Tag Archive: Ephesians 4


The King’s Garden

God-Write-the-BibleEven those of us who might boldly declare our status (by God’s grace) as born again believers have a tendency to forget that we have been literally and spiritually transported out of the old kingdom and into the new one (Colossians 1:13), one where often the old worldly economy, tools, and techniques simply won’t suffice.  Although we might readily understand and openly acknowledge the forgiveness of our sins, we still need to be regularly reminded of our utter dependence upon the power of God and His glorious Word and the absolute necessity of rejecting the impotent inventions and dangerous devices of this world!

In Colossians 3, the Lord reminds us of the vital importance of not only knowing where we now live, but also of mortifying all that accompanied us from the old kingdom. We are instructed to take off (mortify) the old man and instead put on the new man who is being renewed in Christ. (Colossians 3:9-11) This is our daily duty and joy as believers, one we must perform with diligence and one that can only be accomplished by the power of the Lord Himself.

We must cease from returning to the flesh if we truly desire a victorious walk and abundant race in the strength of our Heavenly Father. I pray this simple story encourages and reminds us all to truly turn to Jesus Christ, our King, walking in the Spirit rather than the flesh.

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

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THE KING’S GARDEN

Once there was a very talented and creative gardener who lived in a beautiful kingdom. All sorts of wonderful plants thrived throughout his property. He even grew plants on his roof. The gardener had flowers, and vegetables, fruit trees and even several species no one had ever heard of before. The plants were bigger and more lush than many had ever seen. And the fruits and vegetables were more delicious than almost anything anyone had ever tasted, other than the king’s, of course. People from all around the kingdom purposely planned to journey past the gardener’s house just to gaze upon all the amazing florae. He received an abundance of praise from the people and over time grew quite fond of it. Day and night, the gardener could always be seen outside trimming, planting, and planning with a smile on his face and a song in his heart.

One day there was position open at the palace garden. Over the years, many had attempted to care for the king’s plants and unfortunately most had failed. The gardener only lived a few miles down the hill from the palace and was quite confident he would make a superb gardener for the King. He immediately applied and was quickly hired. Upon starting, he was handed a letter written by the king himself, but the gardener was so excited he forgot to even open it. Instead he gathered up all the equipment from his house, loaded it onto a cart and pushed it all the way up to the palace.

As he entered the enormous garden gateway, the guard held out his hand, stopping the gardener dead in Hagi_Castle_Garden,_Western_Honshu,_+Japanhis tracks. The guard explained that there could be no outside tools brought into the king’s garden. The gardener could only use what was supplied to him by the king. For the first time in a very long time, he felt a flood of worry and bewilderment pour over. The king’s garden required tools and techniques that were entirely foreign to the gardener and this was something he was definitely not ready for.

The gardener and his family had not always lived in the beautiful kingdom. He was actually born in a kingdom on the other side of mountains, one that was much different than where he lived now. While still in on the other side, the gardener’s dad handed down to his young son all the tools and techniques he would need in order to grow amazing plants, at least until now. The gardener really thought he had all the knowledge and skills he’d ever need. Unfortunately, none of the ways he had learned from his dad would work properly in the king’s garden and soon the king’s plants began to wither and die. This was also something the gardener had not experienced in a very long time. Those walking by began to murmur and some even laughed at him. Others just looked away, feeling both sad for the plants and for the gardener. He had lost all the praise he was so accustomed to receiving.

Many palace gardeners had come and gone and many had failed. The gardener knew he didn’t want to be numbered among those who had been defeated, but also knew he would need to do something he hadn’t done in a very, very long time. He knew he’d have to ask for help. “Why is the king being so difficult anyway,” he often mumbled to himself? One day he finally humbled himself enough to ask the guard if there were any books in the palace library on tending the king’s plants. The guard explained that the only way to know how to properly care for the king’s garden was to talk with the king himself. The gardener’s heart sank. “Oh, no! Not the king,” he answered with a tone of discouragement in his voice. “How can I possibly ask the king?”

