Grace and Truth

…all the words of this life…


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An “Average” Christian Life – No Way!

I set up the PA system and started preaching before I lost my nerve.  Within seconds a demon-possessed man manifested and screamed an obscenity at me so bad that I cannot repeat it. Even though I’m regularly verbally abused on the street, I have never been called anything like that before.

I was momentarily stunned. flinders st

Not so much stunned at the man actually, but more that God had let that happen to me just as I had begun to preach.  He knew how weak I’d been this morning.  He knew I’d needed extra help.  I mean, I had asked Him for a special blessing today!

I recovered and kept preaching anyway.

After that incident, the time the two other ladies and I spent there was wonderful.  I really loved it.  God put two special young guys in my path who, underneath their bravado, were hungry for the truth.  We had amazing conversations.  I was asked by both of them (separately) :

“With so many religions out there, and so many gods, how do you know which one is the truth?”

How would you answer that?IMG_2606

It’s when I’m out there that I see that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is so very important.  We absolutely need Him when we are out there.  Without Him, we literally can do nothing.  But with Him we can do all things.  It is our real relationship with the LIVING God that counts when we are in the firing-line.  Religious platitudes, clichés and one-liners do NOT work.  Sinners see right through all that rubbish.

But…if you’ve been with Jesus…well, they can see that too.

Here’s what I learnt today:

I wanted God to make my way easy, I wanted Him to pave the way for me, after all, as I told Him, I was going out there for Him.

But He didn’t do that.  He doesn’t always give us what we want, but He does give us what we need. He lets us see the truth of the sinfulness of man; He lets us have confrontations with demons.  And in doing so He lets us see ourselves too.

In essence, He lets us see reality.

Why? Bwoman preacherecause that is where He is – in the midst of the dirty, the sinful, the demon-possessed, that is where He is working.

And that’s where He calls us to go with Him.

“ “I will make the place of my feet glorious”—among the poor, the devil-possessed, the mean, the decrepit, the selfish, the sinful, the misunderstood—that is where Jesus went, and that is exactly where he will take you if you are his disciple”. (Oswald Chambers)

He won’t drop rose petals on our path for us, He won’t pamper us and cater to our self-pity, our comfort, nor our convenience.  He lets us be confronted, shocked and disgusted.  And then He says:

“Even so….will you still follow Me?”


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Satan’s Tool in the Emergent Church

480_sheepscloth1This post follows on from The “Emergent”-cy of Post-Modernist Christianity where we saw that philosophy can and does shape reality.  Just like any other movement in society, the Emergent church movement is underpinned by a system of philosophy. I would like to look at this philosophy, called “de-constructionism”, in order to discover its roots and where it is leading.  The outcome of this philosophy is very REAL and is taking hold in the Church right now.  I believe it is very important for every Bible-believing Christian to be aware of how the enemy is working, because none of us are beyond deception. 

What is De-Constructionism?

“De-constructionism” is: “a philosophical theory of criticism (usually of literature or film) that seeks to expose deep-seated contradictions in a work by delving below its surface meaning”   http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=deconstructionism

De-constructionism is a “fascist world-view where all authority is rejected and truth is denied by attacking language”. (see “Where’s Truth?” on “absolute truth”).  Its roots are from ex-Nazi Heiteger but developed by French philosopher Jacques Derrida.  As Nietzsche had previously asserted that “life is meaningless” (known as Nihilism) so this philosophy carries nihilism further – into literature itself, and says that:

  • Language is meaningless
  • Language contradicts itself
  • Language is lying
  • Literature lies

By applying this philosophy to a book, poem, paragraph or sentence the text is de-constructed and it is found that every word contradicts itself, contradicts the other words and contradicts the whole work itself.

So to write :  “The sky is blue” for example, may not actually really mean that the sky is in fact blue.  It could mean that the sky is another colour, but we just call it blue.  It could mean that the sky isn’t blue or even a colour at all.  It could mean that I am not even really talking about the “sky” after all, but something else entirely.  “The sky is blue” cannot be understood because all words are meaningless and contradict themselves.

So we see how de-constructionism has removed absolute truth from literature.

What would happen if this method was applied to the Word of God, ie the Bible?

What would happen if Christians adopted this method of studying the Bible?

