Design a site like this with WordPress.com
Get started

VIDEO Avoiding Spiritual Deception

The March, 2006, issue of Reader’s Digest features a cover story on ten money scams to beware of. It seems that the Internet and other modern technologies have opened many doors of opportunity for con artists who are after your money. To avoid being ripped off you must stay alert.

It’s traumatic when thieves steal your identity and your money, but there is something far more traumatic and tragic, namely, when spiritual con artists, who claim to be Christian, deceive the unsuspecting. The stakes are much higher than someone’s life savings. The eternal destiny of souls is at risk! Since the days of the New Testament, Satan has planted these deceivers in Christian churches, where they prey on the untaught or on those who are disgruntled. To avoid spiritual deception, you must develop biblical discernment and be vigilant at all times.

But we live in a day when the whole idea of spiritual discernment is minimized because spiritual truth is minimized. The slogan is, “Doctrine divides. Let’s set aside our doctrinal differences and come together on the areas where we agree.” Another popular mantra is, “Jesus said that they will know that we are His disciples by our lovenot by our doctrine.” The implication is, “Set aside your doctrinal views and accept anyone who says that he believes in Jesus.” Tolerance, unity, and love are viewed as much more important than doctrinal truth, which often smacks of pride.

I have had my share of unpleasant encounters with those who arrogantly claim to have the truth. They beat you up with it, not showing much grace or kindness. But we should not allow such experiences to cause us to throw out the biblical emphasis on sound doctrine. It is not a minor theme in the Bible!

It is highly significant that John, the apostle of love, who has just written that love is an essential mark of the true Christian (2:7-11), now calls these false teachers “antichrists” and “liars”! He doesn’t call them “brothers in Christ,” who just have different ways of understanding things. He makes it plain that they were trying to deceive the true Christians and that they were not Christian in any sense of the term. True biblical love is not divorced from an emphasis on biblical truth. To compromise the truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ is to be hateful to the core, because such error results in the eternal damnation of those who embrace it.

In these verses, John applies his third test by which you may evaluate the soundness of a teacher, as well as your own life. He has already given us the moral test of obedience to God’s commandments (2:3-6). He has given the relational test of love (2:7-11). Now he gives the doctrinal test of truth about the person and work of Jesus Christ (2:18-27). He says,

To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people and doctrine.

The section (2:18-27) falls into three parts. In 2:18-20, John shows that to avoid spiritual deception, you must develop discernment with regard to people. In 2:21-23, he shows that you must develop discernment with regard to doctrine, especially, the truth about Jesus Christ. In 2:24-27 (which we will study next week), he shows that the means of developing such discernment is to abide in the Word and in the Spirit.

1. To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people (2:18-20).

John contrasts the false teachers with true believers. He addresses all of his readers as “children,” (see 2:13), implying their vulnerability and the need to be on guard against these unprincipled men who were trying to deceive them (2:26). As a wise spiritual father, John is giving important counsel that will help us avoid being deceived.

He says, “It is the last hour.” The way that we know it is the last hour is that “many antichrists have appeared.” Some have said that John mistakenly thought that Jesus would return in his lifetime. Such a view undermines the divine inspiration of Scripture. If you buy into it, you cannot trust anything that the apostles wrote. You become the judge of Scripture according to what strikes you as true. This view also impugns the intelligence of the apostles. John had heard Jesus say that no one knows the hour of His coming (Matt. 24:36). It is not reasonable to accuse him of being mistaken here about the time of the second coming.

Rather, John is calling the entire period between Jesus’ ascension and His return “the last hour.” No one knows how long this period will last, but the phrase, “the last hour,” implies a sense of urgency, in that Jesus may come at any moment. Jesus concludes His teaching on the end times with this application to the wise hearer: “Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come” (Mark 13:33).

John says that a distinguishing feature of this age is that antichrist is coming and that even now many antichrists have appeared. John is the only New Testament writer to use this word, and it only occurs five times in four verses (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:32 John 7). But the concept of the antichrist is more frequent. Daniel 7 talks about the horn and Revelation 13 talks about the beast, both of which refer to antichrist. Paul (2 Thess. 2:1-12) mentions the man of lawlessness who will exalt himself and display himself as being God. His coming will be “in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders” (2 Thess. 2:9). He will deceive many, who will perish. When John says that antichrist is coming, he refers to this future evil leader.

But when he says, “even now many antichrists have appeared,” he means that the evil spirit that will characterize the final antichrist is already working in these false teachers who have left the churches. The prefix, “anti,” can mean either “instead of” or “in opposition to.” It may contain both ideas here. The false teachers rise up within the church and present a system that subtly presents something instead of Jesus Christ. The false teacher may use the same label, “Jesus Christ,” but he will not be the same Jesus that is presented in the Bible. If a gullible person takes the bait, he is led farther away until finally he is in total opposition to Christ.

These false teachers, whom John labels antichrists, did not carry pitchforks and wear red suits with horns and a tail, or T-shirts saying, “Warning: I am an antichrist!” Rather, they arose in the churches. Some of them may have been elders or pastors, who for a while had taught the truth. Paul warned the Ephesian elders, “from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). Now these men were leaving the churches to form new groups, saying, “We have come into a deeper knowledge of the truth. Follow us and we’ll let you in on this secret knowledge.” John gives three guidelines to watch for:

A. BEWARE: SATAN WORKS IN THE REALM OF RELIGION.

False teachers invariably adopt Christian terminology and posture themselves as being Christians, but they are not. They usually begin within the church (2:19) and at first, their teaching is orthodox. They often have attractive personalities and they build a following of people who seem to be helped by their teaching.

But, eventually, they begin subtly to veer from the truth. There may be multiple motives. Sometimes, they fall into immorality, and to justify their sin, they have to deny Scripture. Or, they may love the acclaim of being popular, along with the financial rewards that often go along with a successful ministry. It feels good to be in demand as a speaker, to stay in luxury hotels and speak to large crowds. As a man’s popularity grows, he grows in power. He hires a loyal group of lieutenants who carry out his wishes. No one dares to challenge the man’s teaching or lifestyle, even though he is preaching heresy and living in disobedience to Scripture. But, in spite of his deviance, he is still trafficking in the realm of religion.

Note, also, that there has never been a perfect church, even in New Testament times while the apostles were still living. We sometimes idealize the early church, thinking that if we could just get back to the New Testament principles, we wouldn’t have all of the problems that we constantly battle in the modern church.

