Tag Archives: Leadership in Christ

HIGH TREASON AGAINST THE LIVING GOD: Ecumenism Part 2

HIGH TREASON AGAINST THE LIVING GOD: Cowardice and Joining Together With Unbelievers

 

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils.22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?              1 Corinthians 10:20-22

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men….  2 Corinthians 5:11

 

As our time on this planet melts away, I feel a great urgency to encourage all believers, myself first, to test each and every action we undertake in the name of Jesus Christ, against the eternal word of God, lest we be deceived by the sweet-tasting lies of this world and face a God who is disappointed with us when we stand before him. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, when speaking about the judgment seat of Christ (which all believers will face), “Knowing, therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” It is my passion, stemming from my own past failures and brokenness, to persuade everyone I know who calls upon the name of the Lord, to test everything…prove everything, while there is yet time so that we will not experience terror on that day, and as John says, that we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his appearing (1 John 2:28).Preach the Word Boldly and Do Not Be Ashamed

False teaching, the patterns and traditions of this wicked world and the love of money and recognition, abound in the modern church. May everyone who reads this article, test their hearts and their actions against the Holy Scriptures, and flee from that which is not clearly supported by the word of truth. False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

One of the areas that is most disturbing to me in terms of patent apostasy, is the move towards ecumenism. This grieves me deeply because the scriptures are so very clear on that topic, yet so many good men are involved in prayer groups and gatherings where Muslims, Buddhists, and Jewish friends are treated as brothers before God…allegedly all under the same heavenly Father. There is no brandishing of the sharp double-edged sword of the gospel of truth, which leads to repentance, and there is no discussion of the reality of the fires of hell for those who do not turn from sin to the Jesus Christ of the Bible. Therefore…in fact…there is no concern for the eternal destiny of these “friends.” The false, short-term relationships created by such events will perish in the flames, along with those men’s souls, when this world ceases by the breath of God. Hell and the Wrath of God Almighty

As the scriptures state, without equivocation, Jesus came not to bring peace but a sword…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word, and that blade is swinging, dividing parents from children, brothers from sisters and friends from friends.(Matthew 10:34-39; Ephesians 6:17). How much more does Jesus Christ want us to divide from those who do not even believe that he, as God and man, bore our sins in his body on the cross? He wants (and even demands) that the truth of God separate us out from the world – not to create meaningless disunity, but rather to create true unity among those who truly know and love the God of the Bible, all under the headship of the one who made us and loves us with an everlasting love.

Perhaps the most comprehensive and direct passage on the issue of separating from unbelievers is found in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, quoted below:

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

 2 John 1:9-11, also states, in no uncertain terms, that if we invite one who does not hold to the doctrine of Christ, into our house, or wish them well, without confronting them with the gospel of Jesus, then we are actually partakers in their evil and godless deeds:

 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

 If these passages and the one quoted at the top of the page from 1 Corinthians 10 are true, how can we possibly sit down at a table with unbelievers (and even more with those who openly worship a pagan and thus, demonic “god”) and fail to confront them with the death, burial and resurrection of our great Lord Jesus Christ for the sins of the world? We cannot, therefore, do not, lest you taste the anger of God when you stand before him.

 Jesus and Paul made it clear – we, as believers and children of the living God, are not to join together with unbelievers unless we are preaching the gospel message of Jesus Christ to them. The context of the relevant passages is not limited to marriage, business or prayer meetings. Our God is a jealous God, and he demands that we pursue holiness, purity and righteousness by refusing to water down exactly who he is and what he did for our sin on the cross…ever. Jesus also made it abundantly clear that when we do follow him with all of our hearts, the world will indeed hate us just as they hated him (John 15:18-27). Let us embrace the fact that we are, as Peter said, strangers and pilgrims on this earth, living not for a city built by men, but for an eternal city – one built for us by the very hands of God. Heaven: Your Best Life…Later

 

EPILOGUE

If we are not experiencing pushback and rejection from the world, and even from the “believers” we know who are caught up in the most glaring heresies of today (false signs and wonders, hypergrace, the contemplative,ecumenism, prosperity/word of faith, latter rain, etc.) then perhaps we should examine our hearts to determine if we, like Paul, are truly considering everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord, and his death and resurrection for our sins (Philippians 3:7-15). We all must, without fear or shame, boldly proclaim the only message that can save souls from a rapidly approaching eternity in hell…the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. As Peter says so eloquently regarding the inevitable reproaches we will receive for the sake of Christ, “Happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you…” (1 Peter 4:13-14). For in a short time, we will receive an eternal reward, far more glorious and wonderful than anything our temporal minds could ever comprehend. May we all seek that everlasting kingdom with all of our hearts.

Heaven: Our Best Life Later

 

*** A Few Bonus Scriptures***

1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:2

For the preaching of the cross is to them the perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1:18

For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. 2:2

Proverbs 9:8

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.  

 Proverbs 14:12

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

 2 Corinthians 10: 12,18

12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise18 For (it is) not he that commendeth himself (who) is approved, but (he) whom the Lord commendeth.

Romans 10:13-14

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

John 12:42-43 (This refers to confessing Jesus as he truly is in the scriptures, not a generic Jesus, who, as a prophet, is respected by all religions. He is God and savior…nothing else)

42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Jude 1:3

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Ecumenism: Jesus Christ, as He is in the Word, is the Only Way to God

Preach the Word Boldly and Do not be Ashamed of the Gospel

Catholicism and the Worship of Mary

Leadership in Christ: Our Responsibilities as Teachers and Hearers of the Word of God

 

 

AUTHORITY: Whose Authority Should A Believer Be Under?

                           

                 Authority: Whose Authority Should A Believer Be Under?

There is a strong movement amongst church and Para-church leaders to push professing Christians under the umbrella of a group or a “leader.” I believe that the scriptures do, with great clarity, point to submission to government entities as long as they are affirming values that are objectively good and are punishing evil. (Romans 13:1-7). We are also exhorted to submit to our brethren in accordance with the biblical model given to us by Jesus, Paul and Peter. Christ centered leadership does not lord authority over others, as Jesus Christ himself showed us by serving the sick and the poor and by washing his disciples’ feet even as he was about to be brutally executed by his enemies.

