Posts Tagged ‘Word of God’

Guest Commentary on Andy Stanley’s Sermon: “Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”

Guest Commentary by Don Jasmin
Fundamental Baptist Ministries
Used with permission.

2 second still shot of Andy Stanley from a YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5KsMLZZoWw. used in accordance with the U.S. Fair Use Act

[The following is a] critical evaluation of a sermon by Dr. Andy Stanley, a leading mega-church Emergent pastor on the above title [“Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”], along with a scriptural analysis of how the first century Christians actually did speak.

First of all, this writer has absolutely no qualms or quarrel with the above title. It is an excellent theme that this prominent preacher [Andy Stanley] chose. This preacher fully concurs with the theme Dr. Stanley chose. He fully desires to speak in the same way that the first century Christians chose. His disagreement is with the content and meaning of Dr. Stanley’s sermon, not the title or the theme.

“Speaking the Way the First Century Christians Did”—Dr. Andy Stanley, North Point Community Church, Alpharetta, GA

The above sermon was delivered at “The Drive” Conference, a “three-day gathering of over 2,400 pastors and church leaders from 25 countries and 700 organizations. The sermon was a supposed “call for believers to re-examine and adapt their approach to communicating the Gospel in a culture where Christians are now the minority.”

Dr. Stanley informed the attendees that Christ declared that his disciples would “take the message to every nation and tribe and tongue,” and they did; Christians “became a majority world religion.” But then “we began to speak with an authority that I don’t think Jesus intended, and we’ve lost a bit of our message and our leverage.”

Stanley’s concern was that unless “evangelicals in particular—change their approach  in communicating with unchurched people, [the] followers of Christ will lose their voice and forfeit opportunities to share the Gospel.” Stanley complained that we “sometimes keep people from ever coming close to church” because “we have given culture a lot of other things to argue with us about.” According to Stanley, believers must experience a dramatic shift, if “we are to speak into the culture of a world that needs to know there is a God in heaven” who “has invited each person to call Him Father.”

Stanley claimed that believers “assume a culture that doesn’t exist anymore, where correctness and accuracy no longer are the key delineators. We can’t take the “I’m right…you’re wrong” approach, which is supposedly one of the major obstacles in winning people. Stanley contended that “a major reason for the decline of the church was that we “have focused too much on policing the behavior of outsiders without looking at the inside.” Stanley alleged that love, prayer and caring for one another are not what outsiders see when “people think of the church.”

Stanley claimed that the reason the church “grew in the first century” is because “women were valued . . . children were treasured . . . and slaves attracted” because “everyone was equal before God.” The need of the church is to “go back and speak the way the first century Christian did.”

Now, all of the above statements may seem plausible, but they are actually a run-around-the basic truth Christ exemplified and actually taught. First, the major problem has NEVER been the culture in society, but the condition of sinners.  The great need has NOT been an over-emphasis on the authoritarian scriptures, but an under-emphasis on an authoritative Saviour. The New Testament Christians did NOT “tiptoe through the tulips,” to proclaim the Gospel message.

Furthermore, God is NOT the spiritual FATHER of all human beings. The so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” which  actually is not the Lord’s Prayer (that’s in John 17) in Matt. 6 was given to actual disciples who knew God personally as their Heavenly Father. God is only the “Father” of those who “love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity”—Eph. 6:24.

What Andy Stanley Actually says: How He Speaks [links added by LT]

ABOUT THE BIBLE

“At a conference of ‘pastors and teachers’ at the NewSpring Leadership Conference [NLC] in Sept. 2012, Stanley claimed that ‘Pastors should intentionally give unbelievers permission not to believe and not to obey.’ [Ed: Where does the Scripture give such permission?] He also encouraged pastors to STOP USING THE PHRASE ‘THE BIBLE SAYS’ in sermons because it creates a ‘house of cards’ that is easy to knock down.” –  [Christian Post, September 10, 2012, http://www.christianpost.com/news/andy-stanley-your-approach-to-preaching-can-hinder-your-message-81396, emphasis added]

He further told attendees that we should NOT present to our children that “It’s all or nothing,” since there are parts of the O. T. “that’s almost impossible to defend.”  He encouraged preachers: “Don’t cite the Bible, cite its authors.” We should never “point to the Scripture as a whole,” but only to individuals who were eye-witnesses of Christ’s death and resurrection. – [Ibid, emphasis added]

Stanley also stated that he believes in Christ’s resurrection, but “Not because of B-I-B-L-E.” Stanley said “I don’t know what happened to dinosaurs, and I don’t know anything about Adam and Eve, but I believe Jesus rose from the dead.” – [Ibid, emphasis added]

ABOUT THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF CHRIST

In a sermon on Dec. 3, 2016, Stanley minimized the Virgin Birth of Christ: “A lot of people don’t believe it, and I understand that.” “Maybe the thought is, they had to come up with some kind of myth about the birth of Jesus to give him street cred later on. Maybe that’s where that came from.” [Christian Today: https://www.christiantoday.com/article/megachurch.pastor.andy.stanley.claims.christianity.doesnt.hinge.on.birth.of.jesus.sparking.controversy/103385.htm]

ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY

In Apr. 2015, Andy Stanley spoke at the “Catalyst West” at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA where he stated that “the local church should be the ‘safest place on the planet for students to talk about anything, including same-sex attraction.”  Stanley declared: “We just need to decide, regardless of what you think about this topic—no more students are going to feel like they have to leave the local church because they’re same-sex attracted or because they’re gay . . . that ends with us.” –  [Christian Post, April 18, 2015, http://www.christianpost.com/news/andy-stanley-churches-should-be-safest-place-on-the-planet-for-gay-youth-137739/] [*LT Note: What struggling confused teenagers need is the same as what all people need—that is to realize their sinfulness and need for a Savior, repent and believe in and turn to Jesus Christ by faith, receiving His salvation through grace, asking Him to take over their lives, live inside them, and change them into what He desires for their lives. Providing a “safe” place for teens who are confused about their sexuality is only a truly safe place if it provides them with biblically honest and accurate answers regarding their sin and the solution to that sin.]

