What is the Condition of your Heart?


     A preacher, just like everybody else, likes to see results. We like to see progress in people; we like to see them growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord; we like to see them make right decisions and learn how to successfully deal with temptations. As fathers and pastors, we have a biblical mandate to watch over the souls of our people according to Hebrews 13:17. We love to see our people prospering as their souls prosper. A prosperous soul is a healthy soul; a soul with stable emotions, a soul that even in their struggles strives to do God’s will and a soul with a sound mind and the ability to make good decisions. But just like everybody else; we get hurt when we don’t see fruit manifesting in the people we are called to preach and teach. Is in moments like this that I like to take a deeper look at the heart condition of folks.

     The condition of your heart today will determine if what I am about to teach will or will not be effective in your life. In my life in general I am called to stay pray up and with God’s grace, pursue His will and watch my testimony. My job today and every time I preach and teach is to preach and teach his Word. When I do that is no longer my message, but His; when I do that, is no longer me, but I become a vessel of clay use by God to communicate HIS message. But the rest is on you! You decide what you want to do with this information according to the condition of your heart. In Luke 8:4-15 Jesus tells us,

4 And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5 “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6 Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8 But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
9 Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?” 10 And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’
11 “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (NKJV)

     First, Jesus is speaking to a multitude and he chose to speak in parables (That means that he uses stories, allegories, etc. to communicate his message.) He does not speak the message openly; the message can only be understood by divine revelation. This message is not designed for everybody to understand; is designed for those who God call to be able to understand. If you, right now, understand what I am saying, you are blessed; but for a lost person, they will have a hard time listening to this message. Second, he is no longer with the crown, but now he is with the disciples and this is the time when he exclusively teaches them. There is a place where all of us must go to Jesus in our secret places to allow Him to teach us His Word.

Today, I want you to take your eyes off of me and focus in what the Lord is trying to tell you; however, the condition of your heart will determine your level of understanding or lack of understanding. Going back to Luke 8:11-15 Jesus clearly explain this parable. He explained that the seed on this parable is the Word of God. This is what I am giving you guys today, God’s Word; there is no other seed that is able to change your life. Here Jesus gives us 4 Different Heart Conditions:

1. The wayside (V 12)

     This is a hard heart! Nothing gets through this heart. You can talk to these folks until you are blue to your face and NOTHING, absolutely nothing will happen. They don’t change a thing. This is a heart that has been trample on over and over and nothing grows. Notice those places where people or animals constantly walk through; nothings grow there. That is the exact description of this heart! They allow everything and everybody into their lives. If it feels good; they do it. No conviction of sin, no morals and no pursue of holiness.

     When you speak to this group of folks, you will get frustrated if you are not careful. They are in our churches; they are in our local congregations. It may be a husband that goes to church, just because his wife makes him do it. It may be a wife that goes to church just because her husband pushes the issue. It may be teenagers and young adults still living with their parents, who feel force to go. Some have gotten use to, some even serve in ministries; some know how to sing well, some memorize a few Scripture; some even preach; but they have absolutely no fruit. They don’t Study Scripture, they don’t pray, they don’t worship God, they don’t even think about Him and, believe me when I tell you, you never hear God in their conversations. There is absolutely no sign of life; no fruit; they are dead; they are lost! These folks need to get saved.

2. A heart with temporary excitement (Verse 13)

     The heart of these folks is a little softer than the first group; the seed actually grows some here, but is never able to develop strong roots. These are folks that either received a water down message and got exited about that or, received the actual Gospel, but were never disciple. We have a mandate to make disciples, but in a study it shows that here in the United States the great majority of pastors and leaders believe that people can be disciple on their own. Never mind that Jesus tells us to “make disciples.” We have a mandate to teach these folks the ways of the Lord; to equip them, to prepare them for life; but they are weak and have no roots. As soon as the first temptation comes they fall headfirst.

     These are folks that want to immediately testify in the church; they want to preach, do this and do that; but move away from God very easily. That is why we have to be careful; because this group look and sound like Christians, but if we do not give them time to go through the discipleship process and for them to bear fruit, they become a stumbling block for new believers. People want to give testimony without going through any test; this group is unable to overcome any test because they are still not rooted in Christ; many are still playing games.

     When you go back and study church history you will find out that back in the days of the church fathers; the folks that came after the original disciples, they established as a rule to wait six months before baptizing anybody. The reason they did that was because there was so much foolishness going on that they wanted to wait and see if those conversions were real. They figured people can fake, but for so long!

     It is amazing that when you take a look at the First Great Awakening in America, the fruit was everywhere. This is a time when America was indeed great; that is because the First Great Awakening gave America conviction of sin. America started looking at their own mess such as slavery. That conviction started in the church buildings; they were in the “church” but were lost. Everything started with Jonathan Edwards famous sermon: Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God. The Second Awakening was all about emotionalism; thousands of people gather to listen to revivalist; but the soon they came, the soon they left; no fruit. They were hearts with temporary excitement; eager to look for the next new thing.

