10 Major Teachings of Christ Being Ignored in Many Churches

  1. The absolute truth of God’s Word. It has become all too common for seminary professors, preachers, and authors to question the validity of the Scriptures, therefore causing others to question the trustworthiness of God’s Word. The Scriptures of Jesus’ day (the Old Testament) were copies of copies, yet He completely trusted God’s sovereignty over the giving and preserving of His Word. Jesus taught the accounts of Adam, Eve, Moses, and Jonah as historical facts (Matt. 19:3-5; 12:39; 8:4). Furthermore, Jesus  declared the solidarity and authority of the Scriptures when He says, “For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:18), and He teaches that all the Scriptures point to Him (John 5:39). And when praying over His disciples just prior to His passion, He says to the Father, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus also states His words are equal in authority as the Scriptures (Matt. 7:24; 24:35). For a person to cast doubt on the integrity of the Scriptures is to trust one’s own opinion above that of Jesus’.
  2. Repentance. The exclusion of this teaching can be subtle but the effects are not. All too often the Gospel is presented as simply turning to Jesus and believing on Him, but nothing more. However, to not teach on the necessity of repentance is to not preach the whole Gospel or Christ’s teachings in their entirety. Many churches so stress Jesus’ teachings on love, but to neglect repentance is to neglect the true aspects of  love. Sin, whatever kind, is rebellion against God and is harmful to ourselves and others. Jesus’ first instructions for people when He began His earthly ministry is, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17). Twice in Luke 13 He stresses that unless people repent they will perish (13:3, 5). Some will say, “We are not saved by works,” but repentance is not a work. It is, in part, what it means to walk with love, and to abide in Christ (John 18-24; 1 John 3:4-10). Churches do not benefit others by neglecting this vital doctrine. In Matthew, Jesus tells a parable of the great wedding feast. In it He tells of a fellow who did not come to the feast prepared but was inappropriately dressed. “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen” (22:11-14). The point is we are to repent and come into the King’s presence appropriately.
  3. Self-denial. Dietrich Bonhoeffer rightly notes, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Oswald Chambers notes, “The surrender here is of my self to Jesus, with His rest at the heart of my being. He says, ‘If you want to be My disciple, you must give up your right to yourself to Me.’” Such teachings are not popular in American Christendom, as many pulpits are nothing more than pep rallies on how to better one’s self and not on how to become a better disciple and servant. Yet, while many are striving to become well-known leaders for Christ, what is often set aside is Christ’s teaching, “The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 23:11). Added to this is the desire for vain glory (popularity, big church buildings, etc.), Jesus says, “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Much of the church in America has adopted a consumer mentality focused on one’s own preferences, needs, and amusement. Consumerism is never about self-denial.
  4. Salvation exclusively in and through Him. Pluralism, ecumenism, and even universalism have infected many churches. Each of these ideologies blatantly go against what Jesus teaches about salvation and the way to Heaven, as well as trivialize the whole purpose for which He died. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns that the path to life is narrow and few will find it, while the path to destruction is wide and broad and many will travel it (Matt. 7:13:14). Many are familiar with His famous words in John 3:16, but He says in verse 18, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” He also declares that those who do not believe who He says He is will die in their sins. Yet, He states His exclusivity most explicitly when He says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). For persons and churches to claim Jesus is just one way to Heaven is not only to minimize His death on the Cross, but also to call Him a liar.
  5. The kingdom of God. Much of Jesus’ teachings centered around the kingdom of God/Heaven. Jesus began His ministry with the command, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).  The Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) is instructive of what kingdom living looks like, consisting of genuine godliness, purity, honesty, faithfulness, humility, and integrity. Many of Jesus’ parables in Matthew are revelations (i.e., “revealings”) of the secrets of the  kingdom (13:10-11). With complete seriousness He says, “For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have an abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand” (13:12-13). In other words, those who receive and obey the teachings of Jesus and the Scriptures will receive more understanding from the Holy Spirit, but those who trivialize Jesus’ teachings and the Scriptures, or who treat them as a smorgasbord of one’s own choosing, will simply be carried away by their own delusions. Although the kingdom is worth giving up everything for (Matt. 13:45-46), the kingdom has enemies, including ones who infiltrate the gatherings of God’s people here on earth (Matt. 13:37-43). It is vital to have an understanding of there being two very distinct kingdoms in opposition, and there is no middle ground or walking the fence. 
