The sun was low in the sky as my son and I made the early morning drive to our appointment. He was already grouchy from having to be up “so early,” (poor, spoiled homeschooler!) so he lowered the visor to block the bright light, hoping to catch a few more zzzz’s during our half-hour commute.
I veered right onto our exit and he twisted in his seat.
“Ugh! Why did the sun move?” He impatiently adjusted the visor, squinting against the sun’s rude assault.
I laughed, enjoying the little-boyish reaction from my big, burly teddy bear.
“The sun didn’t move, we did!” I said.
It was the Holy Spirit, practically in the back seat giving me a whack on my head.
Did you catch that?
I repeated the phrase I had just spoken over and over in my mind. Chewing on it, processing it. The sun didn’t move, we did.
The SON didn’t move, we did.
The world you and I live in is vastly different from the one in which many of us grew up. Not only has society changed, but the accepted teachings within the church at large have even changed.
Change is not always good. In fact, it is often very bad.
There is a pervasive, dangerous movement within modern Christianity to discredit the Bible. We are told it is evolving, subjective, that society has changed and, therefore, what God called “sin” isn’t actually that big of a deal in today’s world. Apparently God realized that we evolved to the point of figuring out how to sin well so He is a-ok with it now.
Friends, this is scary, scary stuff with eternal ramifications.
When well meaning and Biblically literate believers try to shine the light of Scripture on these issues they are met with anger and defensiveness.
“Who are you to judge?”
“That is not my truth.”
“That’s not what my Bible says.”
“God is love. Jesus loved radically. We are to love one another and accept everyone.”
But what we must understand is that the truth of Scripture, the Word of God on which the Church has stood for two millenia, has not changed. There is not one word of the Bible that is not relevant to our lives today. The standards of obedience to God and holy living remain, regardless of the technology we enjoy or the “enlightenment” we have attained.
There is only one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He alone has the authority to dictate what is acceptable within His kingdom. He did that. In His Word.
Without going into a list of controversies here, because that is not my point, I want to share an illustration I heard recently on Alisa Childers’ podcast. Alisa is an incredible apologist and one from whom I have learned much in recent months. She, along with the Mama Bear Apologetics podcast and Ravi Zacharias (there are, of course, others…but these are my three favorites), has given me a vocabulary for articulating truth and taught me to think logically, better filtering what I watch on the news or hear on the radio (and in the pulpit!) through the lens of Scripture.
Alisa shared a story while speaking at a conference. In her introduction, as she told the audience about her family, she showed a picture of her daughter. The audience oohed and aahed, then Alisa went on to the point of her lecture.
At the end of her talk she referred back to the picture she had shown of her daughter. She said that they need to know that the girl she showed earlier wasn’t actually her daughter, but a picture from the internet of a child who looked a lot like her! The silence in the room was palpable. She went on to explain that, had the audience known her well or been part of her family they would have immediately recognized the error. Why? Because they would have known the picture she had presented was not her daughter due to having a personal relationship with Alisa and her family.
Do you see where I am going? There are countless false ideas circulating about who Jesus is both within and outside of the church, but God has not moved, friends. Society has barrelled forward in a concentrated attempt to leave God behind but He is still there, right where we left Him!
So how do we protect ourselves from following a false Jesus? We do it by dedicating our focus to the REAL Jesus. We do it by drawing close to the Father, (HIS Father, our Father!) studying the Bible for ourselves and spending time in focused prayer…cultivating intimacy with Him. We lean in, listening for the whisper of the Holy Spirit and weighing everything we are taught by pastors, teachers (and podcasters!) against all sixty-six books of the Bible.
In the words of the legendary Bob Warren…if we can’t filter a teaching through all sixty-six books and have it still say what we think it says, then we are interpreting wrongly. God’s word will NEVER contradict itself. The Bible is our standard, not society, not the church, not tradition. Every word of the Bible is true. All of it. We can, and we must, stand on it.
The world around us appears to be crumbling under the weight of permissiveness/universalism/progressivism (just to name a few). The church either falls into these traps or buckles under legalism and biblical illiteracy. The only way to survive as a modern follower of Jesus Christ is to stand on the ancient truths of the whole counsel of Scripture.
I do not claim to be a scholar, but I am learning. I am relying on the Holy Spirit to teach me and correct me when I am wrong. He will, and He does. Often. He is showing me facets of Himself, evidences of His power and love that I never knew were possible. He is stripping away the legalism of my childhood and, if I’m honest, my first two decades of life as a believer, and illuminating scripture like never before. He has broken and is recreating me into the image of Christ, and that comes through recognizing and dealing with my own weakness, error and sin. The Word truly is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of MY soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It discerns the thoughts and intentions of my heart which have often been wrong at best, sinful at the worst. (Hebrews 4:12) Without being a student of the Word of God and really seeing Jesus as He is, this simply cannot happen.
The sun has not moved, we did. But it’s not too late to go back.
Let’s go back to where it all began, recognizing the truly awesome power of God and operating within that power for His glory and the sake of the nations. He is the same yesterday, today and forever and that is a GOOD thing. THAT is where we find security and stability as believers! Because He does not change we can trust Him and devote our lives fully to Him, believing He is who He says He is and that He WILL do what He says He will do.
That is true security as a believer. That is the source of unshakeable joy.
John 4:24-God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.
2 Timoty 3:1-7-But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 3:12-17-Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
The entire second chapter of Peter.