Category Archives: truth

On the Record

   For the last couple of days, many blogs that I read have been offering commentary on the passing of Dr. Jerry Falwell. In the words of an old mountaineer I once met, Dr. Falwell was a “pucker or duck” kind of guy. That is, when you mentioned his name, people would either kiss you or take a swing at you depending on their opinion of him.

   Many in the liberal media have been gleefully celebrating the homegoing of Dr. Falwell. That is to be expected, he stood for everything they were against. What is saddening however, is the number of evangelical Christians who are taking their shots at him during this time. I even read one comment by a reformed pastor who theorized that God had called him home to straighten him out on the “doctrines of grace” because of recent remarks Dr. Falwell had made about the concept of limited atonement.

   Even many of those who are honoring the memory of this man are in some way trying to distance themselves from the extreme positions he sometimes took. They are offering a compliment in one hand and a caveat in the other.

   I want to go on record and say that I liked and admired Dr. Jerry Falwell. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I think I would have loved to have done so. I appreciated his love for God and for his country (yes, I think there is room for both in the same heart). I appreciated his willingness to expose himself to the criticisms of conservatives and liberals alike for the sake of not letting critical moral issues get swept quietly under the rug.

   I am thankful that he didn’t mind adopting an extreme position that was at times even beyond conservative, knowing that backlash was inevitable, yet doing it so that when the smoke cleared and he had somewhat mollified the left, the rest of us would have a position upon which to stand that was still well right of immorality.

   I still smile when I remember the time I saw his frank conservatism frustrate Phil Donahue to the point that all he could do was stand there bug-eyed, spluttering unintelligibly into his microphone.

   I am glad that he invested his time and work in God’s kingdom, preaching the gospel and taking an interest in the lives of thousands of young people who walked through the halls of Liberty University.

   I like the fact that you never had to wonder where he stood in a matter. He always made his position clear, no caveats, no dodges, just the truth.

   He was not afraid to call those who disagreed with him as “friends”. He realized that you don’t bring people to the truth by looking down your nose at them.

   I want to go on the record as saying that even though I did not know him, I will miss him. There is a new gap in the hedge. I wonder who will stand in it?

Editorial Note: The reformed pastor to which I referred in the second paragraph has since issued a clarification and retraction of the comment I mentioned. It was not his intention for the statement to come across in the way that I took it. I appreciate his willingness to clear up the matter.


The Art of Christian Statesmanship–Part 2

   In the previous post in this series, I listed some negative aspects of debates that I have observed in theological debates that have taken place around the blogosphere. In the discussion that followed, some excellent points were made concerning right motives in debating and in the methods we employ while engaging in debate.

   I want to share with you some principles that I am trying to keep in mind when I engage in debates. As the Apostle Paul stated in Philippians, “I count not myself to have apprehended.” I am still learning to apply these, and at times my fleshly nature still rises up and works against these principles, but they are the goal to which I strive.

1.  I will assume that my opponent is a brother or sister in Christ. Unless I am debating and atheist or someone from a different religion, I am not going to assume that differences in interpretation of scripture arbitrarily mean they are not saved. Thus, I am going to give them the respect that the Bible says is due between children of God.

2.  I will remember that my goal should be edification.If I am only trying to prove that I am right and my opponent is wrong, then I will never achieve this goal. I cannot presumptiously excuse ungracious language or behavior simply because I think I am right. I must define a “win” as being the edification of the one whom I am debating. I do not have to compromise to achieve this, but I must be kind, gentle, meek, patient, temperate and above all, loving as I express what I believe to be the truth.

3.  I will remember the likelihood that my remarks are being read by unbelievers. I do not want my comments to be so vitriolic that they would harm the testimony of Christ and hinder someone from coming to Him.

4.  I will remember that I am not perfect and still have much to learn. Just because I have believed something all my life does not mean that it is true. Truth is defined by God’s Word alone, and even the brightest of theologians can be mistaken. If they can be wrong, who am I to think I have a monopoly on truth? Along those same lines, I will try to remember that just because my opponent may be wrong on one point does not mean that he is wrong all the time.

5.  I will remember that my ultimate goal will be the glory of God. Before I fire off that fiery response, I should ask myself, “Will God be glorified in this?” If I am trying to make myself appear intelligent, wise or superior to my opponent, I will be operating from the wrong motive and will be prone to use methods and language that do not glorify the Savior.

   As I said, I am learning these principles. I am ashamed to say that I have learned their importance because of my own shortcomings as much as those I have observed in others. By God’s grace, I intend, however, to adhere to them as closely as possible from now on.

   May Christ be glorified in all I say and do.

What Do You Think About God?

In my recent book review of Confessions Of an Amateur Believer, by Patty Kirk, I mentioned that the author dealt with some poignant questions concerning her ideals about God. Blogging friend, Danny Kaye, suggested that perhaps we could discuss some of them. Rather than spoil the book for you by revealing all of them here, I am going to present a “composite question” to you for discussion.

