Fear as cover for False Teaching

Fear as cover for False Teaching

Fear is like a foggy moonless night.

Fear is the cover of darkness that the enemy uses to infiltrate the church with false teaching and deception. Once inside the walls, false teachers spread a false gospel among the flock – beginning with the “least of these” children and the spiritually immature.

These false teachers are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They have the appearance of light and with smooth tongues and deceptive ways, they create divisions and lead the weak away into falsehood and bondage.

To the false teachers, the watchman warns, “Oh that you who causes one of the little ones who love God to sin… you are anathema.”

To the city of God, the watchman cries out, “The enemy is approaching under the cover of darkness – take your stations and close the gate!”

To the wolves – the sheepdog has apprehend the scent of your falsehoods, wicked schemes and bad fruit. He has tracked you down. You have choice; flee from the sheep fold or he will drag you out.  Wolves and false teachers can run with the hunted… You have been put on notice.  You ought to leave the fold before you are exposed.  Or repent.

Remember, those who’s hearts are dark love the darkness. At this moment in history a virus and social unrest have created much fear inside and outside the church. Fear can be blinding. Fear can be wielded by Satan in order to deceive, divide and destroy. Like an enemy platoon that advances on its target at night or a lion that stalks its pray in darkness; false teachers use the cover of fear to spread their lies. However, we know that fear is NOT a fruit of the Spirit.  Christian, give fear no quarter – keep watch.

The time has come to dispel the darkness of fear with the light of true truth. Christ stands champion over the darkness and will hold everyone accountable in His light.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” – Matthew 18:6

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire…” – Matthew 7:15-20

Assignment: September 11 – 17

6 Week Journey assignment one: A Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer

Subscribe

If you like what you read here, please subscribe. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.

Critical Response and Worldview Analysis of the book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo

Critical Response and Worldview Analysis of the book "White Fragility" by Robin DiAngelo

I have written a two part series about the book “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. [Links below]

Taken together, they provide a critical response and worldview analysis. I explain why Christians should not adopt concepts from DiAngelo’s book and I present why the Christian worldview offers the best solution. My prayer that these combined posts will help my fellow Christians think deeply and discern truth from ‘feel-good’ falsehoods.

Links to Parts One and Two:

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” Hebrews 5:14

“The more one understands people’s ideas the better one can communicate the truth of scripture and the gospel to them. That is why one learns about cults and religions. And why missionaries try to understand the cultures in which they live. But not enough Christians put much effort into understanding the culture in which they live. New believers who come to the church bring their worldviews with them. Furthermore, those Christians already in the church who do not understand worldview issues will not realize when they are embracing non-Christian concepts.” – John MacArthur

Meditate on these passages of holy scripture:

“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24

“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:13-15

“For God is not a God of confusion but of peace…” 1 Corinthians 14:33

“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.” Colossians 2:8

Links:

Subscribe

If you like what you read here, please subscribe. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.

Restorative Justice – Justice That Restores

Restorative Justice – Justice That Restores

Charles ‘Chuck’ Colson, served as Special Counsel to President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1970.

Once known as President Nixon’s “hatchet man”, Colson gained notoriety at the height of the Watergate scandal.”(1) He was known for being ruthless.

On March 1, 1974, Charles Colson was indicted for his role in a massive White House cover-up. After initially pleading the Fifth Amendment in order to avoid conviction, his conscience would not let him rest. Colson changed his plea to guilty. On June 21, 1974, Chuck Colson was sentenced to prison for obstruction of justice.

Why would the ruthless ‘hatchet man’ who could have walked away a free man decide to go to prison?

You see, Colson became a Christian in 1973 and his life changed. For his part in the Watergate Scandal, he willingly went to prison. Little did Colson know that God would use prison to give him a vision. That vision would reshape the justice system and transform lives of hundreds of thousands of prisoners and their families worldwide.

No one has done more to reform the prison systems and justice systems in the US and around the world than the late Chuck Colson and Prison Fellowship.

“But all at once I realized that it was not my success God had used to enable me to help those in this prison, or in hundreds of others just like it. My life of success was not what made this morning so glorious — all my achievements meant nothing in God’s economy. “No, the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure — that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation — being sent to prison — was the beginning of God’s greatest use of my life; He chose the one thing in which I could not glory for His glory.” (Chuck Colson)

Today, everywhere we turn people are crying out for justice. As I pointed out a few weeks ago in my post about our justice impulse, we all have an innate sense of justice. When we see injustice, we have a deep desire to see things made right.

