Make Full Proof of Your Ministry

2 Timothy 4:5

 

But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry

What good is our ministry if there is no evidence, no proof, that other people see in us? Everything we do and say should reflect the ministry that God has placed within us.  And all of us have a ministry! Don’t for one minute think that you are exempt.  If God has saved you. He has called you.  And if he calls you, He places within you talents to reach other people.  Paul puts in this way in Romans 8:30:

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Whom he calls he justifies and glorifies.  What that means to me is that God will place within us a form of glory that can’t help but touch other people.  The glory of the Lord can be seen by the unbeliever as much as the believer.  When we walk in this glory, it reaches beyond our human flesh to minister to others.  There is a caution I want to give, though.  We must be very careful not to raise up in pride because we carry this little bit of glory within us.  It would be easy to give in to that pride, but we must not. That will destroy the ministry He has given us.

Let’s take a closer look at the four things Paul tells Timothy to do in this powerful verse.

  • Watch in all things.  This word watch is an interesting one.  The Greek word is nepho, which in most cases is translated “Be sober,” meaning not intoxicated.  But the deeper meaning is to have presence of mind, to always keep your mind clear of things that would distract one form the ministry.  The enemy of our souls can use anything to distract us and keep us from being the light we are supposed to be.  In my opinion, 2020 was a year he used science and politics to distract many Christians from the ministry of saving souls.  The Coronavirus brought fear to the hearts of billions of people and caused many a preacher to change their message from salvation to end times theology.  There were more people preaching about the last days than I have ever seen in my 69 years on this earth.  We do not, nor never will, know the time or day when Jesus will return.  We can look at the signs, and warn people He is coming, but that is not the important thing.  The important thing is that people get saved.  That they trust their lives to Jesus. But instead of preaching the love of God, many preached the wrath of God.  It is by His love that people get saved.                                                                       The political arena was also quite disturbing.  So many jumped on the bandwagon of a rigged election and fake news that it was confusing.  But God is not the author of confusion.  Our job, our mission, in times of uncertainty is simple.  Be a tree beside still waters that will not be moved.  Stay in the word and out of the jungle of political rhetoric.  God needs us to stay sober minded, cautious of the ways of the world, but temperate in what we say and do. The church in many ways lost it’s bearing in 2020, and we need to get back to the place where we are watchful and wise.  Adding emphasis, Paul says in ALL things.  I could preach for a long time on all, but let’s just say there should be nothing we are confused or conflicted about.
  •  Endure afflictions – This is actually one word in the Greek and it means exactly what it says.  It is translated this way and also endure sufferings.   The Greek seems to point not only to those things that come against us to set back our ministry, but also things of malicious intent that may never harm us personally, but will have a negative affect on our ministry.  Things like gossip and backbiting people would fall into this category.  We must not let our anger rise up, or try to get revenge or engage in any activity to get back at those who would commit such acts.  The Gospel is all about Christ’s love.  We must always show that love, even if a storm is raging against us.  This dedication to endure to the end will show others we live in real faith and that will bring people to Christ.  The fruit of longsuffering as aptly worded in the KJV.  Suffering long with wrong is a hallmark of the best of saints. On to of that, nothing, and I mean nothing, should offend us.  It is only pride that can get offended.  Only pride can get steamed up over something someone says or does against us.  When I was at Pure Life Ministries back in 2008, there was a saying on the wall that I wall always remember.  It said “If I get offended, what miserable piece of flesh is still in me that I can get offended.”  We must guard against allowing people to get under our skin and make our love not as effective.  Endure. or work through, and type of affliction without getting offended.  Your testimony will be greatly enhanced when you do this effectively.
  • Do the work of an evangelist. – This word means exactly what we think it means.  Timothy had a calling to be a bearer of Good News to all he met.  That is what an evangelist does.  We are all called to bring the Good News to those we come in contact with and we can do that in many ways.  The first way is to actually preach the Gospel, to vocally proclaim the Good News that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life.  But there are more ways to actually preach the good news, and the most important one is by our conduct and character.  In the Bible it is often called our conversation.
    • Philippians 1:27 says “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
    • Hebrews 13:15 “ Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
    •  James 3:13 “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.”  
    • And 1 Peter 1:15 “ But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;” 
    • All of these verses point to a lifestyle that is above contempt and that visibly shows to other people  the work that Christ has done in us.  We can have all the flowery words we want, but if we do not have the conversation to go along with it, they are vain words and will lead people astray.  Make sure your lifestyle is where your mouth is!