  6. False teachers. Although Jesus (as well as the New Testament writers) repeatedly warn of false teachers and false believers, such warnings are rarely proclaimed from many pulpits today, lest one appears judgmental or anyone is offended. Yet, Jesus instructs plainly, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:15-16). He warns of the increase of false teachers who will lead many astray, even performing wonders (Matt. 24:11. 24). In one of His parables, Jesus warns that the evil one will plant false believers among true believers to spread destructive teachings (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). Elsewhere, Jesus warns against having the appearance of being a person of God, but inwardly having a godless and corrupt heart (Matt. 23:1-36). A passage that should terrify each of us is when Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:21-23).
  7. Separation of the wicked and righteous. The old negro spiritual correctly says, “Everybody talking’ bout heaven ain’t a goin’ there.” There are many persons who attend church and do nice things but who are going to be separated from the righteous and redeemed. Jesus is not silent about the last day when there will be the separation of the wheat from the chaff, the sheep from the goats, the evil from the righteous (Matt. 13:24-30; 25:31-46; 13:47-50). The assumption of many is they will one day be welcomed into Heaven, despite the profanity and unholiness of their hearts and lives.
  8. Divine judgment. Perhaps no other teaching of Jesus today is downplayed than that of divine judgment and eternal damnation. “Jesus teaches us to love,” people say, as though love disregards offenses and justice. Indeed, Jesus offers every person grace and life through Him, but declares that apart from Him persons will be judged. For those who refuse to listen to the message He gave His disciples to proclaim, He says, “Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town” (Matt. 10:15). Later, He warns that at the day of judgment everyone will give account even for every careless word spoken (Matt. 12:36). He warns of eternal torment for those who are not redeemed through Him (Matt. 25:41). He urges people to strive to enter through the narrow door, lest they are cast away to a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Luke 13:22-28). Jesus is not only the Savior of the redeemed, but He is also the Judge of the condemned (John 5:22-29). Men can choose to deny divine judgment against sin, but Jesus warned repeatedly to repent or be condemned.
  9. Watchfulness. Another greatly neglected teaching of Jesus today is that of being watchful. Being watchful has at least three aspects: being watchful of lifestyle, false teachers and their teachings, and preparedness for Christ’s return. While it is true one is saved by grace through faith and there is security in Christ, these do not nullify or make void Jesus’ teachings. He warns, “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35). He says to watch and beware of false teachers (Matt. 7:15; 16:6). These instructions tie into the warning to keep alert and prepared for Him. Jesus sternly warns against following the practices of the world and casting away one’s vigilance. “Who then is the faithful and wise servant,whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 24:45-51). Jesus is not speaking rhetorically, and we would be wise to take heed.
  10. The Holy Spirit. The misunderstanding of the Holy Spirit can—and does—lead many churches awry. Jesus clearly reveals that the Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead (Matt. 28:19), but He reveals much of the character and work of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John. First, the Holy Spirit is a Person who indwells the true followers of Christ, but not those of the world (14:15-17). Jesus refers to Him as the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, and Helper (14:17, 26). The Holy Spirit will bear witness about Jesus (15:26). Jesus says of the Holy Spirit, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” and “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you” (16:8, 13-14). The work of the Holy Spirit will always be in accordance to the truth. Furthermore, His purposes are to convict people of sin and to draw people to Christ. He does not seek to draw attention to Himself. Churches are in error whenever they focus on the Holy Spirit and treat Him as though He is some circus animal who is to cater to their whims. If people are being carried away from the clear teachings of the Scriptures (truth), if people are not being convicted of their sins, and if Christ is not the focus, then it is highly doubtful any workings persons claim to be happening is truly of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.

