Perceptions of Kay Arthur and Precept Ministries International

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I want to be clear from the outset of this article that, while I regret that I cannot endorse Kay Arthur’s materials or conferences, I do not believe the content of her written or verbal teaching contains or promotes false doctrine, and I am not labeling her a false teacher or a heretic.

perceptions kay arthur

Kay Arthur might be considered, and deservedly so, one of the “founding mothers” of women’s Bible study. Kay and her husband Jack served as missionaries in Mexico for 3½ years before returning to the United States and founding Precept Ministries International in 1970. The teaching goal of Precept is to instruct Christians in the Bible “book by book, verse by verse, using the Inductive Bible Study method.” Now in her eighties, Kay is still going strong. She has written numerous books, teaches all over the world, and hosts Precepts for Life, a daily television, radio, and on-line Bible study program.¹

Kay seems to be a lovely person with an almost tangible passion for people to study and rightly handle the word of God. She is a fine role model for younger women, showcasing growth to godly maturity, and a solid example to older women that serving Christ is something we never retire from. Kay comports herself like a lady and exudes warmth, grace, kindness, and a sort of motherly love towards those under her teaching. She is the kind of woman I aspire to be, and I would very much like to be able to wholeheartedly endorse her.

Because of the plethora of false teachers in the women’s Bible study realm, and due to other issues in question, several readers have written to me asking if I recommend Kay Arthur as a trustworthy Bible study author and speaker. With most teachers this answer comes easily, because there is ample evidence of the teacher’s Bible twisting (or doctrinal soundness) and/or sinful (or godly) behavior. Kay’s case, however, is more complex, so I would like to address the issues which are components in whether or not I endorse a particular teacher.

In order to address these issues, on top of my usual research, I have attempted to contact Kay Arthur with some questions (at this time she has not responded). I have also interviewed a doctrinally sound, discerning source who has been a Precept leader for several years and taught many of Kay Arthur’s studies. She has sat under Kay Arthur’s teaching in person at various Precept meetings and conferences, and has interacted with many other Precept leaders. For personal reasons, my source prefers to remain anonymous, so I will refer to her as “Jill.”

When evaluating a female teacher or author to determine whether or not I will recommend her, I research her teaching and habits in three main areas: her doctrine and hermeneutics, her ministry partnerships and associations, and her behavior. Another major consideration is whether or not any problems in these three areas are current, ongoing, and unrepentant, or if there were issues of sin in these areas in the past that have since been repented of and corrected. We need to remember that even the godliest teacher is still a human being who sins as well as a Christian who learns God’s word and grows to maturity over the span of her lifetime. The issue is not whether a teacher has ever sinned in these areas, but whether a teacher knowingly persists in sin or is teachable, repents, and avoids sin when it is pointed out to her. Let’s examine Kay Arthur’s teaching and habits in these three areas.

Doctrine and Hermeneutics

Kay Arthur has been publicly teaching the Bible for nearly fifty years. That’s an extremely large body of teaching, books, and materials. Yet citations of biblical error in her doctrine and teaching from credible sources are nearly non-existent in comparison.

The one major red flag that has been raised by discerning sources about Kay’s doctrine is her endorsement of Neil Anderson’s books The Bondage Breaker  and Victory Over the Darkness. Neil Anderson teaches an unbiblical view of spiritual warfare, and Kay should not have endorsed his books. It was unwise, undiscerning, and may indicate that she, herself, holds to an unbiblical doctrine of spiritual warfare, especially if she has espoused those teachings in her own lectures and materials.

That being said, Id like to point out that Victory Over the Darkness was published in 2000. Sixteen years ago. The Bondage Breaker was originally published in 1990, and a revised, second edition of the book came out in 2000. Does the revised edition of the book still carry Kay’s endorsement? Does she currently teach the aberrant view of spiritual warfare Anderson is known for? In the last sixteen years has Kay grown in her discernment and knowledge of the Bible to the point that she would never consider endorsing Andersons books now? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I’m not seeing any accusations out there that Kay is currently teaching unbiblical doctrine concerning spiritual warfare or any other essential tenet of Christianity.

Jill comments:

“The association with Neil Anderson…I am completely unaware of that. I will say in regard to her teaching on spiritual warfare that I have led the Precept Ephesians study and read the book Lord, Is It Warfare? and I see nothing out of line in either of those. She is very clear that we are not to engage the enemy (my words, not hers). That our line of defense is the sword of the Spirit – the Bible – just like Jesus defense against Satan when tempted was the Word. She brought out passages like Jude 9 where even the archangel Michael didn’t rebuke the devil.”

Ministry Partnerships and Associations:

This is the area that seems to be of most concern to the average Christian woman who is trying to decide whether or not to follow Kay Arthur. For four years, Kay partnered with false teachers Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer in LifeWay’s Deeper Still women’s conferences. The last of these joint conferences took place in June 2011. During that time LifeWay “packaged” the three women together in a variety of ways. I, myself, recall quipping that they were LifeWay’s “holy trinity of women’s Bible study.” However, I cannot find any evidence of Kay partnering with either Beth or Priscilla in the last five years. So far as I can tell, they have not shared a stage or co-authored any materials since 2011. (Kay does, however, still sell the two Deeper Still companion books she co-authored with Beth and Priscilla on the Precept web site.)

