Things Aren’t Always As They Seem

Looking At The World From A Different Perspective:

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (AMP):

[1] BUT UNDERSTAND THIS, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble–hard to deal with and hard to bear.  [2] For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffers); disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane.  [3] [They will be] without natural (human) affection (callous and inhuman);  relentless–admitting of no truce or appeasement.  [They will be] slanderers–false accusers, trouble makers; intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good.  [4] [They will be] treacherous (betrayers), rash [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.  [5] For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it–their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession.  Avoid [all] such people–turn away from them.

A Praying Mantis & A Tree Limb
A Praying Mantis & A Tree Limb

Looking at the world from a BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE, it is not difficult to reach this conclusion from the title to this blog-post: “Things Aren’t Always As They Seem”–

Although this planet is inhabited by more than six billion human beings, there are only two types of people: Those who BELONG TO CHRIST and those WHO DON’T.

Now that, at first, may seem like an oversimplification, but the fact is reflected in…

1 Corinthians 10:21: 

You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the demon’s cup. You cannot partake of the Lord’s table and the demons’ table.”

Unfortunately, in comparison to the rest of the world, the TRUE CHURCH, that is to say, ALL BELIEVERS not willing to compromise, do not compromise their FAITH by following the norms and the evil current running through this world, is a FACT.

It is a sad fact to think that out of more than six billion people, only a small group or percentage will be SAVED.

Look at the words JESUS speaks in clarity–John 14:6:  “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me.”

THIS WORLD is full of people who are just like described in our text (2 Tim. 3:1-5), appear to be one thing, but in all reality something very different.

The world is full of people who profess to be “Christians”; people who with their mouths loudly (and some, not so loudly) DECLARE they are men and women of God, but in REALITY are very far from God.

How do I know this?

Because there are numerous doctrines and teachings that appear to be beautiful and good, but when examined against the Truth, the Word of God, quickly find that there are DOCTRINES & TEACHINGS designed to separate men from God’s presence.

The apostle Paul tells us here to SEPARATE ourselves from them–yet way before Paul’s instruction to us in Timothy, Jesus warned us to stay alert, “take heed”; don’t let the world catch anyone napping.

Mark 13:21-23 (NASB):

[21] “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ; or ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him;  [22] For false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray.  [23] “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.”

At this point, I want to take a pause–a “time out”.  I am NOT stating nor implying we should JUDGE and CONDEMN someone.  None of us are worthy to judge anyone!  There is but on Judge!  (John 5:22-23)

I want to make myself very clear on the fact that we are not called to JUDGE or CONDEMN anyone because they may be confused or find themselves trapped in a RELIGION or a SECT.  Let’s always remember when we find ourselves in a situation to EVANGELIZE…our first words must never be “you are going to hell.”  

Our responsibility is to PREACH God’s TRUTH.

So I am NOT implying that we must judge, rather what I am trying to convey to you is we can not trust everything that we see or hear.

The MAJORITY of people, I believe, allow themselves to be led by first impressions, being it positive or negative, and these influence their attitude and behavior toward others.  How do I know this?  Because I am in a spiritual battle as I write–concerning my attitude, my first impressions of others.

If we are honest with ourselves, we are ALL GUILTY of doing just this.  Look at what JESUS tells us regarding our attitude toward others; our judging based on first impressions or otherwise:

Matthew 7:1-2:

[1]  DO NOT judge and criticize and condemn others, so that you may not be judged and criticized and condemned yourselves.  [2] For just as you judge and criticize and condemn others, you will be judged and criticized and condemned, and in accordance with the measure you [use to] deal out to others, it will be dealt out again to you.

But then the question arises in our minds, “How can we distinguish between good and the bad without counting on appearances?”

The LORD tells in Matthew 7:15 (VOICE):

“Along the way, WATCH OUT for false prophets.  They will come to you in sheep’s clothing, but understand that quaint and innocent wool, they are hungry wolves.”

