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A Very Scary Bible Verse!!! Matthew 4:19

November 10, 2014

If you were asked to name some of the scariest verses in the Bible, what would they be? Perhaps Revelation 19:15, “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty?” Or maybe Luke 12:5, “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!” would be one of your scariest verses?! Maybe one of the scariest verses is Revelation 20:15, “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” These verses are all very sobering in light of the final judgment and the wrath of God against sinners. They shake us out of our slumber to think about eternal destinies: ours and the world of people around us. But it seems we miss too many other verses that should rattle us to our core. There are verses that we see over and over and think nothing about the far reaching implications of them but only of the seeming immediate ‘meaning’ of them. Let’s look at one of them.

Matthew 4:19, “And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Or as the New Living Translation says, “Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Well this verse seems innocent enough on its surface reading. Jesus as He finds His initial disciples calls them to Himself and promises that He will make them a new kind of fishermen. When Peter and James were called by Jesus they were regular fishermen in the Sea of Galilee earning their day to day living through a routine job. Jesus plays upon their vocation and says “Yes, you are men who gather fish for a living, but leave this vocation and I will make you men who ‘fish’ for men’s souls.”

We see the disciples after Christ’s ascension do this very thing. Throughout the book of Acts and through the rest of the letters of the New Testament, we see these very disciples doing everything they can to reach the world for Jesus Christ! Ten of the eleven, after Judas committed suicide, were martyred for preaching Christ to the nations and seeking to ‘fish’ for men’s souls.

In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus tells His disciples again, “Go, make disciples…” Again, Jesus commands them to ‘go fish for men.’ The word ‘disciple’ simply means ‘follower’. This is an interesting parallel with Matthew 4:19 where Jesus had issued the command to “Follow me…” The historic church has long recognized this command as universal for the church at large throughout time. We too are called to make disciples of the nations. And this is where Matthew 4:19 gets very, very scary.

Jesus has defined what a disciple and follower of Him is: it is one who fishes for other men. Notice the root and fruit issue in the verse. The root or cause is “Follow me.” What is the fruit or result? Note the words: “I WILL (emphasis added) make you fishers of men.” Now in light of modern discussions among professed believers, many say they just don’t have the gift to witness to others. But this flies directly in the face of what Christ says. He says His disciples WILL BE(!) fishers of men. We say, “I follow Jesus but I don’t fish for men.” Who should have the final say of what a disciple is? Professed Christians or Jesus? The answer is obvious.

Jesus says He makes anyone who follows Him a fisher of men. Do you fish? Do you evangelize lost people? Do you look for them, search for them, invest in them with not only your lives but the very gospel of the Lord Jesus? How can any professing Christian claim to have assurance of salvation who does not share the gospel with lost men? It is irreconcilable with what Jesus says!

Matthew 4:19 is a sign of a true believer: they fish for men’s souls. The logic is simple and straightforward. Those who fish for men are those who follow Him. The opposite is also true: those who do not fish for men’s souls do NOT follow Him. And to follow Jesus is what salvation is, it’s what a disciple is defined as by Jesus Himself! So let’s measure our lives in light of what God says and not minimize the full impact of this verse. Based on your life in regards to fishing for men, are you saved or not? Are you a follower or not? Jesus is true: those who follow Him, He MAKES them fishers of men. Has Jesus changed you? How do we know we are His disciples: “You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Mat 7:16) A truly saved person is one shows it by fishing for me. Jesus is not saying we are saved by evangelizing. But He is saying if the fruit of evangelism is not in your life, then you can be certain that the root of your life has not been changed by the gospel.

To know Jesus is to be changed by Him to obey Him. The fault is not in Jesus’ promise to “MAKE US” fishers of men, but in our self-deception thinking we are believers when we do not do what He says. Luke 6:46 “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” The one who hears Jesus but doesn’t obey Him is like the foolish man who builds his house on the sand and when the storms come, it falls. And great is its fall. (see Luke 6:47-49) The fall is described as great because people will have deceived themselves thinking they are believers when at the last day one of the other scary verses will be applied to them: 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Mat 7:23 NAU)

The Rise of Governance and a Christian Response, Part 3

October 2, 2014

Grace to you! We’ve seen how a government structure that does not have representatives is unchristian. Christ is the exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3) as God the Son and Christ is also the perfect Man to represent us to God as our mediator. (1 Timothy 2:5) Representation is intrinsic to the very nature of God and should be in our government.

