TODAY’S DEFINITION OF TOLERANCE

Almost 20  years ago I wrote an article for Old Paths Advocate dealing with what I perceived to be an effort by our culture to rede ne the meaning of the word “tolerance” (“Rede ning Tolerance” OPA March 2000). I thought it might be worth revisiting that subject to see if we can determine exactly where we stand today. In Webster’s 1997 edition of its New World Dictionary, “tolerate” is de ned as, “To recognize and respect [others’ beliefs, practices, etc.] without sharing them,” and [“to bear or put up with someone or something not especially liked]” (1407). Although the word “tolerant” is not found in the NT Paul expresses the essence of the word in 1 Corinthians 13:7 when he says, “charity endures all things.” The word endurance derives from the Latin “tolerare,” meaning to endure. Because we are told not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14), and are warned that “evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Cor 15:33 NKJV), brethren have sometimes wished we could isolate ourselves from the world completely. However we are commanded to be the “salt of the earth ,” and the “light of the world” (Mt. 5: 13-14). We cannot ful ll those obligations to the world if we are isolated from it. There is a difference between being separate from the world and isolated from the world. Jesus was separate from the world’s rebellious attitude, sinful behavior and God-defying lifestyle, but He went among worldly people daily. He talked with them, ate with them, and opened His heart to them in an effort to save them. During my college days I had classmates and work associates whose lifestyles were clearly ungodly. I did not endorse their sinful activities and I did not participate in them. I was never tempted by these associations to forfeit my belief in God or my hope of heaven, and when I had opportunities I explained to them my faith and my hope (1 Pet. 3:15-16). I did my best to get along with all my classmates and co-workers, treating them with courtesy. Paul says, “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with ALL men (Rom. 12:18). Again, he says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto ALL men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Based upon the meaning of the word at the time, I exercised tolerance toward these people. Traditional tolerance values, respects, and accepts the individual without necessarily approving of or participating in his or her beliefs or behavior We hate the sin, but we love the sinner-a soul created in the image of God (Gen. 2:7), worth more than the world (Mt. 16:26), and therefore in need of saving. In the past 20 years, however our culture has gradually foisted upon us a new de nition of tolerance. Today, if you do not APPROVE and ENDORSE a person’s beliefs and lifestyle, you are accused of “hating” the person and being intolerant, insensitive, and bigoted. Almost every time you hear the word “tolerance” spoken today outside the walls of the church-by school teachers, news anchors, government of cials, activists, celebrities, perhaps even your own children and grandchildren-this is the de nition that is meant. The new de nition is based upon the premise that there is no such thing as moral absolutes-moral laws that apply to everybody. One sociology textbook says, “Everything is right somewhere, and nothing is right everywhere.” According to the new de nition, anyone who believes uncompromisingly in anything and especially in absolute truth-is guilty of intolerance. The Bible makes it clear however that all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth-claims are NOT equal. God’s words are absolutely true (Ps. 119:160) and if something is not right in God’s sight it is wrong (Deut. 6:18). Naturally, our convictions about these teachings offend the proponents of the new tolerance. Consequently, Christians are viewed as the greatest sinners in our culture, committing the only serious sin left in our world-intolerance. It is the pariah sin. America is sick of intolerant people and is not going to tolerate them anymore! Since the 1990s, a primary tactic used by the new-tolerance advocates is “jamming.” It is part of a three-pronged approach devised by two Harvard-educated marketing experts named Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. Jamming is the use of name-calling to smear Christians, traditionalists, or anyone who opposes the new tolerance. They will not engage you in rational discussion if you disagree with them, they will just attack you by calling you names such as “homophobe,” “hater” and “bigot.” The tactic is used almost every day in our present culture war and has been very effective over the past 20 years. Our best defense continues to be preaching the gospel in love to ALL those in sin, and living our lives in a way that is consistent with what we preach (Rom. 1 :26-27’ 1 Cor 6:9).

