Posts Tagged ‘Teaching’

LuthersCatechisms

Galatians 6:6. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

Now the Apostle also addresses the hearers of the Word requesting them to bestow “all good things” upon those who have taught them the Gospel. I have often wondered why all the apostles reiterated this request with such embarrassing frequency. In the papacy I saw the people give generously for the erection and maintenance of luxurious church buildings and for the sustenance of men appointed to the idolatrous service of Rome. I saw bishops and priests grow rich until they possessed the choicest real estate. I thought then that Paul’s admonitions were overdone. I thought he should have requested the people to curtail their contributions. I saw how the generosity of the people of the Church was encouraging covetousness on the part of the clergy. I know better now.

As often as I read the admonitions of the Apostle to the effect that the churches should support their pastors and raise funds for the relief of impoverished Christians I am half ashamed to think that the great Apostle Paul had to touch upon this subject so frequently. In writing to the Corinthians he needed two chapters to impress this matter upon them. I would not want to discredit Wittenberg as Paul discredited the Corinthians by urging them at such length to contribute to the relief of the poor. It seems to be a by-product of the Gospel that nobody wants to contribute to the maintenance of the Gospel ministry. When the doctrine of the devil is preached people are prodigal in their willing support of those who deceive them.

We have come to understand why it is so necessary to repeat the admonition of this verse. When Satan cannot suppress the preaching of the Gospel by force he tries to accomplish his purpose by striking the ministers of the Gospel with poverty. He curtails their income to such an extent that they are forced out of the ministry because they cannot live by the Gospel. Without ministers to proclaim the Word of God the people go wild like savage beasts.

Paul’s admonition that the hearers of the Gospel share all good things with their pastors and teachers is certainly in order. To the Corinthians he wrote: “If we have sown unto you spiritual things is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” (1Cr 9:11) In the old days when the Pope reigned supreme everybody paid plenty for masses. The begging friars brought in their share. Commercial priests counted the daily offerings. From these extortions our countrymen are now delivered by the Gospel. You would think they would be grateful for their emancipation and give generously for the support of the ministry of the Gospel and the relief of impoverished Christians. Instead, they rob Christ. When the members of a Christian congregation permit their pastor to struggle along in penury, they are worse than heathen.

Before very long they are going to suffer for their ingratitude. They will lose their temporal and spiritual possessions. This sin merits the severest punishment. The reason why the churches of Galatia, Corinth, and other places were troubled by false apostles was this, that they had so little regard for their faithful ministers. You cannot refuse to give God a penny who gives you all good things, even life eternal, and turn around and give the devil, the giver of all evil and death eternal, pieces of gold, and not be punished for it.

The words “in all good things: are not to be understood to mean that people are to give all they have to their ministers, but that they should support them liberally and give them enough to live well.

~ Martin Luther

falseteachers

Here are eight symptoms of false teaching:

1. There is an undeniable zeal in some teachers of error. Their “earnestness” makes many people think they must be right.

2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge. Many think that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe to listen to.

3. There is a general tendency to completely free and independent thinking today. Many like to prove their independence of judgment by believing the newest ideas, which are nothing but novelties.

4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear kind, loving, and open-minded. Many seem half-ashamed to say that anybody can be wrong or is a false teacher.

5. There is always a portion of half-truth taught by modern false teachers. They are always using scriptural words and phrases, but with unscriptural meaning.

6. There is a public craving for a more sensational and entertaining worship. People are impatient with the more inward and invisible work of God within the hearts of men.

7. There is a superficial readiness all around to believe anyone who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, forgetting that Satan often masquerades himself as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14).

8. There is a wide-spread ignorance among professing Christians. Every heretic who speaks well is surely believed, and anyone who doubts him is called narrow-minded and unloving.

~ Bishop J.C. Ryle

All these are especially symptomatic of our times. They have tremendous relevance for the church today. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine today especially dangerous and make it even more important to say loudly, “Do not be carried away with strange doctrine!”

 

Kerygma

Kerygma

What is kerygma and what does it mean?

