace and steals contentment from your spirit. So how is this anger resolved? Realize Your Anger — Willingly admit that you have unresolved anger. — Ask God to reveal any anger buried in your heart. — Seek to determine the primary reason(s) for your past anger. — Talk out your anger with God and with a friend or counselor. (Proverbs 21:2)

We need to remember that it is not a sin to get angry, it’s what we do while we are angry that is important. Good, godly responses are what important.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Remember all those on our prayer lists, especially Joe and his shoulder, a great deal of pain.

And Dave as his fights his 5th battle prostate cancer. He’s a brave guy.

 

WILD FIRE

May 23, 2017

James 3:1-12

James has gone from preaching to meddling! He has just made it clear that genuine faith works. If God has changed your heart through the new birth, the saving faith that He granted to you will inevitably show itself in a life of good deeds. But now he moves from the generality of good deeds to the specifics of the words that you speak. Genuine faith yields to Christ’s lordship over your tongue. With David (Ps. 141:3), all true believers will pray, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” While the monster may never be totally tamed, if you know Christ as Savior, you are engaged in the ongoing battle to tame the terrible tongue.

In building his case that all have sinned, the apostle Paul zeroes in on the sins of the tongue (Rom. 3:13-14):

“Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips”; “Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness….”

It would be nice if conversion resulted in a total makeover of the mouth, but it is not so! Although we become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), we also carry around with us the old nature or the flesh, which wars against the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). The tongue is one of the major battlegrounds in the war. To become godly people, we must wage war daily on this front.

James is a savvy pastor who knows that we won’t gear up for the battle and face our own sins of the tongue unless we recognize the magnitude of the problem. We all tend to justify ourselves by pointing to others who are notoriously bad. In comparison with how they talk, I’m doing okay. But James comes in with vivid illustrations to open our eyes to just how serious our problem is. It’s interesting that he never gives any advice on how to control the tongue. He just leaves you reeling from his portrait of how huge this problem is. He’s saying,

To tame the terrible tongue, we must recognize the tremendous magnitude of the battle that we face.

It’s difficult to outline this section, but we can organize it under four truths that we must recognize to tame our terrible tongues:

  1. To tame the tongue, we must recognize that we will be held accountable for what we say (3:1-2).

Apparently the churches to which James was writing had too many men who were self-appointed teachers. In the Jewish synagogues, rabbis were highly respected and the office was often one that parents coveted for their sons. It was proper to respect the rabbis because of the sacred Scriptures that they expounded, but it was wrong to give men the honor that God alone deserves. Jesus confronted the Jewish leaders on this account (Matt. 23:6-11):

“They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant.”

There’s a certain inherent prestige in becoming a teacher. Presumably, you know more than those that you teach, which means that in some way they should look up to you. Because of this, there is the built-in danger that some will take upon themselves the office of Bible teacher for the wrong reasons, or that those who took the position for the right reason later will fall into pride. If a man goes into teaching the Bible because of a secret desire for status or recognition, he is doing it for self and not for the Lord.

Because of the Matthew 23 passage, for many years I was uncomfortable with people addressing me as “Pastor.” Why not call me by my name, like everyone else? While I’ve grown accustomed enough to the title now that I don’t ask everyone to call me by my name, I hope that if they call me Pastor, they are respecting the office. But I’m also quite comfortable with being called Steve! I’m only a member of Christ’s body whom He called to shepherd His flock and teach His Word. Christ is the Leader!

James’ point is that a man should not take on the role of teacher unless God has called him to it, because teachers will incur a stricter judgment. We who teach God’s Word will be more accountable, because our words affect more people. Any time that we teach, we should keep in mind the serious fact that we will stand before the Lord to give an account!

Verse 2 further explains verse 1 (“For”). James includes himself when he says, “For we all stumble in many ways.” We’re all prone to sin! One popular author and Bible teacher emphasizes that we should not view ourselves as sinners, but as saints who occasionally sin. Well, by God’s grace I’m a saint, but I’m a saint who stumbles in many ways, not just occasionally!

James then zeroes in on the tongue, saying, “If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.” Perfect does not mean sinlessly perfect, but rather, mature. We can never achieve sinless perfection in this life, but we can grow to spiritual maturity. One important gauge of that is our speech.

One way to tame the tongue is to recognize that we all will be held accountable for our speech. Jesus said (Matt. 12:36-37), “But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Jesus was not teaching justification by works. But, like James, He was teaching that our works reveal whether our faith is genuine faith. Our words either validate that we are true believers or reveal that we do not know God. If we sin with our speech, we need to ask God’s forgiveness and also the forgiveness of the one we sinned against. Genuine believers have this sense of being accountable for their speech.

  1. To tame the tongue, we must recognize its power for good or for evil (3:3-5a).

James uses two analogies here to make the point that the tongue is small, but mighty: the bit and the rudder. A bit is a relatively small instrument, but when you put it into a horse’s mouth, you can control the entire horse. The same thing is true of a ship’s rudder. It is relatively small compared to the size of the ship, but with his hand on the wheel or tiller, the pilot can steer a mammoth ship, even in a strong wind.

James’ point of comparison is not so much the matter of control (the tongue does not really control the body), but of the inordinate influence of such a small part (3:5a): “So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.” James is saying, “Don’t underestimate the power of the tongue, because if you do, you won’t be able to tame it.” There may be a comparison in the sense of influencing direction. If you control your tongue, it can direct your whole life into what is acceptable in God’s sight. If you don’t control your tongue, it will get you into great trouble!

Both the bit and the rudder must overcome contrary forces to direct the horse and the ship. A horse is a powerful animal that can do much useful work, but only if it can be directed. A ship is a useful means of transporting cargo or people, but if the rudder is broken, it will be at the mercy of the wind and waves, and could result in a shipwreck causing the loss of life and cargo. To work properly and accomplish good things, both bit and rudder must be under the control of a strong hand that knows how to use them properly. In the same way, the tongue must overcome the contrary force of the flesh and be under God’s wise control if it is to accomplish anything good.

James would vigorously disagree with the familiar children’s taunt, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” James is steeped in the Old Testament, and it (especially the Book of Proverbs) has much to say about the power of the tongue, either for good or for evil. Proverbs 12:18 states, “There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Imagine that all of us here today were carrying into church an unsheathed, razor-sharp, two-edged sword. It would be a miracle if we got through the morning without anyone getting cut! The fact is, we all have a razor-sharp, two-edged sword—in our mouths! We should use them with the greatest care to bring healing, not injury.

Proverbs has many other references to the tongue. For example (16:24), “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” If we all would read Proverbs frequently and pay attention to its wisdom, we would be a source of sweetness and healing in our homes and our church!

So James wants us to recognize that we will be held accountable for how we use our tongues, especially those of us who teach God’s Word. He wants us to recognize the inordinate power of the tongue, either for good or for evil, so that we use it carefully.

  1. To tame the tongue, we must recognize that it is a humanly untamable source of terrible evil (3:5b-8).

James uses two more word pictures for comparison and contrast: a forest fire and tamed animals. Living here in Flagstaff in the midst of the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world, we are very much aware of the potential danger and damage of forest fires. All it takes is one tossed cigarette or one campfire that is not totally extinguished and thousands of acres of beautiful forest can be destroyed. Under control, fire is useful; out of control, it is frightening and devastating!

In verse 6, James states directly, “And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” Scholars debate as to how to translate and punctuate that verse, but however it is done, the point is clear: the tongue is a deadly, powerful source of evil that taints every part of our being. If we do not use our tongues with great caution, we are like spiritual arsonists, lighting careless fires that cause widespread destruction.

James says that the one who is careless with his tongue is the first to be defiled. An unchecked tongue is “the very world of iniquity,” that “defiles the entire body.” This goes back to James 1:26-27, where he said that true religion requires bridling the tongue and keeping oneself unstained by the world. “The sense is simply that since speech is the hardest faculty to control it is there that one first observes ‘the world’ in a person’s heart” (Peter Davids, New International Greek Testament Commentary on James [Eerdmans], p.142). Like a spark that lights a bigger fire, it not only defiles us, but also it “sets on fire the course of our life.” If you have a careless tongue it damages your entire life!

