- Lies from the Pulpit #1
- 4 lies I’ve told from the pulpit | weeklydevotion
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- Truth in the Pulpit
One way that the devil and his minions attack you is through lies and accusations.
The demons try to convince you that you are not good enough for God. As a baptized follower of Jesus you are a target. At your baptism and at your confirmation you renounced the devil and all His works and all His ways. You have renounced the devil and now his evil spirits are all around you looking for openings to drag you back into slavery to sin and the devil. Look around this morning at the folks to your right and left, in front of you and behind you. Everyone you see is a target for evil spirits tempting them into sin and evil; trying to draw them away from Jesus and His Church.
These, your brothers and sisters in Christ, are targets for demons and you are as well. You are too good for them. Did God really say that you are a sinner? The Bible is just an old book, how can you know any of it is true? The demons are good at what they do. They know which lie or accusations will be most effective for you. Do you tend toward despair? Do you tend toward self-righteousness?
Do you tend to doubt the Word of God? They will tailor an attack just for you; to hit you where you are weak. Do you think you are worse than others? Do you think you are too smart for God? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God. What does Jesus do? Does He have a discussion with the demon?
Does He debate and negotiate with the unclean spirit? Does He try to reason with him? Jesus rebukes the unclean spirit. Jesus silences the demon and drives him out of the man. Jesus still has that authority. The demons are out to get you and your presence here in church brings out their voices of lies and accusations. One that left a bad taste in your mouth and caused you to run away, never to look back?
I have. Many times.
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What is happening, folks? In fact, many times, the behaviors and preaching of the Pastor, elders and deacons have perpetuated it, leading me off the path that Jesus intended me to be on. In many churches, calling anything other than murder and adultery a sin is a serious offense.
Lies from the Pulpit #1
You may be asked to leave the church entirely. I was asked to leave a church last year because I called homosexuality a sin during a Bible study. This was a major no-no in their eyes. There is no explanation for this belief. The services in churches who preach this idea consist of a meshing of practices from Buddhism, Islam and Judaism. Jesus made it clear that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Light. All other gods are false. You need not wonder whether or not the preacher is talking about someone you know. Brothers and sisters, this type of behavior is deplorable and it has got to stop!
What I want to know is why are we still burdened with this inappropriate and offensive style of preaching? Can we even refer to it as preaching? The moment I stepped out of my car and onto the pavement outside this church, I knew I needed to pray. In just a minute, I'm going to read the epistle. But before I do, I want to point out several things to watch for while I read.
4 lies I’ve told from the pulpit | weeklydevotion
First, two key words stand out in the opening verses of this text: love and truth. He mentions love four times in the first six verses, and he mentions truth five times in the first four verses. Recognizing those key expressions is the key to understanding what the epistle is about. Second, pay attention to one other word that stands out because of repeated use at the start of this epistle.
It's the verb walk. John uses various forms of the verb "to walk" three times in verses , and he links it with both love and truth. You have the expression "walking in the truth" in the middle of verse 4; and then verse 6 talks about how "we walk according to his commandments. And walk in the truth. Those aren't two different paths, but two sets of parallel boundaries that mark the one narrow way every believer is supposed to stay on.
The stress on obeying commandments is a third thing I want to you to see. And all Jesus' commandments are summarized and embodied in the one New Commandment Jesus gave in John The New Commandment is a running theme in John's writings. He mentions it, for example, in 1 John , and now he reiterates it here in 2 John 5: "not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. All the other commandments of Christ are simply specific applications of the principle of love.
Remember that Jesus Himself said the first and second great commandments are both about love: love for God and love for one's neighbor. In other words, to walk in love is to walk in the commandments, and vice versa. And to walk in the commandments is o walk in the truth. These are complementary, not contradictory, ideas. Love and truth go hand in hand; they do not oppose one another.
That fact alone debunks one of the greatest falsehoods of the current postmodern generation: far from being incompatible, truth and love are essential partners in righteousness. And the apostle John clearly sees it as the duty of every Christian to walk in truth and to walk in love. Throughout this epistle it is as if he is emphatically refusing to portray those as conflicting duties.
You can't fulfill one without the other. You cannot genuinely walk in love unless you are also walking in truth; and you cannot walk in truth unless you are also walking in love. Love and truth, though distinct virtues, are inextricably linked with such a symbiotic relationship that you cannot neglect one without destroying the other. How that works out in practical terms is the whole theme of this short epistle.
Now watch for those themes as I read it. Here's the whole epistle, thirteen verses, start to finish:. Now we have the meat of his message:]. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. Several questions immediately come to mind: Who is this elect lady? What does John mean when he calls himself "the elder"? What prompts him to deal with this topic—a question that is important to every church in every age—and yet he writes about it in a very short personal letter addressed to a singular individual, and a woman, no less?
Let's consider those questions, because it will help us better understand the context in which the apostle is writing. And by the way, there's no real question about the author of this epistle, even though he never gives his name. John never named himself in his gospel account, either. When the flow of the narrative in the gospel of John made it necessary for John to mention himself, he always referred to himself as "another disciple"—or as he does four times in John 20 and once in John 18 "the other disciple.
Here, writing many years after he wrote his gospel, he calls himself "the elder. The style and phrasing as well as the content and logic of this epistle likewise contain strong echoes of the gospel of John. The fourth gospel and the three epistles starting with 1 John were clearly penned by the same mind, and the internal evidence proves it was John.