Carl Johnson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

TODAY’S DEFINITION OF TOLERANCE

TODAY’S DEFINITION OF TOLERANCE

Almost 20 years ago I wrote an article for Old Paths Advocate dealing with what I perceived to be an effort by our culture to rede ne the meaning of the word “tolerance” (“Rede ning Tolerance” OPA March 2000). I thought it might be worth revisiting that subject to see if we can determine exactly where we stand today. In Webster’s 1997 edition of its New World Dictionary, “tolerate” is de ned as, “To recognize and respect [others’ beliefs, practices, etc.] without sharing them,” and [“to bear or put up with someone or something not especially liked]” (1407). Although the word “tolerant” is not found in the NT Paul expresses the essence of the word in 1 Corinthians 13:7 when he says, “charity endures all things.” The word endurance derives from the Latin “tolerare,” meaning to endure. Because we are told not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor 6:14), and are warned that “evil company corrupts good habits” (1 Cor 15:33 NKJV), brethren have sometimes wished we could isolate ourselves from the world completely. However we are commanded to be the “salt of the earth ,” and the “light of the world” (Mt. 5: 13-14). We cannot ful ll those obligations to the world if we are isolated from it. There is a difference between being separate from the world and isolated from the world. Jesus was separate from the world’s rebellious attitude, sinful behavior and God-defying lifestyle, but He went among worldly people daily. He talked with them, ate with them, and opened His heart to them in an effort to save them. During my college days I had classmates and work associates whose lifestyles were clearly ungodly. I did not endorse their sinful activities and I did not participate in them. I was never tempted by these associations to forfeit my belief in God or my hope of heaven, and when I had opportunities I explained to them my faith and my hope (1 Pet. 3:15-16). I did my best to get along with all my classmates and co-workers, treating them with courtesy. Paul says, “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with ALL men (Rom. 12:18). Again, he says, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto ALL men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). Based upon the meaning of the word at the time, I exercised tolerance toward these people. Traditional tolerance values, respects, and accepts the individual without necessarily approving of or participating in his or her beliefs or behavior We hate the sin, but we love the sinner-a soul created in the image of God (Gen. 2:7), worth more than the world (Mt. 16:26), and therefore in need of saving. In the past 20 years, however our culture has gradually foisted upon us a new de nition of tolerance. Today, if you do not APPROVE and ENDORSE a person’s beliefs and lifestyle, you are accused of “hating” the person and being intolerant, insensitive, and bigoted. Almost every time you hear the word “tolerance” spoken today outside the walls of the church-by school teachers, news anchors, government of cials, activists, celebrities, perhaps even your own children and grandchildren-this is the de nition that is meant. The new de nition is based upon the premise that there is no such thing as moral absolutes-moral laws that apply to everybody. One sociology textbook says, “Everything is right somewhere, and nothing is right everywhere.” According to the new de nition, anyone who believes uncompromisingly in anything and especially in absolute truth-is guilty of intolerance. The Bible makes it clear however that all values, beliefs, lifestyles, and truth-claims are NOT equal. God’s words are absolutely true (Ps. 119:160) and if something is not right in God’s sight it is wrong (Deut. 6:18). Naturally, our convictions about these teachings offend the proponents of the new tolerance. Consequently, Christians are viewed as the greatest sinners in our culture, committing the only serious sin left in our world-intolerance. It is the pariah sin. America is sick of intolerant people and is not going to tolerate them anymore! Since the 1990s, a primary tactic used by the new-tolerance advocates is “jamming.” It is part of a three-pronged approach devised by two Harvard-educated marketing experts named Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. Jamming is the use of name-calling to smear Christians, traditionalists, or anyone who opposes the new tolerance. They will not engage you in rational discussion if you disagree with them, they will just attack you by calling you names such as “homophobe,” “hater” and “bigot.” The tactic is used almost every day in our present culture war and has been very effective over the past 20 years. Our best defense continues to be preaching the gospel in love to ALL those in sin, and living our lives in a way that is consistent with what we preach (Rom. 1 :26-27’ 1 Cor 6:9).