Our founders revolted and installed a new government that would represent them. Today, we have many governmental agencies that govern and regulate our lives that have not been elected by the people. In this sense, these agencies are not biblically legit governing bodies and should be opposed until their positions are electable by the people and able to represent the people. One that poses an immediate threat to our local area is Thrive 2055. Most have never heard of Thrive 2055. Go to http://thrive2055.com/About/Interactive-Map.aspx to see that Marion County is included in this future plan. So what is Thrive 2055 and how should a biblical view of representative government affect our view of it?

Thrive 2055 is a regional plan, often understood as regionalism. I would encourage you to research for yourself the dangers of regionalism on the internet. Like other non-elected agencies, Thrive 2055 seeks to regulate our county, our zoning rights, our property rights, and future plans of infrastructure. Thrive 2055 is like all the other regional plans that are seeking to be installed across various parts of the US. Again, a simple internet search will show the prevalence of these central planners to altar how local government works. If our mayor and county commissioners agree to adopt Thrive 2055, they will be promised lots of money for the county but with many, many strings attached. Interesting enough, you as a citizen will have no voice in the vote. It will be decided by your local officials only.

Regional plans seek to ‘overcome the issues faced at a regional level.’ For example, the greater Chattanooga area and its surrounding counties would be considered a ‘region’. The plan, however, is a cookie cutter approach to addressing various issues. In short, they believe living in rural areas wastes too much land, which they call ‘rural sprawl’. Their solution? ‘In fill’ living, ‘multi-housing’ living. This means they want people to live closer together in apartments or something like it. How will they achieve this? Through rewriting or putting in place zoning regulations about what kind of houses can be built, where they can be built, and how land can or cannot be used. It’s happened elsewhere; it will happen here if we adopt Thrive 2055.

They will talk about ‘smart growth’, ‘sustainable development’, and ‘livable communities.’ These are all terms you would do well to research. I’ll say more in the coming weeks because unelected people seeking to regulate our lives is unbiblical and always leads to a loss of freedom for society.

Looking for a church home? Come visit South Whitwell Baptist, 133 South Oak Street, Whitwell. Sunday Service: 10:45 AM. Visit our web page: www.southwhitwellbaptist.webs.com

The Rise of Governance and a Christian Response, Part 1

September 15, 2014

Grace to you! We all understand the need for basic government. We choose (somewhat!) and elect our government officials every so often to best represent our values and desires for the society we live in. But do we understand what ‘governance’ is? Do we understand the inherent threat it is to our way of life and what is a proper, biblical response to it?

Governance strictly speaking is the act, power, or process of governing. But in the political realm, governance is more about people and/or agencies governing without voter approval and representation. Many governmental agencies such as the EPA, Department of Education, HUD, etc are governing agencies but neither you nor I have had a vote on who represents us in these agencies. The whole issue of ‘representation of the people’ is missing. This is a looming crisis and a sure recipe for abuse of power and minimizing the citizen’s interests.

How does an unelected governing body threaten us? The founding principle of our government and the very reason we went to war with Britain was over the very issue of representation in government (actually, the lack thereof). Early Americans sought to have their interests expressed through elected officials, however, England arbitrarily overthrew them and ruled over the wishes of the American citizens. The American rally cry was “No taxation without representation.” As long as the colonists had no one to represent them in government, then there was nothing to restrain the dictatorial powers of British government overturning the colonists way of life.

Contrary to the mantra repeated today, America is not a democracy. We are a republic. Simply recite the pledge of allegiance for a reminder. A democracy is, in short, mob rule. You get 51% of the vote and your will gets done regardless if it’s ethical or not. A republic focuses on the rule of law and representation. Both are crucial elements for a good, restraining force of evil in society.

But a wicked society will always seek to overturn the rule of law for the self gratifying desires. The apostle Paul talks about how if men persist in their desire for sin and wickedness, that He will turn us over to our evil desires and in turn create a lawless nation. “ And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” (Romans 1:28) It’s interesting to note the more lawless the US citizens become, the more the cry for having a democracy and the flat out ignoring of the Constitutional law restraints on government.

Those crying for full democracy and the ignoring of the rule of law (the Constitution) will in the end find not a raw democracy, but a dictatorship instead. Nazi Germany found this out the hard way.

How does this all tie into the issue of governance, representation, and a Christian response? Next week we will look at how the bible is replete with representation from the nature of God to the glorious incarnation.