Many of the well-known Christian leaders of our day reject any type of scriptural examination of their teachings, claiming that, as David spoke of Saul, so we are not to touch (or question) God’s” anointed.” Fortunately, we have the great apostle Paul as an example of how a leader is supposed to respond to a flock that tests his teachings. In Acts 17:10-12, it is clear that the Berean church was highly esteemed…because they tested EVERYTHING Paul taught them with the scriptures. They were not rebuked or rejected by Paul for daring to test his teachings. Instead they were considered to be more noble than other churches for examining his words, and have been recorded forever in the canon of scripture for that very act. May we find leaders who feel the same way about honest men testing their teaching in the refining furnace that is the word of God.

It is a very good (and sadly, a very rare) thing to have mature and honorable people in our lives who truly believe and understand the word of God. I am a firm believer that when the Lord brings us such people, they should feel the freedom to use God-breathed scripture to correct, train, teach and even rebuke us…getting us back on the straight path to Jesus Christ. The word of God should always be our final authority, as it was for the noble Bereans, for it will endure long after this earth and it’s inhabitants burn away. (1 Peter 1:23-24).

I personally long to know men and women of honor and truth with whom I can share this journey to Jesus Christ…believers who have put aside the deceptive lies of this world: wealth, status, sex, power, constant recreation, and instead joyfully subject themselves to the only one who judges righteously…Jesus Christ. But as noted above, such believers are few and far between as the wickedness of this world flows like an open sewer into the body, destroying the hearts and minds of even the most sincere followers of Christ.

Below are several scriptures that set forth the biblical model of authority, warning us that we should be cautious when submitting to fallible men, and reminding us that Jesus alone is our final authority. The scriptures also illustrate that biblical authority should not look like temporal authority. Instead it should look … like Jesus. I encourage those who read this to do so with a Bible in hand. This is far from an exhaustive study, but it does attempt to capture the primary theme of the verses that address this issue.

Matthew 23:8-12

In this passage, Jesus instructed a large crowd that they should not call anyone teacher or master, for Jesus Christ alone is our master. He also warned them that they (and we) are not to call anyone father other than our Father God in heaven. Instead, whoever is greatest among us must be our servant and whoever exalts himself will be humbled. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus also emphasizes the fact that those in authority through Christ should be a servant, just as Jesus Christ came to serve mankind and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Luke 16:15

In this passage Jesus points out that what is highly esteemed by men is detestable in the sight of God.

Nowhere is the above statement truer today than in the church, where both leaders and laymen are enamored with the wealthy “Christian” businessman or the “Christian” celebrity athlete. Often authority and respect are erroneously given to a wealthy businessman not because their hearts and character have been tested with the refining fire of scripture, but because character is simply assumed because they have had temporal success. In my experience I have seen church leaders ignore the fact that many of these men have stepped on the necks of business partners – even ones who were struggling financially – to gain more power and wealth for themselves. Also, the fact that many of these men have often ignored or left behind wives and children as they built an empire for themselves that will soon burn away (Revelation 18:10-19), is forgotten, because in today’s church, cash and outward appearances are almost always king. Paul and Jesus, however, cared nothing for material wealth and had no place to rest their heads as they traveled from city to city on foot, in order to love and serve the poor with integrity. (See Paul’s thoughts on all things temporal: Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective On This Short Life (Philippians 3:7-14)) Are those in power in our spheres truly caring for the weak and powerless on a consistent basis as Jesus and Paul did? Not likely, because as much as it is talked about in our sanctuaries, it is rarely a significant item on the schedules of the men leading our churches since there is much fund raising and book writing to do.

John 2:24-25

Jesus did not entrust himself to men for he knew what was in men.

While Jesus was God, and was fully submitted to the Father while on earth, this statement by John makes it clear that we should be very cautious when trusting ourselves to others, just as Jesus was. Perhaps that is why Jesus, in John 14:26 (and 1 John 2:27) told us that the Holy Spirit, not rabbis or pastors, would teach us all things. We must all simply take the time to study the word of God ourselves, with the help of the spirit, and not delegate that duty to any man.

1 Corinthians 4:6

Do not think of man above that which is written.

This is an excellent verse, making it clear that Paul does not want any man to place him or any other elder above the scriptures. The word of God alone is our final authority, not man.

1 Corinthians 4:6

The head of every man is Christ

This unambiguous statement by Paul makes it clear that in Christ, men do not rule over men. Jesus Christ is our Lord and it is to him alone that we must give an accounting for our lives. Thus, we should get to know what is important to him straight from the fountain…avoiding the middleman where the fountain often becomes polluted.

2 Corinthians 1:24

In this verse Paul makes states that he did not want to have dominion over anyone else’s faith. He simply wanted to be a helper…a servant to his flock because each one of them, and each one of us, stand and fall based on our own faith.

In 2 Corinthians 11 and in Galatians 1, we also see that in both Corinth and Galatia, the people in the churches were easily submitting themselves to a different gospel and a different Jesus than the one Paul preached. Why? It was undoubtedly because they, unlike the Bereans, did not test what they heard from their leaders with the word of God. Even Jesus Christ himself used the word of God when he battled Satan in the desert after starving for 40 days. He could have easily come up with his own memorable and powerful phrase with which to hammer Satan. But Jesus Christ himself chose to use the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God in reminding Satan that, “It is written….” With those words, Satan fled.

Jesus and Paul both warned us, and Paul with tears, that we must be on guard, for many false prophets and teachers will arise from inside the church. These greedy and power hungry men lord their authority over the flock, and as Peter said, turn us into merchandise…a means to comfort, wealth, power and fame. I believe we can all say that we have seen far too much of that type of leadership in the body…some subtle and some not so subtle.