As Christians, we must think deeply about justice and how to best understand it from a biblical foundation. Being emotional creatures, we must not let emotions or feelings cloud our understanding of justice. When we encounter injustice, how then should we respond as Christians?

Restorative Justice – Justice that Restores

While there are secular and pagan definitions, I believe that the Bible offers a better vision of Restorative Justice. Typically, I refrain from placing adjectives before biblical terms. For the sake of not being overly discursive, I’ll use ‘Restorative Justice’.

First, God’s justice is impartial. We are called to be impartial. To the extent that we are partial, we are distorting justice.
The Bible says, “For God shows no partiality.” [Romans 2:11] and “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” [Lev. 19:15]

Second, drawing on a biblical worldview, I put forth my working definition of ‘Restorative Justice’:

Restorative Justice is a distinctly biblical vision of (impartial) justice that seeks to uphold what is righteous and good, contribute what is missing, stop what is sinful and restore what is broken. It reflects the Christian belief in the God-given dignity, value, and potential of every human being (2). Restorative Justice offers a better vision (of justice) – bringing Biblical truth to bear in the larger society (3).

Colson Fellow and Vice President of Church Mobilization for Prison Fellowship Heather Rice-Minus says, “Restorative Justice recognizes that crime is not just an offense against a government. Crime damages the security and well-being of the victim and the entire community.”

Isaiah 32:16-18: “Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness abide in the fruitful field. And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.”

Rice-Minus says, “This passage gives us glimpse of the ancient (Jewish) concept of Shalom – peace that encompasses tranquility, wholeness, safety, prosperity, and relational harmony. Crime impairs our ability to experience shalom.”

In the book, ‘Restoring All Things’, authors Warren Cole Smith and John Stonestreet develop the concept further;

“Restorative Justice prioritizes participation of those who are harmed by crime, promotes accountability of those who are responsible, and cultivates community engagement.

The government becomes a facilitator of justice where the person harmed and the person responsible for the harm become the direct parties involved in the justice process… This allows for individualized restitution that personalizes the harm and illuminates human dignity and value.

Restorative justice repairs the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.” (4)

Restorative Justice – The Church That Restores

The quiet work of the church raises awareness, influences local and state laws, brings criminals to justice, restores victims’ lives and works to bring justice and peace (shalom) into our community.

Jim Liske (former President of Prison Fellowship) said, “Why should justice be restorative? At its heart, crime isn’t about law-breaking; it’s about violating the peace and wholeness of the entire community.”

As Christians, we know that our sin is a crime against a good, loving and just God. Our crimes against God violate peace and wholeness in our families and communities as well. But, Jesus died on the cross on our behalf so we can be restored to Him. God’s justice is restorative in Christ Jesus. Don’t you think we should base our concepts of justice on that?

As God is redeeming and restoring brokenness in our community, we join Him in his work as a Church that Restores.

Resources:

Notations:
1. Wikipedia – Charles Colson
2. Jim Liske – Fox News article 2015
3. Ibid.
4. Restoring All Things (Smith/Stonestreet) – Heather Rice-Minus interview


Read previous post: “Developing a Distinct Christian Vision for Service
If you like what you read here, please subscribe – sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.

Developing a Distinct Christian Vision for Service

Developing a Distinct Christian Vision for Service

Over the last twelve months, I have undergone the rigors of the Colson Fellows Program Residency. The mission of this master’s level course equips Christians with a robust Christian worldview so they can thoughtfully engage with post-Christian culture, inspire reflection in others, and work effectively toward re-shaping the world in the light of God’s kingdom.

I have been developing a bigger vision for my life’s work and calling.

I’m bringing this vision to bear in my role as a Local Missions pastor at Christ Chapel Bible Church. My role is to help our church engage in service in our communities.  My broader mission is to help my brothers and sisters develop a “distinctly Christian vision for life, culture, relationships and service.” In today’s post, I’m going to focus on service and what that means.

As I have reimagined and prayed about a ‘bigger vision’, I have realized my goal is not just to get people to serve but to understand the “Gospel of the Kingdom” – a truly Kingdom vision.  Serving is just one expression of this comprehensive view of reality. Jesus spoke of the “Gospel of the Kingdom.” We need to ask, ‘What does He mean by ‘Kingdom?’ (Luke 4:43, Luke 8:1, Luke 10:9, John 18:36).  I’ve found that the Kingdom sometimes gets lost in the noise of everyday life and even ministry.