The gospel of John practically begins with John's eyewitness testimony harkening back to the transfiguration John : "The Word was made 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. Just as the gospel of John and 1 John bear those marks of commonality, in a similar way 1 John and 2 John clearly came from the same mind and the same pen. In fact, everything in 2 John is an echo of the larger themes of 1 John, until you get down to verses Those two verses are the only new ideas in 2 John that have not already been covered by 1 John.
And it seems to me that the unique content of verses reveal John's primary motive in writing. This is the main point he wants to convey to this woman—verses And we'll look closely at those two verses before the end of the hour. But the point here is that the internal evidence suggests not only that the apostle John was the author, but also that he wrote it after his first epistle—perhaps to clarify a point left unspoken in that epistle, or most likely to answer a question that had been prompted by the first epistle.
And here in typical Johannine fashion, rather than writing his name, John calls himself "the elder. It was also often used in the Jewish culture as a title of respect and veneration for men in high positions of spiritual leadership. Members of the Sanhedrin, for example, are called "elders" several times in the gospel accounts. But the word's primary and fundamental meaning, of course, is "one who is advanced in age. He was well advanced in age by the time he wrote the epistles.
He was the last of the twelve original apostles to die. He lived well into his 90s and died of old age, most likely around 98 BC—after a long lifetime of faithful ministry, giving pastoral oversight to the church at Ephesus, then living in exile on the island of Patmos. I've been to Patmos, and it's about 13 square miles, less than a quarter-mile wide at its narrowest point in the middle. It's far enough off the coast of Turkey in the Aegean sea that you couldn't get to the mainland by swimming.
It's barren—not the kind of place you would want to be exiled without an Internet connection. But in his old age John was sent there by Rome. He was apparently consigned to a remote cave on a mountainside at the edge of this tiny island. He was by then the last surviving apostle, universally well known and highly respected in the church, to the extent that the Roman government considered him a serious threat. So he was exiled to this out-of-the-way place. In this epistle John makes no mention of Patmos or its hardships, so it was most likely written from Ephesus, near the end of John's ministry there, just before he was sent into exile.
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He was a very old man already, as the name he gives himself implies. If John is using it as a title rather than a reference to his advanced age—or even if he has both ideas in mind—this likewise would suggest that he is writing from Ephesus, where he is still serving, in effect, as senior pastor. It's not clear whom he is writing to or where he is sending this letter.
Some think "the elect lady and her children" is a cryptic reference to a congregation—not an individual woman, but an entire church collectively. Others think it was a specific woman whose actual name was Electa. But the most natural and least problematic view is that it's a prominent woman who was well-known throughout the early church. Perhaps she was a woman who cared for orphans, and that would explain the dual reference to her "children. Then in verse 4 he says, "I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth"—as if he had encountered some of them in his travels, no longer living under her roof.
She might have had a large family of her own, or she may have taken in orphans. There's no way to know for sure, but these references—and the theme of the whole epistle—makes perfect sense if we assume this was a prominent woman with the gift of hospitality and with access to sufficient resources that she used her home as a kind of hospitality center for the church in some populated crossroads or key city somewhere in the Roman Empire.
He doesn't identify the woman by name or city, not only perhaps because she was sufficiently well-known in the church, but also because naming her might subject her to Roman scrutiny or extra persecution from those who were so eager to get the apostle himself out of the way. But it doesn't matter because his ultimate audience is not this singular individual. He has more than her in mind as he writes, because the second-person pronouns are plural.
You see it even in English in verse 8: "Watch yourselves. He obviously wants her to share this epistle with others, possibly even circulate it to multiple churches. That's certainly what happened with the epistle, and what the Holy Spirit intended, because it found its way into our canon. And that means the message of this short epistle applies to you and me as well.
And at the end of the day, the identity of this woman and other background details are not what's important about this epistle. The message is. It's a clear message with just two points: First verses he encourages her to walk in truth by manifesting the love of Christ. Then verses he urges her to manifest the love of Christ by safeguarding truth.
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His central point is that love and truth are perfectly symbiotic and inseparable. My former pastor, Warren Wiersbe, used to say, "Love without truth is hypocrisy; truth without love is brutality. Truth without love has no power; love without truth has no character. Try to separate truth from love or vice versa, and you destroy both virtues.
So let's look at the Apostle's two points in the order he makes them. First, verses :. I'm sure you are aware that there are people who claim to be defending the truth by spewing hate. You see them on the news from time to time—people who plaster hate-filled messages on placards and picket funerals or otherwise target people in distress in a purposely hostile way—and who think they are doing God a favor by acting that way. They are usually religious fanatics who are so enthralled with the themes of human guilt and divine wrath and the curse of the law and eternal punishment that they never talk about anything else.
I went to the Rose parade a few years ago and there was a noisy group of religious miscreants who were marching along the parade route with signs that said "God Kills"; "God is Angry"; and "Jesus Caused [September 11]. They despise any mention of God's love, and they hold their neighbors in high contempt. The attitude they embody is the polar opposite of loving your neighbor as yourself.
Truth in the Pulpit
What they are doing has absolutely nothing to do with truth, except that it makes a mockery of truth and brings a reproach in the eyes of the world against anyone who genuinely loves the truth. At best, these people with their protest-signs are proclaiming half-truths, and Satan himself—the father of lies—is a master at doing that. To declare a truth especially a partial truth in an unloving way and with unloving motives is frankly to assault the truth.
Hatred, arrogance, and contempt for one's neighbors are the fruits of falsehood and human pride. Those things have nothing whatsoever to do with truth. Indeed, the singular, distinctive fruit of the truth is love —compassionate love; brotherly love; humble, warm-hearted, self-giving love; the kind of love embodied in the sacrifice of Christ John : "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.