If you haven’t heard of Critical Race Theory (CRT) you may very well be living under a rock. It now frequents many t.v. channels, radio stations, podcasts, seminars, and personal discussions because, sadly, it has not only taken root in our government, entertainment industries, and education systems, it is infecting many church bodies and ministries.
Sadly, one of those is Cru.
But before I get into that, if you happen to be one of those unfamiliar with CRT or if you’d like to know more about it I suggest checking out these few sources that have correctly explained why it’s an unbiblical theory and should be rejected:
“Cru was originally called Campus Crusade for Christ International (CCCI) in the United States. In 2011 they changed the name to Cru in an effort to disassociate from the negative connotations of the historical Crusades, which were military conquests by European Catholics intended to reclaim the Holy Land from Muslims in the 11th to 13th centuries. The new name, Cru, better suits their focus as well, since they reach out beyond college campuses.” Taken from:
Many of you may not only be familiar with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) but have a close and encouraging connection to it. Perhaps you know a faithful Christian who is/was involved with it and have seen biblical good come from their involvement. I want to be clear, there are pockets of good found in Cru. There are individuals who do ministry work within Cru who are focused on the Gospel alone, discipling others, and who avoid CRT and the social gospel because they know they are unbiblical. Please pray for these people to stand strong, to continue to be light and salt, and to have continued discernment as the worldliness intensifies within these once biblically sound organizations.
Cru, like many others and perhaps inadvertently, are redefining the Gospel. That is what CRT helps to do. It’s a religion that perpetuates a new way to look at depravity and justice. Those who support social justice and CRT demand us to repent of ancestral sins, to admit certain shades of skin are privileged and problematic and that we have to be inclusive and willing to listen to the culture. They not only teach we can judge hearts by outward appearances and ethnicities but they, in essence, teach those certain skin shades cannot have real and lasting forgiveness. These promoters say we must identify with these redefined terms on a personal level as we identify to be either oppressors or the oppressed. We are to focus attention on what seems hopeless and chaotic rather than on sharing the true Gospel of Jesus Christ to all equally. What ministries like Cru are now doing essentially, is the devil’s work. The devil is our accuser (Revelation 12:10) and hates the idea of forgiveness. He desires for us to feel hopeless as we take on the unnecessary weight of things we have no control of in the first place and to try to alleviate the burden by powerless rituals and works. Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”Matthew 11:29-30.
Jon Harris has spent a great amount of time exposing Cru’s woke agenda. He has done an excellent job in breaking down the concerns. Here are a few of his videos on the matter:
In these videos it is shown what was said by Cru at a 2019 staff conference. Diversity, racial inequities, white privilege, redistribution, unrepentant nation, and desire to uproot American systems and demonize churches are some of the things we hear from the speakers. The conference was bleeding CRT indoctrination. It was highly emotional. Some speakers were screaming and one was asking everyone in the room to lament at her prompt- after she would talk of all people not defending the oppressed or taking up the cause of the fatherless or pleading the case of the widows (As if she knew every heart and life in the room) and that as a whole we (white people essentially) are privileged racists. When a white woman in the audience tearfully asks what she can do, the answer is basically “nothing” because she had been so privileged throughout life and reaps the endless benefits. Ultimately there is no forgiveness offered or given.
Cru’s president, Steve Douglas, apologized for not being sensitive enough to culture and announced he would enroll in “sensitive training” at the Lenses Institute. Lenses is mostly full of Hollywood-splaining for cultural issues. It has little if any, Christian sources it uses to try and help us navigate through societal problems. It is a Sociology class done through Hollywood movies and the woke-stream media. It is not something that should or could be used to grow us in the knowledge of Christ, to better explain the Scriptures, or add anything of real value to our lives. We pray that Steve wakes up to the lie of CRT and see how it goes against the Word of God.
Cru had put up this statement regarding the conference: “Our theme for this year was be*cause (not a typo): celebrating together both the cause that God has called us to and the fact that God also wants us to be…be in His presence and be in love with Him.”
No, that was not the theme. The actual theme was CRT. Even if this statement was the theme, it’s still watered down, unhelpful and vague. Perhaps vagueness and veneer were the goals. One thing was clear, the true Gospel was not the focus at all.
In this link we see an interview with Scott Willis, who had recently finished an internship with Cru:
According to Scott, CRT is increasingly present within the organization. He states that there is definitely a social justice movement within Cru. “Don’t go against the team” mentality is used to silence those who may have objections, he explains. Listening to Scott, it seemed it is job security to get on the CRT bandwagon. Thankfully, he clarifies that not every corner of Cru and not every person involved in Cru is supporting it.
King David a Rapist? & Confirmed: Cru Endorses Social Gospel – YouTube This is a response to the response of those leading Cru (start watching at 31:30 mark). Steve Sellers (EVP of Cru) and Matt Mikalatos (Program Director of Cru) stated that these above accusations done by those like Jon Harris are not true despite the proof of them being true from their very own platforms (Cru ’19, staff conferences, and website). I’m not surprised this is their response. They have to ignore the problems that arise when embracing cultural fads in order to appease the culture. They believe they can have both a social gospel and the true Gospel.
We must make sure we look at the proof instead of just taking their word for it as they deny the validity of other’s concerns.
Regarding was is found on their actual site, it’s more than enough material to question the direction of Cru – the concerns are not just from one staff conference:
They list recommended resources such as PBS, Thabiti Anyabwile, Jemar Tisby, Judy Wu Dominick, Oprah Winfrey, Isabel Wilkerson, and Mark Noll… the list is long and very concerning. No ministry should endorse these known promoters of the social gospel/CRT, let alone let them teach within your walls. Never should the worldly teachers be a tool you use to try and edify the Body or to grow in Christ.
In conclusion, the amount of pandering to the woke culture is sickening, and no Christian ministry has any business doing such. We can’t have the culture dictating our walk with God. We will compromise and stumble ourselves and others if we do.
It is God’s Word alone that is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105). May God wake those professing Christ and promoting CRT out of their slumber and lead them to repentance and true devotion to Him and His Word alone.
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.” 2 Corinthians 11:3-4
Above is an article written by Gina Cook, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford
Lately, I have been blessed to read posts from Christian women talking about the honor of serving their Christian husbands and submitting to them. Their posts are mostly in response to the popular and cancerous view of egalitarianism, where gender roles are blended and there are no differences between the roles of a husband and wife. To egalitarians, a submissive wife is unfavorable, even a detriment to progression. Yet the Scripture is clear:
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22
“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:3
“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it wasnot Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” 1 Timothy 2:12-14
“Complementarianism follows Ephesians 5:21-33 as the model for the home. The husband has the role of headship in the family. He is to nurture his wife and lead his family lovingly, humbly, and sacrificially. The wife has the role of nurturing her children and intentionally, willingly submitting to her husband’s leadership. When both husband and wife are complementing each other in this way, Christ is honored. In fact, the marriage itself becomes what it was designed to be: a living picture of Christ and the church (verse 32).
I appreciate these faithful women desiring to obey what the Lord says and to do so with joy. I am thankful to see them alongside their husbands and declaring they have much joy in their Christ-centered marriage, even if it’s not appreciated by the world. Such a marriage is special a blessing and it glorifies the Lord in immeasurable ways.
The pressures of this world for women to not hold to the biblical commands in their role as wives are unrelenting. That’s why it makes what I’m about to address even more incredible. I want to go to a place of submission that I don’t see discussed much, and honestly, is the difficult reality of many godly wives.
In my years volunteering with GotQuestions.com and receiving questions from hurt women, and knowing and talking with other women in my life, I have seen the other side of the submissive coin; when it is to be done with an unbelieving husband (perhaps false convert), especially one who is a very difficult man, possibly hateful and deceitful. There are the unbelieving husbands who couldn’t give two hoots about the wife being godly and just leave her to it but there are also those who are actually angered by her incessant desire to obey the Lord and mocks her obedience and devotion. These husbands are seemingly disturbed by the meekness and submission of their wives and sometimes do anything they can think of to stir up the hornet’s nest in order to see their wives sin and fall. These apparent narcissistic husbands don’t care if their wives are growing in Christ; they just want meals made, the house cleaned, the kids dealt with, and the physical intimacy when they want it. The wives’ hearts are seemingly never a thought. Conversation is a one-way street. Nasty words, name-calling, angry tones, and accusations are the everyday norm.
I received several calls from a woman usually sobbing and many times asking how long she must endure. She literally thought she’d die from the agony of having to withstand a husband who not only didn’t understand her new identity in Christ and desires to leave a false church but one who turned into her biggest and daily persecutor. The disregard, even disdain, he expressed towards her was constant and crushing. She wanted nothing more than to obey the Lord she loved. She wanted to submit to her husband “as to the Lord”, not in a way opposed to the Word of God. This was always evident to me in our conversations with her and it always amazed me. Submitting to and honoring was excruciatingly hard to live out when her husband was calling her awful names, mocking her faith in Christ, demanding impossible things from her so that he could relish in her failures, turning the kids against her, exhibiting questionable social behavior… yet she truly desired to be obedient. Her husband desired to stay married and she desired to do as the Lord had commanded.
“And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?” 1 Corinthians 7:13-16
Asking for forgiveness and strength to endure was her continued prayer. Even more constant was the prayer for his salvation. She knew nothing was impossible with the Lord (Mark 10:27). This woman of God glorified her Lord beyond anything I’ve witnessed from other women who are loved and cherished by their husbands. It’s easier to love those who love us back. I think of these verses:
““But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” Luke 6:32
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14
For her (and for others I know) the focus was Christ and it was keen. She relied desperately on her Savior to get her through each day in a way that glorified Him. She grew exponentially in the Lord during this time. He was the light of peace, love, and hope she basked in. He was the reason she could get up in the morning and find joy in salvation. He is why she knew that if her husband was never going to change, she still had the Lord with her.
“Give ear to my words, O Lord, Consider my groaning. Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, For to You I pray. In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order myprayer to You and eagerly watch.
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity. You destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit. But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness, I will enter Your house, At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” Psalm 5:1-7
She struggled, she groaned and despaired, yet she saw Christ’s faithfulness and knew He wasn’t going to forsake her. She became shrewd as a serpent and innocent as a dove every day as she sought to bring up her children in the Word of God instead of the false religion and mockery of her husband. She being daily wounded still found the strength to witness to the lost, to serve her brothers and sisters in Christ and pray for them. She put God first.
God is gracious to not let His faithful children take on more than they can bear. He also works in mysterious ways! Her husband has yet to come to faith but through her laying down a biblical line with him, through her constant prayer and biblical submission, along with refusing to cave in to fear and sneakily getting the message of the Lord to him in unsuspecting ways, her husband finally softened his ways. The Lord provides. Even though her husband is not Christian they have an agreeable marriage. She may never have a saved husband who leads her in the Lord or who really understands her Christ-honoring views and actions but that’s ok, she still has and loves the Lord. And it’s not over yet.
One has to live this in order to understand what pain that comes with submission in these situations. Like all submission in the Lord, it’s God-honoring and it blesses. When it’s within a difficult marriage and when it’s towards an unloving mocker, it’s on another level. It leaves women like me truly hurting for them and praying hard but also praising God even more.
Please note,I would never suggest a woman stay in a dangerous marriagebut often times God wants us to see through extreme difficulties in order to grow in Him and be a light to the unbelieving spouse. Overall, it honors His Name greatly to do as He commands, and that means to submit to our own husbands, even difficult ones.
It’s so trying for a wife in this situation to show daily kindness to a husband who is unkind yet that is a small picture of what Christ did for us. Let us remember:
“For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8
How joyous it is to submit in a healthy marriage to a godly man! It’s the ideal scenario, for sure. It’s what we should want to have and to see. We know husbands and wives, no matter how godly, aren’t perfect and marriage is still hard but the sweetness of being a help-mate to your believing husband, your brother in Christ, is something that brings great joy. However, I’m finding out that one’s joy in Christ has a certain profoundness to it when it’s nourished in heartbreaking and desperate situations.
I find great inspiration from women like Abigail mentioned in Scripture who was married to that “harsh” and “evil” Nabal (1 Samuel 25:3,14,25). She put God first, His people first but she was still there as his wife, living faithfully despite his evil heart and influence. God sustained her and she honored Him despite the difficulties.