Mrs. Kirk expressed that she abandoned her early belief in God because the reality of her life did not match the ideals of God that she learned in her religious upbringing. The Roman Catholic church had painted a mental picture of God that she simply could not reconcile with the events of her life.

Now, I am in no way saying that God can be limited to the scope of our experience or understanding, please do not infer that I am. God is who He is, and His ways are far beyond our ways. My understanding of God has no power to shape God, but it does have the power to shape me.

Now with that in mind, here is my question for discussion.

What should we do when the evident realities of life do not reconcile with the ideals of our faith?

Antidote for Antichrists

In I John 2:20-27, we find three things we can use to defend against the deception of antichrists.

Knowledge of the Truth
Every believer has received an anointing of the Spirit that enables us to understand the truth of God’s Word. No believer has “special access” over others into truth.

We must use this truth to identify the lies of the spirit of antichrist. This illustration may seem trite, but it is well-known that when bank tellers are trained to identify counterfeit money, they are thoroughly educated in what the genuine article looks like. Thus, if a bill doesn’t match up with what they know to be authentic, they reject it as being a deception.

The same principle should apply to believers when trying to discern doctrine. We should be so thoroughly familiar with who Christ is as revealed in Scripture, that when a false presentation of Jesus is brought before us, we are immediately aware that it is heresy.

Continuing in Doctrine
We cannot allow the basic doctrines of Christ to be forgotten. These are the very bedrock upon which our faith rests. Regardless of variations within our systems of theology, all true believers base their doctrine upon who Christ is.

I believe that this should cause us to frequently review the words of Christ. We should stay grounded in His teachings so that we will not falter in our doctrine. This will also enable us to recognize an “imposter” Christ. Without exception, every cult in existence has strayed from the truth concerning the person of Christ.

Take Personal Responsibility for Learning the Truth
The anointing of the Spirit remains in every believer. This is the “Spirit of truth” which was promised to us by Jesus, himself. This renders every believer capable of discerning truth. May I suggest that in this case capability equals responsibility? I believe that we are required by God to know the truth.

Too many Christians are content to learn the truth vicariously. They are perfectly willing to ignore their Bibles, instead relying upon their pastor, teacher, or the latest book to fill their minds with the doctrine of Christ. There is no substitute for a Spirit-led believer opening the Word of God and laboring over a text until the meaning is ingrained in their heart.

In short, the Antidote to Antichrists is TRUTH. Know it and you will be free.

Obedience Builds Assurance

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know that we are in him. I John 2:3-5

These verses reveal to us a test that can give us assurance that we are saved. This test is not given so that we may judge others. Neither is it given so that we can become puffed up with spiritual pride, but so that we may have confidence in our fellowship with Christ.

I am convinced that one of Satan’s favorite weapons against the children of God is doubt. Doubt debilitates, discourages and defeats more Christians than any other tactic the enemy might use.

God has given us a way to show ourselves that we truly do know the Lord and that way is obedience to His commandments. This is not to say that we will be perfect in following these commands, but the more our knowledge of Christ increases, the more our obedience will increase as well.

There are different stages of our knowledge of Christ:

  1. Knowing about Him, Mark 5:27
  2. Meeting Him personally, (salvation) Mark 5:33
  3. Learning His doctrine, Mark 5:34
  4. Allowing His doctrine to remain in us, John 15:7,11
  5. Allowing His love to continue in and through us to others, John 15:12

Progression through these levels is an indication of growth in both faith and love. This frees us from having to wear ourselves out in attempts to convince others and ourselves that we are saved. Instead, we can focus on developing our relationship with Christ (first phase of koinonia) and allowing love for others to be the fruit of that relationship. Thus we will be able to love others in the way that Christ loves us. This is far beyond our own capacity to love.

This further defines the light of Chapter 1 as obedience to the commandments of Christ. Again, this is in the sphere of fellowship with Christ. If we are not obeying His commandments, we are not allowing His truth to remain in us and are therefore immature believers.

When we obey His Word, however, we find that we make room for the love of God to be perfected in us. Here is the crux of this text: MY OBEDIENCE TO THE COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST DIRECTLY AFFECTS MY ABILITY TO LOVE OTHERS. My ability to love others with the love of God gives me assurance that I am indeed walking in the light with Him.

The Effects of Light

In the last post on I John, we looked at the essence of light. In the comments, Beverly mentioned one of the benefits of light. I would like to explore that a little further. As we look at these effects of light, I hope you will see the parallel between what light produces and what God produces in our life through His light.

