Keys To Discernment: The Prominence Of God’s Word (Reboot)

I began this Monday Bible Study series on Colossians in January, but stopped it after suffering a compression fracture in my back at the end of February. Rather than picking up where we left off, I’ve been reposting each installment again to keep everything in context. I’ve also added new comments here and there, so even if you read the series when I originally published it you can find additional insights.

Untitled-1

Let me begin with a gentle reminder that I intend my blog as a whole, and my Bible Study posts in particular, for women. I want to obey 1 Timothy 2:11-14 and Titus 2:3-5  by avoiding any possibility of teaching men. Dear brothers, unless you’re my husband or an elder at First Baptist Church Weymouth, I respectfully ask you not to read this Bible Study series. Thank you.

Okay ladies, shall we continue looking at Paul’s introductory remarks to the church at Colossae? We’ve been noticing that Paul uses this opening section of his letter to set the tone for the main points he wants to convey. I’ll show you the full section for the sake of context before we jump into the second part of verse 5.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. ~~Colossians 1:3-8 (ESV)

Last week we learned that Paul capitalized on the hope of the resurrection and eternal life to draw his readers’ attention away from worldly concerns. In so doing, he set the stage for the practical application of his teaching (see Colossians 3:1-4 and Colossians 3:16). In the second part of verse 5 (which we’ll discuss today), he explains that the Colossians gained this hope through hearing the Word of truth — the Gospel.

Paul focuses on the Word of truth because he will shortly begin dismantling the errors that have wormed their way into the Colossian church. He could have simply named the false teachings and left everyone to figure out how to refute them, but he instead gives them tools for future discernment.

Think of it this way: you can read blog post after blog post decrying Beth Moore as a false teacher. But how much better to read posts helping you understand sound doctrine so well that you can identify her errors for yourself? The Word provides stability for Christians, as we depend on the apostles’ teaching to guard us against the winds of false doctrine (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Verse 6 beautifully articulates how the Word of God has already taken root in the Colossian church. Indeed, Paul assures them, it has borne fruit in the whole world. The Colossians have been so transformed by the Gospel that it’s bearing the same fruit in them that it’s bearing throughout the rest of the known world. This glorious increase happens through the grace of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus illustrated in Mark 4:26-29.

Since God’s Word has already been firmly planted in Colossae, Paul will later encourage the church to walk in Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:6-7) in accordance with the teaching they have received. Verse 7 of our current chapter tells us that they received the ministry of Epaphras. Since Paul describes Epaphras as a faithful minister, we can safely assume that he faithfully taught them the Word of God.

Verse 8 reveals that Epaphras has reported back to Paul regarding the Colossians’ love in the Spirit. Their love gives evidence that God’s Word has begun to work in them.

Do you see how Paul’s seemingly standard opening comments prepare his original readers for the epistle? Similarly, this section gives us a little preview of what we’ll learn in the coming installments of our Bible Study. Next Monday, Lord willing, we can finally get into the doctrine that Paul uses to teach the Colossians — and by extension us — discernment. I look forward to having you join me then.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

It’s Getting Dark, But We Know Who’s Coming

We’ve been through another tough week in the United States of America. I’ve been through a discouraging week in my personal life.

Yesterday’s celebration of Independence Day seemed odd, given the apparent direction of our country. I can’t imagine that even John Adams (who advocated for centralized government) would approve of the things that have happened in the last three months.

I don’t approve of what’s happening in my personal life, for that matter.

Life is getting darker than I’ve ever seen it, and it certainly threatens to get worse. Didn’t Jesus say it would? We have no reason to feel surprised by the encroaching darkness, thoughts it grieves and frightens even the most mature Christian.

How encouraging, then, to remember that Jesus is returning to establish His kingdom! We don’t know when He will come back, and we probably shouldn’t indulge in too much speculation about it.

But what a comfort to know that He will come at just the right time! One day, all madness will end and He will reign in perfect righteousness. The violence will fade away, sickness will end and creation will be restored. Best of all, He will receive the honor and glory that rightfully belongs only to Him! Hallelujah!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday Sampler: June 28 — July 4

Statue of George Washington

Already, I know that The Peculiar Idol of Personal Opinion by Melissa of Your Mom Has a Blog is the article I most recommend this week! She confronts us squarely, saying things that those of us on social media desperately need to hear.

Jarod Olivetti’s article, The Danger of an Open Bible, may surprise you at first, but he makes points that we all need to consider. You can read his post at Gentle Reformation.