3. A heart who refuses to let go of the world (V14)

     This group is very similar to the second group; neither is able to bear fruit. We need to understand that Jesus stated that we shall know them by their fruit. As the second group falls with the first temptation; this group is a little more complex; they fall over three things specifically: 1) the cares, 2) the riches, and 3) pleasures of life. These are folks in the church who worry all the time (They have no faith). How can you please God if you have no faith? These are folks who put riches and the pleasures of this world above God. They call themselves Christians, but they look more like secular folks. They talk and walk just like the world. These folks have been apparently walking with Jesus, but are never able to mature; that is because they insist in mixing their faith with the things of this world.

     The Bible is clear that we can’t serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) Notice that you can only go so far before you start either hating God or the world; but you can’t ever love both. God does not want half of you; God wants your entire heart. I believe that our churches are full of these folks; perhaps this is the largest group and the one that is doing more damage. Perhaps this is the group that Jesus refers to in Revelation 18:4 when he states, “…Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins…” These are the folks that water down the Gospel. In church history, this mixing has been taking place since the very beginning. Mixing the gospel with reason and knowledge, with philosophy and then Constantine really took it to another level as he mixed the church with government. As a matter of fact, he placed the church under the government; that is why you have preachers that in the name of fame, power and money compromise God’s Word all the time. There is nothing new under the sun!

4. A Good and Noble heart (V 15)

     This is a heart with morals. This is a heart with Godly conviction. This is not a perfect heart, but it is a heart that is allowing God to change him or her. The fruit here visible. This is a heart that endures the tribulations of life with patience; they don’t allow temptations, the cares or the pleasures of this world to move them away from their faith in God. Oh I wish everybody I minister to already have this heart; but that is not reality!

Conclusion

     So as preachers we must take a good look at our people and at our own families. Don’t assume that because they grew up in the church they have good and humble hearts towards the Lord. We need to minister to them where they are at. The first three groups are not save; they will split hell wide open. Sometimes we confuse talent with salvation. We think that because somebody can sing or preach or play an instrument somehow someway they have a free ticket to heaven. I have news for you; every human being has gifts and talents; but only through Christ are we are saved. If we don’t repent of our sins, if we don’t call Christ in our hearts and receive Him not only as Savior, but as Lord, we are lost.

     Every day of your life God gives you mercy; giving you time to repent, but that time will run out; death will come and after death is judgment. There are no second changes after you are dead; you have a chance now that you are alive. There will be a time that God will not be found. Oh I know many of us will weep in heaven when we find out that many of our friends and love ones did not make it to the New Jerusalem. I can’t only imagine the pain we will feel in our hearts. But God will wipeout our tears and in his immense power will make our hearts right to fully enjoy heaven in spite of eternally lost love ones. What is the condition of your heart?

     As preachers, is important that we know where people are at so that we can pray accordantly and also deliver the correct message. Can’t speak to people about deep theological truths when they are not even saved. Can’t be surprise when your folks keep falling over and over if their hearts are not right. Some folks need the Gospel and that is all you need to give them; they need to get saved, they are not ready for anything else. And, there are folks that are ready for meat; they will be bored to death if you keep giving them the same message over and over; they are ready to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord; they are hungry for righteousness.

     Out of these four groups only the last one is saved, because it is the only one that is able to bear fruit. Where is your fruit? It is God’s will for all of us to have a good heart; but are you willing to surrender? Would you allow God to do the work in you or, are you in love with the world and the things of this world?

Challenges Against Scripture from Within: Defending the Inerrancy of Scripture


The-Word

Introduction

            The issues with the minimization of the authority of God’s Word can be traced back to the Garden of Eden with the devil himself questioning God’s mandate regarding the Tree of Life and, it has continue through the ages. From the Catholic Church elevating manmade traditions and the word of popes to the level of God’s Word, to Neoevangelicalism and some of our modern-day theologians, it is obvious that we have a problem from within our own walls. Through the window of two thousand years of church history we can see the dangers of the moving away from God’s Word. Erickson states that there is evidence that when theologians, schools, or movements disregard the inerrancy of the Bible, it always causes the abandonment of cornerstone beliefs in our faith.[1]

            These theological tragedies take places because people loose sight that, without the Bible, we have no authority to establish any doctrine, we loose power to reproof or correct anything and it leaves us open for private interpretations regarding what is truly righteous according to God’s standards (2 Timothy 3:16). Therefore, the inerrancy of Scripture is not a small matter, but a foundational one. By no means this study is presented in a fatalistic way, as if somehow and someway God’s ultimate plan will not come to pass. God’s will, will indeed be done. However, there is a tendency to oversimplify these issues and concerns under the umbrella that God is in control.

