DiM | “Cornerstone” by Hillsong Worship

Presentation1Evangelical Worship Edition.

February 25, 2016. Today we are taking a look at songs we’ve not yet covered on the Popular Songs list at WorshipTogether. We’ll be looking at “Cornerstone” by Hillsong Worship. It’s not a new song, but it’s probably going to be one of Hillsong’s most enduring songs. Once we’ve rounded out the list of Popular songs on this site, our Evangelical Worship Edition will start looking at the “New Songs” list.

Hillsong Worship. Hillsong church is a house of heresy. It is an enemy to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Brian Houston is a false teacher, a wolf in the pulpit. Brian and his fellow preachers twist the Scriptures for shameful gain. Everything that comes out of this “ministry” is suspect. Having said that, this song is salvageable in that when the proper theology is applied to the song, there is some merit in its lyric. This song being played in a Hillsong affiliated church? Not good. This song being played in a doctrinally sound church for corporate worship? Potentially beneficial.

Music Video (Live at RELEVANT)

 

Lyrics (via WorshipTogether)

Verse 1
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and  righteousness
I dare not trust the  sweetest frame
But wholly  trust is Jesus’ name

Chorus
Christ alone, Cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Savior’s love
Through the storm He is Lord
Lord of all

Verse 2
When darkness seems to hide His face
I rest on His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
My anchor holds within the veil

Verse 3
When he shall come with trumpet sound
Oh may I then in Him be found
Dressed in His righteousness alone
Faultless stand before the throne

Writer(s): Edward Mote, Eric Liljero, Jonas Myrin, Reuben Morgan
Ministry(s): Hillsong
CCLI #: 6158927
Scripture Reference(s): Psalm 118:21-23, Isaiah 28:16, Matthew 21:41-43

Discussion

Let us begin by taking a look at the cited Scripture References.

Matthew 21:41-43 (ESV)
41 They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.”

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures:

“‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

43 Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits.

Here Jesus is referring to a couple of Scriptures. I want to expand the references a bit for the sake of context. These are clearly pointing to Christ.

Psalm 118:19-24 (ESV)
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Isaiah 28:14-17 (ESV) | A Cornerstone in Zion
14 Therefore hear the word of the Lord, you scoffers,
who rule this people in Jerusalem!
15 Because you have said, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with Sheol we have an agreement,
when the overwhelming whip passes through
it will not come to us,
for we have made lies our refuge,
and in falsehood we have taken shelter”;
16 therefore thus says the Lord God,
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion,
    a stone, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation:
‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
17 And I will make justice the line,
and righteousness the plumb line;
and hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and waters will overwhelm the shelter.”

These passages are being cited in context. That’s impressive to me. These passages point to the work of Jesus Christ in His first advent. These were not purely prophetically pointing forward, but we have also what the Apostles taught regarding Christ as the cornerstone. We’ll get to the song lyric in a bit, but I want to discuss the picture of Christ as the Cornerstone and a Firm Foundation.

Cornerstone and Firm Foundation of What?

That’s the big question. In the Old Testament they would have assumed a new Temple of God, maybe even a New Kingdom. We who belong to the New Covenant understand that all of these are true and they find their fulfillment in the Person and Work of God the Son, Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews goes to great lengths to flesh out how the Old Covenant foreshadowed pointed to, was fulfilled in, and replaced by Jesus Christ the Messiah. There is no longer a physical Temple in Jerusalem, so this isn’t a work being made by man. Instead, the foundation and cornerstone refer to the Church, the Body and Bride of Christ.

Ephesians 2:11-22 (ESV) | One in Christ
11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Amen! We are the Body of Christ, we stand on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets (the Divinely Inspired Scriptures, the Written Word of God) with Christ as its cornerstone. And in Christ we are being joined together and growing into a holy temple a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Notice how this New Testament teaching in no way undermines the prophetic passages in Psalms or Isaiah… everything points to Christ and His Person and Work.