In Galatians 2, Paul also makes it clear how he feels about challenging authority if he believes that false practices or teachings are taking place. He did not mind challenging even the great apostle Peter – and in front of other believers. Peter was leading the church back into legalistic practices, some of which Peter himself ignored when it suited him. So Paul called him out in a very clear and direct manner, not demeaning Peter but calling the sin that was taking place sin, with no attempt to prop him up or protect him from what he had to face. Paul’s only desire was to honor and glorify God by making it known publicly that Peter’s actions were wrong and were infecting the body.

Neither Jesus nor Paul was a respecter of persons. They loved people but did not idolize them or place them on a pedestal. The scriptures are clear: only Jesus should be worshipped and treated as above criticism. Yet somehow today, some in the church feel that we should cover or down play the sins and false teachings of our leaders because it will hurt the body if they are exposed. Quite the opposite is true. There is nothing…nothing more beautiful than a good, strong leader in Christ owning up to his failures and being an example of humility and teachability to the brethren. That…is true power through the spirit of Jesus Christ.

It is also clear that Paul did not believe that he had to run every decision he made by other men. When he received his calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, he stated that he did not confer with flesh and blood before undertaking that commission. (Galatians 1:16). He, like Jesus, did not need to be told by fallible men what he knew the spirit was calling him to do. Is it wise to run important decisions by men we trust, who know the word and use it as their lamppost? Yes. But if there are no such men available, we are able to trust the word of God and the mighty Holy Spirit within us to lead us into all truth. (John 14:26, and 1 John 2:27).

Ephesians 5:21

Submit yourselves to one another in the fear of the Lord.

Again, Paul makes the point that in Christ, we who are growing towards maturity are not supposed to lord authority over each other. Instead we should mutually submit to the biblical wisdom and insight that our brothers and sisters have for us through knowing and fearing God. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “follow me as I follow Christ,” meaning follow him to the extent that what he is doing is truly following Jesus. We do not have to blindly submit to the worldly advice and insights given to us by our friends and fellow believers, for each one of us are ultimately accountable to the only one who judges justly.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

Paul states that he and his brothers put their faith, not in men, but in the gospel, seeking to please God who tries their hearts.

I love that Paul emphasizes throughout his letters, that we must remain aware, at all times, that it is ultimately Jesus Christ to whom we are accountable. We must constantly live in a state of godly fear and awareness of his mercy, power and majesty as we remain in him, bearing fruit to the glory of the Father.

1 Timothy 2:5

There is only one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

This is another scripture that states clearly and directly that we, as believers, are beholden to no man, but are instead personally responsible for our own faith and must communicate our sin, our troubles and our thanksgiving to Jesus Christ himself.

Similarly, Hebrews 4:15-16, reminds us that we have a high priest in the heavens who can relate to our infirmities since he himself was a man. Therefore, we can approach his throne of grace with boldness so that we may obtain mercy from him directly in our time of need.   Notice how there is no mention of going first to a pastor or brother. We all may, due to the sacrifice of Jesus’s body on the cross, approach him directly and with great confidence. Furthermore, Hebrews 12:1-3, tells us, eloquently and with great spiritual power, that we are to fix our eyes not on man…but on Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith who, for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. It is the Jesus of the Bible that we must focus or minds, our hearts and our eyes on, not man.

2 Timothy 2:15-17

In this passage Paul reminds Timothy that he has known the Holy Scriptures since he was a child, and that those scriptures are able to make him wise unto salvation. Paul goes on to tell him that ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and for instruction in righteousness so that he – and we – might be fully equipped for good works.

The lesson here is that, if I am to mutually submit to another for instruction, correction and reproof, those admonishments must come from the scriptures…and not from the mind and heart of a man.

Hebrews 13:17

In this passage, Paul tells us to obey those that have “rule” over us for they are accountable to God for our “souls.”

Based on how the words “ruler” and “soul” are used in both this passage and in Romans 13:1-7, and based on what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 23:8-12(discussed above), it appears that this passage is addressing temporal rather than spiritual authority. Regardless, the Berean church established with great certainty that examining those who posses the gift of leadership with the word is a noble thing.

1 Peter 5:1-3

Peter instructs the elders to feed the flock of believers rather than to lord authority over them. He also encouraged them to be good examples to the younger brothers and sisters.

1 John 2:20,27

We all have the anointing from God and “know all things,” so we “need not that any man teach” us since the anointing from God will teach us instead. These verses are similar to Jesus’ statements in Matthew 23:8-12 and John 14:26, which are discussed earlier in this writing.

1 John 2:20 and 27 directly address two key issues as they relate to authority in the church today. First, they establish, with certainty, that there are no longer any specially anointed men who are not subject to a careful examination with scripture. While we all have different gifts and we can learn from each other…everyone who is truly in Christ is personally anointed by God. Secondly, these verses remind each of us NOT to delegate our responsibility to learn about Jesus Christ to an authority figure. We all are to seek God ourselves while he may yet be found and we must test everything we hear from men with the word, lest we be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14).

There are many men and women today who are desperately trying to obtain power and wealth by declaring themselves (or by having their cohorts declare them) apostles and prophets of Christ. They expect all believers to get in line under their self appointed headship and to obey everything they teach, including many so-called revelations, which often contradict scripture directly. One of the best examples of the obvious false teachings of both the Dominionists/NAR and Bethel, is their false eschatology, which is the exact opposite of the clear teachings of Daniel and Revelation. In Revelation 13:7 and in Daniel 7:21, 7:24, 8:24, and 11:33, it is clear that believers are NOT going to retake the world to usher in Christ’s return. Instead, the saints will be defeated by the antichrist, and Jesus will take his revenge in his time and in his way. It is not about us and our fleshly desire to reign. It is about Jesus Christ and his perfect plan, which takes place in his perfect timing.

There truly is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ, our wonderful and precious high priest who gave his body and his blood for us…cold and naked on a hard wooden cross. This great and wonderful God has given us the gift of his Holy Sprit, which will indeed teach us all things as we seek him with all of our hearts. (John 14:26). We must reject the worship of proud, charismatic men and must instead invest our hearts in the one thing that we know is true…the unchanging, everlasting word of God. Then we will be able to understand God’s perfect love and his will for our lives.