Make full proof of your ministry – carry out completely what God ahs called you to do!  What a strong challenge Paul gives to Timothy and to all of us.  Do you know what God ahs called you to do?  Does God every stop calling us deeper, or to do more?  Our ministry is always evolving, always changing.  He has great things for every one of us to do, and if we listen closely, He will tell us what the next step is.  We have to be careful not to get off track, but to follow the path he has laid out for us.  This world is dying to hear the Good News.  How is God calling you to share it?  What is your ministry?  Whatever it is, whether washing the walls, preaching the gospel, teaching Sunday School, being a greeter or maybe a prayer warrior, do it with all your might and God just might call you deeper.  Be ready!

Do You Have Itching Ears?

2 Timothy 4:3-4

 

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

I want to apologize to all who follow this post.  Time got away from me and it has now been over two months since I posted anything.  I really need to dedicate the time each day, or at least each week, to get a post out there that can express what the Lord is showing me in His word.  His word is so rich, and is so easy to understand.  We make it too hard by reading into it what is really not there.  This is exactly what Paul is talking about in this section of his letter to Timothy.  People making God’s word into something it isn’t.

I know I have a catholic friend out there who will have a very different look at this portion of scripture than I do.  I believe he will say that the Protestant reformation fulfilled this portion of scripture pretty well.  People wanted a voice against the Catholic church and Martin Luther became the first voice to challenge the established order.  He wrote his 95 theses as a rebuke against the corruption that was going on in the Catholic church.  Priests were taking indulgences, or payment, to have their sins forgiven.  Luther realized, by his own reading of scripture, that Paul wrote “The just shall live by faith” for a reason.  It is not in getting forgiveness from the priests, but by going right to Jesus to get that forgiveness. That is why he died on the cross in the first place! But the Catholic church renounced Luther’s ideas and have regarded the Protestant reformation as a revolt by those who have “itching ears.”  I do not agree with that assessment, although I will agree that many Protestant doctrines have come ever since that were created to tickle those itching ears.

The Protestant Reformation was a move to accept the fact that we are saved by faith coupled with grace.  These two are shown to be key ingredients of salvation in Ephesians 2:8-9. “For by faith are you saved, by grace, and that not of yourself, it is the gift of God.  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Paul is very clear here that works do not save a person.  When I say save a person, I mean the initial acceptance of Jesus Christs atonement for our sin on the cross.  This act of Christ saves us from our sin, and accepting His resurrection in our place gives us the eternal life and heavenly home that Jesus talks about.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, we can do to earn these two things.  They have been bought and paid for by Jesus.  If this is not true, then he shed His blood in vain.  If we can buy our way into heaven by our actions, then Christ did not have to die.  The Catholic priests in Luther’s day were taking money, called indulgences, from people and telling them that this money would absolve them from their sins to an extent.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It is Christ’s blood, and only Christ’s blood, that can absolve sin.

Today, we have many. Many denominations of Protestants, and this was surely not Luther’s intent.  I think he saw one protestant church, separate from the Catholic church.  Through the years, men have come up with various translations, interpretations and modern versions of the Bible and this has muddied the waters on a grand scale.  I can see why the Catholic Church looks on Protestantism with skepticism.  Some believe you must be baptized to be saved, others believe you must speak in tongues, others wear strict dress codes, others allow near-nakedness.  Some say abortion is OK, LGBTQ can be behind the pulpit, you can live anyway you want to after accepting Christ, and so on.  There are so many “itching ear” doctrines out there it is sad.  I truly believe this is why the moral compass in our societies has declined. The church is divided on all moral issues, and our opposition stands united behind their cause.  As long as this is true, morality will continue to slip farther and farther away from a Biblical basis.  They will turn away from the truth and turn to fables.