To dismiss and ignore Christ and His teachings is to no longer have the Christian faith. Many who profess to be Christians, in fact, are not Christians at all. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, says, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:8-9). In many churches, the prevailing views of culture override the teachings of Christ and the Scriptures. To do so is to declare that the world is Lord and not Christ, and this is to betray Christ who is Lord over His church. And His church consists only of those who are truly redeemed by His shed blood.

When Temptation Comes Our Way

Let’s face it, each of us experiences temptation, and each of us has succumbed to it from time to time. This comes with being sinful humans in a fallen world. However, in Christ we can experience victories over temptation, and we don’t have to be defined by our sins and failures. The following list contains several things to consider when temptation comes our way.

  1. Temptation is not sin. Sometimes persons will beat themselves up for feeling tempted to do something wrong and immoral, but temptation is not sin. Temptation is merely an attempt to seduce and get us to sin. The writer of Hebrews says of Jesus, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (4:15). There is a great distinction between being tempted to sin and yielding to sin.
  2. Temptation promises more than it can deliver. Temptation always offers big promises to bring fulfillment, but it never follows through. This is not to say there is never an immediate pleasure, but it’s only temporary. When it comes to sin, one will always pay more than what the pleasure is worth. Ultimately, when it comes time to pay, the pain and regret will always surpass the amount of pleasure. Moses understood this. We read of him, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24-25)
  3. The breeding ground for sin is the entertaining of temptation. As mentioned, temptation is not sin. However, to dwell on and entertain the temptation can certainly lead to sin. One needs to squelch temptation early on. If not, the temptation will increase in strength and eventually lead a person into sin. James writes, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (1:14-15). In other words, the temptation caters to a person’s desire. As the person continues to entertain the desire it only becomes stronger until he no longer resists. The result is lethal in various ways.
  4. The inner battle is real. The inner struggle with temptation and sin is real. Even the great apostle Paul writes, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Rom. 7:15). We are bombarded with various kinds of temptations to disregard God and His Word in order to do our own thing and to fulfill our desires in illegitimate ways. Elsewhere, Paul writes, “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other” (Gal. 5:17). The purpose of temptation, as seen in Genesis 3:1-5, is to get us to doubt God’s Word and His goodness, and to seek to find fulfillment apart from Him.
  5. Resist, flee, and submit to God. The Bible refers to Satan as the tempter. Satan plants seeds of temptation in our minds, but he also uses ungodly people to tempt. I’m either case, we are to resist temptation, in some cases we are to flee from it. In all of this, these are to be done in yielding ourselves to God. James writes, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you’” (4:7-8). Paul tells the Corinthians, “Flee from sexual immorality,” and “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 6:18; 10:14). To Timothy, the apostle writes, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).
  6. Take sin and temptation seriously. Sin is applauded, condoned, and trivialized by the world and in some churches. However, sin’s devastating effects are far reaching, and its impaling goes deep. Jesus teaches our dealing with our temptations and sins must be severe. “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matt. 5:29-30). Jesus also gives strong warning to those who lead others to sin: “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!” (Matt. 18:6-7). In Genesis, God warned Cain, “If you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (4:7).
  7. If you sin—confess and repent. The apostle John is honest about the reality of sin in our lives. He writes, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10). He goes on to urge us to not sin, but notes that the true follower of Christ has hope through Him. “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins” (2:1-2). Jesus bore the wrath of the Holy Father against our sin on the cross, satisfying His holy and just righteousness. This does not give license to sin, but should help us understand the severity of sin.
  8. Sin has consequences. “I’ll sin now and just confess later.” “There is security for the believer.” How many Christians have said things like these to talk themselves into sinning? These statements are true, but even for the forgiven saint sin has unpleasant and painful consequences. King David, a “man after God’s own heart” is a prime example. By all rights, and by Old Testament law, David should have been killed for his adultery and murder. Yet, he was honest and repentant of his sins, and the Lord forgave him. Still, the Lord allowed David’s reputation to be tarnished and his once peaceful kingdom to be filled with unrest and revolt—even by his own son. David was forgiven, but there was a limp and deep pain in his heart he bore for the rest of his life. It isn’t for no reason Paul warns us, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Jesus gives dire warnings to those who refuse to turn from sin and come to Him for salvation. “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3). Revelation tells the fate of all those who choose to love unrighteousness and ungodliness, and who refuse to repent of sin and turn to Jesus in faith. “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (21:8). Jesus describes the second death as a place of darkness, fire, and of weeping and gnashing of teeth (see Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:41). To reject Christ is to reject the very Source of life, light, joy, peace, holiness, justice, equity, and love. Eternal separation from Him is the tragic consequence of rejecting and renouncing Christ.

Hopefully the church in America will recapture the understanding of the seriousness of sin, and that each of us will see more clearly all that is at stake when temptation comes our way. An ounce of pleasure isn’t worth the price of a hundred pounds of pain and regret—or worse.

8 Truths About Biblical Faith

Faith is a vital element in Christian life. In fact, without faith there is no salvation or pleasing God. The following are eight crucial elements  of biblical faith.

