Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Stand Firm In Your Faith

In this current day and age, we are seeing liberal-left ideological movements creeping into many Christian denominations. If you are a Christian, then you must ask yourself an extremely important question. Is what they are teaching (on any particular subject of your choice) considered in agreement with the relativistic beliefs of those 'of the world' or, are they genuinely standing on the absolute truth that is of God and His Word?

The book of Jude is a personal letter to one or more of the congregations dispersed throughout the Roman empire. The dangers facing the church at this time are not those of outright persecution but of heretics and distorters of the faith. Although Jude is eager to write about salvation, he must instead warn his readers about immoral men who are perverting God's grace. The letter advises believers to strengthen their relationship to God with prayer and mutual support.

Today, we need to recognize and know the truth from God's Word more than at any other time in history. Why? Because we are on information overload. Turn on any TV talk show, news show or analysis program and you must weigh what you are hearing by asking yourself, "Is this really true? Am I hearing correct information?"

Christians need to be constantly and consistently engaged in the quest for truth. With the conflicting messages being received through the bombardment of information that the secular media and worldview desires for us to believe, the quest for truth can be a difficult and daunting task. So, where do we go? You know where I am going with this. Yes. We go to the Bible.

But even then, there are those who would twist, distort, dismiss, ignore and even blaspheme the truth about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and His unchanging character and timeless message that is recorded in the Bible.
So, how do we recognize truth from error? I think that the book of Jude is the one book that motivates Christians everywhere to recognize the truth as God intended in the Scriptures. This book motivates us into action because we have the uncompromising duty to fight for God's truth. We need to diligently study the Scriptures so that we can avoid the danger of false teachers.

The megathemes of the book of Jude include exposing false teachers and warn against heresy and apostasy. It also contains a warning against living a nominal Christian life.

My friends, false teachers are rampant in the liberal-left ideological churches. How do I know this? Because I am currently staunchly involved with combating their false teachings and defending the genuine Christian faith and worldview in the blogosphere. In other words, there is a battle looming where one is engaged in defending the truth of the Bible or defending man's subjective and changing ideas.

I urge my fellow Christian believers who may be in such a church to step back and examine whether or not they are engaging in doctrine that is not only man-made, but is probably also steeped in sin. Ask yourself, "are the teachings that I am hearing and following in agreement with, and/or more in step with, the secular worldviews of our time? If your answer is yes, then you need to worry.

Don't think you need to worry?

Don't want to listen to what I am saying here? Then don't listen to me...listen to what God's Word says:

James 4:4 - Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

I know what you might be thinking. That's harsh! But let's look at this matter in context. There is nothing wrong with wanting a pleasurable life. God gives us good gifts that he wants us to enjoy (see James 1:17; Ephesians 4:7; Timothy 4:4,5). But having 'friendship with the world' involves seeking pleasure at others' expense or at the expense of obeying God.

An important distinction to keep in mind when "choosing your pleasures" is to realize that pleasure that keeps us from pleasing God is sinful; pleasure from God's rich bounty is good!

The cure for evil desires is humility (see Proverbs 16:18, 19; 1 Peter 5:5,6). Pride makes us self-centered and leads us to conclude that we deserve all we can see, touch, or imagine. It creates greedy appetites for far more than we need. We can be released from our self-centered desires by humbling ourselves before God, realizing that all we really need is His approval.

When the Holy Spirit fills us, we see that this world's seductive attractions are only CHEAP SUBSTITUTES for what God has to offer!

Don't let yourself be involved in a cheap substitute! How would you be able to recognize a "cheap substitute" from the real God-pleasing truth?

It is crucial to make sure that you avoid leaders and teachers who distort the Bible to suit their own purposes.

False teachers and leaders who reject (either openly or secretly) the lordship of Christ in their own lives, tend to undermine the faith of others and lead them astray. Jude warns that these leaders and any who follow them will be punished.

Why is this so very important? Because those who do not seek to know the truth in God's Word are susceptible to apostasy. Christians must guard against any false teachings that would distract them from the truth preached by the apostles and written in God's Word.

The book of Jude was written for a time such as this. Look around and see that the truth in God's Word is being attacked from many secular groups.

These days, truth is often hidden and false teachers abound. Sadly, there are those who either knowingly, or unknowingly are following these false teachers. Jude encourages us to ground ourselves in faith and prayer. For it is God who guides us into truth (Psalm 25:5) and who reveals his truth in his son Jesus (John 1:17) and in his Word, which is truth (John 17:17).

There are many people who live in opposition to God and his followers. They twist God's truth, seeking to deceive and destroy the unwary. I urge you wholeheartedly don't allow yourself to be one of their victims!

God's truth must go forth and we are the ones to share it. God's truth can only be carried and defended by those who have committed their lives to God's Son.

