Faith is Sincere and Pure Devotion to Christ

2 Corinthians 11:1-3 ESV

“I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”

If we are true ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ we should be dedicated to making certain that what we are teaching is the truth of the Scriptures and not just something that was passed down to us from our ancestors. For not everyone of us was taught the whole truth. Some of us had things taught to us falsely or wrongly, perhaps not intentionally, but still wrongly.

We should be willing to examine the Scriptures for ourselves and to study them in context, and to even look at what the words meant in their original context, and to make certain that we, to the best of our understanding, are teaching what is truth and not the lies we may have picked up over the years from the teachings we received from pastors and other Bible teachers.

We are not to be people who interpret the Scriptures in light of a particular biblical theology or doctrine we learned early on in our lives and so we try to make the Scriptures fit our doctrine rather than to examine them in light of their true context to see what they really teach, even if it is contrary to what we were always taught to believe. For the truth matters! And it can be a matter of life and death if what we believe is not the truth (see Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 3:4-10).

2 Corinthians 11:4 ESV

“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”

“Another Jesus” and a “different gospel” are predominantly what are being taught in the church in America today. For what is being taught largely is that Jesus died on that cross so that your sins can be forgiven so you can escape hell and so when you die you can go to heaven. And added to that they are telling you that no works are required – no repentance, no obedience to the Lord, and no submission to Christ as Lord of your life.

It is true that we are saved by God’s grace, through God-given faith, and that we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation. Even the faith to believe in Jesus comes from God and is not of our own doing, and so we can’t decide what that faith should look like, either (Ephesians 2:8-10). We should let the Scriptures define faith for us, and not just a few hand-selected verses, but all of Scripture truly, certainly all of the New Testament.

And please don’t build your theology on Ephesians 2:8-9 and then leave out verse 10, which says, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus FOR GOOD WORKS, which God prepared beforehand, that we should WALK IN THEM.” And please don’t then ignore the whole of Ephesians, like chapter 4 where it says this to us:

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:17-24).

And please don’t ignore Ephesians 5 which says this to us:

“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 5:3-6).

2 Corinthians 11:5-6 ESV

“Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.”

And please don’t ignore people like me or other people who are considered lay people just because we don’t have a seminary degree or because we are female or because we don’t have some official title to go with our names like pastor or missionary. A title or a college degree does not give you any more authority to teach the Scriptures than us who don’t have that.

Yes, women are not to have authority over men in the church. I agree. Women are not to teach men in an authoritative way in which they can actually exercise church discipline over men. I agree. But women are gifted equally with men with regard to spiritual gifts. And both men and women are to prophesy, i.e. to bring forth the Scriptures in practical ways that can be applied to our world and to the church and to our lives today.

Thus, if we are bringing forth the word of God in truth, especially at a time when so many people are lying to you, then you should listen, not because you have to, but because we are telling the truth and not many people are doing that now, and because we are mandated of God to be exhorting one another daily so that we are not hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:12-14).

BUT TEST EVERYTHING YOU HEAR AGAINST THE SCRIPTURES IN CONTEXT TO MAKE CERTAIN THAT WHAT YOU ARE HEARING IS THE TRUTH. FOR THE BIBLE IS ALWAYS THE FIRST AND FINAL AUTHORITY.

For we should never put our trust solely in any other human who is bound to fail us. We should be in the habit always of testing the things that we hear coming from the mouths of anyone, really, but especially the mouths of people of influence like the government heads, and like pastors and preachers and other people of influence (1 John 4:1; 1 Thes 5:19-22).

And we should be people who are willing to be “fact checked” ourselves, not necessarily by official “fact checkers” who may have their own political motivation for doing what they do, but just by ordinary citizens like you and me. And we should be open and willing to produce evidence, where possible, for why we say or believe as we do.

Anyone teaching the Scriptures who is unapproachable and who is not willing to have their words tested against the Scriptures is dangerous. Even the Apostle Paul was willing to have his words tested, and he praised those who did so, calling them noble because they examined the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul was teaching them was the truth (Acts 17:10-12).

So, don’t write people off just because they are female or they don’t have titles next to their names or they don’t have Bible College or Seminary degrees or they aren’t noted authors of Christian literature, etc. But also don’t just accept everything they say as truth, either. Always test what anyone teaches you against the Scriptures in context to make certain that what they are teaching you is the truth.

And for those who are being ignored because you are female or because you don’t have documents hanging on your walls showing that you went to school, or because you are too young, or you are too old, or whatever, don’t be discouraged if people ignore you or if they fight against you. Just keep speaking the word of truth, make sure it is the truth, and then trust the Lord to get it out to whoever needs to hear it. For where God calls he will supply.

God Will Take Care of You
1 Peter 5:7

Civilla D. Martin, 1904 / W. Stillman Martin

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath his wings of love abide,
God will take care of you.

No matter what may be the test,
God will take care of you;
Lean, weary one, upon his breast,
God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,
Through every day, o’er all the way;
He will take care of you,
God will take care of you.

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