Thursday, September 30, 2010

Protecting Oneself

Jude 1:17-25

When we first moved to Navajo, New Mexico, almost every home had several dogs. In addition, there were a lot of wild dogs running in packs. Several people were bitten going up to a house and having a dog attack them from behind. I learned that being alert and having a rock in my hand or pocket gave me a sense of confidence that the dogs saw, and avoided. Drunks and strangers frequently got bit, and finally the town council got rid of most of the dogs, but I have remembered the lesson. As the old saying goes, “forewarned is forearmed.” James reminds us of the warnings by Paul, Peter and the other apostles.

“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” (Jude 1:17-19)

In his letter instructing Timothy how to prepare for the ministry, Paul warned him that the day would come when most people would not want to hear God’s word, deliberately seeking out teachers and churches that would tell them what they wanted to hear instead. II Timothy 4:3-4 warns, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

Having decided not to believe God, they accept various and unsupported and often insupportable beliefs instead, no matter how off the wall and improbable. Not understanding that as Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” they get caught up in physical behaviors and rituals. When he began pasturing his first church, Paul warned Timothy in I Timothy 4:1-3, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

Because they do not know the Holy Spirit, they listen to demonic spirits and are drawn away. Often even they don’t believe what they are saying, but hypocritically accept it anyway, because there is no onus on what they want to do. Performing the prescribed rituals and avoiding the prescribed taboos, they can feel good about themselves, while committing what ever sins they want to. They actively try to get their standards accepted by the church.

To protect ourselves from getting drawn away by these unbelievers, we need to focus on the basics of our Christian faith. We need to study the word of God so we can grow according to I Peter 2:2-3. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” Hebrews 5:12-14 tells us that we need to go beyond just the milk, the very basics, as described in Hebrews 6:1-2 to the point of perfection, as in being complete and mature. Continuing to preach the milk to those who have rejected Christ does not reach them, but it hampers the growth of those who do believe. The focus must be on building up our own relationship to Christ, and that of the other believers. It is literally fulfilling the last part of the Great Commission of Matthew 28;19-20, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:”. Those who have rejected Christ will not be drawn by more teaching of the basics according to Hebrews 6:4-6, and we should not waste the time.

“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.“ (Jude 1:20-21)

Some of those who do not believe have just been led away, and have not rejected Christ. Some of them can be reached by our demonstrations of love for each other and for them. Others will be convinced only by understanding of God’s judgment on sin, like those in Acts 5, who were afraid after seeing what happened to Ananias and Sapphira. The focus must not be on the sin itself, but on the rescue offered. As Ephesians 5:12 says, “For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” It is easy to become so involved in preaching against sin that we excite curiosity. We ought to hate it so much we don’t even want to talk about it and avoid going into detail.

“And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)

Victory over sin is the result of the Holy Spirit working in our lives, setting us free from sin according to Romans 6. As a result, all the glory for our continuing in the faith belongs to him. It is not the result of our efforts, but of his. We are kept by his power, and no one can take us out of his hand.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Jude 1:12-16

When we first got married, we lived in a tiny(by today’s standards) one bedroom house. A friend lent us their camp trailer, a tent on a trailer when my folks came to visit. Since they had no place to park it at their house they asked if we could store it for them when we finished using it. After we were finished, we folded it up and put the cover back on it. A few days later, I noticed black spots on the cover, apparently from sap dripping from a nearby oak tree, so I moved it to a place where it wouldn’t be under the tree. When they came to get their trailer, we were horrified to find that the spots were now holes. The sap was acidic enough to eat through the canvas. We had to have a new cover made,

In a healthy church, new people visit regularly, and some want to become part of the church when they see what God does for the Christians. Some actually want to be Christians, but many just want the physical benefits, with no real interest in God. These are normal and are not much of a problem unless they become entrenched and considered church members. Because they have no commitment to the Lord, they follow whoever seems to offer what best suits them at the moment. James is especially concerned with the third group who want to manipulate and use the church to accomplish their own goals.

While a great many things would have made spots on the canvas cover, making it not look good, the oak sap did actual damage, and made it unusable. Jude compares those unbelieving church members to those spots. Some are just unsightly, making the church look bad while others do serious damage.

“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.” (Jude 1:12-13)

Our society seems to have a fixation on the idea that bigger is better, and it has slopped over into churches. As a result, some churches will do almost anything to get people to come. Speaking of one of the largest churches in Farmington, one lady said anyone can feel at home in our church, no matter what they believe. Since the church was originally a Baptist church, people can still join as Baptists, by a statement of faith and evidence of scriptural baptism, but if they want to join as something else, the church will accept that group’s standards instead.

James says these are like stains on a piece of fabric, taking part in every thing the fabric does as if they belonged. They come and fellowship, taking part with no concern over the doctrine or respect toward God, as Romans 3:18 says. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Their only constraint is their own imagination.

Last summer, I planted some cucumber plants. They came up and spread vigorously, blooming all over the place, even smothering some of my other plants, but never produced a single cucumber, despite my work. I even tried manually pollinating the female flowers, thinking perhaps the bees were not doing it. I wasted a lot of time and energy, because they appeared to offer so much.

These unbelieving church members produce nothing of real value, but sap the church of spiritual vigor, depriving real Christians of essential nourishment, sometimes choking them out and killing them, while trying to pass themselves off as better than others.

“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 1:14-15)

Acts 5:1-14 tells of Ananias and Sapphira, who tried use the church to promote themselves, and God’s judgment for their actions. As a result, unbelievers were afraid to join the church. The church was strengthened and grew, because those who joined were committed to God. The others looked for a place where God’s power was not a threat.

Like the mixed multitude who came out of Egypt, complaining about the food God provided, Unbelievers in the church complain about the teaching of the word, finding it unpalatable and desiting solemnizing more exciting. They gripe about how the church works, constantly demanding change, seeking what appeals to them.

“These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.” (James 1:16)

These unbelievers have huge public appeal, drawing huge crowds and attracting lots of followers. They put a lot of stress on famous and popular leaders, using the associations and cooperation to further their own aims. How many times have people skipped their own church, driving sometimes hundreds of miles to hear a famous speaker such as Billy Graham, because of their admiration for the man. This attitude is seriously hurting the church today.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Attitudes of The Ungodly in the Church

Jude 1:8-11

Today there are a lot of people claiming to be Christians who participate in Gay Rights activities to show their tolerance, viewing those who oppose such activities as being unchristian. After all, God said we’re not to judge, and he loves Gays too. They have either not read or ignored Genesis 19, Jude 1:7, and many other passages. Lest there be any doubt about what God thinks of homosexuality, Leviticus 20:13 is very clear. “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” Literally they are responsible for their own deaths because of their actions.

