Friday Sermon | “Christ, the Door” by Phil Johnson

PhilJohnson-GraceLifeFor today’s good sermon, we’ll be visiting Grace Life Church’s online ministry the Grace Life Pulpit. Our sermon for today is delivered by Phil Johnson and was preached on Sunday, August 2, 2015. This is an excellent sermon, one that was brought to my attention by Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith.

If you’d rather just listen to this sermon click the below:

The sermon text is John 10:7-10.

John 10:1-21 (ESV) | I Am the Good Shepherd

10 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them andscatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

But Empty Calories Taste Gooood

Rock of Horeb by Mariano David Otero ©2010-2014 MarianoDavidOtero

Rock of Horeb by Mariano David Otero ©2010-2014 MarianoDavidOtero

Today has been a different sort of day for me, so today’s post is more of me sharing in a blog what has been rolling around in my head for the past week or so.

Drink water

Are you and avid water drinker? If you aren’t part of the “get fit” crowd, chances are you go through your day without so much as a single glass of water. We have lots of sports drinks, sodas, milk, tea, coffee, fruit juices and even very tasty vegetable juices, not to mention beer and liquor. Our bodies need water for their functions.  If I may, I thought I’d grab a quick list from a fun site (though we could turn to medical journals for a more scholarly approach)

source: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/why-your-body-needs-water.html

Your body is mostly (50 to 70 percent) water. Exactly how much water depends on how old you are and how much muscle and fat you have. Muscle tissue has more water than fat tissue. Because the average male body has proportionately more muscle than the average female body, it also has more water. For the same reason — more muscle — a young body has more water than an older one.

You definitely won’t enjoy the experience, but if you have to, you can live without food for weeks at a time, getting subsistence levels of nutrients by digesting your own muscle and fat. But water is different. Without it, you’ll die in a matter of days — more quickly in a place warm enough to make you perspire and lose water more quickly.

You need water to

  • Digest food, dissolving nutrients so that they can pass through the intestinal cell walls into your bloodstream, and move food along through your intestinal tract.
    Carry waste products out of your body.
  • Provide a medium in which biochemical reactions such as metabolism (digesting food, producing energy, and building tissue) occur.
  • Send electrical messages between cells so that your muscles can move, your eyes can see, your brain can think, and so on.
  • Regulate body temperature — cooling your body with moisture (perspiration) that evaporates on your skin.
  • Lubricate your moving parts.

As much as three-quarters of the water in your body is in intracellular fluid, the liquid inside body cells. The rest is in extracellular fluid, which is all the other body liquids, such as

  • Interstitial fluid (the fluid between cells)
  • Blood plasma (the clear liquid in blood)
  • Lymph (a clear, slightly yellow fluid collected from body tissues that flows through your lymph nodes and eventually into your blood vessels)
  • Bodily secretions such as sweat, seminal fluid, and vaginal fluids
  • Urine

Personal confession: while growing up, I did not enjoy drinking water directly unless it was during a break in Wrestling or Football practice. After serving in the Army, I learned the value of good drinking water, even from a plastic canteen that has been sitting in the 90ºF sun for several hours. However, whenever I am comfortably in my home enjoying time with friends and family and not breaking a sweat… I don’t turn to water, I go for some of those empty calorie drinks. Why? Because they taste goooood. Sure, in every consumable liquid there is some measure of water; however, the body has to work a lot harder to use what little water is available and some of it has to be then used to cleanse the system of impurities (pointing mainly at the sugary sodas, coffee, tea, and alcoholic drinks). When a doctor prescribes “more fluids”, we should understand “water” (you should get your electrolytes from eating good foods, it doesn’t have to be in drink form).

Drink Water

John 4:1-15 (ESV) | Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

This passage is often heavily spiritualized (particularly within the continuationist view) pointing to God the Holy Spirit. This passage isn’t just about God the Holy Spirit, but about the Word of God, the Word made Flesh in Jesus Christ and in the Written Word that was Breathed Out by God. Without the Holy Spirit we cannot hope to see God in the Scriptures; however, we who have received faith by hearing the Word of God and have accepted the Law and Gospel of Jesus and been baptized have been sealed in Christ by the Holy Spirit, who teaches us as we read the Written Word of God.

