PO Box 3425
July/August Issue 2010 - Volume 29 Number 4
entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments
endures forever.” Psalm
read about a boy in Wisconsin whose teacher banned his artistic
started innocently enough with a simple picture created for a school
project, a mere line drawing by the hand of a teenage boy. But the boy’s
teacher found the work so objectionable that she refused to give the boy a
grade, and the Wisconsin school stood by this teacher. The boy was also
given two detentions for the objectionable artwork.
drawing in question was submitted alongside the artistic creations of
other students. Among these other works was a red-skinned demon mask
complete with horns and bared fangs; a Buddha fountain; a sorcerer; an
eight-armed Hindu goddess riding a giant swan.
the work the boy submitted went over the limit in the eyes of the school.
What was so offensive, so vulgar to the boy’s teacher? It was simply
this: a white chalk drawing on a black background of a cross, with the
caption, “John 3:16, a sign of love.”
see, the school has a policy against religious expression. In a statement
the school said, “Respect for the beliefs of a diverse student
population…requires that the district treat all students equitable and
fairly regardless of their faith. While the district respects all
students’ religious freedoms, those freedoms are not a license for
students to force the school to display religious messages of their
teacher’s grading policy banned depictions of “blood, violence, sexual
connotations, or religious beliefs.” Oddly enough, when members of the
school board met with the boy and his family in the school’s
parent-teacher conference room to reinforce the policy to the boy, the
walls of the conference room were lined with the artwork of students that
had been accepted. There was a drawing of the Greek goddess Medusa. There
was another demonic figure with horns, scales and snake-like tongue. More
demonic masks. A drawing of the Grim Reaper.
you see the teacher’s grading policy, which was upheld by the school
district’s policy against “religious expression,” apparently only
extended to expressions of Christianity. It did not apply to Buddhism,
Hinduism, paganism, or Satanism. Only Christianity.
Lord our God, the Creator of all things, , Isa. 5:20, “Woe to those who
call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for
darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”
is a mode of thought that is sweeping our world today, and it is called
postmodernism, and it often manifests itself in religious pluralism. Once
upon a time critics of Christianity thought there was such a thing as
absolute truth, they just were sure that Christianity was not it.
Postmodernism, on the other hand, says there is no such thing as absolute
truth at all! What is true for me may not be true for you.
the past the main attacks upon Christianity came from people who simply
thought Christianity was not true. That idea is passing away. Now the
attack is coming from people who hate Christianity simply because it
claims to be the only truth!
conceited, they say! How offensive, they say! It just cannot be that
Christianity alone is true, they say!
yet Jesus, through whom the universe was created, says, in John 8:32,
“You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
might take a moment to define some terms that we often hear but may not
always understand. The word ‘post’ means ‘after.’ So the term
Postmoderism refers to a philosophy that emerged after Modernism. But what
is Modernism? The philosophy of Modernism is steeped in ‘naturalism.’
This is the idea that all things can be explained by natural law and
natural causes. The late C. S. Lewis took this philosophy to task in his
Modernist rejects all the miracles in the Bible because they contend that
they cannot be explained by natural law. They suppose that the miracles
recorded in the Bible are just the product of the culture of the time, or
perhaps a little sleight of hand or outright lies. Darwin’s book Origin
of Species, published in 1859, bolstered the Modernist viewpoint and
people thought they had found an explanation for the existence of life
without a belief in the Biblical story of creation.
the belief in an infinite, personal God, is diametrically opposed to both
Modernism and also Postmodernism. Whereas Modernist attempt to prove the
Bible wrong and to set forth an opposing absolute truth, the Postmodernist
just waves it all off by saying that one man has one idea of truth and
another man has another idea, but both of them are equally true. The
postmodernist will happily accept any religion or philosophy just so long
as it doesn’t claim to be universal, absolute truth. According to
postmodernism, whatever you want to believe is fine just as long as you do
not claim that your belief is exclusively right and others are wrong. Of
course, this sole tenet of postmodernism is inconsistent. The
postmodernist only believes in one absolute truth: it holds that its
position is exclusively right and all others are wrong!
the Psalmist right when he says, “The
entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments
endures forever”? Do the claims of the Biblical writers support the
postmodernist view of absolute truth? Is everything really just a matter
of the likes and dislikes of people? Can we know the truth, or is it just
a mirage that disappears the closer we come to it?
are experiencing the fallout of the Modernist and Postmodernist
philosophies in every institution in our nation. From the family to the
White House, these views have permeated our society from top to bottom.