Looking for a church home? Come visit South Whitwell Baptist, 133 South Oak Street, Whitwell. Sunday Service: 10:45 AM. Visit our web page: www.southwhitwellbaptist.webs.com

Biblical Education: Part 3

September 15, 2014

Grace to you! We continue our series this week on rethinking our education model according to biblical standards. Our goal is to critique the educational model; not the teachers who make the system better than it is. We’ve seen that God has given tools for knowledge: reason, intuition, experience, etc. These are ways we learn and educate others. But we’ve seen in Genesis 3 that man fell into sin when he attempted to use these tools apart from God’s word. It is the heart of man’s rebellion and folly to seek to understand and live life apart from building it upon God’s word, and this includes how we educate our children.

What’s the alternative? Is there a neutral ground we can all pursue? If you’ve read the previous articles about the myth of neutrality, you know this is not possible. Man must place something down as his ultimate foundation he will build his life upon, even if it’s not God’s word. Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30)

So what happens if our education model is not built first on God’s revelation, and having the goal to know God in and through all subjects taught? Man will take God’s revelation and replace it with an alternative, false “revelation.” In short, man will set up a new foundation to replace God’s word as the ultimate authority in education. What sort of authority or false revelation will man put in place of the bible? Man puts himself as the final authority. And man in a collective sense puts the government as the final authority.

Since the bible has been banned from the classroom, haven’t we seen an ever increasing push by the government to get more and more control over local education? It makes sense that government will want more control. If God’s revelation is rejected, false ultimate authorities will take its place just like back in Genesis 3. Man will seek to know apart from God. Man will set himself up as the final authority.

The new Common Core is just one more example of the government seeking to be the foundation of all education. Government elites and planners have become the final revelation for our present day schools. Education becomes more of indoctrination that the government is our friend and they are here to help! Listen to the stated purpose of education: “To make you a better educated citizen.” This is fine in one sense, but when the government plans the standards, educational material, and accreditation, their meaning of this sentence is that you are fit to fall in line with the government’s plans for your life and society.

We only have two options: build our educational model on God’s word or man’s word. Both are competing authorities for your life. Proverbs 1:7 instructs us in the way to go: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

Looking for a church home? Come visit South Whitwell Baptist, 133 South Oak Street, Whitwell. Sunday Service: 10:45 AM. Visit our web page: www.southwhitwellbaptist.webs.com

Biblical Education: Part 2

September 15, 2014

Grace to you! Last week we begin to look at what the bible says how to build an educational model. We noted that re-thinking about education is not against public teachers but about the system they too like the students they are trapped in. God has given us various of ways of learning such as reason, science, experience, etc. Satan asked Eve to use all of these God given ways of knowing to convince her to eat from the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden. (See Genesis 3) What was the issue that led our parents to disobey God even when they used the God given ways of knowing about life and reality? And how does this relate to education?

Our parents abandoned the foundation for the other ways of learning: revelation. God speaking to us is what we call revelation. God’s word was to be the base upon which the other ways of learning were to be established. Reason by itself will lead to uncertainty (as the history of philosophy has shown). But reason built on revelation will provide certainty in knowledge because God has told us about reality and framed the issues about how to use reason. Same is true for science, intuition, etc. All these are valid ways of knowing and learning but they come up short if they are not guided by biblical revelation.

Eve reasoned, performed a scientific experiment, looked to her desired experiences, etc when she ate of the fruit. The problem was that none of these valid ways of learning were sufficient in themselves to let Eve know that the fruit would prove to be deadly for all of mankind. But she did know ALREADY the fruit was deadly. God had already REVEALED that is was to be avoided. (Gen. 2:16) Adam and Eve both should have used God’s revelation as the starting point to how they used their reason, experience, etc to then reject Satan’s temptation. But they didn’t. They thought using the tools of learning alone without God’s revelation would make them wiser. (Gen. 2:6) It didn’t. It brought them into guilt, shame, and folly.

Today’s education model is built off the same lies in the garden. Our modern education model claims that the tools of learning are sufficient in themselves to make us into the people we need to be. This is not only shortsighted but inherently sinful. Knowledge divorced from the bedrock of God’s revelation is the heart of rebellion. And this is what our modern education model is patterned on. Where is the bible seen as the guiding centerpiece of all learning in our schools? Where is the knowledge of God seen as the highest aim and goal of education in all areas of learning? It’s not. And this has huge consequences that we’ll look at next week.