I capitalized two words in this verse, for the KEY to answering the question is to “WATCH OUT” !!!

There are many people in this world who appear to be something that they are not. People that disguise themselves by wearing masks of religions, that seem to speak eloquently with fancy words, but “inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”

WATCH OUT!

There is but ONE WAY that we can prevent ourselves from being deceived; to distinguish these persons from the rest.

EXAMINE THE FRUITS that they produce (Matthew 7:20):

“You will fully know them by their fruits.”

In other words, although my first impression may be good or bad, although the appearance of a group or individual is good or bad, as a true believer, I have to start by learning to wait on God.  This “waiting”, many will say, places the BELIEVER in Christ Jesus at a disadvantage.  

But in reality, the opposite is true.

What happens is, that once we receive conviction, we separate ourselves from all of those things that we have learned that displease God; we will be accused by many saying that a TRUE CHRISTIAN is called to LOVE.  That as Christians, we are CALLED TO LOVE GOD and our neighbors.  That we are CALLED TO FORGIVE even those that may have seriously offended us in the past, and because of the “callings”, we can never distance ourselves from, or stop sharing with, a particular group or individual.

I can tell you that there is some TRUTH to these types of accusations; a Christian Believer IS called to love God and to love his neighbor (Matthew 22:37-40).

Therefore, ONE TRUTH IS…Christians are CALLED to LOVE & FORGIVE.

BUT another great truth is that Christians are NOT CALLED to be Accomplices; Doctrines, rituals, and Sects that serve only to drive a wedge between man and God.

Our responsibility is to TEACH the TRUTH, to PREACH the Gospel of Salvation through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

BUT if they are unwilling to HEAR, unwilling to ACCEPT the Truth, wishing to continue in those things that don’t please God as pointed out in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, then we are to SEPARATE ourselves from them.

Look at how this instruction from Jesus is clearly reflected in Matthew 7:6 when we read…hqdefault

“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy.  Don’t throw your pearls to pigs!  They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you”  ~ New Living Translation (NLT).

WE MUST BE CAREFUL–WATCH OUT!!!

We must be take care of what God has given us–our “PEARLS” of wisdom and understanding.

Read in Revelations 2:11 at how our Lord tells us,  “Behold I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”

We must AVOID those persons who disguise themselves to confuse us; we must SEPARATE ourselves from this wicked and evil world, no matter the form we see it appear.

But we must also EXAMINE ourselves very closely to find the FRUITS that we are bearing are in fact pleasing to God.  [See Footnote [i] for a reference to read]

We must examine ourselves to find, if perhaps, that we have become so preoccupied with those around us that our life has stopped testifying of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I…we have to examine ourselves closely, because we find that by CRITICIZING, and HATING those around us, we must realize that we are not bearing GOOD FRUIT.  We must be very careful with what we HEAR & SEE, we have to TEST EVERYTHING using the Word of God.

But just as important, is our self-examination; we have to EXAMINE ourselves and discover if our life is truly hidden in Christ, or perhaps just hidden.

APPEARANCES can be deceiving, so let’s be very careful that we may not be deceiving ourselves in the process.

 


Footnotes & Credits:

Footnote [i] :  https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/its-not-easy-b…ruit-inspector/

Photos:  Google Search Images

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted.

 

 

 

The Challenge Preaching and Teaching to All Who Are Listening!

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NIV Bible:

[1]  Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly–mere infants in Christ.  [2] I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  [3] You are still worldly.  For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly?  Are you not acting like mere men?

FIRST of all, I’m not a Pastor.  But a preacher, a teacher…that I am.  Now that I cleared that up, I can proceed with some principles.  Principles I’ve discovered over 40 years of teaching… which might just help in your sharing of the gospel to all!.

Preaching and Teaching to the Immature and the Spiritual Giants…

Every week, pastors all over the world are asked to do something that is almost impossible:  Preach and teach a message to a group of people which includes…

—  Teenagers to seniors.

—  Men and women.

—  Mature disciples and not-yet-believers.

