Arlo and Janis – by Jimmy Johnson

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2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (NIV 1984)

My Musing – In ancient Roman religion and myth, Janus is the “god” of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings. He is usually depicted as having two faces, since he looks to the future and to the past. It is conventionally thought that the month of January is named for Janus  (Wikipedia).

God is THE real God of new beginnings through His Son Jesus Christ.  In Him, Continue reading “Resolved”

Study 3: Our Problem

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Study 3: Our Problem

Trouble came to paradise. Apparently, being made in God’s image, living in a perfect world, being in fellowship with God, and yes, even God’s love were not good enough for us. We wanted more. We wanted things that He did not intend for us. We also wanted to be like God. And these desires gave way to disobedience. Sin entered into God’s creation.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2) Continue reading “Study 3: Our Problem”

False Prophets

Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” (Matthew 24:11)

Closely related to apostasy, heresy and scoffing are those that promote these deceitful things, namely false prophets. We must be on our guard against them. Being able to recognize them and their false teaching is crucial to being able to guard against them.

Does it Come to Pass? – Deuteronomy 18:20-22 tells us how to recognize a false prophet. “A prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, ‘How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?’ If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously….

Does it Point You Away from the Truth? – But what if the message does “take place” or does “come true”? How do we discern if the prophet is nonetheless false and deceiving? Once again scripture (Deuteronomy 13:1-3) provides the answer. “If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, ‘Let us follow other gods’ (gods you have not known) ‘and let us worship them,’ you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.

As banks have learned, the most successful way to spot a counterfeit is to study and become familiar with the genuine article. Any believer who “correctly handles the word of truth” and who makes a habit of careful study of the Bible can usually identify false teaching. Jesus said, “a tree is recognized by its fruit, (1) and indicates that “false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible.” (Matthew 24:24).

A Tree Is Recognized by Its Fruit – As one evaluates any new teaching or teacher, the following are some questions worth considering.

• Is the new teaching from a well-known and trusted source? Be suspicious of those who teach the opposite of long-standing Christian views. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures. (2 Timothy 3:14, 15)

• Is the new teaching consistent with what you have learned from the well-known and trusted sources? Be wary of new revelations of the truth that are contrary to what is more widely accepted as the truth. God’s word does not change. I urge you brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. (Romans 16:17)

• Is the new teaching clear from the texts (remember – context matters)? Views that rely upon conjecture, suppositions and assumptions to develop positions that are not consistent with the most logical interpretation are suspect. In most cases, the simplest explanation is the one that is the most likely to be the truth (Ockham’s Razor). “You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:24)

• Is the new teaching exclusive or nearly exclusive? Be suspicious of “private” or personalized interpretations that are self-serving or that cater to a select group of individuals that form a small minority within the Christian community or in society at large. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. (2 Peter 1:20)

• Is the new teaching necessary to support a questionable lifestyle? If the views are necessary in order to justify the desired lifestyle and soothe the conscience of a special interest group or they are considered questionable by the vast majority of the Christian community and Biblical scholars, they should be considered false teaching and be rejected. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)

• Does the new teaching direct society to follow God’s moral standards or does the new teaching encourage others to follow the world’s social mores? Society rarely if ever alerts our conscience to existing but long ignored Judeo-Christian moral standards that result in a “great awakening.” Instead, they usually promote a new social more that is sensitive to a particular cause and that subsequently leads to a re-interpretation of traditional theology so that it is consistent with the new social more. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

• Is the new teaching’s emphasis on grace and freedom too permissive? While it is true that salvation is by grace and that we are no longer under the law, be careful of any new teaching that excuses sinful behavior on the basis of grace and freedom. We are still called to live Godly lives. You my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature. (Galatians 5:13)

• Is the new teaching’s emphasis on morality and obedience too repressive? While there is no compromising on morality, and we are called to live Godly lives (not to obtain salvation, but rather to maintain fellowship with God and to please Him), Jesus was very clear about His distaste for legalistic rules and regulations that are motivated by ritualistic conformity and not by a transformed heart. We all have a sin nature and to sin is consistent with that nature. Just because it is part of our nature does not mean we should excuse it. “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by the oath.’ You blind fools!” (Matthew 23:16, 17)

