Posts Tagged ‘Scripture’

what-is-churchNo doubt, today many christians all over the world will attend a church building but what exactly is church? As many of you know, I am always banging on about being a Berean and have witten a few posts about How to be a Berean in practice. One thing that we as Christians are scared of is having our normal way of thinking challenged biblically. We hear so many times that ‘we are the church and not the building’ and most christians would not disagree with that. However, if we are honest, most believers center their christian life around the building and not around the people. We have a ‘Come and See’ mentality. We invite people to the building, we go to conferences in the building, we encourage people to come to the building for various meetings, people feel guilty if they do not go to the building on Sunday. But what about those people who never want to step foot in the building? How do we reach them? Most of what I have learnt in my Christian life has not been in a building but has been through me searching the scriptures through myself and allowing the Holy Spirit to enlighten me through correct interpretation and rightly dividing the word. Once I did that, I was able to filter out a lot of garbage that I heard whether that be in a building, on TV, on the radio or anywhere else. I’ve mentioned them before but my friends in America host a radio show called Real Talk Radio  and they address real issues and topics that your average ‘church’ do not talk about. None of them attend a church building but do participate in christian fellowship. 

Below is an article written by one of the hosts about ‘Church’.

The Greek word for church is “ecclesia”. Ecclesia, in the original Greek means “called out ones”, “congregation” or “assembly”. Every instance in the KJV where the Greek word “ecclesia”, is found, it’s translated as “Church”, (in most other versions as well) EXCEPT in 3 verses, in the 19th chapter of the book of Acts.

Act 19:23-41 (KJV)

23 And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24 For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25 Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26 Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27 So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28 And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 29 And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. 30 And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 31 And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. 32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “ASSEMBLY” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. 33 And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 34 But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 35 And when the town clerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 36 Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37 For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38 Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “ASSEMBLY”. 40 For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “ASSEMBLY”.

Here they are again:
Acts 19:32 some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “assembly” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
Acts 19:39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “assembly”.
Acts 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “assembly”.

Also, please take notice of the following verse:

Acts19:37 “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”

The actual word CHURCH(ES) is used here, but it is NOT, I repeat NOT translated from the Greek word, “ecclesia”. So WHY is “ecclesia” translated as “assembly” only these 3 times? Remember, every other instance in the KJV when the word “church” is mentioned, it’s translated from the Greek word “ecclesia”. The meaning of the “ecclesia” does not change. Let’s use the word “church” in acts 19 and see it makes sense.

Acts 19:32 some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the “church” was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.

Acts 19:39 But if ye enquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful “church”.

Acts 19:41 And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the “church”.

Do these verses make sense to our western mind? If not, why? It’s because the term “church” is a mistranslation. Now let’s look at some verses where the word “church” is used in the KJV and see if it makes sense when we use the words assembly, congregation or called out ones. (unlike using “church” in acts 19)

Mat 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my “congregation”; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Act 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the “congregation” daily such as should be saved.

Act 8:3 As for Saul, he made havock of the “congregation”, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison

1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the “assembly”, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

1Co 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the “congregation”.

Gal 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the “congregation” of God, and wasted it:

Phm 1:2 And to our beloved Apphia, and Archippus our fellowsoldier, and to the “congregation” in thy house:

3 John 1:9 I wrote unto the “assembly”: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

Rev 2:8 And unto the angel of the “assembly” in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the “congregation” in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.

I could go on, but you get the point. The word “Church” is a mistranslation of the Greek word “ecclesia”. William Tyndale was killed because he translated the terms “church,” “priest,” “do penance” and “charity,” to “congregation,” “senior” (changed to “elder” in the revised edition of 1534), “repent” and “love,”. Why was he killed for these translations by the Catholic Church? To protect their established religious order, and their power OVER the people.

Please don’t believe me, do your own research and ask God to reveal the truth to you.

So I did exactly what they said. I reseached this myself and found it to be true. For those who want to (and should) do their own research, you will find that all places which use the word ‘church’ and the three examples above in Acts 19 use the greek word ‘ecclesia’ and if you want to check the Strongs concordance number it is 1577. However, in  Acts 19:37, where the it states “For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of “CHURCHES”, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess.”, the greek word ‘hierosulos’ is used (Strongs concordance number 2417) which means temple depoiler.

Now am I saying that ‘church’ as is commonly know in and of itself is necessarily bad? Not at all. However, what I would say is that the heavy emphasis that we seem to put on the building seems to be unbiblical and you cannot help but wonder, like William Tyndale, why those words were changed and what was the ulterior motive.