But, these early churches had gone through the damage of false teachers in their midst, who now had left the churches to form new groups. Undoubtedly, they took with them people from the churches. Whenever that happens, those who still are in the church are confused and wounded. They wonder, “Why did our friends leave? They claim that they have found the truth now and that we are in the dark. Maybe there are problems here. Maybe we should leave, too.” This is how the enemy has worked from the earliest days of the church. Don’t be surprised when it happens.

B. BEWARE OF ANYONE WHO BREAKS FROM THE TRUE CHURCH TO FORM A NEW GROUP WITH NEW THEOLOGY.

“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (2:19). John’s words here do not apply to people who get disgruntled in one evangelical church and leave to join or form another evangelical church. While that practice is usually regrettable and sad, it is wrong to label those who left as heretics, unless they also have abandoned core Christian truth.

Heretics not only eventually separate themselves from true Christians to form their own groups, but also, they deviate from orthodox Christian doctrine on major issues. They claim that they have the truth and that others do not, or that they now see things that others do not see. And, invariably they try to recruit others from within the church to join them.

While such situations are painful and unpleasant, John’s words here should prepare us not to be surprised or disheartened when it happens. If it happened to the churches under John’s care, it can and will happen to churches today. But, when it happens, we need to think biblically about some issues.

First, true Christians are born of God. The key issue with these false teachers was, they were not of us. They did not share the new life in Christ that brings us into His body, the church. So, they felt free to leave. You can be on the membership list of the church without having experienced the new birth. While I believe that it’s important to join a church, it is far more important to make sure that you’re truly of the church through the new birth.

Second, if you truly know Christ, you will persevere with the church. It is imperfect. It contains difficult and irritating people. But, it is family! You were born into it through the new birth, and so was everyone else who has truly trusted Christ. While you may not have picked these folks to be in your family, God picked them and you’ve got to learn to get along with them! Although they often grate like sandpaper against your soul, it’s by persevering with them that God smoothes your rough edges. You will experience hurt feelings and misunderstandings if you get involved in a local church! Be committed to work through these matters. Don’t bail out on the church!

Third, note that John was more concerned about purity of doctrine than he was about church growth or unity. He never says, “We should go after these dear brothers and bring them back!” Or, “Let’s set aside our differences and love these men.” Rather, he says in effect, “Their departure shows their true colors. Let them go!” Of course, we need to evaluate the seriousness of the doctrinal matter at hand. Sometimes sincere Christians have to agree to disagree or even to work in separate parts of the Lord’s vineyard. But if the doctrinal issue is a core matter of the faith, purity is much more important than unity or church growth. We should not measure a church’s success by the numbers who attend, but rather by its faithfulness to the truth of the gospel.

So John says, “Beware, Satan works in the realm of religion. Beware of anyone who breaks from the true church to form a new group with new theology.”

C. BEWARE OF ANYONE WHO OFFERS “NEW TRUTH” THAT OTHERS HAVE MISSED.

The test of orthodoxy is submission and adherence to the apostolic teaching contained in the New Testament. If someone comes up with some new “truth” that no one else has discovered since the days of the apostles, beware! The heretics claimed that they had now been initiated into a deeper level of truth than the average church member had experienced. It always flatters our pride to think that we have some level of truth that others lack, or we have had some special spiritual experience that other poor souls are missing out on. These false teachers were claiming such knowledge and offering it as bait to those who had yet to be enlightened.

This is probably the background to verse 20. There is a textual variant here. The KJV (and New KJV) follows the reading, “you know all things.” Most other versions follow the reading (probably original), “you all know.” John is telling his readers that spiritual knowledge is not restricted to some elite inner circle. Rather, they all know the truth of the gospel because they all have the anointing from the Holy One, which refers to the indwelling Holy Spirit that Jesus, the Holy One, promised to send.

The false teachers may have been using the word “anointing” as a technical term for being initiated into their special gnosis, or knowledge (John Stott, The Epistles of John [Eerdmans], p. 107). But John takes their term and uses it of the Holy Spirit. At the moment of the new birth, God’s Spirit opens our blind eyes to see the truth about our sinfulness and the all-sufficiency of what Christ did on the cross to pay for our sins. This simple gospel message is what these believers had heard from the beginning (2:24). Rather than moving on from it to some “new truth,” they needed to abide in the old gospel truth that they had believed from the start.

So John’s first point is that to avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and his servants disguise themselves as servants of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14, 15). But, they are liars and deceivers!

2. To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of doctrine (2:21-23).

The late philosophy professor Allan Bloom began his 1987 best-seller, The Closing of the American Mind ([Simon and Schuster], p. 25), “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.” He goes on to say (pp. 25-26), “The danger they have been taught to fear from absolutism is not error but intolerance. Relativism is necessary to openness; and this is the virtue, the only virtue, which all primary education for more than fifty years has dedicated itself to inculcating.”

He was right: We live in a day that has rejected the idea of absolute truth, especially in the spiritual realm. It smacks of arrogance to say that you know the truth and that others who do not share your view are wrong. You’re free to have your own spiritual opinions, as long as you don’t claim that your view is the only true view.

This prevailing tenant of postmodernism has now invaded the church through “the emergent church.” This growing movement downplays preaching (what could be more arrogant than for one man to stand up and say that he is proclaiming the truth?). And it magnifies sharing personal experiences in an accepting, non-judgmental atmosphere.

Notice how contrary this is to John’s statement in 2:20, “you all know,” and to 2:21: “I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it, and because no lie is of the truth.” That sure sounds like John believed in absolute truth in the spiritual realm, and that you can know when you’re right and others are wrong! There are three implications here, which I can only touch on briefly:

A. SOUND DOCTRINE REALLY MATTERS!

John says (2:23), “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father.” He goes on to say (2:25) that all of this concerns God’s promise to us about eternal life. That’s fairly important! If you deny the truth about God’s Son as revealed in the New Testament, you do not have the Father and you do not have eternal life!

A popular sentimental, syrupy view goes, “It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere.” When you share Christ with someone who buys into this thinking, he will respond, “It’s nice that you believe that, but I have my own beliefs.” According to this view, sincerity is the main thing; truth doesn’t matter. That is utter nonsense! You can sincerely drink poison, believing that it is medicine, but it will kill you just the same. Sound doctrine really matters!

