Week of: May 23, 2011
Sharing by: Pam Crawford
1 THESSALONIANS 5:21
“Test everything. Hold onto the good.”
The Lighted Pathway
When I look out in the world today I see a world that appears to be headed down the wrong path. I see very independent; self oriented individuals who continue to embrace the next best thing. I see people who have fallen away from the principles introduced by the founding fathers/mothers of this great country. Principles derived from their dependence on the Word of God. What was the difference between now and then? The majority of the people then valued their Bible and they used it as a daily guidepost.
Guidepost: “anything serving as a guide; guideline.”
In this country today, it appears that we are not anchored to any one particular guidepost. It appears to be a free-for-all. With so many choices, how does one select correctly? May I suggest when it comes to religion, God, and the Bible, that we don’t fall prey to the next best sounding idea? It is important that we check it out against the Word of God. This is what Jude (Jesus’ half-brother) was telling the people in his short, one-chapter portion of the New Testament. His audience was vulnerable to heresy and they were tempted to engage in immoral living. Within this one chapter he warns about sin and the doom of godless men, the danger of false teachers, a call to persevere, and the duty to fight for God’s truth. He was reminding the church of the need to be vigilant, to remain strong in faith, and to oppose heresy. I believe we need this same reminder today.
Heresy: “opinion or doctrine at variance with the orthodox or accepted doctrine, especially of a church or religious system.”
With so much religious “doctrine” and opinion in the world today, it is important that we understand what Jude was attempting to teach. I encourage you to read his account. According to different commentaries he was trying to get people to understand that the Bible is not to be compromised, because it gives us real facts about Jesus and our need for salvation. It also teaches how one should conduct himself/herself. When we surrender to its authority it becomes our guidepost. God will help us understand it and He will empower us to teach it forward correctly (Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 5:12-14). If we will remain faithful, God’s presence will accompany us every step of the way.
Doctrine: “ a particular principle, position, or policy taught or advocated, as of a religion or government.”
In my zeal to explore and share God’s Word, I was reminded of an article I read by John Ritenbaugh titled Religious Confusion and You. In it he reminds us that we cannot forget a few basic principles of Bible study. I think this might be very helpful to us as we continue to work at understanding the one true and reliable source, the Holy Bible. Be blessed.
Confusion and You (excerpt)
by John Ritenbaugh
1) Here a little, there a little (Isaiah 28:9-13): God did not organize the Bible so that all information on a given subject falls in one chapter or book. The whole Bible must concur before we can truly call a theological concept "truth."
2) A positive approach (Acts 17:11-12): God left us a wonderful example of a people who sought to prove the truths of God rather than disprove them. He can work with those who have submissive minds, receptive to His revelation.
3) A desire to please God (II Timothy 2:15): Our study should be intended to merit God's approval of our lives. He is not impressed with scholarship or intelligence, but He does respect godly living and spiritual growth (Psalm 111:10; II Peter 3:18; I John 3:22).
4) No private interpretation (II Peter 1:20-21): The Word of God and the understanding of it are revealed by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:6-16). Any personal understanding or interpretation must agree in all points with the Bible, or spring without violence from its principles (cf. II Peter 3:16)—otherwise an idea is nothing more than an opinion and maybe a dangerous one.
5) Humility (I Corinthians 8:1-3): It is a good idea to remember that many others, probably wiser, have faced the same questions before us. The history of the true church of God through the centuries should be considered and the decisions of its leaders taken seriously.
6) Seek counsel (Proverbs 24:6): Not only should one bring vexing questions to the ministry, but one should also seek wise advice from brethren, both inside and outside one's normal circle of friends. After mentioning it to others, give them time to study the subject thoroughly themselves and reply before drawing any conclusions.
7) Prayer and meditation (Psalm 119:33-40, 97-99): Seeking God's will and considering the ramifications of our ideas are absolutely vital to proper Bible study. Others, weaker in the faith, may not be able to survive our "spirituality" (I Corinthians 8:9, 11-13).
If we apply these principles to our Bible study, we will go a long way toward diminishing the confusion over doctrine both within and out of the Body of Christ. And, importantly, we will be heeding the advice of our Elder Brother, "Take heed that no one deceives you" (Matthew 24:4).
Note to my readers:
It is my prayer that you have found this information both helpful and encouraging. I believe like Jude did that we must be careful not to become so much like the world, that no one can tell us apart. It should be apparent in our character, and the way that we respond in this world, that there is something different about us. With God’s help and our continuing desire to explore and discover new things in God’s Word, we can influence people to Christ instead of them influencing us to remain in sin. Hang in there.
Jude 1:22-23 “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."
"We live in the same kind of sinful world today that has always existed. The good news is that God is still on His throne." - Pastor Don Cole
In Christ by grace,