Here is the simple truth I believe we must all stand behind.  I don’t want to complicate things with the doctrines that are out there.  I just go by the words of Jesus and Paul, if that’s OK.  Jesus says if a man is born of water and spirit, or born from above, he shall be born again.  Jesus said He is the way.  There is no other way to the Father but by Him. That whosever believes in Him shall have eternal life.  Paul backs this up in Eph 2:8-9 and Romans 10:9-10, 13.  That is what we call getting saved or born again.  This is when we enter into His salvation.  But that is not where our journey ends.  Jesus tells us that many will call Him Lord, but only those who do the will of the Father will enter into heaven (Matthew 7:21), and Paul reiterates this when he says that we all must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12).  This tells us that we must stay in the Word and do what Christ commands or we could lose that heavenly home.

To me, that is the simple truth.  We have made it way to complicated.  Paul explains in the end of 1 Corinthians chapter 1 that God uses the seeming foolishness of preaching to confound the wise.  It becomes a stumbling block to the Jews because they think they have to obey the law.  It is foolishness to the Greeks because they are high thinkers and doers.  But God has used this simple message down through the corridors of time to change the heart of man, so that no man may glory except in the Lord.

Examine where you re today.  Are you in a place that requires certain other things to be saved, or that preaches pretty words to keep you happy, or that says God must do one thing or another? All of these things, and many more, are there to appeal to itching eras, to draw you into a place of comfort that is not necessarily a place of salvation.  Be careful.  Make sure your salvation is sure.

The Quick and the Dead

2 Timothy 4:1-2

 

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

So which are you?  Are you among the quick or the dead?  This is not a reference to how fast you can run!  This is a reference to the nature of your spirit!  Paul tells us that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead will quicken your mortal body!  That word quicken means to make alive!  The Spirit of God, otherwise known as the Holy Spirit, brings life into our spirits when it enters in at the time of salvation.  It is a similar life giving as when God breathed life into Adam into garden.  He had formed the body out of the dust of the ground, but as of yet, there was no life, no part of God, in that body.  But when God breathed life into him, he became alive.  We need the breath of God in our lives as well. 

There is coming a day when God will judge us all.  The quick he will judge according to our works on this earth and we will gain our heavenly rewards.  The crowns are mentioned throughout the Bible, and we will receive those crowns we have worked for.  There are five crowns.  The Crown of life will be given to those who persevere under trials.  The. Imperishable Crown is given to those who demonstrate self-denial and persistence in their faith.  The Crown of Righteousness is given to those who everyone who is in an intimate relationship with God.  The Crown of Glory is given to those who shepherd others and lead a life that is a good example for others.  The Crown of Rejoicing goes to men and women who work as evangelists, or who wins souls to Christ.  These crowns are then cast down at Jesus feet in a sign of submission and worship in Heaven.

The dead will also be judged.  Those who do not have their name written in the Lambs Book of Life will be cast into the lake of fire, along with the devil and his demons. This is the final judgment on mankind.  They will never have an opportunity to leave that burning lake of fire.  For all eternity they will feel the flames of torment that were never, meant for mankind.  All because they refused to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.  This is the only way to get your name written down – a personal confession of faith in Jesus.  He said that no one goes to the father except through Him.  Please, if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, ask Him to forgive you today, and accept Him as your Lord and Savior.  He will hear your prayer and wrap His loving arms around you if you do!

Then comes the call to our hearts.  Paul declarers the mission Timothy has in dealing with the churches he has been assigned to.  But this mission can be passed to all of us.  It is a microcosm of how to bring people to Christ. and how to disciple those who come to Christ. If we follow this simple formula, we will see our churches grow, our friends saved, and disciples rising up to follow Jesus.  I fall short in utilizing these steps too often.  I must learn to incorporate these things in my daily living and conversation.  Let’s take a look at how this works out in our lives. 

