ARE YOU STRIVING TO DEFEND THE TRUTH?

Jude 1:3-4 NLT

Jude 1:3 – Dearly loved friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the truth of the Good News. God gave this unchanging truth once for all time to his holy people.

Jude 1:4 – I say this because some godless people have wormed their way in among you, saying that God’s forgiveness allows us to live immoral lives. The fate of such people was determined long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

We are seeing this in our churches today. So many people are preaching that God’s forgiveness covers everything: on the surface, this is a correct statement. But, as with all doctrine, we must compare scripture with scripture in order to obtain a true doctrine. All scripture must line up or it is a false doctrine. This does not include the opinions of man or those who have a private interpretation.

 

2nd Peter 1: 16 For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. 18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

Even the Apostle Peter did not place a personal message from God above the Word of God. The Word is a more sure word of Prophecy.

Now back to Jude. He said that he wanted to talk about the salvation we all share: in other words, he wanted to write to them about the grace of God. But, since there were people saying that God’s forgiveness allows us to live immoral lives, he had to write about that. He tells us that we should defend the truth. The King James puts it this way:

Jude 1:3 – Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

The Greek word for contend means that we should take a position against as in a contest. This is a forceful word saying to strive, which gives us the obligation to speak against such heresy. He then goes on to describe the faith that was NOT delivered unto the saints and what we should strive against.

Jude 1:4 – I say this because some godless people have wormed their way in among you, saying that God’s forgiveness allows us to live immoral lives. The fate of such people was determined long ago, for they have turned against our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

After this he brings several examples of how God judged those who were not faithful: he says that anyone preaching this false doctrine has forgotten about these examples. Yes, these examples are in the Old Testament, and Jude does a masterful job of bringing these facts into the New Testament and reminding us how God judges those who are unfaithful.

Let’s not be deceived by those who say that it does not matter what our lives look like to the world. We are to ACTIVELY “put on Christ” How do we do this? By not using the grace of God to fulfil our lust:

Romans 13:14 – But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

 

These are the words of God – not the Apostle Paul. But, the apostle Paul, who wrote these words, was no dummy. If it were not possible to make provision for the flesh within the grace of God, these words would have not been written. God never wastes words in the Bible. So, we conclude, that it is possible for us to use the grace of God to make allowances for our sins, just as Jude said. Do not be deceived by this false doctrine that says you can live any way you want. And, do not be afraid to challenge it – we are commanded to do so.

These next verses let us know which ACTIONS cause us to be unrighteous and be among those who will not inherit God’s kingdom. If we are practicing these actions, we are not born of God. Examine yourself to see if you are in the faith.

1 Corinthians 6:9 – Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,etc.

1st John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

 

Remember, make the tree good and the fruit good, or make the tree evil and the fruit evil: We cannot have it both ways.

ARE YOU TWISTING SCRIPTURES?

2 Peter 3:18 – NAS – but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

Grow – auxano – to cause to grow, to increase, to become greater

Grace – Charis – Divine influence upon the heart and reflection in the life including gratitude.

Our lives are not to be stagnant after we accept Christ as our Savior. We are commanded to GROW in grace. This shoots down anyone who says that we do not have to change anything in our lives after we become Christians. If we are “complete” when we come to Christ, why would we have to increase in divine influence upon our hearts? And why would we need to have this reflect in our life – showing that we are growing?

We are to be like Paul and “Die Daily”. Paul in 1st Corinthians 15, goes through a long dissertation on the resurrection of the dead. At the end of this, he makes the following statement:

1 Corinthians 15:34 – Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Here again, Paul makes another statement saying, that awakening to righteousness means to sin not. And if we are sinning we do not have the knowledge of God.

Do not make the mistake of believing that we can just go along through life and never think about living correctly.

Hebrews 12:14 – KJV – Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Holiness means sanctification of life. This verse says that without that, we will not see the Lord. Let us live a life worthy of our calling.

2 Peter 3:10 – KJV – But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

2 Peter 3:11 – KJV – Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, WHAT MANNER OF PERSONS OUGHT YE TO BE IN ALL HOLY CONVERSATION AND GODLINESS,

2 Peter 3:15 – KJV – And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

2 Peter 3:16 – KJV – As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, WHICH THEY THAT ARE UNLEARNED AND UNSTABLE WREST, AS THEY DO ALSO THE OTHER SCRIPTURES, UNTO THEIR OWN DESTRUCTION.