  1. Faith is the conviction of the unseen reality. Biblical Christian faith (belief) is neither abstract nor simply intellectual consent. The writer of Hebrews notes, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). He then goes on to explain by using an example, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (11:3). Faith is like a mortar, binding and holding together what God reveals He has done, who He is, what He is like, what He is doing, and what He is going to do. Although our physical eyes cannot see the reality, faith has “eyes” that see what God reveals, and this becomes a conviction which leads action.
  2. Faith is not passive. God is not interested in people’s rumps sitting in pews, mindlessly and heartlessly singing songs and rushing about in religious activities. Genuine faith is vital, and it consists of pursuing and trusting God. The writer of Hebrews notes, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (11:6). Apart from genuine faith, it is impossible to please God, despite and religious or good works. Genuine faith is a response to God and His Word, and actively pursues Christ in trust and obedience.
  3. Faith trusts God and what He says. We are told that Abraham believed God and He “counted it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). God had told Abraham that he and his wife would have a biological son in their elderly age, and this son would be Abraham’s heir. The real test of his faith came later, after Isaac his son was born. God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son. Some people get stuck on God’s command, but He wasn’t going to allow Abraham to kill his son. However, Hebrews reveals the depth of Abraham’s faith: By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Heb. 11:17-19). Genuine faith believes God, whatever He says. What He reveals in the Scriptures is who He is, what He is like, what He has done, and what He’s going to do—even when one does not fully comprehend (which shouldn’t surprise anyone, since we are finite and God is infinite. As God says to us, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:9).
  4. Faith responds approximately to God’s instructions and warnings. Genuine faith responds appropriately to God’s character and ways, to His love and holiness, His promises of blessings and warnings of judgment, to His words of comfort and His words of rebuke. The writer of Hebrews writes of Noah, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (11:7). Isaiah, when he got a glimpse of the glory of God, cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isa. 6:5). And Jesus says, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (John 14:23-24). 
  5. Faith is anchored on Jesus Christ. Faith is centered around, and anchored on, the person and work of Jesus Christ. One’s salvation and acceptance is because of Christ’s death and resurrection (Rom. 5:9). The Christian’s identity is rooted in Him (Eph. 1 and 2). One’s good, acceptable works are wrought through Him (John 15:4-5). And His teachings are what give a person a solid foundation (Matt. 7:24-27). If one separates faith from Christ, he doesn’t have Christian faith. Jesus Christ is the very focal point of the Scriptures. Jesus says, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39). “No one who denies the Son has the Father” (1 John 2:23).
  6. Faith is accompanied by good works. A person is saved entirely by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8), and not a single work or effort contributes to this. However, genuine faith will grow in love and kindness, which will result in good works that are both acceptable to, and wrought by, God. An unloving Christian is a contradiction in terms. When a person is truly by the grace of God, this grace will manifest itself in his life in various ways, albeit not perfectly. James writes explicitly, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[b] is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (2:14-17). Paul writes, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). And Jesus our Lord says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Good works, then, do not contribute to one’s salvation; however, the evidence of true salvation includes good works and acts of mercy.
  7. Faith looks and sees beyond the temporal. The writer of Hebrews observed that God called out men like Abraham, making wonderful promises. They did not witness all the promises come to fruition while on earth, for the promises were not for this temporal world only.  “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (11:8-10). Genuine faith holds loosely to this world and fixes its gaze on the kingdom of Heaven.
  8. Faith endures hardships. One of the great perversions in American Christendom is the popular teaching of faith being a means of attaining wealth, having a “good” life, and being free of problems. Such teachings are a gross departure from authentic Christianity. The prophets, apostles, and Jesus were persecuted. Many of them were not affluent. The writer of Hebrews notes that while many persons of faith witnessed mighty workings of God, some “were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earthAnd all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised” (11:35-38). Paul tells us, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:12-13). And Jesus says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt.10).

Faith is far more than a religious word. It is an anchored and active lifestyle fixed and founded entirely on Jesus Christ. To get this wrong is to have the whole structure collapse  (1 Cor. 15).

8 Truths About the Fear of the Lord

Rarely does one hear about the fear of the Lord nowadays. Even in most churches one will not hear of it much, let alone hear it taught about. Many view “fear” simply in a negative context; however, the fear of the Lord is actually a positive thing, if understood properly. I hope this article may shed some light on this neglected teaching, and that you will come to appreciate the fear of the Lord in a deeper way.