B. SOUND DOCTRINE IS INEXTRICABLY LINKED WITH A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

John says that if you deny the Son, you do not have the Father. He goes on to talk about abiding in the Son and the Father (2:24). “Abiding” is John’s word for fellowship or a close relationship with God. His point is that if you deny cardinal truth about Jesus Christ and yet claim to know God, you are deceiving yourself. This is not to say that a new believer must be able to give precisely correct theological statements about the trinity or the two natures of Christ in order to be truly saved. But it is to say that if someone knowingly makes heretical statements about Christ and is not open to correction, his salvation is suspect. Sound doctrine necessarily goes along with a genuine personal relationship with God.

C. SOUND DOCTRINE ABOUT THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL.

Most heresies go astray with regard to the person or work of Jesus Christ. John Calvin pointed out that since Christ is the sum of the gospel, heretics especially aim their arrows at Him. The only way that we can know the Father is through the Son (John 14:6). These false teachers were denying that Jesus is the Christ (2:22). This probably was more than a denial that Jesus was the Old Testament Messiah. The context here, which refers to Jesus as the Son of God and which closely links the Father and the Son, indicates that these false teachers denied the full deity of Jesus Christ. They denied the incarnation, that God took on human flesh in the virgin birth of Jesus. They taught that “the Christ” came upon the human Jesus at His baptism and departed at His crucifixion. John says that they denied both the Father and the Son.

The modern cults all go astray on the person and work of Jesus Christ. They deny His deity and His substitutionary death on the cross. They deny the trinity. Some of them speak in Gnostic fashion of “the Christ within us all.” By denying the Son of God, they do not have the Father. In the words of this apostle of love, they are liars, deceivers, and antichrists.

Conclusion

We should be diligent to preserve the unity of the body of Christ, but not at any cost. There is no room for compromise on the core beliefs of Christian orthodoxy, especially the truths about the person of Christ and the gospel.

During World War Two, Neville Chamberlain of Britain tried to keep the peace by appeasing Adolf Hitler. After giving Poland to Hitler, Chamberlain went back to England proclaiming “peace in our times.” But Winston Churchill wisely observed, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.” Sure enough, Hitler later tried to eat Britain, too.

If we compromise truth to appease a heretic or to keep him in the church, it will lead to our ultimate spiritual demise. To avoid spiritual deception, be discerning of people, especially of religious people who claim to have some new truth. Be discerning of sound doctrine. Know your Bible well. Study systematic theology. Study church history. Most errors today have been around for centuries. Next time we will study John’s antidote to heresy, to abide in the Word and in the Spirit.

Application Questions

  1. What is the difference (if any) between being discerning and being distrustful? Is it wrong to be distrustful of someone?
  2. How do you develop discernment without becoming skeptical of everyone and everything?
  3. Since there are so many views of different doctrines, how can you know that you are right? How can you hold to being right without becoming arrogant?
  4. How do you determine which doctrines are core doctrines, worth dividing over, and which are more peripheral?

Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2006, All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation

https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-10-avoiding-spiritual-deception-part-1-1-john-218-23


“Religious Deception”

Derek Prince on the subject of “Religious Deception”. With so much deception in the world, this is a Must Hear! Derek passed away in 2003. We feel he was a good Bible teacher, and this teaching is well worth listening to. This audio teaching offers a solid scriptural base that every believer should have. He discusses heresy; spiritism; witchcraft; doctrines of demons; and gives plenty of important scriptures to back it up. We added the printed the scripture references to help you if you are taking notes.

 


How to Discern Religious Deception (Derek Prince)

1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.


Reading Without Seeing

How Not to Study the Bible

by Joshua Bremerman
Guest Contributor

We can drift from God with our Bibles open in front of us.

We are so prone to wander that any activity can be an opportunity for sin, even reading God’s word. Although we may assume activities intended for growth in godliness — prayer, fellowship, Bible reading — are immune to such temptation, we can still fail to bring God glory even as we engage the Scriptures.

The Pharisees had this problem in their Bible reading. Jesus shot straight to the heart of the issue: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39–40).

“We need help, but we have a Helper. God loves to meet us as we pray to meet him in his word.”

The Pharisees searched the Scriptures diligently. They devoted their entire lives to memorizing and obeying the Law of Moses. But what does Jesus call them out for? He says they missed the bright neon sign flashing “Messiah.” The Pharisees knew God’s word, but they didn’t recognize Jesus. They never allowed God’s word to penetrate their hearts so that they would desire the Messiah and welcome him when he came.

Imagine taking an interest in your ancestry, creating a family tree, and learning all about your great-grandparents. You know their birthplace, their history, where they worked, how they met, and so on. Now imagine that they walk into your kitchen as you sit down to eat dinner, but you don’t recognize them. You don’t hop off your seat with excitement to hug them. This only begins to capture how crazy it is for us to read the Scriptures and miss Christ.

How Not to Read the Bible

We marvel at the blindness of the Pharisees, yet some of us have the same problem.

We have the same problem when, in Bible study, we find ourselves amazed at Hebrews 4:15, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses,” but we don’t approach his throne in confidence to pray. We do not glorify God in our Bible reading when we study diligently, but our study never sparks a fire inside us for prayer.

We have the same problem when we arrive at Revelation 5:13, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever,” but this sight of heavenly worship does not move our hearts to respond the same way. We do not glorify God in our Bible reading when we plug through our Bible reading plan, but our study never stops us in our tracks to worship God.

“We do not read the Bible to the glory of God when we seek knowledge about God, but we never meet God.”

We have the same problem when we memorize Psalm 121:1–2, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth,” but we fail to turn to God in times of need. We do not glorify God in our Bible reading when we stack up flash cards of memorized verses, but our memorization never helps us run to God for refuge when trials come.

We do not read the Bible to the glory of God when we seek knowledge about God, but we never meet God — when the knowledge we search for never gets into our hearts.

What We Long to See

Instead, we read the Bible to the glory of God when we see Jesus in it and find joy.

Now, we must not overcorrect and crash into a ditch on the other side. This does not mean we forsake knowledge for some mystical encounter as we open to a random page of the Bible each morning. No, we eagerly pursue truths about Jesus. But we use this pursuit of facts to help our hearts feel rightly.

When was the last time you felt like all you wanted to do was keep reading and praying even as your watch told you to leave for work? When was the last time you felt like you just had to share what you read with someone else? When was the last time you ran across a passage that drove you immediately to your knees in prayer for yourself or a friend (or maybe even an enemy)? When was the last time your heart leapt for joy when God opened your eyes to see wondrous things in his word? We do the hard work of thinking over God’s word to see Jesus clearly and enjoy him rightly.

We read our Bibles to the glory of God when “we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). We gaze into the face of Jesus as we open God’s word, and he transforms us. We get the growth, and he gets the glory.