During any given week, I read through some 20 or so discernment articles or blogs, and listen to a good 15 hours of exegetical teaching, discernment ministries, commentaries, and (regrettably) some really bad sermons. The answer I jump to in almost all cases is “read your Bibles”. Last week, while I was listening to one of the bad sermons, I heard the false teacher implore the listeners to “read their Bibles”.  That’s when it struck me… they don’t know how to read their Bibles, and the false-teacher knows it. The false teacher presents himself (or herself) as the keeper of the well. They are the only ones who know how to draw the water, because the well is so deep. So they’ll say in one breath “read your Bibles” and with the next they’ll twist a passage completely out of context to woo the crowd and impress them with their sugary drink theology. The question that is left in the mind of the listener is, “why is it when I draw my own water (Read the Bible) it never comes out tasting so sweetly?” There is no way to read the Bible yourself and come up with the wild allegories and “life applications” that these false teachers peddle, and they know it. But they are counting on you to defer to their teaching for your next “sugar rush” more than they are on you clearing your palate.

A child who has grown up on a steady diet of fruit juices and milk will find water unpleasant to drink. It tastes bland without all of that sugar. There aren’t any bubbles. There’s no buzz.  Even as an adult, have you ever tried to eliminate extra sugar from your diet? It makes everything taste… well… blah. The truth is, you’ve grown accustomed to high-fructose sugary everything. Your palate has been overloaded for so long, you have no idea just how much sugar you ingest without noticing (incidentally, we also tend to do this with salt). Most people can’t handle going from a normal-high sugar diet to a balanced diet and hold steadily. I find that I need to reset my palate first by eliminating as many sources of added sugar as possible, so that I can once-again detect when my food/drink has been sweetened.

Learn to Read Your Bible and Drink Pure Water

What we try to focus on here is pointing out to our readers what it takes to read the Bible for what it says, without additives. Please, take a break from all of the NY Times Best Sellers advertised in your Christian bookstore, and learn to read your Bible. I recommend getting a good coach. I’ve learned a lot from listening to Chris Rosebrough at Fighting for the Faith, Jonathan Fisk at Worldview Everlasting, Alistair Begg on Truth for Life, and Todd Friel at WretchedRadio. For those keeping track of denominations, that’s 2 Lutheran, 1 Nondenominational, and 1 Reformed. From time to time, if we get side-tracked and you feel we’ve not made clear where we draw our connections in the text, please challenge us here. Let us know when we’ve skipped a step or erred entirely. Hold us accountable, so that we might be Faithful Stewards of God’s Word.

Colossians 3:16-17 (ESV) 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Amen.
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM (Bonus) | Leaven in Camp at Ignite Church

Presentation1Today is “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship. We have a bonus submission brought to our attention by the Facebook status of Chris Rosebrough (FightingfortheFaith).

2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)
4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 6 being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

There is no place in the Church for this kind of behavior, much less from those who would presume to lead the people of God. Pray for repentance, and for deliverance for all who attend this “church”. I am deeply grieved by this.

Performed by the Ignite Band on August 10, 2014

Lyrics (via MetroLyrics)

Fuel Lyrics

“Fuel” is track #2 on the album S & M. It was written by Stewart, Tommy / Murray, Pete / Godfrey, Neil Matthew / Fahnestock, John L..

Gimme fuel, gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire
Ooh

Turn on, I see red
Adrenaline crash and crack my head
Nitro junkie, paint me dead
And I see red

A hundred plus through black and whites, ha, ha
War horse, warhead
F— ’em man, white knuckle tight (Ignite Band sang “Forget’em”)
Through black and white

Ooh, and I burn
Fuel is pumping engines
Burnin’ hard, loose and clean

And I burn
Turning my direction
Quench my thirst with gasoline

So gimme fuel, gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire, hey
Yeah

Hey, turn on beyond the bone
Swallow future, spit out hope
Burn your face upon that chrome
Yeah