The Lyric of the Song

There are several lines in the song that convey parts of the Gospel for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. It isn’t clear enough (in my opinion) for the unbeliever to hear the Gospel, but as I said earlier when sung within the context of a biblically-sound church, it can be profitable for encouragement.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…
I rest on His unchanging grace…
may I then in Him be found dressed in His righteousness alone…

These lines put together a picture of the Promise of Salvation because of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement for our sin. When we stand before the Throne of God, by faith we will not be standing on our own righteousness, but we will be dressed in His righteousness. Praise the Lord!

Another line I really love in this song is “My anchor holds within the veil”. In its best light, it’s an artistic reference to Hebrews 6. Let’s take a look.

Hebrews 6:13-20 (ESV) | The Certainty of God’s Promise
For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

The Person and Work of Jesus Christ is the assurance of our salvation. Praise the Lord.

A call to discernment

Now, with all of the good found in this song, why didn’t it earn an approval? Because for all of the good that can be found in the song, it has to be properly aligned with Scripture for the message to come out clearly. Hillsong doesn’t preach a christocentric Gospel. Hillsong preaches man-centered false theology. Hillsong doesn’t hold to the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Hillsong promotes, encourages, and blesses modern-day false prophets. They don’t rebuke self-appointed apostles. Hillsong promotes a form of christianity that circumvents the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets and preaches a different christ, a different cornerstone, a different spirit, a different gospel. Their Presence theology encourages a mystical and emotional direct connection to the spirit apart from the clear teaching of Scripture. So in that sense, they aren’t singing the same confession of scriptures we’ve just worked through.

Edit: I completely dropped the ball in this review when I failed to search for these lyrics in hymnals. “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less” by Edward Mote, 1797-1874. The Lutheran version doesn’t have the refrain added by William B Bradbury’s “Solid Rock” (reference). So that is why this song is so much better than most of what Hillsong puts out… Hillsong didn’t write it so much as repackage it, dropping a verse and changing the Refrain into a full chorus.

Conclusion

This is lyrically the best song I’ve reviewed coming out of Hillsong Worship. It’s vagueness is salvageable by sound doctrine, and exploitable by heretical teaching. This is a bit of an anomaly for music coming out of one of the major heresy houses (Hillsong, Bethel, IHOP, etc). That doesn’t mean we should be okay having it looped ad finitum to whip the congregation into an emotional frenzy, but it can be properly used for Biblical Worship. Please exercise discernment in how this is used, and ensure the congregation understands the connection of the Temple to Jesus Christ.

Jude 24-25 (ESV) 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, 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

CTT | Christian Bookstores: A Modern-Day Aeropagus?

I write this post with a heavy heart. Rather than share a Bible study to help right a wrong, today I will be sharing a lament from a trip our family made this past Saturday. My wife and I spent much of the weekend discussing this matter, and she has been such an encouragement to me in this.

Background

Last Friday, my wife told me she wanted to upgrade her Bible to a nice journaling ESV Bible. Her current Bible is one of those NIV “Women of the Bible” Study Bibles that I got her in our first year of marriage (before this blog existed), and she likes to take notes in the bible and we now spend our study time in the ESV at home and at church. I saw a great one online, but I also heard on a local Christian Radio station that Family Christian Bookstore was opening a new hard site locally, so I thought it might be better if my wife could hold the Bible and inspect it to see if that’s what she wanted.

The Trip

So we went to the newly opened bookstore. There was a mobile van for a local radio station I didn’t recognize outside, but otherwise not much fanfare. One of the nice ladies took a liking to our little ones and offered some stickers and puzzles as she led us into the store. My eyes were following my little ones as they carefully followed the associate to the counter to get their goodies, and then I looked at the table that was laid out before me, front-and-center at the main entrance to the bookstore.

DiscountFalsehood

 

My heart just sunk… and then my pulse began to race. I just wanted to look at Bibles. I’m not here for this garbage. Why is this selection here? 50% off? Family Values (okay, kudos for the word-play on “values”)? With Easter Sunday coming up, this selection just infuriated me… John Hagee’s 4 blood moons nonsense, Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling mysticism, and the typical fare of Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Johnathan Cahn, and Joyce Meyer.