Education, Religion, Social Services, Government and all the rest of our
institutions are infected with these ideas.
this issue of Basic Christianity we want to re-establish a
couple of basic truths that are in opposition to the Modernist and
Postmodernist positions. These truths are that the word of God is inspired
and that there is only one gospel.
Paul and Peter make the claim that God’s Word is inspired. Paul says
that the word is good for correcting errors and teaching sound doctrine.
Peter reminds us that the word is not the musings of ordinary men but
penned under the direction of God’s Spirit. While many in the world now
believe that the Bible is just an ordinary book, this is certainly not the
claim the inspired writers make for it. These passages and others indicate
that inspired writers taught that the Bible is the truth, and that it is a
truth that can be known by all who will honestly seek it.
stated that even if an Angel brings us a different gospel than the one the
inspired writers’ preached that we cannot afford to believe him. If
there is only one gospel, how is it that many today claim that “all
roads lead to Rome”? Is Krishna just as valid as Jesus? Is it
permissible for us to just add to or take away from God’s Word as we
God’s Word Is
ago I read an article which stated, “If the Bible were to be written
today it would take six educated people about one hundred years to write
the text insuring all references, prophecies, and scriptures were in
accord and correct.” At first, I thought finely someone is agreeing the
Holy Word is inspired and delivered to God’s people by means of the
prophets. Then, I thought, what is the article really saying? Is this a
slick maneuver to say the Bible could be written by any group of trained
minds? Let’s look into this as we consider God’s word and the
inspiration which brought it to man.
we must believe God’s love is endless, total, and free for all His
believers to immerse themselves at will. The Holy Spirit is the agent
responsible for dispensing God’s power. The emphasis on the Holy Spirit
is in striking contrast to the religious climate in the early days of
Christianity. In the Greco-Roman world, power was an impersonal force,
like electricity. A force that could be controlled, harnessed, or
manipulated. The power of God is realized by His followers through the
means of a relationship, a relationship with God through a union with the
exalted Christ and Holy Spirit residing in each believer.
speak of the inner-self or inner-being when we speak of things of the
heart. Paul understood the inner-being, and he realized the inner-being
was that part of self in conflict with the power of sin. Read Romans
sin is personified as a power the three evils described in Ephesians 2:1-3
begin to influence our life, heart, and mind. It is true we cannot always
resist the overwhelmingly powerful evil influence in
own strength. God knew man would need help in structuring his life and
family so they would be seen favorable in the eyes of the creator. This is
specifically why God provided the Holy Word to His creation and why He
sent the Christ as the sacrifice to clear away the sin of the created man.
Ephesians 3:16-17, Paul is praying for followers that have already
developed “a faith into their lives.” He is not praying they will
become Christians, they are already Christians, but he is praying they
in their Christian lives. Paul prays for Christ to increase His influence
over every area of the believer’s lives and repress the evil in their
lives. Paul’s focus is an emphasis on love as the primary feature of the
Christian life and experience. Paul prays that believers will come to know
– the incredible love of Christ. Christ will eternally offer love to
those seeking inner-peace. This concept of love is important, because love
was not a virtue of the gods and goddesses in the cults of Asia Minor.
consider now 2 Peter 1:19-21. These verses are powerful in making the
statement. Scriptures are inspired messages from God through the prophets.