Carl Johnson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

In God’s Eyes

In God’s Eyes

​We are repeatedly judged by how we look, as society ceaselessly bullies those who are different than themselves, it is no wonder that many today feel inferior. However, this was not God’s plan for His creation, for man or women, this truth is shown in the light of Galatians 3:25-29, especially in verse 27 when Paul illustrates Gods point in that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus”. In God’s eyes there is impartiality across the human race. And while we are all created with different talents and gifts our value in God’s eyes never diminishes. Therefore I encourage both men and women to take a step back and understand “His eyes are on the ways of man, And He sees all his steps” (Job 34:21). God is always watching us, and so it’s important to take a step back from the negativity of the world and view ourselves through God’s eyes.
​When we view ourselves through God’s eyes we find that the world has lied to us in that they fill our ears with words of derision saying we are nothing special, but in God’s eyes you are precious. In fact God said of His people in Isaiah 43:4 “Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you. . .” This truth is even more unmistakable when we look at the picture Titus 3:3 paints of us saying we were: “foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another”, but even in this state God saw us, loved us, and provided a way of escape through His Son (Jn. 14:6). How then can the world tell any man or women that they are of lesser value than their neighbor? Neither skin color, nor country of origin can change your value to God, Church, or home.
​When we know this how can we view ourselves as worthless or inferior when that is not how we are made. In fact, our value to God is fully shown in that “God so loved the world (us) that He gave His only begotten Son. . .” (Jn. 3:16). Our value in God’s eyes is shown elsewhere in that God even knows the smallest details of our being (Matthew 10:30-31). Have courage that even when others fail to see your value, God has found value in you, and in seeing this value He willingly paid the price no man could pay (1Corinthians 6:20). In that He paid the price, we have value, to Church, to home, and to society. Therefore women when you doubt your worth, remember that it was because of a grandmother and a mother that the Church had a leader like Timothy (2Tim. 1:5), and men, remember it was a Samaritan man who set the example of how we should treat our neighbors (Luke 10:25-37).
​In understanding these few thoughts, the words of Eleanor Roosevelt echo out in that “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. And so we are challenged to view ourselves differently than the world views us, because God views the Christian as chosen and special (1Peter 2:9). And so, I challenge myself to view myself through God’s eyes, understanding that God does not merely judge by external appearances but with a righteous judgment of who we are on the inside (Jn. 7:24).

Aaron Boone

​www.oldpathsadvocate.org

How To Understand the Bible for Yourself

 

How to Understand the Bible for Yourself

​Perhaps you have come across a disturbing passage in the Bible, but you don’t know how to decipher the meaning. A passage may seem to to downplay your entire belief system. Maybe the passage is disturbing simply because of the mystical language used by ancient Bible writers. How do you respond in this moment of struggle for definition of God’s word? Before anything else, remember what Paul said to Timothy in 1 Tim. 1:5-7. Paul reminded Timothy to always maintain a pure heart, a good conscience, and be sincere in his faith. Being sincere enough to admit error when presented with the truth of God’s word is foremost. Diligence and care come only a breath behind sincerity. Being diligent to study God’s word with integrity and a systematic method is paramount. Jesus did not call fishermen like James and John for their laziness, ineptness, or disregard for properly understanding His teaching. These men consistently asked Jesus questions to better understand His mission and call to discipleship (Mark, 9:10-13, 10:10 & 13:3-4). Consider consistently asking yourself systematic questions when studying any given Bible passage. The questions to follow will hopefully guide you in this effort and lead you to Truth’s doorstep.
​The questions in this article are a bare bones skeleton of what should be asked whenever seeking clarity on a Bible passage. These questions also assume the reader to be established in two principles of thought: there is such a thing as absolute truth, and the proper interpretation of a passage is that which was intended by the original author. No more will be said on these points. Now, for the feature presentation, read on.

1. The Bible is a book of literature. This literature consists of poetry, history, narrative, argumentative discourse, and figurative/prophetic texts. With this knowledge, ask the question: What type of literature is this single verse found within, and how might that affect how I interpret the verse?

2. Why is the author writing this book? Does my interpretation of this single verse agree with the author’s ultimate purpose in writing the book?

3. What is the immediate (surrounding) context of the verse I am studying? Does my interpretation of this single verse fit the immediate context?

4. Before I make personal application of what is taught in the verse, do I understand what the passage originally meant? Personal application should never be made until the verse’s original meaning is understood. Otherwise, you are dangerously near to making an application the Holy Spirit never intended to be drawn. This fallacy is at the root of many a belligerent and ignorant internet blogger.

5. Does anything within the passage allude or echo back to an Old Testament passage or teaching of Jesus (i.e. John 8:58)? If so, go back to the passage alluded to and gain a better understanding of that text. Many times, New Testament writers allude back to an Old Testament prophecy, teaching, story-line, character, or theme, making a parallel application to the audience of the New Testament.