And then I saw one book cover with a crown of thorns on the cover. In large print, the title was “The Day I was Crucified”. I didn’t want to dare hope it would be a Gospel book, especially among all of the other titles on 50% sale here… but I thought, “Maybe the author is proclaiming the Gospel and saying he was crucified with Christ by Faith”. And then I read the subtitle:

The Day I Was Crucified: As Told by Christ Himself by Gene Edwards

Details

Take a journey alongside Christ and experience the depths of his love in this recounting of the harrowing crucifixion, as if told by Jesus himself. Master storyteller Gene Edwards invites readers to encounter history’s most powerful and defining moment unlike ever before.

No work of modern literature can usher you so powerfully and intimately into the Savior’s heart like The Day I Was Crucified.

Product Details:
Pages: 208
Release: 01/2015

Can I just tell you how badly I wanted to scream in the middle of the store? I didn’t. It is one thing to listen to someone imagine what one of the Disciples or Old Testament figures might have been thinking as fallible human beings… but this author presumes to write a work of fiction from the perspective of God the Son on the day He laid down His life for our sin?! And this thing was published? It’s being sold in a Christian Bookstore? My eyes went back to the several piles of “Jesus Calling”. Further back in the store, there was an entire end-cap dedicated to Sarah Young’s book… and there was even a youth and children’s version for sale.

Not a Christian Bookstore

I realized I wasn’t in a Christian Bookstore. I was merely in a spiritual exchange brokerage house, a place where anyone seeking literature of a spiritual nature can come and peruse various spiritual books just loosely tied to a “Christian” theme. Entire sections dedicated to “Charismatic Interests” and most of them boldly including “Mysticism” and “Mystics” in their titles! In the Bible section, you find “the Voice” and “the Message” parodies intermixed with all of the others. I only mention these because they were the half of the store I had to walk through to get to the Bibles.

Now, you might be asking, “What would it take for you to consider it a Christian bookstore? If it agrees with you?” That would be a fair question and potentially a valid rebuke. My definition of a Christian Bookstore would one that centered on Christ rather than on keeping it’s demographic as wide open as possible to make the most money. It’s not enough to simply be a bookstore free from nudity and violence… in many ways, peddling so much false teaching under the guise of being a Christian bookstore is more dangerous… because unsuspecting immature Christians are trusting the store to be selling valid material. And that’s when it hit me… they reach millions of people with this garbage… Churches organize their small-groups (and sometimes Sermon series) around this tripe… and we wonder why the Church is questioning the inerrancy of scripture?

The Aeropagus

Let’s do some history study before we look to the scripture reference that lead to the title for today’s blog.

Areopagus,  earliest aristocratic council of ancient Athens. The name was taken from the Areopagus (“Ares’ Hill”), a low hill northwest of the Acropolis, which was its meeting place.

The Areopagite Council probably began as the king’s advisers. Early in the Archaic period it exercised a general and ill-defined authority until the publication of Draco’s Code of Law (c. 621). Membership continued for life and was secured by having served as archon, an office limited to the eupatrids (Greek: eupatridai, “nobles by birth”). Under Solon (archon 594 bc), the composition and authority of the council were materially altered when the archonship was opened to all with certain property qualifications, and a Boule, a rival council of 400, was set up. The Areopagus nevertheless retained “guardianship of the laws” (perhaps a legislative veto); it tried prosecutions under the law of eisangelia (“impeachment”) for unconstitutional acts. As a court under the presidency of the archōn basileus, it also decided cases of murder.

For about 200 years, from the middle of the 6th century bc, the prestige of the Areopagus fluctuated. The fall of the Peisistratids, who during their tyranny (546–510) had filled the archonships with their adherents, left the Areopagus full of their nominees and thus in low esteem; its reputation was restored by its patriotic posture during the Persian invasion. In 462 the reformer Ephialtes deprived the Areopagus of virtually all its powers save jurisdiction on homicide (c. 462). From the middle of the 4th century bc, its prestige revived once again, and by the period of Roman domination in Greece it was again discharging significant administrative, religious, and educational functions. (reference: Areopagus | Greek council)

And from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon (via Blue Letter Bible)

This hill belonged to (Ares) Mars and was called Mar’s Hill; so called, because, as the story went, Mars, having slain Halirrhothius, son of Neptune, for the attempted violation of his daughter Alicippe, was tried for the murder here before twelve gods as judges. This place was the location where the judges convened who, by appointment of Solon, had jurisdiction of capital offences, (as wilful murder, arson, poisoning, malicious wounding, and breach of established religious usages). The court itself was called Areopagus from the place where it sat, also “Areum judicium” an “curia”. To that hill the apostle Paul was not led to defend himself before judges, but that he might set forth his opinions on divine subjects to a greater multitude of people, flocking together there and eager to hear something new.

