Posted in family, mockers and scoffers, pilgrim's progress, pope, tolerance

Dealing with In-Laws, family, personal apostasy/backsliding, dealing with mockers

A variety of links for you to enjoy while I sit here achy and grumpy on day 3 of aches and fever and probably flu.

Aimee Byrd “The Housewife Theologian” writes a thoughtful essay about Revelation’s letter to the Church at Thyatira and the danger to a church of tolerating even one person’s false doctrines. “I Love Your Love but I Hate Your Tolerance

From the archives of Andrew MacDonald at The Protestant Standard:
Five Joyce Meyer quotes you won’t post on Facebook

Former Catholic and now Christian apologist Mike Gendron has a biblical response to the Pope’s recent announcement: Pope Says the Division Between Evangelicals and Catholics Is A Work of the Devil

Pope Francis is the one who is doing the work of the devil by rebuilding the religious tower of Babel as he seeks to bring all Christians back home to Rome. Tragically, some evangelicals are jumping on his ecumenical bandwagon and departing from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

I’m a special education para-professional and I see what goes into parenting our precious special needs children. Kara Dedert on showing glory to God in doing the the mundane; special needs parenting. Jesus isn’t looking for flashy.

The Christian Pundit has some thoughts on Leaving and Cleaving

“A couple should live at least a hundred miles away from both sets of parents for at least the first year of marriage.” That’s what an older couple told us as we rode to church in the back seat of their car. We thought we were doing pretty well by that standard: it wasn’t quite our first year of marriage, but we were 3,000 miles away from all four parents.

Focus on the Family has some thoughts on In-Law Relationships

What do I owe my in-laws? That’s an interesting question. Another way to phrase it might be, “As a son-in-law or daughter-in-law, what’s required of me? What are my obligations, whether I feel like it or not, in relating to my spouse’s parents?”

At Steve Lawson’s blog Dustin Bruce has some thoughts about Backsliding: A Tragic but Common Descent

Speaking of personal apostasy, here are 9 Steps Toward Personal Apostasy from George Alvarado. He got them from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, and modernized the language.

“John Bunyan in the classic novel, Pilgrims Progress, illustrates the 9 progressive steps toward personal apostasy. This list is modified and modernized for your understanding. Please read and take heed. Save this in your journal, your computer, or make it your bookmark, but remember this well. I have bolded words that are important elements of understanding. If you want to read this portion of Pilgrims Progress in context, click here.”

Robin Schumacher shares How to Unmask a Hardened Skeptic AKA a “scoffer”.

It’s important to understand that the Bible advises against continually evangelizing certain people. … While the warning about such people is easy to understand, what’s oftentimes difficult for the Christian is recognizing the scoffer and heeding the Bible’s advice on dealing with them. To help with this, I’d like to pass along one method that’s worked fairly well for me.

 And just for fun:

Posted in sin of omission, tolerance

Discernment lesson: The sin of inaction

We know we sin. We sin all the time, every day. There is none who does good, no, not one. (Psalm 53:3, Romans 3:12).

The bible is the only reliable barometer for how to act. There are many explicit commands for do and don’t, and some gray areas in the generalities which the Holy Spirit helps us with to interpret what to do in any given situation.

So when we sin, we repent to Jesus, our High Priest, (Hebrews 8:1) who makes intercession for us at the throne. (Romans 8:34). Jesus is faithful to forgive us and that is an amazing praise to His mercy and His glory.

However, failing to act is just as much of a sin as acting in the wrong. Both are sins and both need repentance. In both cases, failure to repent sears the conscience and we travel further away from Jesus. James 4:17 explains it ever so clearly:

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it,
for him it is sin.”

Just in case someone out there wants to make a case that it doesn’t mean what he thinks it means, Luke 12:47 follows it up, John 9:41 confirms it, and 2 Peter 2:21 cements the deal. Inaction is a sin. Gill’s says it clearly:

“The omission of a known duty, as well as the commission of a known sin, is criminal.”

