Tag Archive: Acts 20


Eternity is Not a Movie

kids-watching-tvAs a child, I remember watching movies with my parents, often waiting for the moment my dad would call out some part that made no sense to him.  “Why would that person really do that?” or “There’s no way that person could still be alive after falling that far!” and other like phrases were regularly interjected into the storyline courtesy of my dad’s critical mind.  His comments were not very helpful and definitely became a distraction throughout our family film nights.  A loving, but slightly irritated “Shhh…” was a common addition at the end of each remark.

When viewing a movie, it’s hopefully obvious to most that the scenes in the script often times don’t happen in real life. That, of course, is the point of many storylines. But to my dad, it was almost like a game to see if he could catch things that didn’t make sense.  In reality, does it really matter in a fictional story if a person makes an unrealistic choice to further the plot line?  To my dad it sure did, however to most people, probably not.  And although movies can be very powerful vehicles for teaching false beliefs, for a writer to have a character make a few illogical decisions that add a little extra drama or to move the storyline along is nothing more than what happens in a make believe story written by men.

I can’t help but wonder if there are those within the church who view those willing to point out the error running rampant throughout today’s professing Christianity the same way.  I wonder if many see those moved to lovingly warn and teach the truth of God’s Word as distractions from the unfolding story of today’s ecumenical enigma calling itself Christianity? Too often, I believe those willing to thoughtfully and biblically point out the dangers coming into the church are thought of somewhat like the peanut gallery, like movie critics talking about things that don’t quite matter. But is that really the case? There’s literally a plotline penned by the enemy for this dark and dying world and sadly many Christians are playing a part in the story.

The enemy of our souls desires to see the entire world reject the True and Living God, however those who are born again are kept by the power of God and are sealed by the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing their entrance into the Kingdom of God.  (2 Corinthians 1:22, 2 Corinthians 5:5, Ephesians 1:141 Peter 1:5) So what is an enemy to do with those who he cannot keep from eternal life?  The answer is simple- make them as ineffective as possible. Confusion and subterfuge are both starring roles in his script.

One of Satan’s many seductive strategies in keeping saints sedentary is promoting a plotline of Scripture synthesized with his own diabolical doctrines. The title might be something like “New and Improved Christianity-Joining Hands with the World”. Thankfully, some within the body of Christ do see the last days plan for an integrated and seductive move to ecumenism and are greatly saddened to watch some who are even part of the true body of Christ seeking after the enemy’s goals. For those who have become seduced by Satan’s synthesized storyline, it’s as if those warning the saints are simply viewed as antagonists interrupting their comfortable entertainment. May we instead return to the old paths, to the Word of God alone! May we diligently seek to understand the true direction of this world and the post-modern church.

When a person has been truly born again by the Spirit of God, passing from death to life through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, a new “story” is brought to light, one revealing a very real contrast between the True and Living God and the god of this world. In the script revealed in Scripture, one role that repeatedly enters the scene is the watchman always willing to warn when danger approaches. (Psalm 127:1, Isaiah 21:6, Ezekiel 3:17, Ezekiel 33:2,6,7)  The watchman should not be “cast” by only a select few. In fact, the heart of a watchman should, at some degree, be within every believer. After all, same Spirit of the Lord that came upon the watchmen of the Old Testament is the same Holy Spirit indwelling all New Testament saints. The Spirit Himself is the Spirit of Truth, and Jesus, filled with the Holy Spirit without measure, often warned those around Him, especially those claiming to be the religious rulers.

Rather than being viewed as an annoying critic, always pointing out incidentals and nitpicking at gnats, the role of warning the flock is one that is central throughout Scripture. To love the truth of God’s Word means we are going to hate evil, lovingly exposing the doctrines and practices that have the potential to cause the body to remain anemic, unable to grow and be strong in the Lord.  In Ephesians 5, the Holy Spirit through Paul writes, “[H]ave no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” Eph. 5:11. Again in Colossians 1 it says, “[Jesus] we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:28.IMG_12017981708482 May we never allow the spirit of the age, the prince of the power of the air, to dissuade us from the high calling we have in Christ Jesus!