What is the walk like for an obedient, loving, and godly woman married to an ungodly man? Their love for the Lord is even more evident as they daily die to self and focus on Christ with desperate precision. There’s no doubt about it, other women take notice of this.
I want to emphasize these worn yet faithful women don’t run to books written by progressive women who believe you must serve yourself and focus on self and set out to find happiness, “whatever it means for you.” “Girl, Wash Your Face” would have rightly been found in these godly women’s garbage cans. The worldly literature would have sided with their weak flesh but it wouldn’t have honored their Lord. Instead, they run to the Word. He sustains them. He is their strength and song.
These women are not cherished by their husbands but they honor anyway. They are not loved by him but they share the love of Christ anyway. They are not heard or seen by him, but they support him anyway. They may not be prayed for by him but they pray for him anyway. The Lord is their strength and it’s the Lord they desire to be seen and known. The Truth is their guide and they trust in His wisdom. I’ve learned so much from this woman and others like her. I’ve been edified and challenged, immensely. I’m convicted often. I pray their situation improves and their husband’s come to faith but I praise God for them and what their faith in turbulent times as shown me.
They cry, a lot. God hears them. They suffer in silence most times. God sees them. They struggle and stumble. God strengthens and lifts them up. Pray for your sisters in this situation. Encourage them in Scripture and remind them of what God says,
“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
“The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble; And those who know Your name will put their trust in You, For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:9-10
To you women, some of whom I know well and who have suffered in silence I pray for you. Do not allow yourself or your kids to be in danger, seek help if you are in a dangerous situation.Seek the help of trusted Christians and even the authorities if needed. Don’t suffer needlessly.
When staying is safe, know that in suffering for His name and in your obedience you honor your Lord so much and are being used of Him, even if it doesn’t seem so. As Job cried out and wondered why he was alive, God was doing something very good. Trust in Him. May God continue to strengthen you, grow you and use you to honor His Name.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mathew 5:43-48.
Above is an article written by Gina Cook, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford
Do you have any fear of the Lord? I can tell you according to Scriptures God says we should fear Him. This is a problem for many people. Many don’t think it’s right to fear the Lord because why would a loving God bring fear to their children?
Fear of the Lord is something different than just being scared of Him or fearing for your life or feeling terror…it’s having respect and reverence for Him as our Lord. I love Him and respect Him and I know He is a just God and He rewards and punishes those He loves and having fear of the Lord is right and holy and it’s fear that keeps me humble and keeps me seeking Him. Hebrews 12:28–29~Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.
Another verse Proverbs 1:7~The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
I have joy and peace in the Lord and when I sin there is a degree of separation from God for a time that I fear. I instantly know I’ve stepped out of His will that has protected me and I feel the separation of his presence. Isaiah 59:2~But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.
It brings shame, guilt and I can even feel nauseous. He knows what I’ve done or didn’t do, said, thought, or felt that brings me so much sadness. The separation hurts because you know He can’t be with you when you are in sin and all you feel is regret and disappointment in your own self. Then as always, Scriptures remind you of how loving and forgiving God is because He offers repentance. God will not leave or forsake Christians that do sin. We experience separation from our Lord as a form of discipline to grow us. Those that don’t believe in God don’t have a fear of Him or His judgment which only leads to the worst separation of all, the eternal separation from God.
People that read the Bible, attend a Biblical church, and bear the name Christian should have no excuse to not fear the Lord. In my last article, I spoke on how short life is and where people may spend eternity. I spoke of several that were shown mercy by God and saved such as the blind man and the thief on the cross. Both were able to understand their need for forgiveness and salvation when they met Jesus and didn’t reject Him. However, there are people that claim to be Christians and believers in Christ that write books and hold studies and even serve as Pastors that live without fear of the Lord. They teach others a false God and blaspheme His character and tag God’s name on teachings that are NOT Biblical at all. These teachings are done without having fear of the Lord or the fear of consequence in any way for going against God. They don’t seem to be worried about the false teachings they spout that God never taught. They didn’t seem to show any concern that they put more faith in their own feelings than the truth in what God actually tells us in the Scriptures.
The deaths of a well know man and woman come to mind with this subject. The first one is Billy Graham. He died on February 21, 2018, at the age of 99. He seemed to have changed his belief from his younger years as one that believed the only way to heaven was through Jesus, compared to his later years of believing there were many ways to heaven. In an interview with ‘Robert Schuller, Graham is asked, “What’s the future of Christianity”. Graham says, “The body of Christ that comes from all the Christian groups from around the world or outside the Christian groups from around the World I think everybody that loves Christ, or knows Christ whether they are conscious of it or not, they’re members of the body of Christ. And that is what God is doing today, He’s calling people out of the world for His name, whether they come from the Muslim world, or the Buddhist world, or the Christian world, or the non-believing world, they are members of the body of Christ because they have been called by God. They may not even know the name of Jesus but they know in their heart they need something that they don’t have, and they turn to the only light that they have, and I think that they are saved and that they’re going to be with us in heaven.
Ok, lots to unpack here. If people can be saved without knowing God or knowing the Gospel then why does God tell us to go out into the world to find those that “don’t know God” and preach the gospel? Graham believed people who are outside the Biblical Christian groups are saved, meaning they are not Christian and are non-believers. This doesn’t sound like the Gospel of Christ as written in the Scriptures. Let Scriptures reveal the truth to you, read Matthew 7:21-23 where we are told not everyone who calls on Him will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of the Father. They are to know God’s will, which means they need to know God. In Mark 16:15-16, we are commanded togo into the entire world and preach the gospel to everyone,“He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned.” This clearly points out you can’t be an unbeliever and be saved. It’s just not going to happen. John 14:6~“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” 1 Corinthians 1:17~ “For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”
These verses explain why people can NOT find their way to God in any other way except through knowing and believing in Jesus Christ. We cannot be Muslim, or Buddhist, or a non-believer and still, be saved. How can a non-believer be of the body of Christ if they don’t believe in Jesus? If a person is truly saved, they would only claim to be a believer in Christ. Remember, “He who does not believe will be condemned.”Graham’s words and God’s words contradict each other.
Graham says that “They may not even know the name of Jesus so they turn to the only light they have and will be in heaven.”
Ok, so let’s think about this…How can we believe in something we don’t believe in? How can you love or even know something you are not conscious of? How can we be aware of something we aren’t aware of? How can we know something we didn’t know? Scriptures even tell us in Romans 10:14~ “How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?” Good question! We all know that Graham was a preacher but he wasn’t saying what people needed to hear. Graham should have been bold and said that if they don’t know Jesus and are a non-believer or practicing Buddhists, or Muslims then they are not saved. All kinds of false religions say they believe in God but their god is not the God of the Bible. You can’t go to heaven believing in a different God like the god of Buddha or the god of the Muslims or the god of “Everyone can get to heaven without believing in Jesus” god.
In Deuteronomy 6:14 and Jeremiah 25:6 we are warned not to go after other gods.Isaiah 44:6 says “besides me, there is no god.” With Graham being a pastor it’s very strange that he credits a “light” to salvation when he says, “they turn to the only light they have.” Salvation is through Jesus, not through having a light. If they are turning to the only light they have yet it’s not from Jesus, then it’s not of God, and if it’s not of God, it’s not the true light they need. Their light is counterfeit and weak. I might also add that Satan is “LIGHT” too! 2 Corinthians11:14~“And no wonder, for Satan himself, masquerades as an angel of light.”
In another interview, Larry King asks Billy if God loves Satan, all he said was, “Well, he created him as Lucifer. In the 22nd of Ezekiel, it tells us about it, and he must love him, but the end of Satan is hell. Hell was created for the devil and his angels, or his demons, not for men.” Then King asked if he thought homosexuality is a sin. Graham says he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. Then King says, “If homosexuality isn’t a choice, it can’t be a sin. Right?” Graham says, “Well, maybe. God will make that judgment, not me. I’m not deciding who’s a sinner and who is not.” King says, “How about abortion?” Graham says, “Same thing.” King asks him if he is against it totally and Graham says, “yes but I won’t get involved in it.” King asks if he believes it’s the taking of a life and Graham says yes, he does. King says, “But to protect the life of a mother you would permit it, right? I think you said that.” Graham says,“Oh, yes.”
(you can find both links to these interviews at bottom of this article)
With Graham being a preacher, his job is to warn the sheep of dangers and keep them safe. Doesn’t that mean for him to warn when something is sin and that Jesus is the ONLY way? Anyone that teaches the Word of God needs to be careful in handling God’s Word, and be very respectful of it, don’t you think? As Christians, we should know what sin is yet every time King asks Graham if something was a sin Graham never just says, yes, it’s a sin. He just gave what appears to be his opinion on things and then tells the viewers that God judges, not him and that he’s not deciding who’s a sinner and who is not. He had a platform in which to speak the truth and point people to Christ but doesn’t. Oh, I understand his fear, I’ve been there and it’s not easy. I’ve upset many but you do it anyway. We either have a fear of man or we have a fear of God. Obviously, Graham had more of a fear of man because he doesn’t speak the truth. Graham makes the statement that Christians don’t judge. So, how are we to discern God’s commands if we are not allowed to judge sin or discern right from wrong? Having discernment means knowing right from wrong according to the law of God. If God says not to commit adultery, to keep the marriage bed pure, do not murder then to do any of that as a Christian or preacher or pastor means to know it’s a sin. Graham should have exposed the sin and said, yes, homosexuality is a sin, yes abortion is murder and murder is sin. Graham taught that he doesn’t judge sin and everyone goes to heaven. What’s troubling is Graham did teach some good things so it makes him look good but then turned around and contradicted God’s own Scriptures. When Graham says “God must love Satan because God made him” makes light of Satan. Satan is evil, why would God love evil? He doesn’t. Psalm 11:5~ The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence.
Psalm 5:5~ The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
There is a perfect answer to this simple question with the following link below, “No, God does not love Satan, and neither should we. God cannot love that which is evil and unholy, and Satan embodies all of that. He is the enemy (1 Peter 5:8); the evil one (Matthew 6:13); the father of lies and a murderer (John 8:44); the accuser of God’s people (Revelation 12:10); the tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5); proud, wicked and violent (Isaiah 14:12-15); a deceiver (Acts 13:10); a schemer (Ephesians 6:11); a thief (Luke 8:12); and many more evil things. He is, in fact, everything that God hates. The heart of Satan is fixed and confirmed in his hatred of God, his judgment is final, and his destruction is sure. Revelation 20 describes God’s future plan for Satan, and love for Satan has no part in it.”
There is a very popular yet unbiblical saying that goes around in the Christian community, “God loves the sinner and hates the sin”. Although that seems loving for a God to love, love, and love some more and love everyone even if you live in sin, it’s just not biblical. We need to understand that it’s the sinner that is thrown into Hell, not the sin.
Sadly, Graham is still leading people astray today with those videos and interviews even though he is gone. Where was Graham’s fear of the Lord? Saying those things should have convicted him instantaneously. I noticed when King asked a question about a certain sin; Graham never truly addressed it or called it sin or quotes Scriptures of what God says about it. He just gently reminds the viewers that God forgives whatever sin you have. Nothing is said about them needing to repent and ask for forgiveness. Many will see it as they don’t need to repent because God loves the sinner and automatically forgive us.
Next, the woman I referred to is Rachel Held Evans, she died May 4, 2019, at the age of 37, and left behind a husband and two children. She died so young and so suddenly it was a shock to many people. She wrote books, had blogs and many believed in her teachings to be good. None of that is wrong until you look at what it was she actually taught. Long story short, she taught that God is not a ‘dude’ (her words) and has referred to God as a woman and mother at different times. She supports LGBTQ causes and contradicts what God says women’s roles are in the church and denies and rejects the authority of God’s Word and teachings.
