And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear… – 1 Peter 3:13-15
I haven’t written a post in a while but I felt compelled to share good news today. The verse above is one of the most well known “evangelism” verses, however most only quote the second half. They sort of forget about the suffering and the threats and troubles that come along with evangelism. I’ve been engaged in street evangelism and open air proclamation of the gospel for over a year now and my knowledge and boldness grows each time I got out. Disclaimer: this article is not about me.
I write today to encourage Christians. Those that have truly been bought by the blood of Christ. Some of you might evangelize. Some of you might evangelize a little, and some of you may not at all. But I want to encourage you today. I want to tell you what God has done. I want to give you hope that your efforts, no matter how small, are never in vain. The simple act of passing a gospel tract to someone can change their life for all eternity. I will quote my friend Tony Miano and we should never use the four letter word “only”. I “only” passed out tracts. No, if you passed out a tract, you presented the gospel to someone and that is a significant event. That is to the praise of His glory, and should never be minimized.
Today, is Thursday and it’s normally Emma Goldman day. It’s a wretched place that systematically kills babies. I could go into a long why we didn’t go to EG today, but the bottom line is that God had another plan. It was decided we (Donnie, Roy & me) would meet at the church at 11 and walk the streets of downtown Davenport for a couple hours, passing out tracts and attempting to engage people in gospel conversations. That was our plan. As we pulled up to a snowy sidewalk I asked the guys to pray. I was particularly moved to seek the Lord’s guidance today that He would arrange our encounters and that we would practice 1 Timothy 2:24-25. That we would be gentle and compassionate.
Encounter 1. Demon possessed Vietnam Veteran. No more than 30 seconds after getting out of the truck I attempted to hand a man a tract and he began yelling and cursing at me. The three of us attempted to reason with him but he was having none of it. He claimed to be a Catholic, showed us his crucifix and repeated a prayer that he says each day, and though his lips may honor the Lord, his heart was far from him. Especially as he repeatedly used the Lord’s name in a vulgar manner. We walked away humbled and dismayed at the anger in this man and prayed the Lord would be merciful to his soul.
Encounter 2. Alan. We moved up to 4th St. and walked past the Scott County Courthouse and one man got semi-angry with brother Roy as he attempted to give him the gospel and then I saw Alan and asked him if I could give him some good news. He refused. I turned and said to him, “sir may I ask you, what would happen if you died today, do you know where you will spend eternity?” He turned and said to me “No, I do not know.” Quick rabbit trail: friends, never let an immediate “no” discourage you. Always ask a follow up question if you can, you will be surprised at how one question can change things. I like to ask if they know what happens when they die, or if they have been born again.
Alan, listened intently as I presented the law and the gospel to him and urged him to repent of his sins and place his faith in Christ. He never took his eyes off of me and he seemed genuinely moved by the encounter. I asked if he had a church home and invited him to join us this weekend.
Encounter 3. Neicey. We turned left from the courthouse and headed toward the river front and walked past a short black woman in a huge orange coat. The hood was pulled up and under the big puffy coat she was bundled up even more. I could hardly see her face. Donnie handed her a tract and I believe she declined the initial offering. Donnie pressed the issue and asked her if she knew where she was headed after death. Without hesitation she said “Hell”. Not in a prideful way, but in an almost sheepish way. I asked her if she knows what hell is like? She said, no, but I expect you are going to tell me. I described hell as the bible describes it. Utter darkness, no relief from the torment, eternal conscious suffering, with nothing good there. I said God provides us with goodness here on earth even if we don’t believe in Him, and just then the sun came out and warmed us and I said, see how He just provided His grace to us?
She began to describe that she couldn’t be forgiven because she was a murderer and had actually spent time in prison for killing someone and that this morning she had prayed and asked God if it was possible she could be forgiven and that He would send someone to tell her. She said she expected it would come from being in a church, but would have never expected three men on the street to show her the way of salvation. I described to her that Paul was a murderer and read to her from the book of Acts how he consented to the death of Stephen and while still breathing out his murderous threats the Lord Jesus Christ reached down and saved him. We told her the law is a tutor to bring a sinner to the grace of God and that she needed to repent and turn to Christ. She began weeping.
The conversation continued for some time and we all pleaded with her to trust in Christ and we asked her to join us in church to hear the preaching of the word, to enjoy the fellowship of the saints. I encouraged her to open her bible to Psalm 51 and read about David the murderer and adulterer and to cry out to God for His mercy and forgiveness. As we prayed for her and then walked away the three of us were nearly speechless considering the goodness of God, His providence and an encounter that we will not soon forget.
We had several more encounters throughout our time and as we walked back toward the truck I attempted to hand some tracts to some people that were dressed fairly nice. They looked very clean, very nice and as I asked them to take a tract they politely declined. I pressed them. “Do you know what will happen to you when you die?” “No thank you” was their reply. I said, I hope you’ll consider that question today.