—  The faithful and the skeptical.

—  Regular attenders and first time guests.

—  Singles, married, divorced and “it’s complicated.”

—  Those who need comfort and those who need a swift kick in the…!

No wonder the pastoral burnout rate is so high!

As a Christian Blogger, I’ve been teaching through writing, as THE WORD DETECTIVE for 44 months with mixed results.  It’s still tough, but I’ve become steadily better at it in time.  But mostly by trial and error.  While I don’t claim to have mastered the art of writing down all my thoughts, I have discovered a few simple principles that may help in your particular giftings.

"Babes" and "Giants"
“Babes” and “Giants”

“Babes in Christ”–Who are they?

“I had to feed you with milk and not with solid food because you couldn’t digest [“stomach”] anything stronger.  And even now you still have to be fed milk”  (1 Corinthians 3:2 TLB).  {I added the word “stomach” in brackets for emphasis}

“Babes in Christ” are Christians who aren’t sufficiently advanced to the teachings of the Word of God.  They are still majoring in the simple and easy truths of the Bible; they see Him as a God of Love but can’t picture Him as a God of wrath and judgement.

So, they RESIST any kind of “strong” or “hard” preaching/teaching against sin.  It doesn’t fit in their elementary theology box.

Could there be sadder words spoken by a Preacher to his congregation?

The Apostle Paul was addressing the Corinthian Church here–a church that was enriched with much knowledge and many spiritual gifts.  Yet in spite of their many BLESSINGS, they remained as “babes in Christ”–couldn’t “handle” the matters of doctrine. so they fill in the blanks with unsound reasoning and began making up their own DOCTRINE!  I’m sure they thought that they were “Spiritual Giants” in their thinking.  But were they not “babes in Christ” and didn’t know it?

Stay Fixed on THE WORD
Stay Fixed on THE WORD

PRINCIPLE NUMBER ONE:  Start and Stay with Scripture.

This is  KEY when teaching or preaching.  Don’t just use a verse or two–a jumping off point to say what you want to say.  STUDY IT and STICK WITH IT throughout the entire message.  Sure, we need to use personal stories, current events and common experiences in our communication, verbally or our writings.  BUT, as I have found, going down a “spiritual rabbit holes” can lead you in the direction of wrong intentions.

When I first started blogging, my oldest daughter sent me a message via Email:

“DAD, I enjoyed reading your story about Jesus in the Bible. Just a suggestion, you might use more personal stories to get your point across. LOVE YOU DADDY, Karen.”

Too many, well-meaning pastors and Christian writers are basing their messages, not on a passage from God’s Word, but on the title of the latest movie, a news headline, or the latest “a funny thing happened to me” story.

Forget Your Bible?
Forget Your Bible?

When in doubt of what to say, or teach is…“the TRUTH of God’s Word always, and I mean “always” speaks to everyone.”

PRINCIPLE TWO:  Learning Something New.

One of the best ways I’ve found in reading and using Scripture  is to MEDITATE on the passage I’ve chosen until I discover something I’ve never seen before.  Reading the words before me until they begin to speak to me.  And, if I don’t feel I’m ready…read it again until it does speak!

Second, I’ve learned over time, the things that I teach orally, preach or write might likely be deep enough for the “mature believer” as well.

I love reading the comments left on my published blogs;  “Thanks, Mel!  I never saw it in that way before!”  To which I reply, “Me either!”

There are few things more invigorating to a church member, as hearing from their pastor who keeps learning and sharing new depths in God’s Word.  And by the way, tell your pastor, encourage your pastor, in acknowledging the truth presented.

PRINCIPLE THREE:  Using the Simplest Language Possible.

After studying and prayer each morning, I go through my notes and edit my rough draft with a Roget’s Thesaurus next to the computer.  I try to replace all the multisyllabic theological terms into everyday terminology.  The same words I would use in casual conversation at the local coffee shop.  I feel it is my responsibility to help my readers, or the Bible Study attendees, to understand biblical concepts and doctrine in such a way, that they can take with them and live them out.