The Emergent Church

persecutionUnfortunately they are both already in full-swing, within the Emergent Church.  Many of the Emergent Church’s leaders (whom are Evangelicals, not Liberals!), such as Tony Campolo, Rob Bell and Brian Mclaren, have studied and adopted de-constructionism as their method of studying the Bible.  Here is what Leonard Sweet, Brian Mclaren and Jerry Haselmayer wrote in their book “A is for Abductive”:

“Traditional modern interpretation is fond of finding the one “true” meaning in a text while de-constructionists do not give any one reading privileged status, but rather are interested in hearing the interplay of many interpretations that arise from within many different interpretative communities.”

So in essence, they do not view the Word of God as the ultimate authority – all opinions, views and interpretations are equally valid.  This would mean the Koran and other ancient non-Biblical texts are just as valid too. This is classic relativism denying the absolute truth and authority of the Bible in their drive to be :

  • “relevant” to a new generation and
  • palatable to non-believers

The First De-Constructionist

In fact this is not a new “literary technique” at all.  It is as old as time itself!  Satan’s aim, as the world’s first de-constructionist, has always been to cause human-beings to doubt God’s Word.  We see that his tactics haven’t changed since the beginning of time.

In Genesis 3:1 he said to Eve: “…Has God indeed said…?”

And that is essentially what Christian de-constructionism is – has God really said…?emergent-church

The denial of the authority and truth of God’s Word has led to the demise of the preaching and expounding of God’s Word within the Emergent church and rather “dialectics” are now being encouraged.  Dialectics is discussion, analysis, criticism, contrasting ideas etc.  Absolute Truth is side-lined while each individual’s opinions, interpretations and views are held in high regard.  And in the light of relativism, each opinion is equally valid and opposing “truths” are ok.

Ultimately Satan’s aim is to break down “absolute truth”. Why?

Because he is paving the way for a One-World religion, getting ready for the Anti-christ.   How?

By combining a “thesis” with an “antithesis” and making into a “synthesis”.

A thesis is a “proposition (of truth) to be maintained or proved”, such as Christianity.  An antithesis is a “contrast of ideas; direct opposite of”, such as Islam as the opposite to Christianity.  A synthesis is the “combining of elements into a whole.”

It looks like this:

THESIS                  arrow              SYNTHESIS            LeftArrow      ANTITHESIS

Christianity             arrow            Chrislam                 LeftArrow       Islam

bible-cover-pageChrislam is gaining momentum outside of Nigeria now, and Wycliffe Bible Translators have just translated the first “Chrislam” Bibles (that remove or change terms deemed offensive to Muslims and thus creating a Muslim-friendly Bible). 

Next time…  The Falling Dominoes in the Emergent Church

 

 

 


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Where’s Truth?

We live in a post-modern world where the existence of absolute truth is outright denied.

Have you ever heard (or said) this sort of statement:

“Your truth is good for you, but I have my own truth.”

This is post-modern relativism in a nut-shell.

But is that statement logical?  Can it be possible for every person on the face of the planet to have their own “truth” and yet they are ALL simultaneously true?

cropped-misc-0515.jpg

Or is there an absolute Truth? And if so, what is it?

Firstly I would like to look at post-modernism and its effects on absolute truth.

To start the definition of “post-modernism” is:

“A relativistic system of observation and thought that denies absolutes and objectivity.  Postmodernism has influenced theology, art, culture, architecture, society, film, technology, and economics.  Traditional social, art, social, and cultural, constructs are discarded and reinterpreted in relativistic terms.”  http://www.carm.org/dictionary/dic_p-r.htm (accessed September 16, 2008).

Wikipedia : “Postmodernism is a late-20th-century movement in the arts, architecture, and criticism that was a departure from modernism.[1][2] Postmodernism includes skeptical interpretations of culture, literature, art, philosophy, history, economics, architecture, fiction, and literary criticism. It is often associated with deconstruction and post-structuralism because its usage as a term gained significant popularity at the same time as twentieth-century post-structural thought.”

Post-modernism played out is this statement :

“Well that’s your truth, and that’s good for you, I have my own truth that works for me.”

In post-modernism, truth becomes relative and subjective.  I can determine my truth, you can determine your truth etc.  “Truth” becomes subject to each individual’s own desires, beliefs systems and world-views and an objective truth (something outside of us) is thrown away.  The end result of this relativism is that right and wrong and good and evil also become subject to our own personal opinions because a static point-of-reference is denied.

Here’s an example of what I mean.  I spoke to a man one day who denied the existence of both good and evil.

“It’s all relative,” he claimed.

So I asked him what would happen if someone stole his car or his wallet, would he consider that wrong?