Preach the word.  I think often we get intimidated by that word preach.  We think it means to be a great orator and to together a stirring sermon that will touch the heart of a person.  We think we have to study hard to get the message just right.  Our minds tell us we are not preachers – far from it. We are too imperfect to preach.  But our imperfection is the key to the whole message!  God loves us just as we are, and we can tell that truth with conviction, we are preaching.  Sharing what God has done for me is the best preaching anyone can do.  It does not have to be a long, studied out argument on the merits of being a Christian and all that it takes to become one.  Just a simple testimony of what He has done for me, for you!  Preach that message and the world will listen.

Be instant in season and out of season.  Here is where the study comes in.  This is really where the rubber meets the road, so to say.  If someone comes up to you and asks you why you are full of joy, or why you have such peace in the midst of turmoil, are you ready to give them an answer?  Are you a student of the word of God?  Can you defend your position with solid scripture?  You don’t have to know the address, although it is helpful to give validity to what you are saying.  But knowing the word is helpful what times are good or bad – in season or out of season.  Have a read through the Bible? Do you have the word of God somewhere in your brain?  If you do, then the Holy Spirit can bring the right word to your remembrance when you need it.  I can’t tell you how many times He has done that for me.  And he will give you the words to say when you are asked about your faith.  But they must be inside you in order for them to come to your remembrance.  Study to show yourself approved!

Reprove, rebuke and exhort.  These three things are essential ij discipling others in the way of Christ.  If we are not doing these, we are not properly leading people down the path to holiness in Christ Jesus.  I need to do these to myself as well.  But we must do them with two key elements always in mind.   The first is longsuffering, or patience.  It is easy for me to want someone to change their ways now, to take my rebuke or reproof now, to grow up and mature in Christ now.  But I must always remember that God was patient with me and I must exhibit the fruit of longsuffering with others.  The old saying says Rome wasn’t built in a day!  Well, neither was a mature Christian!  These things take time and we must bear with those who are trying to find their way.  The second element is with all doctrine.  I have a friend who loves to tell me what a particular preacher says.  I want to hear what God says in His word, not what some preacher says.  Sharing a message someone has given is OK, but give me the word of God if you are trying top build me up or correct me.  The word of God is what can change a life, not the word of some preacher.  Preachers can get it wrong, but God’s word is always truth and life.

To reprove is to show someone the error of their ways, or to correct them.  This has to be done with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  You should never just walk up to someone and say they are doing this or that wrong.  And it should never be done in front of anyone else.  This is a private matter, and you must use wisdom m and the word to show them the error of their ways.  Remember that if they have offended you for some reason, that reproof can only come after forgiveness is granted.  Forgiveness to them for the offense, forgive ness to you because you took offense.  You should never give reproof if there is an offense that has not been corrected properly.

The same is true for a rebuke.  A rebuke is more of a warning that going a certain direction can cause one harm.  I get caught up on certain things from time to time and if I don’t get them under control, that can cause me harm.  One example is chocolate!  Once I start eating chocolate, it is hard for me to stop.  But if I don’t stop, or at least use temperance, I will balloon in my weight, which I do not want.  So, I must rebuke myself and remind myself that this is bad for me to keep doing.  This is a simple example, but I think you can see what I mean.  The spiritual applications are many.  Perhaps someone is listening to bad doctrine, or they have fallen into a pattern of sin, or they had stopped attending church.  All of these can be cause for rebuke.  But remember the lovingkindness and doctrine part!

To exhort is to uplift or encourage someone.  This is a positive thing but still must be done with patience and doctrine.  Too much of this can instill the wrong kind of pride in a person, and that is dangerous.  Exhortation should be true and justified, not just pretty words flowing off our lips.  If you enjoy your pastors’ message, tell them and tell them why!  Often, we just say “Good message”, but we never tell them, how it affected us.  Exhorting explains why it is a good message.  Exhorting lifts a person spiritually, not in the flesh.  Exhortation should come sparingly, but it should always come.  This is a sure way to see someone grow in Christ. These two verses show us how we should conduct our everyday conversations with others.  I pray you will go out and keep these words in mind as you go about your day.  Find someone to peach the word to.  Be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you.  Have the right words to say to those around you, and use them sparingly and lovingly.  If you do thisl sopuls will come closer to Jesus Christ all around you.

