Discernment Ministry Does More Than Expose False Teachers

Biblical UnityOur Monday Bible Studies in Titus may be suspended for the summer, but I’m still thinking quite a lot about Paul’s charge to Titus regarding the responsibilities of older women.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

As a blogger, I am in an unofficial teaching position, hopefully teaching younger women how to honor the Lord. Thus far, I’ve written little about marriage and even less about raising children, mostly because I married late in life and consequently missed out on motherhood. But I certainly can teach what is good in terms of Christian doctrine and discernment.

Without rehashing specifics, recent arguments among well-known figures in discernment ministry cause me to wonder if I should focus my teaching more on discerning how to exhibit a character that reflects the Lord Jesus Christ and less on calling out false teachers. To be sure, those false teachers need to be identified, especially because women tend to gravitate to ones that use humor, psychology and emotional mysticism to lure us into doctrinal error. But, as I’ve said many times, blogs like mine can easily degenerate into tabloid gossip mills.

Blogging as a Christian places me under an obligation to keep my doctrine pure. An elder from my church monitors The Outspoken TULIP for that very reason, as does my husband. But right doctrine is only half the battle, dear sisters in Christ. Remember that the Pharisees in Jesus’ day had right doctrine. But they used their right doctrine to cover up their sinful lifestyles.

If, in exposing false teachers, I use this blog to generate gossip, I stand guilty of dishonoring the Lord I claim to represent. On one level, I teach younger women to cultivate discernment regarding popular teachers and trends within the evangelical community (which is sometimes necessary), but on a deeper level I teach by example that discernment depends on gossiping about others.

Recent events in the evangelical world have caused me to consider the type of character I want to model as I emblazon words on the internet. Do I demonstrate godly attitudes even when I warn my readers against false teachers? Do I encourage my readers to pray for people who fall victim to doctrinal error, and do I point them back to the Word of God? Or do I act like a talebearer who enjoys the sport of character assassination?

Older women, Paul says, must teach what is good. Teaching what is good, in turn, necessitates living in conformity to sound doctrine. The current nastiness in the name of discernment, by God’s grace, admonishes me to be careful as I write my blog posts, knowing that the example I set can either encourage sinful attitudes or lead ladies to honor the Lord.

 

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Learning 1 Corinthians 13

As a new believer in the early 1970s, I loved the Maranatha! Singers out of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. Yes, yes — I know Calvary Chapel is Charismatic, and I know they’ve gotten wonky in recent years. But back then, much of their theology was fairly solid, and the Maranatha! Singers offered Christian teens a healthy alternative to Rock music.

More than 45 years later, I don’t remember many songs from their albums. One song, however, has stayed with me, always reminding me of 1 Corinthians 13. Even though it takes a few liberties with the text in order to conform to the melody (which, by the way, is absolutely beautiful), it stays remarkably faithful to Paul’s words.

So, instead of a hymn today, allow me to treat you to this exquisite little song that I’ve cherished throughout my Christian life. The Lord has used it often to help me learn 1 Corinthians 13. Perhaps He’ll also use it to help you.

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A Matter Of Personal Conviction

QuestionsThe Outspoken TULIP exists as a response to compromise within present-day evangelicalism. Many (if not most) evangelicals have capitulated to worldly philosophies and practices including yoga, homosexuality, contemplative prayer and psychology. Definitely, Scripture demands that we separate from such things.

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
    and I will be their God,
    and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
    and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
    then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
    and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.” ~~2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (ESV)

So absolutely, Bible-believing Christians have an obligation, in obedience to God’s Word, to separate from anything that would contaminate their devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. As the apostle John says, loving the things of the world only goes to expose our lack of love for the Father (1 John 2:15-17). Our study of Paul’s epistle to Titus each Monday has been showing us the importance of living differently from our non-Christian counterparts.

Many areas in which we must distinguish ourselves should be obvious. God’s Word gives clear guidelines that we can apply to various situations. My regular readers know the issues that I will not compromise on, and why these matters mustn’t be compromised.

But there are some matters on which the Bible gives room for individual conscience. Some activities, while not sinful in and of themselves, can cause a Christian to stumble. I have, for example, a personal conviction that I ought to wear hats to church. But I have an equally strong (and maybe even stronger) conviction that I would be sinning if I told my sisters in Christ to cover their heads in church.

Scripture makes it abundantly clear that Christians have liberty in certain areas of life, and that those of us with more scruples must avoid imposing our convictions on brothers and sisters who don’t share those convictions.

As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  ~~Romans 14:1-4 (ESV)

Again, I’m not talking about things that clearly violate sound doctrine. Watching a TV program that overflows with explicit sexual content is obviously unacceptable for any Christian, for instance. But watching TV in general may not be sinful for people who choose their shows carefully. I shouldn’t judge a person who believes she shouldn’t own a TV (think of all the money she’s saving!), and she shouldn’t judge me for watching (my disability necessitates going to bed three hours before lights out, and I physically can’t hold books in bed).

Christian liberty varies from person to person in these gray areas, and I know we’d all be more comfortable with clearly delineated regulations. How long should hemlines be? Should a couple kiss before the wedding? What  about sending a child to public school? Is an overweight person guilty of gluttony? Can I have a glass of wine with dinner? Was it sinful not to vote for Trump? Was it sinful to vote for Trump? I have strong opinions on most of these questions, but I can’t pass those opinions off as Scriptural principles.

Yes, we must be cautious in enjoying the liberties the Lord gives us. I won’t tell you what I watch on television, because you may have convictions against watching those programs. But neither will I insist that you educate your children according to my (extremely strong) convictions about homeschooling. I will speak out quite loudly on things that go against God’s Word, certainly, but not on disputable matters.