MacArthur says there are three problems with the sin of omission as James outlined in verse 17. “…this is the sin of disobeying God’s will. First, ignoring God’s will…secondly, defying or denying His will and thirdly, disobeying it.”

Gulp.

When we fail to do the good we know we must do it is actually disobeying God’s will. The entire Word testifies to the danger and ruin that happens when people fail to perform God’s will. Like Nike says, “Just do it,” but in our flesh we don’t. We delay, rationalize, ignore, or simply pretend that it’s not our concern.

Barnes Notes explains the James verse:

“If he understands what his duty is; if he has the means of doing good to others; if by his name, his influence, his wealth, he can promote a good cause; if he can, consistently with other duties, relieve the distressed, the poor, the prisoner, the oppressed; if he can send the gospel to other lands, or can wipe away the tear of the mourner; if he has talents by which he can lift a voice that shall be heard in favor of temperance, chastity, liberty, and religion, he is under obligations to do it: and if, by indolence, or avarice, or selfishness, or the dread of the loss of popularity, he does not do it, he is guilty of sin before God.”

I’m going to conjecture a bit here, but I can imagine what the congregation at Thyatira went through. Let’s

look at the verse, one which I believe is a life action experience of what James was talking about. We find it in Revelation 2:20-21:

“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.” (Revelation 2:20-21).

There’s a lot going on here but mainly Jesus is condemning the people at Thyatira, an actual church of John’s day, because they knew something was wrong in their church and they did not do anything about it- for a long time. See, all the time Jesus gave the false prophetess time to repent, He was giving His sheep time to address the problem.

I can imagine how hard it may have been for the people at Thyatira. The false prophetess may have been well-liked. Maybe she was very popular and loved and they thought that were doing the loving thing by not ‘stirring up trouble’ or ‘making a controversy’. Perhaps she was well-connected and they did not want to infringe on the money flow, rationalizing that with the money, they could really do some good things. Perhaps they didn’t know who should address the problem, or how, saying “I’m not a leader, I’m not an elder…it’s someone else’s God-given task to open this can of worms.” Whatever the reason, the false prophetess had been around long enough to have birthed spiritual daughters. This means in my opinion that her false teaching was now infecting a second generation of foxlets, (Revelation 2:23) who were going out and carrying the seed of corruption with them.

Jesus charged the false prophetess but He also charged the people who knew she was teaching and doing wrong but failed to act.

Being tolerant is not loving- to JESUS. We tend to forget some important truths. First is this- no matter how much we love a person, we must love Jesus more. (Matthew 10:37). Love toward a fellow believer isn’t the sole barometer for whether we act. It isn’t even an important barometer for how or why we act. Jesus said we must love HIM MORE. When we act on behalf of Jesus at the seeming ‘expense’ of others, we are honoring Him by putting Him first. All good will flow from this. (Romans 8:28).

If we fail to act because we love that person more than Jesus, what we are actually doing is setting Jesus aside. All bad will come from that. Where Jesus is dishonored, He will do no mighty work there. (Mark 6:5).

So as hard as it may have been for the people at Thyatira to confront the false prophetess with her sin, it would have been much better to do so. If there is an issue in your church or in your family somewhere that needs addressing, or there is a false doctrine being accepted in your church, or the pastor or a leader is engaging in a gross ethical violation, whatever it is, and the person performing the sin is not addressing it, you must risk the confrontation.

Failure to do so actually encourages the wicked, (Ezekiel 13:22) and his sin of commission and your sin of omission combine to do an even darker work of evil. Ezekiel was warned about failing to do his duty. If Ezekiel had received a word from the LORD and failed to speak it, he was performing a sin of omission and he would be liable. (Ezekiel 3:16-21).

Paul discovered that a gross sin was being tolerated by the Corinthians and he laid into them, and said they ought to mourn and to confront the man performing the sin! (1 Corinthians 5:1-8).