Usually Leonardo De Chirico’s writing for The Vatican Files tends to be academic and a little dry. But Inter-Faith Prayers for the Pandemic to Cease? What is at Stake is Bigger Than What You Think is much more readable. More importantly, Christians need to understand why we can’t join our prayers with people who don’t believe the Biblical Gospel.

Statue of Paul Revere

Sometimes the truth is so familiar that we take it for granted. In doing so, we almost forget its richness. In her essay for The End Time, Elizabeth Prata explores the truth that The word of God is living as she examines the various implications of Hebrews 4:12. Don’t miss her marvelous treatment of this well-known verse.

You might find SharaC’s thoughts on current events interesting. Wielding and Yielding appears in Into the Foolishness of God, offering a perspective that few of us consider.

What Is Self-Discipline? asks Steven Lawson in an article for the Ligonier blog. His answer challenges us, convicts us and comforts us all at the same time. I realize that self-discipline isn’t a popular topic, and most people would probably want to skip this article. I encourage you to read it anyway. His conclusion just might surprise you.

Grave of James Otis — “Taxation without representation is tyranny!”

I appreciate SlimJim for providing Starter Questions for Evangelism on his The Domain for Truth blog. He writes this post specifically for those of us who struggle with evangelism. As someone inept at witnessing face-to-face, I feel encouraged to try some of these questions. Maybe the Lord will use them to inspire you to share the Gospel with people in your sphere of influence.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Flashback Friday: A Right Proclamation Of The Gospel

Originally posted February 17, 2017:

93a68-wordjudgesheart

Yesterday I watched a YouTube video featuring people I personally know from my Charismatic days.  I managed to get past their “God told me” claims by remembering how often I used to phrase my own experiences in those words. In listening to Charismatics, I want to keep in mind that   many of them, though deceived, are genuinely my brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, I walked in those same deceptions for most of my Christian life.

Toward the end of the video, however, they invited unsaved members of their audience to begin their “adventure” with Christ. They assured people that Jesus Christ offers freedom from sin (which He does) and personal fulfillment. According to them, Jesus waited, hoping people would reach out to Him and receive all that He had for them. They read a prayer that made vague reference to being a sinner and committing their lives to Christ. Those who said that prayer were instructed to sign a copy, write the date and keep it in their Bibles in case Satan questioned their salvation.

Continue reading

Keys To Discernment: Reminder Of Where Hope Lies (Reboot)

Most of you know that this Bible Study series on Colossians got interrupted when I suffered a spinal compression fracture February. In order to resume the study, I’ve been posting the installments I’d already written with the idea that doing so would bring continuity. But lest you assume that you can skip over these reboots, bear in mind that I sometimes add thoughts and/or Scripture references.

Drawing of gold key

Usually I teach verse-by-verse, as my long-time readers will testify. I generally think that’s the best way to teach the Bible, but in this study we’ll sometimes take whole sentences that span two or more verses. Today we’ll work through Colossians 1:3-5a to study the introduction of hope into this letter. I want to approach Colossians this way so that we can better see how Paul teaches discernment to his readers.

Last week we saw that, even in the salutation to his letter to the Colossians, Paul’s choice of words looks forward to the main points of his message.  You may recall that I believe he purposefully chooses his words to advance his teaching. I believe he continues this practice in his opening statements here.

In the next section, the apostle appears to merely express his affection for this church. Well, that is part of what he’s doing. But let’s see if there isn’t a bit more going on.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. ~~Colossians 1:3-8 (ESV)

I quoted Colossians 1:3-8 for the sake of context, but I only have time to discuss verse 3 and going through the first part of verse 5.

Paul and those with him in his imprisonment in Rome pray for the Colossians with and attitude of thanksgiving. Later in the epistle, we’ll see several instances in which he exhorts them towards thankfulness, and it seems possible that he wants to set the example right away.

But context doesn’t linger over the topic of thanksgiving, does it? Paul specifies that he thanks God the Father for the faith they have in Christ Jesus and the love that they have for all the saints. Furthermore, he attributes their faith and love to the hope laid up for them in heaven.

Why is the idea of hope important in Paul’s introductory remarks? Let’s answer that question by first looking at what that hope entails. According to Acts 23:6 and Acts 24:15, that hope is in the promise that we will share in the benefits of Christ’s resurrection. Those of you who studied 1 Corinthians 15 with me may remember that this hope governs how Christians live (see 1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

The Colossians faced pressure from the early Gnostics to find spirituality through mysticism, which frequently allows for sensuality. Additionally, they faced pressure from the Judaizers, who insisted that Gentle Christians adopt Jewish customs. These pressures caused them to vacillate between indulging their lusts on one hand and trying to maintain legalistic behavior on the other hand. Either extreme eclipsed the hope guaranteed through Christ’s resurrection.