How about you? Will you consider that question today?
“A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one according began to make excuses…
Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind,’…
Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.'” – Luke 14:16-24
Will you come in? Will you dine with Him? Will you understand that you are blind, maimed and poor? Very few understand their condition.
If you are a Christian will you tell others that they might be saved?
Ghandi has a quote that is attributed to him, and I guess I have no reason to doubt he said it. It goes like this “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Isn’t that an interesting quote on so many levels?
First of all there is a lot of hypocrisy in this statement. Was Ghandi like Christ? Some people think he was. Ghandi, never professed to be a Christian, as far as I know, but he is saying that if more people acted like Christ, then it might work better for him. Sure, I suppose… But more importantly, I agree with him. I also disagree with him, but I’m not going to spend time showing why I disagree, because I think there is enough here for the point of this article as to why I agree with his quote.
As a reminder, I started this little series based on a discussion I had with a friend over the years on whether one should be a follower of Christ, or Christ like. I argued that if we don’t start by following Christ we will never strive to be like Him, and that most will never TRULY follow Christ. Many will profess to follow, but when the going gets hard, the hardened get going.
But back to Ghandi…
Ghandi claims that Christians are not like Christ, and I have a lot of agreement with him on this point, so, how are we that truly follow Christ to be like Him? Have we considered, from the Bible, what it means to be like Christ? Let’s look at just two ways that we are to be like Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me as I imitate Christ. Paul understood the desire to be like Christ. He had a proper grasp on what was valuable, but he also knew what it meant to really imitate Christ.
Jesus Christ suffered. And so did Paul.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God… – 2 Timothy 1:8 The Christian life and suffering should be synonymous, this is being like Christ and being like Paul.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:10
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:12
For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: – 1 Peter 2:20-21
The suffering and patient endurance for the spread of the gospel should be a privilege for all Christians to share in. Did you get that? It’s a privilege to suffer for the sake of the gospel. Yet in modern Christianity suffering for the gospel probably means the air conditioning is out at your church, or the latte machine is broken.
We have no concept of what it means to suffer for the sake of the gospel, in some cases you might be marginalized or laughed at. If you do any sort of open air ministry you will most definitely be mocked, if you are preaching the true gospel, but rarely will you be beaten. At least not in this country. So I think that true biblical suffering is not readily experienced by most Christians, in fact it’s experienced by very few. However, I will offer some hope that the day is coming when the true elect of God will be revealed through the suffering of the church and it appears that day is not very far away. Do yourself a favor and begin to experience it now, so it won’t come upon you as some sort of surprise.
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 4:17
Well now, that’s a little bit inconvenient for most of us. In a culture that likes to say “preach the gospel always and if necessary use words” this upsets the apple cart. The word “preach” literally means public proclamation.
The word κηρύσσω kērýssō is a word that carries force and gravity. It means that someone is confronted to make a decision about what they have heard. In fact it demands a decision, and it is a call to obey. In the days before newspapers, the nightly news, and the internet, the way a king would get his message to his subjects was through a herald. One that was sent to deliver the message of the king. He went into the town square and read publicly the message. The subjects were called to obey.
Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. – Matthew 11:1
But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” – Mark 1:38
And He (Christ) commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. – Acts 10:42
Why is this so important? Why such a radical call? Most professing Christians will think this is a foolish way to spread the love of Christ and they will offer alternatives like friendship evangelism, life-style evangelism or “missional” group evangelism. I’m not saying we should not evangelize our friends, or those in our life, or we shouldn’t have groups of people sitting around talking about missions, but this is not the primary biblical model that Christ, the apostles, the early church, and the church of the past century utilized.
Why this method?
Paul is very helpful to our understanding of why open air preaching and gospel proclamation is imperative to the spread of the good news. In short God uses this method to save people. Not all will be saved in this manner, but many will.
So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. – Romans 1:15-16
Do we see it? The gospel saves…
The proclamation of the gospel, in particular, through the foolish preaching of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18) is the method that God, in His wisdom, chose to save those who believe. That is hard to comprehend, but it is the truth.
And I can affirm to you that one way to bring suffering (like Christ) is to proclaim the gospel. Publicly, for those called to do so, through the oversight of your church. The local church is to provide cover and support for this endeavor. The Elders affirm a man’s ability to preach and they provide accountability, and protection against errant messages. Understanding that it is to be men that publicly preach, just as in the local assembly. Women are also called to serve in evangelism but not in the same way as preachers. They can be engaged in one on one conversations, or passing out gospel tracts and eliciting conversations with people. In properly ordered churches this will have an impact on the community. In this manner we can begin to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). It’s a beautiful thing.
This will bring persecution and it will bring salvation’s. If you want to be like Christ, these are two ways for you to imitate Paul as he imitates Christ.
I began thinking about this topic a long time ago and quickly discovered I couldn’t do this in one blog or even two. This post will discuss how we can’t be like Christ, and then the last one will focus on the ways in which we should strive to be like Christ.