EPILOGUE

If we do find faithful believers who are truly following the model of a Jesus centered life, as illustrated by the apostles, by all means follow them as they follow Christ. But…know the word for yourself so that you, like the Bereans, are equipped to test everything, and do not fall for clever sounding phrases and thoughts sprinkled with the name of Jesus and other Christian language. Submit to committed followers of Christ as they teach you God’s eternal word…but understand this: all men will fade away and die, like grass in the hot sun (1 Peter 24-25), but the word of God endures forever. When we stand before God at the end of days, with everything laid bare before him, he will ask us if we truly loved him with all of our hearts, and if we did, why didn’t we take the time to test the things we were taught and practiced with the scriptures since many courageous men were burned at the stake so that we could have it by our beds and on our electronic devices. I hope that we are all able to tell Jesus, with great boldness, that we did love him and that we were not fooled by the call from proud and deceitful men to listen to their interpretation of the Bible and ignore our own, through the Holy Spirit. Seek the Lord in truth and with great earnestness while he may yet be found. Time is short my brothers and sisters. Make the most of it while there is still daylight….

False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

The Written Word: What Did Jesus, The Apostles, and the Psalmists say about the Eternal Written word of God?

Teachers, Preachers and Mammon: Money and the Ministry

Leadership In Christ: Responsibilities of Teachers, Leaders and Hearers of the word

Leadership In Christ: Our Responsibilities As Teachers and Hearers of the word

                          TEACHING, LEADING AND HEARING

” Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”  1 Timothy 4:16

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:5

What and to whom are we leading people, as we follow Christ? Are we leading them to a “spiritual life,” to reconciliation with friends and family, to wisdom through the Bible, to brotherhood, to our own charismatic personality, to temporal success, power, and happiness, to signs and wonders – or are we leading people to Jesus Christ? If we lead people to anything other than complete surrender before the cross of Jesus Christ, to the acceptance of His blood as atonement for sin, and then to a new life of love, mercy, holiness, and obedience to God…we lead in vain.

Jesus makes it clear to his followers before he ascends to Heaven exactly how we are supposed to lead. We are to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded us. My purpose with this study is to examine as many scriptures as possible which specifically address the importance of sound, Jesus-centered teaching. Both teaching and hearing the word of God come with great responsibilities. Teachers must be careful to teach what is right and true before God because they are judged more severely (James 3:1), likewise, hearers must test and approve the words – and the spirit – they receive in light of scripture. So, as believers, we are all called to know the word – whether as a teacher or listener – and really, if the body of Christ is functioning properly, we should all be both teachers and hearers. Our God is a consuming fire, so let us teach, correct, rebuke and exhort each other with the holiness, love, mercy, and truth, which comes only from the Living God and His eternal, unchanging word (2 Timothy 3:16). Heaven and Earth will pass away but His words will never, ever pass away (Matthew 24:35).

One of the scriptures which has most impacted my journey with Christ is 1 Corinthians 2:2, where Paul, after the Corinthians were divided by all kinds of “contentions” including arguments over whether they followed Paul or Apollos, boldly proclaimed, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” He went on to state that his preaching was not about him, for he came to them not with eloquence or great wisdom, but in weakness and in fear and with much trembling so that his message would not rely on men’s wisdom but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 1:17, and 2:1-5).

Paul’s statement in the passage referenced above is the very essence of good doctrine – preach Christ crucified, and all that the cross means, and we do it in weakness and in fear and with the power and confidence of the Holy Spirit rather than in the strength of our personality. In Acts 20:24-35, Paul states that his life was worth nothing to him other than that he finish the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace. He warns us to keep watch over ourselves and the flock which the Holy Spirit has given us to oversee. We are shepherds of the church and we are all purchased with his blood. Paul says that savage wolves will come in and try and destroy the flock by distorting the truth and drawing disciples away after them. Therefore, we are to vigorously and diligently testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to ensure that those we influence are not pulled away by hollow and deceptive philosophies, which rely on the wisdom and traditions of men (Colossians 2:8), or on the excitement and lust of unbiblical spiritual experiences.

If we do not waiver from the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified we will be in lonely – but good company. We should all be willing to make that blessed trade, for, as Peter says, all men are like grass, and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fade…but the word of the Lord endures forever (1 Peter 1:24-25).

In Romans 1:5, Paul states that the reason he received grace and apostleship was to call the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. He does not say that he was called by God to heal the sick, to prophecy over the brethren, or to perform signs and wonders. In fact, Paul actually takes pleasure in his weaknesses and infirmities (sickness) because he knows that when he is weak, God is strong (2 Corinthians 12:5-10 KJV). The purpose for the calling of the great apostle was, to teach and preach obedience to the loving commands of Jesus – and Paul fulfilled this purpose by both his words and his actions. He made a point of emphasizing the importance of living what he preached. (Romans 15:17, 1 Corinthians 4:16-17).

In 1 Corinthians 3:3-15, Paul states that, as God’s workers we need to lay a foundation of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ only. The point of this scripture, as the point of 1 Corinthians 2:2, is to make sure that the only thing we never neglect to preach is Jesus Christ, for he is the foundation of everything. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-15, Paul again emphasizes that it is the Gospel upon which we are to take our stand. It is the Gospel that saves us and we must hold firmly to it. Therefore, Paul constantly teaches that what he – and we – must continue preaching is the truth about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In 2 Corinthians 4:2-5, Paul states that he does not use deception or distort the word. Instead, he sets forth the truth about Jesus plainly. Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel of Christ. Paul then emphasizes that he does not preach himself, but Jesus Christ is Lord, and himself and his brothers as servants for Jesus’ sake. The focus of all teaching must be strictly on Jesus Christ and not on any worldly principles. He goes on to state that teachers are called to demolish every argument and pretension, which sets itself up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5).

