Discernment and Desire

“If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” John 7:17

Hello brothers and sisters, this verse spoke volumes to me today so just wanted to share my thoughts! God’s will is discerned/desired by His people. True desire and true discernment go hand in hand. First, God’s will is to be discerned by His people. It is in His objective Word in which we refute falsehood. When preachers fail to discern true and false, they fail to warn God’s people as anything goes. Heresies and doctrines of demons are invited without caution. Such lack of discernment is poisonous and destructive. But when the Word is rightly handled, so the truth is outspoken against all falsehood. This is a must! No preacher should preach should they choose not to discern nor encourage discernment.

Second, God’s will is to be desired by His people. Those coming to know Christ are driven by a desire for His Word. In doing so ,they seek to know Him more, and desire to make Him known. Such desire God grants to His people in which they hold fast to without compromise. Therefore, through their desire for the Word, they likewise discern with the Word! For it is from God. May the saints cry, “I need Truth ”!

Famine in the Church Worldwide

““Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the Lord.
They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
but they shall not find it.” Amos 8:11-12

The greatest famine of the day is beyond food or water but the famine of God’s Word. Spiritual famine leads to spiritual poverty that leads to spiritual destruction. Not that the Word of God is void in itself, but it is void in the sense that it is underutilized. Who bothers preaching the Bible anymore? Many view God’s Word, better yet, God’s eternal Word as outdated and obsolete.

I can’t help think of the parable of the seed/sower in which the seed is God’s Word. But here’s the thing, that seed isn’t being sown by today’s preachers. Let that sink in folks. If the Word of God isn’t being preached, then how can believers grow in their faith in Christ? Oftentimes, many discouraged people share how their pastor doesn’t share from the Word of God. Most sermons today can be lined up with self-help talks and be no different! Just put the name Jesus on to make it Christian. But there is no transformation, no conviction, and is no exposition of sound biblical truth. Moreover, how can anyone be saved without hearing the Gospel (Romans 10:17)? Think about that, no one will be able to be saved without hearing the Good News. Instead there is easy believism, and false converts. Let us therefore, return to Scripture for it is God’s means of grace to His church and it is sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16). And don’t fret, there is abundance of His Word to be consumed.

 

Through the Lens of Sola Scriptura

Scripture is no longer sufficient in the eyes of many professing Christians. It may be acknowledged and affirmed. It may be quoted and preached. But when it boils down to priority, Scripture is no longer at the top. It may be secondary or not even regarded at all. “We need more” the people cry out. But is that what it really boils down to nowadays, what the people want? Sadly, I’d have to say yes.

I believe that the greatest conflict from the church is from within not without. It’s blatantly obvious that we’ll be persecuted for our faith as the world hates Jesus first (John 15:18). But inward apostasy, that’s a whole another story. It may creep in subtlety and sincerely(Jude 4),  but it blows up overtime. It’s bad enough to see some believers who are deceived but when an entire congregation follows this along with the leaders who unapologetically preach nonsense each week?? That is when it becomes troubling.

Friends, since Scripture isn’t seen as sufficient, other influences are sought out. Imagine that! Churches being influenced by worldly means but also by heresies. Sounds preposterous I know, but we are guilty of incorporating it ourselves. For instance, the music is easily a first step. Most churches today sing songs from the most popular groups and artists of today (i.e Hillsong, Bethel, Elevation, etc). “Oh but the music is good”, they say. But just because it sounds good, doesn’t mean it is good, especially with the underlying false theology. It is a bait a switch to propagate heresy through playing the music. Moreover, it allows for the teaching to permeate the church. “If the music is good, so must the teaching” , is the justification for many people who rather go by the trend instead of the Word of God.Let us consider the following verse:

Matthew 6:22-23 Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness—how deep is that darkness!

In other words, you’re influenced by what you intake spiritually. Basically, the intake changes from solid food (Scripture) to junk food (heresy). It may “feel good” in the moment, but there is no genuine growth nor discernment. That matters for us individually and corporately. And when a church is taking in darkness, then it will be consumed by it. But by God’s grace, He will separate the sheep from the goats, or the wheat from the tares. That also applies to teachers who will be judged more harshly (James 3:1). For judgment must begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

What we must get back to is the Word of God as our sufficient source (2 Timothy 3:16). Nothing else was ever needed nor will never be necessary. That is the lens that we need, one that takes in the light of God given Scripture. In doing so, we renew our minds (Rom 12:2), bear fruit (Psalm 1:3), having the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Most importantly, it is necessary in Gospel proclamation, “for faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of Christ” (Romans. 10:17). Notice how this is all based from Scripture. It is never by some outside influence. And it is definitely nothing that portrays itself as another Gospel, lest one be accursed (Gal. 1:9). Let this be the lens in which the church sees. Let this be the perspective in which the church lives/dies by. Most importantly, let this be the resource in which the church proclaims the a dying world. Sola Scriptura! Scripture alone!