ARE THE ABOVE STATEMENTS THE WAY THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS SPOKE?  READ THE STATEMENTS BELOW TO DISCOVER THE FACTS!

THE WAY THE FIRST CENTURY CHRISTIANS ACTUALLY SPAKE

  1. The first Century believers spoke FAITHFULLY. They never compromised the Gospel doctrines for fear of the opposition and persecution such preaching would bring to their lives. Acts. 8:4 states that “they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” They never toned down the Gospel truths simply because it might offend some radical Jews. In I Cor. 4:2, the Apostle Paul stated that “it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.”
  2. The first Century Christians spoke FREELY. The first century believers did NOT “hide their light under a bushel” or “tiptoe through the tulips” as many modern compromising Emergent and professing New-Evangelical Christians do.

Acts 4:13 states that when the unbelieving Jews “saw the BOLDNESS of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 5:32 states that these first century Christians “daily in the temple, and in every house . . . ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.”

These early first century Christians did not withhold major biblical truths about Christ’s atonement and resurrection because they were afraid they might offend some potential hearers.  With the Apostle Paul, there was no “cover-up” of the truth because he was afraid it would offend his hearers. Paul boldly declared in Acts 20:20-21 that I kept back nothing that was profitable to you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  1. The first Century saints spoke FERVENTLY: “Life Style Evangelism” and a soft non-“conversational” non-controversial tone was NOT the Gospel these early first century believers proclaimed. These first century saints proclaimed the Gospel message with mighty AUTHORITY & POWER. The Holy Ghost had truly “come upon” them, so that they became bold witnesses wherever they traversed. They were mighty witnesses “both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—Acts 1:8.”

Finally, it should be noted that the first century Christians spoke (a) authoritatively: “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God—Acts 20:27: (b) affectionately: “for the love of Christ constraineth me…II Cor. 5:14a”; (c) Annointedly: “who he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God—II Cor. 1:21.”

CONCLUSION

Let’s truly speak like the first century Christians spoke, not like Andy Stanley and the worldly emergent Christians and the New-Evangelical imitators do today. In Acts chapter two, the Apostle Peter preached a classic sermon dealing with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ based on Ps. 16:8-11, where he spoke “freely” about David’s decease—Acts 2:29—and Christ’s resurrection—Acts 2:30-36.

RNS Interview Reveals The Message Author Eugene Peterson Changes Mind About “Gay” Issues/Marriage

LTRP Note: The following news story from Religion News Service is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the source or the content. The Message “Bible” has had a huge impact on Christianity. Famous pastors, like Rick Warren, have quoted from it extensively, which has played a huge role in developing the present-day nearly apostate church. It’s too bad more Christians didn’t take heed to some of the warnings about Eugene Peterson and The Message over the past several years (see article links below).

Eugene Peterson – Photo: Creative Commons

“Eugene Peterson on changing his mind about same-sex issues and marriage”

By Jonathan Merritt
Religion News Service

When a journalist has a chance to interview a paragon of the Christian faith like Eugene Peterson, there’s a lot of pressure to pick the perfect questions. I’d asked him about why he was leaving the public eye and if he was afraid of death. I’d asked him about Donald Trump and the state of American Christianity. But there was one more topic I wanted to cover: same-sex relationships and marriage.

It’s one of the hottest topics in the church today, and given Peterson’s vast influence among both pastors and laypeople, I knew his opinion would impact the conversation. Though he has had a long career, I couldn’t find his position on the matter either online or in print. I did discover that “The Message,” Peterson’s popular paraphrase of the Bible, doesn’t use the word “homosexual” and “homosexuality” in key texts. Click here to continue reading.

Articles Warning About Eugene Peterson and The Message:
The New Age Implications of The Message “Bible’s” “As Above, So Below”

BOOKLET: The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth

Southern Baptist Convention Rejects Gender-Neutral NIV Bible But Embraces The Message, Renovare Bible, and Contemplative Books

WARNING: Modern-Day “Bible” Versions Used to Promote Liberal Agenda

Message Bible for Little Kids Instructs on Contemplative Meditation

RICK WARREN RETAINS UNBIBLICAL POSITION IN NEW 2012 EDITION OF THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE

THE CALLING OF THE CHURCH

By Harry Ironside

I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1·3)

I. THE FOUNDING OF THE CHURCH

IN VIEW of the exhortation of our text above, we naturally raise the question, What is the vocation wherewith we are called? And that leads us to turn to various portions of the New Testament to consider what the Spirit of God has been pleased to reveal concerning that marvelous society to which every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ has been joined by the Holy Spirit.

What is the church? How do we become members of the church? What are our responsibilities as belonging to the church? What is the destiny of the church of God?

I want to be very elementary and shall begin at the beginning by turning to the first place in the New Testament, where we read of the church—Matthew 16. Here, immediately after Peter’s remarkable confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” we read:

[A]nd Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven, and I say also unto thee that thou art Peter [thou art a piece of rock] and upon this rock [I take it this rock refers to the blessed truth that Christ is the Son of God] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:17-18)

Notice, “I will build My church.” Observe, our Lord Jesus Christ did not here speak of something that was in the process of building. He did not say, “I am building My church,” or “I have been building My church,” as though it had been in course of construction either throughout the centuries before Christ came into the world or during the time He was on earth as man, but He spoke of the building of the church as something still in the future.

The gates of hell [that is, the gates of the unseen world] shall not prevail against it.

I get great encouragement from that statement of my Lord, that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church that Jesus builds. Sometimes people are very pessimistic regarding the future of the church. They see atheism and unbelief rolling in like a flood and the cults and isms appearing like mushrooms, and they are afraid that the true faith of the church of God will be overthrown by all these things, but we have the assurance of the Lord Jesus Christ that so long as the church of God shall remain in this scene, it will remain undefeated.

