Escaping Error

Error can creep up on Christians. It may come packaged in someone with a winning personality. It may be something a trusted friend is excited about. However, he or she may not have detected the error. Perhaps it’s in something listened to or viewed but because it was exciting and interesting and contained a lot of truth, the subtle inclusion of error might not have been noticed. How can we escape being deceived? First and foremost, we must be constantly exposed to the Word of God. A working knowledge of the Bible is our surest protection from error. Following close on this is an ever deepening knowledge of and skill in defending basic doctrines. Once these two things are in place, there are some secondary clues that we can watch for. 1). Does the teaching exalt the teacher or does it exalt our Savior? 2). Does it add works that must be done to earn God’s favor? (A Christian’s motivation for Godly living is love and gratitude for God’s love and grace and a desire to honor our Lord). 3) Is literature that is being offered put on a level with or above the Bible? 4). When asked to give, what is the basis of the appeal? Is it truly to get the Gospel out, or their brand of teaching? How is the money used? Is there accountability? What kind of lifestyle do the leaders practice? 5). Is there pressure to conform to their rules to be accepted? Our conduct must never simply be conformity to some group’s ideas. We want our lives to be in accord with God’s Word and His principles. It’s not a matter of conform, or else; it’s a matter of willing obedience because we love and trust God. These are some clues to help prevent error from taking hold in your thinking. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect (mature), thoroughly (fully) furnished unto all good works” (II Timothy 3:16-17). Selah! A mature Christian will be able to spot and refute error; not be taken in by it!   Ron

What’s a Church to Do?

Picture a local church preaching the word faithfully, witnessing, supporting world missions, helping with needs, loving, having good activities, etc. That’s enough, isn’t it? Not really. Expository preaching (even exposition within a topic) is a great start. Training in doctrine; role playing in how to defend basic doctrines, tools and training in how to study the Bible, how to recognize error, a good reading program, group situations with interaction on being a real disciple, DVDs, CDs on vital topics are a few ways of equipping the saints. These can even begin with one on one and expand to increased numbers. The church environment that I grew in, did these kinds of things to the point that some of the cultists in the area cautioned their workers to avoid our people because our people might confuse them. Pretty good testimony, I would say. Being prepared this way protects new converts from being swayed by cleverly presented error. We are commanded to, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth” (II Timothy 2:15). It is the responsibility and privilege of a local church to train and teach immature believers how to obey this command. Selah! The military wouldn’t expect to prepare soldiers by just having them present at the fort. Why should we? Point taken?  Ron

Personal Growth

You’ve probably heard someone say, those kids had to bring themselves up, because their parents didn’t know how. That’s a sorry state of affairs. When a church is not bringing up its own, that is also a sorry state of affairs. Many churches assume that the regular diet of preaching that they offer is certainly all that’s needed for growth. In far too many instances, it is not. Why do many of those who professed faith become atheists or become involved In false teaching. I contend that churches that equip their people to defend their faith are the exception, not the rule. We naively assume that they know the basics but a clever cultist can confuse them in just a few minutes. We need to teach the basic doctrines and how to defend them, give them practice in refuting error, show them how to study Scripture, lead them to an understanding of prayer, help them realize the difference between genuine Christianity and religion and help them understand how to walk closely with God. Doing these things would be a major move in the right direction and save more than you might think from being deceived. Let Acts 2:42 be our goal and experience: These new converts, “….continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” Selah! If I hadn’t been in that kind of church, I would have been a victim. Grounding in the faith provided stability and confidence.  Ron

