We saw last time that Paul affirmed the Bible as the only reliable criterion by which believers in this age can evaluate messages claiming to be truth from God. That testing of truth Paul calls for is not merely an academic exercise. It demands an active, twofold response.
First there is a positive response to whatever is good: “Hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). This is an echo of Romans 12:9: “Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.” The expressions “hold fast” and “cling to” speak of jealously safeguarding the truth.
Paul is calling for the same careful watchfulness he demanded of Timothy every time he wrote him: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you” (1 Timothy 6:20); and “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me. . . . Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Timothy 1:13–14).
In other words, the truth is given to our custody, and we are charged with guarding it against every possible threat. It’s a militant, defensive, protective stance against anything that undermines the truth or does violence to it in any way. We must hold the truth securely, defend it zealously, and preserve it from all threats. To placate the enemies of truth or lower our guard is to violate this command.
Paul’s exhortation to “hold fast” also carries the idea of embracing something. It goes beyond basic assent to “that which is good” and speaks of loving the truth wholeheartedly. Those who are truly discerning are passionately committed to sound doctrine, to truth, and to all that is inspired by God.
Every true Christian has this quality to some degree. Paul even defined salvation as “the love of the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10), and he told the Corinthians they proved their salvation by holding fast to the gospel he had delivered (1 Corinthians 15:2). Those who utterly fail to hold fast to the saving message are those who have “believed in vain”; that is, their faith was empty to begin with. The apostle John said something similar: “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). All true believers hold fast to the gospel.
Paul was urging the Thessalonians to nurture and cultivate their love for truth, to let it rule their thinking. He wanted them to foster a conscious commitment to all truth; a faithfulness to sound doctrine; a pattern of holding fast to all that is good.
The attitude Paul calls for is incompatible with the suggestion that we should lay doctrine aside for the sake of unity. It cannot be reconciled with the opinion that hard truths should be downplayed to make God’s Word more palatable for unbelievers. It is contrary to the notion that personal experience takes precedence over objective truth. God has given us His truth objectively in His Word. It is a treasure that we should protect at all costs.
This is the opposite of reckless faith. Paul leaves no room for rote tradition. He makes no place for a blind, irrational faith that refuses to consider the authenticity of its object and just accepts at face value everything that claims to be true. He rules out the kind of “faith” that is driven by feelings, emotion, and the human imagination. Instead, we are to identify “that which is good” by examining everything carefully, objectively, rationally—using Scripture as our standard.
No human teacher, no personal experience, no strong feeling is exempt from this objective test. Jay Adams writes, “If inspired prophecies in the apostolic age had to be subjected to testing. . . then surely the teachings of men today should also be put to the test.” Indeed, if the words of prophets in apostolic times needed to be examined and evaluated, then surely we ought to subject the words of self-proclaimed “prophets” and preachers today to even more intense scrutiny in the bright light of the completed New Testament. The same is true of every subjective experience and every emotion. Experience and feelings—no matter how powerful—do not determine what is true. Rather, those things themselves must be subjected to the test.
“That which is good” is truth that accords with God’s Word. The word “good” is kalos, meaning something that is inherently good. It isn’t just something that is fair to look at, lovely or beautiful in appearance. This speaks of something good in itself—genuine, true, noble, right, and good. In other words, “that which is good” does not refer to that which is entertaining. It does not refer to that which garners accolades from the world. It does not refer to that which is satisfying to the flesh. It refers to that which is good, true, accurate, authentic, dependable—that which is in agreement with the infallible Word of God.
When you find such truth, embrace it and guard it like a treasure.
(Adapted from Reckless Faith.)
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My deist friend ECM sent me this shocking article from Church for Men blog. Please read, then read my comments below.
When forced to choose their top priority in life, Christian women overwhelmingly pick family over faith, according to a survey from Barna Research. Five times more women chose “being a mother or parent” than chose “being a follower of Christ,” as their most important role in life.
These stunning survey results give us a clue as to why Christianity is so rapidly changing into a family-centered faith; why Christian culture is feminizing; and why the gender gap in many denominations continues to grow.
The researchers wrote:
[Women’s] spiritual lives are rarely their most important source of identity. That role is taken up by the strong priority Christian women place on family.
The preeminence of family was most overt for Christian women when it came to naming the highest priority…
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Now that Fred Butler and I have finished our review of Authentic Fire by Dr. Michael Brown, we’re going to remaster the whole series and post it on the Cripplegate over the next 11 or so weeks. Due to this, as well as upcoming speaking engagements, I’ll have little time for blogging here over the next month or so. I’ll try to toss out a post or two a week, but I’d suggest checking out the Cripplegate (new post every Thursday) as that will likely become quite an animated blog when some of our responses hit the web. I’m guessing that more than a few people will be quite upset and a few unnamed folks will end up having a self-induced nosebleed by the time this is over.
Maybe some folks should stop hitting themselves, but I cannot force people to read what I write or make rational arguments or…
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When I was writing my book Answering the Guy Questions, I interviewed many godly young men to get their perspective on young women today. One of my questions was, “How can girls help guys become the men God created them to be?” Without hesitation, each of the young men responded, “By dressing more modestly!”
A young woman who exudes true feminine beauty dresses in a way that reflects the joy and radiance that Christ has placed within her soul. Her goal is to point people’s eyes to Jesus and not to herself.
Christ-focused young men are praying for young women who will dress in a way that assists a man’s mental purity rather than tempts him to compromise. But as fashion trends become more and more sensual, many Christian girls feel they have no choice but to comply with the culture. It’s all too easy to justify dressing provocatively, simply because “it’s not as bad as what some girls are wearing!” But what is God’s standard for modesty?
|Dr. John MacArthur|
The gospel in vogue today holds forth a false hope to sinners. It promises them that they can have eternal life yet continue to live in rebellion against God. Indeed, it encourages people to claim Jesus as Savior yet defer until later the commitment to obey Him as Lord. It promises salvation from hell but not necessarily freedom from iniquity. It offers false security to people who revel in the sins of the flesh and spurn the way of holiness. By separating faith from faithfulness, it teaches that intellectual assent is as valid as wholehearted obedience to the truth.
Thus the good news of Christ has given way to the bad news of an insidious easy-believism that makes no moral demands on the lives of sinners. It is not the same message Jesus proclaimed.
This new gospel has spawned a generation of professing Christians whose behavior is indistinguishable from the rebellion of the unregenerate. . . .
Apprising Ministries has more detail.
A few weeks ago I set out on a series of articles through which I am scanning the history of the church—from its earliest days all the way to the present time—to examine some of Christianity’s most notable false teachers. Along the way we have visited such figures as Arius, Joseph Smith, Ellen G. White and Norman Vincent Peale. Today we turn to one of the most outrageous charlatans of our time, a man who claims to have healed countless people. His name is Benny Hinn.
I am going to admit something here. Though I have educators all through my family and I have the greatest respect for teaching as a profession (in the sense that Socrates was a teacher) I have little respect for our public schooling system. Though I went through one of the “best” public school systems in the United States nearly my entire experience, with a few shining exceptions was of mediocrity of thought and effort from both the teachers and the students. School rewarded those filled in the circles and check the boxes. It was a machine. But I can say at least that I never had any completely inappropriate political rants from any teachers. There was some political correctness to be sure but I never remember any slavish homages to big government. But I guess I was one of the lucky ones. In California at a recent gathering the president of the California Federation of Teachers Joshua Pechthalt said;