Take the corner, going to crash
Headlights, head on, headlines
Another junkie lives too fast
Yeah, lives way too fast, fast, fast, woh

Ooh, and I burn
Fuel is pumping engines
Burnin’ hard, loose and clean

Ooh, and I burn
Churning my direction
Quench my thirst with gasoline

So gimme fuel, gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire

Ooh, yeah, hey

Hey, hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey, hey, hey
Hey, hey
Feel it burning
Burn my f—-n’ pain

(Ignite band skipped this refrain via guitar solo)

Ooh, I burn
Fuel is pumping engines
Burnin’ hard, loose and clean

Then I burn
Turning my direction
Quench my thirst with gasoline

Gimme fuel, gimme fire
Gimme that which I desire, yeah

That burn, yeah
Songwriters
STEWART, TOMMY / MURRAY, PETE / GODFREY, NEIL MATTHEW / FAHNESTOCK, JOHN L. Published by Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Concerns

August 10th was a Sunday. This was performed by the Church band. Was it performed as worship for their main service or for the youth or just to be shocking? Not sure. Regardless, this should never be presented as something fitting for church. If you visit their website, they do lots of covers of worldly music… horrible. None of it honors God, nor does it build up the saints. This is Babylon in a place that calls itself a church. Pray for repentance and for deliverance for all those who have been mislead by this “ministry”.

1 Corinthians 5  (ESV) | Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church
5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters,since then you would need to go out of the world. 11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? 13 God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Where are the Elders? Where are the Men of God? Where are the Women of God? This is taking place in their church, and is posted on their church website. They will have to give an account.

Hebrews 4:9-13 (ESV)

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

God forgive us.

Jude 1:24-25 (ESV) | Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

You Shall Not Worship God That Way

bibleI keep seeing supposed leaders of the church searching for “secrets” for worshiping or seeking God hidden in the occult, the new age, paganism, kabbalah, etc. and it disgusts me. Not only are these forms not taught in scripture, God’s word forbids it. You shall not worship the Lord Your God in that way. I apologize in advance that this post will not likely be one of my most eloquent of blogs.

False Prophets and False Teachers

Most of these false teachers twist scripture in ways that are easily discerned by simply looking at what the Word of God says in context. But it seems that when they get bored of twisting the Word of God they like to dig into false religions and adopting pagan practices and think that they can be used by Christians to worship or communicate with the One True God. The Apostle Peter pointed out that Proverbs 26:11 applies to such false teachers:

2 Peter 2 (ESV) | False Prophets and Teachers
1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked 8 (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.

I was going to try to trim down the quote, but to properly track the pronoun use (the highlighted “they”), it became necessary to include the full chapter. Peter is specifically calling out the false prophets and false teachers. He does not mix his words, and he does not leave any “wiggle room”. They face a fate worse than that of never having heard the Gospel. Think about that for a minute… without the Gospel we face a fate that we’ve earned, one of wrath. Those who have been given the Gospel and then turn aside chasing after the defilements of the world leading others to the same (false prophets and teachers enticing the unsteady souls) face a worse judgement. As we saw previously in James 3:1, “…for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (ESV), there is precedent for such a concept. Peter also makes it clear that he isn’t just saying someone whose heart is after God but lacks understanding (though James points out that such a person who teaches will be judged more strictly), Peter is identifying all of the markings of a false teacher and false prophet. Wolves who prey upon Christ’s sheep. Sheep who He left under the charge and protection of the Elders of His Church (beginning with the Apostles continuing to this day).

The Bible is the ONLY Source of Knowledge About the One True God

While I am not a cessationist, I do believe the canon of scripture to be closed. Therefore, God’s revelation of Himself, His Kingdom, and His Return, is complete until the events Prophesied in Scripture actually come to pass. In the meantime, we are to take EVERYTHING we hear and measure it against the Word of God, the Bible, to know if it is of God. We know that when God wrote the first tablets of the Law, He declared them the Tablets of the Testimony. They Testified of Him, God the Father. In the Law, God makes absolutely clear that we are not to attempt to worship the One True God in a manner that we learn from the world. Let’s look in Deuteronomy 12.

