We need Church.

One of the many reasons we,as hypocritical sinners, should attend Church, is so we can obey Christ, in being sanctified through learning to humbly love other hypocritical sinners. Remember, if you find the perfect Church, run because you will ruin it by joining. There is no such thing as a, “perfect Church” All local bodies are made up of wretched worms, who have gathered to worship the only true and living, good and merciful, God who saves.  If your excuse is that the Church is full of hypocrites, then it is invalid.  You yourself are also guilty of hypocritically judging.  Please take a look, and a listen to these resources available at Wretched.org

 

 

Do You Want to be a Happy Old Married Couple?

92423347
I often overhear people say things like, “Oh what a cute old couple.” or “I want to be like them when we get old. They look so happy.” They say these things when they see a happy old couple. I don’t know if they think about what it takes to get there. First, you have to be a married couple. You can’t do it if you are just shacking up, or getting married and divorced every few years. You also have to be happy. Not just momentary happiness, but the kind of contentment, and joy, that can still smile, and talk with a young person even when their arthritis is causing them so much pain it would put most people in tears. So a long lasting marriage gives the two time to get to really, and truly know each other. It gives them time to put that knowledge into expressing love to them as they would love themselves. This knowledge doesn’t come easy most times. When you put two sinners together in a marriage, sin is going to happen. It is an opportunity for the one who is sinned against to demonstrate the gospel by giving grace to the other. Remember, grace is unmerited favor.  While we were yet sinners Christ died for us.  Not only that, He bore our sins, and the punishment for those sins.  While your spouse is wrong, and may have hurt your feelings, die to yourself and submit to Christ the way He submitted to the cross.  This long lasting marriage is ordained by God. It is a covenant between Him, and the Husband, and Wife. This should not be taken lightly. If you truly want to be a happy old married couple, trust and obey God. Read His word and pray together. Be humbled together and convicted together. When the kids are grown and you are alone with each other, you will be forced to confront the successes and failures you’ve made over the years. Accept and appreciate God’s sanctifying work in your marriage for your own personal growth and use it to love others well.

A Review of Eric Metaxas’ “Bonhoeffer Abridged, Pastor, Prophet, Martyr, Spy.”

bonhoefferbook

As I start my review, I confess, I knew very little of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  I knew he was considered a hero of the faith, for which he died under the cruelty of Hitler.  That was the extent of my knowledge.  This book is short.  It doesn’t contain too much information.  I didn’t feel inundated by history.  I didn’t have to labor to understand Bonhoeffer.  Metaxas did an excellent job of helping me get to know Bonhoeffer in a way that made me want to learn more.  Metaxas introduces the reader to Dietrich in his childhood with his family.  The background establishes his foundation in the faith, that would later lead him to being martyred by the Hitler and his henchmen.

Dietrich was a highly educated man and very German.  His family was well to do, and situated in the elite class of citizens.  Dietrich had many opportunities afforded  him due to his families position in German society.  One of those opportunities was travel abroad.  Bonhoeffer was well traveled.  He made a couple of trips to America.  He was not impressed with our Churches, and thought they had gone the way of the Churches in Europe, until he visited a gospel centered, African American Church.  Of course this would have been a very different time in history.  Please don’t equate what Bonhoeffer saw to the silliness that goes on now.  One of my favorite quotes from Bonhoeffer came early on in the book inspired by that Church.

nybonhoeffer

Another one of my favorite quotes came later in the book once he was a prisoner of the Nazis.

dietrich bonhoeffer ethics

Because of this primer of Bonhoeffer, I find myself desiring to read his works.  I definitely want to read, “Ethics.”

The parallels between the conditions in Germany and modern America were blatant.  It is obvious that we are ripe for the same scenario to play out here, today.  For those who think it can’t happen, read this book.  See us in it.