It’s not easy…

Sometimes it’s hard to explain deep concepts in simple language with all the commentaries, books available,  etc., but I’m learning in the process. If I can’t explain it in simple terms, I probably don’t understand it as well as I think I do.  So I study some more until I have a better grasp of God’s Word and can explain it simply [you might disagree].

PRINCIPLE FOUR:  Leave the Results in God’s Hands.

Although frustrated at times, I have certainly learned over the years…you can’t speak with your lips or write weekly blogs, that everyone will get something different from the same message or topic given.  Only God’s WORD can do that.  So I do what I can do, and leave the rest in God’s hands.

I can’t reach the sorrowing widower, the struggling single parent, the alcoholic dad, the skeptical seeker at the same time.  But the Holy Spirit working through God’s Word in speech or in writing can.

The Holy spirit steps in and does something we could never do.  He speaks to each person so specifically, that I hope and pray they leave the pages I write, leave knowing, “That MESSAGE was just for me.”

“Babes in Christ” and “Spiritual Giants” are listening…

HEBREWS 5:12-14 AMP:

[12]  “For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word.  You have come to need milk, not solid food.”

[13]  “For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]!”

[14]  “But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.”

Who are the “someones” and the “everyone’s” in your life?

I wanted to leave you with a question rather than an answer.  And if you don’t know the answer, that’s okay.  Should you know the answers?

I have only presented a brief summation of God’s Principles and presenting the TRUTH to Pastors, teachers, preachers, and bloggers (writers).

“If indeed God permits, we will [now] proceed [to advance teaching].  For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit.  And have felt how good THE WORD OF GOD is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come”  (Hebrews 6:3-5 AMP).

 

Photo Credits:

Photo Pin

Credits: 

Signs of Spiritual Immaturity – “Babes in Christ” and “Spiritual Giants” by Connie Giordano – Walking in Faith.

 

 

 

 

The Results of Poor Teaching and Bad Leadership

THE SOURCE OF WISDOM BEYOND OUR UNDERSTANDING:

HOSEA 4:1-6 AMPLIFIED BIBLE:

[1]  HEAR THE word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy (a pleading contention) with the inhabitants of the land”

“You Children of Israel” and the Children of Today–the Connection.

“BECAUSE…there is no faithfulness, love, pity and mercy, or knowledge of God [from personal experience with Him] in the land.”

Many reading my blogs over the past years, have grown accustomed to my writing style; its emphasis on God’s Word.  You might even think you know me from social networking or we’ve met in person.  But do you really know me, my character?  Do you know my tastes in music, foods, personal interests?  In most cases, the answer would probably be “NO” because…without an INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP, “from personal experience”, there isn’t a connection.

Priests, Clergy and Church Leadership–

Hosea was called to PROPHESY to the nation of Israel because of the quality of life was lacking.  The sins of the nation came from the absence of it…the people had been destroyed because they rejected what they were hearing.

The people of God today are no different.  Look at the church today and you have the lack of knowledge of God causing wavering spirituality…inconsistency of the walk and the talk of believers…ineffectiveness in prayer…even social righteousness, the way we act toward others, those outside our “group.”

LIVING with the KNOWLEDGE of God–Intimacy in Relationship.

One difference between the priests of Israel and the pagan priests of the day, was that the roles of Israel’s priests wasn’t just to offer sacrifices.  They were also to instruct the people with the ways of God.

The priests weren’t the guardians of hidden knowledge, revealed only to the “select”.  No, for God’s people, the LAW was given to make wise the simple.

Before I came to Christ in 1972, I thought I was wise in the ways of the Lord.  After all, I had been taught the FACTS, then later found I had some information [right and wrong], but in reality…I was the ‘simple one.’  I knew the “shalt not’s” of the Law, and the “conscience” that goes along with it.  My mother would often remind me, “Mel, when your dad and I aren’t around, to tell you what’s right and wrong, you always will have your conscience!” That logic to a child sounded like, “Blah, blah, blah, blah…’conscience’.”  But I would shake my head “yes”, pretending that I understood the parental wisdom.

