Deeper Life

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Archive for the tag “Timothy”

Recovering Foundation Truths of the Christian Faith – Intro

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I recently had the privilege again of hearing a message preached by Pastor Glenn Loewen at Portage Evangelical Church in Portage la Prairie on the topic of Itching Ears and the passage of scripture found in 2Tim. 4.1-5. These verses have captivated my attention for many years and I believe that the prophetic words shared by Pastor Glen in this message are a confirmation of what the Spirit has been speaking to me. I suggest that we are indeed living in the time that the Apostle Paul predicted many hundreds of years ago when we wrote a warning to Timothy a young minister: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (2Tim. 4.3-4).

False teaching:

In his book “Spiritual Avalanche” the late evangelist Steve Hill warns the church of an impending spiritual avalanche that could spiritually wipe out the faith of millions of Christians. The following is a summary of some of the great lies [false teachings] that Steve identifies as being taught in the church today:

Overemphasis of Prosperity: Undoubtedly, some adherents of the carnal prosperity message are motivated by greed. For them, preaching Jesus is a means of financial gain, something Paul rebuked in the strongest possible terms, speaking of men “of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Tim. 6:5).

Antinomianism – long word, simple meaning. The word literally means “against law.” It begins with an overemphasis on the grace message that then leads to complete antinomianism. In practice, it means that “anything goes,” since Jesus has set us free. The problem is, Jesus didn’t set us free to sin; He set us free from sin.

Deification of Man: Many false teachings today start with man rather than with God. In contrast, when Paul laid out the gospel message in Romans, he started with God and then went to man: God is holy and we are not; He is righteous and we are not; we are under His judgment and in need of mercy, and that mercy comes through the cross.

Today’s gospel, especially in America, has a very different ring to it; rather than being all about God, it’s all about me. Just as the American way is to make everything bigger and better, the American gospel says that Jesus came to make you into a bigger and better you. That is not the gospel!

Challenging the Authority of the Word: The challenging of God’s authority goes back to the Garden of Eden, starting with the serpent’s challenge to Eve: “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1). This satanic challenge was twofold: First, did God really say that? And second, God didn’t really mean what He said. After all, you won’t die if you eat from the tree (vv. 1-5).

Rejecting Hell: Nowhere is this questioning of God’s Word seen any more clearly than when it comes to the subject of hell and future punishment. And because we preach an imbalanced gospel—emphasizing God’s love and ignoring His wrath, emphasizing His mercy and ignoring His justice—we no longer have room for hell and future punishment in our theology.

Universal Reconciliation: Universal reconciliation promotes a get-out-of-jail-free mentality—that in the end, everyone will make it into heaven because of Jesus’ death on the cross. (In contrast, universalism teaches that all paths lead to God.) There may be future suffering, but it will be purging rather than punishment, and ultimately everyone will be saved.

Immaturity:

In the Epistles to the church in Corinth the apostle Paul addresses a number of perplexing issues that require a stern response in the form of two letters know to us today as First and Second Corinthians. The underlining problem in the Corinthian church seemed to be rooted in an absence of spiritual maturity. He writes in 1 Corinthians 3:2 “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready”. He describes the Corinthians as exhibiting qualities that would be likened to being “mere infants in Christ” (v. 1). One of the principal reasons used to make this judgement is found in verse three: “for since there is still jealousy and dissension among you, are you not influenced by the flesh and behaving like unregenerate people?”[1]

We can observe a similar lack of spiritual development in the modern, western church, where for the most part we focus on the watered down version of the gospel and avoid the “solid food” of the cross. We see a dearth of gospel preaching that focuses on the crucified Christ, his death, and resurrection and how this reality “impacts our entire Christian life”.[2]

Apostasy:

In the Old Testament God warned the Jewish people about their idolatry and their lack of trust in him and his ways. In the New Testament the epistles warn us about not falling away from the truth. “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it [Jesus’ return] will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thess. 2:3).[3] This verse tells us that there will be an apostasy that is associated with the coming of the Antichrist.  Most Christians are looking for the arrival of the Antichrist, but very few are looking for “the apostasy” that must come before. 
As Christians we ask this question, “Is there an apostasy in the Christian church today?”  The answer is that as we anticipate the arrival of the Antichrist, we should also be looking for an increase in apostasy. When we carefully examine the word of God and compare the present-day Church it becomes evident that we are on the road to Apostasy.

The solution: The Foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ

We are in a state of emergency and we are in danger of losing our way. The foundation of the church is disintegrating and being swallowed up in the tide of “post-modern” ideology. We are in need of a recovery program. We must reclaim ground and begin reconstruction.

The first step is to ensure that we have a solid, lasting foundation to build upon. I believe that God today is calling the church to a place of reconstruction. We cannot wait and we must begin at once before we find ourselves in a critical situation. The first stage in this labour will be to make sure that we have the firm foundation. We need something to build upon that is not of this world for the bible says that this world is passing way (1Cor. 7.31). We need something that is lasting and will stand up to everything; every awful thing that this world can throw its way. Every war, every drought, every storm, every plague, every deficiency, every disaster, every catastrophic event, every force that is not of this world. Something that can even stand up against the gates of hell when they try to prevail (Matt 16.18). What is this foundation?

The Gospel of Jesus Christ:

1 Corinthians 3:11, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ”. I believe that the solution to the apparent deficiency in the church is found in a return to fundamental gospel truths. Once again we must expound upon the message of Christ and the significance of His death and resurrection, until those who will listen will respond to what is being said. Perhaps over time the appetites of the many will be changed and become “ready” for solid, Christ-centered teaching and preaching.

There is one true foundation and that is the person of Jesus Christ. The knowledge and experience of Christ forms the basis of Christianity. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;  But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22—23).[4] And again in chapter two, For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (v. 2). Jesus himself is the foundation of the church that bears His name.

The First Ways:

In the next few blogs articles we will examine further the teachings of Jesus Christ. We will be looking at key scriptures found in the gospels that will give valuable instruction for laying the solid foundation that we so desperately need. My desire and prayer is that as we proceed through this study we will be better prepared to be involved in the building of the church of Jesus Christ. I am praying that we will go deeper then we have ever gone before in our understanding of the foundational (first) truths that are found in the New Testament. These same truths that were the roots of Christianity and vital to the early followers of Jesus Christ.

[1] New English Translation (NET)

[2] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 124

[3] New American Standard Bible

[4] King James Version (KJV)

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