Posted in discernment, doctrines, Jesus follower, power, words

Do you "follow Jesus"? Or are you "saved by Jesus?"

People today are starting to say “I follow Jesus.” Or, “I’m a Jesus follower.”  I’m sure you’ve seen this.

People used to say “I’m saved by Jesus.” Or, “Jesus saved me.”

I don’t like saying ‘I follow Jesus’. I’ll tell you why.

Saying “I follow Jesus” puts me as the subject. ‘Look at meeee, I follow.” The verb is about me too. The verb alerts the hearer to something I am doing, following. It puts a picture in the mind of the hearer on two people walking, the second one being the follower, and that is where you’re mind’s eye rests in forming the picture of the words spoken to you. On the one doing the following and not on the One doing the leading.

EPrata photo

It is also kind of boasting. If one is saved by the atoning work of Jesus Christ, it stands to reason that a person would then follow His commands and abide by His statutes. No one says, “I’m saved by Jesus but I don’t follow Him.” The following is tacitly understood by one and all.

But one can say “I follow Jesus” and not be saved. Mormons follow Jesus and are not saved. Catholics follow Jesus and are not saved. Judas followed Jesus for three years and he was not saved. I understand that saying “I’m saved by Jesus” doesn’t guarantee a person is saved, but at least it includes the acknowledgement of sin and the need for a savior. Following Jesus is something a lot of people do, and saying so only increases the likelihood that what they are doing is simply an activity. When you decide to call yourself a Jesus follower, in my opinion it increases the likelihood that are one of the people DOING things for Christ and not actually saved by Christ.

All these people followed Christ, too:

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:22-23)

Saying that “Jesus saved me” puts the emphasis on Him. Referencing my salvation by constantly saying “I follow Jesus” puts a boasting aspect to the phrase the speaker may not have intended, but is there nonetheless.

Now, someone could reply that the comment is not about salvation, but is about sanctification. Sanctification is the growth we experience in Christ after we are saved (justified). They could argue that they were saved by Jesus and now they follow Him in His statutes, ever growing in sanctification. After all, Jesus said, “Follow me”.

Yes, Jesus said “Follow me” many times. He said it in Matthew 4:19, Matthew 16:24, John 8:12, Luke 5:11, 1 Peter 2:21, John 10:27, etc. It is biblical to say that one is a follower of Jesus. I cannot categorically condemn the phrase.

I can make a statement that it is unwise to speak solely of one’s salvation OR sanctification in terms of the self. The growth we experience when we follow Jesus is partly done under our own steam but not fully. The Holy Spirit grows us. Our part is aggressive obedience, fervent pursuit, and a total submission. Therefore saying “I follow” seems just so…anemic.

‘Following’ as opposed to submitting, pursuing, or obeying is one step away from Jesus. Who are we following? Why? That small shift in emphasis is incremental but dangerous nonetheless. Once the shift is made away from the object of our pursuit, then the following becomes the main theme. And one can easily go astray. One can follow your bliss.

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One can follow a leader. Paul addressed this in 1 Corinthians 1:12-13, because errant ‘following’ was causing divisions.

What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

The members at Corinth were split along doctrinal lines and had shifted their eyes from Jesus and their unity in Him to personal preferences among different teachers and the doctrines these teachers were teaching.

Erin McCrum wrote about the “why” this trend eschews the name ‘Christian’ in favor of  ‘Follower of Jesus:

…proponents of the “follower” lingo claim two advantages over the label “Christian” or “evangelical.”  “First, it doesn’t carry baggage.  You can wear it abroad, in Islamic countries, or at home with your Jewish or Buddhist friends, without causing offense.  Second, it distances the bearer from the culture wars that have made American politics so divisive.”

In this scenario, one can envision saying to a Muslim, “I’m a follower of Jesus!” and they reply “I’m a follower of Isa!” Hugs all around. It is precisely the offense which makes a Christian a Christian. Paul said if there is no offense then the cross has been taken away (Galatians 5:11). If claiming Jesus as our Christ doesn’t offend, there is something wrong. There should be love in witnessing, but there should be no attempt to cloak, diminish or otherwise distort who we are and who Christ is. Of course the term “Christian” carries baggage. That is the point. The ‘baggage’ is the cross which offends everyone.