I know many believe that talking ill of the dead is wrong and disrespectful but I say it’s downright evil to speak ill of the Lord and make Him out to be something He’s not. Rachel has disrespected God and His teachings in the things she has said about Him. It’s out of respect for God and His Truth that I speak of her false teachings because we should not hold our tongue when it comes to exposing lies and sharing the truth of the Scriptures. According to God, we are to warn of false teachings and that’s more important than respecting someone’s death. I’m sure people could say she was a nice person but the deception and poison she taught to the thousands of her followers are very concerning and wrong. What is more concerning for her is if she never repented of them, God will hold her responsible for every careless word she spoke and taught. Matthew 12:35–37~“The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, son the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”
I knew nothing of Rachel until a few days after she died. I saw pictures of her posted on Facebook by several different people and became curious about who she was and why so many were posting about her. I discovered many things about her beliefs but it was an article by Pastor Gabriel Hughes that shocked me most and showed where she stood just weeks before she died. I was disheartened by the deadly teachings she spewed just shortly before her last breath. She defended her beliefs in her comments to the very end of her write-up to Pastor Gabriel which was concerning a video he made titled, “Is God a Woman?”, below
Gabriel says, “Though I will never have another opportunity to address Rachel, what she taught continues to damage the souls of countless thousands of people, and will do so for many more years. What I had prepared to say to her, I say now for the sake of those misled by her teaching.”
Her beliefs were so disturbing but my heart truly hurts for her. I found it surprising that not knowing anything of her before; I would now suddenly find my heart so sad concerning her. I then started thinking of those who are still being fed her books and teachings. Sadly, and unfortunately, there is no more we can do for Rachel. No one can try to reach out to her and help her see her unbiblical ways; no one can help her know the truth of who God is. It’s too late. What time we Christians do have should be to fight for the faith, to fight for the Truth. Her very last act as a living, breathing human being was to take that dark stand and completely destroy the truth of who God is, and then suddenly, just 3 short days after that she became seriously ill and put into the hospital with the flu and infection. She died about 3 weeks later. No one knows if she could have been aware enough to even repent of all that. She could have, but no one knows. Even if she did repent, she left behind teachings that many will still be hurt by today and will cause some to doubt God for years to come. Rachel Held Evans is described as a progressive Christian author but I don’t think of her as a Christian because she taught a different God and a different Bible and she had no fear of the Lord even up to her last posts with Pastor Gabriel.
Above is an article written by Tami Dykes, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford
In a few days, the IF:Gathering will be back at it again. Sadly it seems terms such as “love”, “God”, “hope”, “messy”, “mission” and “gospel” will be made into a soppy salad served alongside a big ol’ meatless woke burger. Nothing much good or true about it. It saddens me that so many women are ingesting this mush without question. What IF serves is not biblical, it’s not really beneficial and in many ways, it’s dangerously unhealthy. I want to explain why.
Last year I had written about the IF:Gathering and why we should avoid it.
“Changing the world” is the theme of this years IF:Gathering. Jennie Allen, the founder, talks in her monologue about the message of changing the world and how she sees us changing it.
“This is what I still believe can change the world. I still believe you, in your places, loving your people, doing simple things well can change the world.”
She ends with,
“Do not miss this. Join us live. Gather your people. Tell everyone you know and let’s go and imagine a world that is unified again and on mission for the glory of God.”
In just this short statement there are several things that concern me. For the most part, it was very ambiguous. Nothing in her statements was biblically clear.
There was absolutely no mention of Christ or Scripture. There’s no hint of the Gospel. Isn’t she talking about changing the world? How does a Christian really do that? We can’t see any meaningful or lasting change without proclaiming Him and His Gospel. Ultimately we don’t change anyone in this world for the better- He does.
“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, this person is a new creation; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:26.
Also, she says it’s “you in your places, loving your people and doing simple things well”
To say we must do things well in order to change the world is putting too much focus on us. It is Christ Who saves, changes, and sanctifies. We are simply the messengers and examples of what God does with a stone-cold dead sinner. We are made alive because of Him. He is the reason for any good. Our deeds reflect who resides in us, so may our thoughts, words, and deeds be God-glorifying (Matthew 5:16).
Also, what “simple things” is she referring to? All I know is carrying our cross (Luke 14:27), counting the cost (Luke 14:27-33), enduring various trials (1 Peter 1:6), and being hated (John 15:18) are probably not best described as “simple things”. But then I’m thinking she isn’t talking about any of those things.
Did she actually say “unified again?” When was the world unified in the first place? I suppose that brief time before Adam and Eve sinned, the world (two people) was perfectly unified. Since then, world-wide unity hasn’t been possible or even wise.
God says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.” Matthew 10:34.
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:19
We are NOT going to usher in any world-wide unity, especially with our good deeds and PC talks. We won’t and can’t see world-wide unity until the Millennial kingdom (Revelation 10:1-7) and even then, Christ is the reason for it. Things get much worse before then (Matthew 24:7-9).
As I explained in my previous article, the true Gospel, repentance, and faith in Christ alone, are not the focus of any of their messages at the IF:Gathering. Those were never explained or presented biblically. The social gospel and easy-believism are central to what most of the speakers teach.
Jennie Allen uses the term “on mission”. I have found in my own experiences in churches who use this term frequently it’s less about what God actually defines the mission to be for Christians and it’s more about friendship evangelism. It’s ALL relationship building and zero fidelity to preaching the Gospel no matter the cost. All zealous fluff and no sustenance.
After looking into the guest speakers this year and what topics they are going to be covering it’s clear, social justice is still going to be a major focus in their teachings once again and what else would we expect, especially in 2021.
Latasha Morrison and David Bailey – They are going to talk about the Church’s next steps for racial reconciliation. On the IF:Gathering site, it says, “Join Be the Bridge founder, Latasha Morrison, and Arrabon Executive Director, David Bailey, for this conversation on racial justice and the Church.
Latasha Morrison, founder of “Be the Bridge”, who is a “diversity expert” and “unity champion” says on her website she is “committed to educating people on cultural intelligence and racial literacy” and is “Certified Trainer in Cultural Intelligence and Unconscious Bias. No surprise she is strongly supportive of Black Lives Matter. Critical Race Theory seems to be her passion.
And just a real quick note on CRT- it’s is an absolute evil. It’s racism packaged in “justice” and “healing.” It’s devoid of any godliness. It has no room for forgiveness, impartiality, grace, or hope. It’s a factory of bitterness, hate, and perpetual victimhood that can never really be remedied. It’s a destructive religion. Social justice is not biblical. There is only one justice, biblical justice. What Critical race theory actually does is demonize being white, eradicates the hope of redemption or forgiveness, keep victims as victims, and ironically resuscitates white supremacy from its near-death into a revised and strengthened form. That’s because it is about poor blacks needing help and handouts from whites. Blacks have no power until the whites, and all that is supposedly created by whites, are out of the picture in some way. CRT ironically keeps blacks in perpetual need of the white man’s lowered hand and has whites viewed as all-powerful and superior in a way that most whites would never think of or want, especially true Christians.
Trauma therapist and life coach, Dr. Anita Phillips is an expert at unraveling the human experience. Known for her paradigm-shifting insights at the intersection of mental health, spirituality, and culture, her work is guided by one simple idea: most things that seem complicated are actually just hard. From overthrowing anxiety to re-imagining the path to equity, Dr. Anita helps people, groups, and organizations accomplish hard things.
Ahh, “paradigm-shifting insights at the intersection of mental health, spirituality, and culture “ and “re-imagining the path to equity”. Smells familiar, like a woke burger deluxe. When someone starts using spirituality and culture in the same sentence, and on top of that, says they can bring insights on the subjects, run!Also, I noticed now we are talking about hard things. Simple things, hard things. Clear as mud.
Jackie Hill Perry – She is actually well known but perhaps some of the more recent and most concerning endorsements and associations are not as known to most.
Sadly she was once a seemingly solid believer, being saved from a life of homosexuality and false religion but has now fully embraced dangerous teachings, especially in the social justice arena. She has partnered with false teachers in various events for a few years now. After being called out for her close ties to false teachers and false churches she vehemently defended it, not showing any concern for what they teach as being wrong, saying “I don’t define false teachers as others do.”
Christine Caine – Although she is likable and has done a lot for important causes, such as human trafficking, she should be avoided for several reasons. She is known to preach to men, to have strong ties to the prosperity “gospel”, mishandle Scripture, and to closely associate with false teachers. That’s enough to know she can’t be a trusted teacher of the Lord’s Word.
You can read more on her here:
Francis Chan – It’s heartbreaking to witness a man who had a strong start only to embrace a soft, ecumenical, and extra-biblical mystical belief system. He supports Catholicism, prosperity gospel, and false prophets for starters. Francis Chan has written and taught some good things, some very biblical things, but that’s why he’s so dangerous. When you have truth mixed with poison, when you embrace and endorse wolves, people will be more easily stumbled and wounded.
To learn more about the concerns regarding Francis, check out these links:
David Platt – Again, another man who seemingly started out solid, who was even warning against false teachings, and unbiblical practices such as “asking Jesus into your heart”. Sadly he is now taking off in dangerous directions. David, like others, has taught biblically solid material. However, he is now embracing Critical Race Theory/Social justice gospel. He openly supports false teachers, such as Beth Moore and Louie Giglio.
Ann Voskamp and Lysa Terkeurst – I wrote about these two ladies in my first article. Nothing has seemed to change. No repenting of extra-biblical, gross emotionalism and nonsensical teachings. The concerns are very serious with these two ladies. The partnering with false teachers and the embracing of false teachings should not be downplayed. These two women are very good at making false teachings funny, heart-warming, and seemingly needed for your spiritual growth.
Bianca Olthoff – She preaches to men, dabbles with extra-biblical revelation, has close associations with false teachers such as Steven Furtick.
On her website, it states a few ways she wants to “transform lives through the saving power of Jesus Christ”. Here is one of them:
“Social Justice. We are made in the image of God to do good and act good. Our initiatives are created to catalyze others to be socially responsible and care for others.”
Again, social justice is not real justice/biblical justice and has nothing to do with Jesus, with caring or with being responsible. Yes, we are to “Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor, Obtain justice for the orphan, Plead for the widow’s case.” (Isaiah 1:17) Social justice in its true form is not any of that.
Rebekah Lyons – She preaches to men, believes false religions can have unity with Christianity, seeks to be culturally relative, has close connections and praise for false teachers such as Rachel Held Evans.
Lauren Chandler – She is the wife of Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church, another one of those whose discernment has seemingly bit the dust. His endorsements of false teachers such as Anne Voskamp, his embrace of extra-biblical revelation, and very sloppy handling of Scripture is not good at all. Does his wife embrace the same? Although not sure how far she shares the exact same convictions, she has no doubt embraced some troubling teachers, practices, and beliefs.
The Mailbag: Do you recommend these teachers/authors? Volume 3 – Michelle LesleyI have not mentioned all the speakers for this year. There are several more. I wouldn’t put them all in one class. There are a few that are respectable for the most part. There are a few others who are questionable but not enough evidence yet to determine which side of the fence they are really on. Overall it’s not wise to try and “eat the meat and just spit out the bones” here. I strongly suggest avoiding IF:Gathering, doing your homework, and warning your sisters in Christ. The salvation of souls and the health of the church depend on it.
Remember, the only hope for anyone is the whole Gospel. The only way to redemption and righteousness is THE Way, our Lord Jesus Christ – not the dumbed-down, fluffy soft version of “jesus” topped with all of our sugary “good” works. He is the righteous King, Almighty Savior, and the great I AM. Let Him be heard by proclaiming what is God-breathed. Only through Him will good and everlasting change come!
Additonal notes: Michelle Lesly and Elizabeth Prada’s older articles on IF:Gathering are a great help in outlining some of the concerns that have seemingly not changed over the years.
Sharing the Gospel is the command of the Lord, the joy and duty of a Christian and often times where believers struggle most in their walk with Christ. Either we labor too long in trying to reach the obstinate mockers and become gravely discouraged or we find ourselves around the rankest of sinners and immediately tuck and run for the nearest exit. Mission abort.
It’s the undiscerning pearl “casters” vs. the fainting pearl “clutchers”.
We can be either one at any given time. I know I have! These are not identities I believe a Christian has continually. There are moments, maybe many, where we tend to fall in one or the other category depending on the situation.
Why am I talking about pearls?
Pearls are mentioned a few times in Scripture, usually used metaphorically in communicating the value of the Word and Kingdom of God (see Job 28:18, Matthew 7:6, 13:45-46.)