Paul wrote God’s revelation down so that his audience could read and understand it (Eph. 3:3-4), not be confused. God’s word is not beyond our grasp, our grasp just has to reach farther than the TV remote. Now close your screen, pick up your Bible, and glean from God’s treasure chest, “things new and old,” (Matthew 13:52).
Aaron Battey

 

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“When the Tempter Came”

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“When the Tempter Came”
Matthew 4:3-11

This place in scripture reveals to us an amazing encounter. You may recall prior to this writing that John baptized Jesus in water, and the heavens were opened, and the voice of the Father spoke saying, “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Following his baptism, verse 1 of chapter 4 tells us that Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted of the devil. The scripture does not tell us how much time passes between the Lord’s baptism and the encounter we read about in the text. Nonetheless, Matthew records for us the Savior being tempted as the next event in the life of Christ following his baptism. In this lengthy account, Matthew depicts for us a rare occurrence where Jesus faces off with the one who seeks to destroy us all. Yes, the very devil himself would have loved nothing more than to have fooled Jesus into worshiping him instead of the Heavenly Father. He tempted the Savior with 3 things: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life which are noted as things of the world in I John 2:15-17. But isn’t that what Satan tempts us all with? He offers us everything that this world holds if only we will bow to him instead of bringing ourselves into submission with God.
But notice also that the tempter comes to people when they are weak. Matthew tells us that Jesus fasted forty days & forty nights and was afterward a hungered in verse 2 of the chapter listed above. And perhaps the devil believed that Jesus would be in a weak frame of mind as he was famished from his fasting. And so he goes to Jesus and seeks to lead him into sin through temptation! But Jesus would not be deceived. Rather, in his famished state, our Lord was as bold as ever, refuting the tempter’s ventures to destroy him.
Sometimes I wonder why we don’t respond the way Jesus did when the tempter comes our way. It’s safe to say that we have all fallen short when we are tempted. But does this happen because we ill equipped to combat the devil’s weapons? No, we just make up excuses to cover up for our lack of will power to resist temptation. Allow me to briefly note three tactics that a Christian may execute so to dispatch the great deceiver.
First, a Christian must deduce that temptation becomes sin only when acted upon. I have found in my own life that it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish between when we are being tempted and when we have sinned. Lumping the two together into a category may cause us to believe that if we’re tempted, we’ve sinned. On the contrary, James writes in his epistle that every man is tempted (James 1:13-15). This servant of God highlights three sizable points in these verses. We just noted the first, but the other two are as follows: God tempts no man (1), and sin is the result of action taken when lust is experienced (2). After all, even the Lord was tempted as seen in the encounter with Satan in the gospels and affirmed by the Hebrew writer (Hebrews 4:15). Christ of course, faced the temptation without acting on it, leaving us the greatest example. We must strive to abstain from all sin, despite the reality that we will be tempted.
Second, a Christian must resist the devil. A resistance constructed on the foundation of God’s Word is crucial to our preparation for facing the prince of darkness. Resisting the devil sounds simple enough, but applying this direct command is another story. Again, James writes, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). The focus here should be on the former section of the verse. There is no better way to resist the devil than to submit to God’s will. James says that doing such will force the devil to flee from us! Imagine the pressure and power of temptation lifted from your conscience because you have wholly submitted yourself to the Father’s will! That is an amazing feat! In the 4th chapter of James’ epistle, he rebukes his reading audience about the lust in their hearts, particularly fleshly lusts. Having already explained that sin is the result of lust being conceived at the beginning of his letter, he writes about the necessity for them to draw nigh unto God, so that the Father would draw nigh unto them (James 4:8). The apostle calls for the purification of their hearts, so that they no longer think with a double mind! How is that accomplished? By submitting your mind and heart completely to God and His Word. When this is done, the devil will flee from us! Paul wrote to the Corinthians in the first letter, expounding on the idea that fleeing from sin would cause Satan to flee (I Corinthians 6:18). A Christian can turn from temptation when the tempter comes by resisting the devil.
Last, a Christian should give a righteous response when the tempter approaches. There is possibly no better example of the righteous response than in the textual scriptures referenced above. With each temptation presented to our Lord, a Biblical answer is given. How many of us calmly speak divine words to turn away the tempter? Most likely, we allow the temptation offered to weigh on us instead of abruptly responding with the inspired words of the Creator! The longer you allow the temptation to exist in your presence, the less likely you will be to send it away with a righteous response. So much there is to learn from the Christ, but too often we enjoy the pleasures of sin that stem from appealing temptations, never recalling how quickly these pleasures fade away. May we all seek to structure a divine foundation to stand on while we prepare for when the tempter comes.

