Attempts to Silence our Voices

The priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees were annoyed that Peter and John were teaching about Jesus Christ and so they arrested them. The next day they brought the apostles before their rulers, elders, and scribes, along with their high priest, etc., and they examined them. And Peter ended up sharing some of the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

Acts 4:15-17 ESV

“But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, ‘What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.’”

Be The Gospel

In today’s market-driven institutional churches in America, largely they are doing something similar to this. Now, they are not warning their people to not speak at all in the name of Jesus Christ. What they are largely doing is teaching them not to verbally share the truth of the gospel of Christ (the whole counsel of God). They are teaching them, instead, to be the gospel or to live the gospel, but when they say “gospel” they don’t mean the gospel that Jesus taught and that his New Testament apostles taught.

What they mean by being the gospel is doing good deeds to people, which is good, and it is what we ought to do, but it doesn’t go further than that. And “good deeds” can include, according to them, inviting people over to your house for pizza and to watch a movie and/or to play games. Now having people into our homes for a meal is biblical, and there is nothing wrong with all games, but certainly some games are questionable. But, in my opinion, very few movies today would pass the test of Philippians 4:8-9.

But if this is the totality of what it means for them to “be the gospel,” then that is not about living the gospel of Christ in our daily lives. For living the gospel of Jesus Christ in our daily lives means daily dying with Christ to sin and to self and daily walking in holiness and in righteousness in obedience to our Lord and to his commands, in the power of God. For this is the reason Jesus died for us on that cross. For he died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness and so we would honor him as Lord.

[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]

And living the gospel also means sharing the truth of the gospel with the people of this world, for how shall they hear unless we tell them? For, being loving and kind to people includes speaking the truth of the gospel to them in love. They need to hear about Jesus and about who he is and why he came to the earth and what he truly accomplished for us on that cross – the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They need to know that he died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.

They need to know that Jesus suffered and died for us to deliver us out of our slavery (addiction) to sin so that we will now walk in obedience to his commands in holy living. He died to free us from our sin not to coddle us in our sins and not to just look the other way when we sin. And he says if we want to come after him that we must deny self and take up our cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow him in obedience (Rom 6:1-23; Lu 9:23-26). But if we don’t tell them with words how else will they know?

Don’t Offend People

But today’s modern market-driven institutional churches are designed to attract the world to their gatherings and so they aren’t going to tell them the truth of the gospel because the gospel offends people, and they don’t want to offend the people of the world or the flesh of man. And so they are teaching that we are to “stay in your own lane” and make friends with people for at least two years before you talk to them about the gospel, etc. And it is getting way more watered down than that these days.

Let me quote some words coming from a famous Christian pastor and author, Max Lucado. He was speaking on the subject of God’s grace:

“It emerged out of a conviction I have in my heart that the Church needs to go back and study grace. We just never study it enough. What I did sense is a resurgence of a secular, legalistic view of life that if there is a God we have to earn His favor and win His attention, whereas the worldview of the Christian who believes in grace is that God has already noticed me. He has taken notice of me. He is enraptured with me, and I don’t have to get His attention. I simply have to receive His affection.”

And.. “I really wrestled with trying to find a way to define grace because it’s such a huge thing, but what works for me is to see grace as a one-time gift of forgiveness and a lifetime gift of God’s presence. It’s that one-time sacrifice of Christ on the cross that moves us from condemned to forgiven, but it’s also a lifetime of His devotion to us.” (1)

Now, let me say here that the Scriptures do not teach that God is enraptured with us and that all we have to do is receive his affection. And the Scriptures do not teach God’s grace as a one-time gift of forgiveness which includes a lifetime of God’s presence, regardless of how we respond to his grace, and regardless of how we live. So much of what Max Lucado and others like him are teaching in the name of God’s grace, and in the name of the gospel, although having some elements of truth, is very twisted and not biblical.

What many of them are teaching of God’s grace to us is all “me” focused. It is all about God being in love with me, and it is all about him pouring out his love to me, and it is all about what he does for me, etc. It is a one-sided relationship where God does it all and we do absolutely nothing other than to just drink in his grace. And that is clearly not what the Scriptures teach. Our faith in Christ is a covenant of marriage that is to operate like a marriage between a husband and a wife, only on a spiritual level (Ephesians 5:25-33).

Acts 4:18-20 ESV

“So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.’”

So, if the church leadership is encouraging you to just do “good works” but to not share the truth of the gospel, as Jesus taught it, with the people of this world, then they are doing similar to what the apostles faced when they were warned “to speak no more to anyone in this name.” They are trying to silence us and to keep us from telling people the truth. And they are demonizing us who are sharing the truth so that others will learn to reject what we are teaching and to call it legalism when it is God’s true grace.

So, we are not to give in to their intimidation tactics or their lies. We need to be students of the Scriptures who are obeying the teachings which are for the church, the body of Christ, Christ’s followers. And we need to be those who are testing whatever we are hearing from the mouths or the writings of other humans who claim to be teaching the truth of the Scriptures. For not everyone is teaching the truth these days. There are many liars and deceivers in our “churches” who are leading many people astray.

[Matthew 7:15-23; Matthew 24:11-14; John 10:1-15; 2 Peter 2:1-22; 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 1 Timothy 6:3-10; 1 John 4:1-6; Jude 1:3-23]

For Our Nation

An Original Work / September 11, 2012

Bombs are bursting. Night is falling.
Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.
Trust Him with your life today.
Make Him your Lord and your Savior.
Turn from your sin. Follow Jesus.
He will forgive you of your sin;
Cleanse your heart, made new within.

Men betraying: Our trust fraying.
On our knees to God we’re praying,
Seeking God to give us answers
That are only found in Him.
God is sovereign over all things.
Nothing from His mind escaping.
He has all things under His command,
And will work all for good.

Jesus Christ is gently calling
You to follow Him in all ways.

Men deceiving: We’re believing
In our Lord, and interceding
For our nation and its people
To obey their God today.
He is our hope for our future.
For our wounds He offers suture.
He is all we need for this life.
Trust Him with your life today.

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(1) Max Lucado: https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/162972-max-lucado-brian-orme-why-grace-is-not-good-enough-for-us-legalism-cheap-grace-undeserved.html

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