Satan is so subtle and so skillful. Satan managed to convince a third of the holy angels who saw the face of God every day, to follow him instead. He convinced Eve to bite the forbidden fruit just by asking a question. It is unwise to allow incremental creep into our language regarding who we are or what we do. Satan will quickly take advantage of it. Instead, we must be mindful, biblical, and vigilant in our language about Jesus and in our active holy walk. See the difference:

The Jesus Follower: I am a pretty good person who just made some mistakes and so I decided to follow Jesus and I want to live out His plan for me because after all, He loves me.

The Christian Saved by Grace: I am a totally depraved sinner saved by unmerited grace of the Son of Man who came to live a sinless life, die as the atoning sacrifice for my sin, and endure all God’s wrath for it. I pursue the resurrected Jesus who has holy standards for the ones He has saved, and am living by those standards to the best of my craven ability, by submission to and obedience in the Holy Spirit. I rest on the promises Jesus the Christ has made to His chosen ones to both activate the faith He has given me, and to empower me to live in ever-growing sanctification. I’m looking forward to obeying him all the days of my life until He deems it the time to bring me home.

I have a very small leak in the tub faucet. A tiny drop comes out every few seconds. One day, the cat had tripped the drain shut. I went into the bathroom a few hours later and there was an inch of water on the bottom of the tub. The litter box was floating. Small doctrinal leaks add up. Explosively wrong doctrine can pop a balloon or a tiny leak of slowly shifting language can drain it. The result is the same.

I’m not a Christian. I’m a Jesus follower.

The terms Christian, sinner, salvation, justification, sanctification etc have lasted so long and been so understandable to everyone for centuries is because they are biblical. These terms transcend time. Be mindful of falling into a trap of exchanging words attached to known and commonly understood concepts with new terms that are nebulous, temporary, cultural and lack Spirit power. Sometimes synonyms aren’t synonyms, but a subtle trick of satan to drain power from our witness.

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Further Reading:

Liberals change word meanings with intent to deceive

The cults are infamous for perverting historically accepted biblical terms. “Is it any wonder then,” said the late Christian apologist/polemicist Dr. Walter Martin in The Riddle of Semantics, “that orthodox Christians feel called upon to openly denounce such perversions of clearly defined and historically accepted biblical terminology, and claim that the cults have no rights — scholastically, biblically, or linguistically — to redefine biblical terms as they do?” (Source)

Posted in adorn, doctrines, encouragement

We are adornments

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, the word adorn is defined as

to make (someone or something) more attractive by adding something beautiful

With that in mind let’s look at this verse from Titus:

Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.” (Titus 2:9-10)

I like the emphasis here. Jesus’ doctrine is pure and beautiful on its own, but we adorn it when we live by its standards. Pastor Bayless Conley expounded on this verse in a devotional titled “Double Standard.”

——————–Begin Conley———————–

Double Standard

I would like for you to read again the Scripture we read yesterday, Titus 2:9-10,

Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.

We make the gospel unattractive when we live contrary to our beliefs. The gospel becomes unsavory and unattractive to those outside the church when our lives do not match up to what we say we believe.

Take the verses we read here. Paul says, in effect, that we make the gospel unsavory when we pilfer (which means stealing items of small value) or talk back to our boss.

You do not adorn the gospel when you show lack of respect for your boss, rip the company off, use the phones and computers at your job for personal business, take extra long lunch breaks, steal paper, take staplers, steal pens, or whatever you can get your hands on.

You should not dress the gospel in rags and then pass out tracts to all your coworkers or invite your boss to church.

This truth does not just apply to work. Do not live contrary to your beliefs anywhere. Do not live a double standard at home. If you do, it will turn your kids away from wanting to serve Christ. If you are into sports and you curse a lot, cheat, or have a bad temper, you dress the gospel in rags.

In 2 Corinthians 3:2 Paul states that, You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men.

The truth is, we are the only Bible some people will ever read. They are looking at our lives.