Colby Culbertson

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

“Are You Sleeping?”

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“Are You Sleeping?”

Mark 13:32-37

Some things happen in life that take us by surprise. They happen suddenly, taking place at times when we are caught off guard. But the gospel of Mark records for us in chapter 13 what Matthew recorded in chapter 24 of his gospel. Jesus and his disciples sat on the Mount of Olives one afternoon looking toward a crowded city of unsuspecting people when Jesus predicted the coming of a great and terrible day. That terrible day would arrive some 30 years later and became known as the abomination of desolation. The Lord spent the better part of Mark 13 outlining the details of the destruction that the Roman war lord Titus would wage against the holy city. The generation Christ spoke of that day on the Mount of Olives would be unaware that this destruction was fast approaching, and most did not listen to the Savior’s warnings. And many were surprised in horror as they were destroyed during the great destruction of Jerusalem.

 

But in verse 32 of the chapter, Jesus speaks of another great day that will confound us all. Jude does not describe it as a great day but the great day! The scriptures teach that no man knows the day nor the hour, not even the angels in Heaven nor Christ himself knows when he will be commanded to return in the clouds to declare time no more and the judgment upon us. Only the Father in Heaven knows when that great day will come to pass. But we must all come to realize that Christ’s return will happen in a mere moment. Paul contended to the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord would come like a thief in the night. Peter used the very same words to describe that unsuspecting hour when the eastern sky would split open with a deafening sound and the clouds be rolled back like a tapestry revealing the Son of God and his angels. In other words, it will arrive at the most unsuspecting time. Maybe you’ll be driving down the road in your car, or working away at your job. Perhaps you’ll be sitting at the dinner table with your family, or even be asleep in your bed. No matter what is going on in your life when Jesus comes in the clouds, we shall all be surprised! So with that precedent set, Jesus tells a short parable in verses 34-37 of Mark 13, to further illustrate the idea that He would come again, but the time remains unknown to us. Jesus said, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” Are you like me in that your heart races with surprise when you are awakened from sleep unexpectedly? I daresay there would be no greater surprise than to be awakened out of sleep one night because the judgment has arrived. But for many today, spiritual sleep is a constant exercise for them when it comes to the important things of life. They have no real concern for the importance of preparing to meet God. Oh sure, they look to be wide-awake in their physical body, but spiritually they have yet to wake up! But if there is one thing that we cannot afford to sleep on brethren, it’s the Lord’s return! There are a few Bible examples of people that used sleep to ignore the things that were right. And those who sleep spiritually are similar to these examples.

 

There are some who sleep the sleep of Jonah, which was an unrealistic sleep because Jonah had refused to see reality. He decided he would ignore God by refusing a trip to Nineveh, and instead boarded a ship, where he went down into the hold of that ship and went to sleep. He thought that if he ignored God’s wishes, it would take him out of the circumstance he was in, but it did not. We act like Jonah sometimes and sleep on our responsibilities to God hoping he will forget about them, and let us off the hook. There are also those who sleep the sleep of the weary like Peter, James & John did in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night that Jesus was betrayed. They were worn out from the events that occurred during that final week of the Lord’s life, and could not hold up under the stress. So the scriptures teach that these men slept during the time that the Son of God needed them most. I see people today who are worn out from the never ending struggle with Satan and the weariness of always having to live right, and so they sleep on the challenges of Christianity. Then there are some who sleep the sleep of Samson, who dozed off on the knees of Delilah while she called for a Philistine man to shave off his hair, which relinquished his strength. Samson knew the dangers of the situation he was in, yet foolishly thought he could keep shaking himself from the bonds of sleep, until it was too late. I’d go as far to say that there are some here today who know the dangers of neglecting their responsibilities to God (such as seldom prayers, a lack of Bible study, never visiting the sick, or poor focus in the worship), yet they continue to sleep, while the time approaches when it will be too late to awake out of sleep! But then there are some who sleep the sleep of Eutychus, which is the sleep of the injured. This man fell out of a third story window while the apostle Paul was long preaching and presumed dead, but Paul revived the young man saying, “His life is still in him.” Some people have survived near fatal injuries. They’ve flirted with death a time or two in near death experiences only to come out alive once more, yet they continue to sleep on the gospel that they ought to obey! Then there are also those who sleep the sleep of spiritual death like some of the members at Corinth did. This is why Paul wrote in chapter 11 and verse 30: 30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. These people had improperly observed the communion of the Lord’s body, and this lead to their spiritual deaths. But others sleep the sleep of discouragement, like Elijah slept over in I Kings 19. In this instance, Elijah was feeling sorry for himself because the wicked queen Jezebel all but guaranteed that she would have him killed in a 24 hour period because he had slain all those false prophets at the brook of Kishon. But later in the chapter, the Father showed his power to Elijah by tearing down mountains and creating earthquakes and fires, proving his omnipotence over any adversary that stood in the prophet’s path. Elijah needed to get up and be about his business for the Lord of hosts, for he was more powerful than the adversaries of Elijah! Many are sleeping the sleep of discouragement or pity. They are mistreated and persecuted just like Paul warned that all Christians would be to Timothy, so they just go to sleep instead of facing the trials of life.