An army does not take the gates of the city out to war with it, and the church does not sit on a hill and the gates of hell surround her, but the church of God is a conquering spiritual army carrying on a battle against the powers of hell, and they shall not prevail against her. A right-thinking man does not shut his eyes to the signs of the times and will not be ignorant of Satan’s devices, but he knows that greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world, and the church of Jesus Christ will not retire from the scene a defeated company.

Here Christ called it “My church” for the first time. He was not speaking of any separate company. He was not speaking of any particular sect or denomination. He was speaking of the aggregate of the redeemed in this time of grace and called them “My church.”

Now let us look further: there were saints of God in the world from the beginning, right down to the time Jesus uttered these words. In a sense, these saints constituted churches. Stephen spoke of the people in the wilderness as a church, an assembly, but we must distinguish between any such companies and that unique company that Christ called “My church.” This church of which He spoke could not come into being until He had died on the Cross, had been raised from the dead, was received up into glory, and sent the Spirit down into the earth, which He did at Pentecost.

Matthew 18 records the next place Christ spoke of the church, and this time it is about discipline in the church, and it would apply just as well to the congregation of Israel. He used the word “church” here in a narrower sense than He did in chapter 16. He spoke of trespass:

[I]f thy brother trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone-if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more . . . if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church. (Matthew 18:15, 17)

This is not very often done now. The command is to tell it to the called out company, not to the whole world. The church here is not the aggregate of all the redeemed but a local company in any given place. We are not able to tell it to the whole church of Jesus, but, meeting with a company of believers in a given place, which company of Christian people is an assembly of saints, we should go to them and bring the matter before them, and they will act on behalf of their glorified Lord.

There is not one other word regarding the church in Matthew.

II. THE CHURCH AS THE BODY OF CHRIST

The apostle Paul was the one chosen of God to unfold the teaching of the church as the body of Christ in the largest way. He was not the only one to whom this truth was revealed, but he received the largest revelation (see Ephesians 3:1-6). Paul did not write by consultation with other believers, not even with the original twelve, but he received his message as a direct revelation from Christ. The word rendered “mystery” here means, not something peculiarly difficult and mystical, but a sacred secret. The mystery Paul speaks of is something not found in the Old Testament, not proclaimed by the former prophets; it is something new. It was revealed to a body of holy apostles and prophets. In God’s due time, it was opened up to the other members of the apostolic band and those associated with, them. It is the special truth of what God is doing in this age, taking people from among the Jews and Gentiles and uniting them by the Spirit’s baptism into one body. Into what body? The body that had been formed on the Day of Pentecost.

There was no other body into which the Gentiles could be brought.

“That the Gentiles should be made fellow heirs.” Fellow heirs with whom? Those Jews who were already converted. They entered into partnership with the Jews. Paul said, “whereof I was made a minister [of this].” It was to tell the Gentiles who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ that they are no longer strangers and foreigners to the covenant promises of God but are made fellow citizens with the Jews of the household of God.

Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ. (Ephesians 3:8)

I like the humility of Paul. What a lowly place this mighty man of God was willing to take!

The implication is clear: the Gospel had already been preached among the Jews and many had believed, and now in a special sense it was given to him to go out and proclaim it among the Gentiles that they might enter into the same testimony and have the same blessing.

To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.(Ephesians 3:10)

This is unto angelic hosts, unfallen beings, who look on redeemed men and women and learn the riches of Christ.

Here are saints on earth, since the Cross and Pentecost—many Jews, others Gentiles, come to the same common ground, God meeting them all as sinners approaching Him through the redeeming blood of Christ, which are cleansed from every stain, given a new life and nature, and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit Himself, and then everyone is linked up by the Spirit with their risen, glorified Head in Heaven; and so intimate is that union that they are as close to Him as the members of my body are to each other.
The principalities and powers looking down on the world and seeing the work of God here, that is, grace picking up sinful Jews and Gentiles and making them one in Christ, are the angels who glorify God for the work He is doing, and they learn the wisdom of God. This is what God is doing now. This body relationship is spoken of in Ephesians 4:

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

There you have this corporate union with Christ. He is the Head, and every believer is occupying some place in that body.

I do not know what part of the body I am. The members of my physical body do not know what part they are. The consciousness is in the head; so with the spiritual body, the consciousness is in the Head up yonder, and He knows what each one is placed there for. My brethren, what a wonderful thing it is for each member to be in good working order! If one member of our body is not functioning right, the whole body suffers, and so Scripture says of Christ’s body, if one member suffers all the members suffer with it, and if one be honored, all the members rejoice together. If you are not going on with God and living for Him, if your life is not a godly life, you are like some member of the body out of order and failing to function. If you are living for God and walking with God, you may not be conscious of it, but you are a help and blessing to all the other members.

III. THE CHURCH AS A BUILDING

We are not only pictured in this wonderful epistle as members of the body of Christ, but in Ephesians 2, we are pictured as each one part of a building. Here we have our heavenly citizenship. Here is a new household:

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Believers constitute that spiritual house.

Notice how he used the word “fitly.” In chapter 4, “fitly joined together,” and in chapter 2, “fitly framed together.”

A master builder is very careful that every stone fits properly, that every board is properly fitted together; otherwise the beauty and perhaps the safety is marred. It is the work of the Spirit of God to fitly frame the building together. Peter speaks of us as lively stones come to the Living Stone and thus are builded together into an house of God.

IV. THE CHURCH AS THE BRIDE OF CHRIST

Ephesians 5:22-27, 30, 32:

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish . . . For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones . . . This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Here, he has changed the figure. You do not sanctify and cleanse your body to present it to yourself; it is part of you. He has changed the figure from the body to the bride, and I dare say as he penned these words, he thought of Hosea when he was commanded by God to do something that was most repugnant, to illustrate God’s dealings with Israel, and typically the Lord’s dealing with the church. He had to go to the slave market to buy his wife, and the Spirit pointed her out. She was vile, filthy, contaminated, and a slave, but he took her and cleansed and clothed her, and presented her to himself, and yet she was not faithful to him, and he had to buy her back again. This is a picture of Israel. She is called the bride of God, and later on the wife. These are just symbols. Christ has to cleanse the church in order to present her to Himself a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle. It is a figure of a wife presented to her husband.