Present Help

We need help to read the way God intends us to read. Left to our own devices, we inevitably fall into the trap of reading with our heads and without our hearts. We need help, but we have a Helper. Jesus comforted his followers, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me” (John 15:26).

“We read the Bible to the glory of God when we see Jesus in it and find joy.”

Paul describes the process by saying, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7). We work to understand God’s word, and he gives us the understanding. The Holy Spirit guides us in our reading so that we will not stop with knowledge, but instead we will truly understand, seeing Jesus and continuing on to heart change and action.

So we pray, “Holy Spirit, guide me into the truth (John 16:13). Help me to see Jesus as I open up my Bible this morning.” We pray along with David, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).

We pray, “God, help me meet you as I read this morning. Help me behold the glory of your Son. Move me beyond knowing the words and help me to see you. Make me feel rightly about the words I read, and then would you transform the way I parent, work, and interact with others through seeing your goodness to me in this word?”

We need help, but we have a Helper. God loves to meet us as we pray to meet him in his word.

The Cross of the Moment

Ferdinand Hodler, The Disillusioned One, oil on canvas, 1892

By Jill Carattini

 

[W]e are perpetually disillusioned. The perfect life is spread before us every day, but it changes and withers at a touch.”(1)

The author of this comment did not have the dashed hopes of a person weary of contemporary political promises or the daunting purposelessness of life. His was not the disappointment of a child after his once-adored video game lost its thrill or the dispirited outlook of a millennial overwhelmed with options and fearful of missing out on something vital. No, long before video games existed, long before Generation Y was disillusioned with Generation X or X with the Baby Boomers before them, disillusionment reigned nonetheless. A social commentator in the late 1920s made this comment about his own disillusioned culture, words which, in fact, came more than a decade after a group of literary notables identified themselves as the “Lost Generation,” so-named because of their own general feeling of disillusionment. In other words, disillusionment is epidemic.

As humans who tell and hear and live by stories, the possibility of taking in a story that is bigger than reality is quite likely. (Advertisers, in fact, count on it regularly.) Subsequently, disillusionment is a quality that follows humanity and its stories around. Yet despite its common occurrence, disillusionment is a crushing blow, and the collateral damage of shattered expectations quite painful. With good reason, we speak of it in terms of the discomfort and disruption that it fosters; we frame the crushing of certain hope and images in terms of loss and difficulty. The disillusioned do not speak of their losses lightly, no more than victims of burglary move quickly past the feeling of loss and violation.

And yet, practically speaking, disillusionment is the loss of illusion. In terms of larceny, it is the equivalent of having one’s high cholesterol or a perpetually bad habit stolen. Disillusionment, while painful, is evidence which shows the myths that enchant us need not blind us forever, a sign that what is falsely believed can be shattered by what is genuine. In such terms, disillusion is far less an unwanted intrusion than it is a severe mercy, far more like a surgeon’s excising of a tumor than a cruel removal of hope.

The crucifixion of the Son of God is something like this. The death of God? There are no categories with which to understand it. For those who first held hope in the person of Jesus, it was the same. The death of the one thought to be the Messiah? It was an event that leveled them with disillusioned agony. New Testament scholar N.T. Wright describes the force of this dissonance:
 “There were, to be sure, ways of coping with the death of a teacher, or even a leader. The picture of Socrates was available, in the wider world, as a model of unjust death nobly borne. The category of ‘martyr’ was available, within Judaism, for someone who stood up to pagans… The category of failed but still revered Messiah, however, did not exist. A Messiah who died at the hands of the pagans, instead of winning [God’s] battle against them, was a deceiver.”(2)

For those who loved Jesus most, it took time to see that it was not hope itself but their hopeful illusions that died with him on the cross. Everything they thought God was, every hope for a messiah wielding power and control, every image of God winning the battle and taking a stand against their oppressors, everything they thought they knew about religion, painfully, but mercifully died on a shameful, Roman cross. We, too, can bury our illusions with the body of God. But it is no simple journey. The powerful words of poet W. H. Auden describe what is often the case in a world filled with sickly sweet illusion:

We would rather be ruined than changed;
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.(3)

Yet if we will allow it, this death can be far more than loss. While advertisers count on our moving from one dead illusion to another, the death of Christ tells a completely different kind of story, a demythologizing story, which cuts through the storied layers of illusion we continually create about ourselves, the world, and others. Within such a story, disillusionment is the precursor to nothing short of resurrection. And faith is the audacity to confront our illusions with the cross upon which we find a self-giving God. In the words of author Parker Palmer, “[F]aith is the courage to face into our illusions and allow ourselves to be disillusioned about them, the courage to walk through our illusions and dispel them. Faith…[is] a disillusioned view of reality…that lets the beauty behind the illusions shine through.”(4)

Invited to bury our illusions with the body of Christ, we bury them with none other than the one who unites us to himself in life and in death. We may stand in painful disillusionment, but we stand with the vicarious humanity of the Incarnate Son. Thus, for any losses we mourn or graves of dead dreams and visions over which we lament, so we may stand equally aware that we will be mercifully startled by what emerges from the tomb.

Jill Carattini is managing editor of A Slice of Infinity at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) John Boynton Priestley, “The Disillusioned,” in The Balconinny and Other Essays (London: Methuen, 1929), 30.
(2) N.T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 658.
(3) W.H. Auden, Collected Poems (New York: Random House, 2007), 530.
(4) Parker Palmer, “Faith or Frenzy: Living Contemplation in a World of Action,” The Clampit Lectures, 1972.

“A Slice of Infinity” is aimed at reaching into the culture with words of challenge, truth, and hope. By stirring the imagination and engaging the mind, we want to share the beauty and truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Subscribe to Slice of Infinity for free and get our weekly article emails.

https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/the-cross-of-the-moment

The Nucleus of Civilization

by John MacArthur

 

According to the Bible, God himself ordained the family as the basic building block of human society, because He deemed it “not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). That verse stands out starkly in the biblical creation narrative, because as Scripture describes the successive days of the creation week, the text punctuates each stage of creation with the words, “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:41012182125, italics added). The goodness of creation emerges as the main theme of Genesis 1, and the statement “God saw that it was good” is repeated again and again, like the refrain after each stanza of a lengthy song. Then finally, after the sixth day of creation, we’re told with emphasis, “God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (italics added).