As a Christian who has been ‘around the block’ for some time, I have seen a lot of things, experienced a lot of things and not surprised by a lot of things. In some of my latest posts, you may have seen a change of my tone. This is because I am fed up and frustrated with Christians being fed false hope, being afraid to ask difficult questions in life. Nearly everywhere I turn, I hear messages about blessings, breakthroughs and divine favor, and not truly understanding the reality of being a christian. Because of some of those messages from the pulpit, when something happens like a Christian dying at 37 from cancer or something else disastrous happens in their life that they do not expect to happen to them as a Christian, they become disillusioned with the whole Christian faith because they have been blinded by and fed false promises.

So when I came across an article by C Michael Hatton on the Reclaiming the Mind Blog, it caught my eye because it tackled a question by an unbeliever head on. “Will God protect my children if I decide to come to him?” We could come with a text book answer with “Yes because you are a child of the King and he will protect you and your family” but I know from experience that the Christian life does not guarantee you any protection on earth.

I have placed the article in full below and I pray that you will swallow this hard truth more than a soft lie.

Will-God-Protect-My-Children

Will God Protect My Children?

My friend was not a Christian, but he was seriously considering it. He was one of my wild friends from my younger, crazier days. We used to drive from bar-to-bar looking for nothing but trouble.

We often talked about Jesus. I was one of those dichotomous Christians who did what he could to evangelize while neck deep in the clutches of carnality (now I am just dichotomized in other ways!).

He was an atheist and pretty determined to stand his ground. Initially, our reconnect involved uncomfortable re-telling’s of our former days of sin along with some (compromising?) laughter about such.

But we spent the next year talking about Christ Here we were a decade later having the same types of conversations during a different stage of life. He’s married with kids. I’m married with kids. He’s thinking about bigger, more profound things. I’m teaching about bigger and more profound things.

Hurdle #1 – “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

I was very excited and prayerfully hopeful about what God might be doing in his life. We talked on the phone about once a week. Often, late into the night. During these talks, he would present his objections and questions and I would present the possible answers. Sometimes he put his wife on speakerphone to ask her own questions and listen along.

I sent him a couple of books that really helped him overcome some of his misunderstandings concerning the nature of Christianity. Primarily, he saw Christianity as a legalistic set of “do’s and don’ts.” He had never even come in contact with the idea of grace. Our conversations culminated in his reading of Chuck Swindoll’s Grace Awakening. He was refreshed. Hurdle #1, successfully jumped.

Hurdle #2 – Intellectually Naive

In the backdrop of our conversations was his perception that Christianity was naive, with no place for serious intellectual conversations. We talked much about this and I sent him a copy of one of my favorite apologetics books (save the Open Theology leanings) Letters to a Skeptic byGregory Boyd (I told you I loved Gregory Boyd!). He slowly began to see that the central tenets of Christianity were not only sustainable but ultimately persuasive. Hurdle #2: successfully jumped.

Through this process, his objections were slowly losing steam. It was incredible to see the slow transformation of his mind. The misinformation was corrected as intellectual conviction grew. He had only one step left: an act of the will to stand before Christ and proclaim his helpless condition and ask for mercy. We were almost there.

The Unexpected Question

It was the day of Angie (my sister’s) funeral. He came to my parent’s house along with many other guests after I had preached at the church. He sat by the side of the house, timidly lurking about, not really knowing what to say. He knew Angie well and, like the rest of us, wasdevastated and confused by her passing.

When we finally talked (it was the first time that I had seen him since our reconnect), I could tell something was on his mind, something that the tragic circumstances of that week brought to his mind. We began to talk outside by his car. He mentioned my sermon at the funeral and seemed very appreciative. We talked a bit about Angie and many of our friends that had shown up.

Then things turned serious.

Grief in Dialogue

“Look, Michael,” he said, as if all our conversation until this point was just a deterring prelude to something more, “I get it!”

“Get what?” I responded.

“I get it. Call me whatever you want—a believer, Christian, or whatever… I get it. I believe. I believe all that stuff about Christ.”

Then there was some silence. I knew there was something more coming.

He continued, “But I am scared.”

“Scared of what.”

