Posted in theology, wisdom

The pagan’s bookshelf

By Elizabeth Prata

I grew up in a household that rejected God. I didn’t go to church except once in a while as a sputter here and there. I knew nothing of the Bible.

My parents were both readers. I’m glad, I turned into a reader then a student of literacy then a teacher of reading. Some of the books I remember being most read around my home were typical books of the pagan bookshelf.

I’m OK, You’re OK, 1967: a self-help book by Thomas Anthony Harris. It is a practical guide to transactional analysis as a method for solving problems in life. It stayed on the bestseller list for two years.

I’ll never forget that yellow cover, It was a highly visible book. Now that I’ve grown and like design, I see it as a typical design of the mid-century. I see psychology for what it is, a pale and paltry copy of the true answers of life, which reside in Jesus. Psychology seeks answers within one’s self, where no answers will ever emerge. Only confusion.

The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels, 1979: “Long buried and suppressed, the Gnostic Gospels contain the secret writings attributed to the followers of Jesus.”. How long will we be plagued by spurious claims that the REAL story of Jesus is suppressed and waiting to come out.  The world does not want the true Jesus. But another that comes in His name, they will accept him. (John 5:43).

Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach, 1970, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull, written by Richard Bach and illustrated by Russell Munson, is a fable in novella form about a seagull who is trying to learn about life and flight, and a homily about self-perfection.” Another book promising answers if we only look within, and one that caught the fancy of the American psyche for several years. By the end of 1972 over a million copies were in print. This book was everywhere. A new edition was just republished in 2014. The world never tires of hearing that we possess the answers to life and can self-perfect. No savior needed.

Body Language, by Julius Fast, 1971. “This classic books introduces kinetics, the science of non-verbal communication, which is used to analyze the common gestures we use and observe every day, gestures which reveal our deepest feelings and hidden thoughts to total strangers―if they know how to read them.”

Ah, we all want to know hidden thoughts. We all want to be little gods reading thoughts as the omniscient God does. ‘You will be like God’ said the serpent, in Genesis 3. This book hung around a lot at my house, too. I noticed that it was revised and updated in 2002. Where before the cover showed a woman demonstrating body language that’s “closed,” the updated version for the new millennium the woman is shown as displaying “open”.

 

I heard Martyn Lloyd Jones preaching a certain sermon in Acts. He mentioned a book by Rosalind Murray written during WWII, called The Good Pagan’s Failure. This review of the book states,

It is Rosalind Murray’s contention that the crucial difference which separates and divides us as human beings is, and always must be, spiritual, exemplified by an acceptance or rejection of belief in God. “Our attitude on this fundamental question determines the whole direction of our living in all of its aspects, and in all relations, and that opposition in this one decisive matter implies secondary, but resultant, opposition in outlook and in value throughout our lives.” … “The Good Pagan’s failure,” Murray writes, “can be attributed to the fundamental illusion from which he starts, the belief that it is possible to conserve all positive and constructive value of the Christian order while removing it from belief in God.” source

All the non-fiction books on the pagan’s bookshelf seeking answers are only wisps of false wisdom coupled with temporary solutions. I’m blessed that God protected me from absorbing these humanistic anti-God philosophies while I was at the impressionable stages. I read the Seagull book, and parts of I’m OK, You’re OK, and even the Gnostic book, which was read and re-read voraciously at my house. None of them made sense to me.

In His timing, the Lord gave me the mind of Christ, and now the Bible makes the most sense. It immediately showed me the order, beauty, and consistency in the world. It let me understand that there is no such thing as chaos, only hidden order through providence. I learned I had no wisdom of my own and that all I did was vanity and striving after wind. Yes. This is the wisdom of the ages, and God has it in infinite quantities. How blessed we are that He shared it in His word.

The good pagan’s failure is that she is seeking wisdom within her self. The Christian sister seeks it from the Lord. Good pagan? I’d rather be a depraved but saved sinner. My bookshelf is now filled with Bibles, commentaries, and books on seeking Jesus.