But then Genesis 2:18 takes us back to the end of day six and reveals that just before God ended His creative work, just one thing was left that was “not good.” Every aspect of the entire universe was finished. Each galaxy, star, planet, rock, grain of sand, and tiny molecule was in place. All the species of living things had been created. Adam had already given “names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field” (Genesis 2:20). But there was still one glaring unfinished aspect of creation: “For Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:20). Adam was alone, and in need of a suitable mate. Therefore God’s final act of creation on day six—the crowning step that made everything in the universe perfect—was accomplished by the forming of Eve from Adam’s rib. Then “He brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:22).

By that act, God established the family for all time. The Genesis narrative says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Jesus quoted that verse in Matthew 19:5 to underscore the sanctity and permanence of marriage as an institution. The same verse is quoted practically every time two believers are united in a Christian marriage ceremony. It is a reminder that marriage and the family are ordained by God and therefore sacred in His sight.

So it is no mere accident of history that family relationships have always been the very nucleus of all human civilization. According to Scripture, that is precisely the way God designed it to be. And therefore, if the family crumbles as an institution, all of civilization will ultimately crumble along with it.

Over the past few generations, we have seen that destructive process taking place before our eyes. It seems contemporary secular society has declared war on the family. Casual sex is expected. Divorce is epidemic. Marriage itself is in decline, as multitudes of men and women have decided it’s preferable to live together without making a covenant or formally constituting a family. Abortion is a worldwide plague. Juvenile delinquency is rampant, and many parents have deliberately abandoned their roles of authority in the family. On the other hand, child abuse in many forms is escalating. Modern and postmodern philosophies have attacked the traditional roles of men and women within the family. Special interest groups and even government agencies seem bent on the dissolution of the traditional family, advocating the normalization of homosexuality, same-sex “marriage,” and (in some cultures nowadays) sterilization programs. Divorce has been made easy, tax laws penalize marriage, and government welfare rewards childbirth outside of wedlock. All those trends (and many more like them) are direct attacks on the sanctity of the family.

These days whenever families are portrayed in films, television dramas, or sitcoms, they are almost always caricatured as grossly dysfunctional. Someone recently pointed out that the only television “family” who regularly attend church together are “The Simpsons”—and they are cartoon exaggerations deliberately saddled with the worst imaginable traits, designed mainly to mock and malign both church and family. It’s no joke, though. A relentless parade of similarly dysfunctional assortments of people assaults us on television and in the movies. Hollywood has defined a broad new meaning for the word family.

Meanwhile, traditional nuclear families with a strong, reliable father and a mother whose priorities are in the home have been banished from popular culture, made to feel as if they were the caricature.

Although many Christian leaders have been passionately voicing concerns about the dissolution of the family for decades, things have grown steadily worse, not better, in society at large. Secular social commentators have lately begun to claim that the traditional nuclear family is no longer even “realistic.” An article published not long ago by the on-line magazine Salon said this: “The ‘ideal’ American family—a father and a mother, bound to each other by legal marriage, raising children bound to them by biology—is a stubborn relic, a national symbol that has yet to be retired as threadbare and somewhat unrealistic.” [1] The nuclear family simply won’t work in 21st-century society, according to many of these self-styled “experts.”

I know those voices are wrong, however, because I have witnessed literally thousands of parents in our church who have put into practice what the Bible teaches about the family, and they and their families have been greatly blessed for it.

As society continues its mad quest to eliminate the family, and as our whole culture therefore unravels more and more, it becomes more important than ever for Christians to understand what the Bible teaches about the family, and to put it into practice in our homes. It may well be that the example we set before the world through strong homes and healthy families will in the long run be one of the most powerful, attractive, and living proofs that when the Bible speaks, it speaks with the authority of the God who created us—and whose design for the family is perfect.

[1] . Amy Benfer, “The nuclear family takes a hit” (7 Jun 2001), Salon.com.

https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A297/the-nucleus-of-civilization

Why Celebrate Lent When It’s Just a Tradition?

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.Ephesians 1:7

Nowhere does it say in the Bible that Christians are to spend 40 days praying and fasting in the lead-up to Good Friday and Easter. Nor does it speak of an “Ash Wednesday” or “Holy Week”.

So why do so many churches mark the Lenten period, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends in the Holy Week?

And why think about this, when we are struggling with many other challenges—such as the COVID-19 outbreak—now?

In case you’re wondering, Lent is a season celebrated by many of the more traditional or liturgical churches. During this season, believers prepare for Good Friday by putting a greater emphasis on repentance and self-denial as they reflect on Christ’s death and resurrection. Typically, it involves fasting or giving up some luxuries, and a greater note of solemnity in church services and events.

All this is to remind Christians of their sin that put Christ on the cross. This grief is marked by the “ash” of Ash Wednesday, which falls on 26 February this year. Lent lasts 40 days, evoking memories of Jesus’ period of fasting in the desert (Matthew 4:2). Some churches also mark Maundy Thursday, which commemorates Jesus’ last supper with His disciples.

All these days, which have been practised by Christians over hundreds of years, are meant to encourage believers to spend time thinking about our sinful state and how only Christ can save us from the grip of sin and reconcile us with the holy God (Ephesians 1:7, Colossians 1:13-14).

Lent is obviously not compulsory. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good thing. 1 Corinthians 10:23 notes that “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful.” But the opposite can also be true: not all things are mandatory, but they can be helpful.

With many churches and Christian organisations rolling out printed and online resources or holding special services to help people observe Lent—not to mention, temporarily stopping mass gatherings and other meetings—why not take the opportunity to spend some time reflecting on the meaning of the cross?

Perhaps we can start with these simple things each day:

Pray: Thank our Heavenly Father for sending His Son to die on the cross for our sins.

Repent: Think about what we’ve done wrong and our struggle with temptation, and how we can only overcome these weaknesses with the Holy Spirit’s help.

Reflect: Read the Gospel accounts of the days leading to Jesus’ death on the cross, His resurrection, and how they can transform the way we live and love others.

Fast: Abstaining from food (if it is safe) or something we like (for example, an indulgence or luxury) can help us focus on what Jesus gave up for our sake. —Leslie Koh

 

Jesus, thank You for dying for my sin
so that I can be forgiven and reconciled to the Father.
I want to spend the next few weeks
reflecting on what You did for me,
please help me honour this commitment to You.

Original here

VIDEO “Social Media Dangers Exposed”!

Feb 26, 2020

 

I found this information absolutely and appallingly frightful for the dangers our children face in a culture of social media, and in their daily lives because of it. Online child predators are very real and children so vulnerable! ~G.W.