“You love Jesus and have been doing so much for him,” he said. ”Yet look at what has happened to you. Look at what happened to your sister. Look at the pain of your family. Look at your mom. Especially your mom. Your poor mom. She has always been into Jesus. She is the best example of a Christian I know of. Look at what God is doing to her. I am scared. I am scared of God.”

Will God Protect My Children?

After another period of silence he asked the question of the hour, “Will God protect my children?” He went on, “Will he protect them or is he going to do to me what he did to your mom? Because from where I sit it looks like if you follow the Lord too closely, he brings terrible things into your life. I love my children and I am scared to death that he might hurt them or take them from me because I follow him… to test me or something. I don’t want that.”

Questioning God’s Intentions

My friend was no longer questioning the reality of God, Christ, the resurrection, or even his own need for a savior. He was questioning God’s plan. He was questioning God’s intentions. Simply put, he was scared of God.

This is really the broader question of suffering. But it is also particular. It is not, “Why does God allow suffering in general?” It was not even a “why?” question. It was a “will?” question. Whatwill God do? What can I expect as a child of God? Is He going to require too much of me? It is a question of counting the cost of following the Lord.

How do we answer such questions? How should we answer them to avoid misinterpreting God?

3 Really Bad Answers

Wrong Answer #1

Yes, of course he will protect your children. That is one of the benefits of being a child of God. Sign the dotted line.

I have searched throughout the Scriptures and cannot find any guarantees that when we follow the Lord, we, along with our loved ones, fall under a shield of protection that guarantees physical longevity, health, or safety. Believe me, I have searched for such promises.

My friend Trevin Wax in his book Counterfeit Gospels calls this the “Therapeutic Gospel.” It is the Gospel that offers benevolent guarantees of mundane goodness. It is the Gospel that says that once you have faith in God, you can expect physical blessings and security. About this Trevin says:

“If you believe that coming to Christ will make life easier and better, then you will be disappointed when suffering comes your way. Storms destroy our homes. Cancer eats up our bodies. Economic recessions steal our jobs. If you see God as a vending machine, then you will become disillusioned when your candy bar doesn’t drop. You may get angry and want to start banging on the machine. Or maybe you will be plagued with guilt, convinced that your suffering indicates God’s disapproval of something you’ve done. When we emphasize the temporal blessings that come from following Christ, we plant the seeds for a harvest of heartbreak.” (p. 54)

Wrong Answer #2

No, he will not protect your children. There is a good chance that God will take them from you to test your faith. Its called “bearing your cross.”

This is also an answer we must avoid. Suffering and evil are a part of the fall and are in God’s hands. While God uses suffering to bring us closer to Him and while we should not be surprised by these type of trials (1 Pet 4:12), we don’t know what God is going to do in our lives.

Matthew 5:45 says that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Suffering and pain are part of life. They are a part ofeveryone’s life. There is no way to know what God is going to do. While God is not in the business of making sure everyone lives as long a life as possible, He does desire Christians to live as full a life as possible.

All Christians I know have their share of suffering. All people I know have their share of suffering. The major difference between the suffering of the believer and the suffering of the non-believer is that the believers’ suffering is full of purpose. Romans 8:28 says that God is working all things together for good for those that love him. This “all things” includes suffering.

One thing we can be sure of is that life is going to take many terrible turns, but knowing that these things have meaning and purpose makes it bearable.

Wrong Answer #3

You’re misinterpreting things here. God was not involved in the death of my sister. God wanted my sister to live, but she decided to take her own life. God is not in control of the well-being of your children either. He has a “hands-off” policy on these types of things.

This is often referred to as “Open Theology”. It puts God in the cheerleading section of the game of life. Many people do this so that they can live with the reality of evil. If God could nothave stopped what happened, then He’s acquitted (in their mind) of any wrongdoing. However, this is not the God of Christianity. The God of Christianity is a God who is sovereign overeverything that happens. Daniel 4:34-35 is one of the great passages in all of Scripture speaking of God’s sovereignty:

“His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’”

Even Satan has to come to God for permission to act (Job 1:6-12).

God’s “Perfect” Plan and His “Redeeming” Plan

This does not mean that evil and suffering are part of God’s perfect plan, but they are a part of His redeeming plan. Death, sin, and suffering are all evil. They were brought into the world when man fell in Eden. But God’s redeeming plan uses sin to right the wrong.

This is why God brought the greatest evil in the history of the world upon His Son. What seemed to be a defeat when Christ died on the cross was a wonderful expression of God’s love, redemption, and sovereignty introduced, not by the will of man, but by the predetermined plan of God (Acts 4:27-28). God is in control of all things, even our suffering.