“No”, he answered, “because I do not hold onto my possessions.”

I asked him what if it was his child that was stolen, what if his child was groomed by a pedophile and molested?  Would that be evil?

“No”, he said, “There is no evil, there’s only what we as a society define as evil or good.”

“Do you have kids of your own?” I asked.

“No.”

I dare say that if he did, his answer would have been very different.

This is the logical conclusion of post-modernism – that there is no real truth, no good, no evil, not even gender distinction, just what we, as a society, label as such.  All moral reference points are removed and we are left to flounder along as each determine.  Dr Ravi Zacharias used the example of when you are stopped in your car at a traffic light and the next car is slightly rolling.  It is difficult to determine whether it is your own car, or the one next to you that is moving until you find a static point-of-reference, such as a pole on the side of the road.

Biblical Christianity maintains that there exists ABSOLUTE TRUTH determined by a Sovereign, holy, moral God who created all things.  It claims that this truth is objective, determined by something or someone other than us and that this Truth is the “pole”, or the point-of-reference for humankind.

I would like to seek to prove that ABSOLUTE TRUTH does exist.  Take mathematics for example. Lately I have been teaching my daughter the multiplication tables.  We have been learning that :

1 x 2 = 2

2 x 2 = 4

3 x 2 = 6

And so on.

The answers to these mathematical questions are fact, or truth.  They are facts which neither you nor I can alter.  They are facts on which buildings, bridges and airplanes have been created by humans.

I may decide that I don’t like the fact that 2×2=4, but my desire to change the truth of this equation does not in fact do anything to alter it.  All I will succeed in doing is making my own life difficult, or building a bridge that falls down, because 2×2 does equal 4 and nothing I can do will change that established fact.  I could try to fight for my rights to deny this truth, so I could say that 2×2 doesn’t equal 4, yet, in reality, the mathematical table remains unchanged and untouched by my own personal opinions and desires.

A Biblical example is the Ten Commandments.  This is God’s moral law which declares that those who have broken His Law are sinners, law-breakers and transgressors.  This Law is truth, it is outside of us and will never be subjected to humanity’s own desires or whims nor society’s changes.

(In abbreviated form):

You shall have no other gods before[a] me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Whilst I may decide that murder, or sexual immorality is not actually wrong and that it’s ok to lie if it’s a little, white lie, this does not in fact change the truth that murder, sexual immorality and lying is wrong and sinning against God and other people.  And to deny that truth and to live as if it didn’t exist or didn’t matter only will make life (and eternity) difficult for me.

So then logically what I’m trying to say is that: truth by its definition is exclusive.

To qualify that statement I will use an analogy. Suppose I had red hair.  If I were to ask two different people what colour my hair is and one said “black” and the other said “red” – only one of these answers would be in fact TRUE.  (Bad example, but I hope you see what I’m getting at.)  By virtue of the fact that my hair IS red, the other statement is disqualified as UNTRUE.  Only one statement can be true.  Just as in maths, 1×2 cannot equal both 2 and 13 at the same time, so too is truth exclusive.

To say that we can all determine our own truth (“that your truth is fine and my truth is fine too”) is not logical.  It denies the very premise of truth itself.   And it very obviously renders the question back:

“Well if there is no absolute truth, then why should I believe the very statement that there is no absolute truth? Isn’t claiming that there is no truth actually making an assertion of truth?”

Relativism by nature undermines itself.

So what’s left?

TRUTH.

Jesus said “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

There is a God who created the universe.  Just as behind every painting there is an artist and behind every building there is an architect, so too behind our delicately balanced eco-systems, our beautifully laid out solar systems and galaxies, behind our moral laws of right and wrong, there is The Artist of artists, the Architect of architects, the Judge and Law-Giver to whom we each must one day give an account of our lives.

Jesus said “I am the Way, the TRUTH and the Life.  No man comes to the Father but by Me.”

You may choose to reject that statement as untrue, and that is your right.

But if you care about Truth the logical thing to do, if you were honest with yourself, would be to find out for yourself whether it is True or otherwise.

I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below.

Blessings!

Next post ….. The “Emergent”-cy of Post-Modernist Christianity


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Are You Unbalanced?

As you know my Blog is called “Grace and Truth”.  The reason I called the blog this name is because God sovereignly told  me to.  He told me to start it, confirmed it with His Word (in Acts 5:20), and then told me what to call it – grace and truth.

