Posted in theology

“Don’t Be So Dogmatic!”

By Elizabeth Prata

PODCAST/AUDIO here

My literal, autistic brain always saw things in black and white. I like it that way.

Only problem was, for the first 43 years of my life as a heathen, I sought and looked and searched for a match-up of a life manual that would agree that things were spelled out starkly. There HAD to be a place where there was no gray area. Non-Christians LIVE in the gray areas. Gray areas were my downfall. I knew that somewhere there was ‘right’ and ‘wrong.’ My mother always used to yell at me, particularly when we had moral conversations, “Don’t be so dogmatic!” But there is a right and a wrong…isn’t there?

Dogmatic: characterized by or given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts.

(The Non-Christian world doesn’t believe the Bible is a fact. They believe it’s opinion).

Dogma: a doctrine or body of doctrines concerning faith or morals formally stated and authoritatively proclaimed by a church

When I was graciously saved, I learned that the Bible is that manual. Further, things were starkly spelled out in black and white. There were two sides to things. There is a right and a wrong. Furthermore, I learned that there’s-

black and white
love and enmity
in and out
narrow and wide
light and dark
righteous and lawless
justice and injustice
lost and saved
heaven and hell

There is no gray area. (I am not speaking of things not spelled out in the Bible where we use Christian liberty). There is no gray area. Gray areas, fence sitters, anything lukewarm…Jesus spits out of his mouth in a righteous vomit. (Revelation 3:16).

Morally, according to God’s law, there is a right and a wrong. God sets the Law. He is judge. He alone determines who is a transgressor.

In these postmodern Christianity days, we are so used to hearing about “my truth and your truth” we forget there is THE truth. (John 14:6). We’re so used to hearing about “the ‘hermeneutic of humility‘ where [t]he idea was to interpret God’s Word but stop short of coming to any definitive conclusions that would exclude alternative interpretations,” we forget that the entire Gospel is one of exclusivity- it excludes any other means of attaining heaven, excludes any other interpretation of how to get to heaven, and excludes any person who rejects Christ. We keep hearing about this famous “nuance” in interpretation that we forget that the Bible, thanks to the perspicuity of scripture and the aid of the Holy Spirit, can be and should be clear.

Sadly, this week someone said to me of the end time doctrines, also known as ‘Last Things’ or ‘Eschatology’ that “only the Father knows for sure.” Well, He knows how things will end because He ordained it, and He told us in the Bible. He didn’t spend 65 books speaking clearly and whiff it at the end, muddying the waters and petering out with a whimper of confusion and mystery.

We wrap too many clear doctrines with layers of gauze that should not be there, making the crystal, sterling, shining doctrines of God dim and shrouded in enigmas. In some cases, when it comes to our assurance of God’s will, His righteousness, and His intentions for His people, absolutely be dogmatic! God is the only God! He is holy! He will come again! We are all sinners! There is a hell! The end will come! Be clear and firm.

Here are some resources on both the Doctrines of God, and the perspicuity (clarity) of scripture. Strip back those layers and see God and His works for what they are, clearly amazing!

SERMONS

Martyn Lloyd Jones: Great Biblical Doctrines (all of them are on this list)

RC Sproul: For the Doctrine of the Trinity

Thomas Boston: The Sinfulness of Man’s Natural State, Doctrine of Sin (Read by Carlton Pruitt)

Truth for Life (Alistair Begg’s ministry) Rico Tice preaches the Doctrine of Hell in this sermon called “The Reality of Hell

WA Criswell Great Doctrines of the Bible

pdf called The Night Watches by John MacDuff here, exploring,
The Glory of God, The Immutability of God, The Omnipotence of God, The Omnipresence of God, The Wisdom of God, The Holiness of God, The Justice of God, The Love of God, The Grace of God, The Tenderness of God, The Patience of God, The Faithfulness of God, The Sovereignty of God, The Providence of God, The Word of God, The Ordinances of God, The Spirit of God, The Promises of God, The Warning of God, The Chastisements of God, The Invitations of God, The Consolations of God, The Paths of God, The Secret of God, The Name of God, The Favor of God, The Jewels of God, The Judgment of God, God’s Banqueting House, The Presence of God, God’s Closing Call.

Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth, John MacArthur

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.

GotQuestions: What is Dogma?