My Answer

I don’t know if God will protect your kids in the way that you desire. I really don’t. I am sorry.

I had no guarantees for my friend. There are no prenuptial agreements that we can ask God to sign.

In John 21 (I love this story), Christ has already risen from the grave. He is talking to Peter and has some hard news. He tells Peter, in essence, that he is going to suffer and die for his faith. Peter, curious and somewhat agitated, looks at his friend John, looks back at Christ and says, “What about him. Is he going to die too?” That is where we are. We come to Christ and say:

  • What about [fill in the blank]?
  • What are you going to do?
  • What is in store for me if I follow you?
  • Are you going to protect my children?

I suppose that the Lord’s response to Peter is the best answer we are ever going to get. Christ said to Peter “If I want him [John] to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22). In the Greek, this is emphatic:

You follow me. Take your eyes off the details of the future and you follow me. I have John under control. You follow me. Your children are mine and I love them. Youfollow me. I don’t follow you. You follow me.”

We don’t come to Christ because of guarantees of health, wealth, or protection from physical danger. We come to him because He is Lord. We don’t become Christians because of fringe benefits; we become Christians because Christianity is true. We come to Christ and bow our knee knowing He loves us enough to die for us. We come to Him knowing that His plan, whatever that may be, is full of love, purpose, and wisdom. We come to Him because of the guarantees of the life to come, not the guarantees of this life.

secular-sacred

 

Look at the image above and be honest. If you turn left, what do you expect to find? And turn right and what do you expect to find? And more importantly, where do you think God resides most.

TURN LEFT: Most people will think this involves going to work, school, college, going to a bar or pub with friends, going to the movies, doing sports, going to the gym, engaging in your hobbies, playing secular music, going to the Notting Hill Carnival and dancing is what would normally be in ‘Secular’ camp

TURN RIGHT: Most people people would think that church, prayer, fasting, reading the bible, attending Christian conferences etc would all appear in the ‘Sacred’ camp

And if most of us as Christians are honest, we think that God is more on the right hand side than the left.

The video below gives a quick summary

As the video says, we as believers will say that we know that our Christianity should be displayed in all of our life but subconsciously, we divide our lives into sacred and secular and into areas which are more spiritual than other areas.

One of the things that I said that I learnt last year in this post was that:

People go through some really hard things in life and sometimes, it can be so comfortable to live in the church/Christian bubble without ever really engaging in the culture or the real world with real people who have real problems. I don’t want to be so involved in churchianity that Christ is in the background and is not relevant at all to the man on the street. I want Christ to be seen in me IN ALL of my daily life and that may mean sometimes doing stuff that traditionally ‘church folk’ don’t do. God is interested in the whole man.

I have had a few transitional points in my Christian journey and I believe that right now, I am in the middle (not there yet) of another one. The Holy Spirit has been teaching me a lot and most of it is not by me turning right to the sacred camp. Just by looking at people lives or watching the news makes me look at things with a Christian worldview. I have also been frustrated sometimes with the ‘Come and See’ mentality of churches. The fact of the matter is the vast majority of unbelievers have no interest in church or church events so what happens to them? How do we impact the culture?

I am involved with an employee network which aims to promote fairness for Black and Asian employees so that we are represented at all levels and so that there is true diversity, especially at senior levels. As it stands right now, it has been acknowledged by senior leaders that this is not the case. Is this less important to God than me attending a mid week prayer meeting?

In one of my old churches, whenever there was a public holiday, the churches would have some kind of convention where it was expected that members would attend and I always used to think to myself, why don’t they just let people stay at home and spend quality time with their families instead of expecting people to attend church all the time?

On March 22, 2013 at Convocation, North America’s largest weekly gathering of Christian students, Lecrae talked about erasing the secular-sacred divide. He pointed out that everything is God’s, so there shouldn’t be a division between our role in society and our role in the church. As representatives of God’s kingdom, we should engage, love, & rehabilitate every aspect of today’s culture for His purposes. Check out the video below

So I would like to summarise this post with Colossians 3:17 which states

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Those words ‘whatever’ and ‘everything’ mean………..you guessed it. ‘whatever’ and ‘everything’. Not just ‘church’ stuff.