[W]e are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.

This reminds us that when Adam received Eve, he said, “she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” Paul is now quoting (in verse 31) from Genesis. Paul is here telling us that the mystery of marriage illustrates the relationship between Christ and the church.

We have seen the church then as a redeemed company, as the body of Christ, as a glorious building in which the Spirit of God dwells, and as the bride soon to be presented to the Lamb, Who died to redeem her. That in itself speaks of her destiny.

V. THE CALLING OF THE CHURCH

What, then, is the calling of the church of God?

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus; That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4- 7)

Sitting in heavenly places does not mean we are now sitting together “with” Christ Jesus.

Now we are sitting “in” Christ, not “with.” “With” Christ will be our happy portion by and by when Christ comes and takes us home, that in the ages to come He may show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. Show means that He might exhibit. The church, then, called out of sin and darkness, redeemed to God with the precious Blood of Christ, and linked to the Head with the Spirit, will be one with Christ throughout all the ages to come, and so whatever experiences our Lord may be called upon to go through we shall go through with Him. We shall reign with Him and be with Him when He is all and in all. Our portion will be with Him through all eternity.

Let us, therefore, walk worthy of the calling wherewith we are called.

(You may read more by Harry Ironside at www.harryironside.com.)

Keep Thy Heart With All Diligence

bigstockphoto.com

By David Dombrowski

It is all too easy in the busy world in which we live today to get caught up in worldly concerns that would tend to draw our hearts in a different direction than God intends. A Scripture that comes to mind is the one in Proverbs that says:

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

This Scripture tells us that we are to keep a watchful eye, or to guard our hearts, against things that would steal away from us the very things that are most precious in life. That is why it is good to stop from time to time to reflect, reevaluate, and check our compass bearings.

The fact is we are sojourners through this life, and this is not our permanent home. Like Abraham, we can set up a “tent,” but our permanent dwelling is not here. Jesus said:

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21

Too often, for the Christian, anxiety and stress over the many things in life—be it business, finances, health, or possessions—overtake us. Yet Jesus said that our heavenly Father will take care of us if we seek His kingdom first. If our lives are full of worry and stress, like a thermometer or pressure gauge, it should be an indicator to us that we need to reevaluate our lives and decide if our treasures are truly in heaven and if we will cling to God’s promises to provide for us as He sees fit.With our involvement with the Christians in Kenya through the Bryce Homes, Africa has even further driven the point to us that as North Americans especially we need to diligently watch where our true treasures are and not get caught up in “things.” In and of themselves, there is nothing wrong with having possessions as long as they do not rule our hearts. Whatever we have—whether it is earthly goods, health, intelligence, or education—these things are a loan to us and can only be of real benefit when they enable us to serve the kingdom of God in the cause of the Gospel. Paul, for instance, said:

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Philippians 4:12

Paul was a well-educated man who probably had known prosperity, yet he risked everything for the sake of the Gospel. That is why he could also say:

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ. Philippians 3:7-8

We need to keep in mind that where our treasures are our heart will be there too. As committed Christians, should we not want our treasures to be in Heaven and in the things of the Lord? Remember Paul’s exhortation:

 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1

Time is a precious commodity that we should not take for granted. Think of a sandglass or hourglass where you can literally watch time being poured out. Knowing that our time is relatively short, let us follow the injunction in Hebrews to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

Too many things hold us back from serving the Lord. In this verse in Hebrews, an illustration of an athlete is being used to show how, if we are to win a race, we need to strip off unnecessary weight. Scripture says that  God will give us wings like eagles, but if we are tied down with the affairs and cares of the world, we will never be able to fly.

Want to find out where your heart is? Search out where your treasure is—that commodity that means more to you than anything else in life—and you will discover that it is in the same place where your heart is. As believers in Jesus Christ, our hope should be that when we find that treasure, it will be in the same place God’s treasure is too.

At Lighthouse Trails, we feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to defend the Gospel. We are in awe and  humbled that God has used the “weak things” and the “foolish things”  to confound the wise. Sometimes people call us to help solve their theological questions, and though we try to help as we can, we do not have all the answers. However, one thing we do know, and that is Christ and Him crucified. Jesus is the answer to what we really need; after all, isn’t life meant to be all about saving souls, and Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world? It’s that simple. Sometimes when people contact us, we get the notion when they test and probe us on theological questions that some of them think our ministry is all about having all the right answers to every theological matter. Perhaps some think that Lighthouse Trails expects all pastors to have a correct understanding of all the Scriptures. But, we know that all pastors are fallible, and we have never expected any Christian leader to be either sinless or inerrant. To expect a pastor to have all the answers is not only unrealistic but also a burden that no one can bear.

But what really does matter is—what do we think about the Cross and what do we think about God’s Word? Sadly, many of the emerging contemplative  leaders are preaching a Christ-less Word-less gospel. Likewise, those who practice mysticism through contemplative prayer inevitably come to the day when the atonement means nothing to them; we have seen this happen time and again. God knows that mysticism connects people to the demonic realm, and that is why it is forbidden in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:9-15). Yet, again, mysticism has become the common practice of our day. It does not take a theological scholar to see there is something wrong here.

Though the Gospel is a simple message—that Jesus died to make atonement for sin—nothing has ever come under more attack because Satan knows if he can destroy the message of the Gospel  (or the messengers of the Gospel), he has destroyed Christianity and destroyed the message through which we find salvation. His continual quest is to undermine our belief in the saving work of Jesus Christ. That is why, perhaps more than any time before, we must “keep thy heart with all diligence.”