Many of these who claim to be Christians will admit that they know the Bible forbid it, but after all, we’re supposed to love people if we’re Christians, and it’s not really their fault after all, God made them that way and they can’t help it. This same idea is used to justify many other kinds of sin as well, because God just didn’t understand what we know today. They imagine that God will overlook the sin as a result.

“Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” (Jude 1:8)

These unsaved people in the church engage in activities clearly forbidden by God. Many drink, are addicted to drugs, engage in extramarital affairs or indulge in pornography. Several serial murderers have been considered good Christians by their fellow church members, and many of the Ku Klux Klan members were active in churches.

They become especially upset at the idea that what they are doing is wrong, and often attack those who oppose them. Their opponents are depicted as evil, sometimes accused of doing the same thing, set up to appear to be doing wrong, or filing lawsuits and accusing of hate crimes. Vandalism and physical violence are sometimes used, because they do not want any restrictions on their behavior. Even Jesus is accused of improper relationships with Mary Magdalene, and Judas is typical of these unbelievers in his betrayal because of unbelief.

“Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 1:9)

These ungodly people do not hesitate to bring such false charges against those who oppose them, yet the highest angel didn’t dare make such ringing charges against even the devil himself. As II Peter 2:10-12 says, these have no such hesitation. “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;”

Even though Michael knew how utterly wicked the Devil is, and Michael is so very powerful, he left the final judgment to God, yet these people are judging from their own ignorance, even ignoring their own natural animal instincts. For example, homosexual behavior is only found among animals forced into unnatural situations. In the book Animals In Translation, Dr. Temple Grandin describes several instances of wrong behavior by animals which disappears when natural conditions are restored. Humans, on the other hand, can consciously choose to go against their innate standards, deliberately and voluntarily doing what they know is wrong.

“But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” (Jude 1:10-11)

Cain was angry that his brother was rewarded for dong what was right and he didn’t get a reward for doing what he wanted to do so he killed him rather than doing what he was told. Some of these wicked men are the same way, trying to destroy those who do right, rather than doing it themselves. They are like the delinquent who beats up the good kids at school.

Others are like Balaam, wanting to do what is right, but picking and choosing what of God’s commands will best accomplish their purpose and ignoring the rest, assuming it won’t really matter. Still others want to make their own rules, like Korah, in Numbers 16. He decided to set himself up as the priest because it wasn’t fair that God had only chosen Aaron. In his opinion, Aaron was just promoting himself.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Consequences of Unbelief

Jude 1:4-7

The Pentateuch describes Israel’s time in Egypt and her deliverance. Exodus 12:37-38 gives us an idea of what was involved. “And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.”

Under the Egyptian system, not only were the Hebrews slaves, but almost everyone but the ruling class, the priests and members of Pharaoh’s own ethnic group. All the slaves were abused to some degree, but because of their numbers, the Hebrews were the most feared. When the Jews escaped, a lot of other slaves took advantage of the opportunity to escape as well. Having no place to go, they went with Israel.

Repeatedly Israel rebelled against God’s leadership in the wilderness, and sometimes the rebellion started with griping by these non Jews. Numbers 11:4-6 describes one such instance. “And the mixed multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.” Jews who were not committed to trusting God were easily drawn into the complaining.

It is easy to forget that people who are not Christians may align themselves with a church for many reasons other than a love for God. Some come for political advantage, believing that membership in a particular church will help their chances of being elected. Some join because of tradition. Some come because it gives them a ready source of business contacts. Some come for entertainment, or for some social program to fight drugs or keep teens out of trouble. They may well turn more people from following God than even the false leaders, undermining the faith of others by secretly practicing things God has forbidden, and insisting it really doesn’t matter. Jude’s focus in not just on the false teachers, but on all those who do not believe. The focus is much like that in the book of Hebrews.

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)

Both I Corinthians 10 and Hebrews 3-4 describe how that every one who came out of Egypt had the same experiences, being delivered from slavery, passing through the Red Sea, and partaking of the manna and water from the rock freely. Most of them died in the wilderness, however, because of unbelief, as Hebrews 4:2 states. “For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Jude reminds us of this.

“I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.” (Jude 1:5)

After walking out of Egypt, passing through the Red Sea, seeing their enemies destroyed, and observing God’s provision of food and water for such a huge group, they still did not trust God to know what was best. They complained and disobeyed repeatedly, and finally he destroyed them.

The angels were created to be with God daily, enjoying his presence and seeing his power. Nevertheless, some rebelled, determined to have their own way. Satan is the King or Prince of this world, and it is as such God addresses himself in Ezekiel 28:14-17. “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.”

Because they chose to follow Satan, rather than God, a large number of angels were cast out of heaven. Ultimately they will all be cast into hell, the place prepared especially for them as Jesus stated in Matthew 25:41. “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Satan and his followers will not be the keepers, but prisoners, unable to escape.

“And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 1:6)

Sodom and Gomorrah were noted for their sexual promiscuity, contrary to any standard of normalcy. After being there a while, even Lot’s standards became so skewed that he could accept the gang rape of his own daughters, although he still opposed homosexuality. The men of the city would not settle for even that flawed moral standard, threatening him for judging them. (Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it?) As a result of the determined disobedience, God destroyed the city in Genesis 19.

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (Jude 1:7)

God has not changed, and can be expected to react the same way to those who deliberately choose to disobey and refuse to believe. Sadly, some in the church have chosen not to believe, while others have chosen deliberately to disobey. They are dreaming if they think that God will ignore their behavior, when he punished these others, yet many do.

“Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.” (Jude 1:8)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Ungodly Men, Crept In Unawares

Jude 1:1-4

The book of Jude was written by the apostle Jude or Judas listed in Luke 6:16. It is written to people who have been saved and set apart by God, who are preserved or kept in Jesus Christ, and called.

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace and love, be multiplied.” (Jude 1:1-2)

Like Peter, Paul, James, and John, Jude is concerned with unbelievers in the church leading people away from the truth. The best way to stop the influence of unbelievers is by sound doctrine. Paul stressed the need for pastors or elders who were sound in their belief of the scriptures, who could convince the false teachers by sound teaching in Titus 1:9. “Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” In depth study and total commitment to the scripture is required to convince those who are seeking another way.

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3)

Several years ago, a man attended a church Dad pastored. He was quite well educated and seemed to be very interested in what was taught. He came fairly frequently for a while and seemed to be really concerned, but never committed himself. One day, my dad was talking to him and he asked if Dad really believed what he taught. When Dad told him he did, the man stated that his father had been a pastor of a large church. One day the son had gotten concerned about his own soul and gone to his father for help. His father told him not to worry about it as there was nothing to it. He just told the people what they wanted to hear because it was his job.

