$74.90 Will Never Adapt To Your Truth Of $7.49

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“We each have our own truth.”

Really?  Try that line at your local supermarket when the cashier rings your total as $74.90 but you believe you should pay $7.49. Your truth isn’t going to impress the store manger when she sees that the register indeed totals your purchases at $74.90. Your truth must give way to the actual truth that the register, the cashier and the manger all verify. Your truth loses its authority.

Well, you say, the relative nature of truth applies to spiritual truth. For example, Buddhists have their truth, Christians have theirs, atheists have theirs and so forth. That’s the very last sentence I uttered before the Lord brought me to salvation 47 years ago, and it’s no more true now than it was that day.

I know because Jesus said that He is the Truth.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~~John 14:6 (ESV)

As we said last week, Jesus’ resurrection proves His divinity, therefore making it imperative to believe everything He taught and claimed during His earthly ministry. Since He, as the only Human Being to rise permanently from the dead, calls Himself the Truth, He cancels out all other perceptions of truth. As a result, He allows no alternate way to God.

Most people balk at such an exclusive spirituality. Usually their unwillingness to accept it comes, not from intellectual objections, but from an instance on living according to their own terms. Instinctively, they realize that, if Jesus really is the Truth, He has the authority to rule their lives as He pleases.

Those who try to escape Christ’s authority develop their own truths because don’t like many of His commands. In most cases, they either want a spiritual system that affirms their self-esteem or they want sex without restrictions. Sometimes a combination of the two. So when Jesus commands faith in Him rather than sacraments and/or mysticism, they reject it. When He commands that we enjoy sex only within heterosexual marriage, we rebel.

The implications of Jesus being the only Truth disturb people so deeply that they develop their own truths. Truths that allow them to ignore the Lord or to redesign Him in conformity to their individual tastes. In so doing, they then erase any possibility of objective truth that would threaten their autonomy. We Christians are more than welcome to believe as we wish just as long as we stop saying that Jesus is the truth.

Self-made truths, of course, work about as well as paying $7.49 for $74.90 worth of groceries.

 

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Of Cabbages And (The King Of) Kings

king-jesus

Cerebral Palsy has all sorts of interesting or annoying by-products (depending on one’s point of view), such as difficulty chewing food. As a result,  a shred of cabbage from a serving of coleslaw could slip down the throat prematurely, causing several hours of discomfort and pain on its journey down the upper GI tract. I rediscovered this unpleasant reality Saturday night.

As you can imagine, I didn’t sleep very well that night. At one point, I found myself pretty much ordering God to relieve my pain. Not asking with humble trust in a loving heavenly Father, but demanding with the self-centered attitude of a spoiled brat.

And before you charitably try to tell me that I judge myself too harshly, let me assure you that I know, quite well, the attitude of my heart at that particular moment. I viewed the Lord, just then, as a servant, expecting Him to cater to my wishes. Whether my perverted petition came from my Charismatic background or it merely exposed my sinful old nature, it clearly dishonored the Lord Who bought me with His blood and therefore has authority over me.

Jesus indeed came as a servant, demonstrating humility as an example for Christians to follow. And He commands us to pray for our needs, knowing that He will faithfully care for us because we belong to Him. But notice what I just said: we belong to Him! As such, we have the privilege of requesting things from Him, but not the right to demand His compliance.

Christ’s humility, while certainly giving us a pattern to emulate, directs our attention to His unique position as the king of Kings.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

Despite His humility, the Lord Jesus Christ is our Almighty King Who will one day cause even His enemies to bow before Him. How dare we treat Him as if He has any obligation to answer our “prayers” according to our expectations! Shouldn’t we instead approach Him in grateful humility, asking Him for mercy and grace to honor Him whether He removes our trial or decrees that we go through it?

I didn’t exactly enjoy my experience with the cabbage Saturday night. But I treasure my experience of remembering that Christ is my King, not my slave.

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Women Pastors And Questioning The Authority And Sufficiency Of Scripture

Ladies Study 03As you’ll see in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler, the topic of women preaching has again resurfaced on social media. Two weeks ago, in fact, I engaged in a Twitter debate that began with someone objecting to my stance that 1 Timothy 2:12 still applies to churches today. Eventually the conversation migrated to the issue of whether or not God speaks apart from Scripture, but not because I meant to soften my stance on the original issue.

If anything, I see the embrace of women in the pulpit as one of many symptoms of people rejecting both Scripture’s authority and its sufficiency. We refuse to accept God’s verdict that pulpit ministry belongs exclusively to men, so we look outside His Word for some way of manipulating the text to say something other than what it says. (The Gay Christian Movement, incidentally, uses the same tactics.)

The three articles in tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler do an excellent job of detailing Scriptural arguments for confining pulpit ministry to men, so I hope you’ll budget time to read each of them. Nothing I could write here could possibly improve on any of them. But I want to contribute to the conversation by emphasizing that the overarching problem lies in a subtle disregard for God’s Word.

