Flashback Friday: End Times Or Not — It’s Time

Originally posted February 26, 2016:

The world spirals more and more into chaos. Although Christians in every generation have believed Jesus would return in their lifetimes, current events suggest to me that He may come within the next few decades. Don’t interpret that statement as a prophecy, however. I claim neither prophetic powers nor a clear understanding of eschatology.

Having made my disclaimer, permit me to make my main point. Regardless of whether the Lord returns before I publish this post or comes 2000 years from now, I see an urgency for Christians to proclaim the Gospel! Yes, I believe the Bible teaches the doctrine of election, but I also believe Continue reading

When We’re Too Discerning To Love Christ

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We seldom recognize our own idols. This spiritual blindness engulfs all Christians, it seems to me, but I think people involved in discernment ministry ought to be particularly mindful that our zeal to expose false teachers can actually distract us from loving the Lord.

A couple of years ago, I read a passage in Revelation 2 that really compelled me to ask myself some uncomfortable questions. Sure, I could make the case that loving Christ leads to a desire for doctrinal purity in His church. In many instances, that’s  entirely true. But look at what the Lord commands the apostle John to write to the church at Ephesus:

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’ ~~Revelation 2:2-7 (ESV)

In this letter, the Lord begins by commending the Ephesians for standing against false teachers. This point shows that discernment ministry definitely has its place. Indeed, several of the other churches in Revelation 2 and 3 receive harsh chastisement precisely because of their tolerance of false teaching. The Lord demands purity in His Church.

Yet the Ephesians focused so much on discernment that they abandoned their devotion to Christ Himself. They no longer had a zeal to serve Him in other ways. So, despite their stellar record in standing against false teachers, they had allowed their discernment abilities to eclipse their devotion to the Lord. In no uncertain terms, these discernment giants were ordered to repent.

Although this letter affirms discernment ministry, it also indicates that discernment can become an idol. How ironic is that? We can become so enamored with our skill in distinguishing truth from error that we read the Bible looking for ammunition that will help us expose whatever false teacher we happen to have in our cross-hairs at the moment. We forget Christ’s answer when asked about the greatest commandment:

37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. ~~Matthew 22:37-38 (ESV)

Let’s cultivate discernment, by all means! But let’s not limit discernment merely to calling out false teachers. Let’s also seek to discern from Scripture how we can best love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and mind. The Ephesians forgot to maintain that type of discernment. We dare not.

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Maybe My Target Readership Can Handle Complex Sentences And Big Words

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Don’t worry — I have no intention of writing a third post comparing current blogging advice to seeker-sensitive churches. I’ve already done so here and here. Of course the parallel begs for attention, but I don’t want to be redundant.

This past weekend, the blog I read on blogging once again featured a post railing against long paragraphs, complex sentences and big words. The author insisted (as he has so many times in his posts) that 21st Century readers no longer tolerate writing unless it can be easily digested. Therefore bloggers should avoid writing in ways that contemporary readers generally find inaccessible. Such writing, he argued, discourages readers, resulting in fewer clicks and even fewer likes.

His post made me so angry that I wrote about it on my personal Facebook page. That post generated an interesting discussion, forcing me to think Continue reading

Correction Must Come From God’s Word

baaa1-stainedglass03I got a little pushback on yesterday’s blog post. That’s fine.  Because I’m human, and therefore fallen, I certainly can get things wrong. May God give me the humility to accept correction when I publish articles that misrepresent His character and/or violate the teachings of Scripture. In fact, I beg my readers to show me any doctrinal errors in my writing!

31 The ear that listens to life-giving reproof
    will dwell among the wise.
32 Whoever ignores instruction despises himself,
    but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
33 The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom,
    and humility comes before honor. ~~Proverbs 15:31-33 (ESV)

You should worry about me if I show a resistance to receiving correction that’s grounded in God’s Word. The Lord does not permit anyone to exalt human wisdom over the authority of Scripture, least of all a housewife with a blog! If I make the mistake of thinking that I am somehow above the ability to insert error into my writing, I definitely need godly people to rebuke me from Scripture.

Notice, please, my emphasis on the Word of God as the standard for correcting me. The challenges I received to yesterday’s post (both on my Comments Section and on social media) appealed to personal experience, misapplied Bible verses (at least that person tried — initially — to reason from Scripture), ad hominem attacks and worldly philosophies.

