Part 1 Monday, May 19, 2014, 4:30 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put this song in my mind: Wonderful Peace / Warren D. Cornell / William G. Cooper Ah, soul! Are you here without comfort and rest, Marching down the rough pathway of time? Make Jesus your Friend ere the shadows grow dark; O, accept of this peace so sublime! Peace, peace, wonderful peace, Coming down from the Father above! Sweep over my spirit forever, I pray In fathomless billows of love! (Last verse and chorus) Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. Yesterday I read 1st Timothy 4. I will quote some verses from that chapter. Today I read chapter 5. These verses are what jumped out at me: Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure… The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them. ~ 1 Tim. 5:22, 24 Paul was speaking to Timothy here. He told him that he should not be too quick in the selecting (ordaining) of men to serve in positions of spiritual leadership. If he was too quick to ordain or to appoint a man for spiritual leadership in the church, without showing great care in examining the man first, and in taking the necessary precautions to be sure the man was sound in faith and doctrine, and that he was a godly man whose walk was in the Spirit and not in the flesh, he could be guilty of sharing in the man’s sins, if it turned out that the man was engrossed in some not-so-obvious sins. As well, we should be challenged here to take the same kind of care and precaution before willingly coming under the authority and leadership of anyone who calls himself a minister of the gospel lest we, through giving our support and adherence, are guilty of sharing in his sins. We must, too, examine him first to make sure he is of sound doctrine and faith, and that he walks the walk, and not just talks the talk; that he lives a holy life surrendered to God, and that he holds to the purity of the word of truth, as we should, as well. The Not-So-Obvious The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron… Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly…. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. ~ 1 Tim. 4:1-2, 7, 16 Recently my husband and I were invited to visit a new church work in the area. I prayed about it, the Lord Jesus told me not to be afraid, so I checked it out. The pastor spoke about the importance of discipleship, which I am definitely all for, and in the course of conversation we were invited to attend their “discipleship” groups. They were using a book called “The Tangible Kingdom Primer,” by Hugh Halter and Matt Smay. So, I began reading the book. The first chapter is titled, “What is Missional?” The description of Missional given was: “In simple language, it means that we are passing through this life with a sense of purpose, duty, passion, and responsibility for the ‘mission of God’… A Missional life is a gospel-centered life… The foundation of a Missional life is the decision to offer to God our plans in exchange for his plans. It is to allow the truth about who God is, what he has done, and our new identity in Jesus inform all of life.” [TTKP, 1.1] It sounds good on the surface, right? But then I continued reading. In TTKP, chap. 1, Abraham is used as the prime example of “intentional missionality”: “He was told that the blessing God was giving him would extend through him to the whole world… There’s no way to say it gently: spreading God’s blessing to the whole world does not come easy,” the authors stated. [TTKP, 1.2] So, what is this ‘blessing’ that would extend through Abraham to the whole world? I asked myself. I looked it up. In actuality, it was/is the promised seed, Jesus Christ, and thus salvation from sin by God’s grace - by Jesus’ blood sacrifice for our sins and through faith in Jesus Christ and in what he did for us on the cross in putting our sin to death so we could go free. Abraham believed God, and thus, through him (his bloodline) came the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, through whom the world was blessed by his sacrifice for our sin, i.e. in him making the way for us who believe on him to be saved. Yet, is that what the authors of this book were teaching here concerning the blessing? I asked myself. Not exactly! God’s ways versus man’s ways I turned to the next page [TTKP, 1.3]. Isaiah 55:8 was quoted in BIG letters on the next two pages: For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways. Yet there was no scriptural reference, and no obvious connection given, per se, between the verse quoted and the discourse that followed on those two pages. To me, to quote this verse in large letters, divided over these two pages, was to give the impression that the material on those pages was somehow connected with God’s ways versus the ways of man, i.e. that they were subtly suggesting these were God’s