1 Timothy 2:14 states that women shouldn’t teach men because Eve fell into deception before Adam did. I believe this remark sheds light on the matter because Satan enticed Eve to first question God’s Word and then to modify it. Once Satan objected to her modification, she blatantly disobeyed God.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. ~~Genesis 3:1-6 (ESV)

Do you see that Eve, by eating the forbidden fruit, basically rejected the authority and sufficiency of God’s Word? Satan successfully convinced her that God wanted to withhold something good from her. Consequently she usurped Adam’s leadership and decided to override God’s explicit command.

Don’t women pastors do exactly what Eve did? They may think they honor God’s Word, but they deliberately distort Scripture for the express purpose of defying it. They elevate their desires to teach men over God’s command to submit to male leadership.

I don’t fully understand why the Lord restricts pulpit ministry to men, but I definitely do understand that the Bible is God’s Word regardless of whether or not I like everything it says. In the matter of women preaching and/or teaching men, Church must surrender personal preferences in favor of bowing to the Lord’s authority with the sweet assurance that we need nothing beyond His Word.

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Camelot: Guinevere’s Hard Lesson On Adultery

Camelot Movie Poster

Photo credit: IMDb.com

In light of yesterday’s snowstorm (oh, the joys of living in New England!), John and I decided I’d spend they day in bed. I saw it as a wonderful excuse to watch one of my favorite movies: the 1967 screen version of Camelot.

Perhaps you’re shocked that a good Christian lady like me would enjoy a movie about adultery. Before you rush to judge me, I want you to consider the fact that Guinevere’s affair with Lancelot did far more than break King Arthur’s heart; it destroyed Camelot itself.  If Hollywood produced this film in hopes of glamorizing the adultery between Guinevere and Lancelot, I believe it failed miserably. For that reason, I see it as a cautionary tale on the destructive power of sin in general.

Viewing the movie yesterday, I paid particular attention to Guinevere’s opening song, in which she laments her impending marriage to Arthur. She longs to have knights battle (and perhaps even kill) for her. Marriage, she assumes, ends such possibilities of enjoying the “simple joys of maidenhood.” Right there, a Christian viewer should start questioning Guinevere’s moral character.

A bit further into the story, Queen Guinevere sings about the “lusty month of May,” again showing her secret pleasure in the idea of sexual sin. I’m not sure if Lerner and Lowe meant for this song to establish her as being morally perverse, but in my mind it certainly doesn’t make me sympathetic towards her. She, at this point, doesn’t think she’ll personally indulge in immorality — she simply likes the thought of other people renouncing self-control.

Obviously, when Lancelot comes to join the Knights of the Round Table, she does engage in immorality, despite continuing to feel love for Arthur. Immediately she discovers that the euphoria of her infidelity is offset by the guilt of betraying a husband who had always treated her kindly.

Arthur, it turns out, had fathered an illegitimate son, Mordred, long before meeting Guinevere. Eventually Mordred pops up in Camelot, intent on laying claim to the throne. Resistant to Arthur’s attempts to reform his character, Mordred entraps Lancelot and Guinevere, forcing Guinevere to be tried and condemned for adultery and treason. As war ensues, Camelot is destroyed.

Guinevere also suffers destruction. She learns, too late, that having knights spill their blood for her is anything but a “simple joy of maidenhood.” Her sin, combined with Arthur’s sexual sin, brought down everything she, Arthur and Lancelot worked so hard to build. All because she thought “a wretched thing or two” might be fun.

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The Main Reason To Learn How To Be Discerning

Open Tulip

Christian women, particularly in Reformed circles, seem almost enamored with the whole matter of discernment. In some ways, that’s not completely good, since many bloggers and podcast personalities turn “discernment ministry” into an excuse for gossip and sometimes even slander. I’ve written about such problems several times in this blog, so I see no purpose in revisiting that theme today.

Instead, I’d like to address discernment in a positive light, affirming that the Lord indeed desires Christians to exercise discernment as we grow in Christ. Consider the apostle Paul’s prayer for the church in Philippi:

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

Through Paul, the Holy Spirit makes it clear that He wants us to have abundant and increasing discernment. These verses actually explain that practicing discernment ensures purity and blamelessness when Christ returns. Obviously, that’s an admirable aspiration (and probably one we should think about more often). But I believe there’s an even deeper reason to develop Biblical discernment.

Verse 11 gives us a strong clue into that reason. True discernment fills us with the Lord’s righteousness, which in turn results in the praise and glory of God. Rather than being a prop to enhancing our own reputation of being able to identify false teachers and skillfully refute them, Biblical discernment enables us to direct people to Christ. It directs us to Him. He alone is the reason we desire to make distinctions between good and bad, false and true.

Before I come to God’s Word each morning, I pray that (among other things) the Holy Spirit would use it to develop discernment in me. But not so that I can be an acclaimed discernment blogger on par with Elizabeth Prata and Michelle Lesley. As lovely as it would be to be in their league, I don’t believe I ought to seek discernment for that selfish purpose.