• Does the new teaching deny the power of God to enable His children to overcome sin and temptation? God is in the business of changing lives. It starts with justification by God’s grace through faith in Christ (salvation, a one-time event) and continues throughout a believer’s lifetime as they learn to walk in obedience, exhibit the fruits of the Spirit and live as servants (sanctification, a continual process). What we are powerless to do ourselves we are empowered to do though the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This includes victory over sin and temptation as well as maturing in the faith. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

• Does the new teaching follow Satan’s pattern of masquerading as angel of light? Some things are obviously satanic and easily recognized. But when it is to his advantage, Satan and his followers will appear as agents of light to lead us away from the true light. We should not be too quick to accept things packaged as Christianity, especially if they are contrary to traditional and widely-accepted teaching. It may appear Godly, packaged as a manifestation of God’s grace, but upon closer examination it is evident that it is contradictory to the Word. For such men are false apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. (1 Corinthians11:13-14)

• Does the new teaching follow Satan’s pattern of deceit by calling God’s word into question? Satan’s very first tactic, which led to the fall, was to cause God’s children to question what God had said. Our first impulse, when confronted with a new teaching should be to determine if it fits this pattern of deceit. If, in order to accept the teaching, one has to question (reject or set aside) what has universally been understood as the truth for centuries, it should be rejected. Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say….” (Genesis 3:1)

• Does the new teaching call right wrong and wrong right? In the final analysis, this is the key question. As much as one might want to believe it is the truth, it is a false teaching. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. (Isaiah 5:20)



Wisdom, Insight & Understanding

Wisdom, Insight & Understanding

1 Kings 4:29God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Learning and knowledge may be gotten from books and education. But wisdom, insight and understanding are a gift from God.

My Advice – You have learned much in college and have gained skills you did not possess before. But these are of little use or value without wisdom, insight and understanding. These you cannot learn at a university. You cannot get instruction in these from a book. But God can give them to you. Pursue these by pursuing a Godly life.

Apostasy & Betrayal

At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.” (Matthew 24:10)

In the classical Greek, the term turn away is apostasia, from which we get the English word apostasy. Technically, the term means political revolt or defection. In the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) however, it is always used to refer to rebellion against God (Joshua 22:22; 2 Chronicles 29:19). There are two New Testament instances of the word. The first is Acts 21:21 where Paul was accused of teaching the Jews to forsake Moses by abandoning circumcision and other traditional observances of the Jewish faith. The second instance is 2 Thessalonians 2:3, which describes the great “rebellion” or turning “away from the faith” that occurs alongside or prior to the revelation of the man of lawlessness (the anti-Christ). Apostasy has always been danger to the church. (1) But in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Paul warns Christians not to be carried away and deceived by the widespread apostasy that is to come in the end times before the Lord returns. (2) This period will be characterized by widespread apostasy, heresy and scoffing (see Figure 2.1). During such things, Christians must fight the good fight, keep the faith, and finish the race.

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  1. Wood, A. S. (1996). Apostasy. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., pp. 57–58). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (p. 131). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Passing It On

Passing It On

1 Kings 3:6Solomon answered, “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – God shows kindness to those who serve Him faithfully, to those who do what is right because it comes from the heart. The greatest reward is having children who notice this and want to do the same.

My Advice – I hope I have been this to you. I hope, should God bless you with children of your own, that this is a legacy that you also want to pass onto them.

The First Joel

The First Joel – This week is special Sunday edition of my “amusings”, as it is our son Joel’s 33rd birthday, which seems hardly possible.

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Because We Say So – As a birthday greeting to Joel, I am sharing one of Eileen and my first pre-blog “A Dad’s Devotions” that we had prepared for Joel when he turned 21. Continue reading “The First Joel”