We are not engaging in a right view of fellowship when we allow someone we love to continue in their sin. It is a wrong view of fellowship with each other but most importantly it is a wrong view of fellowship with the sweet Savior, who is the Head of the Church.

No one likes it, but we must risk the confrontation. Paul did, with Peter.

“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” (Galatians 2:11).

Paul loved Peter enough to understand that his own failure to confront his brother would lead to his brother’s condemnation and leave blood on his own hands. Show no partiality. We must – in all meekness- look AT sin, not away from it, and lovingly call for repentance. And yes, it is our business:

Charles Spurgeon said,

“Did I not hear someone in the company say, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” I know that gentleman! I heard his voice years ago. His name is Cain and I have this to say to him—it is true that he is not his brother’s keeper, but he is his brother’s killer . Every man is either the keeper of his brother, or the destroyer of his brother! Soul-murder can be worked without an act or even a will—it can be and is constantly accomplished by neglect!”

Do not encourage the wicked, leave your brother condemned, and open a space for satan to waltz into. Instead, risk the confrontation, honor Jesus, retrieve your brother from condemnation, and reject the wicked. Operating within His will is always better!

Posted in heresy, history channel, the bible series, tolerance

The Bible series: what can we expect?

David Nilson at The Gospel Coalition put his punctuation on the History Channel’s The Bible series with a concluding essay. Here is how he ended his piece:

“The Bible might not excel as an education tool, at least it isn’t brazenly heretical. For an American cable TV drama, that’s probably the best we can expect.”

That’s just sad.

There are three thoughts in that sentence that I want to pursue a bit further.

–not excel as an education tool
–brazenly heretical
–the best we can expect

Let’s look at the stance that the tv series does “not excel” as an education tool. The opposite of excel is “bad, failing, imperfect, indistinguished, inferior, poor, second-class, second-rate, unnoteworthy, unworthy”. So if we plug any of the antonyms in his sentence we can say of the series instead , 

‘The Bible might be unworthy as an education tool.’
‘The Bible might be inferior as an education tool.’
‘The Bible might be bad as an education tool.’

Then there is the notion that ‘At least it’s not brazenly heretical.’ CARM defines heresy as “A doctrinal view that deviates from the truth, a false teaching.”

Brazen means bold and without shame. So we can translate his phrase by saying, “At least the false teaching is not too bold.” That’s like saying, ‘at least the manure I’m eating is not too pungent.’ Not too brazen? Like, we can mange living with its discomfort, as opposed to something that would really anger  Jesus?

Too often we forget how devastating false doctrine is. It is an infection that destroys. It is a lion who devours and kills, not a cuddly kitten who accidentally scratches us as it reaches for the yarn.

And the best we can expect? I might agree with that, as long as he understands that none of the front-people involved with developing the series are saved. In that case, we can say with certainty that we never expect the world to present biblical truths with integrity or correctly. I think of James 4:4 here-

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.”

If he believes the people offering theological oversight such as TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, and Rick Warren and the producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett are saved, then saying “at least it’s the best we can expect” is a sad indictment on our expectations of the glory and beauty of Jesus. Even in this polluted world, especially because the world is polluted, Jesus shines through His ambassadors, missionaries, witnesses, people. For any Christian who submits to His will and works, we can expect great things, because He is great.

In the same essay, the author states that the production values were great. The movie looked good. And the music was pleasing too! It sounded good.

Words like these help us lower our standards on the height and majesty of Jesus. It sinks us into a pit of slime we eventually become used to. People, don’t become used to it. Satan is the master of incrementally lowering our standards. Just a little bit here and there, flash over substance. I’m reminded of the pivotal scene in the 1987 movie Broadcast News, where Albert Brooks tries to convince Holly Hunter that the important moment in her life had arrived. The moment where we make a choice to accept a little bit of flash to satisfy the flesh, or to sacrifice and stick with substance.