            As we take a look at the seven churches described in the book of Revelation, we can clearly see that God held things against some of them for not doing and dealing with issues they were suppose to. In Revelation 2:14-16 the Lord tells the church of Pergamum, “14 Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. 15 Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 16 Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” (NIV)

            I am aware that this battle against the authority of Scripture will continue and will be the central cause for the great falling away from the faith (2 Thessalonians 2:3). As we get closer to the last days, it is not a coincident that this assault against the Bible seems to have grown in the last hundred years. It is Satan’s favorite tool to move people away from God by causing them to move away from his Word. At the end of the day, the way we view Scripture is at the center of our very nature as disciples of Christ. We can’t be disciples of Christ if we do not rightly honor his Word. Jesus himself stated, “… If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32 KJV). To continue in his word is to abide in his word; this means that we, as Christians, are not called to live our lives based on opinions or in any other way of life outside of what is established in God’s Word.

Body

Some Statistics

            In May 2007 Gallup showed that one third of the American adult population believes that the Bible is the actual Word of God. “About one in five Americans believe the Bible is an ancient book of fables, legends and moral precepts recorded by man.”[2] The same study shows that a strong relationship between the level of education and belief in the Bible as literal; “with such belief becoming less prevalent among those who have college education.”[3] On a research done in 2013 Barna observe a slight decline in considering the Bible a sacred book. He noticed that Boomers and Elders (ages 67) are more likely to regard the Bible as sacred, while the 18 to 47 years of age are less likely to considered the Bible sacred. 56% of Americans considered that the Bible has little influence in our society today.[4] These statistics may sound alarming, however these numbers are to be expected in the world; perhaps they will get worst with time. Nevertheless, the focus of this study is on our views of the Bible within our own walls. Arguments with the world concerning the inerrancy of the Bible should be discouraged; for the lost are blinded by the god of this world (First Corinthians 4:4). We have a bigger problem; these attacks are coming from within the walls of some of our own churches.

Diverse Views of the Inerrancy of the Word Amongst Us

            Feinberg’s defines inerrancy as “the view that when all the facts become known, they will demonstrate that the Bible in its original autographs and correctly interpreted is entirely true and never false in all it affirms, whether that relate to doctrine or ethics or to the social, physical, or life sciences”[5] Erickson equates those beliefs to doctrines. Furthermore, he establishes that those doctrines must “…rest upon the authority of Scripture”[6]

         Erickson defines and explains various conceptions of inerrancy (Erickson 2013, 191-193). I passionately embrace Full Inerrancy and loudly reject all other conceptions for the simple reason that it fully honors God’s Word. Furthermore, Full Inerrancy explains controversial scientific and historical issues. The Bible was not written and applicable only for those of the generation of the original writers, as Limited Inerrancy seems to suggest. Certain concepts had to be explained in ways the writer could understand, which is why some will argue as to its application for the modern age. In the book of Revelation, for example, there may be references to airplanes, but airplanes were not invented until nearly two thousand years later; so other ways of explanation needed to be used. This is not difficult to understand for those who know the voice of their Shepherd (John 10:27), but there will always be room in the Bible for those who want to discredit it.

            I rest in the fact that in God’s Word, I confirm truth: the truth that I can count on, the truth that will make me free (John 8:32), the truth that will carry me on and carry me trough the tough times and teach me to face the good times with humility. This is the truth of God’s Word and the truth that I should live for. Even if I find myself walking though the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4), I can stand without fear just because, the Bible tells me so.

Liberalism

            One of the main tools use by the devil in this assault against the authority of Scripture is liberalism. This is not just a political ideology, it has taken residence in some of our churches under the name of Liberal Theology. “Liberal theology had its beginning in the German Enlightenment of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, which demanded new ways of thinking about the relation between religion, culture, and science.”[7] If we can create a culture where absolutes are rejected, we then create a culture where truth becomes relative to whatever reality the individual wants to create. So we can create our own ideas regarding family, gender, what is good and what is evil. Erickson points out this problem by stating, “As part of postmodernism, there has been an objection to the idea of foundationalism, which is the view that all beliefs are justified by their relationship to certain basic beliefs”[8]. This foundationalism is seen as primitive, old fashion and outdated, while liberalism dance together with terms such as modernism and in our circles as Christians, Neoevangelicalism. These terms give the sense of something new, something smart and sophisticated. Nevertheless, Liberalism is founded on rebelliousness against God; they object to the idea that truth must be justify and validate by God’s Word. Liberalism is bad, not only in politics, but in our society, in our cultures, in our families and particularly, in our churches. As Christians, everything that has to do with the way we should live must be confirmed in Scripture and if not, passionately rejected, especially if it contradicts God’s Word.