Overall, the book was true to its title.  It is an abridged biography.  The important milestones are all there.  All throughout his life, I got the sense of hope.  He was perpetually hopeful.  When he fell in love later in life, shortly before his imprisonment, I felt hopeful for him.  I knew that he was going to die soon, but because of his correspondence with his loved ones, and the way that he encouraged them, even in his state, made me feel hopeful.  I know the reason for his hope.  I was very encouraged to see how he lived and died.  He understood the reason for the hope within.

If the LDS are right about who God is, then God and His word are wrong.

If the LDS are right about who God is, then God and His word are wrong.

In the Bible we have doctrines that are expressed by Jesus Himself, The one and only God incarnate, none ever before Him and none after Him anywhere or anytime.  These doctrines are repeated and expounded upon by the Apostles in the Epistles of the New Covenant recorded in the New Testament.  These doctrines are exclusive claims to actual truths.  When someone else confesses a doctrine that asserts something other than what has already been established by the one true, immutable, and infallible God, then our only option is to reject their  assertion as heresy.

Let’s look at some of their doctrines that conflict with Biblical doctrines, and are mutually exclusive in their claims.  Christians claim there is only one true God.  There has never been any other god besides Him. He has always existed in trinity. He has never not existed.  We also claim that if you don’t believe in Him as explained here, as one being in three personages, that you can not be called part of the Church.  Because, you have put your faith in a different god.  Obviously, worshipping a different god makes you not a Christian.

Latter Day Saints (LDS or Mormons) do not have one triune God.  They actually have a number of gods approaching infinity.  They choose to worship just one of the gods Joseph Smith imagined for them.  The god they choose to worship, was once a man named Elohim.  He lived on a planet orbiting a star called Kolab.  So their god is an E.T. extra terrestrial, alien from outer space.  Allegedly he was such a good follower of the mormon doctrines that he was promoted to being an exalted man.  He eventually became the god of this solar system and the Earth that we live on.  So the one god that they worship out of the billions of gods they have, was once a created man.  He was born of his father god and goddess mother.  They now call him Heavenly Father and believe he has a body of flesh and bone.  They believe that he had sex with Mary the virgin and that Jesus the spirit child was then embodied in his biological son with Mary.  Here is a quote from the Brigham Young University site,

As the Prophet Joseph Smith said, “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret” (TPJS, p. 345). Thus, the Father became the Father at some time before “the beginning” as humans know it, by experiencing a mortality similar to that experienced on earth. There has been speculation among some Latter-day Saints on the implications of this doctrine, but nothing has been revealed to the Church about conditions before the “beginning” as mortals know it. The important points of the doctrine for Latter-day Saints are that Gods and humans are the same species of being, but at different stages of development in a divine continuum, and that the heavenly Father and Mother are the heavenly pattern, model, and example of what mortals can become through obedience to the gospel (see Mother in Heaven). Knowing that they are the literal offspring of Heavenly Parents and that they can become like those parents through the gospel of Jesus Christ is a wellspring of religious motivation. With God as the literal Father and with humans having the capacity to become like him, the basic religious questions “Where did I come from?,” “Why am I here?,” and What is my destiny?” are fundamentally answered.

Keep in mind that our LDS friends co-opt many of our words.  They mean something completely different to them.  When we talk of God the Father or Jesus we are talking about a very different God than they are.  They might believe we are talking about the same god, but they have better and more true information than we do.  The gospel to them is not the same things we think of.  Their gospel is a bunch of laws, rules, do’s and don’ts, from their book Doctrine and Covenants.  Our understanding comes from the Biblical definition.  The word, “gospel” means, “good message or news.”  When we think of the gospel of Jesus, we understand it to mean the penal substitutionary atonement wrought by Christ God Himself for the salvation of His sovereignly elected saints to bring glory to His name. In Christianity the work has been done by Jesus.  He paid for our sins.  By repenting and believing in Him, his work is imputed to us.  It is done, done, done.  We do good works because of our new affections and desires born from a regenerated spirit as born again believers.

with this article on only of few of the many differences, I hope it is obvious that the LDS are not Christian.  They are a polytheistic Arian cult, created by the false prophet Joseph Smith.

