Trigger warning: some brutal honesty ahead.
TO THE OVERPAID CELEBRITY HACKS
Oh, the horror! The end of the world is coming. Hurry, pack up and leave the country (like you promised you would).
TO THE SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS
TO THE TRUMP SUPPORTERS
He better be as good as he claims to be (and you say he is).
If he really wants to break from the establishment, a nice place for him to start would be 1). Restoring the lost concept of liberty in a nation that boasts it as its foundation. 2). Preserving the sanctity of life in the womb AND in unnecessary foreign wars by bringing an end to both of these profit-making vehicles of death.
(I won’t be holding my breath.)
TO THE RANK AND FILE HILLARY SUPPORTERS
Now that the election is over, please, stop the fear mongering. It got old with all the frightful “What evils Trump might do if elected” rhetoric all the while conveniently ignoring “What evil Hillary did do during her entire criminal career.”
And relax. Trump will not be nearly as bad as you painted him over your past year-long effort to make Hillary look better. My advice for next time, nominate a candidate whose platform has some legitimate accomplishments instead of propping up your entire campaign on, “My opponent said a mean thing.”
TO THE CHRISTIAN VOTERS
It was nice for some of you to finally wake up and declare that politics is utterly corrupt, and for even considering voting for a third party candidate instead of whatever RINO was paraded out for you to vote for.
Unfortunately, many of you only came to this conclusion after your “saviors” Carson and Cruz fell from contention. Only time will tell if you crawl back to your political idols like a dog returns to its vomit. For those who will never go back, welcome! It’s nice to have you.
For the second presidential election in a row I have chosen to vote for a candidate based on his stance on the issues, instead of voting for the lesser of two evils. And although my guy didn’t win (or even come close), I feel good about my vote (not dirty like so many other voters said they felt yesterday).
So, how do I feel today? I’m glad to finally see an end to the Clinton crime family, it’s unabated corruption, and its shameful scandals.
Jezebel and Ahab have fallen. Good riddance.
Whether a elder in the pulpit, a preacher on the street, or a believer seeking to be a faithful witness, we can all glean from this.
In Ancient Greece, heralds had a specific role in the culture with a specific reputation. It is that reputation that I am going to use as illustrative examples concerning a believer’s/preacher’s duty to spread the gospel. Although we know that the Bible is sufficient for life and godliness, still, illustrations are a powerful tool to help nail the truths deeper into our mind and make plain what is simply less memorable to some. With that said, here are some points that will help us reaffirm our calling as ambassadors and heralds of the gospel. Once again, these points are purely illustrative, not expository. But they nevertheless communicate biblical truth.
- A herald was often called kerukes, which meant “herald.” In Ancient Greece, the name was often ascribed to a traditional family of priests thought to have descended from Hermes. However, it was used for anyone that was designated to carry a message.
- The Bible declares that all Christians are now a royal priesthood and we are chosen to proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into light (2 Peter 2:9)
- Because Christ has saved us, we are now direct descendants of Him who has commissioned us to preach His gospel.
- A herald (kerukes) can also be associated with any kind of messenger (angeloi) or envoy
(presbeis), although not operating in the same manner as a herald.
- The Bible declares that we are ambassadors (presbeuo) for Christ, and that we are to implore mankind as though God was pleading with man through us (2 Cor. 5:20).
- Our ministry is angelic in practice. And though we are not, by nature, angels from heaven bringing the good news (evanggelizo) (Luke 2:10), nevertheless we are fellow servants with the angels and considered family in the work of being a messenger (Rev. 22:8).
- Kerukes were designated in a city to be watchers for prearranged signals in the sky that
communicated messages from considerable distances. The signals were communicated by
flag during the day, or fire by night. Whatever the message, heralds were to
interpret those signals and immediately declare them to the town.
- As Christians, our eyes should always be in the Heavens, looking unto Jesus and His word (God’s prearranged communicated message) and immediately declare them unto those who are in our town (Col. 1:27-29; Heb 1:2).