At the time the son dropped his inquiry, but years later, after graduating from college and getting married, the son was still attracted to the gospel, Because of his father’s statements, however, he was hesitant to commit himself to Christ. Several months later he was transferred, without committing. Sadly, there are many men like the father, whose interest in ministry is not in the gospel. Some are like the missionary who told us, If I could make as much money at any other job, I’d quit the ministry, because I hate it.”

Others use the ministry to gain a following and establish themselves. A large proportion of country singing stars got their start by singing in churches to gain a following and get a recording made, because it was an easier market to get into. Political activists often use a religious group to build themselves a base of followers, and an established church is a ready made organization. Many cults started with an existing church that they could infiltrate and take over. A weak doctrinal stance makes the church more readily accessible.

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4)

Men like the man’s father do not believe at all and destroy the faith of many. Looking only for the money, they devote their efforts to please people, rather than to teaching the truth. Cult leaders and many political and religious activists deliberately infiltrate churches to promote their own agenda, with no concern for God.

In the process they ignore open sin, often implying that it is acceptable since God is a forgiving God. Paul addresses the issue in Romans 6:1-2. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” While we have liberty in Christ, we ought not use it as an excuse for sin. Galatians 5:13 instructs, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

It is shocking to realize how many of the “theologians” or “biblical scholars” of today do not believe in God at all. For many years, some of the best known have actively sought to destroy faith in God in the guise of biblical criticism. In the guise of revealing the truth about Jesus, they deny the virgin birth, his literal death and resurrection, and his being God in the flesh. Some have sought to disprove the very existence of God.

Because of their conformity with the world’s desire, they are usually a lot more popular than those who teach the truth. As I John 4:5 says, “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” The church at Pergamos and the church at Thyatira had already been infiltrated in Revelation 2, leading to the warnings they received. The church at Sardis in Revelation 3, had apparently succumbed to the attacks, with only a few still clinging to the truth.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dealing with a Domineering Pastor

III John 1:11-14

Some pastors and churches today teach that it is the Christian’s responsibility to do whatever the pastor tells him. People who do not, for what ever reason are treated as inferior, have positions they have served in taken away, are accused of trying to split the church or of rebellion. Some pastors rebuke them from the pulpit or otherwise stir up opposition to them to force them to either comply or to leave the church.

Gaius had apparently been put into this position. John’s compliments have been given to remind him that he was still doing what the Lord had commanded and to encourage him to continue to do so even though the pastor opposed it. It was going to be necessary for John to take action about Diotrophes’ behavior when he came, because it was definitely wrong. Until John can come, Gaius needs to know how to deal with the problem. John has written this letter to enable Gaius, and us, to know how to deal with such a situation.

“Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.” (III John 1:11)

Some pastors have abused their positions. Some have demanded sexual favors from ladies in the church, that a person donates a certain amount, that they meet his standards of dress or celebrate or not celebrate certain holidays. They encourage others to snub or shun those who fail to do so. And forbid contact. Much of I John is devoted to the matter of demonstrating our love as evidence of our Christianity. Even those who are clearly in overt sin, we are to demonstrate that love. II Thessalonians 3:14-15 commands, “And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.” By ‘shunning’ them, we reject God’s command, going too far, teaching man’s command instead.

Neither the pastor or the church has authority to set aside any of God’s commands. As the Apostles said in Acts 5:29, “…We ought to obey God rather than men.” While the pastor must give account for our souls, as to what he has led us to do, we have to account for our own actions as Romans 14:12 declares. “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” What a relief it is to see those who you’ve taught doing what is right, because it confirms that you have done your job properly, as Hebrews 13:17 instructs. “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” Obedience to the leaders must never supersede obedience to God.

We need to listen to and follow leaders who are following God, whether they are in the forefront or not. Gaius needed to find and associate with those who were less concerned with their own position and more concerned with what God wanted, and such a man was there.

“Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.” (III John 1:12)

Ones spiritual life and growth is too important to allow it to be hindered or circumvented by a false teacher, or self willed church leader. Find someone who is there to serve God, whether by finding a changing the church leadership, or by finding a different church. Don’t allow a hypocrite to get between you and God. If you do, he is closer to God than you are. Go around him or push him out of the way if you have to. Best of all try to get him to go with you.

“I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.” (III John 1:13)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Domineering Pastor

III John 1:1-8

“The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth.” (I John 1:1)

The letter to Gaius is, like the letters to Philemon, Titus, and Timothy, written to specific individual, to address a specific problem. In many respects it is very similar to Philemon, focusing on the individual’s personal response to a particular problem, whereas II John is concerned with individual responses of a group. It appears that Gaius was standing alone against the problem. John is careful to give him personal encouragement in his stance.

“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” (I John 1:2-4)

I have been privileged to go back from time to time to churches I worked in and see people who I taught continuing to serve God, twenty or thirty years later. Others have moved to other areas, and impact people that I meet later. It is almost like finding out that one of your children has made some great accomplishment, especially when others have fallen by the way side.

Gaius had continued faithfully reaching out to and encouraging others in the Lords work, demonstrating his love by his faithfulness in his actions. They had declared his faithfulness to John.

“Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.” (III John 1:5-8)

If we love the Lord, we ought to love those who carry the Gospel to others. While it is the churches place to support the pastor, there is no reason for the unsaved to support those who come to preach to them. One of the ways we fulfill the great commission is by enabling others to go to areas we cannot, helping them to accomplish their ministry.

In the past few years, it has become common for a new pastor to try to eliminate all evidence of the previous pastor in an attempt to consolidate his control of the church. They cut off fellowship, join a different organization, eliminate missionaries to make it clear who is the pastor. Frequently, they push out the former pastor’s family and faithful older members of the church who question his actions. Gaius was apparently in this position of being forced out because he wouldn‘t go along.

“I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.” (III John 1:9-10)

Like some modern pastors, Diotrophes wanted to be the one in control. He had no trouble ignoring Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 20:25-28. “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43 records the same incident. In Luke 22:24-27, Jesus repeated the command at the last supper. “And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.”

In his effort to establish his control, Diotrophes began to imply wrong doing or false teaching on the part of John and others. He demanded obedience to himself and forced those who did not obey him and maintained a relationship with the former leaders out of the church.

As we see the same things done in modern churches, it is easy to understand God’s statement in Revelation 2:6, that he hates the actions of those who believe they have the right to dominate the church. “But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.” In Revelation 2:15, he states that he hates the very belief that a man has the right to dictate and control the church. “So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.”