Colossians warns Christians to be careful about worldly philosophies.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. ~~Colossians 2:6-10 (ESV)

We receive faith through the Word of God, according to Romans 10:17. From there, Scripture fully equips us in all spiritual matters, as we see in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:3-5. Rather than being persuaded by the philosophies invented by human wisdom and subjective experience, Christians cling to God’s Word as our ultimate authority.

Furthermore, we don’t add to His Word by observing religious regulations or spiritual practices. Going back to Colossians, we see the folly of depending on human wisdom and tradition for godliness.

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. ~~Colossians 2:16-23 (ESV)

So, while I welcome correction and will happily retract any and all blog posts when I’m shown that I’ve distorted or contradicted clear Biblical teaching, I reject arguments that don’t come from Scripture. As a Christian, I have a responsibility to maintain a humble and teachable attitude, but I have an even greater responsibility to keep God’s Word as the standard for distinguishing truth from error.

Please don’t hesitate to correct me using the Comments Section at the end of each blog post I write. Public error demands public rebuke. But make certain that, in offering correction, you appeal to His Word as your basis for correcting me. Anything less dishonors Christ.

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Christian Yoga As Idol Worship

LotusThe church John and I belong to practices the pubic reading of Scripture by going through a book of the Bible consecutively. Currently we’ve been reading 1 Corinthians. I find that, surprisingly often, the Lord deepens my understanding of a passage as I listen to my pastor read it aloud. Yesterday, in fact, the passage he read made me think about so-called Christian yoga.

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? ~~1 Corinthians 10:14-22 (ESV)

Although there are other people teaching “Christian” yoga, Holy Continue reading

You Lose A Lot By Coming To Jesus

Does my title shock you? It’s not very seeker sensitive, I’ll admit.

Then again, I didn’t exactly enumerate the things you lose by coming to Jesus, nor did I explain the nature of those things. Yes, you lose a lot by coming to Jesus, but consider what you actually lose. Perhaps you lose undesirable things that only lock you in a prison of despair.  Perhaps you would be relieved — even grateful — to lose them. Some losses turn out to be wonderfully liberating!

I also didn’t mention that coming to Jesus results in gaining much more than you lose. Nor did I tell you about the quality of the things you gain. You might want to consider the idea that, by coming to Jesus, you gain blessings that far outweigh any losses you incur. Why wouldn’t you gratefully accept losses that allow you to gain eternal riches?

Listen to this treasured hymn as you calculate the losses and gains involved in coming to Jesus.

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Saturday Sampler: May 19 — May 25

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In Christian Persecution: Happens more often than you think, SlimJim of The Domain for Truth lifts the curtain (just a little) to reveal what believers around the world suffer for the sake of the Gospel.

Weighing in on the debate about women preaching, Michelle Lesley writes The Mailbag: Counter Arguments to Egalitarianism based on Scripture. She correctly asserts that this is absolutely not a secondary issue! I love her passion for upholding God’s Word.

What Is Discernment? Sinclair Ferguson answers that question in an article for the Ligonier blog.

Both single women and mothers of teenage girls will appreciate Grace Hody’s post, Hook Ups and the Whole Person, featured in Biblical Woman this week. Grace counsels wisely and compassionately on how to navigate dating in a way that protects personal integrity and honors the Lord.

In general, I feel reluctant to share anything from The Gospel Coalition blog because so many of its writers seem to be going left on social issues. But Is There Really an ‘Orthodox’ View on Sexuality by Trevin Wax is a rare exception. It demonstrates the early Church’s commitment to sexual purity in contrast to the surrounding culture’s licentiousness. We can learn from the early Church’s example.

Denny Burk explains Why it is important not to conflate prophecy and teaching in discussions about women preaching. This article gives us a lot of food for thought to munch on.

Go to The Domain for Truth and take SlimJim’s Quick Spiritual DNA Test to see if you’re truly a child of God.

For a clear, although sad, analysis of the Social Justice Movement, you might want to read The Social Justice Dividing Line in Delivered By Grace. Josh Buice outlines the various difficulties in making distinctions between Social Justice and Biblical justice. This matter is creating serious problems among evangelicals, and this analysis defines the controversy better than anything else I’ve read.

In a pleasantly surprising installment to Knowable Word, Peter Krol shows us how Context Matters: He Who Began a Good Work in You. I appreciate the way Krol brings out the rich texture of a beloved verse!

Elizabeth Prata gives an important Thought for the Day in The End Time about where we keep our minds. Ladies, please pray for Elizabeth as she battles a stubborn and potentially dangerous case of pneumonia. We need her well for many reasons — including her insightful essays.

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