 

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Theology Matters 6: Biblical Theology

As we learn the Bible, we learn it’s progression as the unfolding story of redemption. Consider the puzzle as it is comprised of many pieces. Each piece is different, not displaying the full puzzle on it’s own. It may give an idea, but a relatively small one at that. It is vague at best. However, it gradually makes sense when the pieces come together. Upon completion, it is a beautiful masterpiece!

How much more do we see that when Scripture is seen in its fullest ? Every story and every book in the Bible shows continuity and progression. Covenants are unfolded, laws are given, promises are offered, and each points to something greater. Or better yet, Someone Greater. In today’s post, I want to discuss biblical theology and what it entails.

In consideration of biblical of theology, it is imperative to see that Christ is the full picture of Scripture. Christ is the tapestry in which all the puzzle pieces come together. Consider His Words to the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39).  You can read Scripture all you want, but without Christ as the goal , then you’ve missed the point. You can’t read Scripture without Christ, you can’t know Christ apart from Scripture, lest you make misconceptions.

Christ is the focal point binds Old and New Testament together. Although there is a 400 year gap between both Testaments, The Bible maintains the continuity of God’s redemptive work. For instance, there are foreshadows and typologies that point to Christ before His primary advent. Even in the fall’s aftermath, God promised a “seed” that will crush the Serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). Or how Christ would be the suffering servant in Isaiah 53? Or how post-Resurrection we see what Jesus does to verify Himself, “and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself “(Luke 24:27) .Although there are concepts and precepts, one must always ask- “how does it point to Christ?” He is ultimate hermeneutic.

In understanding biblical theology, one can see that Scripture interprets Scripture. Why do you think we have concordances and cross-references? Scripture is a vast treasure through and through, from Genesis to Revelation and biblical theology is Scripture’s snapshot. It works hand in hand with systematic theology despite their distinct roles. Systematic looks at doctrinal matters, while biblical theology looks at progressive revelation in the Bible. One looks at the progression (Biblical theology), while the other looks at the finished work (systematic theology).  Therefore, both are necessary to know and grow in our theological pursuit.

Next time, the importance of Christian history will be discussion in continuation of the theology matters series. You can read all my posts in the series here.

Additional Resources

https://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-theology.html

https://www.crossway.org/articles/3-ways-to-define-biblical-theology/

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/need-for-biblical-theology/

 

Theology Matters 4: Holy Spirit

More than a force, but a Person

Ah the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the third Person in the Trinity. He is first seen “hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:2), as well as partaking in the creation of man (Gen 1:26-28). He likewise is seen all throughout the OT in prophets, priests and kings. Also seen in judges, and some of temple builders. He is likewise in the promise of the New Covenant, as He will pay an important role as the Comforter. He is likewise promised through Jesus Christ prior to His death and resurrection (Gen. 16:7). After Christ’s ascension, we see the Holy Spirit poured out to all who belong to God (see Acts 2). He continues His work this very day.

Functions in the life of a Believer

Oftentimes, we see many bizarre practices that are attributed to the Holy Spirit. But biblically speaking, it is completely different. This is not to deny the power, but to clarify the function. First and foremost, it gives evidence that one belongs to God. Otherwise you’re not a true believer. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is part of regeneration. A vessel once used for unrighteousness, is now a temple for God’s Spirit to dwell, and to transform a soul from the inside out. From a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Friend, if there’s such practices without transformation, have nothing to do with it. It is nothing more than a spiritual high but no change. It wears off like a drug until the next fix. Likewise, emotionalism can be deceptive of transformation. Not to deny we have God-given emotions, but emotions alone do not entail transformation. Likewise, we can say that the outflow of transformation is emotion. In short, no Holy Spirit, no transformation. No other “experience” can do this.

Regeneration is a monergistic work of God, meaning it is a solo act. Only God can do it, not us! However, sanctification is synergistic where God and us take part in which both grow. This is a lifelong process until the next state which is glorification in which we will have new bodies which will be sinless.

As we walk in sanctification, the Holy Spirit teaches and brings to remembrance all the things Christ has shared (John 14:26) , and convicts the world in sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). And for those who are believers, it confirms that they’re a child of God (Rom. 8:14, 16), that they are sealed for eternity (Eph. 1:13), and spiritual fruit is expected throughout the course of one’s life. (Gal. 5:22-23).

 

Been away for a while, but hope to finish up this series. Check out here for all posts on the theology matters series

God, Greed and (Prosperity Gospel): How Truth Overwhelms a Life Built on Lies by Costi Hinn

Costi Hinn’s book takes us through his spiritual journey from his upbringing in the prosperity gospel, to his desire in serving alongside his uncle Benny Hinn- one of the biggest names in the Word of Faith/prosperity gospel.  Discussed in the book is Costi’s gradual concerns of his family’s theological beliefs to his conversion, including exposure to sound doctrine and pursuit of pastoral calling.