They demand that their standards and ideas be followed, with no regard to what God has commanded. As the Apostles told the Jewish leaders in Acts 5:29, “…We ought to obey God rather than men.” This must not be simply ignored, and John would have to deal with it, or it would destroy other Christians.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

How to Deal with False Teachers

II John 1:7-13

Several years ago, on a business trip to Los Angeles, I was shocked as we went down the freeway. I had no clue what the doctrinal stance of most of the churches I passed was. The names gave no indication of what they believed, and there was no affiliation with a group or of what they believed to assist me. I realize that such statements are often inaccurate, but they at least suggest what they believe. Unfortunately, some deliberately choose names to deceive. Using a name such as Disciples of Christ, Church of God, or Church of Christ does not necessarily mean they are or are not of God. It may just mean they liked the name, or that they thought it would get people to come. Cults may use such names to hide what they really believe.

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” (II John 1:7)

Anyone who does not believe that Jesus Christ is God come in the flesh to save mankind is not from God. Because some are able to confuse people with their words, I John 4 gives a series of tests to determine whether what they teach is from God. A failure to find out whether it is really God’s teaching may leave us expending our efforts on things counter to God’s intention, leaving us with no rewards when we stand before him.

“Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” (II John 1:8)

Colossians 2:19 warns, “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” In the messages to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, John sends the messages to the angels of the seven churches. The word angel can mean either what we normally think of as angels, or a special messenger. In Revelation 2 and 3, it refers to the pastors or leaders of the individual churches. Similar structure is used in Colossians 2:19.

Christ, not the church leader, is to be head of the church. When we begin to set him above others, or his teachings ahead of Christ’s, we are no longer serving the Lord. Most of the tests in I John 4 relate to comparing the life style and teachings to those of the scripture to see whether they are of God.

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” (II John 1:9)

As I John 4:6 says, “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” The Apostles were very Clear in Acts 5:29. “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” To follow their instruction rather than God’s is dangerous to our spiritual life.

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

In Romans 16:17, Paul instructs, “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Associating with them, encouragement, and financial support all imply we are in agreement with their deceit. We are not to do so. As I John 2:21 says, “…no lie is of the truth.”

There is no substitute for face to face contact. Written messages, videos or phone conversations do not have the same impact as personal contact. John anticipates that contact to deliver most of what he has to say, closing with hid intent for personal meeting.

“Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.” (II John 1:12-13)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Maintaining Christian Love

II John 1:1-7

II John is written to advise how to handle teachers who come in from outside, purporting to be teaching the word of God. It is especially relevant to the present religious climate, in which we are presented with hundreds of teachers and books. I John laid out specific guidelines for testing and identifying our own lifestyles, as well as the lifestyles and teachings of those we meet. It explains the basis for our conclusions, and for our assurance of salvation.

II John is more personal, dealing with how to apply what we learned in I John to prevent being mislead, or unintentionally leading others astray. It is written as a more mature Christian, an elder, giving advice and encouragement to a woman to help teach her children. It is not immediately clear whether he is talking to a church family, or to a biological family, as it is equally applicable to both.

“The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.” (II John 2:1-2)

Christian love is based on Christ’s love for us. As we saw in I John, we love other Christians partly because we know God loves them, but we also love them because we have his spirit and God is love. That love reaches far beyond any natural antipathy of race or social standing, to every other Christian, based on God’s love for us. His greeting thus focuses on God’s blessings and provision, very similar to Paul’s greetings.

“Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.” (II John 1:3)

Clearly, there has been an effort to set an example of following God. It has resulted in the children obeying God’s commands. It is always a great blessing to see those who have gone on to follow the Lord.

“I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.” (II John 1:4)

Unfortunately, it is very easy for Christians who are trying to serve God to get caught up in the activities and begin to neglect the most basic aspects of the Christian life. The message to the church at Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7 deals with that very issue. John 14:15 states, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” We demonstrate our love for God by doing what he said. All the law can be summed up in to commands , to love God, and to love our neighbor. Jesus Command to love one another in John 13:34-35 is not really a new command, but a simplified restatement of the original. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” If we are to continue to please God, we must not neglect the most basic aspect, of loving other Christians.

“And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 2jo 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” (II John 1:5-6)

There is a tendency to feel that any difference from our own position is necessarily wrong. As a result we begin to isolate ourselves and attack those who differ on some point. Romans 14 deals with the tendency to break fellowship over minor issues. Romans 14:1 commands, “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” We are not to impose our own standards on others, but as Romans 15:1-2 states, yield our standards to those who are weaker. “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.”

There is an old saying about “divide and conquer.” When we divide over minor issues, or where the scripture is unclear, we open the door for Satan to gain the victory. He can use that conflict to insert false doctrine, even to the point of denying the Lord. It is critical that we not let our love slip over some questionable point.

“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” (II John 1:7)

Satan has an abundant supply of false teachers trying to distract and turn people away from the truth. Conflict gives false teachers a foothold to force their way in. H

Friday, September 17, 2010

Things We Know

I John 5:18-21

This last chapter of I John focuses on what we know as Christians. We believe that Jesus is the Christ, the savior of the world because we have evidence to prove it is true. We have the testimony of God the father, of the Jesus, and of the Holy Spirit. We also have the prophecies about his birth, his crucifixion, and his resurrection, and the proof they were fulfilled. We have the working of the Holy Spirit on the earth to further support our knowledge.

Firstly, because we know he is the Son of God, and the savior, we know we have eternal salvation. We no longer have to fear missing it. It is already ours. Knowing that God has done this because of his love for us, we also know that he will answer our prayers, in so far as those answers accomplish what he desires for us. He has promised he will not hold back any good thing.

Thirdly, we know that a person who has a meaningful relationship with God will try to please him, not from fear, or to try to get something, but because of a desire to please him. They will not persist in sin, because sin has no power over them, according to Romans 6:14. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” As a result we can simply refuse to participate in sin and do what pleases God. Romans 6:11-12 directs, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.”

We don’t have to fight Satan, as Nancy Reagan insisted about drugs, we can just say “no”. Christ already fought and defeated him. The only time drug use has declined among the youth was during the “Just say no” program. Many said it was too simplistic and fought for discontinuing it, insisting it couldn’t be that simple, but it worked. A lot of emphasis has been placed on how to get victory over various sins, but ultimately, we just have to say “no”.

“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (I John 5:18)

The Christian has the Holy Spirit in him, empowering him to say “no.” I John 3:9 tells us, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” The Holy Spirit will not allow the Christian to be content in sin. Discomfort, punishment, and finally death will show up in a Christian’s life, if they persist in sin. I John 3:10 states that whether a person is of God or not is shown by his lifestyle. “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” We know ourselves by the attitude of our heart.

"And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.” (I John 5:19)

Romans 3:10-12 declares the natural human state. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” Until we understood this, and that it included us, we had no reason to put our faith in Christ. Only when we understood our inability to do right did Christ’s death for us have significance. Now we know.