I would also recommend listening to this podcast from Matt Reagan

 

 

Following on from my post on Biblical Preaching or a Self-Help/Motivational seminar disguised?, I found a post from Dan Delzell on the Christian Post addressing this very topic. Because it articulates the differences so well, I thought I would post the article in its entirety. Please read and then examine the sermons that you are listening to

There are tremendous differences between “motivational speaking” and “biblical preaching.” In America today, many churches offer one or the other. One approach leaves people “encouraged” in their emotions and in their “self-esteem.” The other builds up Christians in the Gospel as the Holy Spirit applies the Scriptures to the hearts and minds of the hearers.

Motivational speakers tell a lot of stories and seek to sway through emotion and pop psychology. Biblical preachers tell some stories, but above all seek to have people influenced by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God. Motivational speakers may or may not throw in a few Bible verses to “salt” their main topic. Biblical preachers rely totally upon the Scriptures to “drive” the content and to feed God’s sheep. The Bible is the basis of their message.

Motivational speakers seek to never speak of things which might offend anyone in attendance. Biblical preachers seek to proclaim God’s Word with a loving heart as they rely upon the Holy Spirit to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That is, to apply the message of forgiveness to those who are repentant….and to apply the weight of the Law toward anyone content to continue sinning. After all, if I am never offended by my own behavior, I am certainly not growing in Christ….and I am living in denial. Motivational speakers do not tend to think about the Law and the Gospel when presenting a message. Instead, they attempt to persuade people to change their behavior.

Motivational speakers are good at knowing how people think and behave….but not good at “rightly dividing the Word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) They reach the level of man’s emotions with their appeals, but they are not equipped with the proper biblical knowledge to lead people into the realm where souls meet God and then grow in Christ.

Motivational speaking tends to be man-centered and people-pleasing. Biblical preaching is Christ-centered and God-honoring. Motivational speaking is often aimed largely at unbelievers. Biblical preaching typically aims where St. Paul aimed in his epistles….that is, it aims mainly at believers.

New Testament worship services are designed for believers….with a loving and open heart for unbelievers to also attend in hopes of them receiving Christ as Savior. Motivational seminars are aimed at anyone who will help to fill the auditorium.Motivational speakers are reluctant to say, “The Bible says.” They realize that many of their hearers don’t believe in the inerrancy of Scripture. Biblical preachers have taught God’s people to trust Scripture to be the inerrant “God-breathed” message of truth from the Lord. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Motivational speakers need to have personal charisma. Biblical preachers need to be humble in order to be anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit. Charisma influences emotions in the direction of self-actualization. The Holy Spirit influences the soul in the direction of godliness.

Biblical preaching lifts up Jesus Christ. Motivational speaking tends to exalt man’s ability to fix his own issues. Biblical preaching proclaims the Gospel message of Christ’s death and resurrection for our salvation. Motivational speaking might tack on “the sinner’s prayer” at the end of a “how-to” message.

Biblical preaching produces a holy awe of God and a deep respect for His Word. Motivational speaking tends to be light, fun, humorous, and entertaining. It’s “showtime” when the motivational speaker steps to the podium. It’s “flow time” when the biblical preacher steps forward. He has spent much time in prayer asking the Holy Spirit to fall upon his hearers and speak to them when the Word goes forth.

Motivational speakers usually have a certain number of steps they want you to follow to improve your life. Biblical preaching is not that simplistic. St. Paul explained biblical preaching with these words: “When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Cor. 2:1-5)

Biblical preaching freely discusses heaven, hell, and the immortality of the soul. Motivational speaking never addresses hell….and if heaven gets discussed, it is done so in a way that suggests most people of many religions will eventually make it to heaven.

Motivational speakers tend to deliberately or unintentionally place the spotlight upon the messenger. Biblical preachers want the hearers to celebrate Jesus and Him alone. As Oswald Chambers wrote, “Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.”

Does this mean that every minister who attempts to engage in biblical preaching is doing so with a loving heart and a life filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit? No. If a minister is living “in the flesh” by intentionally feeding his sinful nature, his message will not be saturated and dripping with the grace of God and a Spirit-wrought love for the hearers. This is why St. Paul told Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16) Notice that his “life” was highlighted even before his “doctrine.” It is easier to present messages that are doctrinally correct than it is to live a holy life, but both are necessary in the life of a pastor and preacher.

There seem to be many more Americans today who hunger for motivational speaking than for biblical preaching. A taste for the Word can only be developed by regularly feeding on the Word….and by holy living….and most of all, by a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. A love of the world produces no such hunger. We are all sinners, and prone to love the world far more than we love the Word. D.L. Moody said this regarding the Bible: “This Book will keep me from sin, and sin will keep me from this Book.”