In 2 Corinthians 11:10-13, Paul states that the Corinthians are putting up with foolish teaching and Paul is jealous for them with a godly jealousy. He states that, just as Eve was deceived by the serpents cunning the minds of the people have somehow been led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ. He then states that, if anyone comes to them and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus Paul preached, or if they receive a different Spirit than the one they received from Paul or a different Gospel from the one they accepted, they put up with it easy enough. Paul is disgusted by both the Corinthians and the false teachers, and he states that such men who preach a different gospel are false apostles, deceitful workmen masquerading as apostles of Christ. No wonder he says, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light and thus, it is not surprising that his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. However, Paul notes, their ends will be what their actions deserve.

Unfortunately, angels of light masquerading as apostles seem to be quite common, with very few well known pastors preaching repentance, love, self-control, humility, and obedience. Instead, disorderly, bizarre, and unbiblical signs and wonders reign and prosperity is boldly and ignorantly pronounced. We are hearing what our itching ears want to hear rather than the true gospel message. It is equally as disappointing that the flock does not know the word well enough to perceive that so many of the things going on in their churches have nothing to do with Jesus or the word. Like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, we are all to receive and examine the words we hear from all of our teachers – regardless of their fame or reputation – and test them against the unchanging scriptures to make certain that every single word we hear is true.

When Paul goes to Galatia, he finds much the same thing that he found in Corinth. He is astonished that the Galatians are turning to a different gospel, which isn’t really a gospel at all. Some imposters were throwing the Galatians into confusion and were trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. Paul emphasizes twice that if even an angel preaches a different Gospel than the one Paul preached to them, may they be eternally condemned (Galatians 1). Teaching right doctrine, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. May we never preach anything but the truth of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection and may be very careful regarding the things we approve of, lest we lead others astray and so condemn ourselves (Romans 14:22).

In Ephesians 5:3-7, Paul discusses sin and how no immoral or impure person has any inheritance with God. The key verse in this passage is verse 5, which applies directly to all who teach. Paul states that no one should deceive the people with empty words, for it is because of sins such as obscenity, greed, and sexual immorality, that God’s wrath comes on the disobedient. Clearly Paul is stating that all those who choose to teach have a great responsibility to avoid watering down sin and thereby leading God’s children to Hell by being afraid to speak the truth.

Ephesians 4:11-16, states that some believers will be pastors and teachers in order to prepare God’s people for works of service and to grow them into maturity. Maturity in Christ is important because it keeps the people from being “blown here and there by every wind of teaching.” Thus, the calling of teachers is very serious and very clear – preach the truth of the gospel in order to, among other things, protect His precious sheep from the ferocious wolves that teach false and destructive doctrines. Because the calling comes with such great responsibilities, James 3:1 says, not many of us should presume to be teachers because those who teach will be judged more strictly.

Colossians 2:18-19, states that we should not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels to disqualify us for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what they have seen and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 1 Timothy 1:3-5, also states that we should not put up with men who teach false doctrines or who devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These people promote controversies rather than God’s work. The goal of this teaching is love, yet some have wandered away from the good message and have turned to meaningless talk. These people want to teach, but they don’t know what they are talking about and what they so confidently affirm. The above are two excellent scriptures which all of us can use to test the teachers and teachings we are hearing. If they do not line up with those scriptures, then they are not from God.

In 1 Timothy 4:1-7, Paul tells us that the Spirit has stated that in later days people will abandon their faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Therefore, it is our responsibility to point out the lies of legalism, the prosperity doctrine, false signs and wonders, and hyper-grace. We are to have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales. Instead, we are simply to devote ourselves to scripture. As noted at the beginning of this teaching, in 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul implores us to watch our life and doctrine closely, and to persevere in them, because in doing so we will save both our hearers and ourselves.

In 1 Timothy 6:3-5, Paul states that, if anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words which results in envy and constant strife. In 1 Timothy 6:20-21, Paul tells us to guard what has been entrusted to our care. We are to turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in doing so have wandered from the faith. In 2 Timothy 1:13-14, Paul states that, what we have heard from him, keep as the pattern of sound teaching with faith and love in Christ Jesus. We are to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to us with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul tells Timothy to show himself a workman approved by God, who studies the scriptures for himself, does not need to be ashamed – and most importantly, rightly divides the word of truth. This verse is important because it emphasizes the fact that we all need to… very carefully and very wisely, study and share the scriptures. We must make sure that what we teach lines up, not with what we have seen or heard from other men, but with the teachings of Jesus and with the apostles…lest we be found wanting. We can only do this if we ourselves become workmen, studying the scriptures carefully and frequently, asking the Holy Spirit to teach us as we devote our time and our hearts to the everlasting word of truth(John 14:26).

In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul implores us to continue in what we have learned and on that of which we have become convinced. He tells us to focus on scripture because it is, “God breathed and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” While books and the words of men are interesting, if their doctrines do not line up perfectly with scripture, we should throw them out. Only scripture is God breathed, while all men will fade away….

In 2 Timothy 4:2-5, Paul tells us to preach the word and to be prepared in and out of season to correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, but instead, to suit their own desires will gather around themselves a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from the truth and will instead turn aside to myths. But we are to keep our head in all situations, endure hardships, and do the work of an evangelist discharging all the duties of our ministry. I believe Paul’s primary point in this passage is that if we preach the word and are prepared through the word (and the word only) to correct, rebuke, encourage with scripture, then we will never be teaching or preaching in vain. At the end, like Paul, we want to be able to say that we have fought the good fight, that we have finished the race, and that we have kept the faith.

In Titus 1:7-11, we are told that overseers who are entrusted with God’s work must be blameless and must love what is good. They must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught. False teachers must be silenced for they teach things they ought not teach and they do so for dishonest gain. Again, the message is clear. We are not to dabble in teachings and preaching that are not clearly in line with scripture. It is also highly relevant to determine whether or not the people we are listening to are making large sums of money preaching what the people’s itching ears want to hear instead of the true, pure, Gospel. The message of the Jesus – sin, repentance, forgiveness, love and taking up our cross daily doesn’t seem to draw the money and crowds quite like prosperity preaching, and seeing people getting “slain in the spirit,” soaking in prayer or barking and/or laughing uncontrollably on the floor do.

