Dear Children

Letters From A Father's Heart

Archive for the month “October, 2014”

The River Of God

Dear Children,

Let me start this by pointing you to a verse from a Psalm:

He opened the rock and water flowed out;
It ran in the dry places like a river.

You find that Psalm 105  is an outline of the Old Testament.  So if you would like to keep in mind that there an abbreviated version of the Old Testament in the Old Testament,  write that down.  But the point I’d like to make now is that in the midst of this summary God saw reason to include the event of Moses striking the rock and the water flowing forth to run “in the dry places like a river“.  You can find the expanded version of this event in Exodus 17.  It tells the story of the Israelites crying out to Moses that they were thirsty and then God telling Moses to strike a certain rock with his staff for water.  When He did the water poured forth.  This is important because it was symbolic of Jesus, the rock of our salvation, being struck for our transgressions.

With this in mind, let us jump forward to John 7:37-38 in the last days of Jesus on earth:

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.

Here again Jesus Himself is pointing to a river that was to come and was yet at hand.  This river would not flow across land however but would flow in the spirit across time and through the hearts of men through the ages.  This “river” would be the Church of Jesus, the Christ.  It would be like a river that began at the foot of the cross and which would meandered through time to our present day.  It still flows from 2000 years ago to our present day and time, and it will flow to the end, the very last second of time as we know it.  It was never in danger of drying up.  At no time was it in danger of being dammed or dispersed by the hand of man, though lots of blood has flowed, lots of tears have been cried, and lots of resources have been expended in such attempts.

Also, this river can be traced.  When we look back over time, the teachings of Jesus have not changed.  That is not to say that there have never been any false teachers who have wanted to dig their own canals.  There have always been those, just as there is today.  It was prophesied by the source of the river itself.  Man is at war with God and his rebellion takes on many forms. But we can be comforted in knowing that no man will ever stop this river:

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
The holy dwelling places of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her, she will not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns. (NASU Ps 46:4-5)

The question you must answer is, are you planted by this river?  Are your roots being nourished by its waters?  Or are you planted next to a canal dug by men and have your roots tapped into a “new thing”.  Or, are you planted in the desert and receiving no water at all ?  Do your teachers look with embarrassment or disgust at the teachings of old?  Does man’s “wisdom” trump God’s Word in your, or your teacher’s,  eyes?  These are important questions that you must ever answer as you continually guard your hearts.

So let me pass along to you, my dear ones, a warning, and some comfort from Jesus from his words in the Gospel of John, chapter 10.

” Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.  But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.  And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.  And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

Jesus has led His sheep and He has been their shepherd for 2000 years.  His Spirit has endwelt His people and they have known Him, but more importantly, He has known them.  He was not upset when man’s reference point for understanding the movement of heavenly bodies transitioned from the face of the earth to the sun. He is not troubled by layers of rock that some point to as proof of an old earth.  He is not confused about how He created men to be different than women.  His Word is just as trustworthy and true today as it has ever been.  Do not fret over the carryings on of men who are, in their hearts, at war with their Creator, who is your God. But rather trust in the LORD!

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.  For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. ” (Jer 17:7-8)

Tap your roots into the living water, and feast on the Bread of Life, and there bear fruit for your God and King.

My hope and prayer for you, my dear children, would be that you would plant yourselves next to this river yourself so that you would not be blown from one strange doctrine to another, like the waves on the ocean.  Put God’s Word in your heart.  Meditate on it day and night.  Pray earnestly that God would not let you be led astray, that He would hold you fast in the storms of life, as will I be also praying for you.

With great love,

Your father

Part II On Doctrine. Why Is Doctrine Shunned?

Dear Children

As I pointed out in my last letter, more often than not doctrine will take a back seat in your 21st century Christian experience.  I also promised that in this letter I would attempt to answer the question, why is doctrine shunned in this day?