Luke 9:23-26

deadtoself1

Luke 9:23-26 (NASB) And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.

Who has crucified their own flesh daily?  Who truly follows Christ?  What does it mean to follow Christ?  We all want to save our lives.  None of us want to die.  To crucify yourself you must take up your cross and follow Jesus all the way to Golgotha.  When you rise in the morning, see the sinful desires of your selfish flesh.  See how they would entice you to do things to appease them?  Wage a violent war against the natural man who is tied to you.  He is dead already if you are saved, but his corpse is always before you.  We fight what he used to revel in.  Put those desires to death.  Crucify your worldly desires and have them supplanted by the new affections of the regenerated heart.  As this occurs, you’ll praise God for the loss of your old life and the gift of your new one in Jesus.  To do His loving will, to carry it out in the world that is perishing, to show grace where it is not merited, to have mercy on those in need, to give to them the words of life, the gospel message of Christ Jesus, the Lord, Master, and Author of our faith, granted to us along with repentance while we were yet sinners, enemies of God, under the condemnation of sin, freed by His grace and imputed righteousness.  Proclaim salvation from sins in Him to all the world.  What good is earthly pleasure on this temporal plain when such a thing as an ageless age exists, where time is not marked?  Our lives are short compared to such an existence.  What is discomfort or tribulation here, even much of it, compared to eternity with God?  Be bold in preaching His word and the gospel of His redemptive work on the cross.  Be bold in the preaching of His resurrection from the dead.

Lost, Saved, Baptized, Rinse and Repeat.