He definitely did not want that. After all, he was supposed to be the best gardener in the whole kingdom. He didn’t want to appear like he didn’t actually know what he was doing, especially to the king. He reasoned within himself that this would only make it seem as though he wasn’t really a good gardener. He strove for weeks attempting to figure out the right way of caring for each of the plants in the king’s garden. He got up early every morning and went home late every night. It wasn’t long before he grew extremely frustrated and terribly exhausted.

Soon many of the plants were dying and inside he felt the same starvation, but he just couldn’t put aside his pride to ask the king for help. So instead, he chose to return to his old house where at least he felt like he belonged. At least he could tend to the familiar plants and begin seeing success again. After a couple weeks, he was back to his old routine, but deep down he knew there was more. There was something missing in it all, but he just couldn’t quite put his finger on it. One thing was for sure, tending to his familiar garden just wasn’t satisfying like it once was.

One day, while trimming back a few bushes, something popped into his mind. “The king’s letter,” he thought to himself. “In all the excitement, I never read his letter.” He wasn’t sure if he should even bother, but curiosity and frankly, the lack of satisfaction got the best of him. After searching a while, he found it. Sitting down in front of his fireplace, he carefully opened the envelope and began reading the king’s message aloud. It simply said,

            Dear Gardener,

            If you are weak; if you are weary, then come to Me. Learn of Me and I will give you rest.

           Love,

                    ~The King

The gardener read the letter several times. Each time it was like a tiny seed was being planted deeper and deeper within his own heart. At first, it was difficult to believe, but after thinking long and hard, he realized it wasn’t the king who was being so difficult. The gardener finally understood that he was the one being so stubborn and prideful.  “How could I have been so foolish,” he wondered to himself. “After all, who could possibly have better tools and knowledge than the king?”  He immediately stood and raced to the king, never looking back, never returning to his old garden again.

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

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Jeremiah 29:11 was Cherrie’s and my marriage life verse. It held us through many twists and turns, reminding us to always keep our eyes on Jesus! Hebrews 12:2. For those believing couples struggling through their marriages, please don’t give into the fleshly pride which daily plagues our hearts and minds. Humble wedding rings and bible-noqHyourselves, preferring one another above your own desires. Romans 12:9-10, James 4:10. Submit to the Lord, not your feelings. James 4:8. Draw near to God! James 4:7.  Keep your eyes on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2. Pray that the Lord will give you His eyes and heart toward your spouse. John 13:34. Be slow to speak and quick to listen. James 1:19. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Ephesians 4:26. Love one another as Christ has loved you. John 13:34. Let Jesus be the Head.  Colossians 1:18. Be a minister to your spouse. 1 Timothy 4:6. Work harder at your marriage than your job! Colossians 3:23-24. God’s mercies are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23. So should it be with us. Be merciful, slow to anger, letting the peace of God rule your heart. Proverbs 14:29, Colossians 3:15. Let the Lord’s Light examine you and examine yourself. Psalm 26:2, 2 Corinthians 13:5. Take the log out of your eye so you can lovingly remove the speck in your spouse’s. Luke 6:42.

Think of this… If you got a call right now that your spouse was being held hostage, would you be filled with a desire to pray and lovingly rescue him/her?  Remember that love. Remember we are all broken sinners saved by the grace of Jesus Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Timothy 1:15-16. Be tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32. Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2. Then when the burdens get heavy, remember to let Jesus bear them. Look at Him and learn of Him. His yoke is easy and His burden light. Matthew 11:30. Do not worry, instead seek first the Kingdom of God. Matthew 6:23.

Remember, we don’t live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4. Just as we should sit together over dinner, so sit together over the Word. Feast regularly and consistently on God’s Word both independently and as a couple. Psalm 34:8. Let Jesus be in the midst. Matthew 18:20. Let the Holy Spirit, not worldly methodologies or psychologies and philosophies be your teacher. 1 John 2:27. Let Jesus be the One who renews and transforms you and your marriage.  Romans 12:2, Titus 3:4-7.

