Church

Spiritual Fathering

I can identify several men and women who have had a significant impact on my life – especially when it comes to my walk with the Lord.

The 1st pair would be my father and mother. I grew up in a Christian home for the most part, seeing my Dad pastor churches ever since I could remember. It was a Christian environment where the Gospel was welcome, lived and spoken. They both mentored me in the ways of life at an early age and gave me spiritual direction during my earliest of decisions.

When I was in junior high, I met a man named Travis. I usually credit Travis as being the one who led me to Christ. While he wasn’t the 1st person to preach the Gospel to me, he was the one God used to water the seed that had been planted. His selfless love and genuine compassion for me broke through my hard heart. Travis was also the person who, after I made a profession of faith, fathered me in the spiritual disciplines.

I had another mentor when I was attending college. He was my Resident Director named Scott. Scott fathered me through some of the biggest questions everyone asks when they were in college: “What is my purpose? What are my spiritual gifts? How can I discern the will of God in the major decisions and minor ones?

When I moved back to Tulsa after seminary, I had an older man named Michael who fathered me. His wisdom is priceless and his devotion to my walk with the Lord is wonderfully encouraging.

Image result for discipleship men

Today, I have three fathers (elders at WBC) – Mark, Warren and Grady – and in 2014, and I have written more about them here.

Discipleship is fathering. It begins when a believer makes disciples through the proclamation of the Gospel, but it doesn’t end with conversion. It continues with this new believer needing a lifetime of sanctification, which discipleship assists in accomplishing.

Paul told his spiritual son, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (II Timothy 2:2).

The father who taught me how to study the Bible, Howard Hendricks, once said,

“Every disciple needs three types of relationships in his life. He needs a ‘Paul’ who can mentor him and challenge him. He needs a ‘Barnabas’ who can come along side and encourage him. And he needs a ‘Timothy,’ someone that he can pour his life into…Have men and women in your life who challenge you, men and women in your life that you can help, and men and women in your life you can give your life to.”

Spiritual fathering is what we do and what we are a part of. Who fathers you?

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What Christian Unity Can Accomplish

When Jesus was in the Upper Room, He left His disciples with critical lessons to take with them on their individual journeys to make disciples, planting and pastoring churches, etc. Jesus knew their temptation and fleshly desire would be to run off on their own whim and do their own thing. Jesus knew they would be tempted to do things in their own power and without support and accountability of the church.

So, Jesus prayed for His disciples (and us) in this manner –

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.  I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:20-26).

Jesus desired unity for His disciples and for the church today.

Unity is possible. In the name of Christ, as we have learned, unity can happen in a church. Christ would pray for something that is not possible.

Unity is never automatic. Sin will disrupt it every chance it gets. Thus, unity is going to take effort. It is going to take patience. It is going to take forgiveness. It is going to take putting aside your own agenda(s).

Unity comes with maturity. The example of unity should be set by the leaders of the church but it can and should be followed by the people. God establishes high standards for leaders so he can give the people to aspire to become … especially in their unity.

If we are divided we will fall; if united, we will represent Christ to the world and win people into His kingdom.

 

John MacArthur, Describing the False Teacher

Image result for john macarthur“The false shepherd (the deceiver), on the other hand, gives the appearance of orthodoxy, frequently with great declarations and fanfare. He is not a liberal or a cultist but one who speaks favorably of Christ, the cross, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and so on, and who associates with true believers. He may go out of his way to appear orthodox, fundamental, and evangelical. From his looks, vocabulary, and associations he gives considerable evidence of genuine belief. But he is not genuine; he is a fake and a deceiver. He has the speech of orthodoxy, but is a living lie…False prophets are almost always pleasant and positive. They like to be with Christians, to talk like Christians, and to be identified as Christians. They know and use biblical terminology and often appear highly acknowledgeable about Scripture. The doctrines they affirm are seemingly biblical.” (John MacArthur, Matthew 1-7)

REPRISE: How Can I Identify a False Teacher?

Image result for wolf sheep's clothingToo many false teachers are getting too close to my flock.

I am sure I am not alone in sharing concern for why the Southern Baptist Convention allows certain mega-church pastors to remain in their denomination or why the emerging church continues to influence a young generation of evangelicals or why others are preaching that God wants you to be wealthy and doing it in 3rd world counties.

Many of these voices I hear or see quoted from people I love, and as a shepherd at Wichita Bible Church, I grow concerned every time I hear or see it. Please share this blog post with others. Don’t listen the wolf pretending to be a sheep (Matthew 7:15).

Here is a series of questions you can ask to determine whether or not someone is a false teacher?

Are they preaching the Lordship of Christ? What are they saying about Christ? What is the Gospel they are articulating? Does their Gospel glorify God or give man a better, easier life?” Paul wrote in Philippians 1:15-18,

Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.”

Paul could put up with men who were even breaking the Tenth Commandment, as long as the biblical Gospel was being preached.

Are they twisting the Scripture? Peter says, “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, …” (II Pet 1:16). He says in II Peter 2:3 that false teachers just make up stories from Scripture. The false teacher relies on his own creativity. He makes up his own message. He twists Scripture to fit his message. Some examples of how people can twist Scripture are as follows: teaching the Bible’s authority but referring to a man’s writings more often (e.g., heroes of their own stories), building monumental truth out of obscure phrases or verses (e.g., lifestyle diets out of Daniel’s vegetable fasting), ignoring context and reading into Scripture what is not there, etc.

