Throwback Thursday ~ Four Reasons Why It Matters Who We Share, Pin, and Re-Tweet

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Originally Published May 22, 2014social media sharing11016795_940772822630319_6378691848652775577_n

Scroll…scroll…wince…

Scroll…scroll…wince…

I find myself wincing a bit when I see people –who I know genuinely love Jesus—sharing, pinning, and re-tweeting quotes from false teachers such as Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, and Christine Caine, just to name a few. Why? What’s wrong with the encouraging, even biblical, at times, things these people say?

First of all, let me back up a little. What is a “false teacher”? A false teacher is someone who is billed as a Christian pastor or Bible teacher who habitually and unrepentantly writes, teaches, or preaches things that conflict with the clear teaching of Scripture. For example, all four of the people I listed above teach some version of the prosperity gospel, the false teaching that is most rampant in the Western church today. Additionally, T.D. Jakes adheres to the false doctrine of modalism, and Joyce Meyer and Christine Caine blatantly disobey the Bible’s teaching that women are not to be pastors or instruct men in the Scriptures in the church.

These days, it can be difficult to keep up with who teaches sound doctrine and who does not, especially when pastors and teachers we thought were theologically orthodox seem to be turning apostate at an alarming rate. I myself have been a fan of more than one popular writer/teacher/preacher that I later realized was a false teacher (Joyce Meyer was one of them.) as I delved into what they actually taught and believed and compared it to God’s word. I know first hand that it’s easy to think that these people are good biblical teachers and preachers when what they say sounds good, makes us feel good, and has an occasional Bible verse sprinkled in.

Because I’ve been there myself and know how easy it can be to be drawn in by false teachers, I don’t have any less respect for folks who re-tweet the occasional Osteen-ism of the day. th (1)In fact, I have more respect for them, because I know they love the Lord, they’re making an effort to find biblical teaching to listen to, and they have the courage to try to share the gospel with their friends and family via social media. Those are all fantastically good things, and they are to be commended.

But, still, the quotes we share and the people who said them matter. Why?

1. Lost people’s eternities are at stake.
Seriously? From hitting the “share” button on a false teacher’s status? Seriously. I don’t think that’s overstating the gravity of the matter. There’s no way to take the possibility of an eternity in hell too seriously.

Think about it: You have an unsaved Facebook friend. She’s getting to the point in her life where she figures it’s time to get her stuff together, so she starts looking into this whole Jesus thing. Where to start? She’s never even set foot inside a church. Aha! She remembers you’re a Christian. Maybe you’ll have a good lead for her. As she’s thinking about all this, you share Joyce Meyer’s status, and it appears in your friend’s news feed. “Ah,” your friend thinks, “this must be a good Bible teacher if my Christian friend follows her.” So she “likes” Joyce Meyer’s Facebook page and follows her on Twitter. Then she starts watching her on TV. Buys some of her books. Maybe attends one of her conferences. Because your friend has zero knowledge of the Bible, she believes everything Joyce Meyer says. It sounds good. It makes her feel good. She’s hearing a few out of context Bible verses here and there. But the problem is that Joyce Meyer doesn’t teach the Jesus of the Bible. She teaches a false god of her own creation. And if your friend doesn’t put her faith in the true Jesus of the Bible, she’s just as lost as she was before. Only now she thinks she’s a Christian. And you can’t convince her otherwise.

Sound far fetched? Maybe. Maybe not. But if there’s even the slightest chance something like that could happen, is it really worth justifying that status share? Furthermore, is it worth even following a teacher who could lead someone you love to an eternity in hell?

2. It gives false teachers free publicity and a broader platform.
One thing I was very surprised to learn when I first began the process of having my book published is that publishers want non-fiction writers to have a built in audience, or “platform,” before they will publish your book. That means you’re already doing speaking engagements and/or have a decent sized ministry, have lots of followers on social media, etc. As I once explained to someone, “You don’t get your book published and then become (celebrity Bible teacher) you have to be (celebrity Bible teacher) in order to get published.”

human-334110_640Social media stats are a big factor in a celebrity preacher’s/teacher’s platform. If T.D. Jakes suddenly lost the majority of his social media followers, you can bet the TV stations he’s on and the conferences he gets invited to would be taking a serious look at whether or not they’d continue to affiliate with him, because it would indicate that his audience is shrinking.

Conversely, when we re-pin, re-post, or re-tweet these folks, their social media stats go up. They not only get a broader platform on social media from which to spread their unbiblical teaching, they continue to get more book, radio, TV, and other media deals, get invited to speak at more conferences, and even start exporting their false teaching overseas (“missions”) to people who have never heard the gospel before and have no way of knowing they’re being lied to.