“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (I John 5:20)

Our salvation is the result of God’s giving us understanding and saving us because of his love. Ephesians 2:4- 9 declares God’s part. “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

The unsaved world, by contrast, has chosen not to know God, making up substitutes to replace him, according to Romans 1:21-25. “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
” Because they have chosen not to know God, God has allowed them to deceive themselves and be deceived by Satan, forming their own religions. Knowing the truth, we must not allow ourselves to be caught up in the false religions around us.

“Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (I John 5:21)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Praying According to God’s Will

I John 5:14-17

There are an untold number of books about prayer available. I have read a few and talked to people about a lot more. In the process, I have found that many, if not most of the writers are in direct contradiction with what the scriptures teach about prayer. I guess that is not surprising since it is true of almost every subject in scripture. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, it seems as if the writers missed the whole point, as well as the many teachings in other passages.

In the model prayer, the so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” in Matthew 6:9-13, Jesus gives us an example of how we should pray. He does not tell us to quote that prayer, nor does the scripture imply he prayed it himself. He just illustrated some important aspects of our prayer.

The first aspect he emphasizes is the relationship of father and child. The child should come boldly and eagerly to his father, but with a sincere loving respect. In speaking with my own Dad, I never told him, “Dad, do this or that,” because I respected him as my father, yet an well known evangelist “prays,” saying, “God, I command you,” showing no respect for God.

I could ask my Dad for anything, but I always knew he had the right to say no, for whatever reason. I knew that he would give me anything within reason he possibly could, unless he thought it would harm me. As a result, when he said “no” I learned not to try to force him to change his mind. Many times, his decision was based on a plan for something much better than what I asked for. Sometimes he delivered what I asked for, but had to work out some details before it could happen.

If we have that same relationship of love and respect toward God, we will have the same confidence in his answering our prayers. Unlike the unjust judge, it will not be necessary to nag to get what we want, because if it fits with his desires and intentions he will do it because he loves us. We will be far less demanding in our requests as we learn to respect him, yet more confident that he will answer our prayer. Our asking will be more aligned with what we know God intends, because we want what he wants. Our prayer becomes like a little child talking to his Daddy.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” (I John 5:14-15)

As a child, you may see a sibling do something that you know is wrong, but you know that it was an accident, or someone else’s fault. In such a case you would very possibly intervene to try to keep them from being punished. It is the right thing to do and may well minimize or eliminate punishment. As Christians, we see others do wrong from time to time. When it is unintentional, we have the right to intercede on their behalf, asking God for leniency. We know that God delights in mercy.

“If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.” (I John 5:16-17)

We also need to understand that god is not an abusive father, and some sins cannot be overlooked. Deliberate, intentional sin is not an accident. Jesus told us how to deal with those who do wrong in Matthew 18:15-17. When we know it is deliberate, and they refuse to change, we are to separate from them and treat them as an unsaved person. At that point, we are no longer to try to prevent God bringing judgment. It is critical that we follow God’s steps because the sin may have been unintentional. David did not set out to commit adultery, or murder, but he did so. God forgave him because he was willing to repent, in II Samuel 12:13. Saul, on the other hand refused to confess and repent, insisting it was the people’s fault and lost the kingdom, and eventually his life according to I Samuel 15:18-23, and 15:28-29. God rebuked Samuel for continuing to mourn for Saul in I Samuel 15:35-16:1. The problem was not the hideousness of the sin, but the refusal to repent.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Total Assurance

I John 5:9-12

When they first landed a man on the moon, I didn’t get to see it on TV for a few days. Students all over the campus were talking about the event however, and I was convinced it really happened. When I saw actual footage of the event, any remaining doubts disappeared. Subsequent interviews with the astronauts only made it more convincing. Despite the evidence, five years after the event there were still groups insisting that it never really happened, but was just some trick photography.

While I might doubt the statements of others who had seen the reports, the pictures were incontrovertible. While we might take man’s claims about who Jesus Christ is, God’s statement is like the pictures, leaving no legitimate room for doubt.

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.” (I John 5:9)

While some still doubt even with the pictures, the Astronauts who landed on the moon have that experience in their memory. That experience can never be taken away by any amount of supposedly scientific claims or theories. It is part of their life. They can be sure it is real, and that any one who doesn’t believe it is wrong.

Every Christian has the Holy Spirit, as we see in Romans 8:9. “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Romans 8:16 declares, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”. Jesus promised, “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you,” in John 14:16-17.

“He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” (I John 5:10)

Those who refused to believe that man had landed on the moon said it was a lie, and accused the news media, NASA, and the astronauts of lying. Those who refuse to believe God are effectively saying he is lying, because they don’t believe his statement. God himself has stated that salvation is through believing in Jesus Christ. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (I John 5:11)

Too many times mankind pictures God as looking for an excuse to send people to hell for doing wrong. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I Peter 3:9 states, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” It is not his will that anny one should be condemned to hell. John 3:17-18 explains, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

The situation is well illustrated by picturing a group of people in a sinking ship. Because of the danger, a man in a small boat cannot come too close to the ship, but he throws a life preserver attached to a rope to the people. Anyone who turns loose of the ship and trusts the rescuer to pull him in can be saved. Anyone who refuses to trust the rescuer and insists on hanging on to the ship will drown when it sinks. It will not be the rescuer’s fault if they refuse to take hold of the life preserver or to turn loose of the ship. It is not God’s fault if people don’t accept Christ and are condemned to hell. They refused to be rescued. As John 3:36 states, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”

“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (I John 5:12)

Either a person accepts Christ as savior by faith and is saved, or he refuses, and faces the condemnation because he refused to be rescued. It is his decision. John has written these things out so that those who have believed can be assured of their salvation, that they can Know they are saved, that they will be in heaven, because we know our salvation is not dependent on our efforts, but God’s promises, and that he cannot and will not break them. We can completely put our trust in him, we don’t need to hang on to something else.

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (I John 5:13)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Show Me The Proof

I John 5:7-9

All of Christianity depends on whether Jesus is the Christ, the son of God or not. If he is not the entire system is a massive fraud. Every Bible scholar, theologian, preacher or evangelist who believes he is, of what ever group, has been duped. Every one who doesn’t believe it and practices or teaches Christianity is a charlatan, deliberately lying to and defrauding the people. It is critical that we be able to prove whether it is true or not, and John addresses that issue.

We have powerful evidence that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, himself God. We start with the testimony of God himself, of Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit. All three were present at Jesus’ baptism, when God the Father proclaimed that he was his son in Matthew 3;16-17. “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus testified to being the son in Mark 14:61-62. “But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” If both the father and the son claim their relationship, only testimony by a witness who has proof to the contrary could cast real doubt. Even the mother’s claim that she had been involved with another man would not prove he was not the father unless it could be shown that it impossible for him to have fathered the child.