Titus 2:1-15, goes in more detail about what is required of a teacher. Titus states that, those who instruct must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. They are to teach temperance, self-control, reverence, purity, kindness and all manner of honorable behavior. All teachings must show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech which cannot be condemned so that those who oppose the teachers may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say. Furthermore, the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men, and it teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live lives self-controlled, upright and godly while we wait for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior. Jesus Christ gave Himself for all of us, to redeem us from wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, and who are eager to do what is good. We are to encourage and rebuke with all authority and we should not let anyone despise us.

Titus 3:9-10, says to avoid foolish controversies and arguments and quarrels about the law because they are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person twice and then have nothing to do with them. This passage is clearly stating that anyone who is dividing the church by arguing about irrelevant controversies that are not in accord with the word of God should be warned and then, as verse 10 teaches, “Reject a divisive man after a first and second admonition.”

Hebrews 5:14-61, states that solid scriptural food/teaching is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us all leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death.

2 Peter 2:1-3, states that there will be false teachers among us who will secretly introduce destructive heresies. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit the people with stories that they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping. When examining many modern churches today, they seem to have an endless supply of these types of teachers. In spiritual lust, their flock craves false stories about angels and demons and heavenly creatures all while ignoring the doctrines of repentance, self-control, obedience and love.

In 2 Peter 3:15-18, Peter tells the church that Paul’s letters contain many things that are hard to understand and which ignorant people distort, as they do other scriptures, to their own destruction. We are told to be on our guard so that we might not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from our secure position. Instead we are to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. By focusing on scripture in its raw, unadulterated form, we will never have to worry about slipping into false teachings and heresies.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-15, Paul warns the church to not let anyone deceive them in any way because the secret power of lawlessness is already at work. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. He states that men perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God is going to send a powerful delusion to those who do not love the truth. They will believe the lie and all will be condemned who would not believe the truth but who have instead delighted in wickedness. He then advises the Thessalonian church to stand firm and to hold onto the teachings passed on to them by word of mouth or by letter.

In all the above scriptures, believers are told to be very careful that they preach only that which is in agreement with sound doctrine. According to Paul, that means that Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the primary piece of theology that must be taught. The foundation of all teaching must be the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ(John 1:1-18 is an excellent place to start). Those who choose to teach or lead are held to a very high standard of accountability before God. Those who have been entrusted with a flock must be very, very careful not to waiver to the right or to the left of the pure Gospel message.

Like the Bereans, all believers are called to know and understand the scriptures so that we are able to separate good teachers from bad teachers, and sound doctrine from man-centered lies. We are to be workmen who are not ashamed and who correctly handle the word of truth (2Timothy 2:15). We are not to seek signs and wonders, because as Jesus said, a wicked generation seeks after a miraculous sign (Matthew 12:38-42; 16:1-4), and as Paul says, we are to fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Instead, we are called to seek Jesus Christ Himself – not as our culture or our friends define him, but as he truly is in his word. Any image or teaching or prophecy that does not clearly line up with the eternal scripture must be rejected. Unfortunately, Paul notes that many “believers” don’t really want or even like the truth, but instead prefer satisfying their spiritual lust in seeking counterfeit miracles and signs instead of Jesus Christ, and because of that they will perish. Let all of us be on guard for such things, and demand that whoever preaches, teaches obedience to the words of Jesus and to the words of His apostles, as we wait, not for wealth, riches, health or happiness in this life, but for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Favorite Scriptures #4: God Chose the Weak and Foolish Things of the World (1 Corinthians 1:17-25)

Teachers, Preachers and Mammon: Money and the Ministry

Portraits of Jesus Christ in the word: Who Exactly is our God?

The Written Word: What Did Jesus, The Apostles, and the Psalmists say about the Eternal Written word of God?

Ecumenicism: Praying With People from Other Religions

Catholicism and the Worship of Mary

Preach the Word: As Ambassadors for Christ, We Are All Called to Preach the Word Boldly

*****THIS ARTICLE IS UPDATED AT THE TOP OF MY BLOG*******

          PREACH THE WORD AND DO NOT BE ASHAMED OF JESUS

42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

John 12:42-43

14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

Romans 10:14

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:20

How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

Romans 10:15b

5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.

2 Corinthians 4:5

Saint Francis of Assisi said something to the effect of, preach the Gospel…but rarely use words. While this sounds wise, it directly contradicts what the Bible commands regarding teaching and preaching. The Bible tells us to, boldly and humbly, and without fear or shame, proclaim the Word of Truth. The unchanging Word of God always overrules anything any man has ever said which contradicts it – no matter how brilliant it may sound. As 1 Peter 1:24-25 says, all men are like grass and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and flowers fade…but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Every book we read, every sermon we hear, and every piece of advice we both give and receive must line up clearly and perfectly with the everlasting Word of God.

Are we, perhaps, embarrassed to say the name of Jesus Christ to non-believers? Are we afraid of giving advice that is in accord with the scriptures because it may not be socially acceptable or culturally sensitive? Are we more concerned with the approval of men than the approval of the one and only God (John 5:44; 12:42-43)? As Jesus says in John 15:18-23, if we love Him and truly are His disciples, then the world will hate us. James, the brother of Jesus, tells us in very clear language that friendship with the world is hatred towards God, and that friendship with the world makes us enemies of God (James 4:4). Peter and Paul both state that if we are going to follow Christ, we are going to be persecuted severely. Paul was persecuted so intensely that at one point that he even despaired of life itself (2 Corinthians 1:8-9).

