Churches and Truth

Churches and Truth

What to Expect?

Churches and truth should be what we expect! Yet, when churches present the truth they tend to be criticized because their ministers upset people when they preach about the sinfulness of man and the inflexible standards of the Bible. Once I had a long conversation with a fellow counselor about the value of “deeper life” conferences, in which the details of the ideal Christian life are discussed. He felt very strongly against this type of conference. He believed it did irreparable damage because after such a conference a wave of very upset people came to him. That they could not attain perfection greatly disturbed them.

People have often turned to me as a counselor because their pastor has upset them. Having listened to him preach about sin, they feel guilty and inadequate. As they relate the details of their stories, it invariably turns out that they are guilty and inadequate. They were much happier people before they began attending church, studying the Bible, and facing the truth. Therefore, could it not be reasonable to conclude that their problems were caused by what they heard and read? To remove the cause would seem to relieve the person’s anxiety. And this has long been advocated. There is widespread pressure on ministers to preach “positive” messages and to emphasize the good in man.

Positive or Negative?

Ministers are pressured to emphasize the “good” and the “positive” because talk of sin and the negative is upsetting and causes anxiety and worry. Of course, the knowledge of sin produces such results. But the immediate comfort of a person is of little value if there is, in fact, sin in the person’s life. To diagnose sin, however disturbing it may be, is a positive act.

The minister, counselor, or friend cannot determine what the diagnosis will be. I cannot determine what my client brings to me. If there is selfishness, touchiness, irritability, stubbornness, rebellion, hate, or deceit within the person it simply is there. I didn’t put it there, but it is my responsibility to point out its presence. This may be upsetting. But I have found no other way. I have never known a person to discover the sin that is causing his trouble by my dwelling on his good qualities. And I have never found a way of pointing out a man’s sin to him that makes him clap his hands with glee at the news. Jesus Christ emphasized this when He said of sinners:[Continue Reading]

Solid Foundations for Difficult Times

Solid Foundations for Difficult Times

A Standard for Life

We need solid foundations if we are to survive difficult times. If you are to construct a safe building, you must make sure you have the right materials and the right tools to have a solid foundation. There has never been a time in life in which the people of God needed a more focused attention given to the Word of God so that they have a sound foundation. If you don’t have the right message, a misappropriation of truth can be offered from a range of sincere individuals to outright deceivers–without detection!

But, thankfully, there is a standard that helps us hold fast to the Truth. Paul wrote to Timothy about the need for sound doctrine.

Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:13)

In chapter 1 of 2 Timothy, Paul writes of how one can “hold on to” sound doctrine. In chapter 2 he urges Timothy to “teach sound doctrine.” In chapter 3 he urges Timothy to “abide in sound doctrine” and in chapter 4 he urges Timothy to “preach sound doctrine.”

Paul is exhorting a young minister to avoid the bumps and traps as he ministers to the people of God. Whether in Paul’s day or today, leaders must stand firm in presenting the Truth. Doctrine is not tradition, it is the Truth! There could be no greater gift you could give to your children, your family, your friends, or members of your local church than to give them the Truth of God’s Word. This Truth is the person of Jesus Christ! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The Truth of God for yesterday’s generation is right for today’s generation.

We do not need a “new thing,” we need a “focused” relationship with the person of Truth.

Yet, in our day, many are being “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine,” (Ephesians 4:14). As Paul writes to the Ephesians he seems to understand that any one doctrine, true or false, that a person follows while excluding the whole truth of God will blow you off course. Jesus cautioned believers to watch for those who say,

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:23-24)

Paul said to Timothy,

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” (2 Timothy 3:1) 

Deception is not just to the lost, but to the saved! People are being deceived in many subtle ways. Paul stated,

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. (2 Timothy 4:34)

How Are We Deceived?

One way deception happens in our day is through what you are using right now—writing. Books are written that contain truth but yet have just enough untruth that many never see the damage of “taking in” what was stated. Could it be that Christians are so unfamiliar with the Word of God that when they read a “Christian book,” they would not know if the book held to God’s standard or not? Henry Brandt says, How seriously do you take the Bible? Does it really make any difference to you what it says? If you read something about parent-child relations in the Bible which contradicts what you read in another book, would you reject what the Bible says, or would you reject what the other book says?

For me, the Bible is not on trial; [Continue Reading]

Significance for Christ

Significance for Christ

Significance for Christ is what believers live for. But what difference can your life really make? Does your life really count? It certainly does! God never wastes anything! God created you for His purposes and your life really can and does make a difference.

Many however, do not seem to have an accurate view of whom God works in and through to bring revival and renewal to their family, friends, and culture. Revival leaders through the years began as unknown, unidentified, unnamed, unacknowledged, unattested, unavowed, unclaimed, uncredited, undesignated, and unsigned. Just who were these people before God invaded their lives and caused them to lead out in significant works for Him? Were they bankers, pastors, musicians, lawyers, farmers, or teachers? Were they popular, well-respected, educated, or publishable? Were they poor, uneducated, under challenged, looked down upon, or shunned? The answer is yes. God used all kinds of people to accomplish His purposes in bringing revival to families, villages, towns, cities, and even nations.

Variety and Yet Unity

Variety is the picture we see in all of God’s creation. Each person is uniquely different and each can be uniquely gifted and used by God. The power needed to affect others is not from the individual but from God Himself. James Burns, noted author on the subject of revival states:

Each of these great leaders has in common with all the others an unshakable faith in God, an overwhelming sense of a call to great service, a mysterious equipment of spiritual power which moves mountains, and a determination to do the work he is called of God to do even at the expense of life itself.

Evidence that many in our day do not think that their life can make a difference is available simply by watching how people live. If a person is unpublished, unpopular, and has no speaking platform, they seem to think their life cannot make a difference. God is gracious in that He does not choose a person by their accomplishments in their community, world system, or family. God searches, “…to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chron. 16:9). When God chooses a person to use for His honor and glory, accomplishments do not prepare him; God’s Spirit prepares him. While academics, the reading of books, and an attitude of being a constant learner are important, the qualifications for being used by God are not measured in that way. Character is what God measures in order to assign great responsibilities. This character that God builds in us brings unity in our variety.

Only a spiritual experience with God would cause a person to volunteer and say, “Here am I! Send me” (Isa. 6:8). Our nature is not to ask God to put us in the limelight and send us to assignments we do not desire. Human nature tends to call us to perform tasks that come easily. But, when God invades a person’s life and that person is saturated with God, then service is the response. When men, women, boys, and girls throughout history experienced God, their response was to say yes to whatever God desired for them. Their lives were changed by God and then used by Him in unique and magnificent ways. [Continue Reading]

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