Titles and Degrees are not Above God’s Word

            We are facing real arguments: arguments that sound intelligent and logical, arguments that come from people with titles, titles that give them authority to say things. But is there anybody exempt from the mandate to continue in God’s Word according to John 8:31? Absolutely not! It becomes even more dangerous when in Christian higher learning circles, the Word of God seems not to be enough as an agent of truth. In writing our own academic papers, unless we are able to quote somebody with the right title and credential, we run the risk of lacking any authority or credibility in whatever point we are trying to make, no mater how much Bible verses we give to support such points. This is troubling and could open doors for liberal ideas to infiltrate the minds of Christians students. For example, a couple of professors of divinity, after pointing out the challenges with sexual orientation, gender, abortion etc. concluded their article by stating, “The church needs to become a larger and more tolerant tent, encouraging a diversity of beliefs and practices that cut across old divisions and keep in view the radix of all good theology. If that can be accomplished, whether theology is called ‘liberal’ or not does not matter.”[9] Is there is anything to compromise when speaking about gender issues? Can we compromise anything concerning the issue of abortion?

            These compromising may sound good and harmless, but again, the Bible tells us in Isaiah 5:20, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (KJV) It is our duty as Christians to speak truth; in love, nevertheless speak the true. First Corinthians 13:6 tells us that love delights in truth.

The Gospel is Offensive

            The Bible tells us that Jesus is the rock of offence (1 Peter 2:8). The Gospel expresses God’s love, but also deals with our sin; somewhere down the line somebody will repent and receive Christ as Lord and Savior or reject God all together. Since when are we call to be friends of the World? These same professors speaks about the church becoming a more larger and tolerant tent, however the Bible tells us in Matthew 7:14, “…narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (NKJV). From the Old Testament to the new Testament there is a cry for us to come out of this world system not to join with them; but these professors seems to think that the way to be more effective as ambassadors of Christ is by compromising. So we are left with a water down Gospel that requires no repentance and does not deal with sin. They simply avoid any controversial issues; they focus on God’s love and the beauty of heaven, but ignore the topic of the Lake of Fire and Hell all together.

Can’t be a Disciple Without Honoring God’s Word

            This high view of Scripture is becoming more and more primitive. There is even a name for those who insist in honoring the Word; is called Bibliolatry; a basic definition of this term is the “excessive reverence for the Bible as literally interpreted.”[10] There is either the correct or the wrong approach to Scripture. Second Corinthians 3:6 tells us, “…for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” No doubts that we can’t approach the Bible like any other book; no doubts that people have used the Word to advance demonic agendas and no doubts that we need the Holy Spirit to help us. But the idea that we can hold God’s Word to a level that could be considered too high, it is not realistic to me. If anything, we do not hold the Word high enough. If anything, we must remember the inner struggles that we have in us as the Spirit and our own flesh battle for our will (Galatians 5:17).

            In John 8:31-32 Jesus tells us “…If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (NKJV) The very essence of our discipleship, our access to the truth, and our very freedom as Christians cannot enter the realm of reality without fully honoring the authority God’s Word as inerrant. I am aware that we can’t abide in God’s Word on our own; I am aware of the sacrifice of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit in us an through us… this is indeed a process; nevertheless when we are serious about God’s Word, we are serious about holiness; that is because we desire to do God’s will. One of the results of pursuing holiness is stated in 2 Timothy 3:12, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (NIV)

The Cancer of Postmodernity Approach to Scripture

            This Neoevangelicals who are embracing this liberalism in our current postmodernity see persecution as if we are missing something, as if there is something wrong with our faith or with our approach. Through church history we have seen a constant attempt to make our faith more appealing to the world, nevertheless First Corinthians 1:18 tells us, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (NIV) This message, no matter how sophisticated we try to make it, is foolishness to the world; that is why the conversion of a soul is a supernatural God-given miracle.

            There is a strong wave that has become a tsunami of heretical approaches to Scripture. Andrew Davies made many alarming statement on his academic article entitle, A New Teaching Without Authority: Preaching the Bible in Postmodernity when he states, “As a preacher and an educator of preachers, however, I still feel that religious of the Bible can gain from an increasingly secularized biblical scholarship.”[11] This new compromising and water down gospel that many are embracing as progressive come straight out of the pits of hell and is indeed leading people astray. In Revelation 18:4 the Bible tells us, referring to Babylon who represents the secular system, “…’Come out of her, my people,’ so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues;” (NIV) In attempting to become friends with the world they become enemies of God (James 4:4).