- Heralds carried a staff with them called kerukeion which not only established their identity and office, but it was also a visual reminder that they were under the care of the Greek messenger god Hermes. And just like Hermes, whenever they were seen with the rod in hand, it signified that they were about to announce an official message.
- We should always have with us our kerukeion – the Bible. This will serve as a visual reminder for others that we are underneath the authority and care of Jesus Christ our King. And this will assist in establishing our identity with Him as well as His authority. Whenever we carry this rod with us, it should signify to our hearers that we are about to announce an official message.
- Hermes was commissioned by Zeus to be his messenger and in turn, Hermes commissioned others to be heralds.
- Jesus Christ was God in the flesh, sent by the Father to declare this gospel in the world, and those who are true followers of Christ are commissioned by Him to declare it to others (Matt. 28:19).
- Some families appointed kerukes because it was an inherited right. Other heralds were elected and/or dispatched by a legislative assembly of leaders called boule.
- As Christians, we are adopted into the family of Christ, and therefore possess the inherited right to herald the gospel into the world.
- As the chosen of God, we are elected and dispatched as kerukes to preach the gospel
to every creature. Although this should be something that a local church should support, equip, and encourage one another to do, this is not always the case. In this instance, we must remember that our authority to share the gospel comes from Christ first and foremost.
- Heralds were often chosen for their ability to carry their voice over noise and distance.
- If we plan on preaching in the open air, a general principle is that we should speak to be heard. This requires skill and clarity on the part of the speaker so that every detail of the message is not muffled because of inability or negligence.
- Stentor, a herald mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, was described as having a voice as
powerful as 50 men. He was the herald for the Greek forces during the Trojan War. Although it is not mandatory to have this kind of voice, we must still speak to be heard.
- In military contexts, kerukes would be in close proximity to the commander to carry forth orders. Furthermore, they were called upon to rally the troops together, and also were sent out to recover the dead bodies of those slain (specifically in war) and bring them back.
- If you are going to be an Evangelist of the gospel, we should always remain close to the Commander (Jesus) in
order to carry forth orders that He has declared. It is a preacher’s duty not only to
carry forth the orders of the Commander appointed over him, but also in rallying the
troops to obey His orders. A good preacher will not only declare what Christ
commands to His enemies, but also declare to the allied forces that they are to be in
obedience to His commission!
Whether those dead in trespasses and sins or our brethren temporarily slain by sin, the herald is to bring back those slain and dead through the
resurrection power of the gospel proclaimed. We are specifically sent out to recover
these poor souls and bring them all back to God through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- If you are going to be an Evangelist of the gospel, we should always remain close to the Commander (Jesus) in order to carry forth orders that He has declared. It is a preacher’s duty not only to carry forth the orders of the Commander appointed over him, but also in rallying the troops to obey His orders. A good preacher will not only declare what Christ commands to His enemies, but also declare to the allied forces that they are to be in obedience to His commission!
- Heralds were not only used to convey information, but collect it.
- We are not to be givers of information from our own will, but phonological reflectors of God’s will. We are to collect information and study God’s word so that we can clearly and zealously publish to the world that which we have already digested ourselves. Manual labor on an empty stomach is not wise; neither is preaching the gospel without filling up on His Word and Spirit.
- Greek heralds were sent out to declare policy, demands, and decrees abroad. Also, they
would announce warnings, or offers, to hostile cities or armies, as well as declare war itself.
More often than not, kerukes were denied entry into warring cities as a sign of protest or
- We are to be faithful in declaring the policies, demands, and decrees of God to all. We are to preach the warnings of God as well as His offer of peace to the hostile cities of the world. It is necessary, as a part of our duties, to reveal that man is already at war with God, and we must boldly stand before Satan’s Army to declare conditions of peace and judgment from the King.
- More often than not, we will be denied entry into many places in order to declare our message, but this should not deter us. Although done as sign of protest and insult against God, we are to be steadfast in delivering the message whenever possible (Luk 6:22).