Pearls were the most valuable gem obtainable at that time. If you had pearls, you had a fortune. They were THE symbol of great wealth. They were the rare diamonds of the time. Their beauty and, most importantly, what it took to acquire them attributed to their high value.
A pearl diver in ancient times would risk a lot to get them. Dr. John MacArthur explains,
“Basically, what they did was tie rocks to their body and then jump off the side of the little boat and go to the bottom amidst all the monsters of the deep that they would know little about, and the sharks and whatever else, and they would scour the bottom in the mud trying to come up with those oysters, holding one long deep-drawn breath, and fearing lest they go too deep and burst and die. And they would come up with these treasures.
And when once discovered, a pearl that was of perfection and beauty would be worth literally an unnamed price, incredibly valuable. So valuable are they that the Talmud says, “Pearls are beyond price.””
So who are the spiritual swine this verse is talking about exactly and why not share the Gospel with them? Aren’t we to share Christ with all the world? (Mark 16:15, John 17:18)
“Swine” doesn’t refer to all unbelievers but only to unbelievers who are particularly disrespectful, resistant to and hostile towards the Gospel. These are pig-headed people; existing proudly in their muck and having no concern over what is truly valuable. They will treat it with contempt and attack.
Remember the command for the disciples in Matthew 10:14 to “shake the dust off your feet”?
“And whoever does not receive you nor listen to your words, as you leave that house or city, shake the dust off your feet.”
It was the swine-like unbelievers had to leave behind. These people did not see any value in the truth nor would they pay any cost for it (Luke 14:28). They were the spiritual “swine” that mock and reject the truth of God.
We even read about Jesus Himself refusing to “cast pearls to the swine”. In Matthew 21:27 when the chief priests and elders questioned Christ’s authority it ended with Him saying, “Neither am I telling you by what authority I do these things.”
Matthew 27:12-14 says, “And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not offer any answer. Then Pilate *said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they are testifying against You?” And still He did not answer him in regard to even a single charge, so the governor was greatly amazed.
“And the disciples came up and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” And Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” Matthew 13:10-11
Sadly for them, the conversation was over and the door was shut. There was nothing more to say. Their rejection of what was most precious brought upon His rejection of them.
This doesn’t mean we know for sure one who seems to be a swine will never become a sheep. We don’t have the ability to see as God sees. Yet, if they are being swine at the time we must dust off and move on. We must trust God to use any seeds already planted and prayerfully walk on as we leave them with His warning for their soul. We take our pearls elsewhere and trust the Lord with it all. Our hands are clean and He is glorified.
We admire the passion of the pearl caster to share Truth. The Gospel is paramount in our Christian life. It is the power of God for salvation. We are to go into the world and give the Good News. After all, how can one know Jesus without hearing about Him? As Romans 10:14 says, “How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?”
This is true. However, God wants us to know caution must be exercised regarding the pointless and exhausting chucking of what is most valuable to those who refuse to receive it. The Kingdom is a priceless treasure, never to be treated with contempt. The value of this “pearl” is incomprehensible.
God says in Matthew 13:45, “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold everything that he had and bought it.”
The wise understand and appreciate the value of it. They know it’s worth their livelihood, even their own life. Some who look like possible swine from a glance may be the very ones who appreciate the Truth the most.Clutching Your Pearls
Jesus did not keep priceless pearls from the lepers, prostitutes, swindlers, and the like. He was ridiculed for His compassion for the drudge of society. He saw them, He called them out of their filth and they responded in faith. He is the Healer of those who know they need healing. When the Good News was cast to them they received it with great joy.
Pearl “clutchers”, or perhaps one could refer to them as “Jonah-ites”, can have the tendency to cling tightly to their precious pearls as they look upon the sinfulness of this world in horror. Perhaps a particular sinner, the most repulsive and intimidating kind, has the Christian clutching and running rather than sharing and trusting. They quickly retreat in the opposite direction without allowing the Word of God to be cast at all.
The “clutchers” do well to hang on to the Word of God. They cling to it with love, especially during times of distress and difficulty. To them it is precious but at times forget it’s not just for them. Again we are to go into the world to reach the lost for Christ (John 17:18). We can’t be picking and choosing who gets to hear it according to outward appearance, biases or fears.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
We don’t want to be like Jonah, running away from the people who need to hear it and are actually willing to receive it. We don’t want to be more concerned about our earthly comfort than one’s eternal torment. Don’t be Jonah in the sense of retreating to your shelter without a care for the souls of your least favorite sinners. Jonah was more concerned about a withered shade plant for himself than the possible torment of a large group of people.
“Then the Lord said, “You had compassion on the plant, for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. Should I not also have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 people, who do not know the difference between their right hand and their left, as well as many animals?” Jonah 4:10-11
As Christ has compassion, so should we. And not only compassion but courage and confidence in the Word and work of God.
“Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” John 6:68
The priceless pearl of the eternal kingdom of God is worth whatever cost we may need to pay here. There is a sacrifice to having the finest of pearls and perhaps great cost in our attempts to share them with the world. One thing is for sure, we have nothing without what is most precious. No one does.
“More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them mere rubbish, so that I may gain Christ,” Philippians 3:8
Let us strive to not mishandle, dishonor, or hoard the Pearl of great value!
Above is an article written by Gina Cook, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford
There are millions of people in the world that do some amazing things. People such as firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, EMT’s, just to name a few. Millions of people go into careers like these and are often called heroes for saving lives all the time. However, there are some that are even more unique to the world that comes along very rarely. Have you ever seen a movie when the main character becomes famous when they discovered they have a special talent or gift? Maybe a movie about a genie granting three wishes? How about a movie where someone gets superpowers or where someone was chosen to save the world? It’s all focused on that one person and how it’s up to them to do something great. This one person finds out that they were chosen for something special.
With all these are movies, it makes people walk away secretly wishing they were the hero of their own story in life. How exciting. Strangely enough, I do hear people talk as if they do have real unique abilities and they speak of it on a daily basis. They will speak of being someone special, someone with powers, someone that tells stories about their own moments in life that cause others to be in awe of them. Well, allow me to explain more. My first experience with this was with others close to me. They talked of some pretty special, even bizarre abilities and experiences they personally had on many different occasions. Stories that just seemed too bizarre but had just enough “what if” to intrigue me and kept me captivated every time something new happened. They would say God spoke to them all the time. I remember thinking about how it was so cool that they got to hear from God…God!!! I mean think about that. He’s the creator of all things and He chooses to talk to ‘them’ about stuff. However, the stories they told intrigued me but of course today I look back and don’t see God in them at all. One story was how God called them to do something “unfamiliar” and it would make people upset but it was for this person to have faith and trust in what was to happen. This thing God had them to do was something not Christian at all. They were told to get a person’s attention by cussing at them, and another time God gave them the ok to steal something. One time they said God wanted them to cast out a demon in a person and it took several people and they spoke of how strong the demon was in fighting so many at the same time. I remember it sounding like a battle between good and evil, kind of like superheroes.
I remember another time how they discussed how many people they saved and then asked me, “How many people have you saved?” They spoke in tongues which I found amazing because I couldn’t do it and they talked of healing people. Sadly, this eventually caused me to think I too could be like them someday if I was found worthy enough.
I wasn’t mature in the Word of God to even know the truth and they weren’t teaching me Biblical truth either and that was harmful to my faith. I was being fed deception left and right. I just remember thinking, is there some kind of greatness inside all of us or is it just some? How come they could hear from God and do those powerful things and I couldn’t. Are there just some that are special? Or is everyone special? Although, if everyone is special, then truly no one is, right? I was left with so many questions and so confused but I knew I wanted to be like them. Now, that was a problem for me but I didn’t realize it at the time. My desire to be like them was sadly poisonous because it dismissed God completely. It wasn’t that I wanted to be saved because I desired God in my life but because I wanted to be seen as worthy enough to hear God speak to me and heal people and speak in tongues, and look important. Yeah, not good! It was all a very selfish place to be. When people become false converts it’s often because they want to get something not because they have been changed by God. I’ve heard many famous bible teachers do this such a Priscilla Shirer when she preached to her audience about getting saved; that they could get to a place where they were in tune with God and could hear Him speak. People would quickly and joyfully approach her stage to be saved because they believed they would get something amazing in return. You can read the article here: https://biblicalbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/26/through-the-narrow-priscilla-shirer-wants-more-by-tami-dykes/
Now to be fair there are some true stories of real individuals that have been picked just for special times and purposes in the world such as the 12 Apostles or Noah, Moses, and Mary and Joseph even in the future God calls the 144,000 Jews. All of these people were not anything special outside of God though. They had no powers and no unique ability that was unheard of. Yes, God did call them to do some really great and powerful things but they were done by God, not them. God used them to showcase His powers. God had a reason for using those people, even though He could have done it Himself faster. Even as He used them, they were scared and uncertain and had feelings of doubt. We read, however, that in the midst of all the fear and doubt they felt, they were willing and obedient. God used their patience, kindness, and obedience and taught us through His Word the importance of good character and being obedient.
So you can see how people in the churches today twist how God works. A false convert may be false because they bought into a lie another person told them about God. They may say something was said by God but if they research what they were being told they would obviously see it’s not the God of the Bible that person is talking about. The God they speak of is of their own making. The false convert sees this person’s life and special abilities and desire it in their own life and hear that all they need to do is accept Christ into their life and they will be special too. They will gain a supernatural connection with a powerful entity that will use them in an extraordinary way. They will be given special messages or visions or power. Yeah, that sounds amazing!
What they need to understand is, God uses us whether we are a believer or not, whether we know it or not. We are the ones that are lost without Him, we need Him not the other way around. We can’t save ourselves or anyone else, only God has that power.
Many uneducated believers argue that our feelings are important when we worship God because when God speaks to us, we can feel Him in some way. I’ve heard that God may give us a chill or the hair on the back of our neck stands up or we feel strongly in our hearts about something good or bad. Is it all about our feelings, all about us doing special things?
It truly amazes me that the “feelings” phenomenon is so hard to break when dealing with people that believe in an Almighty God who created the Universe. If our feelings were so in tune with God, wouldn’t God tell us this in His Word? Wouldn’t God tell us to follow our hearts and listen to our thoughts on things or our gut or trust in our self when we get that shiver down our spine? I realize it seems I’m being repetitive and I know I have a habit of doing that, but being repetitive does help us to learn and remember. Jesus repeated many things in the Bible and many books in the Bible had the same stories in them as well, just worded differently.
So, ask yourself again, why point people to a human feeling and promptings or new revelations that came from our own interpretation? Is it to look good, or to get what we want? Have you ever been deceived by your own feelings? I have many times. Have you been deceived by your own heart? God even says our hearts are deceitful, Jeremiah 17:9~ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?
Feelings CAN’T be trusted or reliable because they deceive us. But the Bible IS reliable AND trusted. God gave us the Bible and God tells us it’s Him and His Word that is “perfect” and “complete” for all our needs.
So, if we can’t save ourselves or anyone else and we can’t hold certain supernatural abilities what is it we are to do as a Christian? What is important to God? We are to test, research, and get an understanding of who God is and what He wants by reading His Word and obeying it.
Revelation 1:3~ “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it because the time is near.”
God says in 2 Timothy 3:15–17~ “how important His Word is in helping us stay wise…..” how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you “WISE” for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”“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 COMPLETE, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
It literally means we need nothing more, no feelings, no listening to our hearts just God’s Word. We are “complete” with the doctrine of Scriptures. We are absolutely “thoroughly equipped”. It doesn’t say “kind of equipped”, it doesn’t say a “little bit equipped”. God says we are “Thoroughly” equipped when we read His Word. Other translations say “PERFECT”, thoroughly furnished”. You can’t get better than perfectly furnished with the Word of God.
Romans 12:2~ “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Look back at where it says, “that by testing”, do we understand what that means? How do you test something to make sure it’s the will of God? Well, it’s by reading the Bible of course. God points us right back to His Holy Word, we test things to the Bible, we hold it up to Scriptures.
In the next verse, it says, “This Book“.
