Friday, May 27, 2011

Speak the Truth

My husband and I have been talking a lot about deception.  Many so-called-"Christian" preachers and religions claim to follow the bible, but, as John writes in 2 John 9, have gone beyond it.  They have added something to the gospel or taken something away from the gospel. They have not preached the Truth, and when I say Truth, I mean that they have not preached the pure gospel of Jesus Christ.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  -Romans 1:18

My brother and I have often discussed how some religious groups are unwilling to be open about what they believe.  Why would "Christians", who claim to be preaching the gospel truth from the bible, not want people outside their group to listen to or read their sermons?  Why would any true believer be unwilling to make or write a public statement of their beliefs?

In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul writes, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn't need to be ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)  If we are correctly teaching and living out the word of truth, we don't need to be ashamed. We don't need to hide it, but proclaim it.  After all, if we believe we are preaching Jesus (the way, the truth, and the life), why would we hide such a bold light under a bushel?

Why are these people unwilling to sit down and really discuss the bible and their beliefs?  Why is it, when one asks questions and demands a clear scriptural reference, they are told that they just don't have enough faith?  True faith is trusting in God's Word, leaning on His promises, and being fully persuaded that God will do what He has promised.  True faith will take God's Word over the wisdom of men every time because true faith stands in the power of God.  (1 Corinthians 2:5)  Abraham believed God and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.  (James 2:23).  He believed God's promises and acted upon them.  You can bet there were many in his day telling him he had misunderstood God or that God had not really made such a promise. Yet Abraham trusted and believed God. 

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).  If you are truly preaching the Word of God, preach it boldly, loudly, and for anyone to hear.  Will people oppose you? Yes! The gospel is offensive! People do not like to hear they are sinful beings in need of a Savior!  But the gospel provides the best news of all- while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (and rose again!).  Why would anyone want to hide such a message?  If you had the cure for disease and everyone in the world was dying of this disease (including those you love!), would you not feel an urgent desire to share and spread this cure?

Folks, we are all infected with death (sin), and Christians- we know the cure.  Jesus is the cure!  By the grace of God, we are saved through faith.  It is not our own doing- neither our salvation or our faith, really.  Both are a gift of God.

Why would someone want to hide their preaching unless they are not preaching the gospel?  Why are they unwilling to sit down and open their bibles and look into the Truth of the bible with others who question their beliefs?  Should we not be prepared to answer?

You see, whoever does what is true has no problem laying out it all out, but those who hide are afraid that their works will be exposed.  (John 2:19-21)

Why would a church not be willing to share how they spend their finances?  Why would a church tell people not to read material that points out issues in their religion? Why would a church tell their members not to talk to people who question their beliefs or practices?  What do they have to hide?  If your faith and understanding are truly granted by God's power, then what do you have to fear?

I like to think of the Bereans (Acts 17:10-12).  Paul and Silas brought them the gospel, and they enthusiastically received it and searched the Scriptures daily to see if their message was true.

You see, faith is not simply accepting what your pastor, minister, or seemingly godly friend tells you as fact.  True faith seeks out what God says.  True faith seeks truth and will not be content until it has found it. God is compassionate and just and eager to give us the truth and the faith we seek when we honestly ask and pursue it.

During Christ's time on earth, He repeatedly told His followers to ask, to seek, and to knock.  "Ask of Me!" He proclaims! "Ask!"  Yet, instead of asking Christ, we tend to turn to those around us.  Do we not believe that the Holy Spirit will not teach us and fill us with wisdom and understanding if we truly desire it?

"But the Helper, 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

In a world where many "Christian" religions are fronts for the devil's works, we must be willing to dig into the Word of God and discern what is truth.  The Holy Spirit will teach us. We must be soaking up the Word of God, searching it daily for truth and understanding, and allowing the Holy Spirit to give us a pure understanding.

I can clearly remember my husband and I sitting on our bed one night and realizing that we had a completely skewed view of the bible.  We began to pray- to beg God- that He would remove the filter which we had so often read the bible through and give us His wisdom and plant within us His truth as we read the people through eyes opened by the Holy Spirit.

Know what? God is good. He did just that.  We were astonished at how we had fallen victim to men who had twisted the Scriptures, who had perverted the hope of Christ.

Why are people unwilling to preach the truth when it is the truth that sets us free? Why would someone want to hide the truth, suppress the truth?  Why would anyone want to allow others to continue in slavery to Satan?

What is the truth?

[Ephesians 2:1-10) The truth is, you were dead in your trespasses and sins.  Dead. DEAD.  The dead cannot do anything.  They cannot do good works.  They cannot muster up faith in God.  They are dead.

You were by your very nature a child of wrath.  Whose wrath? God's wrath.  You were dead and under God's wrath.  You were powerless to remove yourself from this state of being.

But, Oh! Hey! Good news! GREAT NEWS!  God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love, has the power to make you alive together with Christ.  Alive! Do you get that? Dead. Brought to LIFE! BROUGHT TO LIFE by the mercy and love of God! By His grace and His grace alone you have been saved.  Not of any power of your own because you were dead! You had no power to raise yourself to life!  He made you alive in Christ! Why? So that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards you in Christ Jesus.  Again, we are reminded, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works so that no one may boast.

So, you can't say, "Hey, I pulled myself up by my boot straps and lived a holy life!"  No! You couldn't! You were dead! You couldn't earn your salvation! You were dead! You couldn't be good enough! You were dead!

But you are God's workmanship, not your own. We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand so that we should walk in them.

Wait, see that?  You were made alive (by God), created to walk in the works which God prepared for us.

I'll be honest, when I first read this through my "new eyes" years ago, I thought, "So, let me get this straight God.  You're saying that my works don't earn me heaven. I can never be good enough to earn it.  Salvation- life- is Your gift to me even though I am a wretched sinner?  Even though I'm a lawbreaker? And so, you give me new life, you give me faith, you strengthen me, you seat me in Christ, and then you prepare good works for me to walk in?"

I was absolutely astonished! God does it all!  All I have to do is accept the gift and walk in the works He already prepared for me!  My purpose as a new (wo)man in Christ is to walk in the good works God prepared for me- to glorify God by living out the purpose and plan He designed for me!

If we are unwilling to share the truth, then we must not understand how powerful that truth is.

I know this post has been all over the place, but I hope it makes sense.  Seek truth. Settle for nothing less. Don't stop seeking. Keep seeking.  Keep pursuing God.  You will know when you have found Him.

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