During the last seven weeks of the Communication in Ministry course I am taking, we are concentrating on preaching or delivering sermons or messages to our congregations.  We are studying structuring sermons, how to select our passages and how to interpret the biblical passage. We are learning how to relate the interpretation of the biblical passage to our “audience.” We are learning all the ways and means to creating a great sermon.

This brings me to the word kerygma. Dictionary.com gives the definition of kerygma as “the preaching of the gospel of Christ, especially in the manner of the early church, and the content or message of such preaching.”

Kerygma is the Greek word κήρυγμα kérugma, translated proclamation or preaching. Kergyma is the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in spoken words, or even viewed in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. It is the proclamation of Jesus redemptive work. Proclamation was usually followed by teaching and instruction in the elements of the faith, or the reading of a Creed. What Jesus did and taught in His ministry was included within the basic proclamation. Ok, so lets break this definition down. 

1. Kerygma is the preaching of the Gospel.

2. Kerygma is preaching in the manner of the early church.

3. Kerygma has to do with the content or message of what is being preached.

What is the Gospel? It is the Good News of the life, ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. The Gospel includes the facts of Jesus’ incarnation as the Word. It includes the fact that Jesus is the Son of God. It includes the fact that Jesus was begotten of the Father and not a creature that the Father made. Jesus is in the Father as the Father is in Him. It includes the fact that salvation from sin, sickness, death, and the devil is only through Jesus the Messiah. It includes the fact that we are made right with God, declared righteous because of the righteousness of Jesus the Messiah. The Gospel is Good News!

2. What was the manner of preaching in the early church? The book of Acts clearly demonstrates that the early church preached the Gospel focusing on Jesus Christ; on repentance, faith, baptism and the forgiveness of sins, especially that salvation is through Jesus alone. The early church preached Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The reason is that the Apostles were witnesses to the life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. The early church preached what they heard from Jesus, the Apostles, and what they witnessed – it is the Gospel.

3. What is the content or message of what was being preached by the early church? When looking into the book of Acts we see:

  • All of the messages mention the doctrine of God.
  • All of the messages mention Jesus the Messiah.
  • Seven messages mention Jesus’ death.
  • Seven messages mention His resurrection.
  • Four messages declare that Jesus is now exalted in heaven at the right hand of the Father.
  • Four messages mention the giving of the Holy Spirit.
  • Seven message mention the forgiveness of sins.
  • Five messages mention repentance.
  • Three messages mention the need for faith.
  • Five messages mention Scripture.
  • None of the messages use the word Kingdom, because the Kingdom of God was brought to the earth in Jesus the Messiah.

Therefore, the content or the message preached by the early church included everything mentioned above. The church today must preach the Gospel like the early church. The early church preached the Gospel within the context of her audience, whether Jew or Gentile, or whether it was in Palestine or Athens, Rome or Crete. The kerygma was the same. They preached and taught the Gospel. The early church preached and taught the Gospel as it was given to them by the Apostles. The kerygma is the Apostolic Gospel message. The Church should be preaching the Gospel the same way the Apostles preached it: in the wisdom and power of God.

St. Paul gives an example of the kerygma:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared also to me.” 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (ESV)

In conclusion, based upon the Four Gospels and Acts, there are seven elements to the ancient kerygma of the Church:

1. God loves you and seeks after you.
2. Sin will destroy you.
3. Jesus Christ died to save you.
4. Repent and believe the Gospel.
5. Be Baptized – receive the Holy Spirit.
6. Abide in Christ and His Body the Church.
7. Go make disciples.