 

But probably the most common sleep is the sleep of the sluggard. They put off salvation until tomorrow. They thought about obeying the gospel and would like to do what God teaches us to do, but they foolishly think that they can shake themselves from this sluggish state when the convenient season arrives and somehow become exactly what the Lord expects. This was certainly the case with Felix the governor when Paul defended himself against the accusation of heresy before the Roman council in Acts 24. Felix trembled at the thought of salvation from God passing him by, yet he allowed the spiritual sleep lingering in his eyes to put it off until a convenient season had arrived. We run across a lot of Felix-minded folks in our communities. Salvation sounds like a neat little deal to them, but they lack the sense of urgency needed to obey the gospel. They sleep on their separation from God by sin, waiting for a time that better suits them and their busy schedule.

 

The fact is that this life comes with countless distractions that coerce us all into slumbering on the eternal necessities of life. But friends, life is far too short and eternity is much to certain for us to sleep on Jesus who gave his life to save us! So be honest with yourself…are you sleeping?

 

Colby Culbertson

 

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

What Does it Mean to Be a Slave to Christ?

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What Does It Mean To Be A Slave To Christ?

If a person were to promote slavery today, that person would be relegated to a class of social outcasts. I do not uphold segregation or advocate for 19th century American slavery. In fact, I do not advocate for any type of physical, human slavery for that matter, but I do vie for the slavery that James proudly proclaimed in his epistle. James 1:1 says, “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” The following discourse explains why Christians need to bring spiritual slavery back in style.
The word “bondservant” in James 1:1 comes from the Greek word “doulos.” This word carries with it the connotation of a slave. Yes, James is saying he is a slave to the “Lord Jesus.” There is no question why James calls Jesus “Lord.” Lord means master. Although submitting to the status of a slave before the Master will inevitably alter a Christian’s physical life, the change in spiritual submission to the Master is the driving force. Only when the individual spiritually cries out, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled,” (Ps. 6:2-3) can the Christian please the Master. Psalm 6:2-3 does not endorse a sinner’s prayer. Too many misled individuals have uttered such a meaningless prayer only to return to their self-serving life of sin as a dog returns to wallowing in his own vomit (Proverbs 26:11). No, such an ineffectual prayer will not suffice. Psalm 6:2-3, and many other Bible authors who speak of God as Lord of their life, embody the mindset and willingness to sell all and follow Christ and His orders no matter the cost. After all, a slave has no rights, owns no property, and deserves no wage. The slave is the life and property of the master. Being such, the Lord requires honesty, obedience, diligence, trustworthiness, loyalty, and self-denial.
Jesus asks no less than utter submission, because He is God (John 10:30) and God is greatly to be feared (Ps. 89:7 & Eccl. 12:13). His own words demand a slave’s heart and mind. “Then He (Jesus) said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me,’” (Luke 9:23). The key phrase here is, “Let him deny himself.” The question is not, “What do I want?” The question is this, “What does Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior want?”
Unlike earthly masters, the Lord Jesus does not force submission. Yes, we owe a life of slavery to Christ because He purchased our lives with His own blood (Acts 20:28 & Hebrews 9:14-15). Christians are allowed by God to live anemic lives of selfishness and vanity. They are welcome to trample through His blood as they speak idly of His holy name or substitute complacency for promiscuity. Because God is loving, He will force no one to submit to Him. Nonetheless, because He is righteous and just, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished. On the day of judgment, Christ will not be your friend and companion. He will be the Judge. Is Christ the Lord of your life? If not, bring spiritual slavery to Christ back in style.