  1. It is more than mere reverence. It is a shame so many preachers and Bible commentators explain the fear of the Lord as simply as reverence for God. This might soften the word fear, but does it truly do the meaning of the phrase, as a whole, justice? If the fear of the Lord simply means reverence, then why wouldn’t the biblical writers plainly state, the reverence of the Lord? Jesus doesn’t mince words when He tells His disciples to not fear men but to fear God. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). God is not one to simply tip one’s hat to and call it good.  The writer of Hebrews warns, It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (10:31). This dreadfulness is a reality, and the writers of Scripture don’t pussyfoot around it the way we do today. Certainly, reverence does play a part in the fear of the Lord, but so does, well, a healthy fear of a good, righteous, and sovereign King who will one day punish evil. 
  2. It is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom. Our world has many intelligent people, but the truly wiseare hard to find. There are scientists who are smart enough to design weapons of mass destruction, but not wise enough to create peace. There are crafty politicians who know how to sway and manipulate, but they are not wise in how to bring about authentic hope. And we have educators holding doctorate degrees and writing papers with all kinds of big words, but they’re void of the wisdom as to how to promote genuine love and equity. Wisdom has a starting place and a specific foundation: the fear of the Lord. Mockers will mock, scoffers will scoff, and fools will hate correction, so folly will continue to be the norm. But it doesn’t have to be this way. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Pro. 1:7). “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Pro. 9:10).
  3. It is to depart from evil. This is one of the major aspects of the fear of the Lord—to depart from evil and to draw near to God. It is to depart from deception, violence, and all the dangers which would pull persons away from the safety of God’s presence. People could be spared of a lot of heartache and regret if they understood this. “By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil” (Pro. 16:6).
  4. It gives confidence. There are so many who lack confidence in who they are and of the future. In the fear of the Lord persons can begin to understand who they are—and Whose they are—and the security of the sovereignty of God, the Maker of the heavens and the earth. “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and his children will have a refuge” (Pro. 14:26).
  5. It is a fountain of life. Our world is filled with poisoned waters, seemingly satisfying to the taste but destructive to the spirit. Immorality, unjust gain, debauchery, and the like are sweet to the taste, but sucks the life of those who partake of them. “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, that one may turn away from the snares of death” (Pro. 14:27).
  6. It is better than great treasure. Ours is a world that has an unhealthy love for money, wealth, and treasures. People steal, kill, and destroy for these, not understanding that eventually this very love for money is a cord that will one day strangle them. Jesus warns, what profit is it to gain the world while forfeiting one’s soul in the process (see Matt. 16:26). The value of the fear of the Lord far surpasses that of all the treasures of the world. “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it” (Pro. 15:16).
  7. It comes with reward. The fear of the Lord is not simply a duty, of which you comply or else. To the ungodly, it seems as such; however, God promises reward for those who will walk in it. “The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the crooked; whoever guards his soul will keep far from them” (Pro. 22:4-5). The satisfaction of wealth and fame is an illusion. The fear of the Lord, although not easy, will prove to be satisfying to those who accept it.
  8. It is to gain the knowledge of the Holy. The greatest reward of the fear of the Lord is the knowledge of God. Not simply head knowledge, but true experiential knowledge of Him. The fear of the Lord begins to open the spiritual eyes of persons to begin seeing His activities in the world and an understanding of His ways. God ceases to be questioned as a religious abstract, but understood as a concrete reality of those who are redeemed. The Bible ceases to be an archaic book of words, but is understood to be alive and life-transforming, because of the God who breathed them out (see Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16). Ultimately, in God, through Christ, one finds true life. “Then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God” (Pro. 2:5).

For the one who is willing to receive it, the fear of the Lord is truly a wonderful blessing intended to richly bless those who will accept it and walk in it. Indeed, it does have the aspect of showing reverence to the Lord, but it is far more than this. Hopefully the Scripture passages on the subject has helped you understand the fear of the Lord better, and that you can see it in its positive light.

6 Important Actions to Take When You Blow It

Let’s face it, we all blow it at times. We hardheadedly do our own thing instead of following instructions, we speak unkind words in anger, we make a foolish, costly decision, we break a trust, etc. As the saying goes, “to err is human.” Breaking and destroying things is easy; however, fixing and rebuilding them, well, that’s a whole other matter. The following are helpful steps to remember—and to put into practice—if you find yourself in a situation where you have blown it.