Lastly, there are four elements (Acts 2:42) to living the Christian life revolving around the kerygma:

1. The Apostles’ Teaching – The Church steadfastly went on in the study of ancient Scripture and the sacred teachings of the Faith given them by the Apostles.
2. The Fellowship – They were daily interacting within Christ’s Body the Church, frequently gathering for worship, and other gatherings as the Body of Christ.
3. The Breaking of the Bread – This is another way of saying that they faithfully received Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist and, by extension,  all the Sacraments.
4. The Prayers – Using forms of prayers, in both the personal and community contexts.

media-press

Evaluating Media Forms in Ministry

I subscribe to a magazine called “Salvo.” It is a publication of The Fellowship of St. James (http://www.fsj.org), Salvo is dedicated to debunking the cultural myths that have undercut human dignity, all but destroyed the notions of virtue and morality, and slowly eroded our appetite for transcendence. It also seeks to promote the Christian worldview. (http://www.salvomag.com)

That being said, I came to the “Book Blip” page, where a book review entitled “Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator” was given by Ryan Holiday. This is the review he wrote:

Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator is a fast-moving, straight-talking mea culpa (which means “through my fault” and is an acknowledgement of having done wrong) from a marketer, media strategist, and apparent “first defector” from the “unreality” of the blogosphere — a nebulous entity whose very business model “rests on exploiting the difference between perception and reality.” Simultaneously fascinating and disturbing, Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator exposes the modus operandi of the internet news “racket” and educates readers in how to be more media-savvy.” (Salvo Magazine, Issue 32, Spring 2015, p. 6)

I share this with you all to establish a thought. The thought is, is the Church, which uses a variety of media forms in ministry actually telling the truth about their ministry? Is what is being marketed, or expressed the exact true representation of what the inquirer will actually find upon visiting the church? What is the intent and purpose of the church’s use of that media form? What is the desired goal from the use of a specific media form?

Here is another thought. I remember one year, receiving in the mail an invitation to go to a local resort hotel, have fun at its water park, and then come Sunday, enjoy the various zoo animals on display after the church service was over. What was the goal of this mailer? I think it was an attraction attention getter for those people with families, who, if so moved, would come to this local evangelical church. Did this church say anything that was untrue? No. They did exactly what they said they would. All you had to do was show the card you got in the mail, and you could play at the water park until you passed out. Then, the pièce de résistance was the various zoo animals on display after the church service. There was free hot dogs, popcorn, and soda for all. What was the intent of all of this engaging marketing? To get people to come to their church. I am sure hundreds went to the resort for a free water park fling, and yet out of the hundreds maybe 1-2% actually visited the church. More than likely those 1-2% were just there for the zoo animals. Instead of sending a card with the Gospel message on it, or a teaser with the answer for all the world’s problems, they spent thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign. Was it the right or wrong way to get people to church?

In our text book OutSpoken, we are told that we should be good stewards regarding how we use the various media forms at the church’s disposal. The goal or intent of using varying media forms, from my understanding, is obedience to the command to GO, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them, and teaching them everything Jesus had commanded the apostles.

When it is our turn to take advantage of the various media forms, which method or means are we going to use, and for what purpose, really?

Tradtions

When it comes to church tradition, is it something you respect or suspect? Is it something you even think about at all? Hear from a church history professor, Brian Litfin, about the value of digging into tradition.

Ever since the 1500s, we Protestants have been Traditionphobes. In some circles, we would rather hear a cuss word than the T word. Bringing “tradition” to your ministry is surely some kind of regressive move that will stifle church growth. For many of us, embracing the past seems like the opposite of being a visionary pastor.

But times are changing. The rising generation looks backward in order to find the way forward. I see this all the time in today’s college students—and at Moody, where I teach, that means future ministry leaders. Tradition isn’t as scary to the Millennials as it is to their parents or grandparents. In fact, these rootless young people know intuitively how much they need it.

While church traditions can’t supplant the Bible, they can certainly round out the story that the Bible presents. Take the apostle Peter, for example. He just disappears in Acts 15, never to be heard from again. We have two of his letters, of course. But do they tell us anything about his life?

As it turns out, there are a whole lot of ancient church traditions that tell us about Peter. Some of these are likely to be accurate; others are historically dubious. Which of the following assertions do you think is true?

Peter traveled widely on evangelistic missions outside of Israel.
He ministered in Rome and provided leadership for the early Christians.
He died by crucifixion in Nero’s circus.
He was crucified upside-down.
He was buried in a grave now located beneath the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome
The [Roman] Catholic Church has recovered his actual bones.
He considered himself the founding bishop of Rome.

