Love Your Neighbor

The pastor commented on Sunday that he had more friends when he was in the world than he did in the church. I remember an unsaved friend telling me the same thing. She preferred hanging out with prostitutes and people who did drugs, because they were “loving and accepting.”

I realize that is a cop out, but there is some truth to that. Unbelievers often treat their “friends” better than Christians do. It seems we forget the greatest commandment: love.

I feel bad that “What would Jesus do?” was a fad, because that is a question we should ask ourselves. Are we responding to others the way Jesus would?

I am not of the belief that Christians should not “judge,” but there is a difference between acknowledging that someone is sinning and actually being judgmental.  As humans, it is easy to look down upon those living in sin instead of realizing that, but for the grace of God, that could be me! Even in the Church, people tend to gossip about others instead of going to them and challenging them to keep walking with God. This is not really love for others. It is more focusing on others’ sin in order to get the focus off of your own.

loveyourneighbor

God did not save you because you are a good person. If you are truly saved, it is more than likely because you saw your need and knew that you were wretched without God. Don’t lose sight of that. No one is hopeless, but I believe many have been turned off due to the lack of love they see in those who claim to love God. As John asks us, though, how can we love God when we don’t love our Brothers and Sisters (1 John 4:20)? And I would add, how can we love God when we don’t love everyone that He died to save?

True love is carrying a burden for those who are hell bound. It is interceding for them and being willing to be the hands and feet of Jesus when necessary. There are a lot of hard hearts in the world, but I’m convinced that there are still many who will respond to love.

Love is also seeing the needs of your Brothers and Sisters and looking for ways to lift their burdens. It’s taking time to listen to their struggles when you would rather be doing anything else.

I work with Christians, so I am not around unbelievers that much. I am also not good with words, except on paper, so I struggle to walk up to someone I don’t know and begin a conversation. But I hope I am never too busy to share a kind word or a smile, to recognize a need when there is one and be willing to fill that need. I pray that, every time I walk out my door, people see Jesus in me. This time of year, especially, people are hurting, and they need hope. Don’t neglect to show God’s love wherever He opens the door for you to do so.

I also hope I am never too busy or preoccupied with my own struggles to be available for a Brother or Sister in need. Jesus was constantly giving, and we need to be willing to do so too.

Judgment and Discipline – Part 3

You can read Part 1 of this series here.
You can read Part 2 of this series here.

Again, let’s sum up the first post. While the ultimate judgment comes from God, the Lord Jesus makes it clear that judging another is not only permissible, but is commanded to be fulfilled. However, this judgment is only to be based on issues of the heart. It is not to be done with harshness, but in a way that shows humility as well as a true desire to follow the dictates of Scripture. If Scripture is NOT the basis for judging another, then it is wrong.

And to summarize the second post. Judgment was expected both from the church corporately as well as by individuals who noted another who chose to remain in their sin…It is our responsibility to judge one who remains in their sin. When a person rejects the admonitions of a caring, loving, and humble believer who desires their restoration, that person is to be shunned and treated as an unbeliever. We are not to invite them into our home for fellowship all the while hoping that things will change in their lives. In other words, we do NOT continue to treat them as we would a brother or sister who is striving for a life of holiness.

The bottom line is this in regards to judgment – NO JUDGMENT = NO HOLINESS. NO HOLINESS = NO PURITY. NO PURITY = NO CHURCH. NO CHURCH = NO LIFE. NO LIFE = NO CHRIST!

Now that we have established the responsibility of the church in regards to judgment, how does discipline play its part in a New Testament church? There are not just problems with churches refusing to exercise judgment within local church settings, but very few actually practice any form of discipline. This is probably due to three main reasons. 1) Pastors have failed to teach the entire counsel of God which includes the necessity of discipline. 2) Churches prefer to be nice cozy social clubs where the world can come and look like everybody else who has already preceded them into the building. 3) If the church demands a life of discipline, they understand that their numbers will not necessarily be large and the offerings will get smaller.

The Scriptures teach us there are five (5) steps of discipline. However, before we cover these, it is important to understand what discipline is NOT. Discipline is NOT the means whereby we get rid of those we don’t like in the church! Discipline is NOT a catch-all for those situations where we are too cowardly to provide effective, biblical counsel to those in our congregations. While we will break down the necessary steps for each level of discipline, it is vital that we remember our churches do not belong to us. We are not seeking to establish our little kingdoms. Because the church is that which Christ paid for, we must abide by His commands and seek to establish purity no matter what the cost.

So, what is discipline? It is for the sole purpose of RESTORATION!

Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual RESTORE such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” The word RESTORE means, “to complete thoroughly (i.e. repair literally or figuratively), mend, make perfect, join together, prepare, restore. No person in their right mind would desire to cut off their arm or foot. No more have we any right to simply cut off those who have sinned. If they are a true believer and respond to discipline, we have restored a brother.

2 Tim. 2:25-26, “In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” Again, we are commanded to provide correction or discipline to those who are in opposition to the teaching of the Scriptures.

James 5:19-20, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.” The truth spoken about is the Word of God. When a person is turned from their error, we as believers have helped them to be turned from sin which might entrap them further. If discipline is not practiced though, it is an easier path for the sinner to tread when he or she is not held accountable.

Lord willing, in our next section, we will cover the five (5) steps of discipline and see how each apply to the life of the believer as well as the integrity and purity of the local church.

(…to be continued…)

Judgment and Discipline – Part 2

You can read Part 1 of this series here.

Again, let’s sum up the first post. While the ultimate judgment comes from God, the Lord Jesus makes it clear that judging another is not only permissible, but is commanded to be fulfilled. However, this judgment is only to be based on issues of the heart. It is not to be done with harshness, but in a way that shows humility as well as a true desire to follow the dictates of Scripture. If Scripture is NOT the basis for judging another, then it is wrong.

We come now to the second part of Judgment. How is the matter of judgment addressed by the early New Testament church and in particular by the apostles as they addressed the believers in each local assembly? Were the antics, false teachings, and sin found even in the early New Testament swept under the rug so-to-speak? Do we find the apostles “judging” the lives of those who claimed the name of Christ? Let’s look at a few examples that run contrary to the modern mindset that we are “not to judge.”

1. Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 are a good place to start. They sinned against God and lied to the apostles about a financial matter. Surely, that couldn’t be a really serious matter. After all, I’m sure everybody was doing it to some degree. WRONG ANSWER! God killed them. Judgment fell and it was handled by the church leaders in a way that made it clear to the condemned couple as well as to those in and outside of the church that sin is to be judged.

2. To the Romans, Paul wrote in Romans 16:17, “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.”

3. We move to the environs of Corinth and find a situation where a man was involved in sexual relations with his father’s wife (step-mom). Paul wrote to the believers and encouraged them to embrace this man and just love him back to Jesus. WRONG ANSWER! He soundly rebuked this church for allowing the sin to continue and informed them in harsh terms that if they did not deal with the problem, then he was going to when he arrived. Paul clearly is addressing believers, even those who are deliberately choosing to enjoy the fruits of sin for a season.

1 Cor. 5:9-12, “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside?

4. Gal. 6:1-2, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse will feature significantly in regards to the matter of discipline, but is worth mentioning here as well. For there to be restoration, there must be a time of judgment where the sin of the individual is brought to account.

5. Paul then writes to the believers in Thessalonica and gives three words of admonition and exhortation in regards to judging. In each instance, he is referring to those who claim the name of Christ. He does not say one word about “just accepting them as they are.” In the strongest of language, Paul reiterates the position the early New Testament church was to hold against a brother who does not obey the words taught from Scripture by the apostle. DO NOT KEEP COMPANY WITH THEM! Why? So, they will be ashamed and turn from their sin. No other way to describe this term, but that it is judgment against another believer.

A) 1 Thess. 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.”
B) 2 Thess. 3:6, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.”
C) 2 Thess. 3:14-15, “And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

6. When writing to the young elder, Timothy, Paul says in 2 Tim. 2:25-26, “In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. Again, this judgment is AGAINST those who are believers. They are opposing some aspect of the truth and yet Paul clearly commands a young elder, who was NOT an apostle, to judge those individuals.

7. Finally, Paul wrote to Titus, who was sent to minister to the Cretans. This group of people were notorious for being lazy gluttons. In Titus 3:10-11, he lets Titus know that he is commanded to “Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned.”

Let’s summarize – the early New Testament church looked much different than today’s church. Today’s church is self-seeking and refuses to condemn sin. They want to take one phrase of the Lord Jesus Christ to the exclusion of the remainder of His teachings as well as ignoring the teachings of the apostles. The early New Testament church grew tremendously because people FEARED the Lord. Sinners were afraid to be caught in their sin for it meant being excluded from the protection of the local assembly. Judgment was expected both from the church corporately as well as by individuals who noted another who chose to remain in their sin.

It is our responsibility to judge one who remains in their sin. When a person rejects the admonitions of a caring, loving, and humble believer who desires their restoration, that person is to be shunned and treated as an unbeliever. We are not to invite them into our home for fellowship all the while hoping that things will change in their lives. In other words, we do NOT continue to treat them as we would a brother or sister who is striving for a life of holiness.