When we promote false teachers on social media, we bear some of the responsibility for the spread of their false doctrine.

3. It is disobedient to Scripture.
Often, when a Christian is told she’s following a false teacher, the common response is, “Oh, I just chew up the meat and spit out the bones,” meaning that she takes to heart the “good” things the false teacher has to say and ignores the bad.

The question is: where does the Bible say this is the correct way to deal with false teachers? Answer: it doesn’t. In fact Scripture says exactly the opposite.

For starters, Galatians 1:6-9 says that if anyone preaches a different gospel (such as the prosperity gospel) from the one that’s set down in Scripture, “let him be accursed.” “Accursed” means “damned,” sentenced to hell for eternity.

1 Timothy 4:7 and Titus 3:10 say that we are to have nothing to do with people who teach “irreverent or silly myths” or cause division by teaching false doctrine.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 tells us not to be joined together or partner with unbelievers, lawlessness, darkness, Belial (the devil), or idols.

1 Corinthians 5:7-13 tells us that when a person infiltrates the church who claims to be a Christian, yet is greedy, an idolater, or a swindler— all of which are things that prosperity preachers are guilty of— we are to “cleanse out the old leaven.” We are “not to associate” with them. We are to “purge the evil person from among you.”

Titus 1:10-16 says of false teachers, “They must be silenced,” because they teach “for shameful gain what they ought not to teach.” Paul instructs Titus to “rebuke them sharply,” and that, “they profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.”

The entire second chapter of 2 Peter paints a dismal picture of the motives, the behavior, and the fate of false teachers:

“Because of them, the way of truth will be blasphemed.”

“In their greed they will exploit you with false words.”

They will “be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing.”

“They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.”

“They entice unsteady souls.”

“For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.”

“They promise them [people who listen to their false teaching] freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.”

The entire epistle of Jude is dedicated to exhorting Christians to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Of false teachers, Jude says:

“Certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ…Woe to them!”

There’s more, because a large portion of the New Testament is dedicated to exhorting Christians to stay away from false doctrine and rebuke those who teach it, but I think you get the picture. Is it obedient to Christ and to His word to follow and promote someone He says is damnable? People who teach another gospel, such as the prosperity gospel, are the enemies of Christ. Who are we going to side with, Christ or His enemies?

4. It is unloving and disloyal to our Master.
Think about the person you love the most in this world. Maybe it’s your spouse, your child, a parent, or a friend. Next, think about your favorite celebrity, perhaps a movie star, a TV personality, or a famous author or athlete. Now try to imagine that that celebrity, in interviews with journalists, on talk shows he appears on, at personal appearances and speaking engagements, in books he writes, etc., routinely tells lies about the character of your dearest loved one. And ththousands, maybe millions, of people believe him.

Would you continue to be a fan of that celebrity?

What if your loved one found out you were a fan of that celebrity? How would she feel to know you were a fan of someone who spreads lies about her?

If we wouldn’t follow someone who lies about a loved one, how much less should we as Christians have anything to do with a celebrity preacher, teacher, or author who drags the name of our precious Savior through the mud and lies about the gospel?

 

Friends, for all of these reasons and more, let’s stop promoting these false teachers on social media by publicizing their quotes and other materials. Looking for an encouraging quote to share? There’s nothing better than a verse of Scripture. Because Scripture can offer people something that false teachers can’t: truth and hope. As Jesus Himself said,

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” John 17:17

Wednesday’s Word ~ Hebrews 10

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Hebrews 10

For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near. Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered, since the worshipers, having once been cleansed, would no longer have any consciousness of sins? But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

“Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
    but a body have you prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God,
    as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.’”

When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law), then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.

15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
    after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
    and write them on their minds,”

17 then he adds,

“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,

“Yet a little while,
    and the coming one will come and will not delay;
38 but my righteous one shall live by faith,
    and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”

39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. What is the overall theme of Hebrews 10?

2. What are the “good things to come” (v.1) that were foreshadowed by the law?

3. Why, according to verses 11-14, 18, do priests no longer need to make sacrifices for sin?

4. According to verses 19-22, how may we now approach God, and why are we allowed to approach Him this way?

5. What reason, as described in verses 26-30, would someone have to fear falling into the hands of the living God (v.31)?