Although sorting through the historical evidence isn’t easy for busy pastors to do, the bigger problem is that we hardly think it’s worth our time. We’re Traditionphobes. That kind of stuff is for superstitious saint worshipers to worry about. Really? Maybe it’s time to reclaim our heritage in the faith—starting with the original generation of believers. You just might find a few nuggets amid the rubble of tradition. And when you see how spiritually rich some of this stuff is… who knows? You might even become a Traditionphile.

~ Brian Litfin

wesatminsterconfessionoffaithbig

Chapter II – Of God, and of the Holy Trinity.

i. There is but one only(1) living and true God,(2) who is infinite in being and perfection,(3) a most pure spirit,(4) invisible,(5) without body, parts,(6) or passions;(7) immutable,(8) immense,(9) eternal,(10) incomprehensible,(11) almighty,(12) most wise,(13) most holy,(14) most free,(15) most absolute,(16) working all things according to the counsel of His own immutable and most righteous will,(17) for His own glory;(18) most loving,(19) gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin,(20) the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him;(21) and withal, most just, and terrible in His judgments;(22) hating all sin,(23) and who will by no means clear the guilty.(24) The Westminster Confession of Faith, 3

(1) Dt 6:4; 1Co 8:4,6
(2) 1Th 1:9; Jer 10:10
(3) Job 11:7,8,9; Job 26:14
(4) Jn 4:24
(5) 1Ti 1:17
(6) Dt 4:15,16; Jn 4:24; Lk 24:39
(7) Ac 14:11,15
(8) Jas 1:17; Mal 3:6
(9) 1Ki 8:27; Jer 23:23,24
(10) Ps 90:2;1Ti 1:17
(11) Ps 145:3
(12) Ge 17:1; Rev 4:8
(13) Ro 16:27
(14) Isa 6:3; Rev 4:8
(15) Ps 15:3
(16) Ex 3:14
(17) Eph 1:11
(18) Pr 16:4; Ro 11:36
(19) 1Jn 4:8,16
(20) Ex 34:6,7
(21) Heb 11:6
(22) Ne 9:32,33
(23) Ps 5:5,6
(24) Nah. 1:2,3; Ex 34:7

ii. God hath all life,(1) glory,(2) goodness,(3) blessedness,(4) in and of Himself; and is alone in and unto Himself all-sufficient, not standing in need of any creatures which He hath made,(5) not deriving any glory from them,(6) but only manifesting His own glory in, by, unto, and upon them: He is the alone fountain of all being, of whom, through whom, and to whom are all things,(7) and hath most sovereign dominion over them, to do by them, for them, or upon them whatsoever Himself pleaseth.(8) In His sight all things are open and manifest;(9) His knowledge is infinite, infallible, and independent upon the creature,(10) so as nothing is to Him contingent, or uncertain.(11) He is most holy in all His counsels, in all His works, and in all His commands.(12) To Him is due from angels and men, and every other creature, whatsoever worship, service, or obedience He is pleased to require of them.
(13)
(1) Jn 5:26
(2) Ac 7:2
(3) Ps 119:68
(4) 1Ti 6:15; Ro 9:5
(5) Ac 17:24,25
(6) Job 22:2,3
(7) Ro 11:36
(8) Rev 4:11; 1Ti 6:15; Da 4:25,35
(9) Heb 4:13
(10) Ro 11:33,34; Ps 147:5
(11) Ac 15:18; Eze 11:5
(12) Ps 145:17 ; Ro 7:12
(13) Rev 5:12,13,14

iii. In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.(1) The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father;(2) the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.
(3)
(1) 1Jn 5:7; Mt 3:16,17; M Mt 28:19; 2Co 13:14
(2) Jn 1:14,18
(3) Jn 15:26; Gal 4:6

wesatminsterconfessionoffaithbig

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
(Psalms 1:1-2)

Chapter 1 Of the Holy Scriptures:

i. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men inexcusable;(1) yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation:(2) therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church;(3) and afterwards, for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing;(4) which maketh the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;(5) those former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.