We last left off with a discussion that I had over the years with a friend. The discussion centered around being a Christ follower or being Christ-like. I argued last time that you must begin as a follower of Christ before you can ever become Christ-like. I’m hopeful that I successfully showed the majority of people that even claim to follow Christ, don’t. And also those that have a “desire” to follow really won’t leave themselves behind and truly follow. There are many reasons for this but at the end of day the cost is very high. To follow Christ will cost you everything. Many will disagree with this statement , but when we look around at the surface level Christianity today I think there is little doubt. Let’s see.
I’ve thought about Christ-likeness a lot over the past several years. What I want to show you is what the Bible says about Christ-likeness. Not some figment of the imagination about Jesus. Not the all “inclusive” Jesus, although anyone who will forsake their sin and place their full faith and trust in Christ will be included. No, I’m talking about the Jesus of the holy scriptures. That Jesus. It might be interesting to see what He did, and how we can attempt to be like that Jesus.
What did Christ do while He was on this earth? What are the different things we can emulate about His life. I think this is an important distinction because most things about Christ we cannot do. Let’s consider a few of the can’t do before we look at the can do.
We can’t perform miracles
Unless you are Benny Hinn (that is sarcasm), you can’t perform the miracles that Jesus Christ performed on this earth. I’d challenge anyone to walk on water, to calm the sea, to create bread and fish out of bread and fish. To grow back arms, cause people to walk and to command the dead to live. It’s important to understand that Jesus did these miracles to prove His deity. It’s that simple.
John 10:37-38 “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me and I in Him.”
We are not without sin
Sinless perfection is unattainable for mankind. Despite the teaching of Mary being sinless by the Catholic Church (here), (here), and (here) we believe the bible teaches Christ’s perfection and man’s sinfulness very plainly, even Mary.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…
We cannot drink the cup of God’s Wrath
Jesus Christ came to this earth to seek and save the lost. He did this because man has a problem called sin. God’s righteous judgment calls for justice to be served. Law breakers must be dealt with and the way God deals with the lawless is by shutting them in prison for all of eternity where they will bear His anger against their rebellion to His goodness.
Matthew 20:22 But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”
They had no idea what they were asking Him for, they had no concept that the Christ was going to the cross to drink the cup of God’s wrath against sin and sinful mankind. But Jesus knew, and He willingly went.
Psalm 75:7-8 But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another. For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; It is fully mixed, and He pours it out; Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down.
Isaiah 53:5-6 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
As Paul Washer has said, “All men will melt like wax before a blast furnace as the fury of God is unleashed against them.” Unless they repent and turn to Christ for forgiveness of sin every person condemned will face the wrath of an angry God for all eternity. This is a message that is frightening and should be seen as a severe warning to those walking about as if God does not exist. Thinking they have a lifetime ahead of them not knowing they hang by a very thin string over the pits of darkness.
We cannot rise from the dead
Man has been appointed once to die. There are no second chances after death on this earth. We have been given revelation of God through nature and through His word. All mankind will answer for his life and we must realize once it’s over it’s over. This is why it is imperative to speak. To tell people the good news.
And it has been appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. – Hebrews 9:27-28
I could go on, but I think it’s sufficient to say that Christ has accomplished everything on the cross needed for our salvation. His grace will take us to heaven when we pass from this life to the next. For those that have not repented and placed their trust in Christ, He will pour out His wrath upon them for all eternity. No second chances. Believe in the Son and live.
Next time, I will exhort us to live like Christ if we call ourselves Christians, and I believe this will be very challenging for those in the professing church.
In my life, and especially in my Christian life I’ve had a lot of conversations that revolve around Christianity. I’ve, way too often, had conversations that don’t glorify God or impart grace to the hearer but I’m thankful that God is growing me to understand Him better and He continues to refine me.
I’ve thought back on a conversation that I had years ago that involved following Christ and Christ-likeness. It’s an interesting conversation and one that goes like this. “I’ve been told before that you should strive not to just follow Christ but to be like Christ.” I’ve given this some thought over the years and I sort of get where this is going and you know what? I agree. We should strive to be like Christ.
However we need to back up for a moment. We can’t strive to be like Christ unless we have first followed Him, because outside of God’s regenerating work nobody would ever desire to be like Christ, in fact, the bible tells us they won’t even truly follow Him.
And as He walked by the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him. – Mark 1:16-18
The Lord Jesus Christ did not tell Peter and Andrew to become like Him, He said “Follow Me…” and so we see this pattern repeated in the gospel accounts.
Mark 8:34 …”Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
This is interesting, because now we see that following Christ is expensive. It costs us something. It means picking up a cross and denying ourselves. Immediately this thins the crowd doesn’t it?
“If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. – Matthew 19:21-22
Very expensive indeed for this young man… In fact, more than he was willing to pay.