Posted in music, theology

Of Songs that Sing of the Blood, Repentance, Salvation

By Elizabeth Prata

My church service in Sundays goes from 2-2:45 (Sunday School), then the main service from 3:00-4:30. I love the afternoon schedule. It gives me time to prepare my heart in the morning, arrive unrushed at church, and enjoy the day in a different way than the usual10-12:30 timing of other churches.

On the way home from church one Sunday I stumbled onto a radio station which I had not heard before. Driving home from a sweet service filled with good music, I want to keep that atmosphere going. It’s hard with today’s radio programming.

In being frustrated one day with the quality of radio stations I had set on my buttons, I took some time to really search around and found WWQE “The Life”. It’s a Dove-award winning station. During my drive home there is a particular show called Gospel Vinyl Gold. These are Southern Gospel songs from the 50’s onward that are considered classics.

I love older Southern Gospel songs, I always have. That is strange because I didn’t grow up in the South and I didn’t become converted until I was 42. Even as a newbie I liked these older songs. The radio station played some good ones.

Newer songs are good too. Matt Papa and Keith Getty write good lyrics. Some of these are included in the new hymnal John MacArthur and others created called Hymns of Grace. I am not against new songs. But oftentimes newer songs leave out important doctrines.

I wrote previously about a song I heard back along while driving that struck me so much I had to stop the car. It was a song of eschatology, where the rapture happened and a father was left behind. The man turned out to have been having a dream, but the song focused on the scripture from Matthew 7:21-23 where (in his dream) he discovers he is a false convert. He faces Jesus and Jesus tells him ‘Depart from me, I never knew you.’ When the man in the song awoke to discover it was only a dream, he hastened to fall on his knees and really repent.

How often do we hear a doing like THAT these days? How often do we even hear a sermon like that? Rarely. The essay I wrote about that song was titled “Sorry, I never Knew You” – Should we Sing Songs of Judgment?

My pastor friend posted this morning from Patheos (a site I don’t generally recommend for women) and the section of that online magazine called Church for Men. The article was titled, Where did the Call-to-Repentance Songs Go? by David Murrow.

The author is reminiscing about singer-songwriter Ketih Green. Murrow says,

As my wife and I listened to Green’s music, we were struck by how strange his late 1970s lyrics sounded to our 2019 ears. Green employed a lyrical technique that used to be common in Christian music, but is virtually absent today: the call to repentance, or CTR. CTR songs are designed to convict the singer of his own sin.  Here are two reasons CTR songs sound so out of place today:

1. While most contemporary worship songs focus on comfort and assurance, CTR songs point out our shortcomings. CTR songs are anything but positive and encouraging.

2. While most of today’s praise songs are sung from the perspective of the disciple, CTR songs are sung from the perspective of God (or a prophet). In praise and worship, we are the speaker, telling God how we feel about him. With CTR, God is the speaker, telling us how he feels about us.

CTR songs are sometimes hard to listen to. Too much CTR can lead to discouragement and even legalism. However, I can personally testify to their effectiveness. Keith Green’s songs were the slap in the face I needed as a young believer.

Slap in the face is a good way to put it. When I heard Sego Brothers And Naomi’s song Sorry, I Never Knew You, it WAS a slap in the face. I was dumbstruck. Lyrics like that catch your attention and re-orient the mind toward eternal things, holiness of Jesus, and our own sin. It’s good to get back to that occasionally.

Bible Studies aimed at women, the publishing industry aimed at the female demographic, the songs aimed at ladies these days, tend to focus on phrases and concepts that assure women of their worth, that they are loved, that they have power and abilities, that they are esteemed, and so on. Where are the songs that call us sinners to repentance? Remind us that we are sinners? Remind us of the eternal consequences of sin? Largely absent.

I agree with Murrow that a steady diet of call-to-repentance songs would lead to dispirited attitudes and/or legalism. But a stead diet of affirming-only songs also isn’t healthy. Those simply puff us up and don’t always point to the real hero, Jesus. We must forget what is past but also remember we are sinners called to daily repent – as the Lord’s Prayer says. (Philippians 3:13-14; Matthew 6:12). We look forward to eternity but examine ourselves now to see if we are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 4:18; 2 Corinthians 13:5).

Sorry I Never Knew You

I told the Lord that I had been
A Christian all the while
But through his book he took a look
and sadly shook his head
then placed me over on his left
and this I heard him say,
“Sorry, I never knew you.
I find no record of your birth.”

Oof. A gut punch.

Bob Kauflin at Worship Matters wrote a few essays that I enjoyed on this topic. Here is his essay, Should we sing songs about God’s judgments?