ways. So, what were the “ways” talked about in section 1.3 that were suggested by the subliminal message, per the Isaiah 55:8 quotation, that we were to, perhaps, think were God’s ways versus man’s ways, i.e. the ways or plans of God for which we were to exchange our plans? Well, in the context of paralleling Abraham’s calling with the calling of the early Christians, the writers suggest that as Abraham and the early Christians were sent, that experientially “1) They were immersed in a new culture; 2) They were immersed in community; 3) They were immersed in god (small ‘g’); and 4) They were immersed in tension.” So, what does it mean to be “immersed”? It means “to submerge; to baptize; to engage wholly or deeply; absorb; embedded deeply” (thefreedictionary.com); and/or to throw yourself into. So, is it truly God’s ways that call us to be deeply embedded (implanted; entrenched) in our culture (world’s philosophy, customs and values), community or tension? No! Absolutely not! We are to be baptized into Christ Jesus and into his death to sin, and from that we are to be immersed in his word and to follow his teachings. And, all else will flow from that, including the life of the church, our witness for Christ and love for others. Not to be evangelistic but to bless I seriously take issue, as well, with the points made under the heading of being “immersed in god.” The authors state: “God didn’t call Abraham or the early communities to be evangelistic… He told them to bless the world with the blessing God gave them. Blessing means ‘the tangible touch of God’… To give the blessing of God to people you must be immersed in him.” [TTKP, 1.3] So, we are not to be evangelistic? - Really? Who says? So, what is the definition of “evangelism”? CARM.org Ministry describes it in this way: Evangelism, the communication of the gospel message, includes a warning, an explanation, and a call. Evangelism includes warning people about sin and the consequences of sin (John 16:8; Acts 24:25; Revelation 20:11-15). It includes an explanation of God’s remedy for sin—the gospel (Acts 8:29-35; Romans 3:21-26; 2 Corinthians 5:21). And it includes the clear call to repent (to turn from sin and to turn toward God) and believe the gospel, by faith (Mark 1:15; Luke 13:1-5; Acts 17:29-31; Romans 1:17; Romans 10:9-13). Going back to the Isaiah 55 passage, it is an invitation to the thirsty to not spend their money and labor on what does not satisfy but to eat what is good, i.e. of the Word of God, the Messiah, the Gospel of Salvation, sound Biblical doctrine and of the Holy Spirit of God. God said, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him… for he will freely pardon.” So, what is clear here is the Lord is speaking of the new covenant through Jesus Christ and that it involves repentance (turning from sin) and turning to the Lord God in faith. These are not man’s ways, and, in fact, many professing Christians reject the idea of repentance and following Christ in obedience as necessary components of believing faith, yet these are God’s ways. Jesus preached, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” When he called his disciples he said, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” When he sent out the twelve, he told them to preach the nearness of the kingdom, to heal the sick, raise the dead and to drive out demons. Coupled with that, he told them that all men would hate them because of Christ, but they were to stand firm in their faith. He told his disciples that they were to go and to make disciples (followers of Christ Jesus) of all nations… teaching them to obey Christ’s commands (See Matt. 28:18-20; cf. 1 Jn. 1-5). The early church prayed that God would enable them to speak the word of God with boldness. And, the early church was persecuted and scattered, not because they went around blessing people, but because they spoke the truth in the power of the Spirit within them, and they were hated for it. Peter did tell us one way in which Jesus ‘blessed’ people, though. He said that Jesus was sent to bless the people by turning each of them from their wicked ways (See Ac. 3:26). Jesus told his brothers that the world hated him because he told them that what they did was evil. Jesus did not come to bring peace, but a sword, i.e. by this he meant that following him in obedience would mean that even members of our own families would hate and reject us for our testimonies for Christ. He said that anyone who did not take up their cross and follow him was not worthy of him. He said that whoever willingly dies with Christ to sin will find eternal life with God, but whoever holds on to his old life of sin will lose his life for eternity (cf. Lu. 9:23-25; Eph. 4:17-24; Ro. 6; 1 Jn. 1-5; Tit. 2:11-14; Ac. 26:16-18, et al). Peter also said, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (See Ac. 3:19; cf. Is. 55). Amen!