Of course, this is an awesome task and huge responsibility that should never be taken lightly. Therefore, only those who are committed to building up their own faith through prayer and Bible study, commited to keeping close to Christ, commited to helping others, and committed to hating sin (not the sinner) are prepared to "contend for the faith" (verse 3) by rejecting all falsehood and immorality (verses 4-19).

So. You may be asking, "How do I know when I am ready to contend for the faith?" Ask God to show you. Pray and fervently ask Him to show you! No matter how long it takes to get your answer, continue to pray fervently and ask God to show you!

For me, it took 3 years of constant, consistent Bible study. My prayer life improved tremendously during that time. Over the past 18 years, my constant vigilance to keep strong in the faith no matter what opposition I might get from others, has helped me tremendously in spotting and opposing heresy.

I am totally aware that I have not arrived yet to the point where I would like to be; however no one ever completely 'arrives' in their Bible study on this side of heaven.

But you can look at several tests to determine if you are ready for the battle against heresy and false teaching. Ask yourself these questions.

1. How much do you value God's Word?

2. How much do you value the fellowship of the church? (Note: this not only includes the individual church where you personally fellowship, but the body of born-again believers that the Lord has brought into your life.)
3. How much do you value obedience to Jesus Christ?

Next, consider the following comments and accompanying questions. These may also help you to determine your readiness in this battle between falsehood creeping into the churches and the truth of God's Word.

1. There are many false teachers waiting to destroy your Christ-centered life. Have you seen any evidence of this in your life and Christian walk?

2. There are many who seek to undermine the credibility of God's Word. Have you seen any evidence of this in your life and Christian walk?

3. There are those who attempt to cause division and (knowingly or through blind adherance to a false teacher) destroy the body of Christ.
Have you seen any evidence of this in your life and Christian walk?

One contemporary example of this is the current craze over The DaVinci Code heresy. A fictional book is being slyly promoted as the "real" truth about Jesus.

A more subtle method for blinding people to the truth of God's Word is the current "seeker sensitive" movement. Why is such a movement popular these days? In the current politically correct mantra of "tolerance," we don't want to offend anyone in the church pews now do we?

But this is so dangerous, people. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ on the cross does not appear to be central to the "seeker sensitive" teachings and the belief that God sentences people to "eternal fire" for rejecting him isn't even on their radar screen!

Yet, Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross and subsequent resurrection is essential to the Christian faith. Plus, during his 3 year ministry on earth Jesus talked more about about avoiding hell than he did about the eternal reward of heaven.

What is clearly taught in Scripture? Sinners who don't seek forgiveness from God will face eternal separation from him. Jude gives this warning to all who rebel against, ignore, or reject God.

Jude 7 - In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of thsoe who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

Solomon once said, "there is nothing new under the sun." How true this statement is as it relates to the first-century false teachers and is subsequently applied towards the false teachers of our current day. Those first-century teachers were teaching that Christians could do whatever they liked without fear of God's punishment. They had a light view of God's holiness and his justice. Paul refuted this same kind of false teaching in Romans 6:1-23.

Even today, some Christians minimize the sinfulness of sin, believing that how they live has little to do with their faith. But what a person truly believes will show up in how he or she acts. Those who truly have faith will show it by their deep respect for God and their sincere desire to live according to the principles in his Word.

Christians are called to determine to stand firm in their faith and defend God's truth at all costs. No one told us that someone would never be offended when we do so. In fact, the Bible tells us to expect it!

Mat 11:6 And blessed is [he], whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Mat 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.
Mat 13:57 And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.
Mat 15:12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
Mat 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
Mat 26:31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
Mat 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all [men] shall be offended because of thee, [yet] will I never be offended.
Mar 4:17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended.
Mar 6:3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
Mar 14:27 And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.
Mar 14:29 But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet [will] not I.
Luk 7:23 And blessed is [he], whosoever shall not be offended in me.
Jhn 16:1 These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.

Stand firm in your faith and defend God's truth at all costs. Nothing is more valuable!


JJ said...

The "Davinci Code" Book really began to annoy me, I have to say... and I never even read it. I just had every single non-Christian friend and family member telling me I "had to read it" to "learn the truth" about Christianity. When I finally gave in and read the one chapter I was assured would "change everything for me forever" I was really frustrated. It merely mentions the "gnostic gospels" as "evidence" that there is some conspiracy in the church to undermine the role of women without going into what any of these 'gnostic gospels' actually say. In the brief women's history course I took (at a secular university, so this was kind of a surprise) the professor made a point of pointing out how "pro-women" the Bible actually is, and how it was the fallible humans who screwed things up for us females. She also went into the gnostic gospels and after reviewing them, we (women) can all be grateful they weren't included in the Scriptures (thanks to the divine will of God) because they were so insanely anti-women it's ridiculous... the most anti-women one actually, is the one most people tend to hold up as 'evidence' that the church has downplayed the role of women -- the "Gospel of Mary"... it's just horrible to women.