2 Peter 3:17 – KJV – Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

 

This is where a lot of people get tripped up. They want to take Paul’s scriptures on grace to try to make them mean that you can live any old way and get to heaven. Even the Apostle Peter said that some of Paul’s scriptures are hard to understand.

Then he says something very interesting. He says that unlearned and unstable people twist these Scriptures to their own destruction. I believe that is what is happening with the “finished work of Christ” message. They are twisting scriptures saying that we do not have to even think about what we are doing, because we are not to have a sin consciousness.

Do not be deceived by these teachings. Do not let anyone deceive you – stay stedfast!

ARE YOU BUYING A HOUSE WITH A FAULTY FOUNDATION?

2 Timothy 2:19 – NAS – Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.”

You would never buy a house if you found, upon inspection, that the foundation was damaged. This is common sense. However, we have many in Christianity who are trying to sell a gospel with a cracked foundation. They are trying to sell to a compromising church the idea that we, as Christians, can live any way we want to. There are no boundaries, because Christ said, “it is finished” on the cross. They say that we are not to worry about any of our behavior because we are not “to feel guilty” about anything.

The Greek word for foundation themlios means exactly the way it is translated. The first principles, the beginning, etc. and the greek word sphragis (seal) means that by which anything is authenticated. The word aphistemi, abstain, is an action word which means to withdraw oneself from, to stand aloof.

So, Paul here is saying that the very first principles that we are to learn as a Christian and causes the building to stand sure are these: We can feel secure in our salvation because the Lord knows which people are his. And we can feel secure in our salvation because every one who names the name of the Lord abstains from wickedness.

Now what you have to ask yourself: Am I abstaining from wickedness? I even had one of the people who are trying to sell the other gospel ask me, “Which sins are we talking about?” I was taken aback by this because this person was setting themselves up as a teacher and did not even know the sins that are listed in the New Testament. It is a further concern seeing that this verse says that this IS THE BEGINNING of what we should know. He went on to say that we can not get to heaven by works of righteousness.

I have seen that this group is getting “works of righteousness” confused with “abstaining from wickedness.” If you will look at the verses which talk about not of works, (Eph. 2) you will find circumcision mentioned in the chapter. So, of course we can not do works of righteousness to get to heaven. (I.e. circumcision, walking up steps on our knees, giving to the poor, etc.) but none of these things classify as sin. This is a separate group of actions where you are trying to earn your way.

This is not the same as abstaining from wickedness BECAUSE you are saved. We must be sure to abstain from wickedness because we have been delivered. If you are not abstaining from what the Bible defines as wickedness, then you should check your salvation. Jesus came to save us from our sins, not in our sins.

Casting All Your Care on Him, Not Your Responsibility.

There is a new age thinking that is making the rounds today that is causing Christians to think that we are not to “worry” about anything.  It is causing those who espouse this doctrine to not take responsibility for things in our lives which God has given us responsibility for.  We are seeing this manifests itself into a poorer work ethic among Christians.   And they use Scriptures such as Philippians 4:6 back up what they are thinking:

Philippians 4:6 – KJV – Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

The word for careful here, means – to be anxious, to be troubled with cares.

It seems that this was then taken to the extreme to mean we should never think about anything, i.  e.,  That God is responsible for us and we do not have to do anything to take care of ourselves – when Philippians 4:6 is not saying that at all.  If you look at verse seven which follows this, you’ll see that this verse is not talking about shucking responsibility, it is talking about keeping peace in your life.  And what it explains, is that we must pray and supplicate about everything.  It is not telling us that we should do nothing – it says we should worry about nothing. Here is the difference: when we worry, it stops us from taking action. When we are concerned with fulfilling our responsibility, it causes us to take action.

Titus 3:8 – KJV – This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Here we have another word that is translated careful.  It is not the exact Greek word as Philippians 4:6, but it is translated nearly the same.  And it means: to think about, to be anxious.  So we can see by this verse, we are definitely supposed to be thinking about some things; especially good works.  It not only says that we are supposed to think about them, it says that were supposed to talk about these things constantly.  Those of you who say you are preachers, just as Paul told the young preacher Titus that he should constantly affirm these things, this shows that it is God’s will for you to constantly tell your people that they should maintain good works.

Since I do not have the space here to start listing what the Bible considers to be good works, I will let you study that on your own.  The book of Proverbs gives us a lot of commands that God expects us to perform.  I will give you a favorite Scripture of my father’s, which he quoted to me many times during my formative years:

Proverbs 6:6 – 11 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.