Have you ever heard anyone say, “I got saved and baptized when I was a kid, but then I walked away from my faith, and now that I’m an adult, I have come back?” Then, they get baptized again and share their testimony. After a few months of being, “back” they walk away again/backslide. A while later they decide they need to recommit their life to Christ, so they come back to Church and get baptized again. I don’t know how many times, in the Nazarene Church I attended, I heard someone say this, but it was a lot. I didn’t know how to understand this then. I didn’t have the Biblical knowledge to know this was wrong. I knew it was wrong intuitively, but couldn’t build a case Biblically.
I struggled with this myself. Was I really saved that time when I was 19? If so, why am I still fighting these temptations to sin in my life? The Nazarene Church taught, “Entire Sanctification” back then. It was a doctrine that said it was possible for a person to mature spiritually, in this life, to the point where they no longer sinned. I got so frustrated with my constant failings. I cried out to God and told Him, “I can’t do it! I can’t stop sinning! If You want me to stop you are going to have to stop me!” So then came about a 10 year period where I gave up fighting the sins that were too hard to stop on my own. Sure I gave the outward appearance of being a Christian when I was at Church, but at work I still acted like a child. I used profanity all of the time, I told dirty jokes, I engaged in low humor, I entertained hateful thoughts against others because of their political beliefs, and I liked what I saw on television, except I would still cringe when a show used blasphemy. I knew I was doing wrong. I knew from what the Bible said, I was doing these things because my heart desired to do them. I also knew in my head that I didn’t want to keep doing them.
The Church also taught that you could become apostate or lose your salvation if you continued to sin after being saved. This was the doctrine of, “Apostasy.” I remember asking the Pastor about what it said in Hebrews 6, about not being able to be saved after losing your salvation by continuing in willful sin. He explained that was correct. I asked him how anyone can stay saved if that was true. Another person quoted the passage about forgiving 70 times 7. They were trying to tell me if I repent, Christ will keep forgiving me, but if I didn’t repent, and then died, that I would go to hell. All of this didn’t jive with what I was reading in the Bible. It seemed as if people were just cherry-picking passages out of the Bible to justify the way they wanted to live.
The denomination had its own definition of sin. I couldn’t justify it with what I had been reading in the Bible. I knew I was a sinner. I knew I kept committing sins. I felt powerless to be holy like the Church said I must be. My best efforts kept failing. That is why I gave up. The Church said sin was a willful transgression of a known law of God. I asked, “What if I fell into traffic, looked up to see a truck coming, cussed, and then was killed before I could repent?” I was told that was just a mistake, not a sin. So I asked, “What if, I blasphemed instead of cussed, in the same scenario?” I was told I might go to Hell. I was having a difficult time understanding being saved if it was always precariously perched on the narrow ledge of my flawed capacity.
I went down the roads of, “Easy Believism” and “Cheap Grace.” I rejected the doctrines of, “Entire Sanctification and Apostasy.” While I was confused and erring I still knew and was strongly convicted that this was not right either. There is something I am missing. I was going through a very difficult time in my life.  I didn’t trust God with my money, I didn’t trust God with my marriage, and I proved I didn’t trust God by my actions.
A good friend suggested I read the book, “Crazy Love” written by this, Chinese American Pastor from California, with a shaved head. I was not at all anticipating the affect it would have on me or my life. Francis Chan’s book was a kick in my guts. It wasn’t a cruel kick, but rather one that was used by God. He got my attention and exposed how I was lukewarm. I was going to be told, “depart, I never knew you.” It was also about the same time this new radio program was playing on the local A.M. station. This funny, yet serious man named, “Todd Friel” with, “Wretched Radio” kept chipping away at what I had been told by the Church, with truth from the Bible. He was presenting a Reformed view of soteriology. (salvation) It was rocking my world. I was also listening to a local theologian on the same station. His name was Matt Slick. At first I was like, “What’s with this clown’s name? Is he a used car salesman or what?” So I was curious. I went to his website, “CARM.ORG” I read many of his articles and listened to his program and Todd Friel’s program intently and found myself nodding in agreement with them. I got on the internet and watched video after video from Matt Chandler, David Platt, Paul Washer, John Macarthur, R.C. Sproul, Leonard Ravenhill, Martyn Lloyd Jones, and so on. It was like I had this table with a billion puzzle pieces on it, and I only had a couple of corners figured out with some clouds, and these two men were helping me put the pieces together faster than I had ever done before. One day after most of the pieces were put together it was like someone nudged the table and the remaining ones fell into place. It was one of those epiphany moments you have in life.
I don’t want to forget to mention the affect that, “Witness Wednesday” on, “Wretched Radio” had on me. I heard Ray Comfort and Todd Friel presenting the real gospel message to people on the streets and on college campuses. I finally heard the gospel after 15 or so years of believing I was a real Christian. Instead of hearing, “You’ve got a Jesus shaped hole in your heart. Won’t you let Jesus in? God is a gentleman and won’t come in unless you ask Him. He is waiting at the door of your heart, won’t you let Him in?” I was in a state of shock. It was so simple. Why hadn’t anyone preached this to me before?!? Why? Why? Why?! I was so angry with the Church, my friends, and most of all me. How could I not get it? Faith and repentance! Du!
What I had known to be the Christian faith was off by just a scant amount, it seemed Christian, but it was out of phase. Through all of these influences in the middle of my suffering, I heard about real saving faith and repentance that are granted by God. Faith I couldn’t force myself to have in 15 years of trying. Repentance I couldn’t force myself to do, and the effects of these two things. I found myself running headlong into a study of Reformed Theology, the Reformers, the Puritans, and God’s sovereignty. My wife would ask me if we could talk about something other than religion. My co-workers were probably wondering what was going on with me. I would talk about my faith with everyone I met and share the gospel with them. I started evangelizing wherever I went. I actually read my Bible from cover to cover with a reading plan from R.C. Sproul’s Ligonier. I consumed scripture like I had never done before. The word of God became alive to me. Doctrine after doctrine fell into place in a harmony I had never before experienced in all of my piece-meal Bible reading.
I’d be remiss, if I didn’t tell you about the great help Dr. R. C. Sproul’s book, “The Holiness of God” was to me. He corrected the low view of God, the high view of man’s abilities, and the marginal view of sin that I had. It fixed in my head how holy God is, how helpless man is, and how offensive sin is. With this knowledge firmly ensconced in my mind, I could finally put the false teachings behind me.
You see, people don’t get saved and then lose their salvation. They don’t get resaved over and over again. You get saved ONCE! If your life isn’t characterized by growth in knowledge of personal sin and in holiness you aren’t saved. It never happened. Do you read your Bible regularly? Do you hate sin in your life, the sin you used to make room for? Do you love to go to Church and be with God’s people and worship Him together with them? Do you trust Jesus alone for your salvation and righteousness? Do you love to do good works, not out of a sense of duty or obligation, but rather do… YOU… LOVE… to do the good things God has prepared for you to do before creation?
A saved person is a new person. They are a different person. They have a different nature. They are born again. They died to themselves and were resurrected with Christ a new person. I never got this in all those years. I suspected there was more to this religion, but I couldn’t grasp it. I couldn’t comprehend it… yet! Then God worked a double miracle in my life of regeneration, and justification. I trust Him to complete the sanctification that He has started in me. I desire to be conformed to His word and will instead of shrinking from it. I love Jesus! I hope you will to.  Watch the video to get the gospel presented to you.

