Category Archives: sword of the lord

The pride of life, lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes

ME

The bible warns us about the pride of life, lust of the flesh and lust of the eyes, but yet those are three concepts that define our world (culture).

Our culture assails us with phrases like “Do it Your Way,” “Have it Your Way,” and “Do it.”

Media in all forms: TV shows that capitalize on self-centered, crass and degrading themes; commercials that tempt us with things it says we deserve: new cars, trendy clothes, success; and much of music and gaming media that glorifies the lowest, basest self-centered instincts we have (eg. violence, lust, pride).

1 John 2: 15-17 says – 15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

So what I’m wondering is why we have an overabundance of pastors who preach prosperity, happiness and success when these are the very ideas we are warned to stay away from. I mean, think about it. If you go to a church where the pastor says you can have anything you want, God will favor you, and bless you for asking for whatever you want, isn’t the pastor tempting you with the very things that we are warned against in the above passage?

Jesus was tempted by Satan after fasting for 40 days. There’s an account of this in Matt 4: 1-11 and in Luke 4: 1-13. Jesus was really hungry and physically tired and that is when Satan swooped in and tempted him to turn stones into bread. Jesus rebuked him with God’s word so Satan led him to a high place overlooking cities and lands. He told Jesus that if he’d worship him, he would give Jesus all the kingdoms and land. Jesus rebuked him again with God’s word. Satan tried one more time by tempting him to take a risk, jump off the high place and let his angels save him. Jesus rebuked him a third time.

Jesus resisted satisfying his hunger because it was Satan, the evil one, who was tempting him. Jesus resisted the idea of power over kingdoms because Satan, the evil one, was doing the tempting. Jesus resisted taking the risk of falling and being caught by angels because it was Satan who was tempting him.

Are you seeing a pattern here?
Actually, I see two things happening here.

1. The pattern is that Satan is tempting Jesus with the very things our culture tells us are ours for the taking. But another, probably more important pattern is that every time Jesus is tempted, it is in weakness (hunger, tiredness), but He uses God’s word to defeat Satan.

2. The other thing I see is that Satan is trying to tempt Jesus with things that Jesus already has. As God, the father in flesh, He can satisfy his hunger, He already owns everything in the world, and He doesn’t have to take risks because He directs everything from the angels on down.

The take away for this is simple yet very hard for people to do, because it is
counter-cultural, wholly un-PC, and will for sure make you an outcast in society. It could even result in your persecution, loss of job/friends/family and ultimately loss of life.

When we hear messages, whether they come from culture or the pulpit, we need to look at God’s word, the Holy Bible, to see what He says about the message we’ve heard. Does it line up with His truth, or is this something God warns us about?

The other thing we must remember is that as a “child of God” we already have life-sustaining, living water and bread (God’s word) by which we will never thirst, nor ever go hungry. Also, as a “child of God” we are already heirs to the kingdom. The big one; not the earthly, corruptible cities on earth. Finally, as a “child of God” we don’t have to work towards success because our lives are in God’s hands.

His will, will be done.


The consequences

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People, especially young people, think that bible teaching sermons are old-fashioned, outdated and boring, but this is really what happens when verse by verse bible teaching isn’t happening in the church.

1. It strips the authority of God over the mind of the hearer. God is silenced.

2. It strips the lordship of Christ over His church. God leads the church by speaking to the church, but when it isn’t… preached, God is silenced.

3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses scripture to save. The scripture also sanctifies believers (changes us).

4. It legitimizes a lack of submission to God. Instead people will submit to the pastor giving the “talk.”

5. It removes spiritual depth and transcendence from the souls of people and it cripples worship. When people don’t have spiritual depth, they are easily manipulated by shallow worship music that is more me-centered than God-centered.

6. When the preacher doesn’t preach scripture, he devalues the importance of studying the bible.

7. It robs people of their only true source of help. God’s word is an anchor when people have really tough times.

8. It creates a disconnect between sound doctrine and life.

9. It dishonors God by omitting the truths that offend and terrify sinners. It is the same as lying to people when the truth is not preached. People cannot change if they don’t understand how sinful they are.

10. It removes protection from error. Faithful shepherds know they have to protect the flock from false teaching.

11. It deceives people into thinking they’ve heard from God when what they’ve really heard is a pastor’s or author’s idea about something. The way to hear from God is to read His word and hear His word.

12. It keeps a pastor from speaking for Christ. They are supposed to stand-in for the glorious shepherd until His return.

13. It disconnects people from the legacy of the past.

14. It breeds a congregation that is weak and indifferent to the glory of God. They can’t find joy because they don’t know the nature of God.

15. It severs the pastor from the sanctifying power of the word. If he isn’t sanctified, then his congregation won’t be either.

Summary of John MacArthur’s teaching on The Consequences of Non-Expository Preaching.
Part 2


The attraction model

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When my home church of 15 years started using the “the attraction” model to drive church growth it seemed like a good idea, at first.
But after 5+ years of watching this model in action, I’ve witnessed the scattering of sheep (believers) from that church in search of a “shepherd” and the same apostasy in an alarming number of churches as I’ve sought to find a new home church.

I say apostasy with certainty because the attraction model is in direct conflict with God’s word. It is a different gospel — one based on social justice and “love” for all. Nowhere in the bible is there an example of Jesus making friends with nonbelievers, or Him starting a campaign or vision to right a social injustice.

No, He went right to the heart of the manner with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4: 7-32), at the dinner table with Levi and the publicans (Luke 5: 27-33), and with the young rich man who wanted to know how to go to heaven (Matt 19:16-30), just to name a few examples.

He didn’t lift the woman at the well from her “circumstances.” Instead He gave her liberty from her sin (Romans 6:18). Believers are not instructed to liberate people. That is Jesus job. That is why He died. He’s the ONLY one who can set people free. Even in the worst circumstances — slavery, abuse, poverty — people CAN be free.

Jesus told them the truth and that was the most loving thing He could do. He proclaimed the the gospel Romans 6:23 puts it in the most succinct terms – For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Gal 1:6-10 warns against another gospel. It says – 6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

The other reason I say this is apostasy is because James 4:4 and John 15: 9-19 both say that friendship with the world is to be an enemy of God. If the world hates us, know it hated Him before it hated us.

James 4:4 says – Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

John 15: 9-19 brings the point home. It says –
9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17 These things I command you, that ye love one another.
18 If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

People who insist on making friendships and alliances with lovers of the world need to check their doctrine against God’s word. And I don’t mean the watered-down version of the holy book, but a literal, word for word translation of the bible (ESV, NASB, KJV etc.).

The truth is offensive because it IS narrow-minded and unchanging, but Christians are tasked with proclaiming the good news (the gospel of Jesus Christ) – Mk 15:16.

Even when the culture changes, God does not.
If He kowtowed to men’s whims or changing self-centered values, what kind of God would He be?
I’m afraid not powerful enough.

Our God is almighty with resources and power beyond what we can imagine. He is unchanging, merciful and long-suffering.
And I’m so thankful for that.


The defenseless

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I have a question for you. Do you take your bible to church anymore? I mean, with the advancement of technology, many churches now broadcast scripture, poems, quotes and other passages onto large screens that can be seen even in the nosebleed section of the sanctuary. Heck, you don’t even have to wear your glasses to read them because they are printed in XL font, I’m sure.

With this kind of access, you might be wondering who needs to bring their bible anymore?

This is a popular belief in most churches today, but do you understand how dangerous and vulnerable you are when you do not use your own bible?

To take a pastor’s word about a passage leaves you vulnerable to “his” interpretation and because there are so many translations of the bible out there, many times the scriptures being put on the screens are paraphrased from an already paraphrased bible (The Message, NLT, etc.) A common practice now is for a pastor to craft his sermon and then look for scripture that supports his theme, and then he looks for the translation of the verse(s) that fit most accurately with “his” point of view (theology).

Pastors are charged with preaching God’s word and teaching the “flock.” 1 Timothy is such a rich text for godly living, pastoral and elder duties, and contending for the faith. And 1 John 4:1-6 tells us to test the spirits as does 1 Thessalonians 5:21.

Believers should never take man’s word alone, even a pastor’s word, because we are living in times that Matthew 24 warns about — a time when false prophets with false doctrine will be rife. When you don’t have your bible with you at church to look up the scriptures the pastor is using, you are at his mercy and his understanding of it. Men can easily twist God’s word to fit the theme of their sermon for the day.

To put this in terms that make more sense, pretend you are a soldier on active duty, and you’re supposed to be on the front lines of defense in a war. You saunter out of the barracks with your street clothes on and no weapon. You stand in front of your officer for inspection before going directly into the battle. That’s pathetic, but to make matters worse, the commanding officer gives you a “pep” talk and then sends you into battle as you are.

Does this EVEN make sense?

Heck no. You’re not ready to defend anything, and the officer has basically sent you on a suicide mission.

I’m imploring believers to get into their bibles. God’s word is the “Sword of the Lord” and you can’t fight a (spiritual) battle without it. When Christians don’t read their bibles, they in effect have turned in their weapon. Carry it with you everywhere you go. Easy enough to do with “bible apps” for any kind of technology. Read it everyday, test your pastor’s words against the truth he has been ordained to teach.

We are in a serious spiritual battle, especially in our churches, and while Ephesians 6:12 tells us the battle is against principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness, and evil in the highest places, we are defenseless against this kind of power, but God’s word is our armor and the weapon we use to fight the good fight – Ephesians 6:10-20.