false religion

Comparing Two Religions (that go by the same name)

Yesterday I saw a clip¹ of a well-known “preacher” declaring/demanding with his congregation that God’s material blessings would rain down upon them. With gusto, they prayed that God would give them money in its various different forms. It was disturbing. To say the least. I couldn’t help but contrast this to a couple of sermons² on suffering that I was listening to by my brother, Pastor Dean Good, a bit later.

And that’s when it hit me: It’s really not all that difficult to tell true Christianity from the fake Christianity. 

In the simplest of terms, True Christianity is God-centered and Fake Christianity is self-centered. But let’s unpack it a bit more, shall we?

True Christianity is God-centered. It is about the depraved and wretched sinner finding peace with God through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, on the cross (John 3:16), turning away from their former, sinful lusts and now living for God (Ephesians 2:2; Colossians 3:7). To elaborate further, its message is denying self, taking up your cross, and following hard after Christ (Luke 9:23); it is submitting to God’s will and obeying His Word (James 4:7; John 14:15). It is focused on eternal glory rather than temporal reward (Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 3:2). It is a desire to be holy that supersedes the desire to be happy (I Peter 1:15-16) It is understanding that our citizenship is in heaven and we are pilgrims and sojourners on this earth (Hebrews 11:13; I Peter 2:11). It is focused on sharing the Gospel and sharing the truth of God’s Word (Romans 10:15; I Timothy 2:4).

Let’s contrast this to the fake Christianity that has overtaken most Christian churches, bookstores, music, and conferences these days–

Fake Christianity is self-centered. It is about a hurting, lonely human being going to God to get their needs met. It is about continuing in sin and declaring God’s approval upon that sin. It is about coddling self, following your dreams, and following hard after your heart. It is ignoring God’s will and His Word. It is focused on temporal gain rather than eternal reward. It is focused on personal happiness. And its focus is on this earth’s citizenship, with much energy put towards fixing the world and making it a better place.

The two religions are as opposite as day and night. And, in fact, one is pure LIGHT and the other is pitch black.

We want to pretend like there is not that big of a difference between the two and that it is a complicated thing to discern. Honestly, most of us just want to ignore it all. We do this because so many family and friends we love and respect are caught up in the fake. We may even be caught up in the fake ourselves.

And so we don’t want to declare it’s fakeness, because the consequences of doing so will be painful and costly.

Can I tell you the honest truth? I have been caught up in the fake at times. Perhaps we all have.

When I say it’s not difficult to tell the difference between the true and the fake, that is true. But it can grow fuzzy to us sometimes– mainly because we want what we want. Let me explain.

None of us wants to deny self. It goes against everything inside us to do so. And yet, this is what we are called to do as believers. We are not called to this without help. Upon salvation, the Holy Spirit comes to our aid. Our desires are gradually changed so that we not only desire to do what’s right but we begin to understand the reward in turning from sin and pleasing God. But the flesh always resides in us and we are always in a battle against it.

And so, even as believers, we can get caught up in sin and deceit. We desire something and we know it is not God’s will. Or we hold a relationship with a person more dear than we hold our relationship with Christ. Or we choose to gratify our flesh (eating too much, going places we know do not please God, watching sin on a screen, wearing clothing that is immodest, lashing out in anger, gnawing endlessly on that favored worry or fear, choosing to hold a grudge, etc, etc.) and, suddenly, we are full-out focused on self.

And, in this state, we will often find ourselves rationalizing, excusing, and leaning into that fake Christianity that would give us reasons to do what we want to do.

So, no, it’s not difficult to tell the difference between the only true Religion of light and the religion of darkness that goes by the same name. But, yes, it can be hard to actually admit the difference.

To the unbeliever, true Christianity sounds terrible, doesn’t it? I mean we really can understand why the unregenerate flock to the Christianity designed to please self, puff up self, fulfill self. That is what the natural man wants to do.

It isn’t until the Lord fills us with His light that understanding and insight come. It will never make sense to give up everything to gain nothing in this world unless the Spirit opens our eyes to the Truth. Well, let me rephrase that: We gain nothing that looks important to anyone in this world. We do gain much, even in this temporal life lived on earth. We gain peace and joy that is based on the Lord, rather than circumstances. We gain the daily tender care and loving-kindness of the God of the universe. We gain the Comforter and the Helper. And so much more!