Thoroughly Furnished

2 Timothy 3:15-17 King James Version

15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

I debated on splitting this up into more than one post because there is so much depth here.  But it all fits together so well that I did not want to sacrifice the integrity of the scriptures together, so I will just try to be a little briefer.

It is once again mentioned that the teaching Lois and Eunice shared with young Timothy.  Paul is well aware that they brough him up knowing the scriptures.  This is probably once of the reasons Paul found him so useful to the ministry.  He had a solid foundation of truth.  I know that we endeavored to do all we could to raise our children in the ways of the Lord, but I never was able to instill the love of scripture in their hearts.  They knew the word fairly well, having attended church from the time they were born until well into their teens, attended Sunday School and youth group regularly and went to summer camp.  But I was not a very good priest in my home.  I did not show them how much I loved the word and in some areas I was hypocritical to what I was saying and teaching them.  I studied early in the morning so they did not see me in the word very often.  Prayer was not around our table.  I did not help at all to teach them to love the Lord.  I am so glad they do in their later years, and they would tell you I set a good example, but I feel in many ways I failed.  I know they have all professed their faith in Jesus Christ and I can only pray they will live it out in their lives.

The reason it is so important to raise our children knowing the scripture is so they can understand what it is to be saved.  They can know that salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ. Salvation does not come through works, or good deeds, or riches.  You can’t buy it or earn it.  It comes by faith.  Not only our salvation, but our deliverance, our healing, our provision and protection.  They all come by faith.  This is the wisdom we gain when we know the Holy Scriptures. Our faith in Jesus Christ makes us heir to the promises of God and brings our adoption into the family of God.  There is no greater thing that can happen in our life but the saving of our souls.  We are no longer the same, but we become new creatures in Christ and our old man starts to pass away as we take in more of this wisdom that comes through the Scriptures.  It is then that we begin to realizer the scripture is given for four things.  It is there to doctrine, for reproof, for correction and for instruction in righteousness,  Let’s look at these four things and see how they apply to each of us.

Doctrine is defined as “a belief or set of beliefs held and taught by a Church, political party, or other group.”  Doctrine is what guides churches on their journey to reach souls for Christ.  Doctrine is what unites one church to another.  Churches with like doctrine will be more likely to draw like-minded people.  The Bible spells out doctrine in many ways, most of which are in Paul’s letters.  Paul was a great teacher of doctrine.  Peter, James, John and Luke also added their insight to what the proper doctrine should be.  The trouble is that there are many different doctrines out here from the same scripture, and there is a boastful way individuals go about saying their doctrine is right and another is wrong.  Can we truly know which is right and which is wrong when there are so many?  Now, if a doctrine is clearly outside of scriptures reach, or if it is based on one scripture alone and is not backed up by others, we can be pretty sure it is a false doctrine.  There are many verses in scripture that speak of avoiding false doctrine and we must take heed to these.  How do we know?  Well, first of all, do they claim Jesus Christ as Lord and King, or do they pronounce some other office to Him?  Do they say they have fresh revelation that supersedes the scripture? Do they claim some of the scripture is only for the past and does not apply today?  All of these things are signals you could be hearing false doctrine.  It is rampant in our world today and we must be wise, just as Timothy had to be wise, to make sure we are following the scripture that makes us wise unto salvation through Jesus Christ alone.

Reproof is defined as “Blame expressed to the face; censure for a fault; reprehension.”  If we have a fault against our brother or sister, it is our duty as Christians to go to them with that problem.  Not their sister, or co-worker, or our spouse or boss.  To them and only to them.  As expressed here, blame should be to the face, not through text or voice mail or e-mail.  Face to face.  This is the only way reproof should be brought out.  One of the big problems we have in our churches is that we do not handle offenses properly, and we do not bring reproof when we should.  Instead, we take our problems to everyone else except the person we have the problem with.  Then the people we talk to have to take one side or the other and it pits us against each other.  The Bible is very clear about how to handle reproof, or offenses.