——————–End Conley——————

Here is one other verse with the word adorn in it:

And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:2)

Gill’s Exposition explains,

when all the elect of God are gathered in, the number of the saints is perfected; when the good work of grace is finished in them all, and they are all arrayed in the righteousness of Christ: and to be “adorned”, when not only they are clothed with the robe of righteousness, and garments of salvation, and are beautified with the graces of the Spirit, but also with the bright robes of immortality and glory.

So keep His doctrines, for we are an adornment to our Groom’s truths. In heaven right now, He is adorning His city for us, His bride.

Posted in doctrines, end of days. prophecy

The latest Christian dirty word

There is a popular sentiment going around these days among Christians. On the surface, it seems that the people holding to this sentiment are humble, peacemakers, and modest. It seems like the sentiment they hold is one that is good, and would lead to a greater good. It is this: “I can’t stand fights over doctrine. Let’s put all that aside and come together in unity.”

Awww. NOT. See, doctrine is getting a bad rap these days. They make it out to be a dirty word. These days I hear, “Oh, I don’t go in for all that doctrine“. “Doctrinal fights are so messy, and so counter-productive.” “Let’s put aside doctrine and worship in unity.” “I don’t play the doctrine game.”

It is a devastating sentiment. It is false in the extreme. Those who hold this sentiment are not modest, humble, or peacemakers, but rather are enemies of God. Let me explain how and why, through scripture.

“Jesus said, ‘Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.'” (John 7:16 KJV). The word doctrine in the Greek is didache, from which we get didactic. It is defined as “established teaching, especially a summarized body of respected teaching.” If you are a person who holds doctrine in contempt, who sets it aside in the pursuit of a false unity, who doesn’t ‘play that game’, you are saying that the teaching of God is of no importance to you. That His truth, delivered by Jesus, from God, to men, is something you are willing to set aside for the sake of unity. Unity like that is simply holding hands, singing Kumbayah, and sinking in the sand, for there is no foundational truth to support the people who claim to profess. But at least you will all go down in unity.

So if you set aside the teaching of Jesus, which is His truth, what kind of unity are you really getting? If you are not willing to “stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer” (1 Tim 1:3) then you are not willing to oppose false teachers, as Paul was commanding Timothy in that verse, and be extension, us.

I stand on doctrine. I contend for doctrine. I love doctrine. Doctrine is the most important thing there is. Why? It is TRUTH. Doctrine is the teaching of Jesus Christ.

If you are not willing to put up with sound doctrine, then you are willing to “suit your own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Tim 4:3). After all, if you won’t contend for sound doctrine, then you will accept anything, right? Churches where doctrine is set aside will let falsity will creep in, and right away, too. Individual Christians who put aside doctrine will wind up having tickled ears instead of hard-won battle wounds, because they are too sensitive to fight for truth.

If you don’t ‘play that game’ then you will be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” (Ephesians 4:14). In other words, if you don’t know what you are uniting over, then you will be tossed by every little thing.

In looking up the topic of doctrine in the bible, we read that Doctrines
•Are from God.
•Are taught by Scripture.
•Are godly.
•Immorality is condemned by.
•Lead to fellowship with the Father and with the Son.
•Lead to holiness.
•Bring no reproach on.

Further, we read that–
•MINISTERS SHOULD
◦Be nourished up in.
◦Attend to.
◦Hold, in sincerity.
◦Hold steadfastly.
◦Continue in.
◦Speak things which become.
•Saints obey, from the heart.
•Saints abide in.
•A faithful walk adorns.
•The obedience of saints leads to surer knowledge of.

In addition,
•THOSE WHO OPPOSE ARE
◦Proud.
◦Ignorant.
◦Not to be received.
◦To be avoided.
•Not endured by the wicked.

If you don’t play that old doctrine game, if you think doctrine is of no matter, if you seek unity instead of a messy fight to stand on the truth of ‘Him who sent me,’ go right ahead. All of the above is something that you have given up. And that is a lot to give up. As a matter of fact, doctrine is everything. Without it, you have nothing. Think I am exaggerating? Nope. All of the bible is doctrine! “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”

There are not ‘many doctrines’ – ergo there is nothing to fight over. There is only one, unified doctrine of God. It is the heart of faith. That is why I stand for doctrine. It is why I am willing to fight over it. Are you?
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Posted in doctrines, end of days. prophecy

Don’t be ignorant! said Paul

Paul warned his readers in three different Epistles not to be ignorant of something. In all three cases, the word is the same, agnoeó. It means ignorant of facts. In terms of comprehending the bible, there are certain things to be aware of. When imperatives are used, we need to be pay special attention. When a command is used, we should perk up to something we are being told to do, or not do. The Holy Spirit inspired all the bible writers to write these words, and the Holy Spirit is one part of the Triune God. So God is commanding something, and we have to PAY ATTENTION.