Lesley’s Lagniappe ~ 2-3-15

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lagniappereading-bible3 Reasons Why Reading the Bible Feels Like a Chore- We are, after all, a people of the Book. So why is it that reading the Bible seems like such a chore? Here are three that I’ve seen crop up most frequently in my own life:

 

heart-603214_12807 Ways Wives Can Love Their Husbands- While we husbands may (or may not) be hard to buy presents for, there are several things you can give us that would mean much more than anything you could find in a store.

 

m_unnamed_350_234_90When You Are No Longer a Pastor’s Wife- Since this situation affects so many ministers, my husband had many outlets to turn to. Strangely, there are fewer avenues that address the proper response for the wife.

 

Coca-Cola Mixed with Mentos in a Tub- To be perfectly honest, what grabbed me about this video was not the fizzy Coke bath, but how tiny Japanese bathtubs are and that they seem to share a faucet with the sink.

 

future1(1)The 100 Best Free Fonts- I admit it. I’m a font junkie.

 

 

2-Chronicles-7-14-webThe Most Shared Verses in Their Context (2 Chronicles 7:14)- Last year I looked at the Top 10 Most Shared Bible Verses from 2013 in their context. Today we will look 2 Chronicles 7:14, which is the third most shared verse of 2014.

 

andy-stanley-257x300Is Homosexual Affirmation an Inevitability for Andy Stanley?- Stanley clearly and repeatedly stressed the sin of adultery, but then left the reality of the homosexual relationship between the two men unaddressed as sin. To the contrary, he seemed to normalize their relationship. They would be allowed to serve on the host team if both were divorced.

Missions Monday ~ 3-2-15

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Missions Monday is designed to expose you to some awesome missions and evangelism stories, resources, and information in the shameless hope that you will be moved to get more involved in supporting and participating in missions and develop a greater burden for sharing the gospel with those around you.

full_when-your-faith-for-fishing-is-smallWhen Your Faith for Fishing is Small- When Jesus tells us to “fish,” we must not place our faith in our expertise (or lack thereof), experience, or the current level of our faith. At his word let’s just faithfully go out and let down our nets.

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A Plea for Gospel Sanity in Missions- Sadly, the Western church’s obsession with numbers has had a destructive effect so that the name of Christ is blasphemed in India.

Mexico_States_blank_mapThe Gospel in Mexico- I would urge us to unite in prayer for a real awakening in the gospel of the cross of Christ—an awakening that would bring a new reform to the Latin American church, a return to a sincere faith based on the Word of God, and with the ultimate goal of truly exalting Christ.

2c0343f7-e1423772001614-1024x512An Encouraging Secret Church Story- I’ll be leaving with a small teaching group from our church and going to a place in this world that has been dark for a very long time. I’ll only be gone for a little more than a week but it’s my first international mission trip.

22415-120185Durham Church Equips Members as Missionaries in the Marketplace- Whether it’s in your neighborhood or in your job … God has put you there in His sovereignty and in His providence for a reason, and that reason is for you to be a missionary.

3352170211_4484a6ddac_oFifteen Reasons Our Churches Are Less Evangelistic Today- By almost any metric, the churches in our nation are much less evangelistic today than they were in the recent past. In my own denomination, we are reaching non-Christians only half as effectively as we were 50 years ago.

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Jesus Wants You to Be a Hater ~ at Satisfaction Through Christ

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Did you know that the Bible actually tells us to hate certain things? Not people who disagree with us or people enslaved by sin- that’s the world’s definition of being a hater…But as Christians, the Bible tells us there are certain things it is good and holy for us to hate. If we don’t hate them, we’re being disobedient to our Lord.

Head on over to Satisfaction Through Christ, and find out about four things God wants Christians to hate in my new article, Jesus Wants You to Be a Hater.

What does the Bible mean when it says:
“Hate what is Evil; cling to what is good”?

Throwback Thursday ~ There’s Mor Than Just Chikin at Steak* Here

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Originally Published July 26, 2012Image

*Yes, I know I spelled it wrong in the title. That was on purpose. See the cows? :0)

If, this far into the game, you don’t know about “Chick-fil-A-gate” –as I’m calling it– you must have been living in a cave over the past few weeks. Without internet access, newspapers, cable TV, or, especially, social media.

In a counter response to the homosexual community’s response to Dan Cathy’s response (you’re following this, right?) to an interviewer’s questions, former governor/presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee created a Facebook event called “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day”. Basically, he’s encouraging all who agree with Mr. Cathy’s position on traditional marriage to support him and the restaurant chain (and make up for any business he has lost from the pro-homosexual community) by showing up at their local Chick-fil-A next Wednesday (Aug. 1) and buying some chicken.