The short answer is that doctrine causes division, which is a fair claim I think.  Adolf Hitler, so it is said, claimed Christianity as his religion.  Whether he actually did or not I don’t know, nor do I care, for who in this day would judge the divisions brought about by Hitler’s doctrines harshly? No, any such divisions ought to be considered profitable.

As we can see, division in and of itself is not always a bad thing.  While Paul admonishes true Christians to be unified, he at the same time was sharply divisive when it involved the preaching of a false Gospel:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:8-9)

At the root of these strong words is doctrine.  Paul would not have another doctrine on the Gospel.  Yet we can see here Paul passionately admonishing believers to be unified:

“Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.  Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor 1:10-13)

At the core of Paul’s teaching is sound doctrine.  Not all are going to interpret the scriptures in the same way, and as such not all will have the same doctrines.  But this is not to say that doctrine in and of itself should be rejected even though it is sure to cause a certain amount of division, even among true believers.  But remember that it is not doctrine that is the problem, it is the division within the Body that is the problem.  Now with this in mind, let us go back to God’s Word and look at Paul’s instructions to Timothy:

“In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following”.  (1 Tim 4:6)

Paul also warns of a time, very much like your own time, when doctrine would be considered a negative:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires…” (2 Tim 4:3)

So what do we do with this?  To begin with let us remember that all people know that the world is messed up, and they are ever searching for ways to escape its problems. Some use drugs or alcohol. Some latch onto a “cause” that they are convinced, if enacted, will fix everything that is wrong. And some use diversions of pleasure and thrills which are too many to count.

Those seeking this escape will find their way into your church in their quest for eluding this world’s ills.  The Gospel however has nothing to do with escaping the ills of this world but rather it has everything to do with escaping the wrath of God.  Many, not all, of these will reject that their own sinfulness deserves this wrath and so will reject the doctrines of the gospel.  But this does not mean that they will move on, having rejected the true Gospel.  Rather they will stay with a vision of turning “Church” into another one of their causes or diversions.

Be sure that they will not be content with your doctrine of the good news of Christ Jesus.  Instead they will create their own Jesus to worship in your midst.  But this Jesus will bear no resemblance to the Jesus of scripture.   This Jesus won’t care about how you live, he won’t care about God’s law, and he will love your sin.  In short, this Jesus will not love you enough to warn you of the wrath that is to come.  (Mt. 3:7-12) They will insist that this Jesus only desires that more people come and escape from reality by singing songs about how much their Jesus loves us.  These folks will have no taste for doctrine, much less sound doctrine.  If you are attending a church that does not teach, or otherwise shuns, sound doctrine, that church and its people will be defenseless against worldly infections.  The world will challenge, deceive and ultimately commandeer that church in the name of love and unity, and it will do so without fear of the division its actions will cause, and with no shame of its hatred for true Christianity.  So please, dear children, heed Paul’s warnings and worship at a church that holds to and teaches sound doctrine.

Think about it.  If you were to put all who claim Jesus in a really large group, it wouldn’t take long before divisions would arise.  Some in that group will have been indoctrinated to believe that the Bible is only a book written by men and is not dependable.  Others will have been indoctrinated by the culture and will reject all teachings in the Bible that do not align with the doctrines of culture.  Others will allow their own feelings and experiences to trump scripture. And on and on it will go.  Division.  But the true Church will be unified!

If you are to be a student of the Word of God you will be called upon to engage with this world, as well as other Christians, some of which will be fake, yes, but others will be true sons of the living God who may hold to slightly different doctrines than your own.  Pick your battles wisely.  Always let your gentleness be evident to all, regardless.  Both will sharpen your sword, and that is good.  But whatever you do, do not shy away from doctrine in favor of some worldly concept of unity.  Remember these words of Jesus:  “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division…“(Luke 12:51)

So dear Children, I pray that you would keep and guard sound doctrine near and dear to your heart, and that you would not stray from that narrow path.  I pray also that you would fix your gaze upon the Author and Finisher of your faith, your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  May He give you revelation so that you will be able to discard unbiblical doctrines while holding fast to biblical ones.  In Jesus name I beseech you LORD for these things.

