We have a tendency to focus our Bible studies on our fathers in the faith—Moses, Abraham, David, etc. We look to them as role models, as examples of how to live and how not to live. We look to them to learn how to relate to God, how to walk in faith and this is good—the scripture says they were written for our examples (1 Corinthians 10:11)….yet, a majority of our focus and study should be our Lord—His life, His Words, and we should be modeling ourselves after Him—He should be living through us and we should be practicing His instructions—the fruit of which should be evident in our lives. (John 15:8)
Our relationship with God will not be exactly like our Old Testament Fathers in the Faith. Here is what we need to take away from their lives: We should walk in the faith in which they walked and put God, His Word, and His opinion above everything and everyone in our lives including ourselves. He should be our sole focus and His purpose our sole purpose.
The great news is that through the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, we have more power to walk in that faith than our spiritual ancestors did.
“And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:11 ESV
When I began studying the Bible in depth, I wanted to know exactly what the scriptures were teaching—in context and in the original language. I have spent innumerable hours over the last couple years and I have gone through the entire Bible and very heavily—multiple times—the New Testament.
And after being a good little lifelong Bible reader—always in church 2-3 times a week–thinking I knew what the scriptures taught, I was stunned what I learned when I actually began to study it prayerfully.
What is emphasized heavily in scripture, is not emphasized in the church. To my recollection—I have never heard a sermon on, nor have I heard mentioned or taught—warnings against false doctrines and those who teach them. I may have sat through a sermon at some point, but at a minimum, it has barely been discussed-not enough to have ever had any impact on me at all. Many other things have been emphasized and are still focused on very heavily, but no one talks about the scriptures’ warnings of false doctrine and false teachers. When compared with what the Bible teaches, much of what is taught is unscriptural and out of context.
It’s frightening and tragic that the perversion of the gospel that Paul cursed is here and our churches are drowning in it. And with social media and its ubiquitous video clips of popular preachers tickling our ears going viral, false doctrine is spreading like wildfire and we are noteven addressing it.
As I worked through my study, I started seeing these repeated warnings about false teachers and their teachings. But it really became apparent as I prepped to teach my Bible Study classes. As I went over and over, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book, literal versions in English and Greek, I began realizing how often this was repeated. So—I started digging–looking to see if others had noticed this, too. And they have! There are others that have studied this in depth. In 2013, Steven J. Cole wrote, that according to a seminary study, within the New Testament “warning against false doctrine is emphasized more than any other thing, even more than love, unity, and experience.” Peter and Paul repeatedly warned about it and Jude’s entire book is about false teaching infiltrating the church. And God even warned in the Old Testament that prophets were spreading lies and tales about false visions. (Jeremiah 23:16 & Ezekiel 13:9)
Why do we—as born again, Bible believing people who refer to ourselves as followers and disciples of Christ—not emphasize in our teaching and in our study what is the, or at the least one of the, most heavily emphasized subjects in the New Testament? Why are we not studying the entire Word of God in context? Why are we not learning everything God has given us to know?
Paul said that after Christ came that the mystery was revealed—that a full understanding of what God wants us to know is available through the scripture. So, why are we not studying it? Why are we not emphasizing it?
We should be heeding all the instructions in the scripture and studying the Bible feverishly. We should stop relying on only what people tell us, stop assuming everything that has a scripture attached is truth, stop falling for everything we see and hear on the internet and find out for ourselves what the true gospel is and with everything in us, we should hold to it. And as we are instructed by the Bible and the example set by the apostles Peter, Paul, Jude, John, and our own savior, Jesus Christ, we should be standing up against false doctrine and teachers with the same zeal they did by exposing the darkness and proclaiming the truth vigorously. (Ephesians 5:11 & Titus 1:11)
God has no favorites (Romans 2:11)—He will show you and teach you all that is in His written Word—if you want to know. So, I challenge you, as I continue to do as well, to research and study this on your own–study in great detail, pray, learn the true, whole, complete, full gospel of Jesus Christ and stand firm in it no matter the consequence. Because someday every single one of us will stand before our loving, patient, merciful, but eternally just God who wishes that all come to repentance and salvation (1 Timothy 2:4) and we will be without excuse (Romans 1:19). The results of our choice will be for eternity.
“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” 2 Timothy 4:2 ESV
“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:24-26 ESV
Christ urged us to beware of those coming falsely in His name and Paul repeatedly fought the infiltration of false doctrine in the church. He warned about it over and over in multiple letters he wrote.
In his book of Colossians, he instructed all believers that we should walk in Christ and grow in His teachings to prevent us from falling prey to wrong doctrine, human philosophy, and manmade, worldly traditions.
These are perilous times—I strongly encourage you to research and study the scriptures regarding this.
“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
“But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 RSV
As we are made in His image with a body, soul, and spirit, God is 3 persons in 1—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
God the Father is the thoughts, the ideas.
Jesus the Son is the Word.
The Holy Spirit is the one who acts.
We talk often of God the Father and Jesus the Son, but let us not forget the third person of the Trinity—The Holy Spirit. He is just as important. He is our teacher. He helps us to understand the scripture and it is through His power that we can have Godly peace and overcome our flesh, life’s trials, & attacks of the enemy.
“You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst.” Nehemiah 9:20 ESV
“And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” Acts 9:5-6 KJV
When Jesus stopped Paul as he was on the road to Damascus, He told him it was hard for him to kick against the pricks. “Pricks” in the Greek is “kentron” also meaning “goad”’as in an iron prod used on cattle.