Casting Our Cares on God

By Maria Kneas

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:6-7)

The parable of the sower in Scripture reveals a condition (the third kind of soil) that can be especially problematic for the Christian who is trying to serve the Lord and be fruitful for the Kingdom—namely that of seed sown among thorns (weeds) that would choke out one’s effectiveness. In explaining this part of the parable, Jesus said:

And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. (Mark 4:18-19, emphasis added)

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It is obvious that things like lust for money and power, and sexual immorality would prevent Christians from bearing fruit for the Kingdom of God. But Jesus also included “the cares of this world” in the list of “weeds” that are deadly enough to prevent the plant from bearing fruit. Therefore, we cannot afford to be overcome by “cares” (fear, anxiety, worry, etc.). Jesus expects us to bear fruit for His Kingdom. And we want to be fruitful for Him.

Peter implies that if we fail to cast our cares on God, then we open ourselves up to spiritual warfare. I’ll repeat the opening Scripture of this chapter, and add the two verses that come immediately after it. Peter says:

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:6-9)

What happens when we become anxious, worried, and full of cares? Our emotions take over. We act impulsively. We lose sleep, and lose our tempers, and so on. We get so focused on our worries we fail to notice, or take care of, important things in our lives. Well, that is the exact opposite of being “sober” and “alert.” And therefore, we are not in good shape to resist the attacks of the devil.

James said something that relates to part of what Peter said in the quote above:

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:6-7)

How do we submit to God? One important way is by taking His Word seriously and trying to live the way the Bible tells us to live. And that includes not being anxious. Paul said:

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

In the King James, the word “careful” means “full of care.” In other words, “anxious.” So Paul’s point is that we should be praying instead of worrying. We need to give our cares to God. That includes fears for ourselves and for those we love. For example, parents whose children are soldiers fighting overseas have valid reasons to fear for the safety of their children.

We all become afraid at times. The problem occurs when we allow that fear to take over. Going back to the parable of the sower and the four kinds of soil, when weeds first begin to grow, if you pull them up by the roots, they won’t cause any significant harm to the plant. However, if you let them keep growing, then the weeds can choke the plant and prevent it from bearing fruit. In some cases, weeds can even kill the plant. I had some beautiful azaleas that were killed by ivy.

The principle is similar to avoiding long-term anger. God understands that at times, we will become angry, but the point is we cannot afford to remain angry. Otherwise, we may give the devil a beachhead (“place”) in which to attack us as we discussed in chapter 8.

Similarly, we can’t help getting anxious at times. However, we cannot afford to remain anxious. We need to remind ourselves that God is faithful, and He loves us, and He will take good care of us. His grace is sufficient for us. And He will make everything work out for our long-term, eternal good if we love Him. No exceptions (Romans 8:28).

Praise and worship are a good way to remind ourselves that God is good, that He loves us, and that we can trust Him. David said:

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. (Psalm 34:3)

The term “magnify” can’t mean making God any bigger than He already is, because that is impossible since God is already infinite. Therefore, it must mean making ourselves become more aware of how great God really is. In other words, as we focus on God and on His greatness, His goodness, His mercy, and His lovingkindness, then He appears greater in our eyes. And because of that, our problems seem so much smaller.

So what we are really doing is seeing things in proper proportion. In reality, any problem we could face is so small compared to God and His great love for us. For God, even death is small by comparison (1 Corinthians 15:53-55). He raised Jesus from the dead; and some day He will raise all believers from the dead.

We need to get our focus off our problems and on to God. On a practical note, we need to be aware of the problems and do whatever we can in practical terms to deal with them. However, when it comes to our emotions and our thoughts, our primary focus needs to be on the Lord God Almighty. The apostle Paul told us:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

True, honest, just, pure, lovely (beautiful), good, virtuous, and worthy of praise are all attributes of God. So although we need to be aware of the bad stuff in our lives and do whatever we can to deal with it, our primary focus should be on God Himself. The Bible says it is the life of Christ in us that gives us the power and strength we need. When we are born again, He lives in us (abides in us), and it is His life that changes and transforms us.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me. (Galatians 2:20)

. . . to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27, emphasis added)

When you drive your car, you look at the road ahead of you. You quickly check the mirrors, and you see sideways with your peripheral vision, but your primary focus has to be on the road that is directly ahead of you. Likewise, we can focus on God and look at the bad stuff with our peripheral vision. That will make it easier to cast our cares (concerns about the bad stuff) on God and leave them in His hands, trusting that He will take care of things in the right way—and in the right timing.

Casting our cares on God is a skill we can learn and a habit we can develop. We can ask God to teach us how to do it. We can ask Him to make us willing and able to do it. And we can ask Him to teach us not to grab those cares and take them back again after we have given them to Him.

God told us to do it. He wants us to do it. And His grace is sufficient for us. Therefore, He is willing and able to teach us how to do it. God can enable us to make casting our cares on Him become a way of life for us.
It’s a process. It can take time. When we succeed in casting a care on Him, then we should thank Him for it. When we fail, then we should repent and ask Him to help us do it.

Human parents teach their children how to do what they expect of them. Would our Heavenly Father do any less for us? Of course not.

The more we cast our cares on God, the more we will learn to trust Him at a deeper level. In addition, we will experience a new degree of peace and joy. That will be a blessing for us and for those who are close to us.

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:13)

Blessed Assurance
by Fanny Crosby
1873

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above,
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love…

(Maria Kneas is author of Strength for Tough Times and How to Prepare for Hard Times and Persecution.)

NEW BOOKLET: Three Vital Questions to Navigating Discernment

NEW BOOKLET: Three Vital Questions to Navigating Discernment by Harry Ironside, Paul Proctor, and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract.  The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Three Vital Questions to Navigating Discernment, click here. 

BKT-ex-er-3-sQuestion #1: Should Christians Expose Error?