Deuteronomy 12:1-4  (ESV) 1 “These are the statutes and rules that you shall be careful to do in the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess, all the days that you live on the earth. 2 You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, on the high mountains and on the hills and under every green tree. 3 You shall tear down their altars and dash in pieces their pillars and burn their Asherim with fire. You shall chop down the carved images of their gods and destroy their name out of that place. 4 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way.

The full chapter is worth reading and studying with the understanding that there are portions of the Law that were permanently fulfilled in Christ, never to be repeated. Such as the one physical Temple and the daily Sacrifices, whose fulfillment in Christ is clearly laid out in the book of Hebrews. For this discussion, let us skip down to the closing portion of this chapter.

Deuteronomy 12:29-32 (ESV) | Warning Against Idolatry
29 “When the Lord your God cuts off before you the nations whom you go in to dispossess, and you dispossess them and dwell in their land, 30 take care that you be not ensnared to follow them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods?—that I also may do the same.’ 31 You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. 32  “Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.

Although the title is not part of the Scriptural text, it is a section heading included by the translators of the ESV, to help the reader understand the context of the following portion. It is very interesting to me that while it is included under “idolatry” the question isn’t about which God is to be served; rather, this is a question of the manner in which we are to serve/worship God. This is a portion of the Law where God reveals something about Himself, that He will not honor forms of worship derived from the world, from those who have worshiped false gods. For the Lord hates those forms of worship. Hates.

Oh sure, this will get a fast and boisterous “Amen!” when we refer to human sacrifice, temple prostitution, and setting up an Asherah pole in church. But what about Yoga? Transcendental Meditation? Channeling? Spirit Guides? Laberyinth prayers? Asceticism? Monasticism? Numerology? Divination? Praying to graven images? Lectio divina? How strong your “Amen” remains depends largely on your knowledge of what the Word of God says and where these practices originate.

The Colossians struggled with the influence of mystical, ancient, foreign teachings and forms of worship. Let’s look at what the Apostle Paul had to say.

Colossians 1:11-23 (ESV) 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Now, this highlighted portion is sometimes twisted out of context to justify the search for alternate means of knowing, worshiping, and pleasing God outside of Scripture. There is nothing in Scripture that suggests that what we read about God in Deuteronomy 12 has ever changed; in fact, God does not change. We do know that Jesus declared all foods clean, and God reiterated it to Peter in Acts.

Colossians 2:6-23(ESV) 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. 8 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. 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. 16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. 20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

If anyone… anyone comes to you with strange teachings, or so-called “spiritual practices”, or hidden principles, or new revelations regarding how to please God, hear God, or to compel God in any way to answer your prayers, stop… take out your Bible… and say “show me in here”. I don’t care if they can point to a 3rd century monk, it wasn’t an Apostle, it is not Scripture. Sola Scriptura is the only sure way of knowing it is of God.

Be alert, not many of the false teachers are willing to divulge the origins of their teachings. Many will pull Gospel texts out of context to suggest that Jesus practiced some of these techniques or they will simply declare “God showed me this” and throngs of Christians will simply say, “sounds legit!” without batting an eye.

Much of this problem comes as a result of improperly teaching Scripture. When churches lose sight of properly dividing Law and Gospel, and slip into Law > Gospel > Law emphasis, it pushes Christians into a false ideology where Salvation is by Grace but making God happy with us is something we have to do on our own. That’s not the Gospel… that’s Law. It becomes particularly dangerous when the Laws taught post-Gospel end up being man-made laws and not even scriptural… that’s false teaching, and it destroys souls. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of your denomination, stick to the written Word of God. Bury it in your hearts, and keep it on your minds always. Learn to rightly identify Law and Gospel, knowing that we need both in equal measure, for it is the Testimony of God. The Holy Spirit is alive in each of us who are in Christ as a promise to us and a seal of His Salvation. He will grant us understanding of the Word, and He does not speak on His own, but will always point us to Christ. There are things in scripture we will not fully grasp until Christ’s return (1 Corinthians 13:8-12). Until that great and glorious day, let us hold fast to the Word of God, and the Mystery of Christ, that is the Gospel.