There are those who say that men can disciple others in Christ without ever talking to them about Jesus. Instead, by discussing family, work, leadership principles, and relationships, the Spirit can move to communicate Christ. There is nothing in scripture that supports this position. Instead, it appears to be more in tune with the basic philosophies and principals of this fading world as mentioned by Paul in Colossians 2:8. As Matthew 5:19-20 says, to be great in the kingdom of heaven, we must both practice and teach His commands. As I will discuss in a subsequent portion of this document, Paul makes it clear that the world cannot know about Jesus unless we proclaim him.

When Jesus is about to ascend into heaven in Matthew 28:18-20, he specifically tells his followers to go and make new disciples throughout the world – and he goes on to tell them exactly how to do it. He commands them to “teach” these disciples “to obey everything” Jesus has commanded them to do. There was nothing in that charge that states or implies that they (or we) are to avoid or slow-play the words of Jesus and build strong and trusting relationships based on mutual temporal interests and leisure before we begin to share the things of Christ. There is nothing in the final words of Jesus that say that we are to teach others to build better relationships with friends and family or instruct them how to become leaders in the business or political world. On the contrary, as previously noted, Jesus instructed his followers to teach their new disciples to obey… everything that He has taught, knowing that if they do that, everything else will fall into place.

Our job as disciples of Christ is to lift up Jesus, and if we obey that command then Jesus will draw all men to Himself. While it may not make sense to our temporal minds to focus so intently on what Jesus told us to do in his final instructions to his disciples, and while it will cost us relationships, the Holy Spirit will use our obedience to draw hearts that are truly interested in Jesus to Jesus. By our obedience the spirit will reveal who really wants to know Jesus Christ and the power of His death and resurrection. That will allow us to avoid expending unnecessary time and effort on those who aren’t really interested in knowing Christ, but are more interested in relationships with the wealthy, the influential, and the powerful.

John 15:26-27 is another example of Jesus specifically instructing his disciples to proclaim him. He tells them that, once they receive the Spirit, they must testify about Him, just as the Holy Spirit will testify about Him. More specifically, Jesus says: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, who goes out from the Father, He will testify about Me. You also must testify for you have been with me from the beginning.”

I greatly admire how Paul took the commands of Jesus to heart and boldly and unashamedly proclaimed the Word of Truth across the known world – despite the most extreme resistance and severe suffering. In Romans 1:16-17, Paul stated that he was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because he knew it was the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, for in the Gospel of Christ, the righteousness from God that comes through faith is revealed. Paul bravely lived his post-conversion life looking to a better country…a heavenly one… that God has prepared for his people, for we truly are strangers and pilgrims on this earth (Hebrews 11:13-17).

Based on Paul’s words and actions, simply talking about principles of leadership, while enjoying sports and leisure time together, with a measure of Christian principals and relational dialogue mixed in, does not reveal the righteousness of the everlasting God. Instead, Paul clearly emphasizes a desperate need to actually preach the Gospel – and to be careful about our way of life, our doctrine – and even about the things of which we approve (1 Timothy 4:16, Romans 14:22b). In Romans 10:14 and 17, Paul states exactly why unbelievers need to hear the gospel. He asks, how can they (unbelievers) call on the one they haven’t believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they haven’t heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? In verse 17, he reaffirms the above by proclaiming that faith comes from hearing the message and the message comes from the word of Christ. In Titus 1:3 Paul also states that knowledge of the word is manifested through preaching.

We are all, in no uncertain terms, called to preach the word to those around us. With boldness and great humility, we are to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified – in weakness, in fear, and in the confidence that comes from knowing what we are before the living God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). A powerful example of preaching Jesus, even under great stress is in Acts 8:1-4, when, even after the church was scattered due to Paul’s violent persecutions, those who were scattered went “everywhere preaching the word.” I have come to deeply appreciate the fact that Paul and the early church were never ashamed of the name of Jesus and His words. I pray that one day I may have the same boldness and Jesus-centered confidence.

While our culture has painted Jesus as a passive, social justice-seeking hippie, with long hair and sandals, Paul is not concerned at all about who men think Jesus is. He preaches what he knows for a fact – and he proclaims it without hesitation, in even the most dangerous and godless places. Paul was flogged and imprisoned multiple times, he was stoned, and was even dragged outside of a city and left for dead. But, after regaining consciousness, he got back up, and walked right back into that city where he continued preaching. He knew exactly who it was he was preaching – the Jesus who rescued him from the dominion of darkness, and the one who is before all things and in whom all things hold together.(Colossians 1:13-20). The Jesus who did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing. The Jesus who did not retaliate when insults were hurled at him as he hung cold, naked and alone on a hard wooden cross…and the only God who has a kingdom that can never, ever be shaken.

In Matthew 10:32-33, Jesus says that whoever acknowledges Him before men will also be acknowledged before His Father in heaven. This message is also contained in Luke 12:8-9. Jesus knows who He is and he wants us to know it and bravely proclaim it as well. John 1:1-18, Colossians 1:13-20, Philippians 2:5-11, 1 Peter 2:23-24, Revelation 1:12-18 and Revelation 19:11-16, are all excellent scriptures which paint accurate and powerful portraits of Jesus as He was, is…and is to come. I strongly suggest learning those scriptures and teaching them to others. As Philippians 2:5-11 indicates, Jesus is God, and He stepped off his throne willingly in obedience to the Father – and for our eternal benefit. Because he did this, God the Father exalted His Name above every name, and one way or another, every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. I suggest that we encourage those whose lives we touch to do that acknowledging now, rather than later when it is too late.

Psalms 91:14 has always spoken deeply to my heart about the power of acknowledging the name of God. In Psalm 91:14 David writes, “…because He loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him. I will protect him for he acknowledges my name.” This verse speaks powerfully to me as to why the Lord has so often protected me from my own foolishness – and from the lies of the world. In His mercy, and by His grace, I do love to speak His name to people I encounter – and I constantly ask Jesus to create a context where I can bring up His name naturally and peacefully. And He always does. There is no need to be obnoxious about it or to bring it up in a way that doesn’t fit the moment. For the God of peace will, if we ask Him, give us opportunities to proclaim exactly who this King of Kings and Lord of Lords is and what He has done for us. I pray that I will always have a heart to share the name of Jesus Christ. It is infinitely easier to do so in America today than it was for Paul in the violent, idol worshipping near east, in ancient times.