Your father

About Doctrine (part I)

Dear Children

Some things scare us that ought not.  Some things get a bad reputation when they should be honored.  Doctrine is one of those things.  Life will provide you with experiences that will teach you this well as you watch doctrine, more often than not, take a back seat in your 21st century Christian walk.

So why is this? To answer let us first consider another word:  “zeitgeist”.  This is just a fancy way of saying “the spirit of the age”.  Pick any given time or place in history or the present and you’ll find that there is a general way of thinking that is found acceptable in that place or age.  You are now living in a time and place, or within a zeitgeist, in which your society has embraced a way of thinking that denies objective truth.  That is to say that “truth” is subjective, which simply means that it is derived from a person’s own internal opinions and not reality.  You will hear it stated like this: “What is true for one person is not necessarily true for another”. Of course this is an absurd and unworkable zeitgeist, but nevertheless, it is the source from which your society’s values are plucked and you need to understand that.

The word “doctrine” is in some ways similar to the word “zeitgeist” because it means “teaching”.  When you think about it, it would be silly to assume that our society woke up one morning and said to itself, “Today we think we’ll just disconnect ourselves from a historical understanding of truth and instead make up our own truth as we go.”  No, we know that didn’t happen.  Our society’s  way of thinking was instilled over time.  It was first incubated in universities and finally found its way via the graduates to the public schools and it eventually became the doctrine of the public institutions of education and finally our society.  Consequently, most everyone you will meet in your lives, even in most churches, will have been programed to think in this way from his early childhood on, and it will never occur to him to question the origins of “the thoughts that he thinks”.  It will be as normal to him as the sun rising in the east.  Anything different will be seen as strange and foreign.

With all this in mind let us now consider another word: “indoctrination”.  You might notice the word “doctrine” as the root of that word.  To teach people to think in a certain way is to indoctrinate them, much like one might program a computer to process data in a certain way.  That’s probably the reason words like “doctrine” and “indoctrinate” are unpopular words, in the same way “brainwashing” is an unpopular word.  Why is this?  The simple answer is that Man is proud.  He does not want to humble himself before God.  And he does not like to think that he is not ultimately sovereign in how his own brain processes the information it receives.  He does want to think that he thinks as he does because of his own preferences and rationale.  But like it or not, we have all been indoctrinated, or brainwashed if you wish, to interpret our world through a certain set of lenses.  The question is never IF we have been indoctrinated, but rather by whom?!

Pontius Pilate rightly asked Jesus, “What is truth?”, though he didn’t give Jesus credit for knowing the answer.  But Jesus claimed to be the Way, the Truth, and the Life, so perhaps we should go to our Bibles and see what we can draw up from that deep well of truth, for as you might imagine, it is by no means silent on this subject.  You see, your Creator knows that you will be indoctrinated into one way of thinking or another, indeed he created you to be.  The only question is, will you give yourself over to be indoctrinated into whatever the current zeitgeist is, or will you indoctrinate your own self into a Godly way of thinking?  With that in mind let us go to His Word and see what God has to say about doctrine.

Paul urges us in Romans 12  to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”  So what is Paul saying here but to re-indoctrinate ourselves into a new way of thinking?

But that’s not all.  As I renew my own mind I learn that God has plans for you, my children, and He commands me to indoctrinate you as well.   He commands parents in Deuteronomy 6:

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.”

So not only are you under my authority while you are young,  I am also under God’s authority and therefore am responsible to Him to indoctrinate you.

There are too many passages to post them all here, but let me add just one more that, as you know,  is one of my favorites in which God contrasts the two basic kinds of indoctrinations of our minds:

For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:5-8)

Now I realize that all this talk about indoctrination sounds kind of bad.  But I remind you that the question is never IF we are indoctrinated, but by whom?  Will we ultimately be indoctrinated by the “prince of the power of the air”, or  by consuming the Bread of Life which is the Word of God?  That IS the question.  There is no third option.