As we are preparing for a special assembly at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in the Fine Arts Center of Southside Christian School in Simpsonville, South Carolina, EVERY SINGLE PARENT WHOSE CHILD USES SOCIAL MEDIA MUST WATCH THIS NINE-MINUTE VIDEO!

via “Social Media Dangers Exposed”! — drbobinc



“Social Media Dangers Exposed”! — drbobinc


Project Stonefish: Drawing Child Predators Out From the Shadows

A stonefish blends into its habitat and injects venom into predators that come too close. Our team goes undercover in an online ecosystem to identify sexual predators and report them to law enforcement.Our goal is to demonstrate to parents how predators operate in the digital age — and how to help protect their kids.https://stonefishvideo.com


Can We Love Both God and Pleasure?

John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

Why can’t we love pleasure and God at the same time? Paul seems to assume that we can’t. And it’s a text that confuses a podcast listener named Gabriel, who writes in to ask: “Hello, Pastor John. My question is about that phrase in 2 Timothy 3:4, ‘lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.’ Does this establish a dichotomy between seeking pleasure and seeking God? If so, why is it impossible to do both? Why can’t we love pleasure and God at the same time?”

It is about time that we get this question. I mean, we are Christian Hedonists, and there’s a text just crying out for attention. So, let’s put the text in front of us. Here’s what 2 Timothy 3:1–5 says:

In the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

Now, Gabriel is certainly right to flag this text as something that needs special attention, especially from a Christian Hedonist like me: “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” Is this, then, not an indictment of Christian Hedonism, which says that we should pursue our fullest and lasting pleasure in God no matter what it costs? That’s what I believe and have devoted my life to arguing for and trying to live. Gabriel wants to know, Can’t we pursue pleasure and God — can’t we love pleasure and God — at the same time? To which Paul seems to say, “No, you can’t.”

What You Really Crave

So, what we have to do with a text like this is not turn away from the text and start making up our own views about pleasure and about God, but stay with the text and let Paul tell us how he’s using his words — namely, the word pleasure and the word God in particular. Paul is clearly treating them as competitors for our affections, for our love — loving pleasure rather than loving God. He’s treating God as an object of our love, and he’s treating pleasure as an object of our love.

And when you think of them that way, pleasure is clearly being perceived as an idol, an alternative to loving God. That’s the way Paul is setting it up. Paul is not asking the question, if looked at another way, whether God might be our pleasure. He’s not asking that. He’s not talking about that. If God is our pleasure, then pleasure can’t be in competition with God, but pleasure is virtually the same as our love for God.

So, Paul is using the word pleasure as an object of delight, not an act of delight. Mark that. That’s so important to get our categories clear. He’s treating the word pleasure, he’s treating the reality of pleasure, as an object of our delighting, not the act of our delighting. If pleasure is an object of delight — something we delight in — then it competes with God, and we have to choose God above pleasure. But if pleasure is viewed not as the object of delight, but the act of delighting, then God can be the object of that delighting. He can be our delight, be our pleasure, and in that sense, pleasure and God would not be in competition at all.

But that’s not the way Paul is thinking here. Paul is thinking here of pleasure as a physical or psychological sensation that we crave more than we crave God. And in this sense, pleasure has to become an idol, and we must choose between pleasure and God.

God, or His Benefits?

Let me tell two stories that illustrate what I think Paul is getting at. Here’s the first story. I remember over twenty years ago interviewing Sam Crabtree as an executive pastor candidate for Bethlehem, and he’s been at Bethlehem ever since. In the interview, he said something that made me love and admire him and his insight. We hired him. I love Sam. He’s still wise.

He said he worries about some churches that, in their worship services, seem to be loving loving God more than loving God. Let me say it again because it struck me, and that’s why I remember it all these years later: he was concerned that, in some worship services, people seem to be loving loving God more than loving God.

So, a person might say he’s taking pleasure in God in worship, and that would be good. But he might slip over into taking more pleasure in the pleasure of taking pleasure in God than in really taking pleasure in God. And we all know this danger, right? We can slip into loving the emotional music, or slip into the emotional fellowship, or slip into the various physical and psychological sensations that attend a focus with God, while God himself slowly disappears.

The beauty of his character and the beauty of his ways just drop out of our consciousness. That would be a religious form of the kind of thing Paul is concerned about here, loving pleasure rather than loving God.

‘I Choose You’

Now here’s the second story. It’s an even more pointed illustration, I think. Soon after Noël and I were married, I read a book about sex in marriage, and it made this amazing statement that I had not thought of before, but ever since have considered it just stock, beautiful, glorious, obvious wisdom. It said, “One kiss after sexual climax is worth a thousand kisses before sexual climax.”

Now, why would that be? It’s because all the kisses of foreplay are ambiguous. They might be owing to strong affections for your spouse as a cherished person, or you might have gotten so caught up in the love of pleasure, the sensations, that the kisses have no connection with the preciousness of the person, and are only expressions of sexual abandon and sexual sensation.

But after sexual climax, when there are no overpowering physical sensations carrying you, but only the preciousness of the relationship, then a tender, eye-to-eye, heartfelt kiss says, “You are more precious to me than all those sensations. And if I had to choose, I would choose you, you, Noël. Not mainly the sexual sensations that you give me, but you, are my cherished treasure.”

Highest Pleasure in God Himself

Now, that is, I think, what Paul is getting at in relation to God. Remember, it says — this is amazing — in 2 Timothy 3:5, that these people have an “appearance of godliness,” while they are loving pleasure more than loving God. But in fact, they are being sustained not by the power of godliness, not by the power of the beauty of God’s person and the preciousness of his fellowship; they’re being sustained by the secondary pleasures of being part of the Christian community.

So, the answer to Gabriel’s question is this: You can’t love pleasure and love God when pleasure is conceived of as an alternative object of your affections, luring you away from a superior delight in God. But you can pursue pleasure and pursue God at the same time if God himself is your pleasure.

Listen to Audio at

Living Stones and Love Stories

A glory that once was and a Kingdom that never ends.

By Ravi Zacharias

here is no greater symbol of the ancient majesty of the country of India than that of the Taj Mahal. Its grandeur and magnificence have made it one of the most visited attractions in all the world. Catching the rays of the sun by day or the reflective moonbeams at night, there is none other like it.