I said in my heart, “I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me, and my heart has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge.” And I applied my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this also is but a striving after wind. For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases knowledge increases sorrow. (Ecclesiastes 1:16-18).

books

 

Posted in beth moore, discernment, false teacher, proper speech, wisdom

Beth Moore’s strangely disappearing tweet: a discernment lesson

In interesting little incident happened on Beth Moore’s twitter stream yesterday. Mrs Moore wrote:

Even some of her followers were puzzled by Moore’s inadvertent unbiblical admission.

I tweeted the following:

A few other people made mention of Moore’ puzzling admission too. And then the usual happened. Usual for these apostate days:

Beth Moore’s tweet went POOF.

There are a few discernment things to understand here. First, on the literal side of things, Beth Moore’s tweet demonstrates two simple biblical failures. Of course Keith Moore is not “inclined” to study scripture. None of us are. Our flesh always battles Godly disciplines. However the point of the Christian life is that we deny those fleshly indulgences by picking up our cross (Mt 16:24), and we rely on the Holy Spirit to help us overcome the flesh (our ‘inclinations’) to pursue holiness. All of 2 Peter exhorts for growth in godliness and pursuing the holiness our Lord deserves. That Mr Moore gives in to the flesh so as to avoid pursuing holiness is not sanctification.

Secondly it fails the husbandly aspects of a Godly marriage. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has a guide for husbands regarding this aspect of marriage. I quote it because the Moores have stated many times they are Southern Baptist, belong to a Southern Baptist church and are proudly Southern Baptist. “Lead Your Wife Spiritually: A Guide for Husbands

it’s especially true of husbands who bear the responsibility to lead in a marriage. Your marriage should be a significant source of your wife’s sanctification. Consider Paul’s words to the Ephesians again: 

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:25-28) 

Clearly, you’re not Christ. There is a sanctifying work that only Jesus can do, but as you model your love on the sanctifying relationship of Christ in the church, you do have a role in your wife’s sanctification. Even if your wife is more spiritually engaged and mature than you are, you still have a responsibility to lead. 

Next, moving away from the literal aspects to the conceptual aspects of Moore’s tweet, teachers of God’s word, as Beth Moore claims to be, should be mature, wise, careful, and self-controlled.

Paul advised young Timothy to “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. (Titus 2:7-8).

Titus 2:3 also advises elder women on behavior and comportment in Christian life. As does 1 Timothy 3:11-

In the same way, the women are to be worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.

I would further state that advice for elder women goes in spades for when they are speaking publicly about their husbands.

On the discernment side, if you’re having red flags about a certain teacher or preacher, one thing to look for is if he or she makes hasty statements. Do they have to retract things often? Do they have to go back the next week and fix a wrong thing they said? I’m not saying teachers don’t ever make a mistake, but if the teacher or preacher you like or follow has a habit of always having to re-explain, correct, or retract, it’s an issue. Real teachers consider their words carefully and speak wisely to minimize such problems, as the 1 Tim 3:11 and Titus 2:7-8 verses says they should do.

I’ve said before that Beth Moore is not qualified to teach partly because of her undignified delivery. She speaks casually, quickly (both in tempo and in heart-haste). Her haste, multitudes of words, and thoughtlessness in her teaching was replicated in posting that tweet for the world to see. It was careless, as evidenced by her almost immediate deletion of it. The Bible says of a person who is hasty in words,

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20)

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. (Ecclesiastes 5:12)

Now someone could say, “Gee, that was one tweet, maybe Beth Moore meant Keith wasn’t inclined to study scriptures with her right then.” That could well be what she meant. So in discernment, we don’t jump to conclusions but we watch fruit grow. LOL, it takes a long time to watch fruit grow. It’s like watching paint dry. It takes time and patience. So, in Keith’s case, is there any? What is the overall, long-term pattern and is there any evidence to support that this is a consistent husbandly failure on his part?

Yes, and yes. The Moores have had a long, public spiritual life. There is much evidence to support that Keith Moore has consistently failed his wife by abandoning the husbandly role, and in so doing, rebelled against his God and allowed a Jezebel-type to be born.