What is the Pastors Primary Function?

Pastor-Rick-300x216

The primary function of the Pastor is to faithfully exposit the word of God to the body, in obedience, love, and truth. Doing this glorifies God and serves the body. Many Pastors today are overburdened and inundated with projects and outreach. They have been told by many pragmatic men that the way to grow the church is to do, do, do. This isn’t the model of the gospel and it isn’t the model of growing true converts. Certainly it will work to add goats to your pews. Yes, the number of people attending will go up. Yes, there might be some that get converted listening to you preach the gospel on Sunday. These are not your primary duties that you have been commended to do. You sir, have been entrusted with the Holy Word of God and His elect beloved! Do not stray from your commission. All of the techniques that the world employs are not to be in your toolbox. You have the blessing and obligation to plumb the depths of God’s word and return to the flock with a bountiful harvest of truth. When you preach from the pulpit don’t think of it as a chance to evangelize a few lost sinners visiting the church, but view it instead as a time of ministry to God’s elect. He knows what they need to grow and to do the work He has for them. He has a plan to provide for them, and that plan involves you. God wants to use you to educate His people. He wants to use you to help in their sanctification. He wants to use you to equip them Biblically so that they can do the work of evangelism and outreach. By laboring on behalf of the Lord’s gospel you equip and impassion the flock to evangelize the lost, feed and clothe the poor, visit those in prison, and provide for the orphans and widows. It is easy to mix up your personal walk as an individual Christian and your commission as a Preacher of God’s word. There are things that you will do as an individual for God, and there are things that you will do as a Preacher. The first comes from being a born again believer and the other is a Holy Vocation. God in His sovereignty will grow or shrink a congregation. It won’t be based on your efforts. You are called to be faithful, to live by faith, to do what has been ordained by faith.

Gay marriage, What’s next?

To learn who rules over you, simpy find out who you are not allowed to criticize.
To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.

In the near future, gay marriage will be a reality across the U.S. It seems that we have become the moral minority. The younger, more liberal crowd and even moderates are on board with it. Even some professing evangelicals are approving gay marriage. I don’t understand it, but it is going to happen. I have resigned myself to it as a certainty.

We’ve been told that all they want is the same rights that we have to be married. Marriage isn’t a right to be conveyed upon a people by a government. Marriage predates any human government or authority. As such, governments can only recognize what God has already ordained. In this post-Christian world of secular morals, government no longer looks to the moral authority of God, who transcends their authority. No, they look to the secular majority for their doctrine. The majority wants gay marriage to be a reality. We can’t stop it from happening. The secularists and the government will take marriage and define it how they will. That does not mean that the marriage is one of Godly ordination.

christian-marriageThe question we need to ask now is, “What’s next?” What will they want from us? I am certain they will want the, “right” to be married in a Christian Church, by a Pastor. Now ask yourselves, “Why would a couple who don’t believe in the authoritative word of God or God Himself, want to be joined in a covenant between Him and a man and a woman? Why would they want to do this in a Church that is dedicated to God? Why would they want a minister of His word to perform the ceremony?” It doesn’t make any sense to us because our minds are being renewed by the reading of His word. We are not worldly thinkers anymore. Our moral authority is external to us. God is our Lord and master, not the sinful world system that enslaves the minds of the unregenerate.