It’s the scene where Brooks, playing Aaron, tells Hunter that the object of her affection (Tom) represents everything that concerns her about the journalism profession’s downward slide. He says, “Tom, while being a very nice guy, is the Devil. He will be attractive. He will be nice and helpful. He will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation. He will never do an evil thing. He will never deliberately hurt a living thing. He will just bit by little bit lower our standards where they are important. Just a tiny little bit, coax along, flash over substance.”

Looking good and sounding good are not enough. IS it good? It is only Good if Jesus is in it.

So, did the series “The Bible” meet your expectations? It depends on where your standards are.

Posted in end time, jesus, prophecy, tolerance

Apostasy and tolerance: both are bad. Read the bible to find out more

In December, I read that the UK “census shows number of people in England and Wales who are not religious has risen to 14.1 million, almost double from 2001.”

It got me thinking about faithlessness and what we are told about in 1 Timothy 4:1

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,”

I always found it interesting that the verse reads ‘the Spirit expressly says’. In other translations it reads ‘the Spirit clearly says’, and ‘the Spirit explicitly says.’ One would think that the Spirit is always clear and expresses exactly what He wants to say. I mean, it would still be authoritative enough if the verse read “The Spirit says that in latter days…” But that adverb ‘expressly’ always gets me. In interpreting His word when I come up against something like that, I come to a full stop. If the Spirit expressly says something, then it behooves us to pay attention to it.

The Greek word for ‘expressly’ is an adverb which is a derivative of rheo, meaning “command.” OK, that’s pretty strong.

So the upshot is the Spirit commands us to know and understand that in latter days some will depart the faith.

We can rest assured, that God’s numbers are not diminishing. It isn’t a weak religion where people can come and go and God #fail. Not at all. Whom He saves is saved. If they depart from the faith they are actually demonstrating that they never belonged to God in the first place. (1 John 2:19).

Oftentimes a departure from the faith is called apostasy. We are told that apostates will increase in number just before the Second Coming (Of Jesus, Not Obama. Sorry, I had to get that in there). 2 Thessalonians 2:3 has the verse:

“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,”

The Holman Bible Dictionary defines apostasy as “the act of rebelling against, forsaking, abandoning, or falling away from what one has believed.

Old Testament The Old Testament speaks of “falling away” in terms of a person’s deserting to a foreign king (2 Kings 25:11; Jeremiah 37:13-14; Jeremiah 39:9; Jeremiah 52:15). Associated ideas, however, include the concept of religious unfaithfulness: “rebellion” (Joshua 22:22); “cast away” (2 Chronicles 29:19); “trespass” (2 Chronicles 33:19); and “backslidings” (Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 8:5). NAS uses “apostasy” in Jeremiah 8:5 and Hosea 14:4 with the plural in Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 14:7.”

It seems clear to most of us that the Lord is revealing that many who adopted a form of godliness but had denied its power (2 Timothy 3:5) are being stripped of their falsely spiritual cloak and are being revealed for whom they actually are.

An essay recently on iCNN, the citizen input channel of their news media’s online arm, recently published an essay that has reportedly garnered the second highest number of hits ever. 

Why I Raise My Children Without God

Posted on January 14, 2013, it has received 9,100 comments. Over 60,000 have recommended the essay on Facebook. A competing essay on iCNN titled “Why I raise my children WITH God”…has received a tenth of the number of comments and a third fewer recommends on Facebook.

People are apostatizing, and rapidly. The gap is widening so there can be no fence straddlers for very much longer.

We know what atheism is. It is people like the woman who wrote “Why I Raise My Children Without God”, they are people who never believed in God in any form for any time because they theorize that God does not exist. They have great faith in their theory.

It seems clear that we also know what apostasy is. It is people who (seemed to) believe for a time, and then abandoned any pretense of believing in their version of God. Muslims can apostatize. Buddhists can become apostate. But for the purposes of this essay, we are discussing people who claimed to believe in a risen Jesus as savior, but after a time, abandoned that belief and either went on to something else or simply became what they always were: atheist or agnostic.