Anyway, that's my rant. It just annoyed me that the Davinci Code could get away with that... with just mentioning these 'omitted' books of the Bible, without ever talking about what was in them, and this has people suddenly thinking they know the 'truth'. It probably wouldn't have bothered me if it had just been another fiction book, but in the introduction to it, the author claims that everything in his book is based on fact... he just doesn't say how loosely.


an aside, have you been back to read my reply to your comment? Also, have you had a chance to listen to the Tony Campolo talk I recommended? I'm just curious.

Christinewjc said...

Hi JJ,

The desire of non-believers to negate the truth of the gospel is nothing new. They just keep bringing back their blasphemous attempts and package them in a new "wrapping" for a new generation.

Do you have a lot of non-believers in your family? That must be tough to deal with.

I just read this article at WND. It is a documentary that dispels everything that the Davinci Code movie will attempt to convey as fact. About 2 years ago, I read a book that is similar to Breaking the DaVinci Code. It truly showed how silly, inaccurate and blasphemous Dan Brown's book really is.

I feel sorry for anyone so gullible that they would turn something that is so obviously fictional into something that they suddenly believe as true. This is how people get involved in cults.

If they don't know the truth that God has revealed in the Scriptures and they don't know the truth about who Jesus Christ is, then they will fall for any lie out there. Truly sad...

I did read your comment at your blog. I have been meaning to go back and post but a lot of things have been going on and I haven't gotten back there yet.

I will answer more fully at your blog, but the one thing that I will say here is that whether or not you believe the analysis about Sodom and Gomorrah (I did mention that homosexuality wasn't the only sin that the city was destroyed for, but the Scriptures do reveal that it was likely 'the last straw' that brought on the destruction), when you take the totality of Scripture verses that address the physical act of homosexual sex, there is no doubt that it is regarded as sinful and to be avoided by God's people.

Just so that you know, I have listened to both sides of the issue on homosexuality and Christianity. However, my research has led me a similar conclusion as my friend Stephen Bennett. He often says, "mixing homosexuality and Christianity is like trying to mix oil and water. It can't be done."

I plan to listen to the Tony Campolo talk as you had suggested. Sometimes my dialogue with the "other side" has led to a better understanding and more compassionate approach when dealing with this issue. But I have found that once a person knows "what side I am on," they immediately label me a bigoted right-winger and tend to tune out anything that I would have to say and/or share from Scripture.

It is interesting to read Chad Thompson's blog. He seems to get it from all sides!! I see him (personally) as attempting to be "middle of the road" on the issue which (IMHO) really can't be done. Either a person ultimately sides with the 'gay-behavior affirming church view' or with 'the need to repent church view.' Wouldn't you agree? There really is no gray area.

Just like choosing between good or evil. It's one or the other. The two are separated for eternity and ultimately only one side wins.

I would imagine that you probably won't agree with what I just stated. But I see the entire issue of homosexuality and Christian belief as spiritual 'oil and water.' It is a spiritual deception that is being thrusted upon the church for acceptance in the belief that such behavior is not sin. Either it is, or it isn't.

I can make a claim right now that the mirror I ordered and received in the mail years ago and never paid for was not really a sin. But it was. It was stealing.

Even if a group of thieves rose up one day and declared that stealing is no longer against the law here in the U.S., it would still be against God's law. I would still need to first recognize my actions as sin and I would still need to repent of that sin before God.

About the professor -

I agree with her opinion that the Bible has a "pro-women" stance. It is surprising that you heard such a thing at a secular university! Many people only take Paul's descriptions about the "man being head of the household" in a Christian marriage and how such a thing would squelch the wife's life.

But again, when we look at the entirety of Scripture, we see that such a narrow view just isn't so. Paul also said that the husband should love his wife as Christ loves the church. Now, if that isn't a huge calling, I don't know what would be!!

We also see how revolutionary Jesus was in his treatment of women and especially how he rewarded the two Marys when they were the very first to see our resurrected Lord!

May I make a suggestion? Tell your relatives who are DaVinci Code fans to see the documentary when it premiers on TV. They will most likely need to re-think their enthusiasm regarding the "truth" of Dan Brown's fictional story!

Christinewjc said...

This is good news! The release of The DaVinci Code film may be scrapped because of a plagiarism claim against author Dan Brown!

That would be cool...

Brown deserves every bit of trouble he faces because of his blasphemous book that lies about the Son of God, Jesus Christ.

Willie Hewes said...

People who read fictional books and think every word is true are silly. I know plenty of people who have read the book (I haven't) but no one who believes it to be anything but fiction.

In your post on false teachers, I was surprised to find this one missing (you'll probably be able to correct me):

Q: How will we recognise a false teacher?
A: By the fruits you will know the tree.

:D Enough irreverence. Christine, I wish you well, I mean neither offense nor disrespect.

Willie Hewes (Adultress and creator of the devil's picturebooks: Comics.)

Christinewjc said...

Plot thickens for the plagarism case against Da Vinci Code author.