The bottom line is this in regards to judgment – NO JUDGMENT = NO HOLINESS. NO HOLINESS = NO PURITY. NO PURITY = NO CHURCH. NO CHURCH = NO LIFE. NO LIFE = NO CHRIST!

(…to be continued…)

Judgment and Discipline – Part 1

Does Matthew 7:1 preclude one true believer from finding a fault or dealing with a matter of sin against another? Was Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount informing His listeners that they were essentially to ignore on-going sin or the slighting of the name or character of the Most Holy One of Israel?

Within much of professing Christianity, there appears to be a perverse pleasure that comes with misquoting Scripture or taking it out of context. This is normally done for one of two reasons. First, it suits the purposes of the individual seeking to defend their position (whether that be poor doctrine or sin). Second, this is used as a tactic for defending the position of another (like a minister) while making sure that nobody is allowed to hold that person accountable.

The problem is compounded when the favorite verse of many evangelicals is trotted out of the stables, “Judge not so you be not judged!” The parading of this verse is expected to answer all those who would dare to hold another “Christian” accountable for their words or actions. Judgment is thus fortunately averted and all is at peace within evangelicalism with the exception of those “nasty” legalistic types who think that Scriptures are to be taken and obeyed literally.

Many have come to DefCon who fit into the categories already listed above. They hear us taking a stand against charlatans, wolves in sheep’s clothing, false prophets, heretics, mockers of the Lord Jesus Christ, etc. and want us to back off their favorite personages. They do not want their hero to be held accountable to the Word of God or even to local churches. If one DARES to speak up, their favorite verse is brought out as some kind of token “proof” that those individuals are allowed to relish in their sins and that those who condone them are right in doing so.

Putting aside personal feelings (which are bound to get hurt) and pet peeves (which do no justice to the entire Word of God), let’s see what the Scriptures have to say about both judgment and discipline. This blog may come in more than one part as we seek to understand what God has to say about these two vital teachings found throughout the New Testament. Let’s begin with Judgment.

1. Judgment ultimately falls under the remit of God for it is He Who puts up one and puts down another. God alone has the power to bring the final judgment which will befall all who reject Christ as Saviour. He alone does what He will and there is none who can stay His hand or even say to Him, “What do you think you are doing?”

2. Judgment fell directly from God in both Old and New Testament settings. However, there are many recorded instances where God chose to use human instrumentality. This is evident in the warnings given, in the admonition against sins committed, and even at times in the administering of that judgment.

3. In Matthew 7:1, Jesus is actually dealing with the actions of the Pharisees and scribes who would condemn a person based on personal, private opinion of another. More times than not, the Pharisees were exceptionally good at studying the Bible and making their own conclusions about the most trivial of matters while leaving important doctrine undone. The Jewish listeners would have understood this very clearly and it was one more reason why the Pharisees hated Jesus. He was stepping on their turf. They wanted to be able to judge, condemn, and castigate their fellow Jews for the minutest of details. This is clearly pointed out when the Lord Jesus Christ addresses the heart issues of His hearers. “You say adultery, I say simply looking with lust is the same. You say murder, but I say that hating another is the same.”

4. Jesus knew the REAL issue surrounding Him during His earthly ministry had nothing to do with the white-washed sepulchers walking around on two feet. The REAL issue was what was in the heart of man. He knew that if the people covered their sins by making a pretense at religion, they would feel they had pacified the wrath of God. This is what the apostle Paul addresses in Romans 2:1-2, “Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things.” Paul knew that the issue was the heart of man. He knew that many were only seeking to judge others based on what they were already doing but in their heart. They were saying one thing and secretly practicing another.

5. In John 7:24, Jesus continues dealing with the religiosity. He says, “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” In other words, any judgment that must be done is to be conducted with no partiality and not based on tradition or mere man-made rules. All judgment must be performed and it must be performed based on the principles that are found in the Word of God.

So, let’s sum up this first post. While the ultimate judgment comes from God, the Lord Jesus makes it clear that judging another is not only permissible, but is commanded to be fulfilled. However, this judgment is only to be based on issues of the heart. It is not to be done with harshness, but in a way that shows humility as well as a true desire to follow the dictates of Scripture. If Scripture is NOT the basis for judging another, then it is wrong.