But I have another question about who an apostate might be.

I wrote recently about old Eli, the temple priest whose record in the bible never revealed a sin that he personally committed, but he and his sons were killed for the sons’ sins. The sons were taking money from congregants, taking the choicest meats, and then taking women. Eli was not participating in this travesty, but he knew about it, and did nothing. That last thing is what God seemed upset about. The sons were killed for their part in the sinful behavior and Eli was killed because he didn’t do anything about it. (1 Samuel 2:29, 1 Samuel 3:13.)

What God said to Eli was that Eli was honoring his sons above God. I think we forget who we sin against, when we sin. All sins are against Jesus. (Psalm 51:4). The prodigal son said to his father that he’d “sinned against heaven, and against you.” (Luke 15:21)

In Revelation 2:21 Jesus said he had something against the church at Thyatira. “Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.

They knew there was sin, they knew the sin was destroying their church, and they did nothing about it. So Jesus had a condemnation for them. If it was today they would probably sit around saying “touch not God’s anointed” and “judge not” and “aren’t we so humble, in our tolerance.” Tolerance in the wrong direction is actually a sin. Think about it.

Paul condemned a situation in Corinth, where a man had his father’s wife. Paul condemned the sin and severely chastised the person performing the sin. But the church body was also chastised for tolerating it. Paul called them arrogant.

“You are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?” (1 Corinthians 5:2)

Paul chastised them for boasting. The Corinthians were going around boasting about their gifts and their status and their works, and yet they were tolerating a gross sin. Their boasts were resting on a corrupted pedestal. If it were today, I would venture to say that they’d be boasting about their tolerance and their humility not to “judge.”

So the question is, is a person apostatizing if he tolerates gross sin but does nothing about it? Like Eli, Thyatira, and Corinth? If a person can tolerate such sins against Jesus and not do anything about it, are they actually loving Jesus as they should? Are they growing lukewarm, or even cold? If a people who actually know what sin does to a person, allows a person to continue in that sin, do they love that person if they do nothing to help them?

Does a false tolerance and an overdone spiritual correctness mean that love is growing dim? That they are apostatizing?

I don’t know if the definition of apostasy can be given to that kind of behavior. I’m just asking. I do know that Jesus condemned it the three biblical examples I used. At root, it means that they honor the sin more than they honor Jesus.

After Jesus threw out the moneylenders in the temple, “His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17)

Barnes Notes says, “Its meaning is, that Jesus was affected with great zeal or concern for the pure worship of God. The zeal of thine house – “Zeal” is intense ardor in reference to any object. The “zeal of thine house” means extraordinary concern for the temple of God; intense solicitude that the worship there should be pure, and such as God would approve. Hath absorbed me, or engaged my entire attention and affection; hath surpassed all other feelings, so that it may be said to be the one great absorbing affection and desire of the mind.”

No matter what the exact definition of apostasy, zeal for God should consume us. Is our worship pure? Are we intensely concerned that no leaven is spoiling the lump? (The charge Paul gave to the Corinthians in the above passages). Do we tolerate a devastating pattern of sin in our own life, or in our church? You are not doing yourself, Jesus, or your brethren any favors by adopting a false sense of humility and refusing to address obvious and entrenched sin in God’s house. The bible is clear on that.

Dearest ones who have addressed sin, or tried to, in God’s house, He understands the toll zeal takes:

“My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.” (Psalm 119:139)

The writer of Hebrews lets us know that there is nothing Jesus hasn’t gone through first that He isn’t intimately familiar with in us. (Hebrews 2:17). He understands the toll it takes to be zealous for God, and He has made many promises to those who persevere in the purest worship they can offer, the most zeal they can give, and the best attempts at rooting out sin. Here is one of those promises-

“He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:8)

Take heart. He is coming soon.