Instead, when I pray that Scripture will teach me discernment, I regularly remember Christ’s words to the Samaritan woman at the well:

23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” ~~John 4:23-25 (ESV)

I’m learning to ask for discernment in order to worship Him as He wants to be worshiped. Understanding right from wrong and distinguishing between truth and error enables such purity of worship because we learn to love what God loves and hate what God hates. As we conform better to Him, He receives praise and glory.

I intend to continue blogging about discernment. I may even name names once in a while. But even then, dear sisters in Christ, I want to draw attention to the Lord Jesus Christ and not to any knowledge I might have about false teachers and wrong teaching. Unless He receives praise and glory, my attempts at discernment mean nothing.

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Saturday Sampler: December 3 — December 9

penguin-sampler

Let’s begin with Pastor Colin Smith’s encouraging post, Three Ways Your Faith is Tested When God Says “No” in Unlocking the Bible. Drawing from God’s refusal to allow David to build the Temple, Smith explains ways that personal disappointment can actually develop our maturity in Christ.

The Santa Claus dilemma always catches Christian parents this time of year. You young moms out there might appreciate reading The Mailbag: What should we tell our kids about Santa Claus? by Michelle Lesley. I like her Biblical and practical approach, especially in preserving the fun of Christmas without lapsing into sin or doctrinal error.

Andrew Gutierrez, in an article aimed primarily at youth leaders in The Cripplegate, admonishes us Thou Shalt Not Create Little “Christian” Narcissists. I include it here because all of us struggle with narcissism, and consequently would benefit from applying the principles that Gutierrez sets forth.

In the present climate of accusations against public figures, even pastors are subject to scrutiny. As Tim Challies demonstrates in Do Not Admit a Charge Against an Elder, Except..., churches have guidelines for disciplining their leaders in the pages of Scripture. Don’t miss this balanced and Biblical treatment of a crucial matter in today’s church.

Once again, Erin Benziger nails it with Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Pride in her Do Not Be Surprised blog. She has a gentle, but firm, caution for those of us in the Reformed camp that needs to be heeded.

In this season of giving, Lesley A. of Growing 4 Life encourages us to continue Serving All, All the Time. It’s refreshing to come across an essay elevating the practical application of God’s Word.

What Do We Really Know about the Three Wise Men? asks Mark Ward in his article for the Logos Software Blog. He uses this question from his own children to give us a practical lesson in separating fact from tradition as we interpret familiar Scriptures.

Writing for Parking Space 23, Greg Peterson directs our attention to A Christmas Song that Doesn’t Belong … But Does. He does more than simply informing us of some hymn writing trivia (although that’s quite fascinating in and of itself); he causes us to rejoice in all of Christ’s promises to bring salvation.

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False Teachings Or Simply Disagreements?

Bible AloneWho is a false teacher? Sadly some popular “discernment” ministries are currently throwing out accusations of heresy against other well-known Christian apologists, largely over matters of how they approach their ministry.  Occasionally they also use non-essential points of doctrine as reason to anathematize people, but generally the battles boil down to pride.

A reader recently expressed her concern that “discernment ministry” types have been indiscriminately calling anyone they disagree with a false teacher.  In many instances, I must concur. The article she sent me, A Call for Theological Triage and Christian Maturity by Al Mohler,  certainly offers a helpful guideline in determining what issues should divide Christians and when we can disagree without breaking unity. I encourage each of you to read it.

As helpful as Mohler’s article is, however,  perhaps Scripture provides an even better measurement. Some doctrines (such as women not teaching men within a church setting) are clearly stated in Scripture. Other principles (such as women writing Bible Studies on blogs that men will read) lend themselves to more ambiguity. In the first case, I will divide. In the second, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt. The second merely violates my personal convictions; the first violates God’s Word.

Paul addresses Christian liberty in a number of passages. Romans 14 and 1 Corinthians 8 directly speak to the necessity of avoiding judgmental postures over matters of individual conscience. Just because I believe, for instance, that I should wear hats to church doesn’t give me the right to insist that my sisters in Christ wear hats. But neither does their freedom to attend church bareheaded give them the right to judge me as being legalistic.

Suppose, however, that I devoted this entire blog to head coverings,  asserting that women who failed to cover their heads in church were in blatant rebellion against God’s Word. Suppose I wrote, in no uncertain terms, that head coverings were necessary to salvation. Ladies, if I did anything like that, I would most definitely be a false teacher. Furthermore, you would have a responsibility to contact First Baptist Church Weymouth to alert the elders that I promoted heresy. That sort of divisiveness must never be tolerated within the Body of Christ!

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. ~~Romans 16:17-18 (ESV)

As Christians, we must know Scripture well enough to distinguish between simple disagreements with our brothers and sisters in Christ and false teachings that worm their way into the church. In our zeal for doctrinal purity, let’s take care that we divide only from those who truly pervert the Word of God.

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