Peter confirms the Old Testament was written by the prophets from messages
given by God. The apostles are placed in the same category, because they
proclaim God’s truth. The Bible is not a collection of human ideas about
God, or a collection of fables. The Bible is God’s words given through
people delivered to people. Christ is the light of our life, and we should
let Him shine in our hearts until He returns in His full glory. Until His
return we have the Bible, the Holy Words of God, to guide us and the Holy
Spirit to illuminate the scriptures revealing the truth we seek. Scripture
did not come from the prophets. God inspired the writers and the Holy
Spirit moved the prophets to speak God’s word, using their own talents,
education, and cultural background.
final events of human history are often depicted as the “Day of the
Lord.” Peter uses the concept of Christ “appearing in His
brilliance” in reference to the coming of Christ. He cautions the people
to let the light of Christ shine in their hearts until He comes. Peter
instructs the people to pay attention to the messages proclaimed by the
prophets. But at the same time cautions them to know, “no prophecy ever
came from the prophets themselves.” The Ebionites, radical Jewish
Christians, claimed the prophets spoke ‘of their own intelligence and
not the truth.’ Thus, Peter stressed the fact that the Holy Spirit moved
the prophets to speak from God.
Bro. James Adams brought a lesson from Micah Chapter 3.
If you really want to know if the scriptures speak to modern man,
turn over to Chapter 3 of Micah and read the first four verses. These
scriptures are eye openers as to what is unfolding in our world today.
Kings and rulers of nations today are killing people in the name of
religion. Our own nation is being lead down the path of no return by the
leaders of our nation and the courts of our nation making decisions and
passing laws with the pretense of changing our government for the
betterment of the people. Beware of one in sheep’s clothing. Make an
effort to become informed concerning that which affects our right to
worship our God. If we walk away from God, He will not hear us when we
need to make every effort to get right and stay right with God. We need to
pray for the nation in which we live and pray God will have an influence
on the decisions to be made by our elected leaders. In Micah 3:8 believers
are instructed to continue to be filled with the Spirit. Over the last few
years there has been a big push to be ‘politically correct.’ We need
to forget about political correctness and focus on becoming ‘Biblically
do we find ourselves in relation to the world and God’s word? Is God’s
word still relevant? Do people still seek salvation? I think the answer in
each case is - yes. Then the questions: What is happening in our churches?
Where are the people going? Why doesn’t God’s word speak to people
my mind, I think many have strayed or turned away from God’s teachings
because of the idea that has been raging in society for years. That idea
stems from the commercialization of our country. The idea “self is where
importance starts and ends.” If it feels good, do it. You have heard the
phrase, “it’s all about me.’ This mind set permeates into one’s
religious life also. If it pleases self to not be a consistent Christian,
then it’s O.K. The further one gets from the Holy Word, the more one
starts developing his own meaning of salvation, and the more one
manipulates the teachings of Christ.
Van Pendergrass in a recent study nailed the problem with many in our
society. Nearly everyone we know believes in God, and wants a Savior, an
all powerful being capable of resolving every problem, caring for all
needs, and being their soul mate when things really get tough. But so many
people turn off the idea of having a King in their life. It’s that word
king that spells control, power, rules, laws and regulations which people
don’t like. They don’t want a controlling factor in their life.
According to God’s plan you must accept Christ as Lord and Savior of
your life. You must accept both to inherit the benefits of each. If you
study the scriptures adequately, you will find Christ never indicated He
wanted to control your life. He only wants to show you a better life if
you accept Him as your Lord and Savior. I ask you to read Luke 6:46-49.
suggests that the divine word of God is that which God breathed out –
aspiration. The concept being the word of God breathed out was the origin
of the Scriptures. The authors of the scriptures were indeed inspired by
God and are inspiring to read by man. The Scriptures are the spoken words
of God, Romans 3:2. It is also indicated when Scripture speaks, God
speaks: 1 Corinthians 6:16; Hebrews 3:7; Hebrews 10:15.
Bible is divinely inspired because God concurrently worked with human
authors to produce the written messages He desired. More than 40 authors
from widely divergent backgrounds such as shepherds, kings, prophets,
fishermen, etc. carefully recorded the words spoken by God. The time span
for the recording of the Scriptures was approximately a millennium and a
half producing not only the thoughts, but the very words of God. Each
biblical book actually had two authors, one human and one divine.
have the words of God to read. How does this written word affect you as an
individual? Does Jesus “Live In Your Heart?” Do you search for answers
in the Holy Word handed down to man from God? The Holy Bible is inspired
by God and remains unchanged and just as powerful as when it was delivered
to the prophets. In Hebrews, you will find a passage which states
“Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” This is also true
concerning God’s Word. It is the same powerful message as it was
yesterday, as it is today, and as it will be in the future.