For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. – Matthew 16:25
Apparently following Christ will now cost you your life, all your possessions, your nets, and force you to pick up and carry a cross. How many people are still in?
These didn’t seem to care for the cost either.
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” And another also said, “Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.” But Jesus said to him, “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” – Luke 9:58-62
And let us not forget that the world will think we are crazy if we decide to follow Christ, because He has some pretty extreme demands.
Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. – John 6:54
…”Does this offend you?” – John 6:61
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. – John 6:66
So before you tell someone to be more Christ like, we better first find out if they are willing to follow Him, then we’ll get to the tough stuff. More on that next time.
I decided on the spur of the moment that this article needed to be written. Not because I have anything important to say, or anybody important will read it, but because maybe someday the information will be useful to me. I serve as a Deacon in a small Reformed church in a semi-small town on the east side of nowhere Iowa. I don’t know why I felt compelled to write, but I think it’s important among the cacophony of voices I say my piece.
I don’t know Tullian and I don’t know anybody that does. I’ve never heard him preach, but I’ve observed his life from a distance for a few years. I’ve not even been saved as long as he’s been a pastor most likely, so why do I have the authority to write about him? Because I think God’s word speaks clearly about his life and he should listen. If he could hear my words, or read what I write I would want him to know a few observations I’ve had and what I think he should do moving forward.
Some of you probably don’t know of him or probably don’t know what I’m talking about but Tullian Tchividjian is the grandson of Billy Graham. He had been going through some marital issues and it was revealed that affairs had occurred within the marriage. Mutual affairs. A very sad and awful thing for a family to go through and especially for the children, nobody sees the devastation of sin from the before pictures, only the after.
Tullian is well known, in many circles, for what most would say are Antinomian tendencies. He doesn’t seem to worry, or focus as much on living a holy life as he focuses on the grace of God. What I write is well documented in other places, and I care not to write about it here, but for some of us that cared this was a shipwreck waiting to happen.
A couple days ago it appears he has filed to divorce his wife and with that as the backdrop here are the things I would say to Tullian if I ever had a chance. I will write to him as a brother since I’m not aware that he has denied the faith, but his actions are questionable at best. Regardless, I’ll treat him as if he is indeed in the faith for the time being.
Don’t Divorce – I don’t know if Tullian knows that God hates divorce? I would imagine he has read the Scripture, but this is imperative; does he not remember he made a covenant with God?
…Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant. But did He not make them one, having a remnant of the Spirit? And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth. “For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,” Says the LORD of hosts. “Therefore take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.” – Malachi 2:14-16
Get Wise Counsel – I have no idea how the leadership of his church plans to restore this man, and he may very well need to seek someone outside of this body. That would indeed be a travesty if he cannot find men that would tell him the truth and not what he wants to hear.
Where there is no counsel, the people fall: but in the multitude of counselors there is safety. – Proverbs 11:14
It seems if there was good counsel in the first place, this may have turned out differently, but I don’t know the structure of his church, I hope they will learn from this.
He Needs to go Dark – Get off social media! I’ve seen some of his tweets and other things floating around, and for the life of me I don’t see a man that is broken by his sin, but a man that appears to believe God is visible in the clouds. God is visible in His written word, and this is where he needs to have his face buried.
Proverbs 10:19 In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.
His Elders should put a restraining order on his activities and have him in intensive biblical counseling along with a thorough examination of what went wrong. This didn’t happen overnight. It was playing out in front of us all.
Repent in Biblical Fashion – David was a murderer and an adulterer, and many Christians are quick to point this out. Yes, of course, we know that, but look at how David handled his sin. We see a disturbing pattern among “celebrity” Christians and that is to acknowledge their “mistakes” but never repent of their wicked and evil hearts.
For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight… Psalm 51:3-4
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10
Endeavor to lead a Quiet Life – This goes along with getting out of the spotlight. It would appear he enjoys the attention and that will always keep him where he cannot focus on God, because he wants to focus on himself. He should flee attention, go spend a month in a cabin. I know of one if he needs a place to go. Better yet go serve the poor somewhere in some third world country and don’t tell anybody but your Elders where you are going. Drop your phone in the toilet on the way to the airport.
…that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. – 1 Timothy 2:3-4
Realize his Wretched Condition – Tullian is a sinful man. I am a far more sinful man than he is, and I can easily prove it. I expect he grew up in a very moralistic fashion, just like Josh Duggar. I was a fine sinner, perhaps as good as almost anyone and by the grace of God He picked me up and breathed His precious Spirit into my dead, cold heart. I don’t know if Tullian realizes his deplorable state. Perhaps he does, and I just don’t see it coming out of his mouth, but I confess that I don’t hang on every word he says, so I may have missed it. Can he echo what Paul said, what I say about myself?