“For the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” John 1:17

I find it an interesting observation though that even though grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, we, as His followers, tend to run with either one extreme or the other – that is:

  • Extreme grace – leading to both “greasy grace”, (or lawlessness) and also a lack of discernment of truth; or
  • Extreme truth – leading to hard-heartedness and legalism

Both of these extremes are wrong.  To run with a zealousness for truth, without love is just as wrong as disregarding truth for the sake of grace, mercy or love. But how easily we fall into one or the other!

scales

CH Spurgeon said: “…It is very easy, brethren, unless God gives us understanding, to preach up one precept to the neglect of another.  It is possible for a ministry and a teaching to be lopsided, and those who follow it may become rather the caricatures of Christianity than Christians harmoniously proportioned….Oh how easy it is to exaggerate a virtue until it becomes a vice.”

I have seen both of these extremes in Christians (and yes, that includes myself).  I will give you an example of how I have seen both of these Christian virtues in fact become a vice.

Truth with no Grace:       I am a street-preacher and love other street-preachers, but I have seen something that is a grievance to God.  It is when a preacher brings forth the hard truths of the Word of God from a heart that has not been broken for the sins of the people.  Preaching the truth about hell, sin, judgment and the Law will only be graced by the  Spirit of God when the Holy Spirit has utterly broken that preacher’s heart with compassion and mercy for the people before whom he/she stands.  You see, it comes down to responsibility.  As a preacher, once you enter into intercession for the people, you are taking responsibility for them, for their souls.  And it is impossible to stand before them without compassion and mercy once you have taken responsibility for their souls.  God will only bless those with His authority whom are willing to take responsibility for others. Authority and responsibility always go together (see Isaiah 53:10-12).  We must “speak the truth in love.” It is amazing that when we speak the truth in love, the real love of intercession, people will listen and respond to it.  So we see that the truth needs to be graced by His Spirit.

girl praying

Grace at the expense of Truth: I had been praying for a friend of mine whom was not a believer for two years.  I had interceded for her regularly and asked God for an opportunity to share the Gospel with her, which praise God, He did.  As soon as we began our conversation another Christian joined us and listened in.  My friend and I had a wonderful, Spirit-led conversation where I was able to share the gospel with her.  I was able to share everything with her, the Law, God’s judgment on sin, hell, and then of course the wonderful Gospel of grace of Jesus Christ who died on the cross to take the punishment for our sin, forgiveness, heaven and redemption.  I was so thrilled that the truth had been shared and that she had responded well.  However as soon as she had left, the other Christian reprimanded me for talking about sin, hell and judgment saying that all that I needed to talk about was the love of God.  And…I guess I could have, God is love, but really, it wouldn’t have been the whole truth….  Unfortunately there are hard truths in the Bible and, if we are wanting to be truly honest before God, they are unavoidable.  But the good news is, the hard truths are there for a reason… Paul says in Galations 3:24 that “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith”.  The Law is there to expose sin and so to bring us to the knowledge of our sin and of our need of a Saviour.  It is by the  truth of the Law and God’s judgment of sin that we are led to Grace and justification by faith.

Notice how John describes Jesus:

“For the law was given through Moses but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” John 1:17

Jesus2

Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, through whom came grace and truth.  The divine mystery of Jesus, the Word made flesh, God incarnate in human flesh, can be difficult for our human minds to comprehend. But, I think it’s important to remember that it doesn’t come down to some sort of a mathematical equation.  A couple of points to note:

  • Jesus is both fully God and fully man at the same time, not 50% God and 50% man
  • By the same token, Jesus is also concurrently full of grace and full of truth.
  • Jesus is not half Law and half grace (and neither are we)

He came not to do away with the Law but to fulfill it.  And it was because He fulfilled God’s law perfectly and never sinned, that He was full of grace and love.  Yet it was also because He is full of grace that He could fulfill the Law perfectly.  Why? because “Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:10)

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14 (emphasis mine).

anointing oil

And so we see that our Lord is the perfectly balanced One.  Just as the anointing oil of Exodus 30 was perfectly blended, mixed and mingled, with this much of myrrh and so much of cinnamon and that much of cassia etc, so it is with Jesus Christ.  So perfect in truth and grace.  Not leaning too much towards one or the other, never ceasing to be holy in order to be loving, always merciful and kind to sinners.  Nowhere do we see this better demonstrated than in His cross.