Songs that Reference God’s Judgments, is Mr Kauflin’s follow up to the previous.

Don’t avoid songs with hard truths. Ones that sing of the blood, redemption from sin, salvation. Here are a few:

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
There is a Fountain
The Old Rugged Cross
Alas and Did My Savior Bleed
When we survey the wondrous cross
All for Jesus! All for Jesus!

New arrangement:

Traditional arrangement

Posted in theology, Uncategorized

The beauty of doctrine

love doctrine

Doctrine is wonderful. I love doctrine. Doctrine just means “teaching.” But it’s so much more than that also. Doctrine saves, we are delivered by doctrine!

But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, (Romans 6:17).

You see the words ‘that standard of teaching’. The KJV uses the word doctrine. You were delivered by doctrine. God’s teaching saved you. Its usefulness and importance continues after salvation, for it edifies you, strengthens you, grows you, protects you, and more. (2 Tim. 2:24–26; Titus 1:9-11, John 17:17, &etc.).

Here is Scott Swain at Ligonier Ministries to explain:

What is doctrine? In its basic sense, doctrine is any sort of teaching. The Bible, for example, talks about the teachings of men (Mark 7:7–8), the teachings of demons (1 Tim. 4:1; Rev. 2:24), and the teachings of God (John 6:45; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 John 2:27). Here, we are concerned with divine teaching, the teaching of God. According to one definition, doctrine is teaching from God about God that directs us to the glory of God. This definition provides a helpful anatomy of sound doctrine, identifying doctrine’s source, object, and ultimate end. We will consider these elements of sound doctrine.

We are obedient to the Person of Jesus of course, but we are also delivered by doctrine and we are obedient to the teaching of Jesus.

True doctrine becomes your protection. Doctrine, understood, begins to build your convictions. Convictions become your protection. If you have few convictions, you are very vulnerable. The more sound doctrine you know, the more you move from being a spiritual child to a young man.” John MacArthur, The Master’s University sermon, Delivered by Doctrine.

Doctrine as a word and a spiritual discipline has become tarnished of late. This essay is to try and bring the beauty of doctrine to its rightful place in the Christian life and mind. Here are a few more resources for you, in addition to the links already shared in this essay.

What is doctrine? – Got Questions

What is essential Christian doctrine? – Christian Research Institute

Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith – Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry

Posted in prophecy, Uncategorized

Predestination means people are elected as vessels of wrath, too. Part 3

Vessels of Wrath Part 1 here
Vessels of Wrath Part 2 here

A few days ago I’d posted an essay about predestination. This is the doctrine where the Bible teaches that God is completely sovereign over everything that happens, including individual salvations. He elects people to salvation, independently and apart from foreknowledge of any decision they make. It’s all His grace, and not our decision.

People dislike that doctrine and fight against it. One of the reasons people resist the plain truth of the doctrine is that people want to think that somewhere in their heart or mind, they chose God. However, we are dead in sins and trespasses and have no ability to choose God, or ‘make a decision’ about our salvation. It is granted to us. (Galatians 3:22). We have no part in it, except the resulting gratitude and service in His name.

The verse to consider today is from Romans 9:21-24

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

There are vessels of mercy, and there are vessels of wrath. Considering anything regarding God is weighty and should fill the saved and the non-saved with awe and humility. But to really consider His work of judgment should bring to mind the famous comment attributed to martyr John Bradford, “There but for the grace of God go I”.

Here is M’Cheyne preaching on the Romans verse. In my opinion, it’s brilliant. The full sermon is here.

——————————–

The Vessels of Wrath Fitted to Destruction
by Robert Murray M’Cheyne

I come now to the third point–the reason given why believers are saved. Verse 23 – “And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” One reason why there are vessels of wrath fitted to destruction is, that God may show by contrast the riches of his grace on the vessels of mercy. You know, brethren, we learn many things best by contrast: for example, the rainbow is never seen so bright as in the bosom of a dark cloud. So, brethren, we shall never see the love and com passion of God in them that are saved so gloriously displayed as when we see his wrath poured out on the vessels of wrath. This, then, is one reason why there are vessels of wrath.

I believe that the “riches of glory” here spoken of are the whole rainbow of the divine attributes displayed in the salvation of souls. It was for this reason that God provided that there should be vessels of wrath fitted for destruction. This may appear to you very awful: it is so to myself. I could not and dare not speak of it if it were not here in God’s own Word.