Beth Moore chose to be President of her multi-million dollar corporation, Living Proof Ministries. Her husband chose to be Vice President. In one video interview I watched of Beth, she said her husband Keith has no part in the company (ministry). She was saying that as if it was a good thing, but it is really a bad thing. In looking at Living Proof Ministries’ tax returns, Moore’s reported hours working at the ministry were 50 hours per week and Keith’s were 8 hours per week. She was President and he was Vice-president. He took no compensation. So what she said was true.

However, in ministry, the wife is supposed to be led by the husband. He is supposed to oversee her. If her non-profit was a ministry as she claimed on her IRS forms, the man needed biblically to be very involved so he could rightly make decisions and lead his wife. If it isn’t a ministry but is a corporation, then why was she taking the lead role, in that case she would be be leading a feminist lifestyle? Either way, it was a #fail.

In an interview in Charisma Magazine some years ago, Moore explained how she and her husband worked out their roles as Living Proof Ministries grew and placed increasing demands on Moore.

The only time Keith ever voiced any objection, both women say, was in the early days of the ministry when Beth, at God’s prompting, quit teaching aerobics classes and began to write Bible studies. The aerobics classes had brought in at least “a little part-time money,” Beth says. But at that time, the Bible studies were not for-pay publications; they were simply a tool she prepared gratis for the women who were attending her Thursday morning Bible class at Metropolitan Baptist Church in Houston. Keith didn’t understand Beth’s willingness to invest so much time in a project she wasn’t being paid for.

So her husband objected to Beth STOPPING her work outside the home and OBJECTED to her being at home more. In fact, biblically, it should be the opposite. Keith objected to her ministry work FOR THE LORD as long as she wasn’t being financially compensated. Again, this is not what we do for the Lord.

When Moore’s children were small the growing ministry required her to travel away from home. This was not a problem for Mr Moore. In the interview, Beth said that he simply stepped in to the wifely role as the wife stepped into the husband’s. From the same article linked above, it is reported in the interview and using their own words, that the children endured long and/or frequent absences of their mother away from home, that they strove to maintain normalcy when Beth was gone, that they lost family privacy, that the family endured trials because of Beth’s choice to work outside the home, that they all had to sacrifice for the sake of Beth’s ministry, that each time Beth left home the children saw their father (unbiblically) performing in the wife’s role, and that Keith totally supported Beth’s choices all the while. Moore says of her absences from home as a mother, her children

“invested in the kingdom every time they kissed their mother goodbye.”

This is what happens when the husband follows his fleshly “inclinations”, and fails to rightly lead. It is not surprising then, we end up with a false teacher like Beth Moore who does not know how to handle scripture. In the end, the answer is yes, there is along-term pattern of unfruitfulness so as to be able to credibly say enough evidence exists to support that this is a consistent husbandly failure on his part? We can answer the question Pastor Mike Abendroth asked, Where is Beth Moore’s Husband?

So the take-away discernment lessons here are:

1. Use social media wisely. It’s embarrassing for someone to speak impiously and worse to see the twitter stream littered with “unavailable tweets.” Proverbs 12:4 here, An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones. Sin and error never lead to courage. They usually lead to hiding the sin and deleting the tweet. When you tweet, post, blog, vlog, or otherwise, do you stand behind what you’ve said? Even under fire, does what you’ve said, stand on solid ground?

2. Do not be hasty when speaking, especially publicly. If you are a teacher, be even slower with your words. Proverbs 12:18 says, There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

3. Women, help your men do their duty of protecting and overseeing you. First, because it is a biblical command, and second, because the false teachers are just waiting to “creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,” (Ephesians 5:22-24, 2 Timothy 3:6).

4. Women, you know that we have a tendency to be led astray and usurp the husband (Genesis 3:16). Stay submitted.

5. Sin always finds you out. (Numbers 32:23). Where a false teacher is concerned, both their doctrine and their lives (behavior) will be suspect. Yes, even Billy Graham’s. We detect the false doctrine earlier and more easily because false teachers can’t hide their teaching, that is their moneymaking, stock-in-trade. They can and do hide the sin in their lives more easily, but as the verse says, it will find you out. The natural man can’t keep a lid on his sinful behavior forever. It WILL come out.

In Beth Moore’s case she tries very hard to hide her private life. The Charisma interview I linked to is 13 years old. Not many interviews occurred after that. Or if they did, Moore insists on prepared questions ahead of time, denies tours of her office, and refuses to speak of certain periods or issues in her life (untransparent to the extreme). There are always some glimpses and gleanings of the all-important moral side emerging, though. She can’t keep a lid on all of it.

Usually at some point a critical mass is reached, the cracks in the dam can’t be plugged and the whole thing comes down.  Every false teacher always has some moral issue that emerges. We saw this with Mark Driscoll. Tullian Tchividjian. Creflo Dollar. Jimmy Swaggart. Joyce Meyer. Jack Schaap. The list is seemingly endless. That’s because a false teacher or false pastor has no hope of restraining the sin in him, and even a secret sin always finds its way out.

6. Honor your husband. It is a great example to set for the younger women. A solid, biblical marriage is wondrous to behold and that is because marriage is a picture of Jesus and His Bride.

Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder peals, crying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”– for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” (Revelation 19:6-9)

Posted in catholicism, pope francis, prophecy, wisdom

Biblical ignorance regarding the Pope is staggering (but not surprising)

LifeWay tweeted this out this morning:

Seth Dunn, a young Christian man whom I follow on Twitter, responded thus-

The United States’ Christians’ response to Pope Francis’ trip to our shores is sad but not surprising. End Time apostasy is growing and growing, metastasizing in fact, if you ask me.

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, (1 Timothy 4:1)

Worse to swallow though is the massive biblical ignorance from the more conservative quarters, such as the LifeWay survey participants. Catholicism is NOT Christianity. The Protestant Reformation happened during the last year of the Middle Ages (1517) because of the protests from those who had come to see this fact and were willing to stand up and be heard. Christians protested the Catholic Church’s corruption of the Gospel, its stranglehold on the people, and the depravity of the papacy & priesthood. We are still protesting, or should be. Yet according to the survey above, those who should know better are accepting, not protesting. They are joining, not separating. The blood of all the true Christians martyred at the hands of the Pope and his henchmen cries out from the ground against this blasphemy and this defection.

On the other hand it is not surprising that it seems that only 37% or less of pastors surveyed actually hold to biblical doctrine. Many of you faithful and lovely readers email or comment or contact me on Facebook in your pain and confusion over the rapid loss of biblical truth in your church and who mourn the defection of your own husband-pastor-deacons-women’s leaders-church from the true faith. Anyone who worships in a church which preaches solidly in these days seems to be in the minority.

Wikimedia commons

It seems to be the way of flesh and it seems to be the way of the prophecies that this would happen. See this from Hosea of the people Israel after they got comfortable subsequent to the Exodus,

When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. (Hosea 13:6)

See this similar behavior from Revelation of the wealthy and satisfied church at Laodicea,

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Rev 3:17).

See this rebuke from God to His people Israel for having rejected His knowledge,

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6).

See this similar pattern in the New Testament-

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. (Romans 8:7)

Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. (1 Corinthians 14:36-38).

It is prophesied that what is happening will happen. The prophecies of mass defection from sound doctrine are many, as is the past behavior of a myriad of peoples all throughout time in the Bible.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (2 Timothy 4:3).

And 2 Timothy 3:1, Jude 1:18, 1 Timothy 4:1 and many other verses also speak to the professing believer’s refusal to submit the flesh to sound doctrine and that they will go astray, revealing they were only professors and not genuine after all.

Here are some resources regarding the hopeless religion Catholicism is. And keep studying your bible so!!

The Beginning of Knowledge 
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:1-7)

Resources; and there are many more at each of these sites besides just the three listed here,

Mike Gendron, ex-Catholic Apologist:-
False Prophet praised as Holy Father

Matt Slick, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry-
Attaining salvation in Roman Catholicism

John MacArthur, Grace To You-
Explaining the heresy of Catholicism

Posted in queen of sheba, solomon, wisdom

The Queen of Sheba and King Solomon

The Queen of Sheba

Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. 2 She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. 3 And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. 4 And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5 the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her.

6 And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, 7 but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. 8 Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:1-9)

Solomon and The Queen of Sheba, Giovanni De Min 1789–1859

It was quite an undertaking for the Queen to gather such riches, assemble slaves and servants, and leave her kingdom in what could be mischievous hands, for a lengthy and dangerous journey for many months…to see Solomon and hear his wisdom.

King Solomon is acknowledged to be the person with the most wisdom who ever lived. (2 Chronicles 1:11-12). If the fame of Solomon’s wisdom and right judgements caused the Queen of Sheba to journey for many hundreds of miles to see for herself, learn from him, and test him with hard questions, what will it be like for us when we see Jesus ruling and reigning with perfect wisdom and justice from His temple in the Millennial Kingdom (Ezekiel 43:7, Revelation 20:4)?.

How much are we willing to travel and sacrifice to hear the wisdom of Jesus?

In verse 5 it says that Sheba’s very breath was taken away, so amazed was she at Solomon’s wisdom and his house and possessions. Yet how breathless will we be in seeing our perfect and holy Jesus render justice, and how beautifully adorned His house will be!

 Go out of your way to seek Jesus and His statutes. There’s nothing else like them on earth.

Posted in queen of sheba, solomon, wisdom, worship

Why did the Queen of Sheba want to visit King Solomon?

The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:42)

Jesus is talking to the Pharisees here, and the generation He’s talking about was the generation that saw Messiah arrive, work miracles, preach truth, and reject Him.

Solomon and the Queen of Sheba by Giovanni De Min (1789-1859). Wikipedia

Is this verse a prophecy? A promise? A historical incident? All three. Read the beautiful sentiments Matthew Henry shares in his Whole Commentary on the bible:

As a generation that would be condemned by the queen of the south, the queen of Sheba, v. 42. The Ninevites would shame them for not repenting, the queen of Sheba for not believing in Christ. She came from a far country to hear the wisdom of Solomon; yet people will not be persuaded to come and hear the wisdom of Christ, though he is in every thing greater than Solomon.

[1.] The queen of Sheba had no invitation to come to Solomon, nor any promise of being welcome; but we are invited to Christ, to sit at his feet and hear his word.

[2.] Solomon was but a wise man, but Christ is wisdom itself, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom.

[3.] The queen of Sheba had many difficulties to break through; she was a woman, unfit for travel, the journey long and perilous; she was a queen, and what would become of her own country in her absence? We have no such cares to hinder us.

[4.] She could not be sure that it would be worth her while to go so far on this errand; fame uses to flatter men, and perhaps she might have in her own country or court wise men sufficient to instruct her; yet, having heard of Solomon’s fame, she would see him; but we come not to Christ upon such uncertainties.

[5.] She came from the uttermost parts of the earth, but we have Christ among us, and his word nigh us: Behold he stands at the door, and knocks.

[6.] It should seem the wisdom the queen of Sheba came for was only philosophy and politics; but the wisdom that is to be had with Christ is wisdom to salvation.

[7.] She could only hear Solomon’s wisdom; he could not give her wisdom: but Christ will give wisdom to those who come to him; nay, he will himself be made of God to them Wisdom; so that, upon all these accounts, if we do not hear the wisdom of Christ, the forwardness of the queen of Sheba to come and hear the wisdom of Solomon will rise up in judgment against us and condemn us; for Jesus Christ is greater than Solomon.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1676). Peabody: Hendrickson.