John the Baptist stated that the Holy spirit descending on Christ proved he was the son of God as well in John 1:32-34. “And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God." Testimony by other family members and neighbors further strengthens the evidence, especially if they are close enough to know the truth.

God the father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit are all residents of heaven. All three claim that Jesus is the son of God, and are in a position to know whether it is true. Unless evidence for doubting their testimony can be presented, it must be accepted as truth.

“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (I John 5:7)

One of the greatest mysteries of the Bible is that of the Trinity. How can three be one? Various illustrations have been used but none give a full understanding. For example the egg illustration is limited in that no single part of the egg is a complete egg. The illustration of a man as husband, father, and son is limited because they are not able to separate themselves. Both provide some insight, but neither is complete. As I Corinthians 2:14 states, It is impossible to express spiritual matters completely in human terms. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Only the Holy Spirit can give full understanding.

A basic principle of interpreting scripture, found in II Peter 1:20, is that no scripture can be interpreted independently from other scripture. That there is only one God is clear from numerous passages. Deuteronomy 4:39 commands, “Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.” Isaiah 45:5-6 declares, “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.”

Nevertheless, in Genesis 1:26 God uses the plural form repeatedly about God. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:”, and in Genesis 1:2 we find mention of the holy Spirit. John 1:1-3 states “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” Later it is made clear that the Word is Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “I and my Father are one,” in John 10:30. The doctrine of the trinity is a human effort to explain the spiritual concept portrayed by such statements.

The fact that God testifies that Jesus is the Son of God, The Holy Spirit identified him as such by descending on him and that Jesus claimed to be is unquestionable. Besides the testimony of these three, we have historical evidence that Jesus is the son of God.

“And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.” (I John 5:8)

Historical records of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth and death are found in Jewish and Roman history, while records of related events, are found in Egypt and Babylon. The Gospels relate detailed records of the these events that historians mentioned only in passing. While mention is made of Jesus’ miracles, only the gospels provide details showing how the Holy Spirit repeatedly demonstrated that Jesus is God by performing miracles only God could do.

In addition, we have the miraculous physical birth of Christ, fulfilling every prophecy, to prove that he is the son of God. The physical birth was unlike any other birth in how pregnancy began, yet completely normal in the growth and delivery of the baby. The details have been carefully recorded, to some degree by secular reporters and fully by the Gospel writers. His birth proves he is the Son of God, God in the flesh,

In the same way the details of his death, burial, and resurrection have been recorded, in the gospels, and in secular records. We know that he fulfilled all the prophecies surrounding Messiah death, even the miraculous ones that could only happen through the power of God. It is only possible if Jesus is the Christ, the promised Son of God, who came in human form.

All this evidence must be discredited before the Gospel can legitimately be declared false. It explains the constant attack by Satanic forces on each of these points. Christianity rests on the truth of these events. Far less compelling evidence is accepted as proof in many legal cases, for medical research, or many scientific proposals. Shouldn’t it be accepted in this case?

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.” (I John 5:9)

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Supernatural Birth, Death and Resurrection

I John 5:6

Why should people celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas? Thousands of babies are born every minute. Only their own family celebrates their birth. While we have a day set aside to celebrate some of our presidents’ birthdays, few people actually celebrate them, and we’re not sure of Jesus’ date. Unless there was something special about the birth, there is no reason to celebrate it.

In the same way, death is a part of life. Every person dies, and a Hebrews 9:27 states, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”. Our society tries desperately to deceive themselves, and prevent death but we all still die. Thousands were crucified by the Romans, so even crucifixion was not that special.

What is special is that the creator of the universe, God himself, according to John 1:1-3 was born on this earth as a human being. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

He was born to a virgin, not just a young woman, as some would have us to believe, in a miraculous manner, according to the scriptures. Both this woman, and the man she married were of the family God had said he would come from, It took place at the time God had said it would, in the city God described, and the events surrounding his birth were what God had prophesied more than five hundred years before his birth. Every prophecy about his birth was fulfilled, proving he was the Messiah, the Christ, and God‘s only natural born(only begotten) son. No other birth was like his, nor will any ever be.

Jesus came to earth as a human baby, and lived a human life to experience every temptation and problem humans have so he could understand what living on this earth is like. In the TV show, Undercover Boss, CEO’s of major corporations spend a week doing the jobs of their basic employees to learn what it is like working for their company. Several have been shocked at what they learned. In spite of the effort, they still only spend a day at each job, are not dependent on that job for their living, and know that at the end of the week, they’ll go back to their higher lifestyle. They still don’t learn what it is like to live on what their employees earn.

The four Gospels explain what Jesus did, but the book of Hebrews explains why it had to be done that way. Hebrews 2:16-18 explains why it was necessary for him to live as a human among humans. “For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” He would be able to forgive us because he knew what we experienced, even including a horrible death experience.

He was tried, tortured and executed in the most painful way his executioners could imagine for crimes they knew he hadn’t done. Even the judge who authorized his execution proclaimed his innocence. Many others have died in similar circumstances. The difference is that he did so voluntarily, to pay for our sins, and not for his own. I Peter 2:22-24 describes his action. “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” In the process he fulfilled all the scriptures relating to his death, proving again that he is Messiah.

It is his resurrection which is most vital however. While millions have died, only Christ came back from the grave. As Paul states in I Corinthians 15:17, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.” Our salvation is totally dependent on his resurrection. It assures us of the reality according to Acts 17:31, “…whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” If he was not raised from the dead there is no hope, Christianity is just one big lie.

“This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.” (I John 5:6)

A baby is surrounded in the womb by amniotic fluid, historically referred to colloquially as water. When the membrane ruptures allowing the fluid to escape just before birth, it is still referred to as the water breaking. Being born of water was readily recognized by common people of John’s day, and of the English of 1611 as referring to natural birth. John stresses that both the Physical birth and the physical death are proof of who Christ is. He used the same terminology in John 3:3-7 referring to the need for both a physical birth and a spiritual birth.

“Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”

If being born of water is interpreted as baptism, some parts of the preceding passage become vague, and I John 5:6-9 is obscure. If being born of water refers to natural birth the meaning of both passages becomes totally clear. Since there is no other place where the terminology is used to refer to baptism, and linguistically it refers to the natural birth, it must be considered as the probable interpretation. As such it says nothing about Baptism. It neither supports nor denies baptism as being required for salvation.

Friday, September 10, 2010

How Can You Love Someone You Don’t know?

I John 4:20-5:5

Dad was told that he was too old to become a missionary, but knew God had called him, so he took a job as Construction foreman for the Navajo Tribe, building schools. On weekends, he visited people and started holding services in a tent just off the reservation. As a result, he learned that a new town was to be built and that four sites were designated to be used for churches.