When Jesus redeems and saves, He invites us to join him in Kingdom work of redeeming and restoring the world and culture (all things). My good friend and pastor Dr. Doug Cecil likes to say, “The Gospel is enshrined in our hearts and proclaimed with our lips.” I would also add that “the Gospel is also seen in our lives and felt through our hands and feet.”

Our witness is often seen before our words are heard. The Christian witness is often the window through which the unbelieving world sees the light of Christ. As Pastor Alistair Begg likes to say, “People often learn the melody of the Gospel before they learn the words.”

The church evangelizes the lost and calls redeemed people to play their role on the grand stage of God’s redemptive story (Acts 17:26, Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:12). In doing so, we demonstrate that the Gospel not only saves but infuses and empowers every aspect of the follower’s life. Through the power of the Holy Spirt, we bring forth  elements of Christ’s Kingdom into this broken world. Therefore, we should call our brothers and sisters from their inner-self focus to live the same way they were saved – by grace through faith. In reality, we are calling to that which God has already placed in the heart of the Christ-follower.

We have a purpose in this life.

We are saved “for” something.
We must answer the question, “How then shall we live?”

We’re not calling our people to “do” something, we are calling them to “be” something. Their “doing” (actions) will flow from a distinct vision of who they are and their identity in Christ.

Are you a ‘Check the box’ Christian?

In other words, do you fall into the habit of ‘checking boxes’ for going to church, attending a bible study and serving occasionally?  Would you say your Christian life is vibrant and joy-filled?  If not, why?

This call to develop a distinct Christian vision for service completely removes “check box” from the available options. It challenges the believer to step through the beautiful threshold of Salvation into the Kingdom – where Jesus beckons, “follow me.” In following, we are abiding. And in abiding, we are bearing much fruit – proving that we are His disciples. In this, there is fulness of joy.

The life of the follower of Christ teaches and sanctifies the world around them by how they reflect the One whom they follow (Matthew 5:16). Developing a distinct Christian vision for service enables the us to use our gifts, talents, passions and abilities to bring God’s redemptive and restorative power into a dark and broken world.

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Mt. 5:16)

How then shall we serve?

 


Devotional Resource: From Ken Boa’s “Handbook of Wisdom” 

Whatever I do, I should do all to the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Whatever I do, whether in word or in deed,
I will do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:17)

Prayer:
Father, I want to dedicate all that I do this very day to Your glory and honor. There is no component of life that cannot be lived for You, no task so small and mundane that it is unworthy of being offered to Your service. Whether in my speech or in my actions, I will do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to You. Amen.


Read previous post: “The Hand that Holds the Rod – God’s Discipline
If you like what you read here, please subscribe – sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.

The Hand that Holds the Rod – God’s Discipline

The Hand that Holds the Rod – God’s Discipline

Dearest Christian,

The same God who created all things and made you in His image…

Is the same God who delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt.
Is the same God who exiled His people in judgement.
Is the same God spectacularly described in Ezekiel 1.
Is the same God who looked upon the water and made it blush at a wedding feast in Cana.
Is the same God spoke red hot scorching words to the Pharisees.
Is the same God who touched the hand of the leper.
Is the same God who created the waves then walked upon them like a road.
Is the same God who wept at the death of His good friend and then called him back to life.
Is the same God who drank the full measure of His Father’s wrath for our sin.
Is the same God who died and defied the shackles of death.
Is the same God who now rules and reigns in the Heavenlies.
Is the same God who will return to reclaim and restore what is rightfully His.
The Alpha and Omega – The Beginning and the End.

Proverbs 1:7 says, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

This morning I was reading from the Puritan prayer and devotion book, “Valley of Vision.” I came across a prayer that was very unsettling. It brought great injury to my flesh and greater fear to my heart. I warn you, dear pilgrim, do not casually passover this admonishment and don’t read it unless you are willing to be antiquated with it. You must be willing to accept the heavy strike of the rod.

“Let me lament for forgetting daily to come to thee,
and cleanse me from the deceit of bringing
my heart to a duty –
because the act pleased me or appealed to reason.
Grant that I may be salted with suffering,
with every exactment tempered to my soul,
every rod excellently fitted to my back,
to chastise, humble, break me.
Let me not overlook the hand that holds the rod,
as thou didst not let me forget the rod that fell
on Christ, and drew me to him.”