(6)
(1) Ro 2:14,15; Ro 1:19,20; Ps 19:1,2,3; Ro 1:32; Ro 2:1
(2) 1Co 1:21; 1Co 2:13,14
(3) Heb 1:1
(4) Pr 22:19,20,21;Lk 1:3,4; Ro 15:4; Mt 4:4,7,10; Isa 8:19,20
(5) 2Ti 3:15; 2Pe 1:19
(6) Heb 1:1,2

ii. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these:

Of the Old Testament:
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Of the New Testament:
The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, The Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians I, Corinthians II, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians I, Thessalonians II, To Timothy I, To Timothy II, To Titus, To Philemon, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The Epistle of James, The first and second Epistles of Peter, The first, second, and third Epistles of John, The Epistle of Jude, The Revelation
All which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.(1)
(1) Lk 16:29,31; Eph 2:20; Rev 22:18,19; 2Ti 3:16

iii. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture; and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.
(1)
(1) Lk 24:27,44; Ro 3:2; 2Pe 1:21

iv. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.

(1)
(1) 2Pe 1:19,21; 2Ti 3:16; 1Jn 5:9; 1Th 2:13

v. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture,(1) and the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole, (which is to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God; yet, notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts.

(2)
(1) 1Ti 3:15
(2) 1Jn 2:20,27; Jn 16:13,14; 1Co 2:10,11,12; Isa 59:21

vi. The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.(1) Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the word;(2) and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the word, which are always to be observed.

(3)
(1) 2Ti 3:15,16,17; Gal 1:8,9; 2Th 2:2
(2) Jn 6:45; 1Co 2:9,10,11,12
(3) 1Co 11:13,14; 1Co 14:26,40

vii. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all;(1) yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation, are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.

(2)
(1) 2Pe 3:16
(2) Ps 119:105,130

viii. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;(1) so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.(2) But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,(3) therefore they are to be translated into the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,(4) that the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner;(5) and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.

(6)
(1) Mt 5:18
(2) Isa 8:20; Ac 15:15; Jn 5:39,46
(3) Jn 5:39
(4) 1Co 14:6,9,11,12,24,27, 28
(5) Col 3:16
(6) Ro 15:4

ix. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.

(1)
(1) 2Pe 1:20,21; Ac 15:15,16

x. The supreme Judge, by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.

(1)
(1) Mt 22:29,31; Eph 2:20; Ac 28:25


In 1993, my wife and I were involved in an historic train wreck. The crash of the Sunset Limited into an inlet from Mobile Bay killed more passengers than any Amtrak accident in history. We survived that eerie accident but not without ongoing trauma. The wreck left my wife with an ongoing anxiety about being able to sleep on a train at night. The wreck left me with a back injury that took fifteen years of treatment and therapy to overcome. Nevertheless, with these scars from the trauma we both learned a profound lesson about the providence of God. Clearly, God’s providence in this case for us was one of benign benevolence. It also illustrated to us an unforgettable sense of the tender mercies of God. In as much as we are convinced that God’s providence is an expression of His absolute sovereignty over all things, I would think that a logical conclusion from such a conviction would be the end of all anxiety.

However, that is not always the case. Of course, our Lord Himself gave the instruction to be anxious for nothing to His disciples and, by extension, to the church. His awareness of human frailties expressed in our fears was manifested by His most common greeting to His friends: “Fear not.” Still, we are creatures who, in spite of our faith, are given to anxiety and at times even to melancholy.

As a young student and young Christian, I struggled with melancholy and sought the counsel of one of my mentors. As I related my struggles, he said, “You are experiencing the heavy hand of the Lord on your shoulder right now.” I had never considered God’s hand being one that gave downward pressure on my shoulder or that would cause me to struggle in this way. I was driven to prayer that the Lord would remove His heavy hand from my shoulder. In time, He did that and delivered me from melancholy and a large degree of anxiety.

On another occasion I was in a discussion with a friend, and I related to him some of the fears that were plaguing me. He said, “I thought you believed in the sovereignty of God.” “I do,” I said, “and that’s my problem.” He was puzzled by the answer, and I explained that I know enough about what the Bible teaches of God’s providence and of His sovereignty to know that sometimes God’s sovereign providence involves suffering and affliction for His people. That we are in the care of a sovereign God whose providence is benevolent does not exclude the possibility that He may send us into periods of trials and tribulations that can be excruciatingly painful. Though I trust God’s Word that in the midst of such experiences He will give to me the comfort of His presence and the certainty of my final deliverance into glory, in the meantime I know that the way of affliction and pain may be difficult to bear.

The comfort that I enjoy from knowing God’s providence is mixed at times with the knowledge that His providence may bring me pain. I don’t look forward to the experience of pain with a giddy anticipation; rather, there are times when it’s necessary for me and for others to grit our teeth and to bear the burdens of the day. Again, I have no question about the outcome of such affliction, and yet at the same time, I know that there are afflictions that will test me to the limits of my faith and endurance. That kind of experience and knowledge makes it easy to understand the tension between confidence in God’s sovereign providence and our own struggles with anxiety.

Romans 8:28, which is a favorite for many of us, states that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (NKJV). There’s no other text that demonstrates so clearly and magnificently the beauty of God’s sovereign providence than that one. The text does not say that everything that happens to us, considered in and of itself, is good; rather, it says that all things that happen are working together for our good. That is the master plan of God’s redemptive providence. He brings good out of evil. He brings glory out of suffering. He brings joy out of affliction. This is one of the most difficult truths of sacred Scripture for us to believe. I’ve said countless times that it is easy to believe in God but far more difficult to believe God. Faith involves living a life of trust in the Word of God.

As I live out the travail that follows life on this side of glory, hardly a day goes by that I am not forced to look at Romans 8:28 and remind myself that what I’m experiencing right now feels bad, tastes bad, is bad; nevertheless, the Lord is using this for my good. If God were not sovereign, I could never come to that comforting conclusion — I would be constantly subjected to fear and anxiety without any significant relief. The promise of God that all things work together for good to those who love God is something that has to get not only into our minds, but it has to get into our bloodstreams, so that it is a rock-solid principle by which life can be lived.

I believe this is the foundation upon which the fruit of the Spirit of joy is established. This is the foundation that makes it possible for the Christian to rejoice even while in the midst of pain and anxiety. We are not stoics who are called to keep a stiff upper lip out of some nebulous concept of fate; rather, we are those who are to rejoice because Christ has overcome the world. It is that truth and that certainty that gives relief to all of our anxieties.

~ R. C. Sproul (from Tabletalk, January 2010)

How to Respond To Heresy and False Teachers

“Give diligence to present yourself approved to God, a workman unashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”

 ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

1)  Titus 1:13 we are to rebuke them!

2)  Titus 3:10 after two attempts to correct the heretic, seeing they do not repent, we should reject them.

3)  Ephesians 5:11 we are to have no fellowship with false teachers.

4)  2 Thessalonians 3:6; 3:14-15; 1 Timothy 6:3-5 we are to withdraw from them.

5)  2 Timothy 3:5-7 we are to turn away from them.

6)  2 Corinthians 11: 13 we are to watch for those who preach another gospel and or another Jesus.

7)  2 Corinthians 6:14-17 we are to be separate from the world, idolatry, and false teachers.

Jesus used wolves to describe dangers that exist to us. In Luke 10:3 Jesus instructed His disciples as He sent them out in two’s, “Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Jesus was talking about human wolves that are agents of the devil. Today the wolves are more numerous, more cunning and more sophisticated! Even more alarming is this fact: wolf attacks are not limited to outside the home. Consider the “Cyberworld.” Wolves are attacking inside our homes too.

How do wolves attack? They come in sheep’s clothing. They try to make us disciples of the devil by convincing us to spend our time being taught and influenced by them. These wolves separate, disarm and devour unprotected victims.

Jesus gave us a warning about wolves, but He also gave us a promise, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” John 10:10. Jesus defended His followers by keeping them together (usually with Him), by warning them and by teaching them the gospel. Here is my top ten list of wolves attacking inside your home and some Christ-like defenses:

10. Wolves attacking through books with worldly philosophies. All kinds of non-biblical lifestyles are being promoted through books; occult, sex-romance, evolution, etc. Jesus exposed His disciples to biblical content, not rubbish! When you select books, consider the worldview that is being taught. Select books that are written by Christian authors from trusted publishers. Research books online.