The temptation for the minister in America today is not only to water down the message….but to change the message altogether. The test for all of us who have been called by God to preach the Word is to do so faithfully and with a heart full of love for God, for believers, and for the lost. If we do this the right way by God’s grace, then unbelievers will be moved by the Holy Spirit to believe….and believers will be moved by the Holy Spirit to love the Lord and to serve others with their gifts.

When we get charged up by a motivational speaker, the results tend to be superficial and flimsy. When you and I are motivated by the Holy Spirit through the faithful proclamation of His Word, the results are spiritual and eternal.

God will help us to rely upon “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) rather than upon a slick and popular presentation of humanistic moralism. One approach equips the saints for works of service. The other approach strokes the ego of the speaker and the attendees.

God is not interested in our ego. He wants His children to “live a life worthy of the Lord” so that we “may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened will all power according to His glorious might.” (Colossians 1:10,11) There is no room for ego in biblical preaching. There is plenty of room for ego in motivational speaking.

Humanistic motivation cannot produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Only God can do that….and He does so largely through the teaching and preaching of His Word, as well as through one-on-one encouragement, assistance, and prayer.

St. Paul instructed Timothy: “Preach the Word.” (2 Timothy 4:2) This is what is needed in America today….preachers of the Word whose hearts are filled with the love of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

God will help those of us who are pastors and preachers as we proclaim the message of the apostles. Not one of us is sufficient for the task. Only His grace can accomplish the work in us and through us. Here is tip for all of us….read Paul’s letters….and then go forth to motivate people with those words and with that approach to encouraging the saints. The world is filled with motivational speakers….God’s church deserves to have biblical preaching. That’s why He ordained it for His people.

Notice how Paul’s letters tend to always begin with many examples of what God has done for us in Christ….rather than jumping right into a “quick-fix” of what we get to do for Him. That’s the right order. That’s the biblical order and emphasis. God’s work is what matters….both in our salvation, as well as in our Christian life of discipleship. It’s “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27) Motivational speaking jumps right into what you need to do to get right in your behavior. The Bible presents a far better approach than “self-help.” The Scriptures deliver Jesus to us. The Bible is the “manger” in which Christ is laid before us so that we can gaze upon Him and be filled with the life of God.

Self-esteem is sought by those who have not yet “died to self” and risen to live for Christ. Healthy believers, on the other hand, hunger for God’s Word like a baby hungers for food. “Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” (1 Peter 2:2,3) Jesus never seeks to build up a person’s self-esteem. That is a dead end street as far as God is concerned. St. Paul said it best: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20) That experience is a far cry from a life of self-esteem that needs to be constantly propped up by a motivational speaker.

May the Lord open our eyes to see the huge difference between these two approaches….and may He then empower us by the Holy Spirit to do God’s work in God’s way. Anything less is just a cheap counterfeit, and is has no business being performed in the church of the living God.

If you haven’t noticed, a lot of what is known as preaching today is no more that ‘self help seminars’ masquerading as the gospel. A lot of this self help is how a person can have a financial breakthrough and will tell lies about supernatural wealth transfers and/or debt cancellations as can be sen below

Unfortunately when things do not materialise, many Christians turn a blind eye and do not ask questions.

On the BBC, there is a story titled ‘Who wants to be a millionaire?’ where it states:

In these tough economic times, thousands are flocking to wealth creation seminars and purchasing their products in the hope they will unlock the key to becoming rich and “financially free”, like their gurus. But are these courses costing attendees more than they are worth?

“According to the plan, I will be a millionaire in 10 years’ time.

“I owe £4,000 on my credit card, but I will be financially free. It’s going to happen,” says Janice Geddes, a 38-year-old nursery nurse from Ilford, Essex.

She has an unshakeable belief that the wealth creation courses she has paid thousands to attend will teach her the skills and mindset she needs to be rich.

Every day she wakes at 05:45 and spends her time doing a series of exercises known as “wealth conditioning”, before leaving for work at 07:00.

If you want to read the full article and see the video, click here.

The sad thing about this is that though this article is nothing about Christianity, you could easily go to a christian conference and you wouldn’t notice any difference. You will be told to decree and declare, and to speak positive confessions which in most cases give people false hope.