This is a faithful saying and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. – 1 Timothy 1:15-16
What a proclamation by Paul! Do you realize this? Do I realize this when I think highly of myself? Do I realize that pride comes before a fall, and that by the grace of God and that grace alone, He keeps me from falling off the cliff every day? Oh the riches of His mercy, how amazing they are, for wretched sinners just like me and I hope for a wretched sinner like Tullian.
The purpose of this article is not about me, or my children, but in some sense it is about me and my children. The whole summation of this begins with a question. What is the purpose of children? Why do we have them? How many times have you heard it said, “why would I want to bring children into this world?” The inference is that the world is so incredibly evil that I wouldn’t want to have my children suffer the consequences.
But the reality is a focus on self. Those of us that steward children realize that it’s hard work. There is rarely a time for a “break”. Even in the middle of the night there are bad dreams, or illness and countless other issues. So why bother? I guess it depends on the camp you reside, and if that camp is Christianity, then the way you raise your children speaks volumes about your life. Quick disclaimer: my children are as bad as yours, and I have the same problems raising them that you do, so this is not an article that claims I’m the model of parenthood. Lord knows my daily failures. This article hopes to encourage, and to spur the believer on to love and good works.
I’ve written on Psalm 127 before, and it always bears repeating… Children are a blessing, children are a heritage from the Lord, and children are to be raised to perpetuate the gospel. They are to be trained and they are to be sharpened that they might be sent out into the world to be arrows, to pierce through the hearts of sinful man with the sword of the gospel. That is obvious, and notice that this Psalm begins with this little phrase, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…” – Psalm 127:1
If you are not raising your children for the glory of God, if you are not allowing the Lord to build the house, you are laboring in vain, and I suppose you have not considered this verse, and possibly your eternal standing before God. I hope you will give that consideration today if that is your situation.
For those that desire to raise children to the glory of God it’s important to think about those children as a testimony to our lives. The children you nurture in your home are speaking loudly to the world around you. I have several examples from my own life, and I only desire to talk about those to point people to Christ, not to say what a great parent I am. Jesus said that wisdom is justified by her children, and this means that our salvation becomes evident to all by the fruit that is produced through our lives. Our children bear witness to our lives.
The biggest question that a Christian can and should ask themselves is do your children look different than the rest of the world, or do they blend quite nicely? I’m not necessarily a proponent of our girls wearing matching calico print dresses with little napkins on their heads to be different, but how they act and the message they give out when they are around other people speaks about the training they receive in the home. We certainly don’t have to go very far to see how the world justifies her children. It’s pretty obvious that a kid will have their head stuck in their cell phone, and they can’t engage an adult in much more than a one word answer. They are a rebellious sort, with a sarcastic look on their face. Of course not all of them, because we also get the outwardly compliant child.
This also is a danger, that we raise them to be well behaved. We train them to be counter-cultural only in their external actions. We can train them for our own benefit. To be different, for sure, but it is training in self-righteousness. They can justify themselves through their “good” actions, when inside they are dead men’s bones. It’s a virtual mine-field of parenting to know which side to land on. The bible makes no absolute promises that the children of believing parents will become believers, although I know some groups that try and claim that. I don’t fall into that camp, and I realize from conception my children are hostile to God. They come out of the womb sinners, and I must present the law and the gospel to them and trust in God’s mercy for their souls.
However, when I disciple my children to the glory of God, they will look different. There is just no other way around it. They will be a testimony to the change in my heart, wrought by God. Are we different because we are home-schoolers, or because we attend a certain church? Yes, but that is not the point. The point is to raise your children to see their need for Christ. It always comes back to man’s greatest need is for salvation in His name. He came to seek and save the lost, and for those that have no understanding of their “lostness” then He is not worthy of their pursuits. He must be the greatest treasure, the pearl of great value.
That is the point. That is why we, that call ourselves Christians, must train and disciple our children. We must do so with great effort. All day, every day.
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. – Deuteronomy 6:7
The church is alive and well in this country. At least there are a lot of people that attend church in this country, and specifically it seems as though there are many people that attend large churches. This seems to be a trend in much of the evangelical churches of today for many people. I don’t have a lot of statistics to support my statement, but this article isn’t really about backing up that claim with statistics. I can look around my hometown and see several large churches that have a big attendance.
I recently attended a home-school conference and the conference was held at a church facility that was quite incredible. They had a very large auditorium, they had a sprawling campus, they had nearly every program that one could imagine to appeal to nearly every segment of every possible audience. I mean they had it all. Youth facilities, that looked to have a rockin’ band, multiple languages, cafe, coffee shop, book store, gymnasium, and on and on, even a jungle room for the tots. If you wanted something for your family and you wanted to go to church this would be the place.