In the broad scope of things, this day of appreciation is a nice idea, but one that will quickly be over when Chick-fil-A employees mop up and lock up at close of business. For better or worse, the whole brouhaha will soon blow over and people will go back to their lives.

Or will they?

You see, I’m betting that in a counter-counter response to the Chick-fil-A supporters, there will be some pro-homosexual groups of protesters who also show up. (Don’t hate on that. As long as they aren’t breaking any trespassing, traffic, etc., laws, they are well within their Constitutional rights to do so.)

That’s why I say there’s more at stake here than just chicken.

What if you had a chance to impact one of those people for eternity? What if you could play a part in making next Wednesday the turning point in someone’s life? What if you could be the first person ever to show someone what real Christianity looks like?

As nice of an idea as it is to throw Chick-fil-A some love, Jesus didn’t command us to support businesses we agree with. He commanded us to carry the gospel.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you;” Matthew 28:19-20a

If we walk into a Chick-fil-A next week, past a group of people who are dying in their sins, and ignore them, are we any better than the priest and the Levite who left a beaten and bloody man to die in the road rather than rescuing him? Even if they aren’t conscious of it themselves, these people have been battered, bloodied, and enslaved by Satan.

And we’re going to “pass by on the other side” to buy a chicken sandwich?

“Go and do the same” as the one who showed mercy, said Jesus.

Take them a cooler of iced down cokes. Tell them you love them. Ask them if there’s anything they need.  Show them you love them by taking the time to take an interest in them, personally. (Nobody feels loved if they think they’re just a notch on your spiritual belt.)

And share the gospel.

You might get laughed at or cursed at or mocked, but there’s no greater way to show mercy than to show someone the Savior.

Your chicken sandwich could change somebody’s life.

Forever.

Wednesday’s Word ~ 1 Peter 3

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10956047_925379967502938_4925571357353721499_n1 Peter 3

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 10 For

“Whoever desires to love life
    and see good days,
let him keep his tongue from evil
    and his lips from speaking deceit;
11 let him turn away from evil and do good;
    let him seek peace and pursue it.
12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
    and his ears are open to their prayer.
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

13 Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, 16 having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, 20 because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. 21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider:

1. According to verses 1-2, what is the biblical way for women to win their husbands to godliness?

2. Does verse 3 prohibit women from wearing jewelry, nice clothes, or fashionable hairdos? How can you tell from the surrounding context? Where does true beauty come from (verses 4-6)?

3. What does verse 7 tell us about how the husband should relate to his wife and the impact that has on his spiritual life?

4. Verses 13-17 talk about suffering due to what reason? Why is it important to defend our faith “with gentleness and respect” (verses 15-16)?

5. What does verse 18 mean when it says Christ suffered, “the righteous for the unrighteous”? Why did Christ have to be sinless to make atonement for our sins on the cross?

 

Lesley’s Lagniappe ~ 2-24-15

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How to Make the Most of Your Bible Study- Whether we have 15 minutes or two hours, we want our efforts to yield the most benefit possible. But how can we make the most of the time we have to read and study?

A Prophet for an Undiscerning Church- If you want to get people mad at you (I mean really mad) just criticize Beth Moore’s teaching. Trust me on this.

1397664501_555014_womenoffaithReformation Montana Urges Caution Concerning Women of Faith- Women of Faith has a repeated history of inviting and promoting conference speakers that are sometimes questionably unchristian and at times, dangerous in their fidelity to certain unbiblical doctrines. Christine Caine…is one such speaker.

The Kitten & The Ducklings-

 

bible-open-tableDeveloping Godly Qualities in Our Children- What qualities does God want us to develop in our children? No need to guess. Scripture tells us specifically: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to have mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Google’s Denominational Stereotypes- If we want to know anything, we ask Google. The ubiquitous search engine knows all and tells all, even when you aren’t quite sure what to ask. Like if you type in “Why are Christians,” you get this as your suggested search…

street-photography-005Street Photography: Vivian Maier- Perhaps the most important street photographer of the twentieth century was a nanny who kept everything to herself. Nobody had ever seen her work and she was a complete unknown until the time of her death.

Missions Monday ~ 2-23-15

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Missions Monday is designed to expose you to some awesome missions and evangelism stories, resources, and information in the shameless hope that you will be moved to get more involved in supporting and participating in missions and develop a greater burden for sharing the gospel with those around you.

evangelism-300x199Answering “No” to One of these Questions Will Kill Your Evangelism- I commend them to you because they peel back the layers of our defensiveness toward evangelism and help us see what needs to be in place before we will be confident, joyful, and effective tellers of the good news.