The book separated twofold: autobiography and doctrine, providing easy comprehension to non scholarly believers. It is not just a study of the prosperity gospel but a personal story of one coming out of its deceptive grasps. Moreover, its about someone whose uncle is one of the most well known names in the movement. But by God’s grace, Costi’s eyes were opened to that with contradicts Scripture. Yet these preachers proof text their theology, claiming that it’s “divine revelation” from the Lord. However, such claims are debunked with a proper study of the Bible in context.

Furthermore, the book features a biblical understanding of health and wealth to promote healthy discussions with loved ones still in the movement. Costi Hinn has done a tremendous testimony in which many more in the movement will  open their eyes and leave, by God’s grace. So  that is you, please get this book to learn in-depth and answer any questions you have. It is one worth reading over and over again. I know, because I couldn’t put it down! In an age where false teaching is the norm, the demand of exposing it’s deceit is greater than ever. May there be a revival of sound preaching of The Word of God in the church today!

Notable in-book quotes

“By an early age, as a part of the Hinn family, I viewed Jesus Christ as our magic genie—rub him right, and he’ll give you whatever your heart desires. I quoted verses from the Bible like Psalm 37:4, which says, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart,” and John 14:14, where Jesus says, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” The meaning of these Scriptures was so obvious to me: believe in Jesus Christ, ask for things by saying, “In Jesus’ name,” and you’ll have whatever you want. Seriously—that simple. Not difficult to understand. Besides, it sure seemed to be working for us!”

“What are we? Pastors? Celebrities? Both? It just didn’t add up. I was beginning to think that there was a difference between being well known for faithful ministry and behaving like this. Shouldn’t money be a tool for doing more ministry? I’m sure it’s okay for a pastor to own a home and be paid an adequate salary to care for his family, but tens of millions of dollars are going into our houses, cars, jewelry, hotels, and shopping. Could the critics be at least just a little bit right?”

“The sovereignty of God matters to Christianity, and we could go as far as to say that it is un-Christian to deny the sovereignty of God. The prosperity gospel certainly denies the sovereignty of God to the extent that it demeans God to the position of a puppet and elevates man to the position of a puppet master who makes confessional demands by faith. It does this by considering faith as a force and God as the one who must respond to our faith. This is a heretical twisting of true faith.”

“When we get the sovereignty of God wrong, we get God wrong. When we get the abundant life wrong, we get Jesus wrong. When we get faith and confession wrong, we get salvation wrong. Why is that a huge deal? Because all roads that the prosperity gospel paves lead to hell.”

“I’ve got good news for you: the abundant life is about the security of your soul for eternity. The abundant life is not a comfortable seventy years, courtesy of the prosperity gospel and leading to infinite suffering in hell if you don’t follow the biblical Christ as your Savior.”

“Without Jesus, heaven would be hell. All the health and wealth this world can offer can never compare to the vast riches of abiding with the Son of God for all eternity. Jesus is everything. The prosperity gospel makes human satisfaction to be material and Jesus to be the cherry on top. If it makes Jesus a central focus, it’s that he is the main avenue to getting what you want. This version of Jesus is a shell of who he really is. The prosperity gospel promises people the abundant life that Jesus offers only to deliver a gospel with no Jesus at all.”

Theology Matters 3: Jesus

As discussed in my first post, it is imperative in understanding God as the Bible intends. Likewise, it applies in understanding Christ in His person and work. A lack of biblical interpretation of Christ begets many misconceptions of Christ. For instance, Christ is a great moral teacher. Nothing more, nothing less. Some would even take a step further in denying Christ as historical, rendering him as some sort of metaphor or an ideal. Nevertheless, Scripture provides the final say concerning Christ. That should and always should be the case. Remember, the Bible is the inspired Word God in which history is incorporated.

Christ is the one whom crushes the serpents head (Gen 3:15), in which His kingdom will be established forever (2 Sam 7), He is the one who was crushed for our iniquities and our transgressions (Is 53). Prior to His earthly ministry, His coming was foretold in the OT as the Messiah. Moreover, it points to Him (John 5:39). This is essential as it lays a foundation in understanding the Gospel as the a whole. As seen throughout Scripture, Christ is its focal point. Such display is placed on Christ as the Messiah in which we come to know God (John 17:3). Simply put, know Christ, know God; or no Christ, no God. This is the experience of the gospel, to know Christ! He is God’s love on display (Romans 5:8).

Now what has Christ done? Christ redeems us from sin through imputation of righteousness, reconciling us to God. Just as Adam was our representative, now Christ is our representative in  which we become children of the most high God. He offers us the Holy Spirit who convicts us of us, sanctifies us in unrighteousness, and leads us into all truth regarding Scripture, by making us more Christlike in character (Rom. 8:29). Presently, Christ makes intercession for us (Heb. 7:25) as is always with us to the end (Matt. 28).

That being said, we acknowledge Christ as Scripture’s fulfillment. The Bible is not about us, it is about Him. What does that say for us ? That we need Him each and everyday. He is not to be a side character in our story but the focal point in His story through our lives. Furthermore,  that we may spread the message of the Gospel and testify about what Christ has done in our lives.