Light Gives Illumination
I know this is the obvious effect of light, but bear with me while I elaborate a little. Illumination reveals, identifies and clarifies. There are times in life when it is unsafe, if not virtually impossible, to move without light. So also is the light of God. He reveals truth in the person of Christ as shown in the Bible. As we learn of Him, it enables us to identify truth and error. In fact, a very strong correlation is drawn in Scripture between truth and light. Knowledge of Christ also helps us to clarify what we believe. So often we compound doctrine unnecessarily by failing to keep Christ as the centerpiece and foundation of our faith. Focusing on Christ brings a measure of clarity to the confusion of life.

Light Brings Security
If light brings clarity, darkness brings uncertainty. This can be intimidating and even frightening. God’s truth makes us secure and confident. “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” In the darkest hours of life, let us look for God’s light.

Light Yields Definition
Light is often used to define a path, runway, road or other avenue of traffic. David said, “Thy word is a light unto my feet and a light unto my path.” As we will see in the next post in this series, our koinonia is defined by light. If we are going to walk with Jesus, we must walk in the light. Consider your Bible as God’s lighthouse of truth for your lifepath. Follow the light and God will give you more light. Stray from the light and you will find yourself in moral darkness.

Is your life being lived in the light?

Sitting At the Feet Of Jesus

His disciples climbed the mountain behind Him. Can you imagine the questions in their minds? These were men who were only recently called away from their fishing boats and tax records. They had entered this whirlwind of ministry with this new teacher. The excitement of the crowds, the healings, the deliverances undoubtedly had them feeling an adrenaline rush.

Jesus called them away from all of that to come and listen to Him.

He climbed the mountain, sat down and waited for them to catch up. When they got to where He was, He began to teach them. He taught them a new way of thinking: different attitudes, a new philosophy of life, a higher set of morals, that prayer and worship should be meaningful, all of the new aspects of the Kingdom. He concluded this sermon by warning them that failure to heed His words was to build a life that is destined to collapse.

Has that principle changed? I don’t think so. It is still God’s desire for us to hear the words of Jesus. Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus repeatedly reminds the disciples about the value of His words calling them doctrine, truth, spirit and eternal life.

Yet we so often fail to sit at the feet of Jesus. We replace worship with work. We ignore prayer, substituting the latest leadership methods for the power of the Holy Spirit. Our Bibles collect dust while we read the latest Christian best-seller on how to be a better person.

The voice of Jesus still patiently calls, “Come, climb the mountain with me. Sit at my feet and learn of me.”

A comment after the last post in this topic made reference to the fact that our ministry should flow out of time spent with Jesus. This is so true. I am learning that the things God wants me to do are actually the things He wants to do through me. This will only come about if I am maintaining fellowship through personal worship of Christ.

Jesus calls to you, He wants you to sit at His feet, hear His words, get to know Him better. Are you too busy to come?

Grace-filled Speech

One of the great things about blogging is that it gives everyone a chance to express their opinions. In some ways (not every way, of course), it is even better than dialogue. People’s comments are judged based upon the merit of what they say, not their appearance; and you can’t be interrupted in mid-sentence.

As I visit various blogs, I enjoy hearing the thoughts of various bloggers. I have found many whose thoughts are informative, encouraging and inspiring. I even enjoy some of the theological debates that I have encountered, they are certainly challenging. Debate is a healthy thing, it teaches you to clearly understand and articulate your beliefs.

I am concerned, however, at the lack of graceful speech that I often find being demonstrated by God’s people to one another. When debates begin to escalate, the speech often degenerates into language that, while not profane, surely is scathing. Labels begin to pop up, sarcasm replaces reason, anger replaces gentleness, etc.

The purpose of grace that is given to God’s children is to help us get along. Well-meaning platitudes aside, believers will never come together as one until we get to heaven. There are simply too many opinions that vary too greatly. I often tell my church, “Where there are two Baptists, there will be three opinions.” But disagreement does not mean we cannot get along. Grace is meant to unify, mollify and edify. God says that our speech is to be “seasoned with grace”.

The church is described in the Bible as a “body”. The Bible further states that we are members one of another in that body. I like to think of grace as the cartilage between the bones that enables the bones to work together without causing pain. Anyone who has ever experienced this in their physical body can testify to how hurtful that can be.

We are never so right that we may use ungracious speech to those who are wrong. I am becoming more and more convinced that being right with a wrong spirit is almost as bad as being wrong.

We should be truthful. We should maintain integrity to our beliefs. We should earnestly contend for the faith. But we should never resort to disingenious questions, scathing remarks or personal attacks.

I want to thank those of you who read my blog for demonstrating what I am speaking of now. I am sure with the number who come here that there are those who hold different positions. We have had Calvinists, Arminians, those who are neither, Baptists (of several varieties), charismatics and only God knows how many others. In a group of that variety there will certainly be differences, but thus far we have avoided the vitriolic speech that I have mentioned.

As we speak with others, whether on-line, at church, work, school or even on the highway (ouch), let our speech be graceful and draw men to God.