Earnestly pray for one another (even when you don’t feel like it) and pray together. James 5:16. It’s hard to be mad at someone you pray for and pray with. Pray, pray, and then pray some more!!! Romans 8:261 Thessalonians 5:17. Remember, your marriage is a microcosm of Jesus and His bride, the church. Ephesians 5:25-33. Just as He has nurtured and bound together born again believers around the world for centuries, so must He be the One who knits you as one. Ephesians 4:16, Colossians 2:2-3.

Stick with it. Don’t grow weary in doing well. Galatians 6:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:13. Don’t believe the lies of this world, of self, or the enemy of our souls. John 8:44. He only seeks to kill, steal and destroy. His pleasure is in tearing down, not building up. Jesus came so we could have abundant spiritual life in Him. John 10:10, John 15.

Hang tight to Jesus and again, never stop praying for one another. Romans 8:26, 1 Thessalonians 5:25, James 5:16. You are not stuck when you’re abiding in Christ.  Trust in Him!  2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:2. Let Jesus be your comfort, not your spouse. Psalm 119:76, Isaiah 12:1, Acts 9:31, Romans 15:4.  Let Jesus be the One who brings fulfillment. 1 Corinthians 15:28.  Remember, Jesus came to save, not destroy.  Luke 9:56, John 10:10. Let Him do His marvelous work. Let patience have her perfect work. James 1:4. Be bold. Speak the truth, but always in love. Ephesians 4:15. Cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you! Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:7. Don’t lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:16. Jesus has overcome the world!  John 16:33, 1 John 5:4.

“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:12-17

OldRuggedCross_B&WMost will readily acknowledge that people lie, and we might even admit we too are prone to talebearing from time to time, yet somehow there’s this strange belief within each of us that says our feelings will never lie. But nothing could be further from the truth. Feelings lie more than any of us probably care to admit. 

How many times have we heard, “Go with your heart”, “Trust your gut”, “Let your heart lead you”, etc.? Yet, God’s Word very clearly reminds us that our hearts are far from trustworthy. They are self-centered, deceitfully wicked, and naturally bent toward getting what they want. Jeremiah 17:9.

Feelings are far from objective. They are fickle and focused on keeping all the attention on themselves. As Christians, we often struggle against our natural emotions. Many times we have a godly desire to faithfully follow the Lord, yet find ourselves having to push our natural emotions out of the way. One author correctly compared feelings to a room full of crying babies. If you were to continually hold them, the babies would be satisfied, but at the end of the day you would be completely tired out and the babies would’ve only learned that crying will get them the attention they desire. Sure there are appropriate times to hold a baby, but just like  parents must train their little ones, so too we must learn to train our fleshly feelings. If we spend our entire lives holding or indulging our feelings, we’ll become nothing less than a helpless, hopeless slave to them.

Praise the Lord we do not have to rely on the world’s methods to do the training! Instead, we have the eternal and magnificent power of the Holy Spirit and the marvelously sufficient Word of God!  Jesus desires all His children be sanctified (set apart) by the truth of God’s living and active Word.(Psalm 119:9John 17:17)  He has not left us as orphans to figure it out on our own. He has graciously given us His Holy Spirit to daily and powerfully transform us into His image. (John 14:18-26;2 Corinthians 3:18)  First, we must be honest and admit that our fleshly feelings don’t always tell the truth, that they only have their best interest in mind.  Then we must continually capture our thoughts (and emotions), nailing them to the cross of Christ, knowing only Jesus can cleanse us, oftentimes even from our foolish feelings.  (Matthew 16:24;2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

The world spends literally billions of dollars a year to produce in people certain emotional connections to it’s philosophies, methods, and products.  Why?  Because it knows very well that once we’ve attached an emotion to an idea or product, we’ll have a very difficult time letting go.  Oh, how true this is!  May we let the Lord Jesus Christ break these attachments, allowing us to finally enjoy the freedom and liberty we have in Christ!  Freedom from the flesh! Freedom from Satan! Freedom from Sin! Freedom to keep in step with Jesus, knowing soon we’ll be able to see Him face to face, with only godly feelings flowing from Heaven’s throne, filling our hearts and minds! What a glorious day that will be!!!