Although we all have different roles within the body of Christ, we are all called to grow in every area. Sure, some may have the gift of helps, but we are all called to be helpful. Some are given the gift of evangelism, however we are all called to share the good news of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  Do we not even train our children to recognize the signs of danger?  Why? So we can teach them to be nitpicky and critical of everything around them?  No. We teach them to understand the signs so they remain safe and healthy and can continue growing with a mind that can think critically, as well as carefully and discerningly navigate the world around them. We should always desire to allow the Holy Spirit to teach them how to utilize God’s Word, the Bible, as their compass, no matter where they go.  To do otherwise is really to hate a child, and so it is within the body of Christ.

Sometimes a script’s blunders and illogical actions may very well detract from a movie’s overall enjoyment level, however in the end the actions and characters are simply penned by writers. And although we must be on guard against many of today’s movie messages, regardless of what happens to the characters themselves, they are simply that, characters in a movie.  Even if someone pretends to get shot and die, that actor is not really dead.  At the end of the day, he will go home and live his life.  Here lies the difference between simply critiquing a movie and being a loving watchman in the Spirit!  In real life, men have eternal souls. We will all live forever! Eternity is not a fictional story written by some man, rather the truth revealed to every heart and written by the God who created the universe in six short days some 6,000 years ago.  How important is it that we be sure to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth both to those within and without the body of Christ? I would argue it is vitally important!  It’s not a matter of whether or not mankind will remain forever, but where we will spend eternity that is at stake.

There is nothing critical or nitpicky in lovingly warning and teaching those around us according to the whole counsel of God. Having a watchman’s heart is a crucial role to play, especially in the confusing times in which we live. May we all be willing to speak the truth in love, knowing our redemption draws near, knowing that this life is much more than a movie. May we never forget that eternity is the destiny of all who step onto this world’s stage. “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

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Three Legged StoolThe Threefold Strategy

Yes, the sword is the principal offensive weapon, yet in any war a good strategy is arguably just as important as the chosen weapon. If an attack is poorly planned, even the best of weaponry may render the assault useless. Praise God this is only true for the physical realm! God’s Word will always accomplish what He desires no matter our poor planning. Nevertheless, our desire should always be to properly prepare our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The spiritual strategies vary throughout our walk with the Lord. There are times to move forward offensively in the power of the Spirit and other times to wait patiently on our Lord’s direction. However, in general, there is a threefold plan that should be taught to and demonstrated by every believer, one that will serve as the framework for every chapter in our walk with Lord. This strategy is much like a three-legged stool. If only one or two of the legs are employed, the believer will not have as firm a foundation as intended, leaving him and those he disciples at best anemic and at worst open to deceptive doctrines.

This overarching, threefold plan is essential to every believer’s growth and effectiveness in Christ and is revealed to us in Colossians 1. Here Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, instructs born again believers in the mysteries of Jesus, specifically Christ in us, the hope of glory. How fitting that this ever important strategy is found in one of Scriptures most beautiful passages regarding the amazing mystery of Christ, our great God and Savior, literally indwelling the hearts and minds of His children! In Colossians 1:27-28, the Lord wrote through Paul, “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus…” Colossians 1:27-28

The threefold strategy for every believer is clear: preach, warn, and teach every man. Over the last several decades, many believers around the world have grown weak, choosing to embrace a man-centered, psychological, and social gospel instead of simply preaching and teaching Christ from the Word of God. Thankfully there are a few fellowships that have stood firm on the God’s Word. They do a good job of preaching and teaching Jesus, but unfortunately even many of these have chosen to ignore the other leg of the stool, not warning the flock of God in all wisdom. All three areas must be exercised for each individual believer and the body of Christ as a whole to be as healthy as possible.