I can imagine the “pull” a place like this has on the people around it. It’s the hip place to go to church. I’ll bet they can sing Amazing Grace like no other place in town. Whether that be a traditional version, or a new modern version, I’d be pretty certain this place can deliver…
It was while attending this conference that something really struck me. We were sitting in the auditorium, and Voddie Baucham was the keynote speaker. He had many sessions over the days we were in attendance and Voddie was very kind and stuck around after his sessions answering questions. A man and his wife sitting a row below us to our right said they were considering home-schooling their children, but the kids were a little older and they were rebelling against the idea. He asked Voddie if they should insist, or allow the kids to have their way. The answer was quite remarkable and probably the opposite of what most people would think. He told them they need to pull them in tight to their bosom and hold them their as long as they can.
In other words, don’t you dare let them go, and don’t you dare allow them to determine their course. I was blessed by Voddie’s compassion for this couple and I was struck by the pain this couple seemed to be in over this decision, that they were struggling to make.
After the session I was walking outside the auditorium and I saw the man that asked the question and I approached him. I said that I was touched by his question, and had a compassion for his situation. Then I asked him if his church would assist him in shepherding him through this, and helping him make a decision about the home-schooling. It was at this point that I was grateful for what the Lord has done in my life and bringing me to the point that I continue to have more clarity as what the church is for.
He said to me, “well I don’t think they’d care either way… the church is very big and I’m not sure they’d have an opinion…” I guess I’m not surprised, but I’m surprised… this man didn’t go to the church where this conference was being held, but he described it as big, and I can imagine that it was similar. And among the “bigness” of their ministry they have missed their opportunities. They have missed their primary calling as the church. They have blown it… They are so full of the fact that they need to reach more people with Jesus, that they didn’t notice that the people that need Jesus the most are their own attendees.
Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. – Acts 20:28-29
These “shepherds” are so busy, they have no time to shepherd the flock. They’ve built such great kingdoms that they have no idea what’s going on at the grass roots level. It is actually tragic, and I fear for these leaders. They have no idea the condition of their flock. I’m sure they think they are doing good work, because they have lots in attendance, but are they really building the church?
I’m not against all manner of large churches, I know of some very good ones, that have figured out how to take care of their people even though they are big. They have available resources, but even in the best of these churches, if you desire to be lost in the crowd, you can certainly do that. I don’t mean to claim my church has it all figured out, because we don’t, but I highly esteem the leadership in our church because of how much they care, and they invest in the lives of the people God has entrusted them.
If you consider what a true shepherd does, and you consider today that most church leaders are nothing more than religious CEO’s it’s a big difference. A shepherd guarded the holding pen at night with his very life. He laid across the doorway that nothing could enter without him knowing about it. The shepherd closely inspected his sheep everyday to see if they had infections. I can’t cast a blanket upon every large church, just as I can’t say that every small church shepherd’s the flock well.
What I desire to have people consider in this article is what is the condition of your flock if you are a church leader. If you are not a church leader and you attend a church, how are they doing shepherding your soul? If you were considering home-school, would they guide you through that process? Or would they be too busy to concern themselves with such a trivial matter?
I am not a social commentator, I’m a Christian. I have no desire to be a social commentator, but I’ve found myself commenting on things in the news lately. The world we live in is a dark place, and it’s going to get worse and for those that are Christians we will find ourselves being more and more marginalized as society continues to degenerate.
I can remember Bruce Jenner as a great Olympic athlete, and not only an athlete, but a gold medalist in one of the toughest events in the Olympics, the decathlon. His commitment to achieve this level of “success” must have been hard to imagine.
And now he’s a she… at least in his mind. If you were to run into him somewhere you might think he’s a she also, but appearances can be misleading. As a Christian I’m a seller of truth. I only want to deal in truth, and my calling is to tell others about the truth.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. – Genesis 1:1
This is true. This is what God did.
Then God said, “Let Us, make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the seas, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. – Genesis 1:26-27
God created man in His own image, and gave man an eternal soul. Man is valuable to God, as he is an image bearer of the Creator. Of all the creatures on the earth, man has been created with a soul that will live forever. Bruce Jenner was created a man, and an image bearer of God, but what happened that caused a man to think he should be a woman? Isn’t that a legitimate question to ask ourselves?
Well, if you are a Christian, you should know the answer. But do you really know the answer, from the source of truth, and will you be prepared to have a conversation with someone when asked about it? Are you prepared to give an answer for the hope that lies within you?
Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. – Genesis 6:5
There is a great battle that rages, and all of mankind seeks some meaning to life. Most seek some form of meaning through happiness. They believe they are called to happiness, and they even “deserve” to be happy. I would imagine, Bruce Jenner thinks becoming a woman will make him happy. Mankind seeks fulfillment through consumption. They desire to consume the joys of the earth whether that be entertainment, vacations, sex, or a bigger home. Man is always seeking the next big thing.
Man seeks to numb his pain, or consume through the use of some form of medication. He drinks himself into a state of no feeling. He brags about how much he enjoys strong drink and his prowess as an addict.