The building in its story is a story of romance. Inside it is a story of death. You see, its haunting architecture is only one part of what makes this edifice an interesting study in history, because the story behind this magnificent design is even more intriguing. The Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, had many wives as was the custom in that time (1628) and in his faith. But he only truly cared for one of his wives, Mumtaz Mahal. They were betrothed to marriage when she was only 14 and he only 15 years old. Arranged marriages for the Mughal Kings didn’t often blossom into true love, but their union was the exception. She became his constant companion and he consulted with her in both private matters and in affairs of the state. She was his closest confidant and trusted adviser. At her intercession, he forgave enemies or commuted death sentences. His trust in her was so great that he gave her the highest honor of the land–his imperial seal, the Mehr Uzaz, which validated imperial decrees. But Mumtaz Mahal died fairly young and unexpectedly, while giving birth to their fourteenth child. His grief for her was overwhelming.

To memorialize his love for her, the Taj Mahal was commissioned by Shah Jahan to be built as a mausoleum for his beloved Mumtaz. It is seen till this day as an embodiment of undying love, poetry in stone of their marital devotion. English poet Sir Edwin Arnold describes it as “Not a piece of architecture, as other buildings are, but the proud passion of an emperor’s love wrought in living stones.”

“Living stones” is what Arnold used to describe the marble adornment with their bodies side by side. As you enter into the lowest level, you can just about catch the aroma of death and know that is all that’s left of the “ruler of the world,” which is what “Shah Jahan” literally meant. The family history continued a short while and the wealthy Mughal empire lasted only 200 years. The stones and tombs across India speak of a glory that once was—a love and power that now lies beneath cold marble.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is also a love story. A love story from before the foundation of the world that defines all of history, that speaks of an undying love in which you and I are the object of the greatest story ever told. About a love so deep that a Father was willing to give His only son to save an undeserving world. The surprise ending to this story has an empty grave, and the risen Christ becoming the foundation on which the real living stones of the church have been building an eternal kingdom. Stones uncut by human hands but shaped by an eternal sacrifice in the perfect plan of God.

The overtones of the story are so eastern, but the message so global.

This kingdom of God’s love for us will withstand all the assaults of time and the passage of earthly kingdoms. The greatest builder has left this as a testimonial to His love for His creation.

G.K. Chesterton penned these powerful words as a prayer and then put to a hymn,

O God of earth and altar,

Bow down and hear our cry,

Our earthly rulers falter,

Our people drift and die;

The walls of gold entomb us,

The swords of scorn divide,

Take not thy thunder from us,

But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,

From lies of tongue and pen,

From all the easy speeches

That comfort cruel men,

From sale and profanation

Of honour and the sword,

From sleep and from damnation,

Deliver us, good Lord.

Tie in a living tether

The prince and priest and thrall,

Bind all our lives together,

Smite us and save us all;

In ire and exultation

Aflame with faith, and free,

Lift up a living nation,

A single sword to thee.

The living God is building a living church against which even the gates of Hell will never prevail. God is the ultimate “Shah Jahan.” He left behind no bones or building. He is love. His story is eternal.

It is an honor for me to team up with Abdu Murray and hark back to such stories from history in our co-authored book, Seeing Jesus from the East, soon to be released by Zondervan (April 28, 2020).

https://www.rzim.org/read/rzim-global/living-stones-and-love-stories

Look Up For Your Redemption’s Nigh!

January 27, 2020 hepsibahgarden

 

Do you know what Jesus did during times of trouble?

Well, the answer is — Jesus prayed when He faced troubles and received strength from God to overcome them. There is great strength in prayer and so in these last days we need to be praying more fervently than before and get strength from God to overcome every trial and situation.

And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.Luke‬ ‭22:41-42‬

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke‬ ‭21:28‬

What does lifting up our heads refers to?

  • Having a life of prayer
  • Seeking help from God like David
  • Trusting God for everything

There is no help or strength received from God for those who do not lift up their heads. People who are found in such a state are mostly bound to the cares, fleeting pleasures, riches and wealth of the world. St.John is exhorting the believers in 1 John 2:15-17 to not love the world neither the things of the world. Those who love the world, the love of the Father isn’t present in them.

What is in the world?

  • Lust of the eyes
  • Lust of the flesh
  • Pride of life

Demas was a very helpful minister alongside St.Paul, while they ministered together. 2 Timothy 4:10. But then, he left ministering because he loved the world more and departed from St.Paul.

May the Lord help us to love Him alone more than all, to lift up our heads and watch because the day of redemption is drawing nigh.

Be blessed 💕

Original here

Parenting: The Priority of Desiring our Kids’ Salvation

December 6, 2019 by SLIMJIM

Establish the need: What is your greatest priority for your kids? What do you desire the most for your kids?  Is it for them to have a good job, take care of you when you are older, contribute to society or be independent?  These are not wrong in of themselves, but what should your greatest priority for your kids should be?

Purpose: Today we will see seven reasons why we should set the priority of desiring our children’s’ salvation in how we parent our children.

  1. Hell is a real place for sinners (Matthew 10:28, Matthew 13:50)
  2. We should already desire all people to come to Christ (1 Timothy 2:4, Romans 9:3, Romans 11:14)
  3. All parents should desire what’s best for their kids (Matthew 7:11; Proverbs 13:22)
  4. Jesus does not want us to hinder children coming to Him (Matthew 19:14)
  5. Stumbling little kids is a serious penalty (Matthew 18:6)
  6. It is so important believers are called to continue to be married to unbelievers for the sake of children’s salvation (1 Corinthians 7:12-14)
  7. God wants kids to even silence the mockers (Psalm 8:2, Matthew 21:15-16)

 

Reason 1: Hell is a real place for sinners (Matthew 10:28, Matthew 13:50)

  1. Hell is worse than death: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
    1. Jesus here is speaking and he’s talking about things we should fear.
    2. Notice the distinction between “kill the body” and “kill the soul.
    3. Humans can “kill the body.
    4. The second line Jesus mentioned about something worse than physical death (“kill the body”): one’s “soul and body in hell.
    5. This goes against some people who think the Bible does not teach about the existence of hell, or that hell is the same thing as death. It is not.
    6. Let that sink in: Hell is worse than death.
  2. What hell is like: “and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 13:50)
    1. Here the description of hell is described.
    2. It is described as “the furnace of fire
    3. What is like for those who are suffering? For them “will be weeping and gnashing of teeth
  3. Practice
    1. When was the last time you thought about the reality of hell?
    2. Have you lived your Christian life forgetting about the reality of hell?
    3. Has the doctrine of hell shape you in any way in the way you parent your kids? Every doctrine should have application, even the doctrine about hell.
    4. Do we want our kids to go there? I hope not!  Let us be resolve to parent in such a way to let our kids know the hope of the Gospel!
    5. Have you ever talked to your kids about the reality of hell?