God has revealed Himself to the world through His Word and through His Law in the Old Testament; which was meant to be taught to children from the earliest age.

The REASON the Nation Had Gone Astray–

There was NO KNOWLEDGE of God in the land; the priests had failed in leadership of the people; the priests and the prophets [in current vernacular…the clergy, pastors, teachers, elders and deacons] had FAILED to properly teach the Word of God!

When the people brought their sacrifices and offerings, the priests decided that they would use the surplus for their own means–even selling it for a profit.  They began to encourage sin, camouflaging it in any way they could, and the people followed their leaders/teachers examples.  And the “slippery slope” continued.

So, what happened?

Verse 5:  “And you shall stumble in the daytime, and the [false] prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; and I will destroy your mother  [the priestly nation].”

What happened was, they were going to STUMBLE!  Jesus describes the Pharisees as “blind guides” [they made it up as they went].  You know the phrase, “We’ll fake it until we make it!” approach to leadership.  After all, “We are in charge!”

Here in Hosea 4:5, it says the people are “stumble in the daytime.”  Now I can understand “stumbling” in the dark, but in the “daytime”?  So God is going to take away their ability to see the way clearly by taking away their mother: the nation that gave them birth.

Finally, He’s’ going to REJECT them and their children of being His priests.  Why?  Because the more they’re increased… the more they sinned.   All because they’ve exchanged the TRUE WORSHIP of God to get fat; they’ve turned the glory of God into shame.

The Ordinary, Church-going People…

God’s point made, through the mouth of Hosea was to illustrate the ordinary, church attending people are suffering and will in fact…suffer more.  And, so too the priests, the designated spiritual leaders of the day would share in that suffering.  They may see themselves as the spiritual pillars of the community, but when they’re found guilty of leading God’s people astray, their godly privileges are revoked.  In the end, the ones who are responsible, the teachers of the people, are the ones who’ll be held to account.

God Accused the Religious Leaders.

Making an accusation of the uninformed, seemingly ordinary people in the world is often deemed OK.  BUT, God accused the religious leaders from keeping the people from knowing Him:

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you  [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge.  I will also reject you that you shall be no priest to Me; seeing you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children”  (Hosea 4:6 AMP).

The LEADERS, the designated teachers of the land had a God-given responsibility to TEACH THE WORD OF GOD; but they became leaders in wrong doing.  The congregation may have said to one another,  “It must be OK what we’re doing if the clergy do it.”

Loosing the Knowledge.

If you’ve lost the KNOWLEDGE of the Word of God…if you’ve forgotten how God said He wants to be worshiped, what do you do?  Well, you do what all other religions do.  You come up with something that feels “spiritual”; you create a god or gods to worship.

A spiritual vacuum–

In the 70s, 80s and 90s, what happened in our Western culture?

People still had that God shaped hole inside of them, but rejected Christianity.

What did they do?

They came up with an alternative:  Rediscovered meditation; sought eastern groups; turned to new age religion, then bought crystals and Ouija boards. They explored Buddhism, Islam or Zoroastrianism that promised to give them the religious experience they were longing for to fill the void in their lives. But they never asked whether these were the way that God wants His people to approach Him, nor were they open to strong Bible teaching.

The False Hope of Ephraim and Judah–

The people thought they’d be all right keeping up all the outward appearances of worshiping God.  But they were mistaken.  This was a FALSE HOPE!

Look at the ironically prophetic words of the people’s call to one another to WORSHIP God once more:  HOSEA 6:1-3 Amplified Bible. 

“COME AND let us return to the Lord, for He has torn so that He may heal us; He has stricken so that He may bind us up.  [2] After two days He will revive us (quicken us, give us life): on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.  [3] Yes, let us know (recognize, be acquainted with, and understand) Him; let us be zealous to KNOW the Lord  [to appreciate, give heed to, and cherish Him].  His going for is prepared and certain as the dawn, and He will come to us as the [heavy] rain, as the latter rain that waters the earth.”