In my next letter I will continue on this subject by answering the question, why is doctrine shunned in this day?  But let me finish this letter by saying that God is the ultimate “brain-washer”.  I may try to indoctrinate you and myself in obedience, but it is God who ultimately does the work.  For this reason we must all pray and ask God that He would carry this out and finish this work in us and each other, and that His will will be done in all of us.

So, may the words of your mouth and the meditations of your hearts be acceptable in His sight.

Your father

*When The Trunk Is Cut, The Tree Will Fall

Dear Children,

The three words, “Hath God Said” were used by the serpent when he tempted Eve.  She and Adam were in paradise.  They knew not war, famine, sickness or evil.  There, God had given them but one law to obey. Just one. And they disobeyed it.  When the serpent uttered these three little words, Eve listened, Adam obliged, and they became the ax set to the trunk of their existence, and the whole thing fell down.

Thousands of years later nothing has changed.  Satan continues to whisper these three words into the ears of man, and man still listens.  Now, while it may seem like a simple thing to trust God and not Satan, it is more difficult of a thing to do than you might think.  Let’s look at what God says in Matthew 7:14:  “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  These are God’s words.  And like the law in Eden, they are simple and straightforward enough.  But as you live your life you will learn that believing His Word is more of a challenge than it would seem from the outset. Add to this that, by trusting God, you will be going against the flow of your culture, and it gets even more difficult. You must constantly ask yourself, do I truly believe?

In the passage above, Jesus paints a picture of throngs of humanity shuffling along a wide road.  No one knows or cares about where the road they’re on is leading, they just go along with what everyone else is doing. They want and need to fit in. But He also speaks of a tiny little gate and a tiny little path beyond it that goes largely unnoticed. When it is noticed it is ridiculed or ignored.  But some notice, and then they enter the gate and begin walking along a wholly different path than the rest of humanity.  And over time their values and their thinking become different than that of those on the wide path.  They are changed.

So what does this have to do with the question, “Hath God said?”.   Well, by the time you are adults wickedness will have increased in many ways.  One of these ways is that, not only will two men be able to marry each other in your society, but you will not be allowed to say that God’s Word stands against such things.  This is understandable because those demanding of you this silence are on the wide path, and the Bible is clear that God gives such people over to the lusts of their own hearts.  But more importantly, and increasingly, there will be many who claim to be on the narrow path who will agree with this perversion and will even call it righteous, loving and good.  They have answered the question, “hath God said” and emphatically said “No! He did not in fact say”.   These will be easy to spot because they argue from man’s wisdom and personal feelings, and not from God’s word.  And, they will have much more confidence in what is popular than in what God says.

With this in mind consider that Jesus gives us this parable of the broad and narrow ways in verses 13 and 14.   Some Bibles, you will note, separate certain verses with little headers as if Jesus’ thought had transitioned to something new.  But this is not necessarily so.  This little parable of the two paths, in fact, is followed by a warning: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”  The train of thought concerning the gate and the path continues. And even though they knew that Jesus warned that many will come to Him in the end and claim to have been on the narrow path, He will send them away as workers of lawlessness.

You see, taking the narrow gate, and walking along the narrow path, is going to set you apart. You will not be popular, and this will tend to put you, like Adam and Eve, at a crossroads.  You will be faced many times with a decision between following what God says and displeasing man, or following your carnal inclinations and thereby asking yourselves,  Hath God really said?

The many judge the Church according to man’s ever-changing standards because they, in the end, didn’t believe that God actually said what He said.  But be sure that God never commands His Church to win the approval of the darkened hearts of the masses. ( Rom 1:21) On the contrary, he calls the masses to repent from their wicked ways and to come and follow Him.

Believing what God says in His Word is the trunk of the tree of your faith, and not believing what God said is the same as taking an ax to that trunk and expecting it to still stand.

I pray that your Father in heaven will sustain your faith so that it will withstand the onslaught of this world, and that you will finish this life well, steeped in faith.

Your father.

 

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