First, if we have offense with our brother, we should go to them and explain what the offense is.  If they refuse to acknowledge said offense, we should bring someone else with us and go over it again.  This would preferably be a pastor or deacon.  If they still refuse to acknowledge the transgression, it should be brought before the whole church.  The problem is that we often do this just the opposite.  We tell everyone else before we go to the one that hurt us.  It’s no wonder that the church is seen as a house of hypocrites by those on the outside.  We gossip and murmur and complain with the best of them!  This should not be so!  Secondly, if we have offended someone else, or even if we think we have, we should go to them and ask their forgiveness.   This is even more important than bringing your tithe and offering to the church!  We should never hold onto an offense, whether to us or by us.  It is our duty as followers of Christ to make sure that offense is cleared up because, if it is not, bitterness can set in, and that will separate people faster than anything.

Paul says that the word of God is given for reproof.  This means that if we are going to someone as prescribed above, we should make sure that the offense we have is scripturally sound and that we have scripture to back up our forgiveness, or reason to forgive.  Make sure that the word can be applied to the situation and that we are not flying off the handle for some earthly reason.   If it is your flesh that is offended, remember that we are supposed to die to the flesh so that we may live in the Spirit.  Offenses should flow off your back like water off a duck’s back.  As Christians, we must be above offense.  You never see Jesus getting offended because of fleshly reasons.  He always had sound, scriptural reproof for anyone who came at Him with accusations, and we should be able to do the same.

The  third use of scripture is for correction.  This is fairly self-explanatory so I won’t spend too much time on it.  You have all found times that people misuse or misquote scripture.  They use the word to gratify their own desires rather than knowing the real meaning behind the text.  For example, there are many who say to be a Christian we must love everyone and accept them exactly as they are without making judgment or asking them to change.  They cite the truth that God is love, so we must echo that love.  While this is true, the ;logic used is a bit off.  We must love everyone – this is a command.  But we cannot leave that person in there sin.  They must leave that sin  behind to gain access to heaven and eternal life with Christ.  Jesus always told the sinner to go and sin now more, Paul tells us to lay aside every weight that so easily besets us.  Jesus told us to be perfect just as our heavenly Father is perfect.  Repentance, which means turning away, is key to our salvation.  I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.  We must use scripture to correct these misunderstandings of truth.

In the same way, we must use scripture to instruct people in righteousness.  There are millions of self help books, spiritual books and other motivational books that can help us in life, but to learn righteousness, we must get into the word.  There is no substitute.  I can read every self-help book out there, but if it is not scripturally based, and does not use scripture to back up it’s points, it is useless in teaching me righteousness.  Am I using the word to learn righteousness, or am I trying to learn it on my own from other sources?  Make sure good book is your source for this type of instruction.

Once we have applied the scripture to our life in this manner, we will become more mature.  The example used here is of a thoroughly furnished house.  Picture a house with all the fixings.  Every need met, every piece of furniture in the right place and no excess. All the curtains hung and the pictures straight.  Things put in their proper place, all cleaned and ready to be lived in.  Like those beautiful houses you see in living magazines.  This is how you will look to God if you utilize the scripture the way He intended.  And for what purpose?  To do good works, of course.  Scripture will bring that about if we utilize it properly. Let us all aim for this kind pf perfection!

Know Your Teacher

2 Timothy 3:13-14 King James Version

13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, of whom thou hast learned them;

I think we all know this to be true.  Evil men and seducers are all around us, trying to lure us away from those things we know to be true.  They come by with new revelation, new theories, new translations, new interpretations.  These things get worse and worse as times goes on, distorting the true gospel and making it what it is not.  It is so important that we know our teacher and where they come from.

Knowledge is rampant in this world of ours.  People have so many avenues that they can search out and make up their own “truth” .  The many search findings that come up on.  Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines online can bring us a multitude of information at a milliseconds notice and we have to discern what is right and what is wrong.  Some men think a certain scripture passage means one thing and others think it means another.  This is why denominations arise, why churches spilt and why there is such division within our own churches.