He doesn’t realize his problem is sin. He doesn’t realize there is joy in Christ, and God is in none of his thoughts, so he tries to rationalize his life, and he rejects the very God that created him in His image. He continues to reject the grace of God, and does all sorts of abominable things all the while declaring his own goodness. In the depraved mind of Bruce Jenner, he thinks he is doing the right thing and it’s proof that he doesn’t know the truth.
He doesn’t know that the truth could set him free…
He doesn’t know that when the Son sets him free, he is free indeed…
He doesn’t know that he will face God’s wrath unless he turns from his wicked ways…
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen. – Romans 1:24-25
Bruce Jenner, has been given up by God, and he has dishonored his body, and the Creator that created him. He has believed the lies that his sin will make him happy, and will offer a fulfilling life. He has served the created being, primarily himself. He doesn’t want to hear about it, because he believes he’s done the right thing. His mind and his heart are darkened. He has fully rejected the goodness of God.
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting… – Romans 1:28
The King James Version says a “reprobate mind” which is a word used of metal that is cast away. It is unfit for use, unproved. It is a mind that has been so corrupted by sin, that it no longer thinks properly. The conscience has been so seared and hardened that it has lost its grip on reality.
The problem with God’s word, for most, is they won’t or can’t discern the truth from the lie. This is not difficult to understand, but it’s difficult to accept for those that don’t cherish the truth. This is an offense, and stumbling block to understanding Christianity. I expect this article will be an offense to many.
In the classic work “The Pilgrim’s Progress” on his journey to the Celestial City, Christian must face the trials of Vanity Fair. That place where sin and temptation run mostly unrestrained. The word vanity connotes a smug or egotistical complacency joined with emptiness, futility and a touch of frivolity. It’s not ironic that the magazine we most associate with this title has Jenner on its cover. The wisest man to ever live, told us that it is all vanity and not to be pursued (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). He told us how worthless of an endeavor it really is. All will face the temptations of the Vanity Fair, and in Bunyan’s allegory, those that prove to be true Christians will face great trials and persecution over their desire for truth, but will strand firm in the face of adversity.
If you are a Christian or you profess to be a Christian, you must be prepared to stand for the truth. How you react to this and the countless other acts of depravity that will come, determine whether you are truly in the Lord. Make no mistake, this will be the line that divides the pretenders from the true believers. If you believe you are somehow being progressive in your thinking or supportive of this lifestyle you are deceiving yourself, and you risk death. You risk the same death and judgment that awaits Bruce Jenner, lest he turn from his sin and live.
who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. – Romans 1:32
Will you stand on truth or crumble under the weight of popular opinion? Will you be hated and persecuted for righteousness sake? Jesus said you must, or you’re not. A great dividing line is forming, and which side of it will you stand? Will you fear those that can kill your body, or fear Him that can kill your body and soul?
Jesus Christ came to this earth and fulfilled the law of God, that you and I have no hope of ever fulfilling. He suffered a brutal death on the cross, suffered the wrath of God that sinners can be declared righteous. That is the good news. We are all without hope unless we turn to Christ for the salvation that He freely offers, that stands true for me, it stands true for you, and it stands true for Bruce Jenner.
Seek the LORD while He may be found. Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. – Isaiah 55:6-7
I rarely write about current events, but I think this is important enough to talk about, so today I will. The Duggar Family of 19 Kids and Counting has released reports of sexual abuse by Josh Duggar, the eldest son. The family never reported the situation until it had been discovered and then reported on by a news agency. I won’t dig into the should they have…, or the what should they have done scenarios…, because there are so many, I’ll allow the “experts” to comment on that side of things.
I write from a strictly Christian perspective, and I will tell you my family and I enjoy watching 19 Kids and Counting. It’s hard to find anything of any quality on television and this show attempts to bring decency to their message. This report of Josh is certainly disturbing and bothersome to me and to many that are fans of the family and program, as it should be. The reality is that rarely are things as they seem, and television is in the business of making things look good or bad, depending on what they want to show.
In no way do I approve or think what happened is right. The Duggars are part of a sinful world, and they are sinners by nature. We, just like them, are all under the wrath of an Almighty God outside of His regenerating work.
among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)… – Ephesians 2:3-5
One big problem I see in this whole situation is what I call an assumed salvation. I don’t know this family, so I don’t know the interactions the parents have with the children on a daily basis. I don’t understand, nor profess to know, how Jim Bob disciples his children. They home-school, and do Bible studies, I assume they are members in good standing of a local church, according to what I see on the show. However, this does not make regenerate believers in Jesus Christ.
The danger for Christian families, and especially large Christian families, is that because they train their children to behave properly, unless their hearts have been changed they are only good looking little Pharisees. White-washed tombs, full of dead men’s bones. They look so shiny and pretty, but inside are full of corruption.
This is or was, clearly, the case with Josh. Was this something that brought him to salvation and recognition of his sin? Did this cause him to be broken, to weep, lament and mourn over his heinous offenses against a Holy God? I really don’t know. I hope it did.