  • Preaching Jesus: Truly our preaching should not simply be for doctrine’s sake. Doctrine is essential, but serves a higher purpose than itself. Doctrine is the framework of truth.  It serves as the proper paving stones that pave the godly road, ultimately leading its hearers to the Lord of true doctrine, Jesus Christ, the living Word of God! A person or fellowship that does not point men to Jesus is pointing them to men. To grow in Christ we must preach Jesus! “But you have not so learned Christ; if so be that you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus…” Ephesians 4:20-21
  • Teaching in all wisdom: Too often there is a temptation to embrace the world’s methods and patterns in teaching the flock of God. Sadly, there seems to be more and more pressure for the saints of God to regurgitate the pabulum of this sinful world. God’s wisdom is so far above man’s philosophies! Why should we feel such a need to apologies for the unadulterated Word of God?  We are called not only to preach Jesus, but lovingly and truthfully teach others the Word of God, being led by and leading others to eat from the hand of God, not this world’s feeding trough. “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.” 1 Corinthians 1:27
  • Warning every man in all wisdom: “Wisdom cries aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: “How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.” Proverbs 1:20-22. Even solid, Bible teaching churches too often seem to fall into the error of not warning the flock of the dangers of false teachers and heretical teachings. Some argue that we must simply focus on the truth, not worrying about the false teachers within the body of Christ. But Peter warned the saints of Satan’s desire to devour as many as possible (1 Peter 5:8), and Paul warned the Ephesian elders that grievous wolves would enter even among them, drawing away disciples after themselves, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29). Many times the Treasury Department analogy is used to reinforce the importance of  focusing on the truth. While it’s true that those working for the Treasury Department must carefully study real US currency in order to detect counterfeits, it’s just as true that the same workers must know how the counterfeiters operate, i.e. make their bills, circulate them, etc. As believers we must study, know, love, preach, and teach the truth of God’s Word, but we are not to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11) According to Colossians 1, we must warn the flock of God in all wisdom. Interestingly, many faithful followers of Christ are very concerned about warning the world of the Hell they are heading towards. Why is it that somehow we lose so much of that concern when it comes to the body of Christ? Should we not be more concerned for the body of the One who delivered us from death to life? Speaking of the body, consider a physical body that is unable to fight off infection properly. Certain cells in the blood spend all of their time identifying, mapping, and destroying enemies of the body, all to the goal of keeping it healthy. Why should it be any different in the body of Christ?

The Ultimate Goal: No Christian is called to preach, teach, and warn simply for the sake of preaching, teaching, and warning. Colossians 1:28 makes that clear. Learning how to utilizing all three of these facets is an essential strategy, requiring diligent dedication.  We are called to employ all three with the purpose of presenting every man perfect, that is to say, thoroughly furnished and mature in Christ Jesus. In reality when we only choose to employ one or two of the strategies revealed in Colossians 1:27-28, both we and the hearers lose out on growing in maturity as quickly as we should. We lose out on a closer and more intimate walk with our loving King! God wants His children growing to have a healthy and utter dependence (not independence) on our Lord and Savior, the Head of the body, Jesus Christ. Regardless of what’s popular in today’s professing churches, may we seek to faithfully feed the flock of God; preaching Jesus, teaching, and warning every man all because of our love for Jesus and a true love for His body!

Recently there was a biblical discussion between several men from two totally opposite camps of belief.  Both claim to hold to God’s Word and both claim to desire the truth above all else, however both cannot be correct.  When dealing with the subject of whether or not God created the universe, there is really no division among  professing Christians.  All those claiming to be followers of Jesus Christ would join arms here, yet the separation occurs as soon as the discussion moves beyond this point.  This recent panel conversation was no exception.

Some in the group expressed their belief in a literal six-day creation around six thousand years ago.  The others clung tightly to a long-earth view, stating that the Bible leaves plenty of room for the common evolutionary belief of billions of years along with death and suffering as the major agent used by God.  What was most interesting was not how quickly some abandoned the Word of God to make their points, nor how much the long-age spokesmen thought they were honoring God.  What was most amazing was how blindly those who purported the old universe doctrine claimed to be neither evolutionary, nor hold to any teachings majorly different than those who aligned themselves with a literal reading of Genesis 1-11.

It Does Matter: Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist and self-proclaimed day-age Christian, was one such guest. He is either ignorant in his assertions or disingenuous when stating that he is not an evolutionist at any level.  He also said he really believes no differently than Ken Ham, who was also on the panel and unashamedly holds to a literal interpretation of Genesis 1.  If it weren’t so sad, it would almost be funny. Although Hugh Ross claimed no major differences in belief, there are actually about 10 billion of them. After Dr. Ross’ proclamations, two others from the panel joined  in, making similar statements.  After pitching his tent on the same side as Hugh Ross, Sean McDowell, son of Josh McDowell, smiled and boldly proclaimed that it really doesn’t matter how God made the universe as long as we believe that He did.  Sean said he chooses instead to focus on how much God loves us and has a purpose and plan for our lives.  Even though Sean and others say it doesn’t matter, there could be nothing further from the truth.  It really does matter when and how God created the universe.