Typically it is because people take one or two verses of scripture and ignore the other scriptures in regards to the same thing.  For example, let’s take the LGBTQ? Community.  Are we supposed to love them as they are?  Of course we are.  It is our command to love others and help them see their way to salvation in Jesus Christ.  But can they stay in that sinful state of behavior?  Not if they expect a home in heaven!  The Bible is very clear, in more than one place, that this behavior is sin.  Our problem is that we place mercy over truth, when in fact mercy and truth are side by side.  We must apply both to come to the truth about the way we should live.

Knowledge can also drive us away from the truth.  There are so many I have met who used to be lovers of God that are now atheist and I have had discussions with them.  They said once they learned about this, or learned about that, they decided God just could not be real.  So they gave up on God altogether.  Their worldly knowledge was more important to them than their heavenly connection.  Worldly wisdom surpassed Godly wisdom.  There are so many today who think man knows more than God.  The teaching of evolution proves this.  God says creation, man says evolution.  Creation is taught less and less ion our schools and evolution is taught more and more.  Man’s ways replace God’s ways.  This is becoming the norm rather than the abnormal.  It will lead to destruction because if we do not believe the beginning, how can we fully believe anything that happened after that?  How can we believe man was formed in God’s image?  That man was formed from the dust of the earth?  How can we believe original sin, the flood, Abraham, the plagues, the Red Sea parting? Denying one can easily become denying all.

I have a very good Catholic friend whom I believe is reading this post.  We have had lengthy email discussions on the subjects of Salvation, Truth, the Bible, the will of God, and many other topics.  We disagree on many things, but we also agree on many things.  We both have the ability to utilize scripture in backing up our beliefs.  I have learned a tremendous amount about Catholicism from him, and I believe he has learned a lot about evangelicals from me. I truly believe he is a very good teacher of the Catholic faith, as I have been told I am a good teacher of the evangelical faith.  If I was a Catholic, I would love to sit under his teachings.  We have gone back and forth over which one of us actually shares the truth in our faith.  He is thoroughly convinced that his version of what truth is can be the only truth.  I am convinced that what I am saying is truth.  Yet we have many disagreements.  But I believe our disagreement are over doctrinal issues, not what real truth is.  Doctrines are different all over the word, but the real truth is Jesus Christ crucified and risen again.  That is the gospel message we both share.  Giving our lives to Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice is the only truth that matters.  I think Him and I both agree on that!

The point I am trying to make is the same as what Paul is making in these verses.  There are many excellent teachers of the Gospel in the world.  There are also many who subvert the word of God and teach lies of half-truths.  We must be prepared to discern the truth from the heresy.  How do we do that?  Through reading the word and asking God for wisdom, which He says he will give to us if we ask (James 1:5).  It comes down to how much time and effort you have put into your own growth in His wisdom and knowledge.  Proverbs tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  That is where it starts.  Without a sense of the majesty and sovereignty of God, we will always fall for false teaching.  We must have a sense of just who God is.  Some of the teaching nowadays makes Hm out to be our buddy and our pal.  That demeans Him!  Father is a great term to use.  A father disciplines, teaches, corrects, rebukes and exhorts us.   He is loving in all his ways and only does what is good for us, even if we thinks it is not.  A good father holds us to a certain standard and expects his word to be obeyed by those in his household.  If it is not, there are consequences.  Not because the father is cruel or mean, but because he is the one who provides for us, protects us, gives us direction and purpose.  We owe him our lives.

Our heavenly father is no different. He always wants what is best for us, and often will allow us to fall into this trial or that trial in order to help us grow.  These trials should never cause us to turn away from God, but should draw us closer to Him.  He loves us so much that he gave His only Son to die on a cross!  Why would he ever allow something into our lives that will harm us.  So when you hear something that appears to be new “revelation” or just doesn’t line up quite right with what you have believed before, study it out.  This tries your faith but can be a great way to grow in wisdom and grace.  God has a great desire to see us grow and become disciples, not just believers!  A disciple is one who is disciplined in the word of God.  That discipline comes through listening to the right teachers and studying out what they say, not just taking it for truth.  The truth is Jesus Christ, and He alone can reveal the real truth to you.  Pilate asked Jesus “What is truth?”  The better question would be “Who is truth!”  The truth was standing right in front of him, and he did not see it.  Will you?