  1. Own Up to Your Mistakes. This sounds easy, but it is far more difficult than one realizes. Our first instinct is to blame others and make excuses. Too often people blame their parents, schools, environment, the system, the incompetence of others, etc. Blame shifting is easier than swallowing one’s pride and owning up to one’s own folly, poor decisions, and incompetence. Pointing fingers is what children do. Unfortunately, too often this childish tendency is carried into adulthood. “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Pro. 28:13).
  2. Confess Any Sin(s) and Where Others Are Affected By Your Poor Decisions. This part requires honest, albeit sometimes painful, reflection. There are so many different ways one can blow it at school, at work, and in the home. There are so many ways one can add to a mess, making a bad situation worse. The inconvenience and added work are bad enough. But the wounds we inflict upon others by our words and actions can go very deep. Whether one wants to admit it, regardless of being unintentional, such folly, selfishness, and inflictions are sin. One must be honest before God and acknowledge the mess that has been made, the burdens placed upon others, and for all the wounds one has caused and inflicted. Such things are not trivial. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10).
  3. Be Willing to Say, “I’m Sorry”—and Mean It. Two small words, yet for many, saying them is the equivalent of trying to push a freight train. For others, the words are easily enough spoken but any significance evaporates like a vapor. Yet, if spoken appropriately and honestly, apart from being diluted by any excuses or blame shifting, these words can be powerful. These words can begin the process of healing and repairing, as well as opening the doors for needed communication. Mind you, there is nothing magical about these words. Sometimes the damage is so great and the words are so deep that these words will roll off like marbles on a beach ball. Even so, the ones affected and wounded by ones folly and poor choices deserve to hear the words spoken with sincerity. Furthermore, one is in no position to expect or demand forgiveness. This is to be the choice of those who’ve been affected. Regardless if they choose to forgive or not, they still deserve to be told, “I’m sorry,” spoken with sincerity.
  4. Repair Where You Can. We live in a time when self-centeredness is at an all time high. Many can break people’s hearts like glass, rob of possessions, destroy reputations, grind dignity into hamburger, and impale with words, then expect forgiveness to come easily and smoothly. Even in churches the principles of restitution and reconciliation are often times pooh-poohed. However, if one has offended and wounded others, he is to be active in cleaning up the mess and making restitution where he can. Exodus 22:1 reads, “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and kills it or sells it, he shall repay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.” Some will argue, “That’s Old Testament! We’re under grace.” What? Does Jesus enable us to shrug our responsibilities? No, He tells us,  “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matt. 5:23-24). There are times the messes cannot be cleaned up, the total cost cannot be paid, or another’s forgiveness will be received. However, one is to make any repairs he is able.
  5. Learn from the Experience. This sounds obvious but it is often neglected—to the point of being sickening. This is precisely where blame shifting hinders people from growing and maturing. Whenever a person blows it, they should step back and observe what they did wrong and learn from it. Instead, we have kids partying and goofing off, then telling their parents the teachers are out to fail them. Teens and adults continually committing crimes, then saying the cops are simply out to get them unjustly. Persons verbally tear down and nag, flirt with others, refuse to talk, withhold sex, then blame their spouse for all the problems in a marriage. A friend betrays a friend, then blames him for the broken friendship. As for you, don’t let these describe you. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t flunk out of the School of Hard Knocks. “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool” (Pro. 17:10).
  6. Move On. This final step must not be separated from the former steps; however, sometimes the blow ups are beyond repair. For example, King David and his adulterous affair and having Uriah killed. David sinned greatly and owned up to his guilt. Still, there was no taking back the affair, and there was no bringing Uriah back from the grave. This is the reality for some of one’s foolishness. However, in Christ he can be forgiven and doesn’t have to be defined or kept down by his folly. He can learn from his mistakes and still have a fruitful life—if he yields himself unto Christ. The apostle Paul writes, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi. 3:13-14).

Friend, if you have blown in, then learn and grow from the experience. Don’t make excuses or blame others. More often than not, people will forgive you, and even gain a measure of respect for you, when you man up and own up to your mistakes. Furthermore, you can move on and still live an amazing life founded upon humility and grace.