As the last portion of the quote suggests, we’ll now go to Acts 17.

Acts 17:15-34 (ESV)

15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed.

Paul in Athens

16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.

Paul Addresses the Areopagus

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription,‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man.30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Conclusion

I didn’t feel like my family was safe in that store. I didn’t want my son watching the kids videos (particularly after seeing the kids version of Jesus Calling). My heart broke as I saw ailing and frail people perusing the “healing” section and handing each other what they’d found. As I looked through the Bibles, at least there was one other family in their to buy a bible. Sadly, we didn’t find the Journaling Bible my wife wanted, so we’ll have to order it online. I did pick up the “ESV Reader’s edition“. A beautiful Bible without verse numbers or footnotes, only chapter book and chapter headings at the top of the page. I’m very excited to read through the Epistles uninterrupted by verses. We left that store quite deflated… hearing the radio station van play “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, didn’t even make me flinch. Of course it’s a secular radio station… why expect anything different?  What makes my heart remain heavy to this day, though, is the nagging thought that while we do what we can to preach Law and Gospel here in these small bible studies, read by a few folks who are interested discussing in what God’s Word says… it feels so insignificance when pitted against the mass-produced tidal wave of false doctrine being passed off as Christian. Thank you for reading here, and for the many of you who also blog and share the Word of God with others.

2 Timothy 4:1-5 (ESV) | Preach the Word

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Amen. In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

 

 

Discernment is an Imperative

I’m not a big fan of the majority of internet memes (or info-graphics) that get shared all over the blog-o-sphere and Facebook. Occasionally, one gets shared that I think… “awesome”… and they stick with me for a while. I have a confession to make: I have only recently become familiar with Charles H. Spurgeon and some of the other influential church leaders in the past. Okay, moving along, this one meme in particular was a quote from Charles H. Spurgeon regarding Discernment. It is easy to practice Biblical discernment when you disagree with what is being said, or dislike the person saying it. Especially if what you are countering is clearly wrong according to scriptures. But it is an altogether different experience to discern between “right” and “almost right”… especially if you are trying to establish the “rightness” of a statement you already agree with, or one being made by a person you look up to (or, dare I say it, idolize) or someone a dear friend looks up to.

discernmentIs Discernment Really an Imperative?

Yes. Let’s look at what the Word of God says:

Matthew 7:15-23 (ESV) 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

1 John 4:1 (ESV) 4 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Galatians 1:6-7 (ESV) 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.

There may be more references worth including here, but here I’ve listed the Authoritative warning by Jesus, and the reminder from 2 witnesses John and Paul. As I’ve said before, the entire book of Galatians focuses on this point… on the point of discerning between Gospel (“right”) and  Law (which cannot be considered wrong, but if you’ll read Galatians, you’ll see that it’s an “almost right”).  Before you start explaining away these passages as being about paganism, Satanism, or Mormonism… stop. Jesus said they’d be in sheep’s clothing… meaning they’d look like you and me. In 1 John, he goes to explain that some of these men had gone out from them… from the church in Jerusalem… and they were false. And Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, is talking about men from Jerusalem who were of the circumcision party of believers. We aren’t talking only about the obviously wrong teaching, or the in-your-face blasphemies… we are talking about a distortion of the Gospel of Christ.