The lesson I need to learn, and the lesson you need to learn from this, for our own children, is that we must preach the gospel to them. I wrote last time about the salvation of our children, and it seems that the timing was well ordered by God’s providential plans. We have a role to play. Jim Bob and Michelle have the most important role to play in the life of their kids if they are truly saved. Spread good seed, preach the gospel, and trust God for the results.
We should never fail to teach to our children’s hearts, and show them how they can’t do it on their own. Whether it be something as repulsive as sexual molestation, or talking back to your parents, they need the gospel. All those beautiful little children need to know they need Jesus and they need the cleansing work that He did on the cross.
No matter how good it looks on the outside, or how much we teach the Bible, God must do a work in their hearts. If I could ever offer the Duggar family my tiny little speck of advice, I would call this situation exactly what it is.
It was not a mistake. It was sin.
It was so despicable and ugly to a Holy God that His Son was brutally murdered for it. He took the wrath that we deserve, He hung on that tree until it was finished. He did it so that sinful man has hope. He did it so you and I might be reconciled to the Father. Josh Duggar is a sinner, I’m a sinner, you are a sinner, and unless we repent and turn from our sin and confess Christ as Lord then we will pay for that sin eternally in hell. Unless we’ve been washed by the blood of Christ then we are no longer seen as sinners, but as having the imputed righteousness of Jesus.
The offer of salvation is free to those that will come to Him. Let’s learn a great lesson from this and lift up this family in prayer that God would be glorified as He so richly deserves and perhaps someone will be saved I hope what the devil intended for evil, God intended for good.
And a warning to those that take some joy in this situation.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
We all need Jesus.
Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. – Psalm 127:3
Indeed children are a reward, and how can we look upon our precious little ones and not consider them a gift of God. Children are also a heritage says the word of God, they are like a treasured possession that God has given to us for many purposes, one is in the hopes we pass down a godly line and continue to perpetuate the gospel. That is my hope, and that should also be your hope for your children. My hope is in the Lord, that He will save them, and that He will do all His good pleasure.
But what if that doesn’t happen?
I believe completely and trust fully in the Sovereignty of God. In some circles, I suppose I’m called a “Calvinist”, in that I affirm the doctrines of the Bible that John Calvin taught. This is a four-letter word to many in the professing Christian world, but can I trust in a God that sits back and does not have His hand upon everything; even the salvation of destruction of my children? Oh what a difficult topic this is to write about…
The LORD has made all for Himself, yes, even the wicked for the day of doom. – Proverbs 16:4
Have we not read the Scriptures? Do we avoid the hard topic of the reality of salvation? Do we assume because we are faithfully following the Lord that our children will automatically do that? This is a reality, which a Christian must embrace; because there is no guarantee of salvation for our children. We won’t explore the covenantal aspect in this post, but if we only take a cursory glance at Scripture to see how many disobedient children followed their obedient parents, it becomes obvious there is no guarantee.
“But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” – Jonah 2:9
Do we really trust that salvation is of the Lord? This is a very good question to ask, but it’s a hard question to ask. You can do all the right things. You can take your children to church, you can catechize them, you can teach them the Holy Scriptures, but you can’t guarantee their salvation.
So what do you do now? Do you “let go and let God”? I sure hope not. I sure hope you and I will be diligent, because we also have God’s commands, and the thing I believe is more important than anything else in this conversation is our obedience; if you are a believer, than you MUST be obedient to the Scriptures.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” – Deuteronomy 6:6-7 see also Ephesians 6:4
Believing parents, and especially fathers are commanded, you’ve been given an order that you must obey, to train your children, all the time. Not part of the time, not some of the time, but at every opportunity you have. You have a responsibility to carry out the commands of the King.
Our children have a responsibility in this equation. They are commanded to repent and turn from their sin. They are without excuse, as all of mankind is without excuse, if they don’t repent and turn from their sin. There will be no “out clauses” on judgment day.
Listen to the testimony of Charles Spurgeon, in how his mother would conduct family worship and plead with them. Would you do this with your children? Would they understand the gravity of their situation, should they go unconverted? Would you not do anything and everything for your children that they might come to know the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ?
“It was the custom, on Sunday evenings, while we were yet little children, for her to stay at home with us, and then we sat round the table, and read verse by verse, and she explained the Scripture to us. After that was done, then came the time of pleading; there was a little piece of Alleine’s Alarm, or of Baxter’s Call to the Unconverted, and this was read with pointed observations made to each of us as we sat round the table; and the question was asked, how long it would be before we would think about our state, how long before we would seek the Lord. Then came a mother’s prayer, and some of the words of that prayer we shall never forget, even when our hair is grey. I remember, on one occasion, her praying thus: “Now, Lord, if my children go on in their sins, it will not be from ignorance that they perish, and my soul must bear a swift witness against them at the day of judgment if they lay not hold of Christ.” – C.H. Spurgeon
Could you say this to your children? Would you love them this much, to have them consider that you would testify against them?