In the cross, God maintained the truth of His holiness and righteous anger towards sin, when His wrath was poured out on His Son, because of His grace, because He so loved the world.  Both truth and grace in the cross of our Lord and in His very person.

So why do we get it so wrong?  And what can we do about it?

There is only one way.  We need to remember that it is “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27):

  • Our only hope is to be so FULL of Him, of His Life, that He will simply live His life of grace and truth through us.

So:

  • We need to re-submit ourselves to God in a fresh consecration.  To offer ourselves as a living sacrifice to Him.
  • We need to confess any un-confessed sins to Him
  • We need to ask Him to re-fill us with His Spirit.
  • We need to be led in obedience by the Spirit of God in our day-to-day lives, small and big things.

 

“There is a way about the precepts: there is a chime about them in which every bell gives out its note and makes up a tune.  There is a mixture, so much of this and that and the other; and, if any ingredient were left out, the oil would have lost its perfect aroma.

So is there an anointing of the holy life in which there is precept upon precept skillfully mingled, delicately infused, gratefully blended, and grace given to keep each of these precepts.” (CH Spurgeon)

May God bless us all with an outpouring of His Life in this New Year!


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cross-on-hill

There is something that’s arisen-

Emerging from the ground.

It breaks out

Through the

Post-modernist earth

But its roots go further down.
 

 

.

At first it’s only little,

As it starts its progress

Just a small inner circle-

Rolling towards the cliff edge         
 

 
                                                     .

It stops

For a moment

Before

It falls

Then:

Down

the

slope

of

Relevance

It tumbles                                                                                           .

 

 

Down, Down

And further down

It rolls, it goes, its spins,

Away from the cliff

Where the Truth

Has always been                                                                                          .

 

 

And so it rolls

And as it goes

It kicks up all the dust

And as the dust and dirt

Stick

To it

The circle grows ever vast                                                                 .

 

 

Voices herald the circle

As it picks up on its pace

And while it continues to hurtle

They cry:

“Look!

A new Christian way!”                                                                         .

 

 

For the old grew rather narrow”

They say,

“The consequences

Unpleasant

And our churches

Too small-minded

For the world at present.                                                                     .

 

 

And for us,

The Christians,

To claim

That Jesus

Is the only way

Is quite arrogant

Wouldn’t you say?                                                                                        .

 

 

And then

What if we are rejected,

Despised and maligned?

A common truth

To all

Surely we can find”                                                                                      .

 

 

And so the dust of Relativism

Is added to the ball

It grows ever stickier

As it continues on its fall                                                                              .

The voices grow louder

As the ball gains more ground

And as the dust shifts-

Disturbed-

By the wind

Something else

Is found:                                                                                             .
 

 

“The Mysticism

Of our forefathers!

The voices shrill again

Add that

To the sphere”

And so

Pagan spirituality

Is regained-                                                                              .
 

 

(Increasingly it is clear

That the expense

Is at the cross’s

Offense-

So

It is

Abandoned)                                                                                                 .

 

 

Bigger and bigger

The ball grows

As it moves along

Its way

And more and more

The dust does variously

Accumulate                                                                                                  .
 

 

…The dust of Tolerance

Is gathered

Political correctness too…

And all the while

The voices cry:

(As the winds blow through)                                                                         .

“Pragmatism works!

Our structures

Will grow big

Who cares now

About Truth

When better stuff

Will stick?”                                                                                                  .

 

 

And so it goes

And on it rolls

Down the way

That, to man, seems Best

And as a new way

Is Mapped out

The Old Book is left                                                                                     .

 

 

But For a moment

If we stop and turn away

From the ever-rolling ball,

If we look toward that cliff top

Where the Truth still stands tall:                                                                   .

 

 

An old rugged cross

Remains

Defiantly erect.

For the sacrifice

Once offered there

For man

Is perfect                                                                                           .

 

 

And The Blood

That was shed,

At the foot

Of that cross,

Still cries out aloud.

But with it-

Look!-

There is gathered

A small, faithful crowd.                                                                       .

 

 

They join in the cry

As they gather

Round the cross

“How long O Lord?

How long

Must we too

Suffer loss?”                                                                                                          .

 

 

They look not down

But instead

Look up

And To heaven

Make their plea:

“Oh God, revive us!”

For they know

The answer lies

Only

With

He                                                                                                               .

 

 

For our hope

Lies not

In some new way

Of mans invention,

but rather in

The Revival

Of the ancient paths-

As we seek

God’s intervention.                                                                                       .                                                                            .

.                                                                            .