We can’t expect them to change their minds and be reasonable. They are deceived by their very own sinful natures. It is this fact that drives them to pervert every good thing from God. They will keep doing this because they are His enemies. Because we love the Lord and are His children, the world will hate us for His namesake. This is just one step on the path to full open persecution of Christians in America. The next step will be to punish Churches that won’t perform the ceremony for them. Then it will be to arrest anyone who preaches from the Bible about Hell, sin, and mankind’s wretched state. It will be a, “hate-speech” violation to call a person a sinner and to suggest that God is anything other than love. Try it now. Try preaching the justice of God and His sovereignty. Try preaching that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Preach that all are destined for eternal torment in Hell lest they repent and put their faith in the exclusivity of the saving grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is the utmost offense, that there is only one way to the Father and that is through Jesus.

If you don’t believe it will happen, then you will be surprised when oppression, in a velvet glove comes to quietly crush you in the night. Then later the gloves will be off and open persecution will come. We will see the type of persecution that happened during the communist revolution in Poland. We will see the persecution that happens to our brothers and sisters in Christ that is happening now all over the world. When it hits home it will be too late. It will be too late for us to be salt and light. There will be nobody to listen to us except to delight in our cries.

For those of you who are secular and reading this… remember. Remember what I have said this day. When it happens while you are young or much older, remember and intervene. Let it be a testimony to you. Let the screams of the tortured bounce around in your head until you see the truth of it. Then, repent and ask God to forgive you for being so very wrong. Repent and put your faith in Him to forgive you for going along with it. He is merciful and trustworthy to forgive a humbled, penitent heart. You can know peace between you and your creator through His finished work on the cross. Jesus has paid the debt that your sin has accrued. He provides righteousness for you upon your regeneration and justification. May God bless you with salvific repentance and faith.

Pragmatism is a lack of faith.

Pragmatism is a lack of faith.

 

Pragmatism is a lack of faith. It stands in opposition to faith. Pragmatism is defined by Dictionary.com as;

noun

1. character or conduct that emphasizes practicality.

2. a philosophical movement or system having various forms, but generally stressing practical consequences as constituting the essential criterion in determining meaning, truth, or value.

Here is another definition from World English Dictionary;

1. action or policy dictated by consideration of the immediate practical consequences rather than by theory or dogma.

2. Philosophy

a. the doctrine that the content of a concept consists only in its practical applicability

b. See also instrumentalism the doctrine that truth consists not in correspondence with the facts but in successful coherence with experience.

A pragmatic person relies on their experiences when making decision. Some may argue that you can be a pragmatic Christian even. They might assert that someone who has exercised faith and experienced the results of that faith and then came to trust it would be a pragmatist. The problem with that line of thinking is that the person had to have faith to make the unreasonable decision in the first place.

What is faith? Dictionary.com defines faith as;

noun

1. confidence or trust in a person or thing: faith in another’s ability.

2. belief that is not based on proof: He had faith that the hypothesis would be substantiated by fact.

3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion: the firm faith of the Pilgrims.

4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics, standards of merit, etc.: to be of the same faith with someone concerning honesty.

5. a system of religious belief: the Christian faith; the Jewish faith.

6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.: Failure to appear would be breaking faith.

7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.: He was the only one who proved his faith during our recent troubles.

8. Christian Theology. the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures by which humans are justified or saved.

 

pragmatismfaith

 

In this instance we are looking at faith as the ability to make decisions based on what the Bible says about God, and life regardless of how our worldly knowledge would inform us. For instance, it seems wrong to the worldly to give to others selflessly when you see them in need. The pragmatist would only give what little he could spare, and he would only do so because his conscience was bothering him, or he wanted to look charitable in the eyes of his neighbors.