As we shall see in subsequent installments of this study, Paul addresses the necessity of avoiding these errors. For instance, in Chapter 3 he writes:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  ~~Colossians 3:1-3 (ESV)

Paul begins his letter by commending the Colossians for already acting on the hope of the Gospel by thanking God the Father for their faith in Christ Jesus and for the love they show to the saints. He fixes that hope in their minds early in the epistle, preparing them for the later application of how that hope draws them away from false teachings.

As we contend with false teaching in our own day, perhaps we might join those First Century Colossians in remembering where our hope lies. Having a Scriptural understanding of our hope will enable us to discern the false teachings that surround 21st Century evangelicals. Next Monday we’ll see where we can find this glorious hope.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Keys To Discernment: Paul’s Salutation To The Colossians (Reboot)

As I explained two weeks ago, this Bible Study series on Colossians got interrupted in February when I had a compound fracture in my back. In order to bring everyone up to speed, I’ve decided to repeat the installments I’d written before continuing on. I may add a few comments that I overlooked when I first wrote them.

Gold Key

“Oh DebbieLynne, no!” you’re saying. “Paul’s opening verses in Colossians don’t really talk about discernment. Can’t you just skip them?”

To be truthful, sisters, I seriously considered skipping these introductory remarks Paul made. Like you, I’m eager to get into the meat of the epistle! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that even these verses possess nuggets of doctrine that can help us discern sound teaching. Remember — true discernment comes through right doctrine.

Continue reading

John Newton Explains Why Grace Is Amazing

When we think of John Newton, our minds immediately go to his beautiful hymn, “Amazing Grace.” But did you know that he wrote other hymns?

Yesterday I poked around YouTube a bit, not sure what hymn to feature today, and I came across one performer by Indelible Grace. I’m certain they updated the tune, but they apparently preserved Newton’s original lyrics.

Right away, I knew I needed to post it!

In this hymn, Newton walks us through the various benefits of Christ’s atonement, continually returning to the glorious truth that He has washed us with His blood. Newton gives lots of good doctrine throughout the verses, introducing each one as yet another reason to worship our wonderful Lord.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Flashback Friday: This Little Window

Originally posted May 17, 2017

As global unrest gathers momentum, I see a greater urgency to proclaim the Gospel. I don’t know how soon Jesus will return to bring final judgement on the world, but world events lead me to suspect that Western Christians have little time left  to speak (and write) freely about the Lord.

Perhaps I discern this situation wrongly. But even if I do, people die every day and enter a Christless eternity while professing evangelicals focus on receiving blessings and filling pews with warm bodies who happen to have deep pockets.

Continue reading

A Few Thoughts About Thinking: “Tons Of Wicked Little Thoughts Merrily Appear”

Boston, May 2015

When I was little, John F. Kennedy’s administration popularized Learner and Lowe’s Broadway play, Camelot. My father, always the one to buy fashionable items, purchased the record album, featuring the original cast. Hence I grew up knowing and loving all the songs (rarely understanding their full implications).

Early in the story, Guinevere sings about “the lusty month of May” “when tons of wicked little thoughts merrily appear.” In contrast to the sexually charged lyrics, the lighthearted tune creates a feeling of innocence. Those tons of wicked little thoughts can’t really be that wicked, the music assures us.

Tell that to Guinevere years later as her merrily wicked thoughts lead her to adultery so vile that it destroys King Arthur’s kingdom.

Continue reading

Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Wrote To The Colossians (Reboot)

Untitled-1

Last Monday I explained that I’ll repost the few Bible Studies I wrote on Colossians before I injured my back in February. I’ll add a few remarks to these articles where I feel they need further comment, so you really might find it beneficial to read them again. Once we’ve reviewed those studies, we’ll continue working through the epistle.

As a young Christian, I would get impatient when Bible Study teachers would spend time talking about the background to whatever book they taught. I just wanted to grab verses here and there that I could shoehorn into my immediate circumstances. Textual context only mildly interested me; I had absolutely no use for historical or cultural background, thank you very much!

So if you’re groaning at the title of this post, anticipating a boring history lesson about First Century Colossae, I understand. It’s not what you expected from a study on discernment.

Don’t close this article yet, ladies! You need to know that I’m writing a little about the background to this epistle precisely because it will enable us to see how Paul taught discernment without once naming the false teachers that he refuted.

Continue reading