Aaron Battey

 

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Why A “Personal Relationship With Jesus” Is a Lie

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Why A “Personal Relationship With Jesus” Is a Lie

The popular plea from evangelical ministers, “You need to have a personal relationship with Jesus,” has been around for years. This mantra tickles people’s ears, makes the eyes sparkle, and leaves the heart feeling peaceful and delighted. That’s all very nice, but…so what? Perhaps discovering where this phrase came from would provide an even more soul stirring enlightenment.
In 1913, Billy Sunday invented the phrase “A personal relationship with God.” This became the motto behind what became known as the Third Great Awakening. That would be a fine and dandy motto if the Bible was written in 1913, but it wasn’t. For Bible believers who value the Word of God to direct their lives (Colossians 3:17), this phrase does not make the cut. Phrases and doctrines that originated centuries after God’s word was fully and finally revealed (Jude 3) should rather stimulate indigestion before peace and delight are to be had. Keith Mathison speaks to this reality very pointedly in his book Dispensationalism: Rightly Diving the People of God?

Historical arguments are not the final test for the truthfulness of any doctrine. Scripture is our sole authority for both doctrine and practice. Yet the history of a doctrine can be highly relevant. We have much more reason to be confident of a doctrine such as the Trinity, which has been taught since the first centuries of the church age, than of a doctrine first taught 150 years ago. As a rule, Christians should be cautious about accepting any doctrine that has never been taught in the history of the church. (1995, R&R Publishing p. 12)

The reasoning expressed by Mathison is supported by nothing short of the Bible itself. In Acts 15 the Jerusalem church elders and apostles wrote a letter to the church at Antioch in order to address Jews who were binding circumcision on Christians. Speaking to this point, the church leaders said the following: “We have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, ‘You must be circumcised and keep the law’ to whom we gave no such commandment,” (Acts 15:24). The last phrase in the quotation stands out. The fact of the matter was this: nowhere in the church’s history or in the Law of Christ (Galatians 6:2) was circumcision ever commanded or even hinted at as a practice to be followed. This example reinforces to importance of looking back to the original teachings of the early church, specifically the official delegates of Jesus being the apostles and prophets (1 John 4:6).
The phrase, “Have a personal relationship with Jesus,” is not found in the Bible. It is not a truthful reality. Rather, this mantra is a cunning lie, fit to attract and idolize man’s selfish construct of God; making God what man would like Him to be instead of what He is in reality. God is our not our “daddy” or extravagant lover. Jesus has not left the right hand of God in order to pet and coddle the Christian in his sin. God is greatly to be feared (Hebrews 10:31). Jesus’ mandates for salvation include leaving all to follow Him (Matthew 19:21-22) rather than Jesus leaving all to follow the Christian.

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

Why Demonic Faith Does Not Save

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Why Demonic Faith Does Not Save