Dad applied for one of the sites, and because the sites could only be granted to legally constituted missionary organizations, He applied to the Baptist Bible Fellowship for some kind of legal standing. Since he had a church already going, and was a graduate of their program, they made an exception for his age and approved him, but since their policy was that approved missionaries could not hold a job, he had to resign his position with the tribe. Keeping the church going, and attending the required meetings to obtain the church site at Navajo prevented the standard process of raising missionary support, so we had only about sixty to seventy dollars per month to live on. It wasn’t easy, especially as there were eight of us.

When the site was approved, we had one year to get funding and complete construction. The BBFI loaned us twenty-five thousand dollars and we built the building for the Navajo Baptist Church and held our first services in it within about six months. The wind destroyed our tent at Tse Bonito, and we were not able to get a permanent place in the area, but most of the people who attended the tent church wound up moving to the new town of Navajo to work.

With a new church, and no one to fill in when he was away, Dad was unable to devote full time to raising support, making trips when he was able. Because he was already on the field, many churches assumed we didn’t need any more help, with the result that we struggled financially for several years, but were blessed to see thirteen churches and a Bible College started.

As a result of my experiences and observations, I have a different perspective than many about what goes on in our churches. For example, I am troubled by missionaries who refuse to go until some arbitrary level of support is attained, or until they can be assured of a certain standard of living. I am amazed at the number who have told us that we should turn our works over to them and start a new one because we knew how. They assumed we would still take responsibility for supporting the work. It is shocking to go into churches and find pictures of churches you started and physically built being claimed by other missionaries.

One missionary told us that if he could find any other job that paid as well as being a missionary he’d take it because he hated the work. Another told us he wished he could just stay on deputation forever, because he couldn’t stand the people on his field. Others have advised us never to allow the people to visit in our home or to become too personally involved with them lest we lose our sense of being American. In visiting churches. I see members of one ethnic group avoid those of another.

One pastor stated in my presence, that they needed to get rid of some of the people they had so they could get a higher class of people into their church. Missions trips don’t really let them get to know the people in everyday situations, and provide only superficial contact. I am concerned when I hear about these people’s great love for people on the mission field, when they can’t even get along with Christians in their home town, or even their own church. How can you love a person you don’t know? John carries it one step farther.

“If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (I John 4:20-21)

If we truly know the Lord, and love him, we will obey his commands and the Holy Spirit will be in us. John 14:15-17 states, “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” We have Christ’s command to love, and we have the Holy Spirit to produce love in us if we love the Lord.

Even if we had no command to love, and we didn’t have the Holy Spirit to produce love, the very fact of loving God should naturally produce a love for those he loves. A dog will tolerate, and even learn to love a cat because his master loves them, and love for God will have the same natural result. Clearly, if we do not love other Christians, it is because we don’t love God.

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (I John 5:1-3)

The dog and cat naturally hate each other, yet because of their love for their master, and his forbidding them to fight, they overcome their instinctive antagonism and become friends. Love is demonstrated by pleasing the one loved. We demonstrate our love for God by doing what he wants, by loving one another. We overcome that natural instinct to hate and hurt others, and to take advantage by our love for him and by the spirit he has given us.

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:4-5)

The change in attitude the Holy Spirit produces affects our actions toward everyone we come in contact with. It will be especially apparent when meeting those who have a similar attitude. The old saying is it takes two to tangle. If one is determined to fight, the other may be forced to fight against his will, but it will be difficult. If both are trying to avoid causing a conflict, it will be almost impossible for one to occur. If they love God, both will try to avoid a conflict. The ability and desire to overcome the natural pride that causes conflict is indicative of love for God.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

How Strong Is Your Love?

I John 4:14-19

Imagine a salesman trying to sell you one of the new 4G cell phones. He rhapsodizes about the features, advantages and benefits of the new phone, insisting that everyone needs to be able to do all the things it can do, from simple phone calls to watching movies and surfing the internet. Suddenly his cell phone rings, and he pulls out a standard cell phone just like the one you already have. Obviously, he hasn’t considered the features important enough to buy one for himself yet. Perhaps you don’t need them that bad either

Like the salesman, John has shown that the gospel has many features and advantages over other beliefs, which benefit the believer. One of the biggest advantages is that John can state he has seen proof and knows that it is true. It is not just some story he heard. Next he explains that the benefits can be received just by confessing that Jesus Christ is the son of God who died to pay for our sins as he claimed.

“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (I John 4:14-15)

Romans 10:9-10 clarifies what is meant. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Clearly the confession involves a sincere commitment to that belief, not just repeating some words, but if the faith is real, salvation is assured. God will come into the person, and the person enters into God, like the relationship between Jesus Christ and God the father, as John 17:20-21 explains. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”

Unlike the salesman in our story, the apostles, with the exception of Judas, and we, have believed God’s promise. (Remember, John is writing to believers according to I John 2:12-14) God is love. As we are immersed in him and indwelt by him, our very being is permeated with his love. Love emanates from us like it does from a pair of newlyweds.

“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (I John 4:16)

Many newlywed couples are bothered when their mate is around members of the opposite sex. They fear that he or she might betray them. If their love grows and matures properly, that fear should vanish. Only as the Christian’s love grows and matures will he be able to boldly face every situation that arises. Peter obviously loved and trusted the Lord, yet fear caused him to deny him. Only a short time later, his love had grown to a point where the same threats didn’t move him, and he boldly stood up to the entire Jewish council in Acts 4.

“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” (I John 4:17-19)

As long as we are hesitant to step up and do what God commands, Our love has not reached full maturity. Just as the mistrust of one’s mate causes stress, the stress we feel when deciding whether to obey God implies a lack of trust and an imperfect love for God. Our assurance of his love determines how freely we love him, just as our security in our mates love affects how we trust them. If we really understand his love It should be no problem to give up our own desires and goals for the sake of others.

“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (I John 3:16)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

God So Loved The World

I John 4:9-15

When a baby is born, it has only limited means of reacting to the world around it. As it grows, it learns to interact in different ways. Babies who only get attention when they scream learn that screaming is the way to get action. Those who get the attention they desire when they are quiet learn to be quiet and happy.

As he grows the child develops a system of relating to others based on his experience as to how people respond to his behavior. Those around him respond in the way they have learned as well. This produces a personal code of behavior, which may become stronger than any inherent moral standard. Contact with more diverse situations forces expansion of his code.

That code is essentially a religion. From time to time philosophers or governments may deliberately modify the religion to serve their own purposes. Attempts are made to explain why the code works, become religious dogma. It may be scientifically tested and proven or based on pure speculation. As a society comes in contact with other societies, they either modify their religion to meet the standard of others or try to force others to conform to theirs.