Until that day, may we say like Paul, “I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

“The LORD knows the thoughts of man, that they are vanity. Blessed is the man whom You chasten, O LORD, and teach out of Your law…” Psalms 94:11-12

“O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23

“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 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: that you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind; and that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:17-24

“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” 2 Corinthians 3:17

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” John 8:36

When driving through a big city, it’s easy to get distracted, redirected, and even lost.  We can find our eyes quickly wandering from the road, pulled away by the bright lights and tall buildings.  Street signs are literally piled one upon another with arrows pointing in every direction, not to mention all the chaos of car horns and sirens.  Sometimes the same thing can be said when trying to navigate our Christian walk.

Truth-vs-lie 2It’s easy to get pulled in a lot of different doctrinal directions, misled by the opinions of men, especially as a young believer. God’s Word instructs us to “Be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive…” Ephesians 4:14.  Sadly, there are too many teachers willing to offer their confusing and often times contaminated philosophies to unsuspecting seekers stopping to ask directions, sending them the wrong way down bumpy avenues and dark alleys.

As a born again believer in Jesus Christ, it’s essential to diligently navigate using God’s Word, not man’s opinions or doctrines of devils. One thing that seems to get many Christians misguided in their doctrinal direction is the false notion of evolution.  If a young believer begins reading Genesis at face value it won’t be long before it occurs to him that the Genesis account of creation is in direct contrast to evolutionary teachings.  Now this young believer has a choice.  He can either ignore the first several chapters of Genesis, assuming they are mythological, he can read it as it’s written, or try to blend the evolution and literal creation accounts together.

The goal for the rest of this blog is to provide the first two of five key “sign posts” to help navigate through the concerns and confusion of the evolution vs. creation debate in hopes of keeping born again believers headed in the right direction.

signpost 5Sign Post 1:  The literal intent of Genesis.  Too often people decide to deal with the creation/evolution debate by categorizing Genesis as allegory or mythology.  The problem with this is threefold.  First, the text itself is written as a historical not an allegorical account.  Most Hebrew scholars agree that the Genesis creation account is meant to be understood historically, not simply as some metaphoric storyline. (Note: Mentioning scholars here isn’t to lift up men, but rather to make the simple point that those studying the Hebrew text as a career do have sound input for this point of the argument.)  Of course this doesn’t mean these same scholars have chosen to believe the creation account, but they do at least agree that the text itself is intended to be taken literally, not allegorically.

Dr. James Barr (Regius Professor of Hebrew at Oxford University), who himself does not believe Genesis is true history, nonetheless admitted as far as the language of Genesis is concerned that-

“So far as I know, there is no professor of Hebrew or Old Testament at any world-class university who does not believe that the writer(s) of Gen. 1–11 intended to convey to their readers the ideas that (a) creation took place in a series of six days which were the same as the days of 24 hours we now experience (b) the figures contained in the Genesis genealogies provided by simple addition a chronology from the beginning of the world up to later stages in the biblical story (c) Noah’s Flood was understood to be worldwide and extinguish all human and animal life except for those in the ark.” 1.

Making the Genesis creation account allegorical would be akin to believing your car’s navigation system was not meant to be taken literally.  This would not only add confusion, but would inevitably and continually get everyone in the car lost, rendering the navigation device useless.