As a final illustration, we will use a famous herald, Phidippides, as an example of a faithful messenger. According to myth, Phidippides ran 26 miles from the battle of Marathon to Athens to announce Greek victory in war. Depending on the source, the message was somewhere along the lines of “Joy to you, we have won” or “Rejoice, we have the victory.” It was after proclaiming this that he breathed his last breath and died.
As believers we have received the victory over sin, death, and hell. Christ has gone into the Most Holy place and atoned for our sins and has defeated the armies of darkness, making a public shame of them because of His sacrifice. Because this war is won, shouldn’t we also be running a spiritual marathon declaring “we have the victory?” Shouldn’t we be giving our very lives in order to publish this good news, even if it is the very last thing we say with our mouths? Phidippides, although myth, is a great example of dedication, swiftness, and perseverance in order to deliver a message that literally cost him his life. Are willing to run in the steps of Phidippides for Christ? To go the extra mile or two or twenty-six? No matter how it must be done, let us be found faithfully preaching the glorious gospel until our LORD comes for His bride.
-Until we go home
Tevye, Jewish patriarch in Fiddler on the Roof…
It’s a very busy, tedious, hard-scratch life in Anatevka. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word! Tradition!
Because of our traditions, we’ve kept our balance for many, many years. Here in Anatevka, we have traditions for everything. How to sleep. How to eat. How to work. How to wear clothes. For instance, we always keep our heads covered, and always wear a little prayer shawl. This shows our constant devotion to God.
You may ask, how did this tradition get started? I’ll tell you. I don’t know.
But it’s a tradition. And because of our traditions, every one of us knows who he is and what God expects him to do. Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as, As… As a fiddler on the roof!
As his family responds to the various circumstances of life, they each tear apart Tevye’s sacred traditions bit by bit. His traditions were not transcendent; their foundation was uncertain.
What can we learn from this movie?
Most Baptists recognize that a major part of the errors embraced by Roman Catholicism are enshrined in extra-biblical traditions that are held up as church dogma. While it’s easy to see this in the Roman religion, do we carefully examine our own walk – as individuals and churches – to see if we are guilty as well? I am quite sure we all know the teaching of Scripture on this topic, as Christ quoted Isaiah in saying to the Jews, in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Are we Baptist excluded from this rebuke? My personal experience indicates otherwise. I pray these things are not true of you!
When I was first called as a deacon, it took 6 months of discussion to agree that tithing was not a requirement of that office. I was thankful the other deacons were willing to study this topic rather than merely throw me out. When I was in a seeker sensitive church I was ridiculed because I questioned this teaching, not seeing evangelism as inviting lost people to church, as I studied the Bible.
Baptists have traditions and, like Tevye, we often do not know or care where they came from.
While in a 1689 LBC church, I saw how traditions were to be supported without question, and I was looked down upon for not taking these positions on blind faith. The Decalogue is God’s moral law – why would anyone ask where that is taught in Scripture? The “Christian Sabbath” is binding on all people – why would anyone ask where in the Bible this is found?
In the two years since moving to SE Oklahoma, I’ve been exposed to several local Baptist churches and been intrigued by the extra-biblical traditions they embrace. Just as the other groups of Baptists, they are tenacious in the blind faith they have in their sacred traditions. It’s as if, as one church-man said about his “altar call” – “It’s the most important part of the worship service!” And it’s nowhere found in God’s Holy Word. What’s more, there is no altar in the New Covenant church other than the Lord Jesus Himself. Similar attachments are tied to children’s church (unsaved people have their own worship service!) and children parading through the gathered saints, begging for money to put in an offering plate, being applauded by the adults. I couldn’t help but think of Matthew 6:1-4:
Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
In this passage we see that the praise of men is the only reward hypocrites have for their giving; it is not accepted by God as are the gifts from the saints on behalf of the saints (Philippians 4:14-18). The parading children played the part of the hypocrites in the passage cited above, with the adults playing the part of the “others” who praised the hypocrites. As with other acts of worship, giving as worship cannot be performed by those who are not clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Proverbs 21:27) and the money earned by sin should not be offered to God (Deuteronomy 23:18).