The denominational world has produced much confusion over the Bible subject of faith. So weakened by various false doctrines is the subject of faith that many might burst a carotid vessel as they passionately advocate for belief in Christ, yet they know nothing more about faith than what they are misled into by charismatic evangelists. Open the Bible to follow along with this study on faith to discover if you have the same faith as demons.
First impressions can be deceiving. This is a common and sage piece of advice most people are familiar with. With this advice in mind, consider the fan favorite method of studying the Bible. That method goes as follows: a person opens their Bible at random, he reads a single verse, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31),” he closes his Bible, and he determines he does not like the God of the Bible. Another person opens their Bible at random and reads, “For God so loved that world that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16),” he closes his Bible and determines he likes this gracious God of the Bible who requires nothing more than a stated belief in Jesus. This method of Bible study is at the root of misunderstanding the Bible truth on the subject of faith. Faith is more than a feeling. Faith is more than a confession. Faith is more than a demonic acknowledgment that Jesus is the Christ. The faith of demons is the same faith enlisted by so many religious leaders the world wide.
James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble.” Demons are rational beings, and being rational they could logically deduce that Jesus was the Christ (see Mark 5:6). Demons indeed have faith, but that is not the same as saying that demons have saving faith. With this being said, no proclaimed Christian wants to share the faith of demons. There are at least four key components to a saving faith, and demons only have two of those components.
The four components of a saving faith are here listed. First, saving faith requires knowledge. Knowledge is “what” a person believes in. The Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip to baptize him. Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may,” (Acts 8:37). The Ethiopian eunuch went on to confess the knowledge he was just taught by Philip, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God,” (Acts 8:37). Even demons have knowledge of the Christ. Thus, making this confession did not save the eunuch. Second, saving faith requires mental assent or mental agreement with the knowledge under consideration. The eunuch obviously agreed with the knowledge of the Christ and so do demons (Mark 5:6 and James 2:19). Third, saving faith includes trust or conviction in the stated knowledge. Hebrews 3:18-19 illustrates the idea of trust that is expressed in saving faith. The writer is in the middle of retelling Israel’s disobedience in the wilderness as they journeyed to the rest awaiting them in Canaan when he says the following: “And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Notice two key words: obey and unbelief. When the game is on the line, so to speak, people act on what they truly trust or believe. This brings up the last component of faith. Fourth, saving faith is contingent on obedience. Demons do not obey Christ, and this is why they cannot be saved. Hebrews 3:18-19 should be more than enough to illustrate the point. For volume sake, read also James 2:17-18, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” This does not contradict other passages of the Bible such as Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 4:1-8; rather, it provides clarification on a subject made murky by centuries of false doctrine.
Much, much more could and needs to be said on this subject, but permit these proofs on the subject of faith to be enough for now. Consider one last instructive thought: what is the proper name for someone who says they believe something but act as if they do not? The answer is a liar and a hypocrite. 1 John 2:4 says, “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” Interestingly enough, Satan (a demon) is the father of lies (John 8:44). Consider why you believe what you believe and do not share the same faith as demons.

 

Aaron Battey

http://www.oldpathsadvocate.org

 

MADE IN… MAN’S IMAGE?

 

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MADE IN… MAN’S IMAGE?
Derek Thompson

Is your self-image important to you? Do you take pride in the way that you dress and present yourself before the public? Most would say yes. Why?
The ever-changing world in which we live in today has created a society and a mindset (especially in teenagers and young adults) that the way we view ourselves can never be enough. It has presented for us unrealistic standards of perfection and beauty. No one can be beautiful unless they are thin, have no blemishes, and their hair is made of gold.
Unfortunately, these standards have impacted all of us. None of us are ever truly happy with ourselves. Instead of living up to the standards of God, we instead live up to the standards of men. Let’s examine what God has to say about our self-image and our self-esteem.
It is ignorant to assume that we are to pay no attention to how we view ourselves. Jesus taught that we should love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:39). How can we truly show love to our constituents if we have no love for ourselves?
Now, I am not suggesting that we should consider ourselves perfect. Paul cautions us in this matter in Romans 12:3. He tells us to, “…not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…” (NKJV). We must not attempt to be, “high-minded,” or, “wise in [our] own conceits,” (Romans 11:20; 12:16).
Having too much self-esteem can be prideful and arrogant. Both of which we know are sins (James 4:6, Proverbs 16:5).
But consider the image that our Father has of us, as His creation. He does not look outwardly at our physical appearance, “but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV)
Jesus Himself tells us that, “you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Luke 12:7, NKJV)
So what is the cure? How can we learn to look at ourselves in a newer and better light? To look at ourselves as others see us and as our Father sees us, rather than how society views us? Consider Peter’s admonition in 1 Peter 3:3-4 (NKJV):
“Do not let your adornment be merely outward — arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel — 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.”
Or the psalmist’s in Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV):
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”
God created us in His image (Genesis 1:27). We are to view ourselves according to His image of us, not man’s image.
The following is from my own mind and is my opinion. Take it with a grain of salt.
I feel that women more than often struggle with this more than us men do. Society has placed more image barriers on females than males, and that is not fair to them nor to us. Men, may I encourage us to find our love languages? Women want to feel important and loved. It is our job to do so.
Women, don’t adhere to society’s image of you. Love yourself and who you are, for you are fearfully and wonderfully made.

Derek Thompson

www. oldpathsadvocate.org