Sean McDowell’s Log Cabin: As an intro after a commercial break, TBN (the host channel of the creation discussion) played a clip of Sean McDowell talking to the camera as he stands inside a beautifully decorated log cabin.  The point of the video is to reveal how obvious it is that the universe has a designer, but Sean makes an unfortunate mistake.  Paraphrasing his video monologue, Sean asks the viewer to pretend he stumbles upon a cabin after walking through the woods.  The door is unlocked and the viewer chooses to enter.  Looking around, the hiker notices his favorite foods are on the dinner table and everything inside is perfectly prepared for his tastes.  Sean then moves to strike, pulling the analogy together by asking,  “What can we deduce from the cabin being filled with everything that suits us?”  He then explains that we should conclude that the cabin must be designed for the hiker.  And just as the cabin is intentionally built  for him, so it is with the universe. Everything in this world and universe fit perfectly to provide all that we need in a way that reveals a master designer. While this might be an adequate intelligent design argument, there are a few things Sean has left out. More will be said about this in a little bit.

Analogies: Just as it is with other analogies, Sean has a starting point or belief system and his starting point is what dictates the analogy.  Although analogies are good tools for making points, they often times also reveal the speaker’s own presupposed philosophies.  It’s also worth noting that no analogy can completely cover all tenants of a person’s belief system.

Ray Comfort’s Airplane and Parachute: Another analogy given by Ray Comfort unfortunately also missed the mark even though he is someone who has consistently held to a literal reading of Genesis 1 and believes the earth to be around six thousand years old.  Ray routinely uses an airplane flight to show the importance of  the Gospel of God. Although a good analogy in demonstrating the necessity of putting on Christ (like a parachute) for the right reasons, the story falls short when used in conjunction with the importance of whether or not creation happened just as Genesis 1 plainly spells it out.

An Unnecessary Contrast: Ray began his wrap-up of the two hour panel discussion by saying that although the conversation of how God created is an important one, if you were on a plane that was broken and ready to crash, you would not turn to the stewardess handing you a parachute to ask her the age of the plane.  Instead you would gladly put on the parachute to save your life. Again, while on the surface this might sound reasonable, the decision to contrast creation and the Gospel actually does more harm than good.

Here’s why: Ray’s comments separate the method of creation and the method of salvation, yet fail to consider that both reveal the character of the same God.  In actuality, neither the Gospel nor creation are the center of the Christian life. Granted, the Gospel is the good, rather the great news of God’s amazing act to buy back all who will come to Him, and without it we would have no hope of eternal life. But in reality, God Himself is the center; God Himself, revealed in Jesus Christ, is our life.  His character is what matters most, and His character is demonstrated and revealed in all He says and does.

An Old Plane and an Old Parachute:  Since much of this post is filled with other people’s analogies, I’d like to use a couple of my own. Let’s say the stewardess tells the passenger the plane is old, really old and that’s why it’s going down.  What if the parachute and the plane are the same age?  What if, as you’re free falling with your chute carefully strapped to your body, then pull the rip cord only to see moths fly out along with dust and only scraps of silk cloth remaining?  In your mind you’re thinking, “I guess the age of the plane really does matter.”

The Incompetent Maker: What  if the plane isn’t in disrepair due to its age?  Perhaps the maker and maintainer of the plane are at fault. Maybe this person, although very intelligent, wasn’t quite smart enough to make and maintain the vehicle to last very long in the sky. What if the person was basically incompetent? Then what if the one who made and maintained the plane was also the one who supplied the parachute?  (This is probably the most closely related analogy to the God who created the universe and also is the Savior of mankind.)  If the plane is going down, then one who made and maintained it did not do as good of a job as he could have.  If this is the case, then if he also packed and supplied the parachute, would there perhaps be a little trepidation in putting it on?  Let’s say you’re tumbling through the sky, pull the cord, and the cord breaks off.  You then reach for the backup cord and there is none.  Finally, with only seconds before impact, you try to manually open the chute only to discover it is not packed correctly by the maker of the plane.