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Further Reading:

All about the Queen of Sheba

Posted in angel, countenance, encouragement, prophecy, wisdom

A godly face radiates His glory

In Adult Bible Study we are going through Acts. I am also listening to John MacArthur preach through Acts. When reading the part where Stephen was dragged in front of the Sanhedrin and about to answer charges of blasphemy, we read the following:

And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15)

As is the way with the Spirit, he got my attention to focus on the part that said ‘the face of an angel.’

I envisioned Stephen’s face full of serene glory, bright and shining. It reminded me of the verse when Moses had been with God and Moses’ face shone so brightly the people were scared and urged Moses to cover it with a veil. (Exodus 34:30, 35, cf. 2 Corinthians 3:13).

Other incidences of a person’s face shining with glory were also in the New Testament, this time it was Jesus-

There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. (Matthew 17:2)

Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. (Luke 9:29)

Moses, Stephen, Jesus, faces shining with glory. I want that. I want that because when someone sees me I want them to see Jesus. I don’t want them to see my face, but a serenely joyful face, so different from the faces in the crowd. I want people to notice something different about me. The something different, of course, is Jesus.

But how? Moses was with God Himself on Mt Sinai. That was a unique occurrence. Jesus is, well, Jesus, and though He was fully man He was also fully God. So X that off the list. Stephen was filled with the spirit at a moment when supernatural ability was promised God’s people. (Matthew 10:19-20).

Still…if the Spirit’s ministry is to point people to Jesus I want Jesus to be evident in me. I know the fruit the Spirit grows will do that.

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, 8how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? (2 Corinthians 3:7-8)

What else will do that? I found an answer in Ecclesiastes 8:1

Who is like the wise?
And who knows the interpretation of a thing?
A man’s wisdom makes his face shine,
and the hardness of his face is changed.

Wisdom. The kind of wisdom that emanates and makes a face soften. Here is what the Jamieson-Fausset Commentary explains about the Ecclesiastes verse:

Praise of true wisdom continued (Ec 7:11, &c.). “Who” is to be accounted “equal to the wise man?… Who (like him) knoweth the interpretation” of God’s providences (for example, Ec 7:8, 13, 14), and God’s word (for example, see on Ec 7:29; Pr 1:6)?

face to shine—(Ec 7:14; Ac 6:15). A sunny countenance, the reflection of a tranquil conscience and serene mind. Communion with God gives it (Ex 34:29, 30).

The Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible says of the Ecclesiastes verse,

Wisdom: It beautifies a man in the eyes of his friends: It makes his face to shine, as Moses’s did when he came down from the mount; it puts honour upon a man and a lustre on his whole conversation, makes him to be regarded and taken notice of, and gains him respect (as Job 29:7, etc.); it makes him lovely and amiable, and the darling and blessing of his country. The strength of his face, the sourness and severity of his countenance (so some understand the last clause), shall be changed by it into that which is sweet and obliging. Even those whose natural temper is rough and morose by wisdom are strangely altered; they become mild and gentle, and learn to look pleasant.

The way to softening our countenance is wisdom. We absorb wisdom from above by holding close communion with Christ. We read His word, the best – and only – wisdom. Prayer is close communion with Christ, an intimate privilege that delivers wisdom because in prayer we contemplate Him. Proclaiming His truths, as Stephen did, will increase our wisdom because if what comes out of us defiles us, alternately His truths enliven us with His glory. (Mark 7:20, James 3:6).

NH Old Man of the Mountains,
a granite face. Source

To understand this as a full truth we look at its opposite. If wisdom of God softens our face and makes it serenely radiant, a man with no Godly wisdom will have a hard face. The ultimate example of this is the antichrist. We read in Daniel 8, one of the antichrist’s qualities is that he has a hard face.

And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up. (Daniel 8:23 KJV)

Friends, the gentle disciplines of reading the bible, prayer, and proclaiming His truth will transform us, and it’s not only the mind that is transformed (Romans 12:2) but when the mind is drenched with wisdom, truth, Jesus, it will alter our very countenance.

The upshot is, close communion with God will alter our face.

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18).

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

Behold His glory and it will shine upon you today, reflecting back to a dark world that needs to see it.