Celebration of birthdays and wedding anniversaries of all present in a worship service are the norm. Mothers and fathers are honored on those days so identified by the greeting card industry. Veterans and firemen, et al. are honored on Memorial Day as if these men are why we gather. I’ve seen the inside of a Baptist church building virtually clothed in American flags on July 4th weekend.
All of these practices displace the worship of God with lesser things, making man and his domain the focus of at least part of the time God’s people gather to supposedly worship Him.
The standard Baptist membership covenant from the 19th century requires members “abstain from the sale and use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage.” The Bible forbids getting drunk and warns about “strong wine” but does not prohibit the sale or use of alcohol for any but a few, such as Nazarites (Numbers 6:1-7). At the end of the time of his vow, the Nazarite was permitted to drink wine (Numbers 6:13-20).
Baptists call the church building “the house of God,” forgetting one lesson from John 4 – that in the New Covenant there are no sacred spaces and that the Bible clearly declares we are the house of God! The church building is not a sanctuary, it is, as an Anglican from New Zealand put it, a rain shelter. Our sanctuary is in heaven where our altar is – Christ Jesus is our all in all!
Baptist churches have sole “pastors,” “senior pastors,” “administrative pastors,” “executive pastors,” “worship pastors,” and the list goes on. All the while the Bible shows a plurality and equality of elders (“Pastor” not being a title found anywhere in Scripture). Having two or more men who preach and teach provides several benefits, in addition to aligning with the examples and teachings from Scripture (Acts 11:27-30; 14:21-23; 20:7; Titus 1:5; James 5:14; et al.). Two or more men can sharpen one another and hold each other accountable, while the church sees the true Shepherd more clearly when they see Him work through more than one man. The church will see strengths and weaknesses in each man and those men will have the opportunity to be examples of how to serve in unity without letting egos derail the ministry. As they seek to identify others and train them for this service, more men will have opportunity to serve the saints in myriad ways. This is part of life in the body of Christ that is vital and often ignored or undervalued.
Each of these groups, and I pray, none of us, are what I call “white space theologians,” people who build their doctrine and practice on the white spaces in the Bible rather than the words God put there.
Many of these local churches have no statement of faith declaring to their members and interested saints what they believe; they accumulate their traditions along the way and new members find out by experience what’s important. This can be like walking through an unmarked minefield, and just as deadly.
We who are not of Rome tend to cling to our traditions as tightly as do the Roman Catholics. How can we defend this while rightly decrying their practice? Oh how I wish that Baptists would see the danger of our own traditions that are not based on Scripture and cry out for repentance! We were, once upon a time, called “people of the Book” for our tenacious grip on the Word of God. That name cannot, in good conscience, be applied to Baptists at large.
We protest, “Our traditions are not as bad as following Baal!” Yet search the Scriptures and see if you find any commendation for drifting away from God’s instruction in favor of any teaching of man.
My prayer is that each of us here would recognize the need we have to examine ourselves and our traditions – to see if there be any wicked ways therein. If we worship God according to our personal preferences rather than asking how does Scripture advise us to do so, we are in danger of drifting towards the black hole of Charles Finney.
D’Aubigne, in his History of the Reformation, observed, “Nothing terrifies the defenders of human traditions so much as the word of God.” He further recorded a scene in which a Cambridge professor named Bilney in the 16th century was tormented about his salvation and took the advice of Roman Catholic priests – abasing himself in myriad ways to make himself pleasing to God. He grew weak and wondered if the priests were more interested in themselves than in his salvation. He found a copy of the newly available Greek New Testament; he took it up and read 1 Tim 1:15 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. He realized that Christ saves sinners and he was a great sinner who needed salvation. With joy in his soul he rose up from the Book and declared that Christ had cleansed and redeemed him, eliminating all doubt and despair. “I see it all,” said Bilney; “my vigils, my fasts, my pilgrimages, my purchase of masses and indulgences were destroying instead of saving me. All these efforts were, as St. Augustine says, a hasty running out of the right way.”