Looking for a church home? Come visit South Whitwell Baptist, 133 South Oak Street, Whitwell. Sunday Service: 10:45 AM. Visit our web page: www.southwhitwellbaptist.webs.com

Biblical Education: Part 1

September 15, 2014

Grace to you! This week we will start a new series on how the bible would have us think about education. The lesson today is the most fundamental idea in reorienting us in thinking biblically about what is education’s goal and how we are to construct an educational paradigm that honors the Lord.

First, some disclaimers. I know many, including myself, have been trained and have taught in public education. The goal of this series is NOT to attack public teachers. Many are doing a fantastic job with the system as it is. Many teachers give above and beyond their calling to pour into their students. This is not the issue in question. What is in question is the very MODEL of education we have adopted and accepted as normal and good for our children. The biblical model of education will bring freedom to the students and teachers.

Genesis 3 is the record of man’s initial disobedience to God. This passage has ramifications for how we are to think of how we gain knowledge and hence how we are to learn or educate. First, we need to understand there are various ways to know something. We can know it by intuition, by experiments, by reason, and/or by someone else telling us. When Satan tempted our parents, he enticed them to ‘know good and evil’ and to ‘become as gods’ through their pursuit of supposedly new knowledge if they would just eat the forbidden fruit. (Gen. 3:5) Notice what Satan does not do here. He does not say: “Forget reason, experience, etc.” He acknowledges these are valid ways of knowing. We too recognize we have education based on these ways of knowing.

Eve’s response likewise affirms that she agrees these are all God given ways of learning. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate…”(Gen. 3:6)   Eve experimented with the fruit, she reasoned that it was good to take, her senses were engaged, etc. She did learn something: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked…” She learned guilt and shame in disobeying her Creator. She learned knowledge thru God given ways MINUS one thing. She sought to use the tools of learning apart from basing them on God’s revelation! She used all the valid forms of learning but separated them from God’s word.

Revelation is God speaking to us. Even before sin entered, man needed God’s word. What does this have to do with education? And how does this relate to using the legitimate tools of learning God has given us in reason, experience, science, etc? We’ll look at that next week!

Looking for a church home? Come visit South Whitwell Baptist, 133 South Oak Street, Whitwell. Sunday Service: 10:45 AM. Visit our web page: www.southwhitwellbaptist.webs.com

God and Government: The Myth of Neutrality, Part 3

September 15, 2014

Grace to you! So far we have seen that it is impossible for governments to be religiously neutral. Everyone, including government, has to answer the big questions of life and these questions are inherently religious.

Unfortunately, the Pietist movement has deeply affected the modern church. Pietism was more focused on religious experience than doctrinal content and systematic theology. This was contrary to the Reformers who saw the bible as a whole life system of thought. The Reformers saw that scripture, although it may not have spoken extensively about every subject, nevertheless gave the proper framework and context of understanding and developing all other areas of life including government.

The effects of Pietism we see today are that most Christians view the bible as a ‘salvation only’ book. The bible is seen as good for only getting a person saved and instructive on living the Christian experience. Forgotten is how the bible also talks about the principles of economics, law, justice, history, and government among others. It seems many Christians just go along with whatever their society dishes out to them without thinking about the infrastructure of ideas their lives or the lives of their neighbors are placed upon. What’s the consequence of not asking what the bible says about all of reality? “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3) Bad foundations, no matter how religiously pious one is in their experience, will not be good for the church or society. In short, you can build nice walls and a great roof, but if the foundation of the house is bad, the whole house will one day crumble.

Psalm 2 is an interesting passage to consider. Notice who it is written to: “Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Psalm 2:10-12) Although some Christians may not think of how the bible speaks to all of life, God most certainly requires governments and their leaders to be submissive to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. The history of nations is ultimately what they do in response to the Son of God, whether they submit to Him and His law or they perish in the way.

How long will the modern church divorce the scriptures from directing us in all of life, including government policy? Why call Jesus “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords” (Revelation 19:16) if He’s not the one to whom all leaders and governments must pay allegiance to? Why would Christ be given this title if it had zero political ramifications?! To accept the idea that governments can be religiously neutral is to agree to allow your government to worship man or a plethora of other false gods. Let’s honor the true King of all, the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Looking for a church home? Come visit South Whitwell Baptist, 133 South Oak Street, Whitwell. Sunday Service: 10:45 AM. Visit our web page: www.southwhitwellbaptist.webs.com

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