I would just show you one or two of his attributes that will be brilliantly illustrated in the salvation of souls. One is, the sovereignty of God. I have often told you of this. Many of you do not believe it; but there is a day coming when God will put it beyond a doubt. There are whole churches – whole bodies of professing Christians – that deny it; but there is a day coming when there will be none in heaven, or earth, or hell, that will deny it. Suppose that day were come, and this congregation divided, some on the left hand, some on the right, will you not see then God’s sovereignty in the contrast? You were once all the same. You were under the same condemnation. Some of you came out of the same womb – were nursed at the same mother’s breast; yet it will be seen that some will be taken and some left. What made the difference? Every creature will see that God made the difference, that he had “mercy on whom he would have mercy.”

Another is, the pardoning attribute of God. At present this is denied; but, brethren, in that day it will be made known. God will make known the riches of his glorious mercy on the vessels of mercy. O brethren, when one vessel is cleansed and taken up to glory, and another is left to perish, and when you see that they were equally sinful, then you will see that it was blood that made the difference. God will make known the riches of his mercy in the vessels of mercy, as well as his wrath in the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.

Let us learn a few lessons from this subject. And –

1st. All will not be saved. It is a fearful delusion among you – I do not say you avow it, but you practically say, you believe – that there will be no hell. It was God’s plan that there should be vessels of wrath as well as vessels of mercy. Brethren, it is better it should be so. O do not dream! All will not be saved. There are vessels of wrath as well as vessels of mercy. Some of you, I think, are going to hell, and some, I trust, are going to heaven; and doubtless it is best it should be so, though I cannot explain the reason of it. The net has good and bad fishes: some will be taken into the vessel, and some will be cast away.

2nd. Every one of you will be to the glory of God. You will be made to glorify him in one way or another. You will either do it willingly or unwillingly. You must form a step to his throne. Ah, brethren! I believe each of you will yet be a beacon or a monument – either a beacon of wrath or a monument of mercy, “He hath made all things form himself; even the wicked for the day of evil.” Yes, wicked man, you would rob God of his glory if you could, but you cannot. If you come to Christ, you will show forth his glory in saving you; but if you do not, God will show forth his power in destroying a vessel of his wrath.

3rd. There is a third lesson we may learn. It is, the chief end of God in the world to manifest his glory. Many think, especially infidel men, that God’s chief end is the happiness of his creatures; but, from deep study of the Word of God for years, I see that it is not so. If that were his chief end, all would be happy. His chief end is diverse – it is self-manifestation. Had it not been for this, God would have remained alone in awful solitude. I would desire to speak with deep reverence on such a subject. This seems to be the reason why there are vessels of wrath as well as of mercy – that they might be mirrors to reflect his attributes. And I believe, brethren, when creation is done, and when redemption is done, that there will then be a complete manifestation of the glory of God.

4th. Another lesson we may learn is, God is longsuffering to the vessels of wrath. I remember a person who once argued with me that she must needs be a child of God on account of his goodness to her. She enumerated many blessings she had received – how God had protected her in a foreign country, how many trials she had been delivered out of, and how many domestic comforts she had enjoyed. My only answer to her was, “The goodness of god leadeth thee to repentance.” It is no proof that you are a child of God that God has borne long with you. There would be many children of God here, if this were the case. Ah, brethren! Strange though it may seem, he does not want any to perish – he does bear long with you.

Last of all, the destruction of the vessels of wrath will be no grief to the vessels of mercy. I once spoke to you of this before; but I would again remind you of it. The redeemed will have no tears to shed; and here is the reason – the very destruction of the wicked makes known the riches of divine grace. O my believing brethren, it will be an awful day when we shall not weep to see them perish. The day is hastening on – the day when no more rivers of waters will run down our eyes because they keep not God’s law. But, O brethren, till that day come let us weep on; for, although God will be glorified in the destruction of the vessels of his wrath, he will be more glorified in making them vessels of mercy. The Lord bless his own Word. Amen.

—————–end——————

perfect love moon verse

Further Reading

Is Predestination Biblical?

Doesn’t John 3:16 mean that anyone can believe?

 

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Mail Call: How can some good pastors be so off-track and not see doctrinal error in materials they use in church?

Occasionally I receive email or Facebook messages asking questions about various topics and issues within the faith. Here is a question I received recently, and it dovetails with an essay I’m preparing for tomorrow based on a verse in John 11.