Secondly, Jesus Himself quoted from Genesis as a literal text.  For example, when asked about divorce, referring to Genesis 1 and 2, He said, Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female? And said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Matthew 19:4.  Also consider that every writer from the Bible referencing people from Genesis 1-11, i.e. Satan, Adam, Eve, Enoch, Noah, etc. always did so in a literal way. None of the men moved by the Holy Spirit to pen God’s Word ever gave even a slight indication that Genesis was anything but a true historical record.

The third issue with allegorizing the beginning chapters of Genesis is simply this: If the beginning is not historical, then where does the allegory end?  Genesis means book of beginnings.  It’s the record of the how the universe, earth, and mankind began. It’s also the account of the origin of God’s appointed nation, Israel.  There are no grammatical differences indicating chapters 12-50 are to be understood any differently than the first eleven chapters.  Therefore if the first eleven are intended to be allegorical, then why wouldn’t the rest of the book follow suit?  Ironically, those professing Christians claiming the beginning of Genesis is mythological usually don’t ascribe the same interpretive philosophy for the remainder of the book.  This is inconsistent and contradictory at best.  Genesis is meant to be read as the text is written.  Just as it is in any other book, if there are analogies or allegories, it will be clear from the text.

signpost 7Sign Post 2:  Evolution is not a science, but a religion.  Although we exist in a post-modern society, we are still heavily influenced by the philosophies of the early to mid 20th Century.  That is to say we are still quickly beguiled by whatever calls itself science.  There was a time when men believed science was going to be the answer to all the world’s problems.  The issue here is most of mankind’s real problems are caused from his own corrupted, sinful heart and science has no ability to reach the spirit of man.  So in order to supplement the innate lack within science itself and in hopes of making a total departure from the True God of the Bible, men have chosen to ascribe scientific terminology and credentials to spiritual notions.  If you put a robe on a man and place him behind a pulpit he appears religious, however if you put a lab coat on the same man and place him behind a lectern, he appears knowledgeable and scientific regardless of how existential his teachings are.   This is probably the most important sign post of all.  So many people have been duped into believing that evolution is scientific when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. (Note: Due to the overview nature of this article, I will not delve too deeply into this sign post, but because of its importance, several links are provided below for further study.)  Considering the following quotes by two non-Christians:

“In fact, evolution became in a sense a scientific religion; almost all scientists have accepted it and many are prepared to ‘bend’ their observations to fit in with it.” (British physicist, H.S. Lipson)2.

“Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. I am an ardent evolutionist and an ex-Christian, but I must admit in this one complaint. . . the literalists [i.e., creationists] are absolutely right. Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.” (Michael Ruse, History and Philosophy Professor, Author of The Darwinian Revolution (1979),Darwinism Defended (1982), and Taking Darwin Seriously (1986). 3.

Real science, the science that builds rocket ships, makes satellites, etc. is not the same as “molecules to man” evolution.  Operational science cares nothing about the meaning of life. If interviewed, most would readily admit that the meaning of life is a spiritual, not scientific pursuit. Yet, in the ultimate sense, evolution attempts to serve as a framework with which all knowledge must be weighed against; a framework that is supposed to explain what life really is all about. Evolution is, in fact, not just a story about where all things originated from, but a story about where we are and where we’re headed.  It actually serves as the overarching historical record of everything related to this universe and mankind. The big picture of evolution really does attempt to be the answer for the origin and meaning of all life.  When all its scientific garb is stripped away, evolution is a spiritual philosophy attempting to replace God’s Word and sadly even God Himself! 

Many may also not realize that evolution, the idea that one creature has the ability to shift into a totally separate and distinct creature, is the basis for every occultic, shamanistic, and polytheistic belief system.  Consider the following quote from occult researcher and Bible apologist, Dave Hunt:

“Evolution plays a key role in the occult.  Theodore Roszak pointed out that mysticism is ‘the parent stock from which the theory of biological evolution springs.’  Anthropologist Michael Harner reminds us that ‘millennia before Charles Darwin, people in shamanic cultures were convinced that humans and animals were related.’  Evolution, as the core belief of Hinduism and witchcraft,is at least as old as the theories of reincarnation and karma, in which it is a key element.” (Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion, p. 20.)