If they’d only understood the TRUTH!

If they had understood the reality of what they foretold, of Jesus Christ who would die and in three days rise again!  BUT, they were far from understanding the things of God and these cheery thoughts were mere wind (Hosea 8:7).  It was a case of ‘too little to late’.

GOD gives His reply in verses 4-6:

(Hosea 6:6 ) “For I desire and delight in dutiful steadfast love and goodness,  not sacrifice,  and the KNOWLEDGE of and ACQUAINTANCE with God more than burnt offerings.” 

Being a Leader and Teacher and Leading People to God–

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”

Teaching knowledge of God from the Word
Teaching knowledge of God from the Word

When God’s people are destroyed and waste away, not because God has lost either His love or strength.  It’s because His people lack knowledge.

It isn’t that God says His people are completely ignorant.  They do have some knowledge but not enough.  They may have just enough to make them think they know it all.  I love that verse in Romans, where the apostle Paul warn us:

“…not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought  [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgement, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him”  (Romans 12:3 AMP).

It shouldn’t surprise us that there is a connection between KNOWING GOD and KNOWING HIS WORD! 

Some people think that Bible knowledge is boring and brainy; not necessary for the real walk with God.  But God and His Word are vitally connected!

Psalm 138: 2 says,  “You have exalted above all else Your name and Your word and You have magnified Your word above all Your name!”

When God sought out a term to express His nature,  He calls Himself  “The Word” (John 1:1).

TEACHERS, CHURCH LEADERS, CLERGY…TAKE NOTE!

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP IS A HEAVY RESPONSIBILITY!

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Whether you TEACH a church school class, hold a church office, or lead a Bible study in your home…DON’T take your leadership responsibility lightly.

The Letter of James in your Bible makes it clear:

“…we [teachers] will be judged by a higher standard and with greater severity [than other people; thus we assume the greater accountability and the more condemnation]”  (James 3:1 AMP).

Today our problem is not lack of INFORMATION given…but lack of knowing Him as He revealed Himself to us through the Holy spirit.  Our knowledge…our relationship with God all begins with Jesus.  If we’re not conveying the Christ centered relationship to the church body, the results of poor teaching and bad leadership will fall on us and we will be destroyed in the ministry!

“For we are not, like so many, [like hucksters making a trade of] peddling  God’s Word  [short-changing and adulterating the divine message]; but like [men] of sincerity and the purest motive, as  [commissioned and sent] by God, we speak  [His message] in Christ (the Messiah), in the [very] sight and presence of God”  (II Corinthians 2:17 AMP).

false-prophet-matthew-7-15
RESULTS Seen

Teaching and Leading with the WHOLE TRUTH:

Start speaking the WHOLE TRUTH and nothing else but the TRUTH of Jesus Christ; in the Word and POWER of His name.  No more LIES!

Paul tells Timothy,  “Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me, in [all] the faith and love which are [for us] in Christ Jesus.   Guard and keep [with the greatest care] the precious and excellently adapted [Truth] which has been entrusted [to you], by the [help of the] Holy Spirit Who makes His home in us”  (II Timothy 1:13-14 AMP).

 

“I DO DECLARE!” – More than an Expression

FIRST, LET ME START WITH A DEFINITION:

“To DECLARE is defined as to state or announce something publicly; to say positively or emphatically”  (Your Dictionary).

So, with that definition in mind, for us to DECLARE something–we are going to have to open our mouth and SPEAK–to “say so”.

“Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that JESUS is LORD and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”  (Romans 10:9 AMP).

“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes…”  (Romans 1:16).

“And He (JESUS) said to them,  Come after Me [as disciples–letting Me be your Guide], follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men!”  (Matthew 4:19 AMP).

SECONDLY, TO CONSIDER OUR REDEMPTION BEFORE DECLARING:

Psalm 107:2

“Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has delivered from the hand of the adversary.”