Colossians 4:2-6 (ESV) 2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

May the Lord Bless you and keep you firmly in His Will,
In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

The Mark of a False Teacher

I hope your summer is going well.  I just returned from a short family vacation and had a wonderful time. I got a lot of reading done in my travels and look forward to getting into more bible study here. I still have a few concepts I need to flesh out here, so at least for now I know we will have much to discuss in the next several weeks.

This morning, I thought I’d share an article written by Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith. To view this article in its original form click here.

The Mark of a False Prophet: They Draw Away Disciples After Themselves

Chris Rosebrough

False teachers and false prophets have been and will always continue to be a very serious threat to the Church and to each and every baptized Christian. In today’s postmodern society it is not considered politically correct to speak this way because people wrongly believe that everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian, regardless of what they believe, teach or confess. Yet, Jesus warns us in his Sermon on the Mount about false teachers and false prophets and describes them as wolves in sheep’s clothing and not has harmless people who should be ignored—or worse—tolerated. Here’s what our Lord said:

“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 thornbushes, 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. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15–20)

Notice that Jesus warns us that false teachers and prophets disguise themselves to look like Christians. But also notice that Jesus says the sheep-like camouflage won’t work too well because we will be able to recognize the wolves by their fruits. So what are these bad fruits that make wolves easy to recognize? Answer: their messages.

One of the regular features on my radio program, Fighting for the Faith, is the sermon review. Over the past five and half years I’ve reviewed hundreds of sermons by the world’s most popular Bible twisters. Each one puts his own spin on the Bible and each one has concocted his own unique theology. Yet there is a common characteristic that each of these false teachers possesses: They preach about themselves, not Christ.

The Apostle Paul, when he warned the elders of the church in Ephesus about the false teachers who would be coming after his departure, gave them a simple way to spot the wolves:

“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore be alert.” (Acts 20:28–31)

Note well what Acts 20:30 says about the fierce wolves—they draw away the disciples after themselves. The 5th century Church Father Ammonius of Alexandria, preaching on this text noted:

“In order to draw away the disciples after them.” Heretics strive to make the people their own instead of the Lord’s, so that they might boast in themselves…Paul himself checked this beforehand when he silenced and censured those who were saying, “I’m Paul’s; I’m Apollos’s; I’m Cephas’s,” since he did not want their faith to be explained by the name of a person but by Christ’s name; he wanted them all to be called Christians, even though they had been taught by different teachers. Accordingly, whenever all the teachers strive for the same goal of proclaiming the true faith, of profiting the students while suppressing their own names, they are called, by the same name, Christians.1

The fruit of false teachers, prophets and ravenous wolves is easy to spot. If they preach themselves, not Christ, then they’re wolves.

Wolves preach about their lives, their victories, their dreams, their visions, their ideas, the tips and tricks they’ve discovered to achieve success. Jesus, if He’s mentioned at all by them, is merely held up as an example to be followed. The goal of their preaching is to convince you to apply the pastor’s insights and life tips so that you can be successful, just like the pastor is successful.

Faithful teachers of the one true faith, on the other hand, are not like wolves but are like the apostle Paul who said:

“But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God….For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (2 Corinthians 4:2, 5)

If you ever find yourself in a church where the pastor is preaching himself, not Christ, run! As a baptized sheep in Christ’s flock you must always remember that wolves are not harmless, they eat sheep! The pastor who preaches himself rather than Christ is working for the devil and is preaching himself and his congregation into the fires of hell rather than into Christ’s eternal kingdom. And when you hear the faithful preaching of Christ crucified and raised for sinners, then rejoice and give thanks for that faithful pastor through whom Jesus delivers His forgiveness and life and makes you a member of His own flock of dearly bought sheep.


 

1 Martin, F., & Smith, E. (Eds.). (2006). Acts (p. 255). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Chris Rosebrough is on the board directors of Higher Things and is also the captain of PirateChristianRadio.com and host of the Fighting for the Faith radio program.