I read this prayer over and over. It was terrifying.  Through it, the mighty blow of conviction was brought upon my back. My heart was purged of my sinful pride and slammed to the ground and crushed like a stone. The void left in my heart was filled with the fear of the Lord – the same God of Ezekiel’s vision.

In my fear of the Lord, my heart is so deceitful that I was tempted to turn to the flesh as Adam fled to cover himself after he fell. We fear and flee discipline. Then as I continued this devotion, I read two passages:

“Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Cor. 6:18)

“Do not be idolaters a some of them were … We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did.” (1 Cor. 10:7a-8a)

Again, “the rod excellently fitted to my back, to chastise, humble, break me” fell upon me. This time it was not a blow of conviction because there was no sin… yet. It was a blow of correction to keep me from being lured off the path by temptation of the flesh – Divine protection.

Having done His mighty work, the Spirit of that same God lovingly whispered to my soul;

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

“Let me not overlook the hand that holds the rod,as thou didst not let me forget the rod that fell on Christ, and drew me to him.” The hand that holds the rod is the loving hand of a good Father, “for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, as does a father the son in whom he delights.” (Proverbs 3:12)

If Christ did not accept the rod for our sin, there would be no hope. All would be darkness and chaos. But he did, and the grace of God poured forth from His wounds to redeem and restore that which was lost. If only we would believe in that same God.

Lord, fill me with the light of your truth found in your Word every morning and again before I rest. The darkness and lures of the world will lie to me all day. Sanctify my mind in your truth. That I may be filled with light and walk by grace through faith in the only Savior who saves.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

In Jesus’ Name
Amen


Read previous post: “Reconciliation: What do you mean by that?”
If you like what you read here, please subscribe –  sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.

Reconciliation: What do you mean by that?

Reconciliation: What do you mean by that?

The word and concept of ‘Reconciliation’ is getting thrown around quite a bit right now. One must understand that ‘reconciliation’ means different things to different people. That is why it is important to define terms up front in a conversation. The best way to get people to define their terms is to ask the question; “What do you mean by that?”

John Stonestreet likes to say, “People are using the same words but different dictionaries.” In other words, the same word may mean different things to different people.  If you are using the same words but different dictionaries, you and the other person are having two completely parallel conversations.  You are basically talking about two completely different things. You will reach two completely different conclusions. This is frustrating and a waste of time. Not to mention, it can create conflict or exacerbate tensions.

I’m not going to provide multiple nuanced definitions of ‘reconciliation’ floating around the culture. I intend to focus on the Biblical definition of ‘reconciliation’.  By focusing on the real thing, it makes it easier to identify the fakes.

What is Reconciliation?

Reconciliation is defined: katallagē (Gk) – an exchange; restoration to favor (between God and man) – adjustment of a difference, restoration to favor. It is the restored relationship / favor between God and a repentant sinner who places his/her trust in Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross and His resurrection.

In terms of western culture, reconciliation is a cultural artifact from a Judeo-Christian heritage. No other worldview offers the concept of reconciliation in the way in which we know it today. Even as we sometimes misunderstand or misapply it, reconciliation is a distinctly biblical concept found in the New Testament in particular.

Many (not all) well-meaning Christ-followers who love the Lord have a disordered concept of ‘reconciliation.’ I confess, I have adopted a disordered view in the past. As Christians, we know that “iron sharpens iron”. Therefore, we must be personally vigilant and point each other back to scripture frequently. Words (and their definitions) matter because they shape reality and give meaning to the world around us.

What is Reconciliation for?

(what is the purpose of reconciliation?)

Lets’ begin at the beginning!

1. In the beginning God created all things including human beings (who were made in His image). God said it was “very good.” Humans lived in perfect harmony with God.

2. The Bible states that because of sin our relationship with God is broken (referred to as ‘The Fall’ in Genesis 3). We are born into sin, under God’s judgement and wrath.

3. Because God is Holy and perfectly good, we cannot restore that relationship on our own. There is nothing we can do – no number of good deeds can save us. We need an outside agent to reconcile us with our Creator. We need a Savior.

4. Jesus Christ took our sin upon himself and died on a Roman cross innocent. When he rose from the grave, Jesus reconciled sinful man to a holy and perfect God. He essentially made a path where one did not exist.

5. When a man or woman believes and trusts in the finished work of Christ, he or she is the reconciled with God – the formerly broken relationship is restored. The Bible refers to this as the ‘new of life’ and the condemnation of sin is removed forever.