By Harry A. Ironside

Objection is often raised—even by some sound in the faith—regarding the exposure of error as being entirely negative and of no real edification. Of late, the hue and cry has been against any and all negative teaching. But the brethren who assume this attitude forget that a large part of the New Testament, both of the teaching of our blessed Lord Himself and the writings of the apostles, is made up of this very character of ministry—namely, showing the Satanic origin and, therefore, the unsettling results of the propagation of erroneous systems which Peter, in his second epistle, so definitely refers to as “damnable heresies.”

Our Lord prophesied, “Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Within our own day, how many false prophets have risen; and oh, how many are the deceived! Paul predicted:

I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch. (Acts 20:29-31)

My own observation is that these “grievous wolves,” alone and in packs, are not sparing even the most favored flocks. Undershepherds in these “perilous times” will do well to note the apostle’s warning:

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. (vs. 28)

It is as important in these days as in Paul’s—in fact, it is increasingly important—to expose the many types of false teaching that, on every hand, abound more and more.

We are called upon to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3), while we hold the truth in love. The faith means the whole body of revealed truth, and to contend for all of God’s truth necessitates some negative teaching. The choice is not left with us. Jude said he preferred a different, a pleasanter theme:

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. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 3, 4)

Paul, likewise, admonishes us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).

This does not imply harsh treatment of those entrapped by error—quite the opposite. If it be objected that exposure to error necessitates unkind reflection upon others who do not see as we do, our answer is: it has always been the duty of every loyal servant of Christ to warn against any teaching that would make Him less precious or cast reflection upon His finished redemptive work and the all-sufficiency of His present service as our great High Priest and Advocate.

Every system of teaching can be judged by what it sets forth as to these fundamental truths of the faith. “What think ye of Christ?” is still the true test of every creed. The Christ of the Bible is certainly not the Christ of any false “-ism.” Each of the cults has its hideous caricature of our lovely Lord.

Let us who have been redeemed at the cost of His precious blood be “good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” As the battle against the forces of evil waxes ever more hot, we have need for God-given valour.

There is constant temptation to compromise. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). It is always right to stand firmly for what God has revealed concerning His blessed Son’s person and work. The “father of lies” deals in half-truths and specializes in most subtle fallacies concerning the Lord Jesus, our sole and sufficient Savior.

Error is like leaven of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.

Exposing error is most unpopular work. But from every true standpoint it is worthwhile work. To our Savior, it means that He receives from us, His blood-bought ones, the loyalty that is His due. To ourselves, if we consider “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,” it ensures future reward, a thousand-fold. And to souls “caught in the snare of the fowler,” how many of them God only knows, it may mean light and life, abundant and everlasting.

Question #2: What Does Matthew 18 Mean?

By Paul Proctor

Every now and then I get a terse e-mail from someone who has taken exception to my candid comments on Rick Warren, asking questions like: “Have you ever spoken with him personally about your objections and concerns and tried to work through your differences privately as scripture teaches, rather than attack him publicly as you do?”

The Scripture they usually cite is, of course, Matthew 18:15-17:

Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

This is probably one of the more misunderstood and misapplied Scriptures quoted today. Because we have been inappropriately taught that unity and relationships are the most important things for Christians to pursue and protect in the church, the verses in Matthew 18 are often touted as the principal directive we should follow when addressing false teachers. But frankly, nothing could be any further from the truth and only ends up protecting, sustaining, and empowering those who bring these false teachings, which is probably why they teach it.

There is absolutely no biblical record of Jesus or any of His disciples ever taking a heretic off to the side for coffee and donuts after they led someone astray by distorting the Word of God. They didn’t shake hands, exchange hugs, kisses, and phone numbers or set up appointments on their smartphones to dialog their doctrinal differences over lunch in the quiet corner of a favorite restaurant at a more convenient time.

No, Jesus dealt with heretics harshly, publicly, and immediately, as did Paul and the other disciples. God is very serious about His Word being rightly divided and properly proclaimed.

So, what was Jesus referring to in Matthew 18? Look again carefully at how he begins:

If thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone.

You see, the Lord is referring here to a personal offense, grievance, and/or misunderstanding between two people—something that has broken their fellowship and has little or nothing to do with anyone else. Personal and private matters of wrongdoing should always be dealt with personally and privately first, so as not to unduly disrupt the unity of the body. That is indeed, biblical.

Now, as for wolves in sheep’s clothing that stand in pulpits and on stages before vast audiences with microphones and television cameras proclaiming demonic doctrines as the Word of God, the scriptural directive is altogether different:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8)

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11)

(“Reprove” is another word for rebuke)

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject. (Titus 3:10)

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 1:10-11)

Jesus didn’t request a closed-door session with the Scribes and Pharisees in order to find common ground, build relationships, and promote unity in Jerusalem. He condemned their blasphemy before one and all and repeatedly warned His disciples about their leaven. And when His disciple challenged Him about His own up and coming crucifixion, Jesus didn’t put His hand gently on Peter’s shoulder and softly whisper: “My friend, you just don’t understand.” No, He lashed back at him with power and authority in front of ALL the disciples saying:

Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. (Matthew 16:23)

Why? Because, Peter was publicly contradicting God’s Word and Divine plan, which is the equivalent of proclaiming Jesus to be a lunatic or a liar.

Did the religious leaders stone Stephen to death because of all the cute and cuddly things he had to say about them? I don’t think so. Stephen spoke the cold hard truth that day, and they hated him for it because God’s truth is always “evil” and intolerable in the ears of the unrepentant. He told them:

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears . . . who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. (Acts 7:51,53)

Question #3: How Should the Christian Contender of the Faith Speak and Behave?

By the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Lighthouse Trails has always made great efforts to speak the truth in love. We attempt to never be vitriolic or judge one’s motives, not even the “worst” of them. We leave that part up to God. We also attempt to make sure any article we link to by a fellow researcher is of the same caliber. While we do occasionally link to an article that might not fall perfectly into that criteria, our regular authors and writers are of the same mindset as us. So how does a believer rightfully and in a godly manner (following the example of Jesus, Paul, and the disciples) deal with those who are bringing false teachings into the church.