In Mark 3:13-14 and Mark 6:7-12, Jesus makes it clear that he called the twelve (12) apostles so that He might send them out to preach. In Acts 10:42-43, when Peter is talking to Cornelius about the Gospel and the life of Christ, he says that Jesus commanded ALL of his disciples to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one whom God appointed to judge the living and the dead. In Acts 5:18-20, 29, 41-42, the text states that the apostles “never stopped teaching and preaching the good news.” In Acts 3:11-26 and in Acts 4, Peter preaches the Word boldly and he is not ashamed or afraid to preach Jesus even when the Jewish leaders specifically forbade him from doing so. In Acts 9:27-29, Paul preached fearlessly, even in the face of death. In Acts 14, Paul preached boldly despite great opposition, and even after being stoned (with rocks) and left for dead. Paul constantly preached the Gospel of Jesus, and he was never ashamed and never let fear control his message despite the intensity of the violence he suffered. For he truly considered everything that was of personal benefit to him a loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7-14).

I believe that one of the greatest passages of scripture setting forth the differences between the ways of Jesus Christ and the ways of the world is 1 Corinthians 1:17 through 1 Corinthians 2:5. In this passage, Paul boldly proclaims that Jesus Christ sent him to preach the Gospel – but not with words of with human wisdom lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. He knew that this message was foolishness to those who were perishing, but to those who were being saved it was the very power of God. He pointed out how God uses the weak and foolish things of the world to shame the wise so that no one can boast before him. Paul also powerfully affirmed that the only thing he wanted to make certain that he communicated to the people under his charge was the core message of the gospel – that Jesus Christ was crucified for their sins (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Paul didn’t teach principles of leadership or brotherhood. As the 1 Corinthians passage referenced earlier indicates, he taught the cross of Christ – a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles – and he did it in weakness, and fear, and with much trembling so that his message would not rely on men’s wisdom but on God’s power. I believe that we are all called do the same. In Acts 20:24, Paul stated that he counted his life worth nothing, if only he might finish the race and complete the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace. In 1 Corinthians 9:16-18, Paul says, “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel,” and when he does preach, he states that he does it free of charge so that he is not tempted to abuse his authority.

There are many additional passages that encourage us to proclaim the gospel boldly. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 Paul reminds the church of the gospel that he originally delivered to them, and that in that gospel they must  stand. In 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, we are told that we are Christ’s ambassadors to the world, and that God is making His appeal through us, imploring all men that He wants them reconciled to Him. In Ephesians 6:19-20, Paul asks for prayer so that whenever he opens his mouth, the gospel may be proclaimed fearlessly. In 2 Timothy 1:8-9, Paul says that we should not to be ashamed to testify about our Lord but should join with him in suffering for the Gospel. In 2 Timothy 1:12, Paul says that he is suffering, yet he is not ashamed because he knows whom it is he believes. In 2 Timothy 4:2, Paul tells us to preach the Word and to be prepared in season and out of season to correct, encourage, and rebuke with great patience and careful instruction.

In 2 Timothy 4:10-16, Paul makes it clear that both his teaching and his way of life were consistent. His words and his actions worked together to make his message powerful. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:19-20, to be great in the kingdom of heaven we must practice AND teach his commands. In Romans 15:18, Paul says that he leads the Gentiles to obedience by both what he has said and by what he has done. Clearly, as disciples of Christ and spokesmen for the gospel, our words and our actions must be consistent and must not be based on our flesh our supposed gifts. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, Paul made it clear that the message he was preaching had nothing to do with his natural affinities, and he wasn’t worried at all about coming across as eloquent, powerful, or wise. In fact, he knew that eloquence might actually quench the power of the message of Jesus. He simply wanted to preach Christ crucified, in weakness and in fear of the Lord, in order that the Holy Spirit might do the talking.

In Philippians 2:14-16, Paul states that we as believers are to shine like stars in the universe as we hold out the Word of life. In Colossians 1:28-29 and 2:1-3, Paul says that we proclaim Jesus, teaching everyone with all wisdom so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. This act of teaching the gospel is our labor, our vocation as followers of Jesus. Paul’s stated purpose was that, through his teaching, everyone might have the full riches of complete understanding in order that we all may truly know Jesus Christ. Paul makes it eminently clear that the commands of Jesus must be taught in order for men and women of this earth to understand the truth and to be freed from the bondage of sin.

In Colossians 4:3-5, Paul prays that God will open a door so that he may proclaim the mystery of Christ to all people, and he encourages the church in Colossae to make the most of every opportunity to share Jesus with others. In Philemon 1:6, we are instructed to be active in sharing our faith so that we will have the full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. In 1 Peter 2:9- 10, we are told that, as chosen people we are to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light.

I believe that the more we understand exactly who Jesus is and what it is he has done for us free of charge, the bolder and less ashamed we become in proclaiming Him, as He is in scripture. That is why I believe that knowing, teaching, and even memorizing John 1:1-18, Colossians 1:13-20, Philippians 2:5-11, 1 Peter 1:23-24, Revelation 1:12-18, and Revelation 19:11-16, is of the utmost importance as a follower of Christ. What could be more important to a believer than having powerful and accurate portraits of our living God from his eternal word, burned into our hearts and minds? There are very few things that I would want someone whose life I am somehow touching, to know more than these passages.

EPILOGUE

Someday every knee in heaven and on earth and under the earth, will bow down to Jesus Christ and every tongue will indeed confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Let us encourage those we know and love to do this confessing before death … instead of after. And let us do it boldly, and powerfully, and without fear, through the power of the Holy Spirit, knowing that we truly are heirs of an eternal kingdom that can never, ever be shaken.

 

1 Corinthians 1:17- 24

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

The Written Word: What Did Jesus, The Apostles, and the Psalmists say about the Eternal Written word of God?