Practical Application of the Word of God
Do we as Christians know what the sole source of truth in the universe is? Do we value the truth? Have we and do we test and prove every single thing we hear and read from other Christians against the truth? Does what we individually believe match the truth?
It seems to me that we as Christians are getting more and more sloppy with the truth. It appears that, more often than not, we are ourselves and passively allowing other Christians to, as Paul says in II Corinthians 4:2, “handl[e] the word of God deceitfully.”
Either we simply don’t care, we’re too distracted by or preoccupied with too many other things (Daniel 12:4), or we’ve allowed the snare of idolatry in worshipping people and organizations instead of God to infect our spiritual lives (and whatever we replace God with to believe and to worship is what becomes our source of truth).
Jesus Christ, the literal Word of God, in His final prayer at the Passover before His crucifixion, asked God the Father this for you and me, following the request with an absolute declarative statement that hasn’t and won’t change: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.“
Fact-checking, as dealing with a society full of thoroughly dishonest manipulation and spin has proven, is even more critical for us as Christians. The bottom line for each of us is simple: who do you believe and can you prove why you believe and what you believe?
Truth and untruth is all or nothing. Words, beliefs, and things are either totally true or totally untrue. There is no kinda, sorta, maybe with regard to truth. Truth either is or it is not. We must never forget that.
As Christians, we are to be worshipping God in spirit and truth. Truth is of paramount importance to God and Jesus Christ and if we are truly following them, it had better be of paramount importance to us as well.
What does this process of testing and proving the truthfulness, against the Word of God, of what we read, hear and believe look like in practice?
Let’s look at a few actual examples I’ve read, seen, and heard within the past week. (My intent with this post is to spur us all to careful examination, against the sole source of absolute truth, of everything we hear, read, and see, so that we can reject what is not true and know why – “that doesn’t sound right” is not good enough, because we have to know why something is right or wrong – and embrace what is true and hold on to it.)
The first example is something I read. The context of this excerpt is what seems to be a primary (because I hear this much, much more than I ever hear about our relationship with God and Jesus Christ, which includes fellowship) correlation between fellowshipping among Christians and who we can depend on for protection, help, and safety, no matter what the future holds: “We don’t know how many more opportunities we will have to come together for an evening of fun and fellowship. Strengthening the bonds of love, friendship and family must be given priority in our lives. We will have no choice but to depend on one another in the dark days ahead.”
The italicized phrase made me do a double-take. Did you do a double-take when you read that? If you didn’t, ask yourself why you didn’t.
This phrase is not true.
It doesn’t match our experience. How many of us as Christians fellowshipped with a lot of people along the way in our Christian journey who have either disappeared to the periphery of our lives or disappeared altogether? Did all that fellowshipping lead to a relationship that was dependable to the end of our lives?
No. One the best sermons I’ve ever heard on this subject was entitled “Are You Playing Church?” (click on the link to listen to the sermon) and it’s a sermon I listen to at least once a year because the speaker nails the subject.
More importantly, it does not sync up with God’s word, where we’re told again and again not to put our trust in and depend on people, but to trust and depend on God alone.
You can do an exhaustive study, but here are a few verses to get you started: Psalm 34:8, Psalm 56:11, Psalm 84:12, Psalm 118:8, Psalm 146:3, Jeremiah 17:5, and Jeremiah 17:7.
The next example is something that is, unfortunately, a fairly common belief among Christians, but one that a friend reminded me of again during a discussion we’ve been having about spiritual things. That belief is that – and this applies to the ekklesia as a whole and to us individually – “if you are truly called and converting, that God will not allow you to be deceived or lose the Holy Spirit.”
I’ll let you look the up sampling of verses below yourself as they show that not only is this possible, but the New Testament is filled with warnings about this very thing.
I started with Matthew and quickly scanned the entire New Testament page by page for both the assertion that this would happen and the warnings to us not to let it happen and came up with 91 verses, so I know there are probably more.
Here are a few: Matthew 24:4, 5, and 11; Mark 13:5-6, II Corinthians 11:3-4, Galatians 1:6-7, Philippians 1:15-18, Colossians 2:4, I Timothy 1:3-4, II Timothy 4:3-4, I John 2:18-19, the whole book of Jude, and within the letters from Jesus Christ to the churches (yes, these apply to you and me today because Christ said this at the end of each letter: “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”).
The last two examples are from a sermon I heard. In my notes beside this next one I have written: WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!
In this example, the speaker was talking about where God places His name for us to attend the Feast of Tabernacles. He related a story of someone in the ekklesia telling him that she was going to attend the Feast of Tabernacles in Hawaii.
He then said that he thought to himself that ABC Church of God (the organization he’s affiliated with) didn’t have a Feast of Tabernacles site in Hawaii, and his next thought was “why would someone attend a Feast of Tabernacles site where God has not placed His name?”
Why is it wrong? Because the speaker has the unbiblical equation of a single organization being the equivalent of The Church of God. I’ve discussed the untruth, based on God’s word, of this belief, at length in another post.
The final example came from this speaker’s attempt to explain Deuteronomy 3:26 and why Moses was not allowed to go into the promised land (I discussed this at length in a post about uncontrolled anger).
His explanation of the phrase “on your account” didn’t even make sense and seemed to have just been drawn out of thin air. The gist of the explanation was that this phrase means that God did this to make Moses an example so that Israel didn’t think they could get away with disobeying God.
Do you ever have times when you just shake your head and say “did I really hear what I just think I heard?” I do. A lot. This was one of those times.
If you read my post on uncontrolled anger, I think a more clear picture of the meaning of this phrase will emerge. And it’s not pulled out of thin air.
It’s not that Moses was blaming Israel for his disobedience, but he was acknowledging they were part of the reason he got so enraged to the point of disobeying what God had commanded him to do.
Moses’ lack of control over his anger was what led to his disobedience to God, and that is what kept him from going into the promised land.
Based on the history of Israel from God’s word, I don’t see much evidence that examples of anyone disobeying God and having the consequences of that disobedience imposed was much of a deterrence to Israel’s flagrant, continued, and continually escalating disobedience from Day One of the exodus.
Now I pose the question to each of us again: is what we hear, read, and believe in sync with God’s word?
Do we know? Do we care? Does it matter?
I can only answer for me. You can only answer for you.
But all of us will have to answer to Jesus Christ. I have often imagined this scenario and if I were to say to Jesus Christ, “Well, so-and-so said…” and Jesus Christ would look me in the eyes, face-to-face, and ask me, “But what did I say?”
His word is what we as Christians are being judged on now. These are the same books opened (revelation and understanding) to those in the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:12).