Reason 2: We should already desire all people to come to Christ (1 Timothy 2:4, Romans 9:3, Romans 11:14)

  1. Know God’s desire: “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)
    1. Here Paul writes that God in some sense “desires all men to be saved.
    2. Salvation of course requires that one needs “to come to the knowledge of the truth” which is the Gospel as revealed in God’s Word.
    3. If God desire people to be saved, should we desire others to be saved as well?
  2. Christians should also desire the salvation of others: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” (Romans 9:3)
    1. This here is Paul speaking.
    2. Paul here is talking about ethnic Jews when he said “my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
    3. He wishes them to be saved so much that Paul said he wishes he take their punishment: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren
    4. Here we see Paul’s noble desire to see other people be saved.
    5. If we see it as noble that others be saved by Christ, we should also have the desire to see our own children be saved!
  3. Christians should also desire the salvation of others: “if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them.” (Romans 11:14)
    1. Paul describes here what are his wish in light of his ministry to the Gentiles.
    2. Here he describes how he wishes for his Jewish people to be saved as well.
    3. Again if we see desire others to be saved, should we not also have the desire to see our own children be saved?
  4. Practice’
    1. When was the last time you thought about the salvation of other people who are not Christians?
    2. When was the last time you shared the Gospel with someone?
    3. When was the last time you thought about your own kids’ salvation?
    4. When was the last time you shared the Gospel to your children?

 

Reason 3: All parents should desire what’s best for their kids (Matthew 7:10-11, Proverbs 13:22)

  1. Even evil people can want what is best for their kids: “Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:10-11)
    1. Jesus in the context is teaching about asking and seeking God in prayer.
    2. Jesus uses a human analogy to make a point about God hearing our prayer.
    3. The human analogy is that human fathers will do good for their kids with the example of a loaf of bread (v.10) and fish (v.11) given to a child when asked.
    4. The last part Jesus drives the point home: If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11b)
    5. Yet if even evil people can want what is good for their kids, how much more so should Christians want their kids to have what is truly the best thing in the world: salvation in heaven and a relationship with God through faith in Christ dying for our sins!
  2. Parents should want to give their kids the greatest “inheritance:” “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. (Proverbs 13:22)
    1. First line teaches that a good parent would want to leave behind inheritance.
    2. Yet the greatest inheritance you want to leave behind is the Gospel: The good news that trusting in Jesus Christ can save them for eternity and having the pleasures of God forever in heaven!
  3. Practice
    1. Have you parent in a way that is for the best for your kids for life on earth?
    2. If you are parenting your kids for their good on this life and not the next you are not keeping eternity in perspective. You need to start parenting with your kids’ eternity in mind!
    3. If we don’t practice Gospel centered and Gospel driven parenting you might not understand what’s really the best thing for your kids are. You need to re-discover the preciousness of the Gospel first.  Vow to study books on the Gospel and the book of Romans and Ephesians today!

Reason 4: Jesus does not want us to hinder children coming to Him: “But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”” (Matthew 19:14)

  1. In the context the disciples were rebuking kids who were going to Jesus (13).
  2. Jesus instead rebuked His disciples: “But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me (14a)
  3. Then Jesus taught a spiritual principle: “for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (14b)
  4. If Jesus said the kingdom of heaven belong to kids, we should also have the same attitude with our kids!
  5. Practice
    1. Are you hindering or helping your kids to come to Jesus?
    2. We can hinder them to come to Jesus in many ways:
      1. Being caught up with one’s own selfishness
      2. Hypocrisy
      3. Materialism
      4. General Parental Neglect
      5. Neglect of duty of sharing the Gospel to them.
      6. Not going to church.
      7. Not practicing Gospel based discipline.

 

Reason 5: Stumbling little kids is a serious penalty: “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)

  1. In the context Jesus has been talking about children in Matthew 18:1-6.
  2. Jesus brought up a scenario of someone causing “one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble (6a)
  3. How serious is the penalty? “it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea (6b)
    1. Drowning is not a pleasant way to die.
    2. Yet Jesus said that is better than the penalty deserved!
  4. Practice
    1. Are you stumbling your little ones or are you helping them to come to salvation through faith in Jesus?
    2. Do you know what are your sins and temptations that can cause your children to stumble? Is that something you are convicted about and desire to confess to God, repent, and fight that sin?
    3. The greatest sin is unbelief; it’s a sin that will turn down the grace of God offered through Jesus Christ. Is your belief, words and action promoting them not to believe in the grace of Jesus Christ?  If so you seriously need to repent and turn to Jesus Christ today and if appropriate confess to your children as well.

 

Reason 6: It is so important believers are called to continue to be married to unbelievers for the sake of children’s salvation: ““But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.”” (1 Corinthians 7:12-14)

  1. In 12-13 Paul encourages husbands and wives married to nonbelievers not to divorce their already-married unbelieving spouse.
  2. One of the reason for that is given in verse 14a: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband
    1. You might ask: sanctified? A believer is one who is declared sanctified just as the church in Corinth are also called “sanctified” in 1 Corinthians 1:2 even though they still need to work on it practically.
    2. Thus staying in the marriage is for the purpose that the unbeliever comes to Christ!
  3. This is true for the kids as well, to stay in the marriage for the sake of the kids salvation with the believers’ words and life: “for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy (A)
  4. Seeing how important salvation of family members including those of children, we should see the importance of having it a priority to see our kids come to know Christ!
  5. Practice
    1. For those in difficult marriages, are you willing to stay in your marriage to be a light to your spouse and kids?
    2. Do you see how important it is the salvation of your kids?

 

Reason 7: God wants kids to even silence the mockers (Psalm 8:2, Matthew 21:15-16)

  1. The Word says God wants the mouth of kids to silence God’s enemies: “From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength Because of Your adversaries, To make the enemy and the revengeful cease.” (Psalm 8:2)
  2. We see this in action during Jesus’ life: “But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were shouting in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant 16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus *said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” (Matthew 21:15-16)
    1. These kids were taught somewhere that Jesus is the Son of David and the Messiah!
    2. Yet will we also teach our own kids that Jesus is the Messiah?
  3. Practice
    1. Will we teach our kids about Jesus the Messiah?
    2. Will we teach them very young about Jesus as the Son of David and Messiah?
    3. This last passage reminds us about the present reality of spiritual warfare; are we aware of the war we are in and are we preparing them for the real world of spiritual warfare by letting them know Jesus as Savior?

 

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2019/12/06/parenting-the-priority-of-desiring-our-kids-salvation/#more-23936


%d bloggers like this: