In reading the first four chapters of Matthew yesterday, I came across something that I had never really considered before. In those first four chapters alone, there were seven fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament. Seven very specific prophecies. I encourage you to go look at them for yourself.
So you may be thinking “what’s the big deal”?
Well, as I was reading these I realized that if God fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament very specifically in the first coming of Jesus, why wouldn’t He do so again in the second coming? And if He filled the prophecies of the Old Testament so specifically, why wouldn’t He do the same for the New Testament prophecies?
I think it is always good to really consider why we believe what we believe. If we believe Revelation will be fulfilled literally, then why do we believe that? If we don’t believe that, then why don’t we believe that?
If we are honest, most of us our beliefs go back to what we were taught at home, what we were taught in our church denominations, or what we were taught by a favorite celebrity pastor or teacher.
It’s so important that we know not only what we believe but why we believe it. Without the “why”, the “what” will be flimsy, weak, and vulnerable to change and to false doctrine.
(And, actually, I do believe this is one of the major reasons you see much of the younger generation leaving the biblical churches. They were never given a “why” and the “what” without the “why” is like a personal invitation to deception. It’s up to us parents to make sure our children know why we believe what we do. And, actually, many children don’t even know the what. How important that we be discussing the stuff that matters with our kids, grandkids, and anyone else that we come into contact with. It might feel strange at first, but if we intentionally work at this, there will be much fruit. But I digress…!)
As we intentionally start working to find out our “whys” to the “whats” of our biblical beliefs, there are a few very important steps we must take before we get started.
First, we must humble ourselves. Psalm 25:29 explains why:
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.
As does Proverbs 11:2:
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.
Pride is the opposite of humility and it is the one great sin of all mankind. We all struggle with it, whether we would admit it or not. In fact, often in our public shows of “humility”, we are most prideful!
Pride is what keeps people from God, plain and simple. They pridefully think they are a “good enough” person that God will accept them. It is only with humility that we can first see ourselves as we really are–a sinner in need of a Savior. But, Christians, we need to keep growing in this area of humility even after we are saved. We need to be examining ourselves and our actions to see if we truly have a humble heart or if we have just fooled ourselves.
God has convicted me over and over again regarding this area of my life. Even a simple argument with my husband shows me just how prideful I really am. Our responses to criticism and praise, our “teachability”, our willingness to admit flaws and failures–these all can show us just how humble we truly are.
Whoah. Wait just a minute. We don’t have that right! We don’t get to say what we can or cannot believe about God. We must read and study the Bible with a heart willing to accept even the doctrines we don’t like.
This is not a popular concept these days, is it? Election (Ephesians 1:4-6), eternal hell (Matthew 10:29), salvation without evidence of a changed life isn’t salvation at all (Matthew 7:20) and many other “unpleasant” doctrines are being eliminated because people just don’t like them (I might add that I offer only one verse of many that prove these unpopular doctrines are true.)
And, let’s be honest, no one really likes these doctrines. They are difficult to understand and come with ramifications that make us so very heavy-hearted.
And so, as a result of this, we see so many people doing literary back flips and cartwheels in their efforts to change what the Word really says. In contrast, we need to approach God’s Word with a heart willing to believe and obey even when what we read is abhorrent to us.
Third, we must be outfitted in the complete Christian Armor. The truth has never really been popular, but perhaps that has never been so true than right now. If we choose to humbly and willingly trust, obey, and proclaim all of God’s Word (and not just the parts that are pleasant), we must be ready for the darts and arrows of the enemy. These will come not only from antagonistic, angry people, but they will come from the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). We cannot fight or even continue to stand on our own strength. No human courage can withstand these deadly attacks. We must put on our full armor so that we are able to stand strong and firm. Find the complete armor we have been given to wear in Ephesians 6:10-20.
It’s funny, this post ended up being nothing like I planned. At all. But I do hope it was an encouragement and challenge to all of us as we strive to live whole-heartedly for Jesus. May we give great efforts to grow in humility, yield wholly to God, and to be protected by the armor God has given us, all while recognizing that it is the Holy Spirit that works in us for God’s glory and our good.