10 Truths When a Christian Experiences Depression

  1. Depression is not necessarily because of sin. There are some who think if a believer experiences depression, then it must be because of sin. However, there are various reasons for depression. Although sin can be a reason, so can hunger (physical or emotional), loneliness, loss, chronic pain, and tiredness.
  2. Depression is not a sign of faithlessness or unfaithfulness. In the Scriptures we read of faithful persons of God who had bouts of depression, including Jeremiah, Job, Hannah, Elijah, and Paul. Throughout church history, Christians such as Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, and A. W. Pink likewise experienced depression.
  3. God’s promises are truth, not one’s feelings. Rarely are feelings honest—especially when one is struggling with depression. Feelings will say one is unimportant, worthless, or unloved. One must be anchored on the truth of God’s Word. As Luther wrote: “Feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving; My warrant is the Word of God, naught else is worth believing.”
  4. We have an adversary who seeks to take advantage of one’s depression. The devil is able to plant negative thoughts in people’s minds. Not every thought is one’s own. Sometimes, in fact, it can be difficult to tell the difference. Yet, when thoughts encourage despair or harm, these are certainly from the evil one. Still, there can seem to be such a diabolical logic—but the adversary’s intentions are always to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10).
  5. Your family and friends would not be better off without you. One of the most ruthless and deceptive lies told by the evil one to the depressed is that their loved ones would be better off without them. However, the loss and anguish family and friends would experience is unfathomable. 
  6. God has neither forgotten nor forsaken you. One of the areas where feelings can become very misleading is when God “feels” a million miles away. God promises to never forget, leave, or forsake those who are His (see Isa. 49:15; Heb. 13:5).
  7. Your life is not worthless. With depression, thoughts and feelings both feed off the other. Negative thoughts continue to drive negative feelings, and those feelings trigger continuous negative thoughts. One’s thoughts can influence a person to come to the conclusion his life is worthless; however, the fact God gave His Son, and Jesus shed His own blood, to redeem you shows your incredible worth. 
  8. Your failures do not define you. Memories, like continuous devastating waves of a tsunami, can come rushing into the mind of the depressed. Memories of failures in school, in work, in sports, as a friend, as a parent, as a son or daughter, as a Christian, and as a human being. Sanctification is a lifelong process of changing from glory to glory (see 2 Cor. 3:18). Still, your identity, as a whole, is in Christ (see Eph. 2).
  9. Light and joy will eventually return. The deep blackness and joylessness of the pit of depression can seem to be perpetual, like a never ending nightmare. As long as a night might seem, dawn eventually comes. Similarly, a dawn will eventually come. The night of depression is not forever (see Mic. 7:8).
  10. It’s alright to get help. Needing the help of others is not a sign of weakness, but part of being human. While God created us for Himself, it is He who said it’s not good for man to be alone. It is He who created the institutions of marriage, family, friendship, community, and the church. Each of us need these. Even Jesus surrounded Himself with His closest disciples just prior to His crucifixion. When one is dealing with depression, although he wants to isolate himself, he needs his family and friends. He needs his pastor or professional counselor. God gives us one another to help one another. It’s not only alright to get help, but it can be detrimental to refuse the help and resources God provides.

Depression can be debilitating to a person. These truths will not take one’s depression away, but may they be of help to keep running the race, and as grace to persevere when everything inside wants to give up.

What Does It Mean to Be a Christian?

What does it mean to be a Christian? So much of what passes in American Christendom is not Christianity, but a hodgepodge of sensationalism, tradition, reconstructionalism, and in some cases, even paganism. Is it not strange that one can practice nearly any lifestyle or hold to nearly any ideology—regardless how antichrist these might be in nature—and still pass as “being Christian?

“Who are you to judge?” I’m asked. “Judge not, lest you be judged,” I’m told. Yet, the One whom they quote is also the One who warns of false teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, and weeds planted among the wheat. The One they quote is also the One who says we can know them by their fruit (this requires examining and judging between good and bad). And the One they quote is the One who says, Not everyone who calls me, “Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of Heaven … but those who do the will of my Father.”

People can throw out the “grace card” all they want, but grace is never extended just so we can continue living in sin and according to our own preferences and desires, just read Romans 6, Titus 2, 1 John, and Jude. No, none of us is perfect—but we are to grow in sanctification.

So, what does it mean to be a Christian? What does it mean to say Jesus is One’s Savior (He came to save us from our sins, not to continue in them). What does it mean to say He’s Lord? Does it mean we have an option to live however we want, when He tells us to take up our cross and follow Him? Does it mean we have a choice in what we will obey and what not? What does it mean to say, “I love Jesus”? When He says that the one who loves Him will keep His commands, but the one who does not love Him will not keep His commands.