Paul said, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in,” (Romans 11:25). Barnes Notes explains the word ‘mystery’ thus:

“Ignorant of this mystery – The word “mystery” means properly what is “concealed, hidden, or unknown.” And it especially refers, in the New Testament, to the truths or doctrines which God had reserved to himself, or had not before communicated. It does not mean, as with us often, that there was anything unintelligible or inscrutable in the nature of the doctrine itself, for it was commonly perfectly plain when it was made known. Thus, the doctrine, that the division between the Jews and the Gentiles was to be broken down, is called a mystery, because it had been, to the times of the apostles, concealed, and was then revealed fully for the first time.”

Paul was explaining to the Jews that though the Gentiles were now coming in, God would not forsake the Jews totally. After all, Paul said Jesus had saved Paul, hadn’t He? It wasn’t over for the Jews, but Paul did remind them that God was now rejecting a large part of the nation because of their past rebellion. His attention and grace would be showered on the Gentiles, who were being grafted in. The Jews would remain hardened of heart – until the full number of Gentiles was met. But just as God had always done in the past, a remnant would be saved.

The Jews would receive their Kingdom as promised, but their entry into it must as always be by faith through His grace, not birthright. As for us today who have claimed salvation through Jesus – Whom we recognize as our Messiah – we will continue in the Church Age until the full number is filled and then we fly. It is why the rapture isn’t a date, it is a number. It will not be May 21, unless that is the day that God has deemed the Church quota filled.

The second thing Paul said not to be ignorant about is spiritual gifts. “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:” (1 Corinthians 12:1-3). Paul was reminding the Church of the importance of the gifts, through which we accomplish the work the Holy Spirit wants us to accomplish to build up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12) The gifts are important, they are given (which is a grace and a blessing) to build up the church (ditto) and they grow the Christian himself as well (bonus). Bible.org explains, “a spiritual gift is the supernatural ability to carry out the work of Christ through his church.”

And yet the spiritual gifts doctrine is precisely what many people are mixed up over. ‘You must speak in tongues or you’re not a real Christian.” “What’s my spiritual gift, let me take this questionnaire.” People certainly are ignorant of the gifts, sad to say. Satan did a good job of mixing us all up on that. If we are mixed up as to the truth of the spiritual gifts, then we are not as effectively building the church, are we?

Thirdly, Paul warned the church not to be ignorant of the doctrine of Last Days and the Coming of The Lord. “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains:
“The leading topic of Paul’s preaching at Thessalonica having been the coming kingdom (Acts 17:7), some perverted it into a cause for fear in respect to friends lately deceased, as if these would be excluded from the glory which those found alive alone should share. This error Paul here corrects.”

What are the exact three things the Church is ignorant of? What are most arguments over these days? The rapture doctrine and what is forecast for Israel, the spiritual gifts doctrine (speaking in tongues and healing gifts, and the Charismatics, for example) and the doctrine of the Coming of the Lord. 

Paul said do not be ignorant three times, and yet in this day and age so many people are three times as ignorant as they ever were.

A solution for ignorance is available. The Spirit. He helps interpret scripture: 1 Cor. 2:1,14Eph. 1:17. If your house was on fire, you would call the fire department for help, wouldn’t you? If a robber was breaking into your house, you would call the police department wouldn’t you? Both are dire circumstances, signifying events that need an authority of higher power and skill to help you. And yet we so often fail to call the Holy Spirit, our higher authority possessing more skill and knowledge to bring to the situation than we could ever hope to see anywhere! Praise Him. Here is a good page outlining the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Ignorance leads to error. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” (Matthew 22:29) Call on Him through prayer, and abide in the Spirit’s power: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:11)

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