In fact, the natural (or better stated, spiritual) progression of evolution follows that man only has one final step in his ascension.  That step — godhood.  Sadly, this is the very lie that Satan himself was self-deceived by and later fed to the entire human race. (Genesis 3:5Isaiah 14:14.)  Robert Jastrow, the founder and director for many years of the Goddard Space Institute that sent Pioneer and Voyager said, “Evolution could have been going on in some planets 10 billion years longer than on this planet, and those beings would be as far beyond man on the evolutionary scale as man is beyond a worm. And when we see them, they would seem like gods to us.” 4.

W. L. Wilmer is one of the leading authorities on masonry. In his book, The Meaning of Masonry,   he says:   “The evolution of man into superman—(see, we’re not just talking about evolving in the human beings, but evolving upward to godhood.)—the evolution of man into superman was always the purpose of the ancient mysteries. Man who has sprung from the earth and developed through the lower kingdoms of nature to his present rational state has yet to complete his evolution by becoming a godlike being, and unifying his conscience with the omniscient.” 5.

It is this writer’s biblical conviction that the philosophy of evolution will never be abandoned in the minds and hearts of men, not because it’s so essential for scientific advancement, but because evolution is utterly crucial as THE framework for spiritual deception.  Evolution is, in reality, the ultimate framework deluding billions of hearts and minds into believing they might actually have a chance to become their own gods.  Evolution is as the Bible calls it, a “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20) and stands in direct and complete opposition to God’s Word. It leads many to destruction and many believers into an ineffective walk, doubting their faith in God’s Word, fearing men instead of God.

As we choose to faithfully follow God’s Word, may we carefully consider the sign posts placed along the way.  God has lovingly given us His true and perfect Word to keep us from getting lost and from misdirecting others from the truth that is found in Jesus Christ alone.  

“Evolution is really at the heart of [the occult].   This is how we become gods, and evolution of course, causes you to believe in some kind of a force innate within the universe that is moving us in the direction of godhood.   Therefore, if you can tap into this force through yoga or some other spiritual technique, and you can accelerate your progress towards godhood and gain this power.   So evolution plays a really important role and also plays an important role, it has cost an awful young people their faith.   Of course you can’t destroy real faith, but an awful lot of young people who were in Christian homes, who believed in God, who believed in the Bible, when they are confronted by some bright professor in a university or even in high school who says, look, Genesis is a myth, that’s not the way it happened, it happened through evolution.   And because this is science speaking they believe it, well then they’ve had the rug pulled out from under them, and an awful lot of young people have turned away from God from Christianity because of evolution.” ~Dave Hunt, Audio Discussion of The Occult Invasion, Pt. 3)

“Your Word is true from the beginning.” Psalm 119:160a (KJV)

“Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” Proverbs 30:5

“Blessed is that man that maketh the LORD his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.” Psalm 40:4

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16

(Part 2: Posted Soon)

Helpful Articles for Further Study: (Please note that although all the articles below provide excellent insight to the necessity of believing a literal, 6 day creation as taught plainly in God’s Word, this blog does not necessarily support every teaching found on other websites, especially those dealing with the promotion of Calvinistic doctrines, i.e. T.U.L.I.P. and Replacement Theology.)

Footnotes:

  1. J. Barr, personal letter to David Watson, April 23, 1984.
  2. H.S. Lipson, “A Physicist Looks at Evolution”, Physics Bulletin (V. 31, n.d. 1980).
  3. Michael Ruse, “Saving Darwinism from the Darwinians,” National Post (May 13, 2000), B3.
  4. http://www.thebereancall.org/content/world-getting-ready-son-perdition
  5. http://www.thebereancall.org/content/occult-invasion-revisit-part-three-evolution-demonic

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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