A Pastoral Note

My blogs are not always well received by some. There are those who think I’m harsh, judgmental, and who accuse me of thinking I’m better than others. But I write with a purpose. See, I have not always been a Christian. When I was younger, I was far from God. Entrenched in death metal music, addicted to my immoral lusts, filled with anger and cynicism, while void of compassion. Life, for me, was completely meaningless and joyless. Then one night, after some amazing divinely arranged events, God drew me to Himself through His Son Jesus Christ, letting me know He loved me—despite myself. He delivered me from the realm of darkness I dwelled in. I love Him for all this. No, I’m not perfect, and I’m not better than anyone. And I live with a lot of heartache and regrets.

Yes, I’m still tempted by sin, and I still struggle with my sinful nature, but I don’t want to go back to where I was—or who I was. I desire to know Christ, even if it means for Him to hurt my feelings by a rebuke or conviction.

Over the years a lot of water has passed under the bridge. So much of what is going on in churches and denominations are not truly to the glory of God and His Son Jesus Christ. So many are dismissing what the Bible says, pursuing their own agendas, and holding to ideologies and living lifestyles that our contrary to the very character of God.

Although the New Testament clearly teaches the life-transforming and moral aspects of the Gospel (see Jude 4; Titus 2:11-12), so many don’t want to hear it. The New Testament repeatedly warns of false teachers who will lead people astray—and this will grow worse as Jesus’ return draws closer, no one wants to hear this. It’s considered “judgmental.” 

Paul warns the time will come when people will no longer put up with sound doctrine:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth. ~ 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Friends, the Bible is either true or it isn’t. Truth does not “evolve” nor is it “relative.” To dismiss the Scriptures is to jettison Christianity altogether, and to simply construct a religion of one’s own making.

Persons can accuse me of being harsh, judgmental, even hypocritical, but none of this makes the warnings of the Scriptures less valid or less true. I might remain unpopular, even unliked by many, but the Bible’s warnings are still sounding out. What people’s opinions of me is irrelevant. However, what each person does with the warnings is extremely relevant.

Our Passover and Shelter from the Storm

Have you ever had a severe storm come your direction? Your heart beat wildly as the weather reports displayed your area being right in line of the storm, but nothing happened. The storm seemed to simply pass over you while the news reported neighboring towns having a lot of damage.

In Exodus, we read of a coming storm, of sorts, coming toward Egypt. The Lord was bringing judgment and was going to kill the firstborn of every household. However, He instructed every household of His people to take a lamb, to slay it, put its blood over the door posts, then roast the meat to feed on. God’s judgment would pass over every household that followed His instructions.

This Passover was not only about judgment, but it was also about deliverance. The Lord was not only bringing affliction to the Egyptians but also a great rescue mission of His people from their slavery and captors.

Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it…. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. ~ Exodus 12:7-8, 12-13

Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb for His people. And just as the people of old were to get rid of all leaven in their homes in preparation, so too, we are told to get rid of the leaven of sin in our lives and homes.

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. ~ 1 Corinthians 5:7

We were once in bondage, slaves to sin. God’s judgment was coming our way, but Christ our Passover was also the firstborn Son who was inflicted with the death which was rightfully ours. 

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21

What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. ~ Romans 6:15-18

The storm of God’s wrath against our sin was coming like a freight train, but God’s Lamb was sacrificed and the Firstborn incurred our punishment. His blood is sprinkled over the door posts of our hearts and conscience, and God’s wrath has passed over us.

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood. ~ 1 Peter 1:1-2

The Bible tells us a storm is brewing once again, and the time is coming when God’s wrath is going to be unleashed again with fury against men’s sins and obstinate rebellion and unbelief (see Rev. 6-18). Yet, Jesus remains the Passover and Shelter for all who put their trust in Him.

Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame; they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous. ~ Psalm 25:3

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you . ~ Psalm 91:1-3 

My hope and prayer for you, my friend, is that you know Jesus Christ as your Passover and Shelter. Only through Him is there safety and shelter from the holy wrath of God poured out because of sin. May you not get caught and swept away by the storm.

*Listen to this weekend’s podcast, “All Hail the King!”:


https://anchor.fm/geno-pyse/episodes/All-Hail-the-King-e144di7