I bring this to a stopping place, I ask you to read Revelations 19:9-10.
Think about what is recorded there, and search for the truth which you
will find in God’s Holy Word. Thank-you.
Clinton E., Zondervan Illustrated Bible, Backgrounds, Commentary, Vol.3,
Clinton E., Zondervan Illustrated Bible, Backgrounds, Commentary, Vol.4,
Trent C., Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Nashville, Tennessee, 2003.
Only One Gospel
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” Galatians 1:6-9 NIV
“…let him be eternally condemned!” Stronger words could not be summoned by the apostle in his righteous indignation toward purveyors of any “different gospel.” Sadly, the harbingers of the consumer-friendly, false gospels are still with us, and generally we keep silent on the matter. Such false gospels come in a wide variety of styles from a variety of sources.
Some sell a “get-rich-quick gospel,” tapping into the pervasive greed of the culture in order to feed their own greed. The televangelists that still sell this perverted message, (the term “snake-oil salesman” comes to mind) are so common they have become icons of a culture that worships comfort and pleasure. This heresy is fairly easy to spot.
Other false gospels seem more virtuous, coming from more respectable circles. Some teach an “all are saved” gospel, reasoning that a loving God wouldn’t throw anyone into hell to burn. C. S. Lewis expressed this sentiment best in his book, The Problem of Pain: “We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves,’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all.’”
The false gospel that Paul was specifically refuting in the letter to the Galatians was one of works salvation. And while most Christians would admit they are not perfect, there are many who demonstrate their allegiance to the same false gospel by saying such things as “I hope my good deeds outweigh my bad ones.” Such a misunderstanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ seems to point to Jesus as little more than a good example.
The widest variety of false gospels would certainly arise from the thousands who believe what “feels” right to believe. They accept certain truths of scripture because it goes with their way of thinking. They reject other scripture, explaining away or flatly ignoring teachings that don’t give them a sense that God agrees with them. The cultural norms they live in take precedence over the timeless truths of the Word of God.
Many teach that coming to Christ entails only the repetition of a prayer, ignoring the scores of teachings concerning the importance of baptism for the remission of sins. The apostles and our Lord Jesus taught of its importance, yet those who would call disciples after him often relegate baptism to an initiation rite to join a local assembly.
One more example (and this is an abbreviated list) is the very popular “I’m OK, You’re OK” gospel. The great watchword of the day in the U.S. is tolerance, and this false gospel says that as long as people are sincere in their beliefs, they are saved and we should forget any differences and unite with them. Some would add the qualifier that the name of Jesus must be attached to their beliefs, but beyond that, they accept others without question.
I know that by now some are thinking, “To say someone else is not saved is to judge them; it is judging their hearts.” Many of us have been scared right out of our convictions by such accusations. Read this carefully: We are NOT to judge other people. Judgment of the heart can only be done by God himself. We ARE to discern between the true gospel and a false gospel. Our salvation, and the salvation of others, depends upon it! Understand, please, that I appreciate honest believers who are trying to bring others to our Lord. But an incomplete or false gospel is really no “gospel” (good news) at all. The most convincing lie is one that is mostly true. May this simple man ask a simple question: Will not belief in a false gospel bring about a false salvation?
The church has a responsibility before God
to proclaim the truth and refute error.
This is not license to be arrogant or mean-spirited (quite the
opposite!), but it is a call to be as passionate for the gospel of Jesus
Christ as were the apostles. Of
the Corinthian church, Paul wrote:
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough” (2 Corinthians 11:2-4 NIV).
Do we as Christians “put up with” false gospels with a shrug? Does it matter to us if others are led astray? Some feel intimidated into silence by the popularity of false gospels, but our Lord said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets” (Luke 6:26 NIV). Popularity with the world around us has never been a godly pursuit.
We have good news to bring: Those who obey the gospel inherit the free gift of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. When asked how they should respond to the atoning death of Jesus, the believers in Jerusalem on Pentecost were told by the apostle Peter, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call….Save yourselves from this corrupt generation" (Acts 2:38-40 NIV).
How did they respond? “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41 NIV). Let us boldly proclaim the true gospel, telling the world of the new birth found in Jesus Christ, beckoning others to the saving grace of the Son of God!
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