I heard on the news a few days ago, the China’s economy just passed America’s economy.  All the talking heads on TV were giving their opinions as to why this is happened.  So here, I too shall give my opinion.  It is my opinion that the work ethic in this country is declining.  And sad to say, we are perpetuating that idea in the church.

As Christians, let us work to be an example to the people of what it means to be a hard worker.  And in Proverbs 6, it doesn’t say that the ant liked to do that, it just says that he is self-motivated to do the right thing.  Let the same be said of us.

CHRISTMAS: PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS

 

It is so easy for us to be caught up in traditions that have been taught to us as children. We have learned to accept some things that have been taught for years without even a look in the Bible to see if those things are true. Most of these will not determine whether we go to heaven or not. But the fear is, what if we are accepting things without question and they are important. We should be like the Berean church and check out everything that is taught to be sure “those things are so”.

Acts 17:10And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.  11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

These people did not even take Paul and Silas’ word for it! They searched the scriptures. I do not know of any pastors today who soar to the level of Paul and Silas, so we must also search the scriptures.

So, having said that, let’s look at a Christmas tradition that we have held for years that may not be exactly the way the Bible says it:

Matthew Chapter 2 gives the story of the wise men who came to see Jesus. We see many manger scenes where the wise men are looking at the baby Jesus and presenting him gifts. When we look at the scriptures, we learn that the wise men never came to the manger:

9When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.  10When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.  11And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. 

The scripture says they came into the house. This is different from the stable where he was born. We also assume that there were 3 wise men. The scripture never says that. It only says that there were 3 kinds of gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. There could have been hundreds of magi who came to worship Jesus: the point is that the scripture never says how many there were.

Also, we have been taught that the wise men followed the star from the east to Bethlehem. The Bible actually says that they saw the star in the east. It does not say how they knew it was HIS star. I believe it was revealed to them by God. Be sure to check the scriptures.

They did not FOLLOW the star until AFTER they went to Herod asking for directions. If they had followed the star, they would never have asked directions of Herod because it would have led them right to Jesus. I believe they knew it was the star of the one born King of the Jews, so they took a 2 years journey to Jerusalem (because it says that Herod killed the Babies 2 years old and under according to the time the wise men said they saw the star.) They were extremely excited when they saw the star AFTER they left Herod. (verse 10). This tells me that they did not follow it to Herod. But it does say they followed it after that.

This is not meant to shoot down any Christmas traditions you have. If I had a manager scene, it would probably have 3 wise men at the manger. The purpose of this blog is to teach us to read the scriptures for ourselves and do not take ANYONE’S word for it in any matter. Pay attention to the details. God put them there for a reason.

All signs and wonders that occur under an open heaven are amazing. In this modern age, we tend to think in terms of healings when we think of the miraculous. But, there were a lot of signs God used in the Bible that had nothing to do with healing. God sometimes would defy the laws of physics to get peoples’ attention. For example:

Matthew 8:23-27 Now when He got into a boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a great tempest arose on the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves. But He was asleep. Then His disciples came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!”  But He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”

God has allowed men to even control the weather under conditions of an open heaven. More examples of this would be the plagues in Egypt,(hail, darkness) and one very famous event in the book of Joshua:

Joshua 10: 10-13 So the Lord routed them before Israel, killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, chased them along the road that goes to Beth Horon, and struck them down as far as Azekah and Makkedah. And it happened, as they fled before Israel and were on the descent of Beth Horon, that the Lord cast down large hailstones from heaven on them as far as Azekah, and they died. There were more who died from the hailstones than the children of Israel killed with the sword. Then Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel: “Sun, stand still over Gibeon; And Moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still, And the moon stopped, Till the people had revenge Upon their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. 

So God listened to a man and stopped the rotation of the earth at his request! Wow!

One of the basics of Bible study is to make sure that all verses are read in context so we can understand the whole message. We have a tendency, as ministers, to pull the verses out and use them as we need them. Here is a verse that is quoted often, but the verses after it are left out. It shows an interesting fact when you read all of it:

James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms.
14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.
16 Confess your trespasses  to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

This is where we normally stop reading and it  is a powerful passage on miracles. But if we continue reading, James gives us an unusual example of powerful prayer:
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

I thought it interesting that, after saying all this about powerful prayer, the example James gives us is about controlling the weather. I am not sure under what circumstances we would need weather control to advance God’s kingdom, but if you ever need it, under an open heaven, it is at your disposal.

CAN YOU CONTROL THE WEATHER?