In thinking about following the example of Jesus, the disciples, and Paul, below are some Scripture verses that might help us outline some thoughts, for while we can show verses that talk about showing love and respect to others, we can also show many verses that talk about how to deal properly with those bringing heretical doctrines into the church.

While we don’t believe the New Testament condones cruel or hateful behavior to anyone, we do see a consistent pattern in Scripture that does not look lightly upon those who are teaching heretical doctrines or practices. Let us heed the whole counsel of God, which we believe tells us to remain humble and in an attitude of grace (knowing that we are no better than anyone else in that it is only by the grace of God that we can see these spiritual things), but also tells us to speak courageously, with confidence, honesty, and strength.

We are in a battle for the continuance of the Gospel message—souls are perishing—and words must be said. While we do care for the souls of the men and women who are bringing in dangerous false doctrine and practices, we cannot, in good conscience, take it lightly or have congenial “conversations” and futile private discussions.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. (Romans 13:12)

The Bible says that the message of the Cross is the power of God unto salvation (i.e., the doctrine of Christ—2 John 1:9-11). That is because it is the only way of salvation. When teachings such as contemplative spirituality, Spiritual Formation, and emerging ideology (which all have roots in panentheism, occultism, and interspirituality) threaten to diminish the “doctrine of Christ,” it creates a very serious situation that cannot be handled “sitting down.”

What Does Scripture Say About How the Christian Contender of the Faith Should Speak and Behave?

[B]e thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

. . . that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor. (Ephesians 4:25)

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (Ephesians 4:29)

I . . . beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)

Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15)

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. (Galatians 6:1)

But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. (Jude 1:17-23)

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject, knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. (Titus 3:10-11)

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2 Peter 2:1-2)

Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 1: 9-11)

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. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not . . . (Jude 1:3-5)

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:6-10)

I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. (Revelation 2: 2-3)

. . . and that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. (Galatians 2: 4-5)

[Instructions to the disciples from Jesus before his death and resurrection]: Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city. (Luke 10:3-12)

To order copies of Three Vital Questions to Navigating Discernment, click here. 

The Father’s House and the Way There

Harry A. Ironside

Harry A. Ironside

By Harry A. Ironside

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:1-6)

In these verses, two outstanding truths are emphasized: first, that of the Father’s house, and second, our Lord’s personal return for His own. The Lord Jesus had been giving His last messages to His disciples. He had intimated that soon they would forsake Him and flee. He had told them He was going away, and for the present, they could not come where He was to go. And in verse thirty-six of chapter thirteen we read:

Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

He was going, you see, to the Father’s house. He was going home to God by way of the Cross and resurrection, and Peter could not follow immediately. But the Lord says, “Thou shalt follow Me afterwards.” Peter did not understand that, and he said to Him, “Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will lay down my life for Thy sake” (John 13:37).

“Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for My sake? Verily, verily, I say unto thee, The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied Me thrice” (John 13:38).

And then He immediately adds, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” You see, the Lord Jesus is addressing these words, of course, to all His disciples, but directly to the disciple who was to deny Him in so short a time. And this is surely very comforting for our hearts. Peter was to fail the Lord—Jesus knew he would fail—but deep in Peter’s heart, there was a fervent love for the Lord Jesus. And when he said, “I will lay down my life for Thy sake,” he meant every word of it. But he did not realize how untrustworthy his own heart was. It was a case of the spirit being willing, but the flesh weak. And Jesus knew something of the fearful discouragement that would roll over the soul of Peter when he awoke to the realization of the fact that he had been so utterly faithless in the hour of his Master’s need.

In the very time that Jesus needed someone to stand up for Him and to say boldly, “Yes, I am one of His, and I can bear witness to the purity of His life and to the goodness of His ways”—at that time, Peter, frightened by the soldiers gathered about, denied any knowledge of his Savior. And, oh, the days and nights that would follow, as he would feel that surely he must be utterly cast off, surely the Lord could never put any trust in him again! But if he remembered these words, what a comfort they must have brought to his poor aching heart! For Jesus is practically saying, “I know all about it, Peter. I know how you are going to fail, but I want you to know this; in My Father’s house are many mansions, and you are going to share one of those mansions with Me some day. I am not going to permit you, Peter, to be utterly overcome. I am not going to permit you to go into complete apostasy. You will fall, but you will be lifted up again, and you will share with Me a place in the many mansions.”

When He says, “Let not your heart be troubled,” He does not mean, “Do not be exercised about your failure,” for He Himself sought to exercise the heart of Peter, and in a wonderful way restored him by the Sea of Galilee later on. But He means this, “Do not be cast down. Do not allow the enemy of your soul to make you feel there is no further hope, there is no opportunity for you.”

I wonder if I am speaking to someone who has failed, perhaps, as Peter failed. Under the stress of circumstances you, too, have denied your Lord, denied Him in acts if not in words, and the adversary of your soul is saying to you now, “It is all up with you; your case is hopeless. You knew Christ once, but you have failed so miserably, He would never own you again.” Oh, let me assure you His interest in you is just as deep as it ever was. If you have truly trusted Him as your Savior, the fact that you failed so grievously, and the fact that you mourn over it, only emphasizes the truth that you belong to Him. Still He says, “[Return], O backsliding children, [unto Me]; for I am married unto you” (Jeremiah 3:14)—not, “I am divorced from you.” And therefore He waits for you to come back and confess your failure and your sin, and He has promised complete restoration, for, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). And some day for you, too, there will be a place in the Father’s house.