Therefore, Biblical Reconciliation is primarily a vertical process and relationship between an individual and God mediated through Jesus Christ. All authentic and redeeming qualities of reconciliation flow from this vertical relationship with God as the source. There is NO other source of reconciliation. God is it.

For instance, if I am not reconciled with God first, there is no way I can be reconciled with anyone else. This is a spiritual reality. Furthermore, the other person must be reconciled with God before he/she can be reconciled with me. Nowhere in the Bible will you find a doctrine that teaches that horizontal reconciliation (man to man) is a viable primary option. It is always vertical (man to God – through Christ).

In the absence or rejection of reconciliation with God, all you have is manmade acquiescence or genuflection to another’s power, coercion or emotion. From a Biblical perspective, I argue this is a counterfeit ‘reconciliation’. Why?

Without Christ, we are totally incapable of Christ-exalting good (John Piper). As Paul says in Romans 7:18, “Nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.” In John 15:4 Jesus states, “apart from me you can do nothing.

Every individual Christ-follower is challenged personally with two questions;
1. Do I believe what the Bible says?
2. Am I willing to live as the Bible instructs and commands?

Disclosure: I am guilty of everything I’m about to say because I’m a sinner too. So, the following is a message for me to hear as well.

Well-meaning Christians who love the Lord seem to turn to manmade / man-centered secular concepts of ‘reconciliation’. Why?

First, while the Bible remains the best-selling book in history, the bible is the least read, studied or understood. Basically, well-meaning Christians don’t know their Bibles. Therefore, they misunderstand and misapply the Gospel of the Kingdom to life and culture.

Second, because the Bible is not viewed as sacred scripture and authoritative but more of a “moral manual.” So, people pick and choose what verses they like in order to validate or support their position or sin patterns. When we treat the bible as a cafeteria-style moral manual, we conveniently sidestep hard truths, conviction, repentance and healthy realignment with God’s Word**

Third, while many well-meaning Christians will claim to believe the bible, their worldview betrays their claims. In other words, how we live our lives reveals what we believe. Many Christians today live as secular humanists or functional atheists without realizing it.

Finally, making manmade or man-centered (horizontal) ‘reconciliation’ primary feeds man’s pride and ego. In addition it gives him a psychological escape hatch from sin. This stems from the sinful trait of self-determinism. In my estimation, man-centered reconciliation reveals our idolatry and fear of man rather than a fear of God.

Biblical Reconciliation begins with our realizing and admitting our sin against God

Psalm 51:4 states the following from an individual perspective, Speaking to God the Psalmist cries, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…” We sin against God first.

Romans 3:23 encompasses ALL humans who ever lived, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Basically, God has put ALL human beings on notice regarding sin. We are all born in the same sinking ship. Thank God, he sent Jesus to save us.

Does the bible say, “Be reconciled to the world?”  Nope, the Bible says the following;

God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s trespasses against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: Be reconciled to God.…”

The Great Commission of Christ’s church is to call the world to be reconciled with God, not to call the world to be reconciled with the world. There will be no reconciling the world to the world without God. That is a biblical impossibility and antithetical to the Gospel.

Jesus summed up the Ten Commandments and 613 Jewish laws in two commands.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39

Relationship with God is primary and is the post on which the second hangs. Our message to the world is ‘be reconciled with God!

In conclusion, it is vitally important to define our terms up front in a conversation. A good way to do that is to ask a question like, what do you mean by that (reconciliation)? As I have pointed out, the Christian must be focused on the primary work of reconciling the lost with God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We also love our neighbors and even enemies as ourselves (our witness). Biblical reconciliation is quite different from worldly reconciliation… The results are quite different as well.

Live your life the way in which you were saved – by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

** [Section Note] When a Christ-follower is out of line with God’s Word, it grieves the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the believer feels conviction and frustration. The Holy Spirit ceases working through the believer and begins to bring conviction in order to bring about repentance and realignment with God’s Word. This is why I believe that Christians who dabble in non-biblical versions of reconciliation end up feeling frustrated and confused when the world’s version just simply does not work (ever). Keep at it long enough and it will have a callousing effect on the heart and you risk losing the sensitivity to sin – that can lead to backsliding. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit by following worldly philosophies or patterns of living (see Eph. 4:17-32)


Read previous post: “Is Virtue Signaling Sinful?
If you like what you read here, please subscribe –  sign-up here. Every time I post something new, you will receive an email.