Monthly Archives: August 2013

Truth – Defending it, Fighting for it, and Getting Hurt

God is great enough to defend Himself. In His sovereignty He wants His people to defend His truth and to fight for the faith and to hold on to what has been taught since to those entrusted with His words.
Paul understood this, which is why he wrote Galatians:
Galatians 1:9-10 NKJV
As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Jude wanted to write about what the saints had in common, but felt that he should write about something else:
Jude 1:3-4 NKJV
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

John spoke of loving more than anyone else, and he felt it necessary to confront false teachings:

3 John 1:9-10 NKJV
I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
Consider the words written by Peter:

2 Peter 2:1-3 NKJV
But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

Peter, who warned us of false teachers arising among us was confronted with his error by Paul out of love for Truth, and because his actions were leading others astray:

Galatians 2:11-13 NKJV
Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

They all did this out of love for God, His truth, and to see the saints walk in truth.
This is our job, to love God first, to love others in deeds and by addressing errors within the church.

“Love without truth has no character. Truth without love has no power.”

You will get hurt by loving.  Some people will mistake your love for judgement.  Some will say that you lack wisdom by speaking out.  Others won’t care for your love. Some might even cut you off or avoid you.

And we rejoice because we have a Savior who knows this and felt the same things!  We can continue to love because while we were unloving to Him, He died for us!
I encourage all saints to love in a way that best honors Him. Are we honoring Him if we say we love our family in Christ and not confront them about what is not aligned with His truth?

His peace.

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Thoughts on Dallas Willard’s Hearing God – Chapter 1

As always, all truth comes from the grace of God.  All errors come from me.

To help me out with an issue I have been having, a brother gave me two books that he found helpful.  The question I have been searching for an answer on is “can all believers hear from God outside of Scripture?”  The first book I started to read was Dallas Willard’s Hearing God.

In order to keep notes, I decided to write them down here.  I hope that this is helpful for saints who may have the same question.

Chapter 1

p. 17 “They (Christian writers) also assured me that the same Spirit who delivered the Scriptures to holy men of old speaks today in hearts of those who gather around the written Word to minister and be ministered to.” – The question is how is He speaking, and what is He speaking about?  Hebrews 1 perhaps?

“our most sacred experiences often blind us…” – What is a sacred experience?  What is the other experience believers in Christ have?  Does Scripture mention anything about sacred experiences vs. non-sacred experiences?

p. 18 – “God’s visit to Adam and Eve in the garden, Enoch’s walk with God, and face-to-face conversations between Moses and Jehovah… are not meant to be exceptional at all.  Rather they are examples of the normal human life God intended for us.” – The claim of conversations between these men and God being examples of what God intends needs to be backed with Scripture.  Aren’t all of these examples showing God getting His sovereign will done through His creation?

“Given who we are by basic nature, we…really live-only through God’s regular speaking in our souls and thus “by every word that comes from of the mouth of God.” – by basic nature we are dead in our trespasses and sins.  We only live if we believe on Him whom God has sent, and obey His commandments.

“Many might be surprised to discover what a high percentage of serious Christians-and even non-Christians-can tell of specific experiences in which they are sure God spoke to them.” – This is crucial.  If believers and non-believers are certain of their experiences, shouldn’t that give us more reason to go to that which is Truth – the Word of God?

p. 20 – states that God has spoken to our Christian leaders.  He then says that Ken Taylor stated that “God revealed” to him the idea of the Living Bible translation.  Is “God revealed” the same as “God spoke?”  Also, why couldn’t God reveal to Dr. Taylor what books his company Tyndale publishing shouldn’t put out because it is not sound doctrine?

George Fox, founder of the Quaker movement, is mentioned next.  Willard says that Fox was “seeking someone who could show him the way to peace with God.”  – Why wasn’t Romans 5:1 consulted?  Was it not available?  There is no surprise that the Quakers are mentioned.  First, their practice of waiting for God to speak to them when meeting aligns itself with the book.  Secondly, it is well known that Willard has a working relationship with Quaker mystic Richard Foster, and Willard was an editor of the Renovare Bible.  I could add more links, but you can do the research for yourself.  The paperback of this book has an endorsement from Foster – “The best book on divine guidance I have ever read.  I recommend it highly.”

In the next example, Willard describes a pastor who was given “a bold vision by our Lord.”  Willard never explains if the vision came true, which is a test to if it really came from God or not.

p. 21 – As Christians, we stand in a millennia-long tradition of humans who have been addressed by God.  The ancient Israelites heard the voice of their God speaking to them out of the midst of fire (Deut 4:33)– What about 1 Samuel 3?  What about the approximate 400 years between the Old and New Testament where there is no Israelites hearing from God?  Why are most of the individuals who do hear from God testifying of Christ’s coming, the wickedness of the Israelites and their need to repent, or the second return of Christ?  In this first chapter, I see Willard saying nothing along those lines.  In my understanding, anyone who personally heard from God was called a prophet.

I could go on with the issues I have from assumptions with small, out-of-context Scripture references that Willard proposes here.  To sum up, here is probably one of the thesis statements of the book: I believe we, as disciples of Jesus Christ, cannot abandon faith in our ability to hear from God. 

I believe that the Spirit is speaking through the living Word of God!  This is why it is bad to assume that we can compare our relationship with God as equal to any other human relationship.  When we say the Christian walk is a continual conversation with God, us speaking to Him and Him to us, we are relying on our human experiences on how relationships work, applying them to our relationship with God, and saying it is the same thing.  But is it really the same?  What about these differences:

– we haven’t seen Him whom we have a relationship with (John 1:18, 1 John 4:12)

– He abides in us (John 14:17)

– He is conforming us to the likeness of His son, and we want Him to do that (Romans 8:29)

-He intercedes to God for us (Rom. 8:26,) He is the mediator between us and God (1Tim. 2:5,) and He has made us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17.)

-The book which we learn about Him is living (Heb. 4:12), and we are supposed to live off of every word He has said (Matt. 4:4)

There are many more differences.

I don’t know if I’ll make it through this book.  The big problem of it, is that I don’t see a solid biblical case from Willard as to why I should hear from God outside of Scripture.  Perhaps there will be some clarity as to how I can hear from God, or what isn’t from God.  Right now I read someone putting more value in experiences than over what God has said.

To say that any saint can hear from God, when Jesus or any of the other Scriptures never affirmed this is dangerous.  At one time, I asked myself “what am I doing wrong in this walk that I am not hearing from God the way others are?”  Praise be to God that His Spirit is still teaching me through Scripture!  Truth is there are some people who have desperately tried to hear from God and tried pagan methods that are not found in Scripture.  That could have been me, and God delivered me from Satan’s tricks.  When I said God delivered me, that is not the same as God speaking to me.  Jesus told us to pray that God would not lead us in certain ways, but deliver us from evil.

What I am learning about books is this.  Some authors, while meaning well, use little Scripture or take it out of context in order to form pages of an idea (which may have applied to a few people, but not the majority.)  Some authors, mean to make money and gain popularity, and use little Scripture or take Scripture out of context in order to form pages of an idea. Some authors encourage saints to read the Scripture, try to clarify difficult passages, seek to show God’s purpose for writing and rarely tell the readers to repent.  Unfortunately, seems like these books aren’t the best-sellers in the Christian bookstores today.

Only one book contains nothing but the Truth.  Only one book is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Only one book will make you complete, and thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Please read, meditate (but not Lectio Divina style,) and pray on the Word.  Hear Him speak through His living Word.