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I Wish I’d Blog About A Cuddly Jesus

Ladies Study 01Wouldn’t it be nice to follow a form of Christianity that just got along with everybody? That emphasized God’s love and minimized His righteous standards? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to embrace homosexuality and find common ground with people of other religions?

Of course, many liberal churches offer just that sort of belief system. They imagine a false Jesus that never judges sin and, because “God is love,” never really sends anyone to hell. I spent my first 17 years in such a church, giving me direct experience with that type of thinking. To be honest, part of me misses having that kind of Christianity. It was such a comfortable way to relate to God!

And frankly, I don’t take a whole lot of pleasure in challenging people who contradict God’s Word. In writing about the Reformation each Tuesday, for instance, I don’t think it’s particularly enjoyable to tell Catholics that they hold unbiblical views. Losing friends as a result of my position on Beth Moore hasn’t been a whole lot of fun either, if you want to know the truth.

But Scripture explicitly says that those who follow Christ and cling to the Word of God shouldn’t expect to win popularity contests. As a matter of fact, Jesus actually warned that popularity with people usually indicates a person’s unfaithfulness to God.

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. ~~Luke 6:26 (ESV)

Please don’t misunderstand me to say that Christians should be deliberately belligerent. Jesus continued, in Luke 6:27-31, by instructing us to love even our enemies, leaving us no room to be nasty or unloving to those who oppose our message. Rather, He meant that bearing the Gospel would naturally result in causing people to dislike us. Truth offends sinners.

It offends them precisely because it exposes their rebellion against Him. They prefer false teachers and belief systems that affirm their supposed goodness and/or affirms their autonomy. Therefore, Christians who take firm stands on the clear teachings of Scripture anger and annoy them. We’re unpopular because we dare to uphold God’s standards without apology or compromise.

As much as my flesh would love to write a chatty little blog that kept God tame and cuddly, my responsibility is to represent His Word as accurately as I can. Most people won’t like what I write in these posts, and sometimes their reactions will sting. But I pray that, when I stand before the Judgment Throne, the Lord will find me faithful.

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Saturday Sampler: April 2 — April 8

Three BeautiesLeslie A., who blogs at Growing 4 Life, writes Learn to Discern: Living in the Light to instruct and encourage those of us who are labeled as negative for our interest in discernment.

In her latest blog post for Biblical Woman, Candi Finch answers the question, Did I Educate Myself Out Of Marriage? She gently takes us back to the Word of God to correct worldly ideas about attracting a man as well as about marriage in general.

Although Denny Burk’s article, Why the Church Needs More Gray Hair, specifically addresses men, we “women of a certain age” can also benefit from his comments.

I love it when other bloggers address my pet peeves. In His Name is Yahweh, Jesse Johnson of The Cripplegate addresses the superstitious avoidance of using God’s Name — even in English Bible translations.

What does it mean to teach by allegorizing the scriptures? asks Elizabeth Prata of The End Time. Elizabeth helps us understand appropriate rules of interpreting and applying the Word of God.

KrizSummer artfully contrasts the world’s view of love with the Biblical definition of it in her post, Love is NOT Like That. Besides reminding us of basic points,  she adds thoughts that few people (including Christians) consider.

 

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How To Love Gays

Rainbow HeartWhen a teenaged Christian posted a Facebook comment condoning same sex marriage a few years ago, the comment took me aback. Granted, the teen was not from a Christian family and attended public school, so she was heavily influenced by an increasingly liberal culture. And that culture shames those of us who uphold Biblical morality. I believe she considered her post to be loving toward the LBGTQ community.

Yet another friend of mine (a middle-aged man who had renounced his homosexuality in favor of living in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ) once complained to me that people who told him to accept himself as a gay man were the most  unloving people he’d ever met. “They wanted to keep me trapped in a lifestyle I hatred,” he explained, adding that real love would have affirmed his desire to honor the Lord.

I agree with him. He had found freedom to be the man God called him to be. True, he never developed attractions to women, but he had found victory over his enslavement to homosexual lust. He believed those who sought to pull him back to his old ways were the ones demonstrating hatred.

But, liberals will object, homosexuality celebrates love! They can say that as often and as loudly as they wish, but the “love” they celebrate is eros. It focuses on sexual gratification rather than building up others in Christlike behavior. For them, love demands unquestioning agreement with liberal values. Especially when it comes to LBGTQ issues, thank you very much!

In terms of Christianity, however, the Greek word rendered “love” is apape, not  eros. To clearly understand agape, I refer to 1 Corinthians 4-7:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (ESV)


God’s love, according to this passage, doesn’t angrily demand rights, as gay activists do, nor does it celebrate anything that contradicts Scripture’s teaching. Homosexual love may equal heterosexual love in terms of romance, but it cannot honor the very Lord who declares homosexuality to be sinful. Until very recently, even non-Christians held to a vague acknowledgment that homosexuality clashed against basic Christian values.

According to my friend who left the homosexual lifestyle, real love gave him hope. Real love called homosexuality a sin from which he could repent instead of an unalterable condition from birth. Therefore, truly loving people trapped by same sex attractions (or any other sin) means proclaiming the Gospel. Jesus died for their sin too!

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Amazing Love–That Thou My God Shouldst Die For Me

With Valentine’s Day coming up, it just seems appropriate to feature a hymn celebrating God’s love. Of course,  His love most powerfully manifests itself in His grace to save us from the wrath that our sins deserve.

Therefore, what better hymn than Charles Wesley’s “Amazing Love,” which so vividly describes the salvation process? Each time I hear or sing this hymn, the Lord reminds me of his wonderful love in liberating me from my prison of sin. Why would a holy God do that for a wretch like me? Indeed, His love can only be described as amazing!

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