The Greatest Blessings of the Reformation

            In a few months, this year, we will be celebrating five hundred years since the Reformation. I believe this is a good time to reevaluate our own condition and relationship with God’s Word. Jacobson points at three blessings that the Reformation gave us: 1) The plain meaning of Scripture, 2) the idea the Scripture interprets Scripture and 3) Scripture shows forth Christ.[12] Even as we know in part according to First Corinthians 13, Scripture has a specific meaning. We are not called to squeeze in our own ideas concerning how things should be, Scripture itself interprets itself. Lastly, it is impossible to separate Christ from his Word; he is the Word. John tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (NIV) To reject God’s Word is to reject God. To Minimize God’s Word is to minimize God himself.

Bringing Home the Point

            I have struggle finding bold articles that give, what I consider, proper honor to God’s Word. One article that truly touch me was written by Grindheim. Grindheim does not view the Bible as one more theological approaches; in light of 2 Timothy 3:14-15 he presents the power of Scripture to give wisdom that leads to salvation. He expands on 2 Timothy 3:16 as the Apostle Paul expresses, specifically, what the Scripture is useful for: 1) Teaching, 2) Rebuking, 3) Correcting and 4) Training in righteousness. Grindheim does a super job in biblically pointing out the painful process of going through God’s reproof, correction and discipline. He calls it the “corrective function of Scripture.” He describes the words of Scripture as firm and reliable. In light of Hebrews 4:12-13 Grindheim reminds the reader the dual promise of the future rests in God, but also his judgment.[13]

            We can argue a man’s opinion; but who can argue the Word of God when is approached in love and humility; not trying to force our opinons into the Scripture, but allowing the Scriptures to speak and teach us? With this in mind, how can there be any argument against Mr. Grindheim’s thesis? He proves his thesis by using the same Bible he is crying out for scholars to take seriously. He, not only presents his apology in advocating for a protagonist role of Scripture, but also proves that it is what brings judgment to the world and to the Body of Christ. We will all be judged based on the words written in Scripture. The world will indeed be divided between the guilty; those who never surrender their lives to Christ and the not guilty, who were washed by the blood of the lamb. Why go around in circles to prove his thesis? His thesis is not really his own, but it is displayed all through the pages of the Bible. Grindheim gives the Bible the righteous place that the Bible deserves… period!

            Grindheim does not leave me with any questions; he leaves me confirming what was already in my spirit and, he leaves me inspired. Mr. Grindheim is not advocating for spiritual laziness or arguing against our biblical mandate to study and show ourselves approved (2 Timothy 2:15) by the correct application of systematic, historical, biblical and philosophical theology in our lives. He is, however, making it very clear that the truth that makes us free (2 Timothy 2:16) can only be found in Scripture. Grindheim states that the Greco-Roman focus on right knowledge as a guide to right action differed from the apostles’ focus. The apostles recognized that a more radical approach was necessary. Grindheim elevates the need for the power of God to ensure that people can do good when they are accustomed to doing evil (Jeremiah 13:23). Grindheim expands by saying “that ethical transformation is not accomplished merely through to correct instruction, it is a matter of new creation.”

            I agree whole heartedly with Grinheim’s perspective. I want to see Systematic, Philosophical and Historical theology bowing down not to Biblical Theology, but to the Word of God. I find peace in knowing that I am not an original or an inventor of anything. The truth is in God’s Word and thanks to Christ, his blood, and the power of His Spirit, I now have access to my heavenly Father and, I now find myself growing in grace and in the knowledge of my Savior (2 Timothy 2:15); there is tangible hope in that! Any principle or ideology designed to affect our souls that is presented as truth, outside of the authority of Scripture, will quickly lead to devastation and, if not corrected, to the flames of hell.

Conclusion

            The minimization of God’s Word continues to this day. It has taken a sophisticated form. In the name of being accepted we have been willing to compromise which always lead to the destabilization of our foundational and non negotiable doctrines. In spite of two thousand years of church history and the dangers we have witness through the pages of such history, the devil is busy, as he did in the Garden, planting seeds of doubt in our hearts concerning what says the Lord. Moving away from the Word is taking place in the World, that should not surprise anybody; they are lost. However, it becomes our concern when such ideas attempt to infiltrate the minds of our people.

            The inerrancy of Scripture is not a small matter, but a foundational one. It is very important that we speak up and stay grounded in God’s Word. Not to be intimated or accept something as truth just because the person speaking holds particular degrees or prestige. Nobody is exempt from John 8:31 where Jesus states “… If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;”  (KJV). We can’t be disciples of Christ if we do not rightly honor his Word.

            This paper is a humble alarm, a cry to return to God’s Word as the compass of truth; a loud rejection to anything that attempt to exalt itself against the knowledge of God. I hope that I presented the problem well and I hope that I was clear in my proposed solutions.

Bibliography

Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology, Grand Rapids: Baker Academy, 2013.

Newport, Frank “One Third of Americans Believe the Bible Is Literally True,” Gallup, May 25, 2017.

Barna Group, The State of the Bible, New York, New York: American Bible Society, 2013.