BgkBBTkCcAAXl4SConfessions of a Reluctant Witness- He (not me) mentioned that God must have saved him for a purpose. Yes, he used that word…and I turned the conversation slowly toward the gospel, which he received warmly.

witnessing-to-new-agers

Witnessing to New Agers- The New Age Movement (NAM) has been very successful at infiltrating our society. It’s principles and practices are seen in business, entertainment, sports, health, schools, and even the evangelical church.

 


Syria: Liena’s Prayer
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20141103pl-279_copyFormer Journeyman Makes Home Among South Asians in NYC- Living and ministering in one of the most diverse ZIP codes in the U.S., Camille says she daily meets immigrants who have never heard the name of Christ.

roles-it1-300x228How Bible Translation Relies on Technology- IT in Wycliffe Bible Translators? Don’t you all just sit down with books and translate by hand? Not by a long way! Technology is used in Bible Translation in ways you may never have thought of.

image1Roadside Encounter Set Him on the Right Path: A Story of Hope- I never tire of thanking you for the way you allow God to use you (may he bless you always). Now I live to give glory and honor to my Savior, Jesus Christ. My heart yearns to read and study his Word.

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The “Forbidden Fruit” Fallacy

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You’ve heard the old adage: “forbidden fruit is sweeter.” When people use this phrase, what they mean is that if you tell someone he can’t have or do something, he’s going to want to have or do it all the more just because it’s forbidden.

I heard this little cliché several times last week on blogs, on Facebook, in discussion groups, etc., in reference to the deluge (yes, I contributed to it) of Christian blog and press articles decrying the movie Fifty Shades of Grey, and discouraging Christians from attending. Apparently – and I can see where they’re coming from, a little, I guess – some folks felt that the strong, repetitive, and biblical stand against Fifty Shades turned it into a piece of forbidden fruit that a) actually informed Christians (who would have been otherwise oblivious) that this movie even existed (Really? People are tech savvy enough to be on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, but they were completely unaware of this movie? Ok, I suppose it’s possible.) and b) made Christians want to go see the movie because of its verboten status. The implication was that, if Christians went to see this movie, it was the fault – at least in part – of Christian writers who had warned against it.

Seems reasonable, right?

Until, that is, you start looking at this line of thinking a little more closely through the lens of Scripture.

Pop quiz: What does the phrase “forbidden fruit” allude to?
a) prunes
b) Snow White’s poisoned apple
c) the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Eden

Please tell me you answered “c,” because, if you didn’t, I might have to sit down and cry. When God put Adam in the Garden way back in Genesis 2, He said, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (2:16-17) Fruit. Forbidden. Boom.

Notice that God is the One who forbade Adam from eating this fruit. God’s way, throughout the entirety of Scripture, is to warn the people He loves of the dangers and consequences of sin, not to keep His yap shut and His fingers crossed that they don’t stumble into a pit. God didn’t stick the tree in the middle of the Garden and say to Himself, “Gee I hope Adam doesn’t notice this tree and eat from it, but I’m not going to mention it to him because I’m scared that I’ll make him aware that it exists, and that he’ll want to eat from it just because I said he can’t.” Uh uh. God pointed it out and said, “No.”

And let’s take a gander at something else in this story. What caused Adam and Eve to eat from the tree? Was it God telling Adam not to eat from it? No. If that was all it took, why don’t we find Adam eating the fruit immediately after God told him not to? Why didn’t Eve immediately eat from the tree upon learning from Adam of God’s prohibition against it?

Because the warning is not what led them to sin.

We don’t see Eve lay a finger on that fruit until Satan enters the picture. He tempted her, and she gave in to sin.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 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.
James 1:13-15

It wasn’t God’s fault for putting the tree there. It wasn’t God’s fault for warning them. It was Adam’s fault and Eve’s fault for being disobedient.

And giving in to sin is still our fault today. If you went to see Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s not God’s fault for allowing the movie to exist. It’s not some Christian blogger’s fault for making you aware of the movie or warning you not to see it. It’s your fault. You were tempted. You gave in to sin. (The good news is that if you will repent, God will graciously forgive you.)

As Christians we are to be imitators of God. “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:6) That means that when we see sin that could easily ensnare our brothers and sisters, we don’t turn our heads. We don’t mind our own business. We don’t keep our mouths shut to be polite. We do the same thing God did time after time in the Bible. We run into the fray to rescue those we love.

And we are not to blame if there are those who choose to charge headlong into sin rather than heed the alarm we sound.

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