Joshua 1:8~ “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”
The verse tells us to do what is “written in it”. It points out that God’s desire for us is to “read His Words” day and night. When it says, “Book of the Law”, what’s that mean? It’s the Bible! When it says, “be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” This is reminding us the Bible is important, and it’s not about having personal messages, visions, or hearing an audible voice from God but instead, obeying the written Word.
Psalm 1:1-2~ “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
What’s the Law of the Lord? The Bible! So many verses of God pointing us to Scriptures and telling us that He wants us to study His Word and take what we read very seriously. We are called to love His Word and be obedient to it. Not strive to look special by saying God gave me a special message. We shouldn’t think we can stand in the place of God and claim we did anything supernaturally, and certainly not presume we could ever hear God speak apart from Scriptures. It should cause great concern to anyone that would be told to believe a prompting or someone’s personal message from the Lord because all that does is point to ourselves or glorifies “people”, instead of God.
1 Timothy 6:3–5~ “If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming togodliness, he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes.”
2 John 9–11~ “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring thisteaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.”
1 Corinthians 4:6~ “Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, do not go beyond what is written. Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other.”
When it says, “learn from us the meaning of the saying”, “Do not go beyond what is written” and people say they have new revelations from God (not what is written in the Bible), well, they are going beyond what is written. People follow a certain teacher that isn’t teaching what is written but going beyond it. People that go to Bible studies listen to one person’s personal teaching and not to God’s teaching because they want more or they want something AMAZING and they want a wow factor in their studies are going beyond what is written. The first teacher I thought of is Beth Moore!
Hebrews 4:12~ ”For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
The Bible which is a living book (the word of God) is alive and active. The Word gives us wisdom and instructs us and equips us, strengthens us and protects us, even convicts us, and judges our thoughts, and attitudes which should bring fear when we tend to drift in the direction of feelings. The law of God commands us to grow spiritually with the truth of Scriptures.
Romans 15:4~ “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Here again, it’s talking of Scriptures, not feelings, voices, hearts, or promptings. God is pointing back to the Bible and that is where we find instruction for our life’s choices.
Deuteronomy 4:2~ “You shall not add to the Word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
Deuteronomy 12:32~ “Whatever I command you, you shall “be careful” to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it.”
Revelation 22:18~ “I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.
Proverbs 30:4-6~ “Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Whose hands have gathered up the wind? Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is the name of his son? Surely you know! “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”
Above are 4 different verses that are talking of God’s “written” Word, the prophecy of Scriptures, not our prophecies or others. We are also repeatedly warned by God not to add or take away from what He says in His Holy Word. I’m thinking this is a big deal and the warnings are serious and it should cause us to check ourselves to keep us from violating God’s commands.
Matthew 4:1-12~ “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. But he answered, “it is written man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. “
Here we read that Jesus points to the authority of God’s written Word. The verse continues…
“Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, “‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Interesting how Satan catches on to Jesus’ teaching and says “It is written” because he sees how important Jesus makes obeying the Word. Satan thinks saying this will be convincing to Jesus somehow by using the word, “written” to point to the authority of Scriptures to Jesus in hopes to tempt Him. However, Jesus continues on with His point to teach us how important it is to trust His Word not our feelings or our own desires. I’m sure Jesus had many feelings that would have swayed anyone else to give in. Jesus was hungry, tired, and weak. But Jesus stands firmly on the Scriptures and not His feelings and emotions. In these verses, Jesus points us back to the “WRITTEN” Scriptures and its authority.
“Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.”
Jesus said in John 14:16, He would send the Spirit to us to be our “Helper”, “Comforter”, and “Guide”. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever”.
Believers in Christ will receive the Holy Spirit and He will “guide” them however there is nothing in the Scriptures that says we will know when that happens. The best response I’ve ever heard was from John MacArthur when he said, “One of the follies of the Charismatic movement is to say, “The Holy Spirit is leading me,” or “directing me.” You have no way to know that. I have no way to know that. I don’t have a red light on my head when it’s the Holy Spirit and goes off when it’s just me. I have no mechanism of understanding when it’s the Holy Spirit or just me. All I know is I can experience the result of His moving in my life. And it started when I was saved.”
When we become saved the Holy Spirit lives within us believers. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through the “Word” that we read and study. God is sovereign and works in our lives without us knowing anything of what He does, this is where we exercise our faith. We believe God is in control and accept it. There is nothing we can do to change God’s plan or spoil God’s plan in our lives. Not long ago when I was pointing out the false teachings of Priscilla Shirer, someone said to me, “Be careful that you do not hinder God’s work.” They did not like that I was warning about and calling out a false teacher who they must have looked up to but I found their response to me interesting. Their comment made God seem powerless against our choices. If I needed to be careful not to hinder God’s work, that meant God’s will could be interfered by my will, doesn’t it? Is God at the mercy of what people do? In which case makes God seem less of an authority. God will do whatever He wants to do and nothing I do will change it or stop it. I am not that powerful and never will be. We only need to read His Word, have faith, believe it, and obey it. We only need to look to the Scripture to learn of God’s authority, and that no one, not even Satan can alter it. The “God told me” fad is said by many out of ignorance because they don’t know God and they don’t understand the severity of those words yet at the same time people hear a preacher at the pulpit or well-known bible teachers who should know better say God told them a message. They like to make themselves look good by making others believe they actually hear directly from God Himself. They are quick to manipulate others and say, “God told me this or that,” when He didn’t tell them anything. That is a serious offense in God’s eyes as said in Deut. 5:11~ “You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD, will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” People are quick to put God’s name to their stories or testimonies or reasons to do whatever in life because then who could argue? God said it, right?! No one could tell them they are wrong. How do we know its truth? We don’t! I remember several years ago my daughter came home from college to tell me that a guy said that God told him he was to marry her. She very confidently said, “Then why wouldn’t God tell me that too?”
Matthew 12:36~”I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.”
Matthew 16:24~”Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
The hardest thing for us to do is deny ourselves and our desires which is our flesh. We are commanded not to obey the flesh, but to slay it. Following our prompts, feelings, or what we “feel God wants us to do” is obeying our flesh. We are going with our own idea and voices in our minds. Instead, we are to slay all that and point ourselves back to the Scriptures.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5~ “If a prophet were a dreamer of dreams rises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder and the sign or the wonder comes true concerning which he spoke to you saying let us go after other gods, let us serve them, you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is TESTING you to find out if you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the Lord your God and fear Him. And you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him and cling to Him. But that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death because he “has counseled rebellion” against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to SEDUCE YOU FROM THE WAY IN WHICH THE LORD YOUR GOD COMMANDED YOU TO WALK so you shall purge the evil from among you.”
Basically, it’s saying if a prophet comes to you preaching good things, and even if the prophet does things that seem unbelievable or says things that come true, be warned because they will lead you away from God’s truth. God says they are rebellious and against Him.
2 Peter 1:19–21~ “We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy, was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”
“The last three words here make the point that God says all along. Yet Peter goes on to say that even what he heard with his own ears and saw with his own eyes was not as authoritative as the eternal Word of God contained in Scripture. Peter is not saying that his eyewitness testimony makes the “prophecy of Scripture” more sure. He is saying that the written Word of God by its very nature is more sure than his own experience. This is confirmed by Peter’s argument in verses 20–21, where he establishes the authority and divine origin of every “prophecy of Scripture. The Greek word order in verse 19 also supports this as the true meaning of the text: “We have more sure the prophetic Word.” More sure than what? More sure than experience—even the valid, genuine, eyewitness experience of the apostles. Peter is saying that the written Word is an even more reliable source of truth than his own experience. To paraphrase Peter’s message to his readers, it is this: “James, John, and I saw Christ’s glory firsthand. But if you don’t believe us, there is one authority even more certain than our testimony: the written Word of God.” Scripture tells us that the Devil masquerades as the light. If the Devil can deceive so many of God’s heavenly angels, then the Devil can and will deceive us mere humans. That’s why we need to rely on the Scriptures, it’s the only thing we know as solid truth and that we can trust because the Word is God
Recently the well-known pastor and author, Rick Warren, had told Relevant Magazine that COVID-19 has “revealed a fundamental weakness in the Church. Most churches only have one purpose: worship. And if you take worship away, you’ve got nothing. They’re in a hurry to get back to worship because that’s all they’ve got.”
He explains, “Saddleback is built not on one purpose, but on five. You take one circle out, we’ve still got four other circles. We’ve got ministry going on. We’ve got mission going on. We’ve got fellowship going on. We’ve got discipleship going on. Those all stand on their own.”
Desiring to gather to worship is to him “a fundamental weakness”. Critically he says, “that’s all they’ve got”.
Is it true? Are some in the Church too focused on worship? Is that a “circle” that can be set aside? Are there other things to rest on in the times we live in or is corporate worship really at the crux of Christian living?
Maybe we need to define worship first.
Worship is gratitude and thanksgiving towards God for all that He has done. Worship is a genuine spiritual service. Worship is prayer with the right heart attitude. Worship is recognizing God as He reveals Himself to be in Scripture, understanding what all He has done, especially in the salvation of souls, and then responding with gratitude and praise. Worship is believing, obeying, and sharing what He has said in His Word. Worshipping the true and living God is the core of living as a Christian.
“Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1We worship in various ways, such as singing, praying, and preaching, but it’s not true worship unless it is in line with Scripture. It’s also not true if it’s not from the heart. We are commanded to worship God in Spirit and in Truth.
“But a time is coming, and even now has arrived, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”” John 4:22-24
When knowing what worship means we can see that worship is not always about corporate worship, meaning the gathering with the local saints. We most definitely can worship God alone in our closet, out in the middle of the woods, or on the moon.
It’s corporate worship that Mr. Warren is calling worship. With the COVID-19 outbreak, staying at home has been encouraged by many, including pastors like Rick Warren. Many have done services via the internet. At the beginning of the outbreak, pastors struggled to know what was the smart and obedient thing to do. It’s understandable to stay at home for a time when serious sickness is an issue. No one wants to spread diseases, especially potentially dangerous ones. We are to care for others and be concerned for their well-being. Also, we are also told to obey our governing authorities when it doesn’t go against God. Does all of this mean we are to implement home worship as a new and necessary normal? Are we to set aside church attendance indefinitely for the sake of public health? Should we listen to governing authorities on this? Who is the ultimate authority in this situation?
Really, how important is corporate worship?
“speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father; and subject yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.” Ephesians 5:19-21
“and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
God says, “do not abandon meeting together, as is the habit of some people.” This is emphasized in the context of living in an increasingly turbulent world leading up to the coming of Christ. We are to encourage one another as we gather and worship the One Who deserves all worship, honor, and praise. As the body of Christ worships together they are there to encourage one another through trials, temptations, and turbulent times. Continued isolation is disastrous and depleting, it leaves the soul vulnerable. When pandemics and disasters strike, forsaking the gathering of the church body is the opposite of what should be done.
Church attendance isn’t something we do to be saved but it’s something saved people are to do.
Some argue that “it’s just a building, I don’t have to go to the church service to worship. I can watch and connect with others online.”
That is not enough in the long run. Go ahead and assemble in a tent, tunnel, or cave instead of a building, that’s fine, but you have to assemble somewhere. You need to gather in a physical place in order to obediently carry out all the Lord has instructed for His Church to do.
In many letters written in the New Testament, you will see phrases such as “to the churches”, “in the churches;” to the rest of the churches, “as I directed the churches”, and “they are messengers of the churches, a glory toChrist” to name just a few of many verses that mention churches, little “c”. We see in Scripture mentions of specific local churches: “To the churches of Galatia”, and “send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea” (Revelation 1). We see the churches in Corinth and Thessalonica being addressed. Apostle Paul says, in Romans 16, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea. Receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints and help her in whatever matter she may have need of you, for she herself has also been a helper of many and of myself as well.” She was on her way to the church in Rome.
These churches were bodies of local believers gathering together for the purpose of worship- worship through singing, prayer, fellowship, proclamation, and teaching of the Word and the partaking of the Lord’s Table. Believers were never encouraged to forsake this gathering. In times of trial, pain, loss, and persecution especially, believers need one another. Continuing to “do church” through a screen physically separate from one another is not a solution, it’s a problem.
Think about it. Persecuted Christians for centuries have risked livelihood, their own lives, and families’ lives to worship with one another in underground churches. Why? Why risk your life for something that Warren suggests isn’t needed? Why risk your life for corporate worship?
There is no way to measure the value of it. During hardships, it’s even more important. Being with fellow believers and encouraging one another in the Truth is nourishment to the soul and a great source of joy. Most importantly it honors God and gives Him glory.
“Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing. But we ask you, brothers and sisters, to recognize those who diligently labor among you and are in leadership over you in the Lord, and give you instruction, and that you regard them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11-15
It’s critical that we not only gather to support and encourage one another but we must gather under biblical and God-ordained leadership. We are to be instructed in the Word by those with the gift of preaching the Word. They are our shepherds. How are the shepherds supposed to shepherd when the body isn’t gathered together? How is exercising church discipline possible?
“Now if your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that on the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, he is to be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.” Matthew 18:15-17
Leadership cannot lead, rule over, teach, and exercise church discipline if the church body is dispersed and not faithfully assembling. The body can’t encourage the leadership either. You can’t observe or pour into one another lives while remaining apart.
“We should want to attend church so we can fellowship with others who have also experienced the amazing grace of Jesus Christ. We should avoid missing church, whenever possible, because we recognize the importance of hearing God’s Word, applying it to our lives, and sharing it with others. We should attend church, not to collect spiritual bonus points, but because we love God, love His people, and love His Word. Every Christian should attempt to attend church regularly. At the same time, missing church for a good reason is in no sense a sin or something that should cause feelings of guilt.
When you miss (do not attend) church, do you miss (have a longing for) church? If so, that’s a sign you have a good connection with church. If not, that is a sign you need to re-evaluate your choice of church and/or participation in church. God knows our hearts. God is not impressed by a person simply because he attends every service. God’s desire is to build us up in Christ, and His method in this age involves the local church.”
Yes, there are good reasons to miss gathering with the rest of the local church body. Every situation needs to be individually evaluated to see if it’s a good reason or not. The real issue is whether or not we are desiring to regularly be a part of a church family. If not, we need to examine our hearts. Desiring fellowship is woven into the fabric of a Christian’s new heart; we want to fellowship with one another and praise God together. Christians seek to worship God as a family to encourage, teach, strengthen, and pray for one another. Assembling together is the visible expression of unity within Christ’s beloved Church. If we don’t want to sit under the preaching of God’s Word, to serve and to worship together as a family, there’s a problem.
You certainly don’t want to be the professing Christian who fails to see this as crucial.
Going back to Mr. Warren’s comments, where he says, “Saddleback is built not on one purpose, but on five. You take one circle out, we’ve still got four other circles. We’ve got ministry going on. We’ve got mission going on. We’ve got fellowship going on. We’ve got discipleship going on. Those all stand on their own”…. let’s dissect that a bit.
Ministry, mission, fellowship, and discipleship are all connected with the faithful gathering and leading of the local church body. Neither one can successfully stand alone. The teaching and preaching of God’s Word, the accountability believers have with one another, the shepherding and rule of the leadership, the monetary giving to the church and all that the church supports, etc. – it all supports and provides ministry, mission, fellowship, and discipleship. When we look at Scripture we don’t see these things as isolated entities and disconnected from one another.
I know I don’t want to be discipled by a person not attending and not caring to attend church who is not being fed and led regularly. I don’t want to be a part of missions that is trying to function apart from local leadership and accountability. Fellowship is not fully realized or glorifying if it’s kept separate from corporate worship. When we become comfortable with not worshipping with the local church body, when we dismiss its importance, we are in trouble.
The worldly professors of faith don’t understand the vital importance of this biblical and physical fellowship. Church gathering is an unnecessary risk to them. To them, the gathering together to worship the Lord as the local Church body is expendable. Perhaps they have always desired an excuse not to partake in it. Perhaps they don’t want to be under any real leadership, they don’t want to serve weekly, they don’t want to extend themselves or they simply fear the wrong things. Perhaps they aren’t even Christians.
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be evident that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:19
You are right Mr. Warren, without worship we believers have nothing. Worship of the true God is core to the Christian faith. He deserves our daily and devoted worship. Assembling with other believers is so vital that God said not to forsake it. It is so vital, that for millennia, believers have risked their own lives to have it.
Mr. Warren, the fundamental weakness I believe COVID-19 has revealed within the church is the fact there are so many tares among the wheat. There are far too many of those professing to be followers of Christ who truly do not desire to love God and His Church, who don’t fear God. More of the tares are being exposed as the pressures and fear tactics of the world increase. These sort of weaknesses will always be in the churches, most times hiding until trials come. When trials come and Satan tests the devotion of the tares, asking them to compromise, they will most certainly compromise and not think twice.
Through Him then, let’s continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips praising His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Obey your leaders and submit to them—for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account—so that they may do this with joy, not groaning; for this would be unhelpful for you.” Hebrews 13:15-17
Sadly, a child may be brought up properly in the Lord and still reject Him. The more light in one’s home; the more Jesus is glorified, the more His sword is evident.
We can often times look at other faithful Christian families and the sweet faces of their obedient and well-versed children and assume those parents must have all of their spiritual ducks in a row. We wonder where we went wrong as our children only grow further from the Lord. We are tempted to compare ourselves to the other parents, sometimes causing great and unnecessary discouragement in our own walk. Although parents are called to lead their families in the Lord, and should take that responsibility seriously, I believe it’s also important to remember no matter the Christian family and what they do, their children may not respond in faith.
The family with Jesus
Joseph and Mary were faithful and humble followers of the Lord who had been chosen by God to be a part in His miraculous earthly arrival and given the blessing and honor to care for the growing Jesus. They were people who loved and trusted God and His Word, and undoubtedly demonstrated this devotion to their entire family. Sadly they also had to witness the rest of their children doubt Jesus as Messiah. Their children, even into their adult years, didn’t believe. The Savior was right there among them and still, they refused to see Him any more than just an obedient brother. Sadly, they later came to the desperate conclusion that Jesus was insane (Mark 3:21). How heartbreaking that must have been for their devoted parents.
We know Mary and Joseph had four sons and an unknown number of daughters after Jesus was born (Matthew 13 and Mark 6). It seems none of the siblings believed in Christ as Lord until after HIs resurrection (1 Corinthians 15, Acts 1:14). After Joseph’s death, Mary didn’t have the spiritual support from the others in her immediate family. Mary sat weeping at the cross where Jesus had to appoint the Apostle John as her caretaker because her actual sons were not only absent but simply not spiritually fit to care for her.
“Now beside the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. So when Jesus saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He *said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He *said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” John 19:25-27.
It was obviously very difficult for the half-siblings to have a perfect older brother. He wasn’t only perfect, He was the reason for your parent’s joy and salvation. Joseph and Mary unquestionably had a special relationship with Jesus. That probably caused resentment and the resentment only intensified as the years went on and as Jesus began to display His deity and preach His Word. The level of rejection by those who were acquainted with Him the most is summed up in Mark 6:3-4: “Is this not the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are His sisters not here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not dishonored except in his hometown and among his own relatives, and in his own household.”
As believing parents with unbelieving children, there is something we can really learn from that statement and from the unbelief of Jesus’ household.
The more righteousness and perfection is displayed in a home, the more the unbelievers may fight against it. His perfect righteousness had only magnified the reality of the unbelievers’ desperate state; of their own wickedness.
Jesus was loved and honored by his parents. Truth was personally present amongst the entire household. The Light was living and breathing next to them. Perfection resided with them and constantly showcased righteous living. That exposed them all the more.
So we must remember, the more Christ is loved and honored in our own home, the more truth we hold fast to, the more righteousness we desire and exercise, the stronger our convictions and the deeper our knowledge of God’s Word, perhaps the greater hardening and quicker turning away for those in the house who are unrepentant.
It’s the harsh reality that we read about in Matthew 10:34-36:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to turn a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a person’s enemies will be the members of his household.”
Sadly, a child may be brought up properly in the Lord and still reject Him. The more light in one’s home; the more Jesus is glorified, the more His sword is evident.
As Charles Spurgeon said, “The same sun which melts wax hardens clay. And the same Gospel which melts some persons to repentance hardens others in their sins.” In a Christian household, one child may be softened and saved and the other may be hardened and distant. That shouldn’t cause us to hold back our love and devotion to the Lord and His Word. We should strive harder to live for Him and share His Gospel. We know the Gospel is the power of God for salvation.
My own heartache
I’m going to give you a glimpse into the heartbreak of being a mother of unbelievers.
I’m a mother of five wonderful kids and have been blessed with a stepson. Their ages range from 6 to 23. With a couple of adult children, a preteen, and two elementary-aged kids, we’re living in almost all phases of parenthood. There was a time I thought I had a handle on this parenting-in-Christ thing. It was when I only had two little ones to care for. In our pretty little picture, we loved Jesus, talked about Jesus, prayed to Jesus, sang sweet songs to Jesus, and involved ourselves in the church activities with others like us. As they grew, my kids were taught the serious things about God, not just the comfortable stuff. We highly value gathering with the Church body and serving. We pray together. We test all things to Scripture and call out error when we see it. We share the Gospel often.
The point of saying all of this is to say the Truth is honored in our home- He is loved and desired- although very imperfectly. My husband and I know we are far from where we need to be as followers of Christ and parenting the way most honoring to Him, yet Christ is still central.
My kids have heard the whole Gospel countless times and each one has made a profession at one point. Some of our kids have shown fruit. Some have completely dropped their interest in Christ like a hot potato and have run in the opposite direction. I have spent countless nights, tearfully praying for my children’s salvation. I have had some very tough conversations with them. I’ve pleaded and warned. Seeing their resentment towards the Lord and hearing how the belief of Creation or in Christ Jesus is “not reasonable”, is devastating as a parent.
It’s the bitter reality many of us face; no matter the upbringing, children will not always follow the way they are taught and shown. Sadly, this has been the reason for unnecessary shaming. Parents of unbelievers may get the side-eye from others in the church. They not only feel guilty but encouraged to feel guilty for something they can’t control. I’ve actually heard a church leader accuse a faithful family of being the cause of their children’s rebellion towards God. They were unloving “legalists,” he said. Looking closer, it was obvious they weren’t legalists, they were just unwavering on the Word of God and purely devoted to Him. Their love for the Truth was solid; their love for Christ was unwavering and it caused divisions with their older children.
Imagine going back in time and seeing Mary and Joseph’s other children as unbelievers. Would that cause us to question Mary and Joseph’s heart with God? Would we assume as parents they hadn’t taught God’s Word or enforced it appropriately with love? Would we start to wonder if they were legalists? We know Mary was a humble and submissive servant of God (Luke 1:28, 38, 48). Joseph, called a righteous man (Matthew 1:19) was obedient to God and led his family in the instruction of God (Matthew 1:24, Matthew 2:14, 21). They were obviously very faithful and humble people, who loved and obeyed Him.
Would we accuse Mary and Joseph of being spiritual failures with their family? No. Yet these are the accusations we sometimes find ourselves spewing or receiving. When we see faithful parents with unbelieving children who’ve gone off into the mire of the world we shouldn’t be too quick to assume the parents have failed their children.
First of all, Christ is the One Who saves. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
Christ gets all the glory. It wasn’t Mary or Joseph who eventually opened the eyes of the other children. It’s in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 we read, “For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that, He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.” In verse 7 we see Christ revealing Himself post-resurrection to his half-brother James. It is Christ Who reveals Himself to James. Then we read in Acts 1:14, “All these were continually devoting themselves with one mind to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” Praise God!
John 6:44 says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
No one else can open eyes or soften hearts towards God but God Himself, through His Word.
With that said, the Scripture is clear parents have a great responsibility to honor God and His Word. We are given charge over our children’s spiritual nurturing. All Christian parents are to teach the Word to their children and live as godly examples. We want to be careful to not be a source of stumbling with any unnecessary provoking, discouragements, complacency, false teachings, or lack of compassion. Perhaps we need to evaluate our parenting as we read the Word and be prepared to make some needed changes. Perhaps we need to be more prayerful and intentional in our family devotions. It’s true, we can always improve! May God reveal any sin in us as we meditate on His Word.
We do have a great responsibility but we are not the producer of our children’s faith. Only God gets the glory and praise for that.
There is Always Hope
As we watch our children walk in the world, we should remember there is still hope. We never want to say that there is no hope for our lost family. We always pray for the prodigal’s homecoming.
Even for a child not being raised by Christian parents there is hope. No matter their childhood, a person can be saved. I’m proof of that. With God, all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26). I know there are single mothers out there who love the Lord and grieve over the fact of the father is nowhere in the lives of their children. They see this causes the children to harden their hearts towards God even more. The mothers do all they can but the resentment only increases in the teen years and early adulthood. Godly fathers are extremely important and influential, the Bible is clear on that. These single moms wonder if having no father, or no Christian father, means there’s little hope. Timothy’s father was not a believer in the Lord. His mother and grandmother were, and they lovingly and unwaveringly taught him the word of God. Paul said to him, “For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelled in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” (2 Timothy 1:5). Paul also writes to Timothy “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:15). Again, it’s the work of God through His Word that is the power of salvation.
For any parent, keep shining the love and truth of Christ in your home, even if it makes clearer the division between you and your children.
Keep teaching His Word (Deuteronomy 6:6-7) and most importantly don’t forsake your first Love (Revelation 2:1-7).
In Luke 18:1 the parable of persistent prayer starts out with this: “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not become discouraged,”
Keep praying (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and don’t let discouragement take root. Rest in Christ and His loving-kindness, almighty power, and willingness to hear your prayers. Most of all, rest in His will no matter what it may be. Several times Mary and Joseph exhibited their faith in the Lord although they endured ridicule and heartache. They didn’t always see the fruit they desired to see. Joseph didn’t live long enough to see his sons come to faith. When we are at peace with God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son we know, no matter what, we can trust the Lord with everything. It’s all in His hands. We are only His vessels.
For you parents who love the Lord and His Word, who teach their children the way they should go and yet have painfully witnessed your children’s growing disdain for the truth of God and increasing desire to live for the world, I hope this helps encourage you to remember there’s still hope for your children, don’t stop praying, and don’t beat yourself up. God can work through impossible circumstances. There is still hope and joy in the Lord no matter what His will is and no matter if your prayers seem unanswered.
What an amazing ending for Jesus’ half-siblings, that after years of deep resentment and jealousy and of viewing Jesus as just an insane man, they came to not only believe in Jesus as Christ but to be mightily used in their faithful service to God.
Those who heard Him said, “And so who can be saved?” But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.” Luke 18:26-27
The Ironsmith uses his tools every day, heating them up and fashioning the iron, shaping it with his hammers and fire, and his own strength.
The Carpenter measures and marks and cuts down trees using his tools and his own strength to build. They work long hours and becoming worn down, and tired. To keep up their strength they take breaks to eat and hydrate. They are limited by their own abilities and they are reliant on fire to keep them warm, and on the plants they eat. So many elements of nature help them stay healthy.
They know that fire fueled with wood or coal helps them stay warm and also helps cook their food. God is good to them in so many ways because He has provided all they need to live. God has grown the trees they use to build homes and furniture. God has grown the plants they eat and provided the water they drink. God made the iron to make the tools they work with and pots they cook with.
Yet, they craft statues to worship out of the same trees they make fire with to stay warm and to cook their food. They craft idols out of the same iron they use to make tools, weapons, and pots.
These statues can’t talk, see, hear or walk but are seen as powerful and people bow down to them asking it for help and to keep them safe.
If men can’t save themselves how is it, they believe they can carve and fashion out of a piece of rock, wood, or iron statues to save them?
If they themselves don’t have powers to do what they are asking a statue to do, then how can it have power? How is it they don’t realize they are being helped and saved by the very things they already use that God has created and grown for them?
If my tiny story sounds familiar it is because we read it in the Scriptures.
Isaiah 44: 9-20
9 All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless. Those who would speak up for them are blind; they are ignorant, to their own shame. 10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol, which can profit nothing? 11 People who do that will be put to shame; such craftsmen are only human beings. Let them all come together and take their stand; they will be brought down to terror and shame.
12 The blacksmith takes a tool and works with it in the coals; he shapes an idol with hammers, he forges it with the might of his arm. He gets hungry and loses his strength; he drinks no water and grows faint. 13 The carpenter measures with a line and makes an outline with a marker; he roughs it out with chisels and marks it with compasses. He shapes it in human form, human form in all its glory, that it may dwell in a shrine. 14 He cut down cedars, or perhaps took a cypress or oak. He let it grow among the trees of the forest, or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow. 15 It is used as fuel for burning; some of it he takes and warms himself, he kindles a fire and bakes bread. But he also fashions a god and worships it; he makes an idol and bows down to it. 16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, “Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.” 17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, “Save me! You are my god!” 18 They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. 19 No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, “Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?” 20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, “Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?”
I’m not saying it’s a sin to make art or carve or design things. What is wrong is to carve things to worship as if they are gods. I am a freelance artist and I enjoy working with my hands and making art for others and for my own home. I have worked with many media such as drawing, painting, carving, and jewelry. I believe that my art is a gift from God and everything I do with it is my gift to Him.
What I want to point out is even after thousands of years humans are still trying to make idols, and make their gods out of simple slabs of rock or wood made by human hands. There is nothing I can carve or paint or draw that can become so powerful that it has the ability to save me or to help me in anything I do. Only God can do that.
Sadly, many people today still believe praying to statues is beneficial in helping us in our daily lives, such as the statue of Joseph.
Joseph is considered to many Catholics as the saint of workers and fathers and he possesses statues made from plastic to be used to sell your home.
Almost a year ago we sold our house. It was on the market for some time and an acquaintance of mine shared with me the secret to selling our home. They said, “You need to bury a statue of Joseph in your yard and you will sell your house fast.” Of course, I laughed because I don’t believe in that stuff, but apparently, they did because they did it for their house and seen great results. So many do this when selling their homes and most stories I’ve heard have had positive results even if you’re not a believer. I just want to point out that the Scriptures say that Satan masquerades as the light and can make things happen that you want as well. Jesus was tempted in the desert by Satan in Matthew 4:8-10~ “Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”
This should teach us that when we pray to a statue and your desire comes true such as selling your home, it’s not the statue that did it. the Statue isn’t alive. Maybe Satan did it, maybe he wants you to believe the statue honored your desire so that you will keep praying to those statues and false gods because that means your focus is OFF of God and on a statue or idol. Give glory to God for your house selling.
Below is a link that talks about how to sell your home by burying a statue of Joseph. Very mind-blowing.
After reading this link I think it’s extremely morbid if anyone believes that Joseph will work harder to sell your house if they bury him upside down because he doesn’t like being buried upside down. Supposedly, it’s a reward to Joseph to be dug back up if he sells your house quick enough and put in a place of honor in your house. So, is this how people treat their idols of worship? How odd! If a statue has the power to help you why would you treat it so badly? If people honestly believe that a statue doesn’t like being buried upside down, then how horrible of them that they would be ok with doing that. To me, it’s demented to think, “Do what I want Joseph, or I’m gonna beat you or torment you by burying you upside down.” However, these same believers have also turned to Saints and pray to them and worship them if the Saints help them.
Here is the prayer they pray to Joseph: “Dear Saint Joseph, I know you would do this for me out of the goodness of your heart and in your own good time, but my need is very great now and so I must make you hurry on my behalf.”
“Saint Joseph, I am going to place you in a difficult position with your head in darkness and you will suffer as our Lord suffered, until this [house/property] is sold. Then, Saint Joseph, I swear before the cross and God Almighty, that I will redeem you and you will receive my gratitude and a place of honor in my home. Amen.”
Ok, that prayer is just wrong in all kinds of ways but the part that is troubling is where it says the person, they “swear” to a plastic statue? What? They swear to the cross and God? That just sends a frightening chill up my spine. People this is demonic and evil. Do not do this! It’s not biblical in any way. That statue was made by weak humans that have no power to give it. Don’t make it your idol.
Romans 1:25~“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”
Exodus 20:4–5~ “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.”
Many people in the RCC also pray to many dead people such as dead loved ones and dead people in the Bible and people that become Saints, and even angels but the most famous one is Mary, Jesus’ mother. The reasons they pray to Mary or any so-called Saint are many. One is that they teach Mary is our mother too and God told us to honor our mother in the 10 commandments.
Yes, we honor our mothers but we do not pray to them after they have passed. Also, just because Mary was the mother of Jesus doesn’t mean she is to be prayed to or worshiped. We can honor our parents but we do not pray to them or try to communicate with them after they have passed away. When you start talking to or communicating to the dead then it’s not honoring anyone but instead disobeying God and showing worship of another. God saysin Deuteronomy 18:10-11~ “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.”
Take note of the bold words “or who consults the dead”. Consulting the dead is basically talking to the dead. Talking to the dead is equivalent to casting spells or witchcraft in God’s eyes or he wouldn’t have put them in the same paragraph.
Revelation 4:11 ~ “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”
Deuteronomy 17:2-6 ~“If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant, and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky, and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death. On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.”
We are to only worship the Lord and He makes that very clear. God is worthy of our worship because all things have been created by Him. The sun, moon, stars, the whole universe, yet people still look at these objects and think they have power and continue to worship them… even the dead.
In this verse, God is saying if anyone has been caught transgressing any of His covenants like worshiping any heavenly host then it’s an abomination to God, and He says to kill them. Any heavenly host pretty much means worship of anything god other than the true God, then he feels it’s better for them to die. Now thankfully we don’t have to stone anyone today because Jesus died for us and we only need to repent and turn from the evil deed. But what we need to see is any time we turn to Saints or Mary or angels in prayer then we are indeed worshiping them and that is a serious behavior.
Isaiah 8:19-20~ “When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.”
Another idea people believe as to why Mary should be worshiped is, she is the mother of all people.
That’s not correct because the Bible doesn’t say that she is, plus if we look further back than Mary, we read the bible says Eve was the mother of all the living first. Genesis 3:20~“Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.”
In Luke 11:27 we read, “One time when Jesus was speaking, a woman in the crowd proclaimed, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed”. Now, this was a great time for Jesus to speak up and honor Mary as his mother and teach us how worthy she is of our worship and praise if we were to truly worship her. However, Jesus responds quite differently by saying, “Blessedrather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28.
The lesson here was for us to see that Mary should not be focused on but instead for us to be obedient to God’s Word.
Also, when we look at Scriptures in how Jesus addressed Mary, we see he doesn’t refer to her as mother but instead, woman.
Mark 3:32-35~ “A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Jesus is telling everyone that his mother wasn’t his concern at that moment as much as teaching them something about God. Jesus used that opportunity to show them that those that do the will of God are those that are His family.
John 2:3-5~ “When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
John19:26~ “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
Now, Jesus wasn’t being disrespectful in calling her woman because ‘Got Questions’ explains that in the original language and culture of that time Jesus was using it as a different meaning such as how we would use the word, ma’am. Scriptures don’t explain this but we just need to understand that Jesus was more concerned in doing the will of His Father in Heaven just as in John 2:3-5 when Jesus tells Mary his time hasn’t come yet. Jesus was meaning that God hasn’t allowed it yet. Of course, we read that Jesus does turn the water into wine but He wouldn’t have if God didn’t allow it. Luke 2:47-49~“Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you” “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”
I can speak about my parents that died and still honor them in my conversation by speaking good about them but when I start speaking to them like they can hear me or praying to them then I am worshiping them not honoring them. Does Jesus or anyone else in Scriptures ever instruct us to praise, glorify or worship Mary? In Luke 1:42-44, when Elizabeth, (Mary’s relative) praised Mary when Mary was pregnant, Elizabeth’s praise was because of the blessing Mary had of giving birth to the Messiah…and Mary was very much alive at the time.
We are told in Scriptures that God forbids us from talking, speaking, praying, worship, or communicating with the dead in any way. The story below tells us how seriously God takes it when anyone consults the dead.
1 Samuel 28:8~“So Saul disguised himself, putting on other clothes, and at night he and two men went to the woman. “Consult a spirit for me,” he said, “and bring up for me the one I name.”
1 Samuel 28:16~ “Samuel said, “Why do you consult me, now that the LORD has turned away from you and become your enemy?”
A King named Saul becomes fearful of the Philistines making war with him and because God doesn’t answer him, he decides to go to a medium to consult the dead for advice which he knows goes against God’s commands. The dead person King Saul consults is a dead friend of his. Although we know that no one (even Satan) can truly summon up Gods people from the dead, it’s obvious God allows Samuel to appear to King Saul to show His mighty power and to give Saul the message that he will die the following day because he has disobeyed Gods commands.
1 Samuel 28: 18-19~ “Because you did not obey the Lord or carry out his fierce wrath against the Amalekites, the Lord has done this to you today.19 The Lord will deliver both Israel and you into the hands of the Philistines, and tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. The Lord will also give the army of Israel into the hands of the Philistines.”
What do we know? We are told to Pray to God… only ask God for help, not a statue, not the dead, not the angels, not the sun or moon…approach God in prayer…present your requests to God…. when you pray; pray to your Father. There is only one mediator between God and men and that is Jesus…Timothy 2:5~“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” (One intercessor)
Jesus says “You may ask Me for anything in My name, and I will do it,” Christ Jesus is at the right hand of God and Him and Him only intercedes for us.
1 John 5:14-15~”This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.”
Philippians 4:6-7~”Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Matthew 6:6~ “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
John 14:13-14~“You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
Romans 8:34~“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
Hebrews 7:25~“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”
Jeremiah10:2-16~“Thus says the Lord: “Learn not the way of the nations, nor be dismayed at the signs of the heavens because the nations are dismayed at them, for the customs of the peoples are vanity. A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman. They decorate it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so that it cannot move. Their idols are like scarecrows in a cucumber field, and they cannot speak; they have to be carried, for they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of them, for they cannot do evil, neither is it in them to do good.” There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might. Who would not fear you, O King of the nations? For this is your due; for among all the wise ones of the nations and in all their kingdoms there is none like you. They are both stupid and foolish; the instruction of idols is but wood! Beaten silver is brought from Tarshish, and gold from Uphaz. They are the work of the craftsman and of the hands of the goldsmith; their clothing is violet and purple; they are all the work of skilled men. But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earthquakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses. Every man is stupid and without knowledge; every goldsmith is put to shame by his idols, for his images are false, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of delusion; at the time of their punishment, they shall perish. Not like these is he who is the portion of Jacob, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the Lord of hosts is his name.”
Brothers and sisters, please let this be a reminder of how seriously God takes the worship of other gods and consulting the dead. No one has the power the Lord does and no one deserves the glory our Lord God does. Warn others of this because even after thousands of years we still see this practiced today. How is it we can’t understand statues are not alive, the dead have no powers and neither one should take the place of our Almighty Father and Creator?
Above is an article written by Tami Dykes, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford
Almost every chapter of the Gospels makes some reference to His running battle with the chief hypocrites of His day, and He made no effort whatsoever to be winsome in His encounters with them. He did not invite them to dialogue or engage in a friendly exchange of ideas….. This approach would surely have earned Jesus a resounding outpouring of loud disapproval from today’s guardians of the evangelical protocol.
I know a guy who is pretty much John Wayne incarnate. Most who know him agree. His looks, his demeanor, his voice, his values… the inability to mince words or hold in his opinion for too long. Mr. Wayne has made a few people cry. Made others look for an exit door. He may very well tell you to get a better-looking hat but he’ll buy it for you and never ask for a dime. He’s a bit softer around his grandkids but never a push-over for anyone. It’s been known that in the stormy weather of life, some grew closer to him because he was the only one not tossed around by all the nonsense. He’s the one giving the shirt off his back when you least expect it. He won’t say a whole lot of warm and fuzzy, but no one doubts he cares somewhere deep under that leathery grit.
I also know someone who is like the cunning witch, Gothel, from Tangled. She comes across as the protective “mother” who “knows best”, nicely brushing Rapunzel’s hair but in reality is a fraud, desperately trying to maintain the masquerade for her own survival. The Ms. Tangled I know is appealing, agreeable, great at kidding around and even giving hugs. She plays the Christian sister role with a smile. “You can trust me” is her favorite line. However, as soon as you turn your back you feel the sting of her betrayal. Oh, but on the surface she’s nice. She doesn’t initially make people squirm like Mr. Wayne. She’s got a softer touch, yet will slip poison into your canteen when you aren’t looking.
How many people today would take their chances on Ms. Tangled? I’ve heard it so many times; “Yeah, they have flaws… but they’re nice! They dress and speak so nicely! I know they care because they say they do… and they’re nice!”
People reading this may ask, “is being nice a bad trait?” “Aren’t we to be kind?” “Harsh truth is not good, right?”
It depends… yes….and it depends.
Being nice is defined by the world as being pleasing and agreeable. Those are not bad things in and of themselves, after all the Bible says, “Urge slaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be pleasing, not argumentative,” Titus 2:9. He also says, “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
There is a time for pleasing and agreeable words and attitudes.
The problem lies within the interpretation, over-emphasis, and even the worship of what is deemed as nice today. I believe what we are seeing take over our society, and sadly our churches are the false doctrine of having to come across nice and pleasing at all times.
Nice is the Gospel. Nice is everything. Jesus can’t do anything without it.
Truth is, people just want to feel nice. They want a nice world. They want to look at nice things. They often time get onto social media and become the spokesperson for “nice”. They ask, “what would Jesus do” and then follow up with something nice.
Being nice, of course, isn’t bad in the right context. We Christians just can’t always be agreeable or pleasing.
Kindness, however, is what we are called to exhibit as Christians. Kindness is much more than just being nice. The Bible talks about kindness a lot. It’s a fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,” Galatians 5:22 (See also Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12, Acts 9:36-41). The Greek word for “kindness” is chrēstotēs, which means “benignity, tender concern, uprightness.”
Kindness is not about surface agreeability or pleasing others, it’s about compassion, gracious and truthful speech, and acts of love. Kindness is not making sure to never rightfully offend. To show kindness is oftentimes to die to self, even risk being snarled at and getting your hand bit. The end means of kindness is for the kindness of Christ to be known.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”
Kind and pleasant speech as the Bible talks about in Proverbs, for example, does not tickle ears. Kindness is deeds fueled by the love that seeks the best for others, even those that hate you.
“But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20-21
Kindness doesn’t always feel good. What’s more kind and loving than pushing a man out of the way of a car? You may break his ribs but his life is spared. He may not feel good, but he’s alive. Who would object to saving a life?
At the time of writing this, we are a few weeks removed from celebrating Reformation Day. On this day we celebrate God’s work through imperfect reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale, John Knox. We also appreciate the men who came later, such as Charles Spurgeon, who boldly preached the Truth in times so depleted of sound doctrine.
God used them to bring people to their knees and repent. Countless people. The impact was so immense, the world was radically affected. It was apparent souls were desperately needing Truth.
The Reformers boldly stood for the Word of God and even gave their life for it. Although imperfect, they loved the Lord, His people, and the Scripture. It showed. They faithfully preached on the kindness of God and they showed kindness themselves, yet… they were not necessarily the nicest of speakers or known for their appeasing speech. They didn’t care to make people feel nice. That doesn’t save souls.
A few of their quotes:
“If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy who drives a plough to know more of the scriptures than you do.” ― William Tyndale (speaking to a priest)
“Your thoughts of God are too human.” – Martin Luther (speaking to Erasmus)
“The world doesn’t want to be punished. It wants to remain in darkness. It doesn’t want to be told that what it believes is false. If you also don’t want to be corrected, then you might as well leave the church and spend your time at the bar and brothel. But if you want to be saved-and remember that there’s another life after this one-you must accept correction.” Martin Luther
“The pastor ought to have two voices: one, for gathering the sheep; and another, for warding off and driving away wolves and thieves. The Scripture supplies him with the means of doing both.” John Calvin
“A man that extols himself is a fool and an idiot” John Calvin
“To search for wisdom apart from Christ means not simply foolhardiness but utter insanity.” John Calvin
“Right is right though all condemn, and wrong is wrong though all approve.” Charles Spurgeon
“You and I cannot be useful if we want to be sweet as honey in the mouths of men. God will never bless us if we wish to please men, that they may think well of us. Are you willing to tell them what will break your own heart in the telling and break theirs in the hearing? If not, you are not fit to serve the Lord. You must be willing to go and speak for God, though you will be rejected.” Charles Spurgeon
They had lived up close and personal to the cesspool of deceit. It carried the stench of death. People they knew and loved were perishing in false doctrine and being abused by false teachers. A massive amount of people were slumbering in their sins and dancing straight to Hell. Nice and easy wasn’t going to cut it.
Of course, the Reformers were in no way the originators of such an approach.
The Old Testament writers, the Apostles such as Paul and Peter and ultimately Christ Himself said some pretty harsh truth.
“Do not withhold discipline from a child;
Though you strike him with the rod, he will not die.
You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol.” Proverbs 23:13-14
“One who loves discipline loves knowledge, But one who hates rebuke is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1
“But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you because you thought you could acquire the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore, repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart will be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of unrighteousness.” (Peter to Simon the magician) Acts 8:20-23.
“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” (Paul talking about having to confront Peter) Galatians 2:11
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matthew 23:15
“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 will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; leave Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23
In John MacArthur’s book, “The Jesus You Can’t Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ, in the first chapter titled, When it’s Wrong to be “Nice” he writes, “The Great Shepherd Himself was never far from open controversy with the most conspicuously religious inhabitants in all of Israel. Almost every chapter of the Gospels makes some reference to His running battle with the chief hypocrites of His day, and He made no effort whatsoever to be winsome in His encounters with them. He did not invite them to dialogue or engage in a friendly exchange of ideas….. This approach would surely have earned Jesus a resounding outpouring of loud disapproval from today’s guardians of the evangelical protocol. In fact, His approach to the Pharisees utterly debunks the cardinal points of conventional wisdom among modern and postmodern evangelicals—the neo ….evangelical fondness for eternal collegiality, and the Emerging infatuation with engaging all points of view in endless conversation. By today’s standards, Jesus’ words about the Pharisees and His treatment of them are breathtakingly severe.”
Were Paul, Peter, and even Christ Himself unloving? Unkind? Is the severe approach wrong?
On the contrary!
Although we are not to make a habit of going around and rebuking brothers and sister harshly or publically or calling people hypocrites, we can gather from the Bible’s examples that the truth is profoundly important and we can’t compromise it or dance around it. We also see what true kindness looks like. It’s not as much about sparing feelings, as it is sparing souls the judgment or severe discipline of the Lord. Not only did the men in the Bible rebuke those they were speaking to, but they graciously shared with the many hearers who need to know what’s right and what’s wrong. That is loving-kindness.
“For such people are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.” Romans 16:18
Today people are making some very serious decisions based solely on the “niceness” of others. They are attracted by smooth and flattering speech. It is a dangerous thing to look to be led by what’s likable instead of what is right.
After witnessing to a close family member with concern in my heart, tears in my eyes, and loving conviction in my voice, she walked out the door and said she never wanted anything more to do with me or my God. She didn’t see me as nice, that’s for sure. I looked every bit the part of evil in her eyes at that moment. Yet that was far from true. Praise God, He used the truth spoken to break her and bring her to repentance a while later. The truth sets us free (John 8:32)! God’s Word is a sword, not a fan (Hebrews 4:12). The Word is a hammer, not a feather (Jeremiah 23:29). Christ is a stumbling block for some (1 Corinthians 1:23), hated and rejected by many (John 15:18). He is not concerned about being nice. He is concerned about the providing of God’s truth in love.
“Peace if possible, truth at all costs.” Martin Luther
If I had to choose between hard truth and nice veneer, I’d take the truth in John Wayne’s style over nice and sweet nothings any day. Any person who has been devastated by “sweet little lies” should agree. Anyone who sees sin and false teaching ravaging souls, should be more concerned about the Truth and doing good than sparkly words and happy feelings.
Yes, we are to be peaceable, gentle, gracious in our speech and always with a heart of compassion, and to know that doesn’t mean suppressing the truth of God. People may be in grave danger with the Lord! Let them know if you care, even if they don’t see you as nice for doing it. Ultimately, we are to please the Lord, not man.
“For am I now seeking the favor of people, or of God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10