Elwell, Walker A.. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd ed..Grand Rapids: Baker Academy. 2001.

Hodgson, Peter C.,. Finney, Charles G. “Liberal Theology.” The Expository Times. 2010.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/bibliolatry

Davies, Andrew. “A New Teaching Without Authority: Preaching the Bible in Postmodernity.” The Journal of the Pentecostal Theological Association.

Jacobson, Diane. “Sola Scriptura: Strengths and Challenges,” Wiley Online Library, September 2016.

Grindheim, Sigurd. Biblical Authority: What is it Good For? Why the Apostles Insisted on a High View of Scripture. JETS. 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academy, 2013), 195-196.

[2] Frank Newport, “One Third of Americans Believe the Bible Is Literally True,” Gallup, (May 25, 2017).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Barna Group, The State of the Bible, (New York, New York: American Bible Society, 2013), 7-9

[5] Walker A. Elwell, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology 2nd ed., (Grand Rapids: Baker Academy, 2001), 156.

[6] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 206.

[7] Peter C. Hodgson, Charles G. Finney, “Liberal Theology,” The Expository Times, (2010):5.

[8] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 206.

[9] Peter C. Hodgson, Charles G. Finney, “Liberal Theology,”

[10] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/bibliolatry

[11] Andrew Davies, “A New Teaching Without Authority: Preaching the Bible in Postmodernity,” The Journal of the Pentecostal Theological Association, 169.

[12] Diane Jacobson, “Sola Scriptura: Strengths and Challenges,” Wiley Online Library, (September 2016) 2 – 4.

[13] Sigurd Grindheim, Biblical Authority: What is it Good For? Why the Apostles Insisted on a High View of Scripture, JETS, (2016) 791-803

Fellow Minorities: THEY ARE LYING to Us!


Lyndon Johnson campaigning in Illinois in 1964, the year he declared ‘war on poverty’

The United States Census Bureau showed that in 2015 43.1 million people were poor; that is about 13.5 percent of the population.[1] The Henry J. Keyser Family Foundation showed that in 2015 9% of whites in America were poor compare to 24% of Blacks and 21% of Hispanics; 14% were in the category of “Other”.[2] Even as Blacks and Latinos are minorities in this country, when it comes down to poverty we are the strong majority.

         In 2012, the federal government spent $668 billion to fund 126 separate anti-         poverty programs. State and local governments kicked in another $284 billion,    bringing total anti-poverty spending to nearly $1 trillion. That amounts to $20,610 for every poor person in America, or $61,830 per poor family of  three.[3] The famous war on poverty started on January 8, 1964 under the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson 53 years ago. Twenty-three of those 53 years under Presidents of the Democratic Party; that is including 8 years under Bill Clinton and also, 8 years under Obama. Lets take a look at the way the government is fighting this war of poverty.[4]

         As we look at these numbers, can we conclude that we are loosing this war on poverty? We can’t say that the issue of poverty has been ignored in the United States; the numbers do not lie. The government is investing a lot of money on these programs; so why is it that the poverty numbers remain consistently high amongst our people? I believe that many who engage on this war on poverty have the best intentions; but good intentions are not above biblical truth and principles. Jesus stated that the poor will always be amongst us (Matthew 26:11). However, does that means that Blacks and Latinos will always be the kings of poverty? Absolutely not! Poverty is not God’s will for his people! So we are missing something, what is it?

         We, as minorities are allowing politicians to limit their talking points by offering us more food stamps, more free health care, more free housing, etc. Not that these things are really free; tax payers are actually paying for these programs, but the person receiving these benefits are not required to do anything to earn anything. This approach has created the culture of entitlement. These are the folks who feel that everybody owns them something just because they are black, just because they are latinos and, just because, they are natives. They find justifications on the atrocities committed against us through the bloody pages of our history. The God that I serve is the God of justice. The Bible tells me that his judgments are true and righteous (Revelations 19:2). Our job as Born Again believers is to forgive (Colossians 3:13) God will take care of the rest.

         But the question remains, how can this problem of poverty be resolved? The answer is not all that complicated; it is actually very simple: 1) Place our trust in God: (Proverbs 3:5-6). The ultimate trust for our lives, for our families and for our nation, must be giving to God. Only God is worthy of our trust. God is the only one that will NEVER leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). 2) Be aware that it is God and not the government who is able to supply for all of our needs: (Philippians 4:19). David knew this that is why in Psalm 23:1 he is able to declare the following, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” (KJV) Do you know what is it to bless to the point of wanting nothing else? The Government is very limited in what they can do; God has no limits. Not only that he is able to supply for all of your needs, but he is able to give you things that money can’t buy, such as peace and joy. 3) The way out of poverty is through jobs not through federal programs: It is through hard work, not through handouts that we are able to overcome poverty. I am going to offer plenty of biblical references to prove this point because I am aware that telling people to go and find a job is consider offensive and insensitive these days.