Does this fit in line with what we at DefCon are seeking to do? The answer must be YES. To date, all that we seek to post here is not for the purpose of nit-picking at others over what many would deem inconsequential matters. Our desire is and always has been that the Lord Jesus Christ be exalted and glorified in all things. When things are being done in what passes for Christianity (particularly in America) that fly in the face of clear Scripture, WE MUST JUDGE. We MUST take a stand against those things which bring harm to the testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. We MUST rise up against those who would pervert the things of Christ. To do otherwise is to deny the commands of our Saviour.

(…to be continued…)

Rewriting Acts – A Relevant Perspective

In light of all the editions and revisions being made to the Word of God in recent years, we understand much of this has been done to suit the belief system of the editors. With that in mind as well as recent events such as Ravi at the Mormon Tabernacle and Driscoll at the Crystal Cathedral, we recommend the following changes. We are certain these will be much more in keeping with the issue of relevancy and contextualization. In addition, it will ensure that people like all those meanies, judgmental Pharisee-types here at DefCon will have to close shop for they will no longer have a Biblical leg to stand on.

In each example, we will start with the original and then put in the suggested revision to match what we are seeing and hearing today.

Let’s start with Acts 2:22, 23, 36, 37 – “22 Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know– 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?'”

REWRITE – “22 Hey dudes, listen up: Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be God did some really cool things that some people might call miracles and then told us that God did it through Him. Well, you guys are smart enough to figure out for yourselves whether that was the case or not. 23 At any rate, you guys have heard about Him before, if nothing else, you use His name all the time at the workplace. Well, the Romans put Him on a cross because He was like, well, um, you know, He was making the kind-hearted, very religious, good-upright Jews unhappy and He even tried to start a few riots. 36 Well, this same Man Who got crucified also claimed to be both Lord and the Christ. We want all you guys to follow Him because after all when you reach the end of your current journey, He will be there to greet all of us with open arms. 37 So when the multitude heard the nice things that the apostles said, they decided to invite them back again to the next Jerusalem conference knowing they could trust these men not to confuse the issues. They knew that these men were not going to rock the boat and demand they do nasty things like repentance. They knew they wouldn’t call them down for their sins but would instead seek to lift up their self-esteem. 42 Because of the really cool programs, and the worldly music they offered at the First Church of Jerusalem, and the contextualized messages that encouraged their depravity such as “Biblical Sex for 40 Days Except the Sabbath” the church grew exponentially and was featured on all the late-night talk shows from Jerusalem to Asia Minor.”

Example 2 – Acts 7:51-55, “51 You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” 54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”

REWRITE – Example 2 – Acts 7:51-55, “51 Listen up fellows. I am not here to offend you in anyway, but you know we have all done a few things we shouldn’t have done in our lives, and I’m sure there are times we all ignore what the Holy Spirit is trying to get us to do, but hey, after all, we are only human and God understands this. 52 There are some people who didn’t treat the old preachers very well, but I’m sure it wasn’t any of you guys or your ancestors. In fact, history tells us that some people just didn’t understand the prophets and tried to get rid of them, but some of the prophets just weren’t with the program anyway. Well, one or two of those old guys told us that Jesus was coming, and He came. He was a really good guy and hung out with really cool guys like our friend Peter. 53 Jesus told us that we have to just learn to love each other and don’t judge, so who am I to tell you what you need to do. 54 When the gathered nice group of people heard these wonderful things they invited Stephen to be the new president of the Jerusalem Ministerial Association. He was then able to go about preaching more of the great news that “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” 55 When Stephen saw how much everybody liked him, he cut a lucrative book deal with Jerusalem Christian Bookpress entitled, “49 Days of Learning to Become a Better Religious You.” His ministry expanded to both Europe and Asia, and he was able to walk about with his head held high knowing that he was accepted in every major religious establishment.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE — Personally, I think it will be a best seller and rewriting church history will be the best thing that could happen for Western Christianity Religiosity. Sadly, there are a few downfalls. True Bible believing Christians will reject it as false, but they are in the minority and it won’t affect book sales as most who claim to be Christians are unlearned when it comes to true doctrine anyway. Secondly, this material probably won’t go over to well with the church members that are being persecuted for their faith. However, I’m sure somebody will find a way to make it culturally accepted and the church will probably expand and still be able to get along with the local governments when they stop being so particular about what they will preach. After all, no government could have an issue with Christians preaching the new message of “love yourself”, “build your self-esteem”, and “We never condemn anybody for God wants you just as you are and we don’t care if you stay that way because that is between you and God.”

PS – Not sure how we can rewrite the persecuting parts of Acts like Paul and Silas in prison, but I’m sure any number of modern preachers could help so that it makes us all look better in the end.

PS2 – Stay tuned for the rewrite for the Health, Wealth, and Prosperity Gospel edition.