Bringing to Maturity

If a new Christian looked to you for guidance in his or her new found faith, would you be able to guide him or her toward maturity? Granted, the primary responsibility belongs to those that God has gifted to provide Spiritual leadership (See Ephesians 4:11-15). However, the church is a family and this family should want to encourage Spiritual new-borns to grow and mature. New babes in Christ need the encouragement and care the family can provide. If we are to take this privilege and responsibility seriously, we must have matured ourselves. Only then can we help others to grow. Do we love Him with all our heart?  Have we developed competency in understanding Scripture? Has our fellowship with our Lord become a thrilling interaction? Are we aware of God’s work in the world today? Could we guide new Christians toward involvement in missions? Would we be able to help them with doctrinal truth and training? Could we instruct them how to overcome temptation? These are some questions to help motivate us to be there for those who are newly saved. Not being capable (with God’s enabling) in these things is what the writer of Hebrews was concerned with in Hebrews 5:12-13. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” (….everyone that useth milk is unskillful in the Word of Righteousness: for he is a babe.” May we never let this be true of us! Selah! Mature adults, not babes, can help babes grow.   Ron

Can America Be Salvaged?

Yes or no depending on……..what? No, if we continue in the same direction that we are going. No, if it’s too late on God’s prophetic schedule. Yes, if God in grace permits one more opportunity for national repentance. But what would move God to do that? Well judgment of one type or another (such as persecution, natural disasters, severe terrorism, etc.) might bring us to our knees seeking God’s forgiveness. However, if the church experiences a major revival (possible even in the Laodicean period of the history of the church), it could give birth to a spiritual awakening in our world. This kind of revival would call the church to be purged of its pre-cccupation with worldliness, a whole hearted seeking of holiness, a passionate desire for God’s glory and courageous preaching that calls sin, sin; and an evangelism that calls mankind to turn from sin and turn to God. Add to that, Christians who love and pray for their country and who have the moral responsibility to do their duty and exercise their privilege to vote intelligently and not just stay home, doubting that it would do any good for them to vote. Psalm 9:17 warns that, “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” We who are born again are light and salt. Have we become dim and lost our saltiness? Selah! Challenging the culture: who, if not us? When, if not now? There may well be little time left?   Ron

Mission under Attack

Imagine a person living in enemy territory. This person tells some of the folks that he or she is among that they need to flee this oppressive government. The people react with scorn, ridicule and rejection. Our imaginary person is discouraged and decides to say no more. The people remain in bondage. The mission is abandoned. That’s not acceptable! On a mission in enemy territory, we must expect attack and be prepared for it. It can come in many different ways. Attacks may be made on our motives, our character, our information, etc. People will disagree, disparage, doubt, downplay, etc. The tyrant that rules their fallen domain will do all in his power to undermine our mission. He will hit us on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and financial. Whatever works! The One that called us to this mission came here on the same mission and endured the same attacks. As a result multitudes have been rescued. More still need to be rescued. The mission goes on and is a shared responsibility and privilege by all who have been rescued. What if Jesus had given up? Giving up is not an option; there are eternal souls at stake. Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that, “….we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” However, I John 4:4 gives us the reason for staying on mission, “….because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Selah! The battles can be and often will be intense but victory is guaranteed. “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3).    Ron

Functioning in An Alien Culture

We, who are His, have been given citizenship in Heaven. However, we have not yet been evacuated from our present country. In short, we live in enemy territory. How are we to function? The safest and most comfortable thing to do is to just blend in; keep a low profile. That is not an option for a serious Christian! All the unsaved around us are prisoners in this world system and under the dominion of the prince of the power of the air. Many are willing or passive prisoners. Others long for something better. Those who are open or will become open have to be shown that escape is possible. As they observe our Godly values, attitudes and conduct, they see that we have found the way to escape and hope is born. A question naturally arises. Why do we remain amidst that from which we have been rescued? It is that while we are here on earth, we can help others to see God’s offer of salvation. We are in a hostile environment and we will be under attack. Nevertheless, we are to continue our rescue mission until we are called home. Our Commander-in-Chief is in touch with Headquarters interceding for all the support that we need. “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil…..Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word” (John 17:15; 20). SelahHis call for backup will honored! (“Mission under Attack” will be our subject tomorrow, God willing).   Ron