This is what traditions do, if they are not of God and are pressed down on people as if they are required in order to please Him or build up His people. It’s as Paul said, the letter kills but the Spirit gives life! Unhealthy traditions are a burden that many know not they carry; but they weigh down on them more and more until they lose sight of Christ all together, so consumed in seeing to it their sacred traditions are upheld.
God help us so this may NOT be said of us! Let us remember our Lord’s words: Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jer 9:24 & 25)
This article was written decades ago; much more is this counsel needed in our day.
The following article by Frank Powell gives us a lot to think about:
9 Sins the Church Is Surprisingly OK With as Long as You Love Jesus
What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat?
I was in an engineering class the first time I watched the tragic explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Even though I wasn’t alive when it happened, I caught a glimpse of the horror thousands must have felt as the events unfolded.
And, the first question everyone wanted to know was, “What happened?”
After months of investigation, here’s what the Rogers Commission (the group commissioned to investigate the explosion) discovered: An o-ring seal in the right solid rocket booster failed at take-off. I won’t bore you with the details, but an o-ring is a small device relative to the size of a space shuttle. Very small.
It wasn’t something huge, like a puncture in the rocket booster or a hole in the cabin, that caused this disaster. It was a small, seemingly insignificant, o-ring failure.
I think there’s a lesson here for the church. What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat to your joy and the church’s mission?
Maybe it’s the sins lying underneath, the ones considered normal or acceptable, the ones going undetected, that are affecting the church the most. I want to address nine of these sins.
Continue reading here.
Each week day I drive through a small town on my to and from work. For the past month or more, this sign has been in the yard of a church building. Even with good content, having a message board can be more of a burden than a benefit – it takes work and diligence to keep truth in a short message updated often enough so people notice. But when the message is wretched, one wonders why it is there at all.
While it’s true that sin can seem enjoyable – what value would temptation be to Satan if the end product was rightly portrayed? – it is a biblical fact that we are to hate sin, not enjoy it. Paul addressed this in teaching how abundant God’s grace to towards His children, far greater than our sin, and then asking the rhetorical question: Romans 6:1-2 (HCSB) What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?
Does the apostle’s instruction seem more biblical than that of the church board in the picture? Again, the apostle – 2 Corinthians 5:21 (HCSB) He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Knowing this, that Christ Jesus took our sin upon Himself, for them on the cross and was the object of God’s wrath that was due us, how can we abide a professing man of God who tells us to be cavalier towards sin?
Enjoy it now, pay for it later? It was PAID IN FULL on the cross! We add to the debt we owe Him every time we sin. It’s too often when we diligently seek to pursue Christ, how much more wretched would our track record be if we thought we were supposed to enjoy sin? Let the lyrics of this old hymn pierce your heart and mine. May we NO LONGER be at peace with our sin – or those who tell us to enjoy it! Let us not grow weary in well doing, but press on toward the prize that will not tarnish and be done with lesser things!
Stricken, smitten, and afflicted,
See Him dying on the tree!
’Tis the Christ by man rejected;
Yes, my soul, ’tis He, ’tis He!
’Tis the long expected prophet,
David’s Son, yet David’s Lord;
Proofs I see sufficient of it:
’Tis a true and faithful Word.
Tell me, ye who hear Him groaning,
Was there ever grief like His?
Friends through fear His cause disowning,
Foes insulting his distress:
Many hands were raised to wound Him,
None would interpose to save;
But the deepest stroke that pierced Him
Was the stroke that Justice gave.
Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great,
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the Sacrifice appointed!
See Who bears the awful load!
’Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed,
Son of Man, and Son of God.
Here we have a firm foundation,
Here the refuge of the lost.
Christ the Rock of our salvation,
Christ the Name of which we boast.
Lamb of God for sinners wounded!
Sacrifice to cancel guilt!
None shall ever be confounded
Who on Him their hope have built.