Like many other religions, the Moslem religion grew out of older religions, as a result of conflict, developing the attitude that the best way of protecting oneself was by killing those who were different. They developed the concept of Jihad, similar to the teachings of many others, as a means of self protection. Buddhists, on the other hand, discovered that by yielding and going along with their enemies, aggression could be neutralized. Thus we have two widely different religions, both dealing with the same problem in different manners, because of their different experiences.

Different background experiences tend to produce different standards and practices. Those who get very little guidance in the home develop very different standards of behavior. There is no way to prepare for dealing with situations different from past experience so reactions in such cases may be very ineffective.

Most religions develop like a child trying to develop a code of behavior with no one to teach him. Unlike other religions, Christianity is not based on man figuring out how to get by in this world, but on God, like a loving parent, teaching us what is expected. God is reaching out to man, not man reaching out in hopes of finding a God. The basis is summed up in John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Human experience of death is only visible up to the point of death. Beyond that, there is little evidence to predict what goes on. Some religions attempt to guess what is on the other side, while others assume that everything ends at that point. Any religion based on human experience is only guessing beyond that point. Because God knows what is on the other side of death, he can tell us what we need to do to prepare for it. Just as a parent shows their love for their child by teaching him what he needs to know, and providing what he needs, God has shown his love by teaching us and providing what we need. Some children refuse to accept their parent’s teachings, and some people reject God’s. That’s their responsibility, not God’s.

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (I John 4:9)

God demonstrated his love by providing a savior to enable us to have eternal life. It is attained through him. Romans 6:3-6 declares, “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

Love is not a quid pro quo proposition. It is not a trade, or a balancing the books. When a marriage deteriorates to one does this so the other will do what they want, it is no longer a love relationship but a business transaction. The girl who feels obligated to have sex with a guy because he took her out to dinner is unwittingly prostituting herself, for example. If he loved her, he wouldn’t demand she have sex in return. Such an attitude prevents real demonstrations of love. God loved us when we did not love him. It was not conditional on our loving him back. He loved those who never turn to him the same way.

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (I John 4:10)

Those who understand and experience love ought to want to please the one who loved them so. One way of expressing that love is by loving others who he loves just because he loves them. Since we have no way of physically expressing our love directly to God, Loving those he loves is almost the only way we have of physically demonstrating our love, even giving up all our own possessions and goals. “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (I John 3:16)

Even beyond that, we received the Holy Spirit at salvation. As Romans 8:9 explains, “…Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” One of the results of the Holy Spirit in our life, the fruit, is love, which is to be expected since God is love.

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” (I John 4:11-13)

When the Holy Spirit is producing the same kind of love in us, God’s love is expressed to those around us. His love is completed in us, because he dwells in us, and we have proof of our salvation. As Romans 8:16-17 states, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”

John and the other apostles observation of Jesus’ baptism and hearing God’s statement is crucial to the message of our salvation, and they can attest to the accuracy of the claim. God indwells every person who confesses Christ, and he dwells in God.

“And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (I John 4:14-15)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Verifying That A Message Is From God

I John 4:1-8

During the Second World War, intercepted messages were sometimes changed before being sent to their intended recipients. As a result specific codes were employed to enable the recipient to verify that the message was legitimate. Several battles were lost because someone failed to verify that the orders received were valid. It is just as critical that we verify what we are told in our efforts to serve Christ. John warns of the need to check what we are told.

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1)

Paul Reminded the Corinthians that Satan was originally an angel of light and still appears as such. As a result it shouldn’t surprise us that his servants and followers disguise themselves as ministers of the truth. II Corinthians 11:14-15 declares, “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” II Peter 2 warns that they will be right among us, pretending to be part of us in their effort to destroy us.

John is specific that we need to test the spirit driving the speaker to see if it is of God, because Satan has so many false teachers and prophets. Because Satan is so deceptive, John gives several tests to identify false teachers. He teaches us how to fulfill Paul’s instruction in I Corinthians 14:29, regarding prophecy. “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.” The first test is what do they teach about Christ.

“Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (I John 4:2-3)

Do they believe that Jesus Christ is only natural son of God come in the flesh to save mankind? If they do not, they are not of God. They can believe that Christ is a great teacher and prophet, but if they do not believe that he is the only way of salvation, they are not of God. They are against Christ.

The second test is of the power behind the life. Romans 8:2 tells us we are free from the power of sin “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” As a result, Romans 6:12 commands, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” We have the power to “Just say ‘No’,” as Nancy Reagan said.

II Peter 2:19 says that these false prophets promise victory over sin, but cannot attain it themselves. “While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” The fact that they never attain victory is proof that it is not the Holy Spirit leading them. Following them will only lead to slavery. For example, Alcoholics Anonymous is often referred to as a Christian organization, but they tell people they will always be Alcoholics and must continue in the program to keep from drinking, making them slaves to the program. Check out the results of of the teachings.

“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4)

Check out the message. Is it based on the world’s ideas? Many so called Christian Psychologists base their teachings on the world’s psychology, quoting scriptures that seem to support their teachings. What is the main emphasis of their teaching. If they are of the world, their focus will be on worldly things, because that is what they understand.

“They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.” (I John 4:5)

Sometimes they are able to make their message so closely resemble God’s that we are unsure whether it is or not. If the teaching is popular among people who have little or no interest in serving God, it isn’t from God. Check out the followers to see what the message really is.

The fourth way of determining whether a speaker is lead by the Holy Spirit or an evil spirit is their response to the Word of God. If they reject the scripture for something else, John says we know they are not of God. The teaching is intended to promote wrong.

“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” (I John 4:6)

Someone who teaches that there is another way of salvation than through faith in Christ, rejecting John 3:36, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him,” is not of God, regardless of his titles or reputation. Neither is the spirit which insists on speaking in tongues contrary to God’s instructions in I Corinthians 14:27-28. If he can’t understand that it is God’s command, he doesn’t know what he is talking about, according to verses 37 and 38.

The final test to determine whether a message is from God is the attitude with which it is delivered. If it is not delivered with an attitude of love, it is not from God. Most of I John is devoted to the subject of Christian love, and John reiterates his comment that a lack of love clearly denotes a lack of knowledge of God.

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (I John 4:7-8)

I Corinthians 11:1-14 cites reasons why men shouldn’t have long hair and women should. Verse 15 stresses that although those reasons are true, God has not set such a standard, and his churches should not. We need to be sure that it is God’s message, not just whether it appears to be true. Even prophets of God can make false claims. In Deuteronomy, God gave a means of testing the Old Testament prophets. Here he has given a means of testing those in our day. Paul warned of false teachers and fake letters purporting to be from the apostles in II Thessalonians 2:2. Test the spirit behind the message for your own protection.