Unfortunately, there is truly a famine for the word of God all over the world. Yes we have many churches and yes we have many sermons but it really does take discernment to wade through the mess to know what is truly a word from God and the only way to recognise the fake is to know how to study the truth

2 Corinthinans 11:12-15 makes it VERY clear that Satan will come in the Christian arena disguised as the real deal with all the christian jargon etc but under it all, Christ has nothing to do with it.

12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

This is why one of the best litmus tests that I use is when someone is preaching, who is at the center stage. With the ‘gospel of you’, it is very man centered and even though this is expected in the secular world with their self help gurus and seminars, this should not be the case with biblical preaching and teaching.

One of the worse offenders of motivational speaking disguised as biblical preaching is Joel Osteen and you just need to put his name in the search bar on this blog to see some of my blogs about him. But if you think that his (and other self-help/motivational messages are biblically sound, click here to take part in a bible quiz.

Remember, at the end of the day, its all about Him and NOT you.

To be continued……

If you know anything about my blog, I am hot on true doctrine and on rightly dividing the Word of Truth. But lately God has been working on my heart on how does that true doctrine work its way in real life. In my post ‘So what have I learned in 2013?‘. I stated:

People go through some really hard things in life and sometimes, it can be so comfortable to live in the church/christian bubble without ever really engaging in the culture or the real world with real people who have real problems. I don’t want to be so involved in churchianity that Christ is in the background and is not relevant at all to the man on the street. I want Christ to be seen in me IN ALL of my daily life and that may mean sometimes doing stuff that traditionally ‘church folk’ don’t do. God is interested in the whole man.

One of the reasons why I have not been posting as much as I personally would like to is because I have been going through my own difficulties. Its as if God is putting me the very things that I wrote about…….but in it all, I still have that joy in Christ that surpasses all understanding.

I mentioned my friends across the pond who host Real Talk Radio  in my post about Armor Bearers (if you are not afraid to have your thinking challenged, I would STRONGLY recommend you listen to some of these show discussions). One of the radio hosts is a guy called Elgin Bailey and on a couple of their shows, Elgin gave his testimony about where he is coming from and about his journey. Guys, this is where true Christianity is played out. Not just in church. Have a listen to where God has brought Elgin from

Part 1

Part 2 (from Elgin’s childhood)

Its so important that we remember where people are coming from and sometimes this may mean working with people THROUGH their struggles. There are so many people who have problems and guess what? They need the gospel too. Somehow we need to be able to bridge the gap between a hard life and a transformed life through Christ. Maybe they need to hear YOUR story.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. (Revelation 12:11)

 

Did you know that you make the bible say anything you want? One of the main problems that we see from the pulpit and from Christians in general is that we used eisegesis instead of exegesis. What do I mean? What many people do is start with THEIR thoughts and their views and then read that INTO scripture instead of starting with scripture and read OUT of it, not having any pre conceived thoughts or ideas and letting the scripture speak for itself, taking into account the historical context. A typical example of eisegesis is with Pastor Clarence McClendon in this clip at the 1:15 mark

Here he starts with a view of the prosperity gospel and then reads INTO 3 John 2 where it states that:

” Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”

But you only need to go back one verse to see who he was talking to

The Elder,

To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

John was not trying to make a doctrine about prosperity here. All he was doing was greeting Gaius. It would be the equivalent of us today writing a letter saying “I hope everything is going well with you”. That is all

However, if I told them that the White Camelia Knights of the Klu Klux Klan use the same process to justify doing what they do, I’m sure they would not agree. For example on their website which can be viewed here, they have started with their racist views and then use scriptures such as the below to justify their views

Exodus 33:16 “So shall we be separated: I and thy people, from all the people that are upon the face of the Earth”

Leviticus 20:24 ” I am the Lord they God which have separated you from other people”

Now some may say that this is extreme but it really no different than what is preached Sunday after Sunday in many churches. It is so easy for us in the western world to imprint our western thoughts INTO scripture which is where many false doctrines begin.

Francis Chan explains the difference between eisegesis and exegesis below

I saw this video below which is mainly for those who are preaching sermons but the general princple here should be used by every Christian when interpreting the scriptures and I would encourage every Christian (not only preachers) to use these very useful tips and guidelines when studying the bible. It could put a lot of fasle teachers out of business.

So next time you hear your preacher talking of Blessings, Breakthroughs and Divine Favor and your destiny which seems to be the norm now, ask yourself, are they reading that stuff INTO the scripture or OUT of the scriptures?