Pragmatism is a big problem in the church today. I’m sure it has always been a problem in the church. We recently were part of a church split over unrepentant pragmatism. I will make the example generic. Our old Pastor retired after many years at our church. The church board hired another Pastor only to find out that his political leanings were in opposition to the majority of ours. He was orthodox in the Primary Articles of Faith. After five months the board voted to ask for his resignation. One of the reasons they gave was that the older people in the church had all of the money, and that they would leave if he didn’t. The board was afraid of losing money instead of doing what is right. They acted pragmatically. God is the source of all wealth. They didn’t operate in the realm of faith. If they had, they would have been able to see God work in the situation, and have been strengthened by it. Instead they shorted themselves and lost an opportunity. This is only one example of pragmatism in the church.

Another I can think of off the top of my head is church growth. Many Pastors fall into the thinking that they need a large congregation with lots of resources so they can accomplish their goals in ministry. They might even follow the model of entertaining goats instead of shepherding sheep. All you have to do to see this is to turn on the television and watch a Sunday sermon.

I know that it is very difficult for a person to let go of their own reasoning and have faith. I used to beat myself up because I couldn’t let God have control over my money. I thought it was ridiculous that I could trust Him with my salvation, but not with my cash. I’m not saying to tithe like in the Old Testament.  I’m not even talking about money here. This was my pragmatism shining through. I didn’t have the faith to surrender my worldly pragmatism to Him.

There are many areas of our lives where we operate out of pragmatism instead of faith.   If you think about your own life you should be able to see where you have operated from a stance of pragmatism. I encourage you all to examine yourselves for pragmatism, and ask God to forgive you. Ask Him to grant you faith to do all that is in His word. Pragmatism puts us and our reasoning on the throne instead of God. Faith is trusting God, and His word enough to live our lives based on them. Our only hope is that God will grant us that kind of faith.

2 Peter 2:1-3 False Prophets and Teachers then and now.

1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.2Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 Peter 2:1-3 NASB

Here Peter is warning that there will men who deceive people into believing they are speaking the words of God to them, and that these men will be among them. (The believers) These false prophets will teach false doctrines that are destructive in intent towards the church and towards the personage of Christ. The Gnostics were the main group that was being warned against here. They taught that all flesh material things are evil and a hindrance to the spiritual things which are good. They also taught that Christ was either a purely spiritual being who only appeared to have a body or that the body he had was just a shell to be shed at the crucifixion. Gnostic teachers would come to town and claim to be prophets. They would stay in a home and teach for the time they stayed. Usually they would find the home of a woman whose husband was away or a widow’s home. They would seduce them with lies about some deeper knowledge that could only be gained by them through sex or money. The Gnostics had no problem teaching that Christ was God, but denied His human nature. On the other had we had the Judaizers who were teaching to keep obeying the laws for righteousness instead of teaching the appropriate doctrine of grace through faith, in Christ’s work and righteousness.

Because of these false teachers, good teachers and the truth would get a bad reputation. People then didn’t know the difference just like many people now. We always hear about some Christian doing something or teaching something that is bad. When this happens people tend to lump everything with the words, “Jesus” or “Church” together, and throw the baby out with the bathwater. So the way of truth was maligned. These same teachers would stay in the household where they were guests, eat the food, do no work, and lead people down the wrong path towards mysticism or legalism much like what happens today except ours are on television, going door to door, or selling books marketed to all of the undiscerning.

The warning was needed then and it is needed now. We must be vigilant and be on the alert for false teachers and lying men (and women) who say they are speaking the words God gave them. There is some comfort in verse 3. “…Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep…” We know that our God is true and all knowing. Nothing escapes His notice or knowledge. All of the deeds of these abusers are weighed against them and they shall surely be punished for their crimes. God is just and will punish the wicked and restore the victims. We can trust Him.