Then James goes one step further and identifies the ultimate source of the problem, “and is set on fire by hell.” Hell translates the Greek gehenna, which is a transliteration of two Hebrew words meaning, “Valley of Hinnom.” This valley, just outside the walls of Jerusalem, was where the Jewish worshipers of Molech burned their children as sacrifices to appease this pagan idol (Jer. 32:35). It later became a place to burn trash. The only other New Testament use is by Jesus (11 times) to refer to the place of eternal torment. James means that an evil tongue is set on fire by Satan himself.

Most Christians would shrink back from sins like homosexuality, molesting children, or murder as being satanically depraved. Yet we tolerate gossip, slander, deceit, half-truths, sarcastic put-downs, and other sins of the tongue as if they were no big deal. James says that all such sins have their origin in the pit of hell. They defile the one committing them. They destroy others. As a believer in Christ, you must confront these sins in yourself and you must be bold enough to confront them in others.

James goes on to use an analogy from the animal world. If you’ve been to Sea World, you’ve seen trained whales, dolphins, and seals. At the circus, you’ve seen trained elephants, lions, and tigers. But James says that there is one beast that cannot be tamed: the human tongue! He adds, “it is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” Being restless means there is never a time when it sleeps. You must always be on guard against it. Being full of deadly poison, you should handle it as cautiously as you would a vial of anthrax.

James does not say that the tongue is untamable. He says that no one can tame it. It is humanly untamable. Only God can tame it. James does not state that because he wants us to get a clear view of the horrible monster that we must do battle with. When the Holy Spirit controls your heart on a daily basis, over time the fruit of the Spirit will appear. These include love, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control, which all relate to the control of the tongue. To tame this terrible tongue, you must daily walk in the Spirit, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. Ultimately, an evil tongue is the tool of an evil heart. That is James’ final point:

  1. To tame the tongue, we must recognize that its inconsistencies are rooted in its source (3:9-12).

James points out a gross inconsistency that he no doubt had observed. Christians say, “Praise the Lord” in one breath, and in the next breath they say evil things about another person, made in the likeness of God. They sit in church singing hymns to God and no sooner get out the door than they whisper, “Did you see so-and-so? She makes me sick! She’s such a hypocrite. Why do you know what she did?” Etc., etc. James gets very direct (3:10b): “My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.”

Then he points out that what often happens among Christians is contrary to all of nature. The same spring does not send out fresh water one minute and bitter water the next. He asks rhetorically (3:12), “Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh.”

His point is the same as that of Jesus (Matt. 12:34), “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” Jesus also said (Matt. 15:18), “But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man.” The mouth is simply the opening that vents whatever is in the heart. If there’s raw sewage in the heart, there will be raw sewage gushing from the mouth! That’s why Proverbs 4:23 exhorts us, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”

Have you ever thought about how terribly embarrassing life would be if there were a direct open line between your thoughts and your mouth, so that you blurted out loud whatever you were thinking? Instead of your polite, “I’m pleased to meet you,” out comes, “I couldn’t care less about meeting you!” After listening to someone drone on about something, instead of, “Yes, that’s very interesting,” you blurt out, “How can I get away from this bore?”

I’m not suggesting that we should abandon politeness and become brutally blunt. I’m only pointing out that even if you control your tongue, you often have a heart problem. If you want to tame the terrible tongue, the place to start is with your heart. Work daily at taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Walk daily under the control of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:18). Renew your mind by memorizing Scripture (Rom. 12:1-2; Ps. 119:11). Memorize James 1:19-20: “This you know, my beloved brethren. But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” Memorize Ephesians 4:29: “Let no unwholesome [lit., rotten] word proceed from you mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

a life of pain

May 13, 2017

There’s “sad,” and then there are those times when sorrow seeps down into your soul and collects there into an aching pool of grief. You sleep. You wake up. And for a minute it’s better. Then the drip… drip of pain begins again. After thirty-two years with rheumatoid arthritis I would rather spend a day in significant physical pain than a day in significant emotional pain, although sometimes the two are inextricably linked. When we find ourselves in that kind of pain, how might we find relief? If you believe that the Universe has randomly arranged itself and there is no ultimate goal of history or relationships or our own lives, then neither is there any comfort in the ultimate sense. If life is a cosmic lottery then you have simply drawn a losing ticket and there’s nothing to be done about it. In the face of such bleakness, when sorrows come it’s understandable that so many self-medicate themselves into addiction or spend most non-working hours in some kind of escapist diversion. I wonder if this view of life could ever have gained credibility in any times but these, so rich in resources and options for entertainment and diversion.

If you believe in the Eastern view of things then you might seek relief in the conviction that all suffering, indeed all pain and everything attached to this world is illusion. What is needed is more detachment from this world and its sorrows, more enlightenment and becoming one with the impersonal life force that has created all things. Become less of your individual self and more of the One.

However, if you believe in a personal God then a very different kind of comfort is possible. When I am hurting, when the pool of grief and loss grows deeper until I feel that I am drowning, then the thing that I long for most is the loving presence of another person.

When I was sad this week I called a friend and shared my sorrow. The empathy in her voice soothed me. Her loving presence, even on the phone, cheered me. She has known deep sorrow as well and she really understands me. Her tangible love and prayers for me comfort me. And the fact that she is probably in more physical pain than any one I know. Soon you forget your pain as you begin to remember hers.

In the same way, God longs to comfort us because he longs for relationship with us. The reason we long for the presence and touch of another person when we are hurting is because it is the image of a personal God in them that is able to comfort us. Love desires personality. The wit, the courage, the honesty, the tenderness of another person that comforts and delights us points us to the personality of our Creator. The Bible says that “God is near the broken hearted.” God’s presence, especially in our pain, is real. And it is not the presence of one who is remote emotionally.

In the person of the Son God knows what it is like to suffer. And when we are suffering, that matters.

“I have come to give you life.” “I will never leave you or forsake you.” “I will work all your suffering together for your good.” Jesus does not simply offer us pretty words of comfort. He knows what it is to be abandoned and betrayed by his closest friends. For his family to misunderstand him to the extent that they plan an intervention. Jesus knows what it is like to be homeless, tired, thirsty, hungry. He knows what it’s like to stay up all night, sick at heart, sorrowful, even to the point of death. He knows what it’s like to be tortured and die a slow, excruciating death. He knows what it means to become sin—selfishness, greed, lust, murderous anger, pride, jealousy and the rest. So when he comes near the brokenhearted he can deeply, truly empathize. More than that, he can bear our griefs and carry our sorrows. “Cast all your care upon me,” he invites us, “because I care for you.”

When we are aching God can comfort us. He can heal that which is broken. He may not always change our circumstances, but he can change us. If we give up our claim to our right to ourselves, he will fill us with his life and his joy. When we can thank him for the life we live, the air we breathe and the songs we sing then there is hope beyond imagining. Because…not only can he comfort with his presence and deep empathy, he can, through the power that raised Jesus from the dead, do more than we can possibly imagine to restore us to life. We needn’t give up our individuality. We remain very much ourselves yet more fully alive. We don’t retreat from this world but find the power to live and love joyfully with hearts of thanksgiving, fully engaged with the people and happenings around us.

At least, after thirty-two years this month of rheumatoid arthritis, that has been my experience. I’ve learned a very hard lesson, that is saying to God, “Father, I love you. I thank you for all the pain and all the good you have accomplished through it, mainly, giving me yourself, I know I really never ever experience pain like my Savior, your Son ever experienced, but I know you understand and I remind myself time and time again that it is not punishment, it’s just life.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

And speaking of pain, remember Joe R, in your prayer for his shoulder pain from a torn ACL and a bone spur.

Remember Liz and her mother Sara as her mom goes through chemo.

Please pray for Virginia Mc. She is in terrible pain and is wondering why God hasn’t taken her home yet.

NOT WHAT YOU WANT TO HEAR. TOUGH NUGGIES.

One of the most popular ideas to emerge in Christian circles is that we all need to build and maintain proper self-esteem. Dozens of best-selling Christian books are laced with this theme. It is frequently mentioned in sermons and on Christian radio shows. It is a fundamental assumption underlying most Christian counseling. For example, one well-known Christian treatment program, endorsed by top Christian leaders, states in a promotional brochure, “Part of [this program’s] success is found in the unique ability to target and resolve problems of low self-esteem. At the core of all emotional problems and addictive disorders is low self-worth. It is never the only problem; but it is so major an issue that, if not dealt with adequately, one is kept from experiencing lasting, positive results.”

An article by a Christian psychologist on the problem of pastors who commit adultery stated that one reason pastors fall into sexual sin is low self-esteem. If they would just love themselves properly, they wouldn’t have a need to find “love” from another woman. Another article asserts that low self-esteem is a major factor behind homosexual behavior. A popular Christian author even used the story of Lee Harvey Oswald to illustrate how low self-esteem led this man to shoot President Kennedy!

The question Christians need to ask is, does the Bible teach this? Does it teach that we need to build our self-esteem? Those who say yes usually support it with the verse, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). They say that you must properly love yourself in order to love your neighbor. But that is not the meaning of the verse. It assumes that we all love ourselves just fine, thank you. If we would show the same regard for others that we do in fact show for ourselves, we would be loving them as God commands. Even those who go around dumping on themselves don’t need to focus on loving themselves. Their problem is precisely that they are too self-focused. They need to consider the needs of others ahead of themselves. The mark of biblical love is self-sacrifice, not self-esteem (see Eph. 5:25).

Even in the case of a suicidal person, the problem is not that he does not love himself. Rather, he loves himself more than he loves anyone else. He is not considering what his death will do to family or friends. He is only considering himself: he is in pain and he wants out of his pain.

Consider the adulterous pastor. He was esteeming himself above everyone else. He certainly was not esteeming God or he would not have dragged His name through the mud by committing adultery. Nor was he loving and esteeming his wife, his children, or the woman he defiled. He was esteeming his “needs” above all else.

The Bible teaches that love of self is at the root of all our sins. It warns that “in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self” (2 Tim. 3:1, 2). This is followed by a list of terrible sins. You can’t find a single command in the Bible that even hints that we need to esteem and love ourselves more than we do. To the contrary, Jesus explicitly said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). Many Bible verses tell us to humble ourselves and not to think too highly of ourselves (see James 4:6-10; 1 Pet. 5:5-6; Rom. 12:3), but none tell us to focus on how wonderful or worthy we are. In fact, God operates on the principle of grace, and grace is for the unworthy, not for the worthy.

In his devotional classic, A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law writes of the “monstrous and shameful nature of sin” and then asks rhetorically, “Shall we presume to take delight in our worth, we who are not worthy so much as to ask pardon for our sins without the mediation and intercession of the Son of God?” (Westminster Press, pp. 106-107).

My analysis is that most American church-goers need to grow in a sense of their unworthiness, not their supposed worthiness. They need to see what the old Puritan writers called “the exceeding sinfulness of sin.” Then perhaps we would see how much we need the Savior. Being forgiven much, we would love much.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

speak up man

April 15, 2017

thinking over feeling

MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY: TO WALK IN GOD’S IMAGE

Genesis 1:26 says that man was created in God’s image and one purpose was to rule over the rest of creation. Man was to help keep the order. One of the first things Adam did was to name the animals. That did three things:

It demonstrated his superiority over them, and fulfilled the command to rule over creation.

It helped fulfill his role of being in God’s image and taking part in creating order out of chaos.

Adam was also “like” God because naming the animals involved speaking into the disorder.

I imagine that naming all those animals was not easy. Imagine if someone brought a few hundred species of animals to you and asked you to name them. Would you be overwhelmed? Sure you would. It was probably all you could do to think of a name for your baby. And if you’re like us, you didn’t decide until they were rolling mom and baby out of the hospital.

So, Gen. 1:3 says God spoke and then in Gen. 2:19-20 man spoke. There is a logical connection between the two. Man was reflecting the image of God by speaking into the chaos and creating order.

That is the theological basis for our study. God spoke into chaos and created life and order. Man is created in God’s image and part of man’s responsibility is to speak into chaos and create life and order. (don’t read to much into this statement, I’m not quoting Derek Prince or some other wackado spouting name it or claim it nonense).

How does that apply to us today? We don’t need to name the animals.

For me, that means that when life is chaotic, I need to speak. I need to say something and I need to do something. I need to get involved. I should not remain silent. If I remain silent, I am like Adam in the garden. I am sinning.

But man’s natural tendency is to remain silent. That takes us to the next topic.

MAN’S NATURAL TENDENCY: TO BE SILENT

If Adam were the only man in the Bible who was silent, then perhaps one could say that this conclusion is doubtful. But, there are several examples in the Bible of men who were silent. Let’s look at them and see where it got them.

THE EXAMPLE OF ADAM

We’ve already looked at this one, but I just wanted to make it a part of the list so I could ask you what were the consequences of Adam’s silence? The result was that billions of people have lived miserable lives and then died and most have gone to hell.

THE EXAMPLE OF ABRAHAM

Everyone probably knows of God’s promise to Abraham (Gen 15)—that he would have a son and be the father of a multitude, through whom God would bless the world. After ten years, and no children, Sarah comes to Abraham and says, take my slave, Hagar, and have children with her so that God’s promise can come true. What did Abraham say to that? Nothing. Gen 16:2 says He listened to the voice of Sarah.

Then later after Hagar has Ishmael, Sarah is jealous and Abraham tells her to do what she wants to her slave. And he lets her treat Hagar harshly.

So, Abraham was silent and did what Sarah said. What was the result? The Arab/Israeli conflict that still rages today.

THE EXAMPLE OF LOT

We know from 2 Peter 2:7f that Lot was a righteous man, but you would never know it from the Genesis account. He stayed in Sodom and Gomorrah and was silent about the evil around him. When he offered his two daughters to a crowd of men to protect God’s messengers, that was not the action of a strong man. At the end of that account, when they are fleeing the city, and Lot’s wife looks back at Sodom and turns into a pillar of salt, it becomes obvious who it was that wanted to live in Sodom and Gomorrah and who was in really running the family. If Lot was tormented in his soul by the evil around him (2 Pet 2:8), then why didn’t he leave? Because his wife didn’t want to. Lot remained silent and passive.

Some time later Lot’s daughters commit incest with Lot while he is drunk and they get pregnant. So, we see further damage result from Lot’s silent passive life.

THE EXAMPLE OF BETHUEL

Do you remember the story of how Isaac got his wife? His father, Abraham, sent a servant back to the home country to get a wife for his son, Isaac. In the account in Gen. 24, the servant goes to a well, meets Rebekah, follows her home, and then proceeds to bargain with her brother Laban for her hand in marriage for Isaac. At the end of the account, (24:50) it says Bethuel agreed to the arrangement. It seems to me that Laban was the one who was involved, and Bethuel was along for the ride. I can’t swear to it, but nothing is said about him, and he doesn’t speak until the end of the account.

What was the result? He had two very controlling children. Laban and Rebekah. We know that Rebekah was very involved with the deception of Isaac when Jacob deceived his father out of the family blessing. And we know that Laban made life miserable for Jacob when he tried to marry Rachel and got Leah instead. So, by being a silent and uninvolved father, Bethuel helped create at least two manipulative and very controlling children.

THE EXAMPLE OF ISAAC

We don’t have to read much further in Genesis before we come to the next silent man — Isaac. He was a very passive man. If you read through Genesis, you see that he didn’t do anything right except allow his father to almost sacrifice him.

Isaac knew the prophecy of God that his older son, Esau, would serve the younger son, Jacob, but he preferred Esau who appeared to be a strong, manly man always out hunting. And at the end of his life, he was going to go ahead and bless Esau in spite of the prophecy. Why? I think it was easier to go along with the tradition of blessing the oldest son than to trust God and bless Jacob. Why? Perhaps he was afraid of Esau’s reaction? After all, Esau was the hunter. Perhaps he was afraid of what others might say when they found out. Because he was afraid to act, his wife tried to take over and handle the problem. It backfired and the family was split up and Isaac and Rebekah never saw Jacob again.

CONCLUSION

Here we have five examples of men who were silent. In each situation the result was much harm to others. We might say the result was chaos.

When God spoke, He made order out of chaos. When man fails to act in God’s image, and speak, the result is more chaos. And very important to recognize: It brings the severing of relationship. And that is what this is all about – relationships. How is my silence going to affect my relationship with others? The Bible shows that it wll definitely destroy them.

Adam’s silence destroyed his relationship with God and his wife.

Abraham’s silence resulted in the Arab/Israeli conflict.

Lot’s relationship with his daughters and his wife was not good.

Isaac had almost no relationship with his wife or son, Jacob. This is obvious when you read the story of Isaac’s deception at the blessing. Isaac never talks to Rebekah. He never talks to Jacob (except when he thinks Jacob is Esau). Rebekah never talks to Esau. And Jacob never talks to Esau. You see a family divided right down the middle.

Notice also that in each of these situations, when the man was silent, the women stepped in and took control. God said that was going to be the woman’s natural tendency in Gen. 3:16, and we can see it happening over and over again.

So, man’s natural tendency is to be silent. But what we’ve seen so far ought to do away with the description of a man as “The Strong Silent Type.” When you understand these principles, it makes you want to change it to “The Weak Silent Type.”

SUMMARY

What we’ve seen is that God speaks into disorder and creates order and life.

Man is created in God’s image and should also speak into disorder and create order and life.

But man’s natural tendency is to avoid the chaos and to be silent.

When he does that he creates even more chaos and destroys relationships.

Do you know why the African American community is in chaos? Simple, no dads.

Men need to fulfill their roles at home, at work and in their community.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

In the “Pardon My Planet” cartoon, an earnest young man is speaking in candlelight to a young lady and says, “From the day you marry me I’ll spend the rest of my life making your dreams come true. ‘Till then, I’ll work myself to the bone trying to lower your expectations.”

The objective, of course, is not to lower expectations. It is simply to make them realistic. Unrealistic ones that are unachievable only set us up to fail.

She was a young excited bride-to-be eagerly anticipating married life with her fiancé. In a burst of enthusiasm, in the midst of one of our pre-marriage counselling sessions, she exclaimed, “I can’t wait until we get married and we can be together all the time!” Immediately the lights went on. “Hold it! Wait a minute! You mean that’s your expectation of married life?” Simply unrealistic. If the record isn’t set straight right now, they are heading for some rough water ahead. Managing expectations involves having expectations that are realistic.

My wife and a good friend were having lunch together when her friend lamented over the conflict she and her husband were having with their adult children. Due to circumstances of school and finances the 22 year old and 25 year old were living with them. The friend felt she was doing all the mother-chores for the adult children who were taking some advantage of her, showing little respect and taking on little responsibility. She and her husband were exhausted and frustrated.

So, in an act of desperation, the parents created a list of “expectations” – they called them rules – curfews, lunches, laundry etc. etc. They laid it all out – “If you are going to live in our home, this is what we expect.” It seemed quite reasonable to the parents. But with the children it was horrible. The son stormed out of the room stating he was moving out if he had to comply with them. The daughter raced out of the room and fled to her bedroom crying. “We are in a turmoil,” said her friend. What went wrong? What can we do?

My wife replied, “You made an excellent first step – writing down and presenting your expectations. However, you failed to do the second important step – give a person an opportunity to do some negotiations.”

When confronted with expectations that are being placed upon you, you have three options. You can say; “I’ll do it to the best of my ability.” Or you can say; “I’m sorry, I just can’t do it,” and explain the limitations that prevent that. But, there is a third option.” You can say; “Can we negotiate?” Managing expectations well, often requires some negotiation. This is the third essential.

  1. THEY MAY NEED TO BE NEGOTIATED

With negotiation, unrealistic expectations can be transformed into realistic expectations.

Here is a simple strategy for negotiating expectations:

  1. a) Identify the issue, problem, area of conflict.

  1. b) Choose the category. For example, it could be time spent together. Narrow it down to the conflict point:

“We miss having you home for supper.”

“I miss our date nights.” “We haven’t had a date night for weeks.”

“We need time to talk.”

“I am feeling very alone when it comes to family decisions.”

  1. c) Express your differing expectations re: the category you have chosen. Take turns, being sure to listen to each other. It might even be wise to write the expectations down.

  1. d) Focus on the problem, not the person. Sentences should begin with

“I think,” “I feel.” Don’t start sentences with “You!”

  1. e) Take time listening and speaking with a Christian attitude.

Phil. 2:2-4; Make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one heart and purpose. (NLT)

Be selfless, sacrificial and serving.

Eph. 4:25-32: So put away all falsehood and “tell your neighbour the truth” because we belong to each other. And don’t sin by letting anger gain control over you, Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a mighty foothold to the Devil…. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he is the one who has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behaviour. Instead, be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (NLT)

Speak the truth (25)

Settle your differences quickly (26-27)

Speak constructively (29)

  1. f) Work toward a compromise. Adjust, revise, reject, create until you can agree on your expectations in the category you have chosen. They are now expressed and realistic! Write them down (just in case someone forgets!)

  1. g) Reinforce each other’s positive fulfilment of the expectations.

Re-evaluate regularly. It may require a little adjusting before you get it right.

Done over a period of time, you will soon establish a set of specific expectations for a variety of areas that have been clearly expressed. You have agreed on them. You have committed yourself to do them. You are accountable for them.

It must always be remembered, however, that some expectations are non negotiable. Certain legal, moral and biblical directives fall into this company. Parents, for example, can negotiate curfew hours, but never underage drinking or immoral conduct. Biblical absolutes are just that – absolutes!

Roles/Responsibilities

The scripture identifies a variety of roles in our society today. In Ephesians 5:22-6:9 there is the husband, wife, parent, child, slave (employee) and master (employer). In 1 Peter

As a father, my responsibility is not to exasperate my children (Eph. 6:4). Children are different. What exasperates one, may motivate another. This is where expectations come in.

As a husband I am to live with my wife in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7). That is in the light of my understanding of her. Wives are different. What my wife needs from me may be very different from what your wife

needs from you. This is where expectations come in.

As a Christian leader I am to manage my family well, be above reproach, have a good reputation. As a Christian businessman, I am to be a person of integrity. What do these and many more biblical directives involve?

There is a sense in which our responsibilities in relationships are not fully defined until we have a clear set of agreed upon expectations. Then, and only then do I know my responsibilities.

Stability

What an amazing place to be in any relationship. Managing expectations is the price of peace in a marriage, a family, a business and a church. This may be an oversimplification, but I have often traced major “wars” between a husband and wife, parents and a child, members in a congregation, pastoral leaders and elders to the mismanagement of expectations.

When this problem is addressed and negotiated it can go a long way toward peace in a home or at a church.

Change

More than ever before, we are convinced today of the reality of three things in life; death, taxes and change. Change will come and it will affect your expectations.

Just consider a few such changes: the first child, an unexpected fourth child, a visit from the in-laws, grandparent moving in, a layoff at work, moving from a two career family to an one career family or visa versa, the results of a medical test, a child obtaining a driver’s license, leaving home for college, getting married, promotion at work, new responsibilities at church, retirement and a hundred more.

Any one of these changes will require some adjustment in your expectations. How will you know? You will feel a pinch in the relationship.

Pinch

It’s not a crisis. It’s not an explosion. It’s not a meltdown. It’s just a pinch. The change makes it less possible to meet the expectations that you have been meeting in one category or another. Or, it makes you feel as though your expectations are being ignored, neglected or overlooked. You feel short-changed. Something is different in the relationship.

This is when you ask yourself, your spouse, your child, your colleague, your associate: “Is there anything going on in our relationship right now, which, if it continues, will drive us apart in some way.” Expectations in one or more categories are not being met the way they once were. Why?

This is what we call a “CHOICE POINT.” Don’t ignore it in the interest of peace-keeping. You will only create a pseudo-peace. It will be artificial and superficial. Unless you identify the problem and address it, you certainly will drift apart. You will build up frustration and anger, become bitter and watch the relationship deteriorate.

An unforgettable Candid Camera’s episode illustrates the point. An undercover actor enters a diner, sits at the counter beside a person eating a hamburger and french-fries. He quickly reaches over and helps himself to a french-fry off the person’s plate. The neighbour notices it, frowns, but turns away and ignores it. Another fry is taken, eaten, then another. No reaction from the neighbour, just frowns, scowls, disgusted looks. Several different neighbours were subjected to the same treatment. Not one person said anything. They internalized their frustrations and irritation. They obviously wanted to keep the peace but it was a pseudo-peace. Underneath there was lots of agitation. This type of thing is relived in real life over and over again.

Don’t ignore the pinch. Something is gong on which will drive you apart if you don’t do anything about it. Something has changed and it’s affecting your relationship. You are trying to keep the peace but you are slowly losing it.

So what do you do when you feel the pinch? You go back to the first line; EXPECTATIONS. Identify the category which has been affected by the change in your life. It could be time spent together, curfew, sermon preparation time, or any one of the categories you came up with when you deal with expectations. Now you renegotiate the expectations in that category.

The “Pinch” is a CHOICE POINT. It’s the time for a PLANNED RENEGOTIATION. Do not renegotiate every category of “Expectations,” just the expectations affected by the life-change at that time.

xxx Disruptions xxx

Disruptions occur because of the violation of expectations. Anxiety, resentment, blaming, guilt, anger, bitterness are just some of the unhealthy fruits.

Far too often, this is when the pastor or marriage/family counsellor enters the picture. There have been months, even years of mismanaged expectations. There are emotional bruises and scars, shattered dreams, devastated self images.

This brings us to the second CHOICE POINT.

Crunch

At this point a person has at least four options:

  1. EXIT: We may choose to terminate the relationship. It is generally hurtful, resentful, painful, even a devastating conclusion. In marriage it is a divorce. In family it’s a moving out. In our work it’s a resignation. In ministry it’s leaving a church. Often it’s unbiblical. Never is it easy. It may actually be unnecessary because there is a better option.

  1. QUIT AND STAY: We may choose to stay in the relationship but withdraw from any ownership, participation and responsibility. The husband or wife quits the marriage but stays until the children have all left home. The couple quits the church but decide to stay in the church for the sake of the children who love the youth ministry. The teenager quits the family but stays in the home until he/she leaves for work or college. The elder or Sunday school teacher withdraws from participation – just fulfills their term but no joy in ministry. Every case is a sad, pathetic story – settling for so much less when there is a better option.

  1. FORGIVE AND FORGET: This is the option most Christians choose when the situation is not too serious. We may go back to the second line in our model – ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES. We review our biblical roles and responsibilities, face up to the fact that we have failed to live up to them, apologize, ask for forgiveness and promise to try harder. The problems have not been settled or addressed and we probably will be shortly repeating the cycle through the PINCH down to the CRUNCH again.

This is a PREMATURE RECONCILIATION. It’s a reconciliation for sure, but has the cause actually been addressed? Too often they are setting themselves up for a repeat breakdown in the relationship. This is a poor solution because there is a better option.

  1. The PRESSURED RENEGOTIATION: This is the fourth and preferred choice. It requires returning to the top line of our model and renegotiating expectations. Not all of them, just the categories affected by the changes and disruptions creating the crisis.

Check the completed model in the next illustration.

Did you notice the two CHOICE POINTS: PINCH and CRUNCH? Which of the two is the preferred choice point? Of course, it’s at the PINCH in any relationship. Recognize it and act on it. Don’t wait for the CRUNCH!! It’s so much more painful and difficult. Avoid it at all costs.

Did you notice there are three strategies?

PLANNED RENEGOTIATION

PREMATURE RECONCILIATION

PRESSURED RENEGOTIATION

Which of the three is preferred? Of course, it’s the PLANNED RENEGOTIAION. The PREMATURE RECONCILIATION doesn’t eliminate the cause. The PRESSURED RENEGOTIATION is acting with an ultimatum on the table. So much better to plan to renegotiate any expectations affected by a life-change at the time of the life-change. That’s really being smart!!

Think about a relationship which you are in – whether at home, at work or at church. Where do you place yourself on the Expectations model? If you are at STABILITY, then you know why you are there – you have in one way or another expressed and negotiated the expectations pertaining to that relationship and for the most part those expectations are being met. If you are at the PINCH you don’t have to stay there – you know what to do. Change has come into the relationship. Think about the category that has been affected by that life-change. Now renegotiate those expectations. Many relationships today are feeling the CRUNCH. They find themselves in a desperate situation not knowing where to turn. Now there is hope. Don’t QUIT, QUIT AND STAY or just FORGIVE AND FORGET. Go back to the EXPECTATIONS, think through the categories where the relationship is falling apart and renegotiate those expectations.

Here is the goal in all of our lives:

Unity and Stability in the church. This is God’s ideal as we see in Ephesians 4:1-6

Harmony and Stability in the home. This is God’s ideal, as well, and in Ephesians 5:21 – 6:4 we see the critical factors to achieve this.

Harmony and Stability in the workplace. Ephesians 6:5-9 offers the critical factors, once again.

Unfulfilled Expectations

Not only do men and women have different expectations, they often handle unfulfilled expectations differently. Take wives for example. Martie Stowell in Promises Promises (p, 177) writes;

“A wife has assumptions about time with her husband, about money, about meals and about the children. Her husband has different assumptions. So every time he acts in some way that differs from her assumptions, she feels as though he has broken a promise to her.”

The effect; she feels betrayed and crushed. This, of course, is not really the case. What has happened here? There has been a failure to express, discuss, negotiate and agree upon a set of expectations in these categories. Think of the damage done when a wife thinks her husband has broken a promise. This can all be avoided through better management of expectations.

How do men, characteristically, handle unfulfilled expectations? They feel personal rejection. They feel neglected and usually withdraw or become aggressive and redirect their energy to their job, sports or hobby. This can all be avoided also! Now you know how to do it!!

What About Our God Relationship?

After all, our relationship with God is the most important of all. It is our primary relationship affecting every other relationship. Understanding and meeting expectations are as important in our relationship with God as with one another.

The Bible makes an important distinction between being a creature of God and a child of God. We are all His creatures; every breath we breathe is a gift from our Creator. Speaking of God’s Son, Jesus, coming into this world of humanity, John 1:11 says; “He came unto his own and his own received him not.” Then verse 12 says; “Yet to all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”

That’s the difference. Children of God have personally received Christ into their life, recognizing He is the Son of God who died to pay the penalty for their sin. This is what God expects.

When we receive Christ into our life, turning from our sin, trusting Him to become our Saviour, we are delivered from the penalty of our sin. We are committing ourselves to be one of Christ’s followers. That’s what God expects of us. That person becomes a child of God.

1 John 5:12 – “He who has the Son has life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.”

What can followers of Christ expect of God? Forgiveness; a personal relationship with God as our Father; a new life with the joy of the Lord, the peace of God, the guidance and energizing of the Holy Spirit, the privilege of prayer, a new freedom and ultimately a home in heaven.

If you have never received Jesus Christ personally into your life perhaps this prayer from The Four Spiritual Laws will help to guide you.

“Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins, I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.”

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

how say you?

April 4, 2017

This is a transcript of a lecture given by Dr. Wallace from Dallas Theological Seminary. As a pastor of 40 years and 30 of them in a Pentecostal Church I disagree with his “cessationist theology;” simply put I have never met a theologian or exegete that explain away 1 Corinthians 1:7 that the gifts exist until His Coming again.

I will also freely admit that more damage has been done by the Pentecostal church both in theology, practice and in the ruination of  a person’s life.

But the answer is not to throw out the baby with the bath water.

Saying that, I will ask you to prayerfully and carefully read these 11 theses and mine the great nuggets of truth that are applicable to all of our lives.

(1) Although the sign gifts died in the first century, the Holy Spirit did not. We all can affirm that theologically, but pragmatically we act as though he died too.  This is my fundamental thesis, and it’s well worth exploring.  What can we, as cessationists, affirm that the Holy Spirit is doing today?  What did Jesus mean when he said, “My sheep hear my voice?”  What did Paul mean when he declared, “Those who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God”?  What did John mean when he wrote, “You have an anointing from the Holy One”?

(2) Although charismatics have given a higher priority to experience than to relationship, rationalistic evangelicals have given a higher priority to knowledge than to relationship. Both of these miss the mark.  And Paul, in 1 Corinthians, condemns both.  Knowledge puffs up; and spiritual experience without love is worthless.

(3) This emphasis on knowledge over relationship has produced in us a bibliolatry. Since the text is our task, we have made it our God.  It has become our idol.  Let me state this bluntly: The Bible is not a member of the Trinity.  One lady in my church facetiously told me, “I believe in the Trinity: the Father, Son, and Holy Bible.”

One of the great legacies Karl Barth left behind was his strong Christocentric focus.  It is a shame that too many of us have reacted so strongly to Barth, for in our zeal to show his bibliological deficiencies we have become biblioters in the process.  Barth and Calvin share a lot in common: there is a warmth, a piety, a devotion, an awe in the presence of God that is lacking in too many theological tomes generated from our circles.

(4) The net effect of such bibliolatry is a depersonalization of God. Eventually, we no longer relate to him.  He becomes the object of our investigation rather than the Lord to whom we are subject.  The vitality of our religion gets sucked out.  As God gets dissected and trisected (in the case of you trichotomists), our stance changes from “I trust in” to “I believe that.”

(5) Part of the motivation for this depersonalization of God is our increasing craving for control. What we despise most about charismatics is their loss of control, their emotionalism.  We fear that.  We take comfort in the fact that part of the fruit of the Spirit is “self-control.”  But by this we mean “do all things in moderation”–including worshipping God.  But should we not have a reckless abandon in our devotion to him?  Should we not throw ourselves on him, knowing that apart from him we can do nothing?

Instead, as typical cessationists, we want to be in control at all times.  Even when it means that we shut God out.  It is this issue of control that kept my friend Sam a cessationist so long.  Now, as a member of the Vineyard movement, Sam is quite happy: he acknowledges that he never was in control in the first place.  In the midst of what I consider to be a heterodox shift on his part, there is this honest breakthrough with God.

(6) God is still a God of healing and miracles.  As a cessationist, I can affirm the fact of miracles without affirming the miracle-worker.  God is still a God of healing even though his normal modus operandi is not through a faith-healer.  If I can be permitted an overgeneralization, the problem with charismatics is that they believe that God not only can heal, but that he must heal.  God thus becomes an instrument, wielded by the almighty Christian.  That is one reason why, historically, charismata has been a movement among Arminians. At the same time, the problem with non-charismatics is that although they claim that God can heal, they act as if he won’t.  I don’t really think they believe in God’s ability–they don’t really believe that God can heal.  Thus, the problem with charismatics is a denial of God’s sovereignty; the problem with non-charismatics is a denial of God’s ability or goodness or both.  And neither group is being completely honest with God.  Neither is submissively trusting him.

Let me take this a step further.  Is it possible for a Calvinist to say that an Arminian can be used of the Lord to bring someone salvation?  Yes, I think Calvinists would agree that such a thing is possible.  If so, is this not analogous to God using a “faith-healer” to heal someone?  In other words, can I, as a cessationist, affirm that sometimes God heals someone through the presence or stimulus of a faith-healer?  Perhaps the sick individual, or the faith-healer, was exercising great faith.  (After all, charismatics tend to believe in God’s ability more than cessationists.)  In such instances, could we not say that rather than empowering the faith-healer, God was simply honoring the faith?

If this scenario is correct, then we would not expect every person touched by a faith-healer to be healed.  And that is exactly what we find: not everyone is healed.  At the same time, because the normal modus operandi of healing is through someone’s faith, as a cessationist I can affirm both that there is often great faith in charismatic circles and that there is no such thing as a bona fide faith-healer today.  I can affirm miracles in their midst without affirming the miracle-worker.

(7) Evangelical rationalism can lead to spiritual defection. I am referring to the suffocation of the Spirit in post-graduate theological training, as well as the seduction of academia.  Most of us can think of examples of gifted young students we have mentored who seemed to lose all of their Christian conviction in an academic setting.  For many of us, this recollection is too painful.  How many times have we sent Daniels into the lions’ den, only to tell them by our actions that prayer won’t do any good?

One particular instance is very difficult for me to think about.  One of my brightest master’s students about thirteen years ago went on for doctoral work overseas.  We prepared him well in exegesis.  But we did not prepare him well in prayer.  A couple of years ago I caught up with him and discovered that he was only confused about his evangelical heritage.  He was even questioning the uniqueness of Jesus.  This student had suppressed part of the arsenal at his disposal: the witness of the Spirit, something non-believers can’t touch.  To this day I wonder how much I contributed to this man’s confusion and suppression of the Spirit’s witness.

It is not the historical evidences alone that can lead one to embrace the resurrection as true.  The Spirit must work on our hearts, overcoming our natural reticence.  When our graduates go on for doctoral work, and forget that the Spirit brought them to Christ in the first place, and suppress his witness in their hearts, they are ripe for spiritual defection.  They need to be reminded–as do all of us who live in an academic setting–that exegesis and apologetics are not the sum of the Christian life.

I speak not only from the experience of my students.  In my own doctoral program, while seriously grappling with the evidence for the resurrection, I suddenly found myself in an existential crisis.  I was reading in biblical theology at the time, wrestling with those two great minds, Rudolf Bultmann and Karl Barth.  I was impressed with the fact that as strong as the historical evidence is for the resurrection, there is and always will be a measure of doubt.  Evidence alone cannot bridge the gap between us and God.  As much as I wanted the evidence to go all the way, in integrity of heart and mind, I couldn’t make it do so.  At one point there was real despair in my heart.  I had gotten so sucked in to the cult of objectivism that I forgot who it was who brought me to faith in the first place.  Only when I grudgingly accepted the fact that some faith had to be involved–and that through the Spirit’s agency–could I get past my despair.  The non-verifiable elements of evangelicalism had become an embarrassment to me, rather than an anchor.

(8) The power brokers of rational evangelicalism, since the turn of the century, have been white, obsessive-compulsive males. Ever since the days of the Princetonians (Warfield, Hodge, Machen, et al.), American non-charismatic evangelicalism has been dominated by Scottish common sense, post-Enlightenment, left-brain, obsessive-compulsive, white males.  Perhaps this situation is suppressing a part of the image of God; perhaps it is suppressing a part of the witness of the Spirit.  And perhaps it is not in line with historic Christianity.8  The implications of this such demographics are manifold.  Three of them are as follows.

The white evangelical community needs to listen to and learn from the black evangelical community.  I find it most fascinating that the experience of God in the black non-charismatic community is quite different from that in the white non-charismatic community.  In many ways, it resembles the white charismatic experience more than the white cessationist experience of God.  A full-orbed experience of God must take place in the context of community.  And that community must be heterogenous.  If, as has been often stated, the 11 o’clock hour on Sunday morning is the most segregated in America, then something is desperately wrong with the Church.

The Holy Spirit does not work just on the left brain.  He also works on the right brain: he sparks our imagination, causes us to rejoice, laugh, sing, and create.  Few Christians are engaged and fully committed to the arts today.  Where are the hymn writers?  Where are the novelists?  Painters?  Playwrights?  A very high-powered editor of a Christian magazine told me two weeks ago that he knows of only one exceptional Christian fiction writer.  What are our seminaries doing to encourage these right brainers?  What is the Church doing to encourage them?

By and large, women are more in tune with their right brain than men are.  We men have failed to listen to the women in our midst–and this failure is related to our not hearing the voice of the Spirit.  If the Imago Dei is both male and female, by squelching the valuable contribution of women, we distort that very image before a watching world.

(9) The Holy Spirit’s guidance is still needed in discerning the will of God. The rationalism in our circles makes decision-making a purely cognitive exercise.  There is no place for prayer.  There is no room for the Spirit.  I believe there is a middle ground between expecting daily revelations on the one hand, and basing decisions solely on logic and common sense on the other.  Garry Friesen’s Decision-Making and the Will of God went a long way to correct some silly notions about how we function in the mundane.  But I believe that Friesen went too far.  I may not receive revelations, but I do believe that the Spirit often guides me with inarticulate impulses.  Admittedly, this is primarily in the moral realm and Friesen was dealing basically with the amoral realm.  Yet, a basic recognition that the Spirit does guide me today in all realms makes me increasingly sensitive to his guidance in the moral realm.

(10) In the midst of seeking out the power of the Spirit, we must not avoid the sufferings of Christ.  This is the message of Mark: the disciples could not have Christ in his glory without Christ in his suffering.  Too often when we decide that it’s a good thing to get to know God again, we go about it on our own terms.  Again, I speak from personal experience.

Six weeks ago, one of my students died of cancer.  Another was about to die.  I began urging students at Dallas Seminary to pray for God’s intervention.  The Lord did not answer our prayer in the way we had hoped.  Three weeks ago, Brendan Ryan was buried.  My own pain was increased when I saw his three small children paraded in front of the mourners at his memorial service.  I had only visited Brendan once in the hospital; I was determined not to let such happen again.

Two more of my students are on the verge of death.  I have called them and visited them in the past week.  And I learned about suffering and honesty with God.  I questioned God–and still do.  Out of my pain–pain for these students and their families, pain for my son, pain for myself–comes honesty and growth.  I have moments when I doubt God’s goodness.  Yet I do not doubt that he has suffered for me far more than I will ever suffer for him.  And that is the only reason I let him hold my hand through this dark valley.  In seeking God’s power, I discovered his person.  He is not just omnipotent; he is also the God of all comfort.  And taking us through suffering, not out of it, is one of the primary means that the Spirit uses today in bringing us to God.

(11) Finally, a question: To what does the Spirit bear witness?  Certainly the resurrection of Christ.  How about the scriptures?  A particular interpretation perhaps?  Eschatological issues?  Exegetical issues?  Don’t be too quick to answer.  Some of this needs rethinking . . .  In fact, my challenge to each of you is this: reexamine the New Testament teaching about the Holy Spirit.  Don’t gloss over the passages, but wrestle with what they mean.  If the Spirit did not die in the first century, then what is he doing today?

God bless, I hope you find this article stimulating and challenging whether you are Pentecostal or let’s say Baptist.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com and blessings to Dr. Wallace from DTS.

 

TRUMP (NOT THE PRES)

April 2, 2017

It’s traumatic when thieves steal your identity and your money, but there is something far more traumatic and tragic, namely, when spiritual con artists, who claim to be Christian, deceive the unsuspecting. The stakes are much higher than someone’s life savings. The eternal destiny of souls is at risk! Since the days of the New Testament, Satan has planted these deceivers in Christian churches, where they prey on the untaught or on those who are disgruntled. To avoid spiritual deception, you must develop biblical discernment and be vigilant at all times.

But we live in a day when the whole idea of spiritual discernment is minimized because spiritual truth is minimized. The slogan is, “Doctrine divides. Let’s set aside our doctrinal differences and come together on the areas where we agree.” Another popular mantra is, “Jesus said that they will know that we are His disciples by our love, not by our doctrine.” The implication is, “Set aside your doctrinal views and accept anyone who says that he believes in Jesus.” Tolerance, unity, and love are viewed as much more important than doctrinal truth, which often smacks of pride.

I have had my share of unpleasant encounters with those who arrogantly claim to have the truth. They beat you up with it, not showing much grace or kindness. But we should not allow such experiences to cause us to throw out the biblical emphasis on sound doctrine. It is not a minor theme in the Bible!

It is highly significant that John, the apostle of love, who has just written that love is an essential mark of the true Christian (2:7-11), now calls these false teachers “antichrists” and “liars”! He doesn’t call them “brothers in Christ,” who just have different ways of understanding things. He makes it plain that they were trying to deceive the true Christians and that they were not Christian in any sense of the term. True biblical love is not divorced from an emphasis on biblical truth. To compromise the truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ is to be hateful to the core, because such error results in the eternal damnation of those who embrace it.

In these verses, John applies his third test by which you may evaluate the soundness of a teacher, as well as your own life. He has already given us the moral test of obedience to God’s commandments (2:3-6). He has given the relational test of love (2:7-11). Now he gives the doctrinal test of truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ (2:18-27). He says,

To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people and doctrine.

The section (2:18-27) falls into three parts. In 2:18-20, John shows that to avoid spiritual deception, you must develop discernment with regard to people. In 2:21-23, he shows that you must develop discernment with regard to doctrine, especially, the truth about Jesus Christ. In 2:24-27 (which we will study next week), he shows that the means of developing such discernment is to abide in the Word and in the Spirit.

  1. To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people (2:18-20).

John contrasts the false teachers with true believers. He addresses all of his readers as “children,” (see 2:13), implying their vulnerability and the need to be on guard against these unprincipled men who were trying to deceive them (2:26). As a wise spiritual father, John is giving important counsel that will help us avoid being deceived.

He says, “It is the last hour.” The way that we know it is the last hour is that “many antichrists have appeared.” Some have said that John mistakenly thought that Jesus would return in his lifetime. Such a view undermines the divine inspiration of Scripture. If you buy into it, you cannot trust anything that the apostles wrote. You become the judge of Scripture according to what strikes you as true. This view also impugns the intelligence of the apostles. John had heard Jesus say that no one knows the hour of His coming (Matt. 24:36). It is not reasonable to accuse him of being mistaken here about the time of the second coming.

Rather, John is calling the entire period between Jesus’ ascension and His return “the last hour.” No one knows how long this period will last, but the phrase, “the last hour,” implies a sense of urgency, in that Jesus may come at any moment. Jesus concludes His teaching on the end times with this application to the wise hearer: “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come” (Mark 13:33).

John says that a distinguishing feature of this age is that antichrist is coming and that even now many antichrists have appeared. John is the only New Testament writer to use this word, and it only occurs five times in four verses (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7). But the concept of the antichrist is more frequent. Daniel 7 talks about the horn and Revelation 13 talks about the beast, both of which refer to antichrist. Paul (2 Thess. 2:1-12) mentions the man of lawlessness who will exalt himself and display himself as being God. His coming will be “in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9). He will deceive many, who will perish. When John says that antichrist is coming, he refers to this future evil leader.

But when he says, “even now many antichrists have appeared,” he means that the evil spirit that will characterize the final antichrist is already working in these false teachers who have left the churches. The prefix, “anti,” can mean either “instead of” or “in opposition to.” It may contain both ideas here. The false teachers rise up within the church and present a system that subtly presents something instead of Jesus Christ. The false teacher may use the same label, “Jesus Christ,” but he will not be the same Jesus that is presented in the Bible. If a gullible person takes the bait, he is led farther away until finally he is in total opposition to Christ.

These false teachers, whom John labels antichrists, did not carry pitchforks and wear red suits with horns and a tail, or T-shirts saying, “Warning: I am an antichrist!” Rather, they arose in the churches. Some of them may have been elders or pastors, who for a while had taught the truth. Paul warned the Ephesian elders, “from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Now these men were leaving the churches to form new groups, saying, “We have come into a deeper knowledge of the truth. Follow us and we’ll let you in on this secret knowledge.” John gives three guidelines to watch for:

  1. BEWARE: SATAN WORKS IN THE REALM OF RELIGION.

False teachers invariably adopt Christian terminology and posture themselves as being Christians, but they are not. They usually begin within the church (2:19) and at first, their teaching is orthodox. They often have attractive personalities and they build a following of people who seem to be helped by their teaching.

But, eventually, they begin subtly to veer from the truth. There may be multiple motives. Sometimes, they fall into immorality, and to justify their sin, they have to deny Scripture. Or, they may love the acclaim of being popular, along with the financial rewards that often go along with a successful ministry. It feels good to be in demand as a speaker, to stay in luxury hotels and speak to large crowds. As a man’s popularity grows, he grows in power. He hires a loyal group of lieutenants who carry out his wishes. No one dares to challenge the man’s teaching or lifestyle, even though he is preaching heresy and living in disobedience to Scripture. But, in spite of his deviance, he is still trafficking in the realm of religion.