  1. We work for and serve the Lord as we work for and serve others (Colossians 3:23-24). So we are call to do our jobs well and with the right attitude.
  2. We are called to work and make our surroundings better. (Genesis 2:15) Regarding of the size of your paycheck; as a man and as a woman of God you should be a blessing in your job and in everything that surrounds you.
  3. God promise to establish the work of your hands not your laziness (Psalm 90:17). Should I say more? You have to do your part and give God something to work for. To work is to obey God; laziness is disobedience to God… is that simple!
  4. To have food to eat is part of making a living; in order to have food you must work (Proverbs 12:11).
  5. Not working makes no sense before God (Proverbs 12:11).
  6. If you want to have things you are required to work for them; nobody is under any obligation to support you permanently (Proverbs 13:4).
  7. Lazy people are never in charge; they always depend on others (Proverbs 12:24).
  8. At the heart of making a profit is hard work; at the heart of poverty is laziness (Proverbs 14:23 / Proverbs 6:10-12 / 2 Timothy 2:6).
  9. Not providing for our own families is denying our faith as Christians and a worst spiritual condition than an unbeliever (I Timothy 5:8). If you go back and read this verse it is clear that we have a responsibility to help each other out as extended families; but especially for those under our own roof. People run to social services for help, but that is what family is for.
  10. It is God’s will to prosper us through his plan for our lives; it is his will to give us hope and a good future (Jeremiah 29:11). God wants to give you that job; it is his will!

         There are more Bible verses that speak against laziness and the blessing of hard work, but I believe I have given you plenty to think about. The words I am giving you today are not Republican or Democrat. They are not part of a political agenda or a particular ideology; these are not empty words; they come straight from the heart of God. Today, I echo the words of my master when he states,

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31-32 (KJV)

         This is the true we need; they are lying to us; lets go after God like never before, lets get to work and lets break this curse of poverty out of our lives. For that, we need God, not the government!

 

 

 

[1] https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2016/demo/p60-256.html

 

[2] http://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/poverty-rate-by-raceethnicity/?currentTimeframe=0&sortModel=%7B%22colId%22:%22Location%22,%22sort%22:%22asc%22%7D

 

[3] http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/01/08/war-on-poverty-at-50-despite-trillions-spent-poverty-won.html

 

[4] http://federalsafetynet.com/poverty-and-spending-over-the-years.html

 

The President and Twitter


290716twitter

I don’t think we have to hold a degree in political science to know that the political environment in our country is toxic. Everything that the other party says is automatically received as wrong by the other party; whether is good or bad it does not matter. It seems like politics is no longer about the business of the people, but about the destruction of characters.

         Our current president, Donald Trump, openly confesses that he is a Christian. Many evangelicals supported him. However, I am increasingly concern with how he is representing us as Christians. Listen, I don’t deny that the liberal press and some in his own party are constantly attacking him in many ways, including personal. However, attacks on presidents come with the job, especially in the last 30 years. We can argue which president was scrutinize more or less, but it comes with the territory and, with social media, I predict that is going to get worst.

         Let me go straight to the point of the purpose for this post. If the president wants to use Twitter to correct bad reporting from the press, I can understand that. If he wants to use Twitter to communicate his agenda and message directly to the American people, I can understand that also. However, is the president exempt from biblical mandates?

         There is absolutely no biblical justification to what the press and Hollywood is doing to our president day in and day out. This “Resist” movement is birthed out of rebellion. Romans 13:1-2 tells us, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (NIV)

         God places those leaders, some as instruments of blessings, others for judgment! We see this pattern as we read through the book of Judges, First and Second Kings. Also, did we see Daniel disrespecting the secular kings he worked for? Did we see Joseph disrespecting Pharaoh? No, these men were faithful to their faith in God and also very respectful to the secular leaders they worked under. We can learn some valuable lessons from these two men. Our mandate, as Christians, even above voting, is to pray for our leaders according to First Timothy 2:1-3.

         On the other hand, there is no biblical justification for our president’s midnight hour personal attacks. First Peter 3:8-10 tells us,

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. 10 For,

“Whoever would love life and see good days

must keep their tongue from evil

and their lips from deceitful speech. (NIV)

         Just in case you need a second biblical reference, Paul also spoke on this matter by telling Timothy, “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” 2 Timothy 2:23 (NIV)

         Mr. President, respectfully, let me advise you to focus on the Lord’s direction through prayer and wise council. To focus on protecting our nation, to make sure we have a strong military, to bring down this deficit, to bring down taxes, to deal with our health care issues, our future social security crisis, the war on poverty, the economy, get people back to work by creating a healthy environment for job creation, to reform the welfare system, etc. Let the numbers that count do the talking for you; unemployment rate, deficits, surpluses and the size of our economy. History will judge you on these numbers!