It is evident that the Psalmist considered the mercy of God and the delivery of Israel from the hand of the enemy, of such extent, that those who had been redeemed were to DECLARE their redemption by God’s hand so that they all might know God’s POWER, LOVE and MERCY.  Their redemption was something about which one could REJOICE, PRAISE GOD, and DECLARE–tell others.

When you consider that their redemption was a physical redemption from the hand of another nation, by contrast the magnitude of our spiritual redemption in Christ Jesus becomes paramount.

The apostle Paul stated that Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law and the blessing of Abraham might come upon us (Galatians 13:13-14).  He further taught that those who lived under the Law were redeemed by JESUS; where they might receive the adoption of sons and daughters and become heirs of God (Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 9:15, 11:39-40; Romans 8:16-17).

So then, if the physical deliverance of Israel was considered sufficient cause for them to DECLARE their redemption, how much more should the greatness of our redemption cause us to SHOUT about our redemption from the roof tops (Matthew 10:27; Luke 12:3).

Declaring of the Redeemed
Declaring of the Redeemed

Can you imagine some of your neighbors conversing in the middle of the street about the ‘religious crank’, shouting on top of their roof,  “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

It’s More Than Just Knowing the Spiritual Facts–

If the people of God today were made to realize the greatness of God’s love, mercy, and goodness toward them in Christ Jesus, their mouths couldn’t be muzzled; kept from declaring to others what God has done for them and keeps doing for them.

God so designed His kingdom to be dependent upon the REDEEMED of the Lord–the born again believers–the SAVED in Christ Jesus; not to just know it; think about it; demonstrate it by good deeds and that’s all good!  But it comes down simply to… the “saying so”.

GOD HAS GIVEN THE REDEEMED A RESPONSIBILITY:

A “responsibility” of PREACHING and TEACHING the Gospel of His Son.

To DECLARE and "Say So"
To DECLARE and “Say So”

To the REDEEMED, Jesus said to His disciples “Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit.  Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you…”  (Matthew 28:19-20).

Paul said that “For when the world with all its earthly wisdom failed to perceive and recognize and know God by means of its own philosophy,  God in His wisdom was pleased through the foolishness of preaching [salvation, procured by Christ and to be had through Him], to save those who believed (who clung to and trusted in and relied on Him)”  (1 Corinthians 1:21 AMP).

REDEMPTION PRODUCES DISCIPLES AND TO DECLARE:

In preparing for this POST, I ran across article by the Author Tim Stevens, entitled Three Points On Discipleship:

#1.  A DISCIPLE has his feet pointed toward JESUS and is moving.

#2.  A DISCIPLE-MAKER is intentionally taking someone else along for the journey.

#3.  A MATURE DISCIPLE doesn’t require anyone else to continue taking steps with and toward JESUS.

The Responsibility of “Preaching” or “Teaching” God’s Truth is that Man May Be Saved–

Sorry to tell this to the Church, but this responsibility isn’t placed in the hands of predetermined clergy of the community you live in.  The New Testament knows of no clergy distinction.  Every Christian is to grow in GRACE and KNOWLEDGE of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ          (2 Peter 3:18); to sanctify–set apart–the Lord God their hearts and to be ready always to give an answer to every man or woman who asks them a reason of hope that’s inside of them (1 Peter 3:15).

Paul scolded Christians who by reason of time…should have been teachers–“mature disciples” but who had not grown in knowledge.  Rather than being “disciple makers”, they still needed someone to teach the elementary principles of the Gospel (Hebrews 5:12).

When Christians were dispersed from Jerusalem because of persecution “they…went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

Paul instructed Timothy, saying “And the [instruction] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also”  (2 Timothy 2:2).  The REDEEMED of the Lord are to “say so.”

THERE ARE MANY REASONS THE “REDEEMED” DON’T SAY SO:

Some are lacking LOVE for the Lord.  JESUS said,

The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me…(John 14:21). 