3. How can a pastor who I believe loves Christ be so off track?

This question, which was from more than one person, revolved around pastors who are OK in the pulpit but allow false teachers to infiltrate Sunday School, Women’s Ministry, or the Youth group; or who recommend books or materials to their members that are less that solid.

There are many possible reasons. Here are a few I can think of.

One reason in answer to the question might be simply the pastor’s inattention and/or busyness. I remember a powerful sermon from about 4 years ago delivered by Pr. Jim Murphy of First Baptist of Johnson City NY in a sermon called “The Subtlety of Satan“. He repented on the pulpit and also charged his church to repent too. He said that he had allowed satan to get his tentacles on his congregation via the church library, the Sunday School, and the Women’s ministry (including Beth Moore materials.) He said he was protective of the pulpit but had been inattentive and too busy to guard those other areas and the devil had gotten in.

However, there is one critical difference between a false pastor and a true pastor who has simply become busy and inattentive. The true pastor will listen to your concerns and prayerfully consider them by checking against the Bible and with his elders. He would either teach you in all gentleness why you are in error, (2 Timothy 2:25, Galatians 5:23, Ephesians 4:2) or in all humility, accept what you’re saying and check it out for himself. A false pastor will become angry, and make accusations against you and blame you. Thankfully, if the cause of being off track is inattention, it does not last forever. Eventually the Spirit brings him to repentance, as Pastor Murphy powerfully and transparently showed us in his own life.

Another reason a pastor can be so off track is that he might be lazy. It’s easier to allow the ladies to continue in their Beth Moore study than it is to confront them and endure their lady-wrath. Or another way to be lazy is simply not check the materials his people are using and rely too much on the Sunday School Superintendent or Ladies Ministry leader to make these decisions. However, a good shepherd will remember he is responsible for the souls of all his sheep’s souls, and won’t over-rely for long.

If he is lazy, one way to check is by googling his sermon titles and key points of the sermon and find out if he is plagiarizing, that is, passing off his sermons as his own but they are really canned from some storehouse online somewhere. If he is lazy at the pulpit he will be lazy elsewhere, like not being diligent in vetting study materials for the women and Sunday School. Plagiarism by the way, isn’t a new problem. God charged the false prophets leaders of Israel thru prophet Jeremiah of plagiarism. It is the lazy way out.

Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who steal my words from one another. (Jeremiah 23:30).

Sadly, one reason he could be off-track could be that he may not really be a believer. I’m very sorry to have to say this. We say it carefully and only as a last resort. The Bible is clear about how powerfully the false convert can mirror a real one. For one, Judas was living intimately with the disciples, and when Jesus said one of them will betray Him, not one disciple asked if it was Judas. They all asked if it could be themselves rather than Judas. (“Is it I?”) He had all the disciples well fooled. Philip baptized Simon the sorcerer, he had Philip fooled, but his dark heart was revealed later when Simon asked Peter to give him the Spirit for money. Demas walked with Paul and only betrayed his black heart when he left to go join the world. Demas had fooled Paul. So false converts can rise to even leadership positions, and fool all those who know them. For a while. Sin eventually shows itself, or there’s an eventual failure to bring fruit.

In any case, you look at your pastor or any believer over time. There are only two ways to go. The believer grows, is on the narrow path, and is developing fruit. Upward. The lost, false convert, even a false pastor, is on the broad path, goes downward, and develops thorns and thistles. The Holy Spirit in the true believer will NOT allow false doctrine to remain in that person for long. That’s why we look over time. Any person can make a mistake, even pastors. That’s OK, it happens. The key is the reaction by the pastor when he is respectfully asked about whatever it is concerning you. Hopefully he will make a course correction be repented of, and the pastor AND his flock grows because of his humble example. If not, then the Spirit is not in him.

If you see something of concern, first, pray. The Spirit’s ministry is to point to Christ. The Holy Spirit wants purity and truth. He is always working. So pray to Him for your pastor, and He will be the catalyst for the necessary changes in him…or you! In all things, submit to those who lead you and pray for them. Love is patient and love is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)… As a matter of fact, before you go speak to your pastor about your concerns, Love your pastor this way-

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Strange Fire Q&A: ?

Can you believe it has been three years since the Strange Fire Conference? Its impact continues, with men and women still using the wonderful resources at the website to confirm truth to their hearts. Many have been led out of the Charismatic chaos as a result.