 

La Cultura de la Crítica y los Ataques Personales en la Política y en la Iglesia


nbc-fires-donald-trump-after-he-calls-mexicans-rapists-and-drug-runners

El ambiente político es tóxico. Ya no se discuten ideas ni se ven debates respetuosos. Todo lo que dice el partido contrario se juzga como automáticamente erróneo, aunque sea algo bueno y correcto.        La política se concentra en ataques personales y en sacar a la luz lo más lodo posible para destruir el carácter y la reputación del contrincante. Los intereses del pueblo ya no se mencionan; no son prioridad. La prioridad es la destrucción del contrincante y el mantenimiento del poder y las riquezas que acompañan dicho poder.

         Nuestro actual presidente, Donald Trump, abiertamente confiesa que es cristiano y muchos evangélicos, algunos de gran renombre, lo han apoyado públicamente. Mas aquí tengo que expandir en mi preocupación, ya que esta cultura de la crítica y los ataques personales se ha infiltrado aún, en muchas de nuestras iglesias.

         Entiendo que el Presidente Trump es constantemente atacado por la prensa; mas ésta ha sido la realidad de todos los presidentes, especialmente en los últimos 30 años. No hay nada malo con la crítica constructiva y los debates inteligentes y lógicos; pero lo que vemos hoy día es una constante falta de respeto a nuestros líderes y, en este caso, una constante disminución de la dignidad de dicha oficina a manos del mismo Donald Trump. Sus ataques de medianoche a través del medio social “Twitter” contribuyen grandemente a la propagación de esta cultura de crítica y ataques personales.

         Si el presidente quiere defender sus puntos y su agenda política utilizando a Twitter para corregir malos reportes de la prensa, lo apoyo en dicha causa. Mas estos insultos personales, atacando apariencias físicas de mujeres y hombres, son respuestas infantiles, especialmente para un hombre de Dios. No hay absolutamente nada en la biblia que justifique que un llamado hombre de Dios, responda ha insultos con más insultos. Primera de Pedro 3:8-10 nos dice,

Finalmente, sed todos de un mismo sentir,

compasivos, amándoos fraternalmente,

misericordiosos, amigables;

no devolviendo mal por mal,

ni maldición por maldición,

sino por el contrario, bendiciendo,

sabiendo que fuisteis llamados

para que heredaseis bendición.

10 Porque:

El que quiere amar la vida

Y ver días buenos,

Refrene su lengua de mal,

Y sus labios no hablen engaño;

11 Apártese del mal, y haga el bien;

Busque la paz, y sígala. (RVR 1960)

         En la Iglesia, por otros lado, se siguen levantando grupos que también se han infectado con esta cultura de crítica y ataques personales. Todo lo que escriben constantemente apunta a lo que está malo con este o con aquel, con esto o con aquello. No digo que estamos llamados a ignorar a los falso profetas y maestros y a dejarlos predicar y enseñar en nuestras iglesias. Tenemos que exigir fundamento bíblico en lo que muchos de estos pastores están predicando y, si no es bíblico, rechazar sus enseñanzas. Mas no olvidemos que tenemos una responsabilidad de hacer discípulos, de predicar el evangelio, de ganar almas para Cristo, de hablarle al mundo del amor de Dios, del pecado y de la salvación que solo se encuentra en Cristo Jesús.

         Lo que quiero decir es que nos hemos concentrado tanto en criticar, que nos hemos olvidado del Mensaje y de la encomienda que tenemos como cristianos. En Mateo 24 la Biblia nos describe la cultura de los últimos tiempos y el aumento de los falso profetas. Nada de lo que pasa hoy nos debe tomar por sorpresa. La Biblia nos dice como manejar estos falso profetas, mas también nos dice de evitar contiendas. En Segunda de Timoteo 2:23 el Apóstol Pablo le dice a Timoteo, “Pero desecha las cuestiones necias e insensatas, sabiendo que engendran contiendas.” (RVR 1960)

         Le quiero pedir perdón a todos por las muchas veces que yo mismo he caído en cuestiones necias e insensatas. Les quiero pedir perdón porque en lugar de producir fruto de amor, produje fruto de contienda. No ignoro, bajo ninguna circunstancia, las obvias falsa doctrinas y las malas representaciones de Dios y de la Iglesia de Cristo; pero el Cristiano está llamado a amar, aún a sus enemigos. En ese amor es en donde he recibido la convicción de mi fracaso. Quiero amar como Cristo, caminar como Cristo y hablar como Cristo. Obviamente, estoy en este proceso; pero le pido a Dios que por encima de todo, nos enseñe a amarlo a El y a amarnos los unos a los otros; aún a los que nos odian.