If you are burdened for someone caught up in the fake Christianity, pray that God would open their eyes. Pray that He would show them how little they have to lose and how much they have to gain! And if we, ourselves, struggle with releasing our grip on this world and desire that fool’s gold of false religion, then let’s pray for ourselves, as well–that God would show us, through our study of His Word, that following Him is worth it, no matter the cost!

 

 

¹Bill Johnson and Bethel Church pray to the god of Mammon

 

²Sermons from I Peter 4 by Pastor Dean Good (so worth listening to!) —

The Exaltation of Jesus Christ (Part 2)
Following the Example of Christ

Next in the series (for anyone who wants to listen):

Following Christ in His Rejection (Part 1)
Following Christ in His Rejection (Part 2)

 

 

The Plain Truth

Five hundred years ago, a Catholic monk came across the book of Galatians and took the time to actually really read and study it.

It changed his life. And it changed your life, too. For Martin Luther changed the whole landscape of the Christian Faith.

I’ve been studying this book for the past few weeks and have been stunned at how much I had missed in my former read-throughs. It really isn’t until you study a book that you begin to understand it.

And as we do so, the things that are muddy often grow clear. And the things that didn’t make sense begin to make sense.

While we will never understand everything, of course, we can be sure that our study of the scriptures will lead us to have much greater understanding regarding the hard concepts and puzzles we’ve struggled through.

I’d like to take some time to give an example of this very thing from my study of Galatians. I finally understand why it was Galatians that opened Martin Luther’s eyes. The main theme of this book is: We are justified by faith in Christ alone.

Not by a little faith and a lot of works.

Not by a lot of faith and a few works.

Not by an equal share of faith and works.

NO, NO, NO.

We are saved by faith alone. Paul puts it like this in Galatians 2:16–

 yet we know that a person is not justified[b] by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

As Martin Luther read these words he was steeped in the false religion of Catholicism. A religion that required faith and works in order to be saved. He recognized his own depravity. He knew he was unable to do enough good works to be reconciled to God. He had felt an utter hopelessness about this. Until he read Galatians.

Galatians makes it clear that we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. It is all of God’s grace and of no merit of our own.

This goes against the grain for most of us. We want to think there is something we can do to be right with God.

This truth from Galatians makes it clear that any religion (no matter its breakdown of faith and works, it use of biblical names, or its claim to the Bible) is a false religion, ensnaring people in a works-based, pointless religion.

What the culture has made muddy and confusing, the Bible clarifies.

Not only are we not saved by our works, we are not kept by our works. Galatians tells us it is all of grace. As we study the Bible in its entirety and compare passages, we begin to understand that works are evidence of faith. They are never, ever to gain or to keep our salvation. 

This is a great relief, is it not? Yes, we want to live lives that please God. But, wow, do we mess up. Well, I’ll speak for myself, anyway. I mess up! (A nice way to say I sin…) Just way too often. I am so grateful that my salvation doesn’t rely on me or I’d be in trouble!

Instead Galatians tells us it is fully based on Christ’s work on the cross. Stop and consider this glorious truth for just a moment. The God of the universe loves us and sent His Son to die for us so that we can be reconciled to Him and spend eternity with Him.

Isn’t that amazing?

So I’m going to get real for a moment. I’ve been struggling through some challenges recently. Nothing major but just feels like too many for one time. And yet, I have been amazed—truly amazed—at God’s loving kindness and faithfulness to me as He stretches and grows me.

You see, once we are God’s own child we are so well-cared for. This is not some “pie in the sky”, imagined notion but a truth that you can’t really understand until you are saved.

Salvation isn’t a prayer. True salvation changes our whole life. We relate to God in a whole new way and experience His personal care for us in ways hard to comprehend. Our purpose, goals, hopes, and even our dreams change to reflect God’s will instead of our own. Everything changes because the Holy Spirit changes us. We don’t mourn that change because our hearts are changed. We are the great winner in this trade-off!

And it’s a free gift!

Galatians can be confusing to study, with some of its strong language and references to the Old Testament. I have much more to study myself and it won’t be exhaustive, for certain. But there is one thing anyone reading it will take away: We are saved by Christ’s work on the cross alone. No works required.

If you don’t know Christ, I’d love to talk to you about this. If you think you know Christ, but aren’t sure, pick up your Bible and start studying it. If you’ve known Christ and His work in your life, I hope you are filled with a passion to spread the Good News of the marvelous Gospel to those who don’t. For this is truly the best news in the world!

 

 

What Makes You Really Angry?

I think we’ve all been angry at some point or other. There are probably some universal causes of anger–such as inept or rude customer service representatives; arguing children; or being betrayed by someone you trusted.

And then there are some causes of anger that seem to be more related to our personalities. Some people get angry at laziness or lack of common sense in those around them. Others get angry at circumstances beyond their control. Some people get plain mad at God when things don’t go their way.

We know that anger is not a righteous emotion. Most of the time.

There is that little caveat in Ephesians 4:26 where it says, “Be angry and do not sin.” This means there is sometimes a righteous cause for anger.

What is something that should make us very angry?

As I was studying in preparation for my upcoming study of Galatians, I realized that the main thing that should make us angry is any attack on the Gospel. Read these verses to see just how serious this is–

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert[a] the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be [b]accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-10)

These are not simply Paul’s words but these are God’s words. We can see from these verses that God takes an attack on the Gospel very seriously. Let anyone who warps and twists the true Gospel be accursed (which means devoted to destruction; imprecate evil or misery upon.)

Has the deluge of false gospels being pandered today made us immune? What other reason can there be that Christians aren’t up in arms regarding the countless attacks on the true Gospel? Why aren’t we defending it and refusing to allow the lies to creep in? Even in to our own “Bible-believing” churches?

What must God think?

I am not sure I ever really gave this much thought until reflecting on these verses yesterday (and listening to some sermons regarding these verses.)

There are two specific ways the Gospel gets perverted. Every perversion falls under one of these two.

First, there is grace plus works (legalism) perversion. ANY presentation or teaching regarding the Gospel that adds any works is not the true Gospel. This means that if you “need to get baptized” to be saved, it’s a false gospel. If you need to take communion or pray to saints in order to be assured of your salvation, it’s a false gospel. If you need to eat certain things, wear certain things, do anything to be saved, it is a false gospel.

Second, there is the hyper-grace (licentiousness) perversion. This perversion denies the many passages that call us to live a life pleasing to Christ. It denies that we become a new creation in Christ and, instead, says that, since we are no longer under law, anything goes. Here the Gospel is given without the message of sin and repentance. It is more focused on fire insurance rather than a lost and hopeless sinner’s reconciliation with God. Say a prayer and be saved–no fruit necessary, according to this false gospel.

These false gospels are dealt with all throughout scripture but in Galatians, Paul speaks specifically to both of them. Think with me for a moment what you know about many who lump themselves in with the modern day religion of “Christianity”. What do they teach about the Gospel?

If they are not preaching the true Gospel as is clearly presented in scripture they are not actually our brother and sisters in Christ. And this should upset us! This should make us mourn for the thousands–millions–who believe a lie about their eternal destiny. Not only do they believe a lie –but they believe a lie under the guise of Christianity and true Christians are not doing anything about it. Instead, they are encouraging them in their false faith and joining with them, declaring that “we are siblings in Christ”.

This is simply appalling! When you really think about it–could there be anything more unloving than allowing someone to believe they are truly saved– when they aren’t??

But we tend to get more upset about a spilled drink or an unexpected bill than we do about this tragedy taking place across the globe. Oh, how self-centered we are. How self-centered I am.

If we believe the true Gospel, then we need to not only live by it but pay attention when there is a departure from it. We need to stop making excuses and rationalizing away the damning differences. Like Paul, we should be up in arms and ready to defend the Gospel boldly and courageously!

 

*I have a page on the blog called “What is the Gospel?”, where we take a look at what scripture has to teach us about this subject. You can find it here.

*In 2016, I wrote about in some detail regarding some common false gospels. You can find that post here.

*I am looking very forward to my study of this book. If you are in the 2022 Growing4Life Bible Reading Challenge, I hope you are looking forward to it, as well. And if you aren’t in the challenge, it’s not too late to join for the rest of the year. Find out more information here.

 

Beware the Bridgers (revised)

Imagine you are building a house. You have carefully chosen your builder based on referrals, reviews, and personal interviews. During the project, your builder recommends and uses different subcontractors to finish the house. You do not know anything about these subcontractors but you trust them because you trust your builder.

Your builder is a bridger. He is bridging you to the services of someone else that you don’t know, have never heard of, but will choose to trust because of his recommendation.

Now if he is connecting you with a subcontractor that is dishonest or unqualified, you will find this intolerable and demand a change be made. I doubt you would be satisfied to allow the poor work to continue on the house in which you are investing so much time and money.

I’d like to submit to you that growing in Christ is just a tiny bit similar to building a house. We are intentionally trying to grow spiritually and we choose “builders” (preachers, teachers, authors, etc) to help us with this. Along the way, those builders recommend other subcontractors (or builders). We choose to trust because of the recommendations of our favorite “builders”.

For example, if I see that my favorite author is favorably quoting another author in a book I am reading, I will naturally think that quoted author is someone I can trust. Why else would he be quoted?

Or if my favorite preacher is hanging out with other preachers, I will naturally assume that they are trustworthy preachers. I can hardly expect someone of integrity and truth to “hang out” with those who just don’t care very much about either.

But what seems so cut and dried in the physical world (builder-subcontractor-dismiss if they don’t do a good job), gets very sticky and complicated in the spiritual world.

There are so many “solid” spiritual leaders that are bridging their followers to those who are deceptive and unqualified. It’s been a very interesting dynamic to watch, particularly over the past thirty years or so (although the beginnings of this go back way earlier.)

I have watched men and women I trust recommend and join with word-of-faith preachers (which preach a false gospel), Bethel and Hillsong (which are fatally compromised and without the gospel), social justice warriors (which preach a social gospel), and all sorts of other compromised and spiritually twisted leaders. I have seen them recommend and join with false religious leaders that preach a gospel that demands works (Catholicism, Mormonism, etc.) and call it “unity”.

These people are functioning as bridgers. They are giving validity to false religion and false teaching, bridging you to a different way of thinking, even changing how you think—probably without you even realizing it.

So you may be thinking: That’s all well and fine but what is your scriptural basis for what you are saying? Does it really even matter?

I’m so glad you asked! Let’s turn to scripture to explore this specifically.

There is a small verse in Romans 16 that I find many Christians are simply ignoring. Paul is ending his letter with loving greetings to specific people of the Roman church. And then he gives these instructions to the church in verse 17–

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.

Here Paul makes it abundantly clear that we are to have nothing to do with those who would preach anything contrary to the “doctrine which you have learned”. I think we could easily say this means anything contrary to the Holy Scriptures.

Let’s turn to one more passage but, first, let’s talk about darkness and light from a spiritual perspective. In His Word, God tells us that we once walked in darkness but are now in marvelous light. How did we end up in that marvelous light? Let’s go to I Peter 2:9-10 to find out–

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

God called us. He called us out of the darkness and into his marvelous light. There is a vast difference between walking in darkness and walking in light. Now, let’s go to Ephesians 5, where Paul talks a bit more about this idea in verses 8-11–

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the [b]Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather [c]expose them.

Again, we are told not only to have no fellowship with those who walk in darkness (which most certainly would include those who preach a false Gospel, teach heresy, etc.) but to actually go a step further and expose them.

Now compare these scriptures to what you see happening in those who I will call “platformed Christians”. These men and women have a grave responsibility to lead their followers circumspectly and to lead them away from (rather than toward) false teachers and heretics. And, yet, is that what we are seeing? I’d suggest we are seeing the very opposite of this. Not only are we seeing these platformed Christians bridging believers to those who preach a different gospel, but we see those same believers refusing to acknowledge the dishonesty and lack of qualification of these false teachers. Their spiritual welfare is being undermined and so few seem to care. Instead of saying “halt the work”, they are embracing these false teachers recommended by the men and women they trust.

I’ll give you one clear (and rather extreme) example before I wrap up. Several years ago now, I heard R.C. Sproul in an interview. I had a fairly decent view of this guy going into this interview and had appreciated some of his writing. However, in this interview he talked favorably of Alice Cooper. Now, I grew up in the days when this rocker was known for his satanic and disturbing concerts. Sproul claimed that Cooper had changed and was now saved. I was surprised but took him at his word. However, something inside me needed to know and I started researching. It didn’t take me long. Cooper’s own website showed that he most definitely had not made any changes in his life.

This is one of the most disturbing partnerships I have ever witnessed (even to this day, I am so disturbed by this and can hardly stomach hearing the name of Sproul). Why would Sproul speak positively of a satanic rocker who was still satanically “rocking”? I will honestly never know. But can you see how Sproul assuring us that he is a “brother in Christ” gives him validity in the eyes of Sproul’s followers?

There are a plethora of much less obvious (and, therefore, often more dangerous) bridgers who are busily at work leading their followers astray by their partnerships, recommendations, and connections.

We each need to personally decide how we handle these bridgers. I am not here to tell you to never read or listen to them (although that is generally my own personal response). I am not here to tell you what to do. I am simply warning you that it is happening. And that we must beware these bridgers.

How do we do this?

We pay attention. We pay attention to who our favorite speakers and authors are partnering with in conferences. We pay attention to who they are quoting. We pay attention and we research.

However you decide to respond to a bridger, I hope that it will lead you to trust that person just a little less. At best, they are completely ignoring God’s Word in a very important area. At worst, they are intentionally, if subtly, leading their followers astray. Either way, they are either ignorant of the scriptures they are supposed to be so well versed in or they are nefarious in their purpose. Neither option is great, is it?

Bridgers are here to stay. This has become a popular thing to do, under the guise of unity. But this is not and can never be true unity. Jesus tells us He is the way, the truth, the life. True unity only comes when we are united in the true Gospel, which is the person of Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. Any teacher that adds to, takes away, or otherwise changes the Gospel must be avoided.

So please beware the bridgers. They are everywhere now. And, in fact, I would venture to say that most platformed Christians function as bridgers. View this as a red flag and keep your eyes open.

 

Please note: Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes point people a direction they later find out was wrong. I myself have done that. Watch for patterns and long-time connections. And watch for those partnerships with those that are so obviously heretical and false. And then give a bit of grace to those who may just not know and simply watch and be aware. Because we can all be deceived at some level. The key is to be willing to admit it and then make changes.

 

And another note: A few hours after I wrote this I received a very insightful comment from a reader that I believe is very important and needs to be included in this post. Here’s what he said–

Noteworthy is that if a subcontractor messes up or is just bad, the contractor is responsible nonetheless.  Also, my favorite go-to verse on this is 2 John vs 10-11.  We are not to greet false teachers or even invite them into our home– or you, in fact, share in their evil deeds.  I would elaborate on this and explain it that if people see you greeting them and even inviting them into your home, they assume the person is okay.

I believe that what he says is absolutely true and I wish I would have thought of these things myself! We must remember that 1) We most certainly are responsible for who we lead people to (which means we should take it very seriously before promoting anyone) and 2) We shouldn’t even greet or invite someone into our home who does not share our doctrine (again, this is the Gospel and the key doctrines that make up biblical faith). Please keep in mind that the reference here is regarding those who claim to be of the faith but actually and clearly aren’t.

 

Responding to Critics and Attackers

When one starts publicly comparing the current Christian world to what the Bible teaches, all kinds of criticisms and attacks accompany it. Whether it’s on a blogging platform, in a church business meeting, on social media, or in a weeknight Bible Study, there is always someone who will be offended if you point out that someone or something is false or compromised when compared to scripture.

Why do Christians have such a hard time seeing these false teachers and the false doctrines they are promoting? I personally believe it is because they are not in the Word, studying to understand it with humility and submission to it. It is truly and LITERALLY our ONLY protection against deception. I believe that most who claim to be Christians are actually not reading and studying the Word. I also believe another reason is PRIDE. The unwillingness to admit we were wrong about something or someone is difficult for all of us.

There are a few types of attackers–

The Condescending One— these are difficult because they are so very judgy and think they know so much more than you do (which they might). They have a very high opinion of their opinions and refuse to even contemplate anything you say. There is no possibility for even a thoughtful discussion because, in their mind, there is nothing to discuss.

The Mean One— these are the ones who call you judgy while calling you names and judging you. It would almost be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. They are hypocrites at the highest level but, truly, they can’t even see it. They are blinded in their false philosophies and hatred for anyone who doesn’t agree with them. It doesn’t matter how lovingly you state the truth, they hate the truth. And they hate you for speaking it.

The Diverting One -these are generally genuine believers who claim to believe the Bible is true. They can’t respond to the biblical argument you are presenting so they change the subject and try to get you off topic.

The “Holy” One–these are the ones that claim that God showed them that you are the wrong one. They will say they heard His voice or that He led them to a special song or conversation that “proved” you are wrong. Instead of the Word, these people rely on experiences to determine their truth.

The “Attack the Messenger” One–these also tend to be genuine believers and, when they can’t answer the biblical argument, they just start attacking you personally. They call you names and make painful remarks. Sometimes they even gossip about you or slander you.

The Silent One— these are the toughest and contain the largest group of our critics. These are the ones who will never say a word but just disappear because they don’t agree. They won’t even be willing to have the discussion and they hate conflict so they just disappear.

Oftentimes, our critics are a combination of these listed above. If you speak up about the truth with regularity, I’d rather guess that you have experienced all of those mentioned. It can be very painful–especially when coming from fellow believers.

But this will be the price we pay for speaking the truth. We must prepare ourselves, praying for courage and boldness to speak up in a time when speaking the truth is vilified by the world and the church. (There’s a reason for this. This belief that speaking negatively is an unloving and unchristian thing to do didn’t just happen. It was a very intentional thing that started many years ago and has finally reached it’s peak. It’s a stunning and shocking thing to research this belief that we should only “speak the positive” historically. It’s so clearly not of God.)

So for those of you who are brave enough to stand for the truth, in spite of the darts and arrows that come your way, let’s talk a bit today about how we best handle it. No matter the type of attacker or critic, I have been learning some things we should always do if we want to handle this in a way that is honoring to God. (And–just to be clear–I don’t have this down. In fact, I am not even close. I am still working on this and praying to grow in this area of responding to my critics and attackers.)

Here are six things we should each consider when responding–

1. Give time to prayer before responding. I have to confess that I am learning this from a dear friend. She has been experiencing a bit of kickback regarding something and, instead of responding immediately, she took a few days to pray about how best to respond. I do this sometimes but in watching her respond to these attackers, I realized that I need to do this all the time. Before I ever open my mouth or put my finger on a key, I need to pray. Pray for wisdom, pray for the person who is attacking me, pray for help in loving that person instead of being angry at them.

2. Give humble and honest evaluation to what they are saying. Does their comment or thought have any merit at all? Oftentimes, at least in my case, I won’t post something until I am 100% sure regarding the compromise and there is no doubt that this person or doctrine is false. That being said, I did learn a hard lesson years ago when I posted something on social media without knowing the whole story. That was a good lesson for me. I was even more thorough after that mistake. But, even in my carefulness, it is important to take their words seriously and evaluate them rather than getting all worked up and defensive. We must remember that we can easily be rendered ineffective if we get all worked up and refuse to listen to their side of the discussion before responding in a thoughtful, loving manner.

3. Point them to the Bible. Seriously. I can’t say this enough. My opinion doesn’t matter. Your opinion doesn’t matter. Every argument needs to be defended using the Word of God. If it can’t be, then just stop arguing. I realize that this can get confusing because people twist and warp the Word to suit their own lusts and desires. Something that has been super helpful to me regarding this particular thing is 2 Thessalonians 2:15–

Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught,

whether by word or our epistle.

 

This reminds me that if the (true) church taught something for 2000 years, it didn’t just change ten or twenty or fifty years ago. If someone is trying to twist scripture to match this current (debased) culture, you can be sure they are not speaking the truth. While there have always been attacks on the Bible, our biblical understanding of doctrine has remained pretty stable within the genuine church for thousands of years. It’s only recently (last 100-200 years) that these attacks started in earnest on the Word and the traditional beliefs regarding the Word and its interpretation.

4. Respond lovingly and firmly and gently and humbly. We cannot be responsible for how people respond to us but we are most definitely responsible for how we respond to them. We must do so in a way that honors our heavenly Father.

5. Know when to walk away. We live in a culture of debate. Everyone wants to tell people their opinion. There is a lot of anger and ugliness when this happens. People no longer are willing to agree to disagree. Even in my own church, there are people who set themselves up as my enemy simply because I don’t agree with them (nothing breaks my heart more than this.) We must stand out as different in this area. We must point people to the Word and then, if they are unwilling to have a thoughtful discussion, we must walk away. Not only must we walk away but we must walk away without grudges, without bitterness, and without anger. We must walk away with love, with prayer, and with forgiveness in our hearts.

6. Recognize that it is the Holy Spirit who changes people’s hearts and minds. It’s such a relief to know that I don’t have to change any minds or hearts. I just speak the truth and then let the Holy Spirit do the rest. We can’t change a mind. And so we speak up and then we pray for that person.

____________________________________

This is a tall order. We are all naturally defensive, prideful people. Only the Holy Spirit can make these things possible. Only the Holy Spirit can ensure that we do this the right way. If we rely on our own “intelligence” and methods, we will fail every time. (I am personally familiar with failure of this nature!)

Oh, my friends, don’t get discouraged. IF people are persecuting you, know that they persecuted Jesus before you. IF they are upset with you, know that we can and should expect it. IF you are 100% committed to God and His Word, taking the time to meditate and study what He has told us in His Word while humbly desiring to submit and obey everything within its pages, and this is happening to you, then these attacks are simply proof that you are on the straight and narrow road of LIFE.

Keep your heads up! You are not alone! And one of these days, the battle will be done and we will be together in heaven!

 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be

compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18

 

 

What the Bible Says About Fixing the World

Is it the job of the Christian to make the world a better place? Is it our job to fix it? You may be surprised to know that this is a mainstream philosophy of many churches and Christians today. They believe we are here to improve the world. Many believe that Jesus won’t return until we do this. That somehow we have to prepare the world for His return.

Now you may be able to get that from a few verses that are twisted and pulled way out of context, but this is not the actual message of scripture.

If you look at both the Gospels and the Epistles, we see an acceptance of the world the way it is and instructions for living in it (I Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 5&6). More importantly, we see that the Christian is not to focus on this world but on eternal things (Colossians 3). And, most importantly, we read throughout the entire New Testament that the only way for true and lasting change in both the individual and in the culture is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We are also told in scripture that the world will get worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:1-9; Jude). We should not expect to live in a fixed earth for there will be no such thing until Jesus returns.

This past week in Sunday School, our teacher pointed out a verse in Daniel 9 that I never noticed before–

O my God, incline Your ear and hear; open Your eyes and see our desolations, and the city which is called by Your name; for we do not present our supplications before You because of our righteous deeds, but because of Your great mercies.

As I read and then re-read that verse, it hit me! The main problem with the social justice/fix the world movement is PRIDE. Man actually thinks he has the power to fix the world. Think about that for a moment.

Now–keep in mind that I am not saying we aren’t to do good things. Scripture makes it abundantly clear that we are. And I am not implying that cultures won’t be better sometimes because of Christians. I think those of us in America did have that experience (particularly if we are older).

But we have to recognize that without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). That any good that we accomplish is through God alone. And God does graciously choose to use us in this world to accomplish His purposes. He has clearly set out good works for us to do (Ephesians 2:8-10) and we are to faithfully going about His business.

But to think we can fix the world is rather presumptuous, don’t you think?

Read that verse again. Do you see what Daniel said? He is asking for God to hear Him –not because of their righteous deeds but because of His great mercies.

Not because of their righteous deeds. It seems like this group of “Christians” are very much counting on their righteous deeds to ready the world for Christ. Ironically, this movement has little to do with the genuine Gospel in their efforts to attain utopia here on earth.

And don’t miss two facts about that this movement to bring in a better world–

First, this is the same old, same old that Satan has been trying to accomplish since the beginning of time. Man can be like God and bring in a utopian society. Sure, there are a few more Christian terms covering up the true agenda, but if you dig a little, you will see little reliance on God in this movement and much reliance on self.

Second, please note how this movement will play right into the system of the antichrist. These people who are crying out for a perfect world will be ripe to fall into the worship of the antichrist, as he promises to join them in fixing the world. This is not just a “movement” but a very intentional direction that Satan is taking the church.

Now, I want to be clear about one thing before I close today: I am sure there are many Christians who have been deceived in this area of making the world a better place. Just as we are all deceived about one thing or another.

We must pray diligently that the Lord will keep us from deception, for it is everywhere now. EVERYWHERE. We must persevere in finding out the truth in all areas of life or we will leave ourselves open to great deception. Trust NO MAN OR WOMAN more than you trust the Word of God.

If God said it and the true Church has believed it for over 2000 years then it is true–no matter what new-fangled way someone has of interpreting a verse or passage.

This is why church history is so important. It gives context and a firm foundation of the true Christian Faith (this is the true Christian faith–and does not include the Catholic church, which is not a true Christian church and never has been.) Sorry, I got a little off of topic there, but I do believe that church history is critically important. Actually, history is critically important. We see many things happening today because people do not know history. Or they believe a faulty history. And so it repeats itself. Over and over again. But I digress.

Dear readers, we are not here to fix the world. Anyone who reads and studies their Bible must come to that conclusion, for there is no other conclusion to be drawn. We are here to share the Gospel and to make the Lord known in a rebellious and dark world. Most will turn away from the Gospel. but God, in His Providence, will lead us to some who are seeking after Him and longing to be part of His family. And so we continue to share the Gospel and to contend for the faith in the midst of the great apostasy that is taking place today.

 

 

When It’s Time to Turn Off a Sermon

Do you know we get “preached at” every day? Articles, news, songs, shows, movies, blog posts, and commercials are all telling us what we should believe and how we should live. Some are more subtle than others. Then there are the ones that are really obvious.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try a new fitness program. I was excited about it because it looked to be an excellent workout in only thirty minutes. That’s my kind of workout! ;)

I put on my workout clothing, got my weights, and turned on the TV.

“Our word for today is limitless. You are limitless.”

I think I laughed out loud. Anyone with even half a brain recognizes that all humans have limits. Right? Uh, wrong…

Through the course of the next thirty minutes I was told that I have no limits. That I can do anything. And all kinds of other things that were not only false, but totally nonsensical. I was listening to a sermon of the New Age religion, where we can all be divine and become gods.

I listened that first day but I liked the workout and so I made a choice to just ignore what the instructor was saying. But by about the fourth day, two things were really bothering me.

First, something the instructor had said came to my mind as I was doing something later that day. I actually had to consciously tell myself: No, that’s wrong. So I realized that, without a doubt, I was hearing and remembering what she was saying each morning, even in my efforts to ignore her.

And, second, I felt a check in my spirit. Something wasn’t right. I was convicted that these New Age “sermons” did not belong in the home of a believer. Staying true to God and His Word was far more important than being “fit”. There are ways to be fit that don’t compromise me spiritually.

Please don’t hear me saying any “thou shalt nots” here. We all have to make our choices before God about what we are going to listen to and watch every day. I am not your judge. But this experience reminded me that we are being preached at every day. The majority of what we hear is not neutral. It is either for God and goes along with His Word or it is against God and what His Word says (and, if we are honest, we recognize that it is mostly against Him).

The thing that makes this all rather confusing is that much that is being taught in the New Age religion is labeled “Christian”. The fitness instructor wasn’t pretending to be a Christian. She was right out there with her false religion and she wasn’t using Christian lingo. But there are many preaching the false religion of “self glory” and they are using Christianese to do it. And so we have to pay attention.

There are times to turn off sermons, radios, and tvs. There are times to walk away from churches and movies theaters. Here are some things to look for–

Self takes center stage and God is relegated to either the background or rather, oftentimes, takes the role of “genie” who will make your dreams come true.

Self gets the glory.

Self is defined in glowing terms, rather than as an undeserving sinner in need of God’s grace.

• How self feels and what self experiences is more important than what the Bible teaches.

The thing that makes this extra tricky and tempting is that what the New Age religion is teaching us is extremely appealing to our flesh. It is a very pleasant message to hear. It tells us our dreams and self-fulfillment matter. It tells us that we can accomplish anything. It tells us that we are limitless creatures that are able to create our own destinies. It tells us that we are divine within. It tells us that denying ourselves and picking up our cross daily is an archaic command of an old-fashioned religion.

Who doesn’t want that kind of religion?

Only a true believer who is spending time in the Word can see past how good that sounds to the destruction and havoc it actually wreaks both eternally and here on earth.

How important that we Christians pay attention to the sermons we hear every day. What are we being taught that goes against what God teaches in His Word? It is time we got intentional about what we are ingesting into our minds each and every day. Satan has some very powerful tools and he is using them to reach into the hearts and minds of both Christians and non-Christians to sway and move them towards that one world religion that is coming.

We have a responsibility to keep ourselves pure from false religion. And we should have a desire to keep ourselves pure and wholly devoted to God alone. We can only do this by being very consciously aware of the battle that is going on for our hearts and minds and then actually doing something about it to stand firm, hold fast, and prove our undying loyalty to the true King alone.

 

 

 

PLEASE NOTE:

Facebook is not my friend. I have a suspicion that the crackdown on biblical content may be affecting me. I have no way to prove this, of course, but I have noticed that, over the past few weeks, the number “reached” has been radically reduced (which can only mean it’s not being put on the news feed by Facebook). This is confirmed by the dearth of responses that most posts are receiving as compared to just a few weeks ago. If you are on Facebook and appreciate any post I share then your liking, commenting, and sharing it will help get the posts on the news feed. I appreciate any help you give. However, with that being said, I want to assure you that I am at peace with all of this. I am not ever going to market myself. This is all in God’s hands and I am completely content to let it there. Or at least my desire is to be content, however this turns out. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit it is a bit discouraging…

As social media cracks down on things, I do wonder how long biblical content will be allowed on any platform. Even the service I use to send out posts to Growing4Life subscribers has changed their policy to open the door for censorship. I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but thought perhaps I should just mention it again, in case anyone missed it: If you appreciate the Growing4Life posts and want to stay in touch with me, should I be censored, please reply to this email (or message me if you are reading this on social media) with your name and email address. I will add your name to a list of contacts, should I need to find a new way to reach you.  If you’ve already contacted me, there is no need to do so again. I thank you and your name and email address are already in a file I am keeping should such a day come.

 

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