You see, there are serious implications connecting the plane’s age, the method and competence of the plane’s construction and maintenance, and the parachute inside.  The Maker’s character is the heart of matter.  If the plane goes down, then one must ask why did it fall in the first place.  The answer will inevitably lead back to the maker of the aircraft. There is perhaps one more basic answer to the failure of the plane.

The Disturbed Designer: There is also one more thing to consider.  Perhaps the designer of the plane is not incompetent at all.  Maybe he is simply disturbed.  Maybe he purposely designed the plane to crash.  This has definite implications when strapping on the parachute.  If this is true, then most likely the chute itself would be sabotaged for all unsuspecting passengers.

The Cabin’s Creator: Analogies can also be used to reveal the errors in Sean McDowell’s cabin.  If, as Sean says, it doesn’t matter how God made the universe and if God is the builder in his cabin story, then it actually does matter.  Although this planet is amazing, there are all kinds of dangerous things that seem to raise questions.  We have natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, etc. as well as poisonous creatures and plants, and the list goes on.  So saying that there is a wonderful cabin filled with all your favorite foods is less than an accurate view of the world around us.  To make it more fair, let’s say the hiker walks into the cabin and begins eating the food only to get food poisoning.  He then goes into the bathroom and trips on a broken tile.  Then washing up, the traveler discovers there is only ice cold water and the towels are inundated with lice.  If this were the case, the person might begin wondering about the competence and intentions of the one who made and prepared the cabin.

IT  REALLY  DOES  MATTER  HOW  THE  CABIN  WAS  MADE.

The Creation/ Salvation Connection: Interestingly, regardless of an old earth or young earth, many from both camps would agree that Jesus died and raised in three literal days and is the only way to Heaven. Yet those that cling to billions of years fail to see that the character of God is inextricably entwined with both creation and salvation. They are eternally linked.  Why? Because God is responsible for both.  To say it doesn’t matter how God created is like saying it doesn’t matter how God provided salvation.  It matters.  His character is revealed in both.  The Living God created life by His Word, not through death, and the God of love chose to die for sinners because sin, not God, brought death. God brings life.  If a business builds its success by murdering people, does it really matter whether or not it gives money to orphans and widows?  No matter how you spin it, if God’s character is directly connected with death as the ultimate agent of life, He is the author of death.  Yet according to His own Word, death is said to be the last enemy of God.  1 Corinthians 15:26.

But death brought life in Christ, didn’t it?  Yes and no. Yes, Jesus chose to die for the sins of the world.  “For He has made [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.  But if Jesus would have stayed dead, we would have no hope at all, so it’s not merely His death, but His resurrection that brings men life.  In the same chapter of 1 Corinthians, the Holy Spirit, through Paul, writes, “And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:14. Yes, Jesus laid down His life and this led to eternal life to all those who turn to Him, but His death would not have been necessary if sin had never been allowed to intrude into God’s perfect creation.

If death would have been God’s original “thumb print” on creation, then why use death as Adam and Eve’s judgment?  After all, creatures would have been dying and evolving for millions of years before Adam and Eve sinned.  So Adam and Eve were seeing creatures killing each other and dying of cancer, etc.  Then God tells them if they eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that they’ll die just like everything else is already dying???  Then later Jesus comes to die for the sins of the world, the sins that brought death upon mankind; the same death that God had already used for millions of years in all other creatures to help them evolve.  This makes no sense!  Sadly, confusion, at best, is all we are left with when man’s ideas are mingled with the Word of God.  

The Whole Counsel of God:  It’s clear the Lord has given the saints different giftings and areas of ministry that serve the whole Body of Christ, but one thing is certain.  We are all to grow in the complete understanding of the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13). This growth takes the power of the Holy Spirit, the love of the truth, and the humble, wholehearted study of God’s Word.  We all must be careful not to let the focus of any ministry overshadow the whole of Scripture. We must proclaim more than a message.  May we never forget to declare the whole counsel of God!  

“But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood.” Acts 20:23,27 and 28

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