“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me.” You see, in the days gone by before Jesus came to them at all, the people of Israel did have faith in the one true and living God. Now they had never seen Him, and Jesus is saying to His disciples, “You have believed in God when you couldn’t see Him, now I am going away in a little while and you won’t be able to see Me, but I want you to trust Me just the same as when I was here. Just as you have believed in the unseen God through the years, I want you to put your faith in Me, the unseen Christ, after I have gone back to the Father.” Do we have that implicit trust and confidence in Him, realizing that He is deeply interested in every detail of our own lives? The Word says, “Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you” (1 Peter 5:7). There is absolutely nothing that concerns His people about which He Himself is not concerned. And therefore, He would have us put away all the stress and all the anxiety. He says, “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). “Ye believe in God, believe also in Me.”

And then He adds, “In My Father’s house are many mansions.” “My Father’s house,” and by that of course He means Heaven, and He is speaking of a place, a place to which He was going, and a place into which some day He will take all His own. I often hear people say, “Heaven is a condition rather than a place.” Heaven is both a place and a condition. It is true we do not read a great deal about Heaven in the Bible. Somebody has said, “Heaven is the land of no more.” We have more in the Bible about what will not be in Heaven than about what will be there.

Remember in the book of Revelation, we read that there will be no more sin, there will be no more tears, there will be no more pain, there will be no more sorrow, there will be no more curse, there will be no more darkness, there will be no more distress of any kind in the Father’s house. The Father’s house is the place where Christ is, and that is the place to which the redeemed are going.

“If it were not so, I would have told you.” What does He mean by that? The Jews had had a belief in a heaven of bliss after death, and Jesus said, “If you had been wrong in that, I would have corrected you.” But because He didn’t correct it but rather affirmed it, we know that it is true, that there is a glorious home beyond the skies for the redeemed which we shall share with Him by-and-by.

He adds, “I go to prepare a place for you.” What does He mean by that? You see the mansions are different from what they were before He went back there. Before He went back to the Father’s house, the sin question had never been settled. Before He went back to the Father’s house, the veil had not been rent, the blood had not been sprinkled on the mercy-seat. So the saints of old went to Paradise on credit. They did not have the same blessed access into the immediate presence of God that the saints have now. We read in the Epistle to the Hebrews that we have now come to the spirits of just men made perfect. They were the spirits of just men of all the centuries before the Cross; God had redeemed them and taken them to Paradise, but they were not yet made perfect. They could not be until the precious blood of Jesus was shed on the Cross. Now having settled the sin question, He entered into the holiest with His own blood in antitypical fashion, sprinkled His own blood on the mercy-seat above, and now a place is prepared in the holiest for all of His own, and the spirits of just men of the past have been perfected, and we who believe now are perfected forever. So we are all suited to that place to which we are going. “I go to prepare a place for you.”

And then He said, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.” Now I know that a great many people think of this as a word in regard to death, and of course, when a believer dies, that believer goes to be with Christ. But we are never told in Scripture that in the hour of death Christ comes for His people. If we may draw an analogy from something our Lord said when He was here on earth, we gather that that is hardly true. We are told that a dear child of God was dying—he was a beggar, it is true. He was an outcast, lying at the rich man’s gate, but he was a real son of Abraham. He had faith in the God of all grace. And the beggar died, we are told, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. Angels carried the poor beggar—poor no longer—into Paradise. What I rather gather from that, is that the last ministry of angels, who are ever keeping watch over the people of God, will be to usher them into the presence of God. He is yonder in the Father’s house, and His angels usher His saints into His presence.

But He is speaking of something different here. Death is the believer going to be with Christ. That is what the Scripture tells us—”Absent from the body . . . present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8); “To depart, and be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). But a believer going home to be with Christ is spoken of as being unclothed, having laid his body aside. He is there in the presence of the Lord a glorified spirit, but he is there waiting for his redeemed body. When the Lord Jesus fulfills that which is spoken here in the fourteenth chapter of John, then believers will receive their glorified bodies and will be altogether like Him. This coming, referred to here, is developed for us more fully in the fourth chapter of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. There we read in verse thirteen: “I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep”—that is, saints whose bodies are sleeping in the graves but whose spirits are with Christ—“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). This is the coming our Savior refers to when He says: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself” (John 14:3). It is at that coming that the expectation of our completed redemption will be fulfilled. In Romans eight, the apostle Paul tells us in verse nineteen:

“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” Verses twenty-two and twenty-three: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption—”What does he mean by that?—”to wit, the redemption of our body.”

Our spirits have already been redeemed, we have already received the salvation of our souls, but we are waiting for the complete salvation of the body, the redemption of the body at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. “For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope” (Romans 8:24). What hope is it then? The hope of the coming of our Lord. And to this He refers again in the third chapter of the Epistle to the Philippians, where we read in verse twenty: “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”

About the way there. Will everybody get to the Father’s house? I wish that they would. Richard Baxter used to pray, “Oh, God, for a full Heaven and an empty hell!” But alas, alas, many persist in rebellion against God and so that prayer can never be answered! There is only one way to the Father’s house. And what is that way? I have had people say to me so many times, “We are traveling different roads, but we will all get to Heaven at last.” No, no; I don’t find that in my Bible. My Bible says, “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Prov. 16:25), and it warns me against taking the broad way that leads to destruction and tells me to take the narrow way that leads to life.

And so here Jesus says, “And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto Him—” Thomas was honest and he was never afraid just to blurt out all the truth. He said, “We don’t know what You are talking about. We have to confess we are ignorant, and we don’t know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”

Jesus said unto him—and, oh, dear friends, you get what He said, for it is for you as well as for Thomas—”Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me” (John 14:6).

Oh, don’t talk about many ways. There is only one—Jesus is the only way. There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus. Have you come to Him? Are you trusting Him? If you are, you are on the way to the Father’s house, and now you can wait with equally glad expectation for the hour of His return, for He said, “If I go, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” When will He come? We can’t tell that, but we are waiting for Him day by day.

I know not when the Lord will come
Or at what hour He may appear,
Whether at midnight or at morn,
Or at what season of the year.
I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.
I only know that He is near,
And that His voice I soon shall hear.

Dr. Harry Ironside’s writings are in the public domain.


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