And verse 24 continues with:

Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching.  And the teaching which you hear and heed is not Mine, but [comes] from the Father Who sent Me.

Since the Lord JESUS has placed the responsibility of DECLARING the MESSAGE of REDEMPTION upon the REDEEMED, a failure to “say so” indicates a lack of love of the Lord and others; our neighbors.

Still others are ashamed of the Gospel.  They will talk to others about everything but their redemption (Romans 1:16).  After an unscientific observation, men in particular are guilty of this remission.  I’ve particularly noticed how men will stand congregated before and after a Sunday worship service discussing the weather, tractors (I live in a rural community),  politics and the world while the their wives discuss Book Clubs, ministering to the needy, upcoming Bible studies, etc.  Why is that?

Many put other things first and make no arrangements of time or opportunity to teach God’s plan of redemption to others [making disciples–“fishers of men”].

Many others are worldly (1 John 2:15); not interested in spiritual things, consequently are not really personally concerned with those who are not saved; redeemed.  Since the Body of Christ is called the CHURCH–a body must have feet, so we better start walking; quit leaving the results to the “visitation pastor”.  “Say so” yourself!

Truthfully, the redeemed of the Lord should lay aside every hindrance, to be busy DECLARING GOD’S MESSAGE (Hebrews 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Galatians 5:7).

Have We Mislaid the Importance of “Declaring the Word” and “Disciple Making” in our Churches?

Churches today are so focused on getting “new-comers” placed in a ministry first, “Disciple Making” from “Disciple-Makers” have disappeared.  Oh, I know, I’ve read the official church statement on the bulletin–“what we BELIEVE”–often quotes Matthew 28:19-20, but who are the DISCIPLE-MAKERS in the Body of Christ?  Where did they go?

WHO ARE THE “DISCIPLE-MAKERS”?

A disciple-maker is someone who God brings into your life, who you intentionally enter into an up-close personal, life-long relationship with.  I’ve heard Christian physiologist say, “you will probably on have two or three ‘up-close personal, life-long relationships’ in a lifetime.”  Let me say, “It only takes ONE!

The purpose of this Holy Spirit inspired relationship is “teaching them to observe all things that Jesus commanded you”. 

OBEDIENCE here is not to the disciple-maker, but to the Word of God.  It’s learning to agree with someone else’s directions, yielding your contrary opinions, in favor of the written Word (Romans 12:2).

It is not blind, unquestioning obedience with everything a disciple-maker says, even in decisions related to making purchases, where to go on vacations, or changing jobs.

The New Testament teaches the necessity of discernment (1 John 4:1), mutual submission (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 5:13; Eph. 5:21), and accountability to God (Rom. 14:21; Gal. 6:5).  BOTH disciple and disciple-maker are transformed in the process.  BOTH are a various points along the journey, but the marks of the seasoned disciple-maker’s life can be evidenced by greater depths of fruit (Gal. 5:22-23).

“Declaring” and “Discipling”–A Lot “Under the Hood”–

There is SIMPLICITY here in the announcement:  If you are waiting on, relying on the church to feed you spiritually, you are probably NOT a mature disciple.

Accounting For Different Relationships–

The church can only be a PART of the equation.  DISCIPLES, in declaring God’s Word, must have a personal relationship with JESUS (up), as well as relationships with other people in church (in), AND… relationships with people far from God (out).  Each set of relationships has a purpose in the life of a DISCIPLE–a follower of JESUS.

Philips, Craig and Dean bring to the forefront the thought of DECLARE IT–TO SAY SO in a popular song “Let the Redeemed”–

Let the redeemed declare it

Look what God has done

Tell of his endless mercy

And His everlasting love.

Let the redeemed declare it

Name above all names

Lift high this King most holy

Lavish Him with praise

Let the redeemed.

Now is the TIME FOR THE REDEEMED TO “SAY SO”–TO DECLARE WHAT HE HAS DONE and become MATURE DISCIPLES under Holy Spirit’s guidance!