Note, also, that there has never been a perfect church, even in New Testament times while the apostles were still living. We sometimes idealize the early church, thinking that if we could just get back to the New Testament principles, we wouldn’t have all of the problems that we constantly battle in the modern church.

But, these early churches had gone through the damage of false teachers in their midst, who now had left the churches to form new groups. Undoubtedly, they took with them people from the churches. Whenever that happens, those who still are in the church are confused and wounded. They wonder, “Why did our friends leave? They claim that they have found the truth now and that we are in the dark. Maybe there are problems here. Maybe we should leave, too.” This is how the enemy has worked from the earliest days of the church. Don’t be surprised when it happens.

  1. BEWARE OF ANYONE WHO BREAKS FROM THE TRUE CHURCH TO FORM A NEW GROUP WITH NEW THEOLOGY.

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (2:19). John’s words here do not apply to people who get disgruntled in one evangelical church and leave to join or form another evangelical church. While that practice is usually regrettable and sad, it is wrong to label those who left as heretics, unless they also have abandoned core Christian truth.

Heretics not only eventually separate themselves from true Christians to form their own groups, but also, they deviate from orthodox Christian doctrine on major issues. They claim that they have the truth and that others do not, or that they now see things that others do not see. And, invariably they try to recruit others from within the church to join them.

While such situations are painful and unpleasant, John’s words here should prepare us not to be surprised or disheartened when it happens. If it happened to the churches under John’s care, it can and will happen to churches today. But, when it happens, we need to think biblically about some issues.

First, true Christians are born of God. The key issue with these false teachers was, they were not of us. They did not share the new life in Christ that brings us into His body, the church. So, they felt free to leave. You can be on the membership list of the church without having experienced the new birth. While I believe that it’s important to join a church, it is far more important to make sure that you’re truly of the church through the new birth.

Second, if you truly know Christ, you will persevere with the church. It is imperfect. It contains difficult and irritating people. But, it is family! You were born into it through the new birth, and so was everyone else who has truly trusted Christ. While you may not have picked these folks to be in your family, God picked them and you’ve got to learn to get along with them! Although they often grate like sandpaper against your soul, it’s by persevering with them that God smoothes your rough edges. You will experience hurt feelings and misunderstandings if you get involved in a local church! Be committed to work through these matters. Don’t bail out on the church!

Third, note that John was more concerned about purity of doctrine than he was about church growth or unity. He never says, “We should go after these dear brothers and bring them back!” Or, “Let’s set aside our differences and love these men.” Rather, he says in effect, “Their departure shows their true colors. Let them go!” Of course, we need to evaluate the seriousness of the doctrinal matter at hand. Sometimes sincere Christians have to agree to disagree or even to work in separate parts of the Lord’s vineyard. But if the doctrinal issue is a core matter of the faith, purity is much more important than unity or church growth. We should not measure a church’s success by the numbers who attend, but rather by its faithfulness to the truth of the gospel.

So John says, “Beware, Satan works in the realm of religion. Beware of anyone who breaks from the true church to form a new group with new theology.”

  1. BEWARE OF ANYONE WHO OFFERS “NEW TRUTH” THAT OTHERS HAVE MISSED.

The test of orthodoxy is submission and adherence to the apostolic teaching contained in the New Testament. If someone comes up with some new “truth” that no one else has discovered since the days of the apostles, beware! The heretics claimed that they had now been initiated into a deeper level of truth than the average church member had experienced. It always flatters our pride to think that we have some level of truth that others lack, or we have had some special spiritual experience that other poor souls are missing out on. These false teachers were claiming such knowledge and offering it as bait to those who had yet to be enlightened.

This is probably the background to verse 20. There is a textual variant here. The KJV (and New KJV) follows the reading, “you know all things.” Most other versions follow the reading (probably original), “you all know.” John is telling his readers that spiritual knowledge is not restricted to some elite inner circle. Rather, they all know the truth of the gospel because they all have the anointing from the Holy One, which refers to the indwelling Holy Spirit that Jesus, the Holy One, promised to send.

The false teachers may have been using the word “anointing” as a technical term for being initiated into their special gnosis, or knowledge (John Stott, The Epistles of John [Eerdmans], p. 107). But John takes their term and uses it of the Holy Spirit. At the moment of the new birth, God’s Spirit opens our blind eyes to see the truth about our sinfulness and the all-sufficiency of what Christ did on the cross to pay for our sins. This simple gospel message is what these believers had heard from the beginning (2:24). Rather than moving on from it to some “new truth,” they needed to abide in the old gospel truth that they had believed from the start.

So John’s first point is that to avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14, 15). But, they are liars and deceivers!

  1. To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of doctrine (2:21-23).

The late philosophy professor Allan Bloom began his 1987 best-seller, The Closing of the American Mind ([Simon and Schuster], p. 25), “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” He goes on to say (pp. 25-26), “The danger they have been taught to fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating.”

He was right: We live in a day that has rejected the idea of absolute truth, especially in the spiritual realm. It smacks of arrogance to say that you know the truth and that others who do not share your view are wrong. You’re free to have your own spiritual opinions, as long as you don’t claim that your view is the only true view.

This prevailing tenant of postmodernism has now invaded the church through “the emergent church.” This growing movement downplays preaching (what could be more arrogant than for one man to stand up and say that he is proclaiming the truth?). And it magnifies sharing personal experiences in an accepting, non-judgmental atmosphere.

Notice how contrary this is to John’s statement in 2:20, “you all know,” and to 2:21: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” That sure sounds like John believed in absolute truth in the spiritual realm, and that you can know when you’re right and others are wrong! There are three implications here, which I can only touch on briefly:

  1. SOUND DOCTRINE REALLY MATTERS!

John says (2:23), “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father.” He goes on to say (2:25) that all of this concerns God’s promise to us about eternal life. That’s fairly important! If you deny the truth about God’s Son as revealed in the New Testament, you do not have the Father and you do not have eternal life!

A popular sentimental, syrupy view goes, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.” When you share Christ with someone who buys into this thinking, he will respond, “It’s nice that you believe that, but I have my own beliefs.” According to this view, sincerity is the main thing; truth doesn’t matter. That is utter nonsense! You can sincerely drink poison, believing that it is medicine, but it will kill you just the same. Sound doctrine really matters!

  1. SOUND DOCTRINE IS INEXTRICABLY LINKED WITH A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

John says that if you deny the Son, you do not have the Father. He goes on to talk about abiding in the Son and the Father (2:24). “Abiding” is John’s word for fellowship or a close relationship with God. His point is that if you deny cardinal truth about Jesus Christ and yet claim to know God, you are deceiving yourself. This is not to say that a new believer must be able to give precisely correct theological statements about the trinity or the two natures of Christ in order to be truly saved. But it is to say that if someone knowingly makes heretical statements about Christ and is not open to correction, his salvation is suspect. Sound doctrine necessarily goes along with a genuine personal relationship with God.

  1. SOUND DOCTRINE ABOUT THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL.

Most heresies go astray with regard to the person or work of Jesus Christ. John Calvin pointed out that since Christ is the sum of the gospel, heretics especially aim their arrows at Him. The only way that we can know the Father is through the Son (John 14:6). These false teachers were denying that Jesus is the Christ (2:22). This probably was more than a denial that Jesus was the Old Testament Messiah. The context here, which refers to Jesus as the Son of God and which closely links the Father and the Son, indicates that these false teachers denied the full deity of Jesus Christ. They denied the incarnation, that God took on human flesh in the virgin birth of Jesus. They taught that “the Christ” came upon the human Jesus at His baptism and departed at His crucifixion. John says that they denied both the Father and the Son.

The modern cults all go astray on the person and work of Jesus Christ. They deny His deity and His substitutionary death on the cross. They deny the trinity. Some of them speak in Gnostic fashion of “the Christ within us all.” By denying the Son of God, they do not have the Father. In the words of this apostle of love, they are liars, deceivers, and antichrists.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com