For those of us who are in solid churches but sadly see it beginning to creep in, here is a Strange Fire Q&A which addresses the practicalities of being a bulwark against Charismatic practices.  How do we combat this? But first, a short backgrounder: Continue reading “Strange Fire Q&A: ?”

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Adorning His Doctrine

Re-post from February 2013.

We read in the “Pastoral Epistles”, Titus and Timothy, what to do that is consistent with sound doctrine. The pastoral epistles are: “those letters written by Paul to Timothy and Titus in the New Testament. So, they are 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. They are called pastoral because they are letters with instructions for pastors, congregations, and general functions within the church.”

We read what people are supposed to do in order to display the highest qualifications for behavior and character.

I want to note the first sentence of Titus 2:1-10,

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 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. Slaves 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.

Paul is telling Titus to teach according to sound doctrine. Paul does not particularly outline what the sound doctrine is, at this point because the point of the letter is to encourage Titus to display and hence his flock to display certain behavioral attributes. In displaying these attributes in life, they will be acting consistently with sound doctrine.

In an interesting parallel, Paul gives Timothy a list of behavioral attributes, too. The difference is, Paul’s list to Timothy includes behaviors that are contrary to sound doctrine. Here is the list:

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:8-11).

Anyone displaying these negative attributes in their behavior are acting against sound doctrine.

The second item to focus on is the reason we are to behave consistent with the good doctrine we have been taught. It is so that the name of Jesus will not come under reproach. If we behave against sound doctrine, the adversary (satan, that old dragon) will be able to use us to bring reproach upon Jesus’ name.

In the unbelieving world, it is very easy to avoid Christians. Their mind is darkened, so they do not see us.

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.” (Ephesians 4:17-18).

Two kingdoms are co-existing side by side, locked in a war. The opponents are- satan’s army and his unbelievers whom he influences, and Jesus’s army and His saved believers. The unbelievers do not really see us but they are aware of our presence. What I mean is, unbelievers as a whole do not think about Christians in their daily lives. It is very easy to have no contact with Christians, be unaware and uncaring about Christian life, and go for long periods of time not hearing or seeing Christian language or behavior. It is like oil and water. As we know, oil and water may occupy the same space in a glass, but they do not mix. (Left, oil and water)

And also as we know, the kingdom of Jesus is not of this earth. (John 18:36). It is in heaven. So how will the unbeliever see the kingdom of God?

When we behave in the sterling way as Paul outlined to Titus, the veil parts. The unbeliever sees the Kingdom. He sees it because the Light is so bright! He cannot avoid seeing the Kingdom that dwells among them because the Light is so bright!

for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you. (Luke 17:21b).

We ARE the kingdom, the veil parts, they see us when we act according to kingdom attributes. How will the unbeliever see the King, unless they see the Kingdom? Jesus is in heaven on His throne, but the kingdom He created is within us for this present age. The unbeliever will see it if we act according to sound doctrine, as Paul urges Titus.

Never let anyone tell you that ‘doctrine doesn’t matter.’ It does. It is not just head knowledge but it expresses itself through behavior that brings the Kingdom forward and lets the blind to see the unreproached name of Jesus.

Paul ended that paragraph by saying that we may adorn the doctrine of Christ the Savior. The word adorn is defined – “properly, to beautify; to adorn, make compellingly attractive, very appealing (inviting, awesomely gorgeous).

We are not gorgeous but Jesus in us is gorgeous! Let us pray for the strength and wisdom to go forward each day so that we may adorn Him, and be compellingly attractive in the eyes of those who are living in such darkness. We have been told how to act, and how not to act.

Henry Branagh in Henry V

 

In 1415, Henry V was severely outnumbered as they prepared for battle at Agincourt. This battle was dramatised by William Shakespeare in the play Henry V featuring the St. Crispin’s Day Speech in which Henry inspired his much outnumbered English forces to fight the French. It was a stirring moment in the film adaptation when actor Kenneth Branagh gave the speech. It was the speech when the King said, once more into the breach, dear friends. I was inspired to jump up and fight against the opposing forces! It was unusual for a king to call his army men ‘friends.’

Our King has given us a stirring speech, too. It is the bible. His doctrine is the inspiration for us to leap up and go into battle. But our battle is not in flesh and blood nor with swords. Our battle is through our behavior and our words, and the love we carry for our King, a remarkable eternal king who calls US His friends. Would you fight for Him in truth and kindness and gentleness so that we may adorn Him?