Paul’s Damascus Road experience was not the first time that God had communicated with him. Paul, as evidenced in his acrimonious persecution of Christians, as well as Jesus’ words here, had been resisting the prodding of the Holy Spirit and it had been a difficult struggle for him, until he became willing to do what the Lord wanted him to do.
Paul came to have a love for Jesus that was as passionate and committed as was his love for religion and as his persecution of the church. He spent his life sacrificing earthly comforts and treasures and enduring unspeakable pain and persecution by not only strangers, but former friends and brethren. And he did it all with joy in obedience to Jesus and to see others saved through the cross of Christ.
What a lesson for us!! May we not fight the urging of the Holy Spirit to turn our hearts, minds, and lives over to Him in obedience in the way that Paul did. It will not always be the easy path, when like Paul, we suffer at the hands of strangers and even those we call friends. But Jesus promised that in the midst of trials & troubles from the enemy, and persecution from friends & family, He would never leave us and He would have a remnant of other believers with which we can comfort each other in love. He also promised something even greater—the hope of a perfect eternity with Him in His kingdom.
Let’s live for tomorrow in obedience to Him today!
There are many things being done using the name of Jesus and much being presented as the gospel that is not the gospel.
So, what is the gospel of Jesus Christ?
It isn’t social justice. It isn’t self-help psychology or personal improvement. It isn’t being a good person. It isn’t earning anything.
It’s recognizing that there is no good in human nature. It is recognizing that we need a savior—someone to reconcile us to our Creator, Almighty God. It is repentance. It is, through faith, believing that Jesus Christ, as fully God and fully man, is that savior. It is believing that He took our punishment, was crucified, and after 3 days was resurrected. It is having confidence that He will come again and knowing that those born again of His Spirit will live eternally with Him.
It is knowing that anything good that comes out of me is Him.
It is denying yourself, your wants, your plans, your purpose—your life and exchanging it all for Him.
It is the best decision you will ever make and it will bring you peace of mind that cannot be explained in mere words.
“And it came to pass in our going on to prayer, a certain maid, having a spirit of Python, did meet us, who brought much employment to her masters by soothsaying, she having followed Paul and us, was crying, saying, `These men are servants of the Most High God, who declare to us a way of salvation; and this she was doing for many days, but Paul having been grieved, and having turned, said to the spirit, `I command thee, in the name of Jesus Christ, to come forth from her;’ and it came forth the same hour.” Acts 16:16-18 YLT
Luke tells of a demon possessed, fortune-telling slave girl that followed them through Philippi proclaiming their ministry. Paul was disturbed by her presence and through Christ’s name and power, he commands the demon to leave and it does, of course, taking its fortune-telling ability with it.
This spirit of divination was not doing Paul and his companion’s ministry a favor. Philippi was Roman colony and the Philippians worshipped many pagan gods. Adding one more god to the mix isn’t a problem to Satan, but preaching the One True God, THE Way of salvation is and that is exactly what Paul and his team were doing.
As are all of the other problems we see in society and the church today, this, too, is not new. Our enemy will distract us with every way possible. Every way, but THE Way.
Jesus Christ of Nazareth is THE Way, the ONLY way. (John 14:6) There is no other. Not good works, not gimmicks, not formulas, only Jesus–Not any Jesus. Only Jesus Christ of Nazareth, God in the flesh, born of the virgin Mary, died on a Roman cross, risen, and ascended into heaven. That Jesus. The one who never contradicts Himself. The one who never fails. The one who is always with those who choose Him. The one who cleansed the temple with a whip. (Matthew 21:12-13) The one from whom multitudes of people walked away from when He spoke the hard truth. (John 6:66) The one who loved so much without compromise that He not only died, but He suffered tremendous anguish for you, for me, for us all.
Today, like the days of old, there are many presenting to us another Jesus, another way. It grieved Paul and it should grieve us, too. There are gimmicks. There is compromise and the truth is becoming clouded behind religious lingo used in churches and “Biblical” books, behind the other ways that we are being told we can find salvation. But if those ways contradict Jesus of Nazareth, then they are not the way.
We have a better hope than the emptiness of emotional highs we experience in the dark smoke-filled room of a trendy church, the feeling of loneliness in a crowd at religious social gathering, the feeling of despair we feel drowning in our sin that is accepted by the postmodern church telling us so absolutely that there are no absolutes.
But how can we know that hope, if we don’t know—THE HOPE, THE WAY–Jesus Christ, Himself.
It takes a great amount of courage and a great amount of humility to place our broken selves at the feet of THE WAY. Our Triune God will free us, love us and save us, if we want Him. Never will He force our hand. Unlike His adversary who will find every way in to tempt us, lie to us, and deceive us, God, the Father, sent His Son to make the way, and He has sent His Holy Spirit to nudge us, to speak to us, to teach us, to show that there is comfort in The Only Way.
If you have not accepted Him, that is your first step, the necessary step…to acknowledge that He is the Only Way, the truth, the life. Accept Him today. Study the Bible with a pure heart and ask Him to teach you all things through His Word and He will.
If you have accepted Him, but are holding back, still trying to do it your way, still fighting to hold on to those things that are bringing death into your life, stop. Stop today. Don’t wait. Have the courage to fall vulnerable at His feet and die to yourself. Let go of all other ways. Let go of what people say, let go of religious trends, let go of what you want. Let go of your arguments, your justifications. Let go of being satisfied with the struggle of sin and today and everyday, choose Him first, above all else. In THE Way, there is no regret, no fear, just love.
It is free, but it will cost you everything.
“…I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 ESV