Are they adding or subtracting from the Scripture? We see this in the novelty of people saying they had visions from God revealing to them truth that is to be considered equal to God’s Word. There are many who claim some revelation outside of Scripture. To add or subtract from Scripture is to attack the sufficiency of Scripture.

Are they promoting themselves? False teachers believe in their own brand. They are not into downplaying themselves; they want the attention. They want the notoriety; they want to be noticed. They build their church kingdoms around themselves. Jesus said, “The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood” (John 7:18).

Are they lying? False teachers revel in their deceptions (II Pet 2:13). The very fact that they dress like sheep but are wolves indicates everything coming from their lips is untruth. They bring about deceitful schemes that toss people around like children (Eph 4:14). The Gospel they preach is a lie; their hypocritical life is a lie. What they say in the pulpit is not who they are, what they believe or what God would say or believe. The very fact that God calls them “false” teachers means their lying is the essence of who they really are. You can’t trust anything they say. They speak out both sides of their mouth.

Are they smooth with their words? Some of the best orators today are false teachers (e.g., Joel Osteen). They are spreading a blend of error that some have called “cotton candy Christianity.” They don’t offend anyone, won’t say anything dogmatic, share “lovey-dovey” stories, tell lots of jokes and are nothing more than motivational speakers calling themselves Christian leaders. They might use rhetoric to convince people of their cause, and they draw people away from the Word with their smooth talk.

Are they in love with the world? Jets, luxurious houses, 5-star hotels, first class seats on airplanes – these are not just perks for celebrities with money. These perks are also embraced by almost every false teacher out there. We have TV channels devoted to showing the lifestyles of the rich and famous false teachers. Remember what John said: “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them” (I John 4:5). They do things for money and love to serve … if there is a payoff that follows. They look at the appearance of godliness as an opportunity for gain … materially. When you preach this with your lifestyle and you seek to win people, you don’t win them to the Gospel. You win them to the opposite: you win them to worldliness.

Are they quick to gripe and complain? Remember what Jude said about these men? He called them “grumblers” and “malcontents” (Jude 16). They complain to God because He demands they adjust to Him. They are never satisfied with God’s demands for their life. They can’t do anything but murmur and murmur and murmur some more. False teachers do not joyfully embrace God’s demands; they find ways around them.

Are they manipulative? Remember in Matthew 7 when God condemns the group of people who said they were casting out demons in Jesus’ name and prophesying in Jesus’ name and doing great works in Jesus’ name? These are the manipulative false teachers. Paul talks about this in Colossians 2:23 – “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.” These men delight in looking like they are humble or spiritual. They love the praise while they defraud people. Their external religion seems legitimate, but their hypocrisy is nothing more than manipulation. Thus, their rituals are empty.

By the way, I can send you a list of some of the false teachers I had in mind with my opening comments if you life. Send me an email at charlesheck@cox.net and I will be happy to share that list with you.

 

 

John Calvin, On the 2 Voices a Pastor Needs

Image result for john calvin“Here, then, is the sovereign power with which the pastors of the church, by whatever name they be called, ought to be endowed. That is that they may dare boldly to do all things by God’s Word; may compel all worldly power, glory, wisdom, and exaltation to yield to and obey his majesty; supported by his power, may command all from the highest even to the last; may build up Christ’s household and cast down Satan’s; may feed the sheep and drive away the wolves; may instruct and exhort the teachable; may accuse, rebuke, and subdue the rebellious and stubborn; may bind and loose, finally, if need be, may launch thunderbolts and lightnings, but do all things in God’s Word.”

(John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion)

Giving as Worship (Proverb 3:9)

The Monday feature of this blog will focus on a proverb from one of Solomon’s writings (e.g., Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon).

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce.” (Prov 3:9)

Everything we own is from God and is meant to be used for God’s will. There really isn’t anything of value that we have created on our own or thought of outside of God’s enabling. Every penny we have “earned” in our life is because God gave us the skill-set to earn it and provided a wage through the company or individual who paid us.

Thus, the principle of this proverb is simple: give to God what already belongs to Him.

When we give to God – through the means of tithes or offering – we are worshipping Him. Donald Whitney has written in his book Spiritual Disciplines within the Church,

“Giving is preeminently an act of worship. It ought then to be a focal point of thanksgiving and self-dedication in weekly worship…It’s worship because when you give to God through the church you are giving a part of yourself. You exchange a significant measure of your life and labor for salary or wages, and when you give some of that money to God you give that which represents you.” (pgs. 121-122)

Paul told the Philippians when he collected money from them their sacrificing was “a sweet-smelling aroma” to the Lord (Phil 4:18).

Don’t think of your tithes and offerings as simply going to pay the church’s bills or pastor’s salary but as an act of devotion to the Lord.

Think about the term “offering plate”: we call it that because this is what we are “offering” God as a form of our dedication to God. In fact, I would suggest when you give to the Lord in tithes or offerings, if you are not thinking of Him, you are no different than the person who sings hymns without thinking of the Lord or reading the Word without mediating upon it.

Give God what He deserves, what He has given you, and what pleases Him.