Well, You are Entitled to your Opinion…

Yes, you are. But that has absolutely nothing to do with Biblical Discernment. In fact, if your opposition to (or defense of) a message, a prophecy, a sermon, or a theology begins and ends with “I feel like” or “what this passage means to me” you are engaging in opinion-sharing. While everyone has an opinion, it doesn’t mean there are no right, almost right, and wrong opinions. Furthermore, Biblical Discernment is not about opinion, it’s about understanding what the Word of God says, according to the Word of God. I submit to you that very little… if anything… is open to personal opinion when it comes to the God-breathed Scriptures. Don’t let anyone discourage you from comparing what is being said in the Name of God to what we find written in the Word of God. And if there is still a hesitation in your mind… well, let’s see what Paul thought.

Galatians 1:8-12 (ESV) 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. 11 For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel. 12 For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

Galatians 5:7-12 (ESV) 7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you. 9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!

And we also have this warning from Peter:

2 Peter 2:1-3 (ESV) 2 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.

So, this is what is at stake. Any deviation from the Gospel of Christ is to be rebuked. But this isn’t just about calling out falsehood! Discernment is also about establishing what is true in light of the Word of God. Going back to 1 John 4:1, we weren’t told to test to see if they were false, but to test to see if the spirit is of God. When you grade a test, you don’t compare it to what is wrong, you compare it to what is Right, what is Truth!

Acts 17:10-12 (ESV) 10 The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.

These were Jews, described as being more noble than those in Thessalonica (because those in Thessalonica were jealous of the following that Paul and Silas gained, and stirred up the crowds to persecute Paul and Silas) and they examined the Scriptures daily. Paul and Silas were bringing them the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and these men were weighing what they were hearing by what they already knew was the Word of God! And it proved to be Right, and True according to God’s Word (the Law and the Prophets, our Old Testament) and so they were already obeying 1 John 4:1 before it was even written! And because God’s Word is True, they believed the Gospel as preached by Paul and Silas in the Grace given them by Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit…

Nor do I. Take great care in how you characterize the message and the messenger as you go about searching the Scriptures as the men in Berea did. But the solution to this concern is not to shy away from obeying what is clearly a Biblical Imperative. Based on Jesus teaching in Matthew 22:37-40, “And [Jesus] said to him, “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.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Let us look to 1 Corinthians 13 to see how Love is defined in Scripture:

1 Corinthians 13:1-6 (ESV)1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

When you choose to speak up (which you should) do so in Love. I also strongly recommend that you do so in private, first. Why? Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother…” so yes… do so in private, and in Love. Will it be welcomed? No. Will you always gain your brother? No. Will you always be right? only so far as you rightly use the Word of God, and don’t fall to your own sin of misinterpretation of the Word of God.

Again, it is not easy confronting false teaching that comes from a friend, or even a mentor. However, if you are not engaging in the opinions of men, and you’ve searched out the Scriptures, and proceed in love, it is a good thing to do. There is no prescription or mandate, to tolerate false-teaching. In fact, we are told not to fear the false teachers, nor to listen to them.

Titus 1:5-11 (ESV) 5 This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— 6 if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7 For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. 10 For there are many who are insubordinate, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision party. 11 They must be silenced, since they are upsetting whole families by teaching for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.

listentomenPaul is not instructing Titus to do something Paul had not already done. In fact, Titus was there when it happened. Let’s return to Galatians:

Galatians 2:1-11 (ESV) 1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. 6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. 11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

Titus witnessed was taught the value of conferring with Elders, submitting to Biblical Discernment (or Paul wanted to know that he had not run in vain) and in the necessity of rebuking hypocrisy and false doctrine (though it was the behavior of Cephas that was silently bearing testimony to the false teaching of the Judaizers). Cephas, was one who seemed to be influential, to be a pillar. The final thought for this post is this, that we dare not take the word of a leader over the Word of God.

I pray this has been of some encouragement to you. God’s Word isn’t open to individual interpretations and opinions… because it is Truth, Objective and Absolute Truth. We do not define Scripture by our emotion or by our opinions, but by the Word of God. The Elders of your assembly bear a great deal of responsibility. You, too, having all of the Word of God made readily available to you in this present age, learn to love God’s Word and search it out. No issue is too small, nor trial too great for answers to be found in the written Word of God.

May the Lord Bless and Keep you,
In Him,
Jorge