9. Wolves attacking through network television and movies.Entertainment helps no one except those who sell it! Families waste massive time on this medium. The lion’s share of entertainment is produced by unbelievers, promoting all kinds of unbiblical lifestyles. Soap operas and sitcoms are training the minds and hearts of parents, and animated movies ”babysit” and are training the hearts and minds of children. Jesus personally “entertained” by telling stories with biblical themes, and grounding His followers in the gospel. He warned them about false philosophies. Place your television in a public area. Carefully select videos and movies. Point out false philosophies and unbiblical lifestyles. Install a filter or better yet, don’t subscribe to cable. Tell, read and watch biblically-based stories.

8. Wolves attacking through video games: more entertainment.Graphic nudity and pornographic sex are installed on many video games, even some children’s versions! Players are trained to kill and seduce. Other dangers exist through gaming with strangers. Jesus was always interacting with His disciples. Choose games that encourage you to interact in conversation while playing. Play board games, card games, outdoor games and family video games that you can do together.

7. Wolves attacking through secular music. Satan uses music to seduce and to indoctrinate disciples. Jesus provided the gospel and now Christ-glorifying music is available in every genre. Select Christian music for your home and car. Train your heart, soul and mind for Jesus!

6. Wolves attacking through texting. Texting is another activity that can be used for evil. The sports icon Tiger Woods used texting inside his home to arrange for sexual liaisons. You have probably read about “Sexting,” a common way that teenagers are sharing pornographic images of themselves. A device that is enabled for texting is a tool that is very hard to monitor and not essential to living a productive life or glorifying Christ. Jesus was open in His communication. Avoid secret activities in your family.

5. Wolves attacking through guests in your home. Hospitality is a biblical way to share the gospel with your neighbors, service people and extended family. You should practice hospitality! But be aware that we all can fall if separated. Jesus interacted in groups. Remember that wolves separate in order to harm but Jesus kept believers together for safety and accountability. Keep your family together when you have guests, or at minimum make sure that you or your spouse visit along with your children.

4. Wolves attacking through the internet. The internet is one of the greatest inventions of our time! It is being used to spread the gospel and to help in many ways. However every category of attacking wolf exists on the internet through websites, email and chatting. Pornography is attacking the minds and hearts of most, including Christians. Place your computer in a public room. Use a good internet content filter for the children. Use accountability software like Covenant Eyes for adults and older children.

3. Wolves attacking through social networking. Although this medium is used in great ways, this may be the most dangerous tool of all. Just this past weekend a man was convicted for seducing four underage girls he captured through social networking. Spouses are meeting old flames. Children are being kidnapped. Families are being destroyed. The wisdom of two’s employed by Jesus in Luke 10 is the key here. Establish joint accounts with your spouse or know one another’s passwords. Know your child’s password and carefully monitor their activity. Warn them about predators. Only allow friends and followers that you personally know. Once again use Covenant Eyes software for protection.

2. Wolves attacking through your children’s sin nature. Sin entered all people in the garden. Your children do not require outside influences in order to sin! They are born sinners; help them to know that fact. Help them to learn to self-diagnose sinful behavior and readily confess their sins.

1. Wolves attacking through your sin nature. This is the “top wolf” for a reason. Your sins will blind you to the wolves that are attacking you and your family. Be spiritually cleansed so that you can see the enemy and protect your family! Confess your sins to the Lord and to your family. Be accountable to your spouse and church. Get the victory over your sins by asking the Lord for help.

You and your children are being discipled every waking moment! Who or what is doing the disciple-making: Jesus or wolves? As a family shepherd, you must protect your sheep. Destroy the wolves that threaten your family, or at least keep them at bay. The writer of the 23rd Psalm had no fear of wolves because Jesus was with him. Do what Jesus did and experience the abundant life He promised.

~ Alan Melton