Jill comments:

“Concerning the yoking with Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer – she has said that her hope in doing that was to take these young women under her wing and teach them as an older woman. That was not what happened, so she distanced herself from them.”

“I can tell you that I have heard her caution women against following people who teach contemplative prayer without naming those people directly. But it was very clear the way she described the people she was cautioning against that she was describing Beth Moore (and probably Priscilla Shirer, too). She used words like “great influence,” “large following,” “thousands of people are listening to these women.” She also said specifically about the book Jesus Calling without saying the title itself.. .”Jesus only spoke in the first person in one book and this (held up her Bible) is it. If you are allowing that sort of stuff in your life, you need to stop.”

In 2002, Kay was one of the featured speakers at THRIVE: Becoming a Woman of Influence, a women’s conference simulcast. One of the other speakers was Joyce Meyer. As far as I can tell, they have not shared a stage since.

Jill comments:

“Concerning the speaking at the Joyce Meyer conference many years ago – what is MUCH harder to find is what she actually said at that event. She actually went behind Joyce and corrected her false teaching… She wasn’t invited back.”

In 2011, a staffer with Transform Student Ministries (an arm of Precept ministering to college students) posted a blog article on the TSM site containing an excerpt of false teacher Steven Furtick’s book Sun Stand Still. The article encouraged readers to put Furtick’s teaching from the excerpt into practice. When this was brought to the attention of TSM’s leadership, the blog post was removed and there have been no reports of TSM, Precept, or Kay Arthur using Furtick’s materials since that time.

More recently Kay has appeared at Break Forth Canada in 2013 and 2015 as well as in earlier years (she is not scheduled to appear in 2016). Break Forth Canada routinely features contemplative and Emergent speakers such as Tony Campolo, Erwin McManus, and Leonard Sweet.

Kay Arthur’s position has long been that she will speak anywhere she is invited in order to get her message out. To my knowledge, her messages in all of these venues have been doctrinally sound and possibly even correcting of false doctrine taught by some she shared a stage with. It does not seem that she acquiesced to any false doctrine of the sponsors of these conferences or of others on the dais. What is in question is her decision to appear along with those who are false teachers.

While the desire to speak biblical truth anywhere you’re invited is admirable, it is not always necessarily biblical. God’s word is abundantly clear that we are to mark and avoid false teachers and that we are not to partner with them. The Bible doesn’t say avoid false teachers and don’t partner with them unless you’re teaching a doctrinally sound message alongside them or at their conference. It just says “don’t.”

Because Kay has chosen to speak alongside false teachers, we now have an illustration of why the Bible says not to do this. First, because Kay is regarded as a doctrinally sound teacher, she lends credibility to the false teachers and doctrine she is associating herself with. Second, Kay’s own reputation as a doctrinally sound teacher is being called into question by discerning Christians who are knowledgeable about the false teachers and doctrine she is associating herself with.

Kay and her staff need to do a better and more discerning job of vetting the people she shares a stage with and the doctrine of the conferences she speaks at. Her policy regarding accepting speaking engagements should be modified to line up with God’s word.

Behavior

While, as I’ve already stated, Kay is the quintessence of ladylike behavior, grace, and kindness, there is a major area of her behavior which is unbiblical. One of the important things I look for when evaluating a female teacher is whether or not she teaches men (co-ed audiences) in violation of 1 Timothy 2:12. I do not endorse female teachers who unrepentantly persist in this sin any more than I would endorse a male pastor or teacher who unrepentantly persists in another sin.

Jill comments:

“In regard to how Kay handles teaching over men…. When I have watched a Precept-produced video, I have seen men in the audience of Kay’s recordings. But only the men that are on staff. Usually one or two. The only time I have been on campus is for a women’s conference. There are men floating around, but they’re usually popping in to handle facility matters – or audio visual technicians and that’s about it. Every now and then her son or husband would sneak in the back and sit and listen. But the women pretty much take over the whole campus…They offer both male and female video lessons for their studies so that mixed audiences can have a male teacher. The male teachers are an assortment of men on their staff and the female are always Kay. I will agree that she does not say “women only” on all her speaking engagements in churches she goes to speak to.”

If it were only a matter of male staff members, her son (who is the CEO of Precept), or her husband (who is also on staff at Precept) sitting in on Kay’s teaching sessions occasionally as part of their jobs, there would be no problem. As I have written in the past, there are some biblically legitimate reasons why a man might be present when a woman is teaching, and this is one of them.

Unfortunately the men in Kay’s audiences are not limited to her male staff members, and she goes beyond merely failing to indicate that her lectures are for women only. Kay seems to have no qualms about speaking at co-ed events and conferences (such as the aforementioned Break Forth Canada), and the Eventbrite page for the June 2016 Prepared for the Days Ahead conference, which the Precept site links to, actually invites men in the very first sentence.

Ladies, when the Bible clearly says not to do something and we do it anyway, justifying our behavior with excuses and caveats, that is sin. And when we have lots of eyes on us like Kay does, we have an even greater responsibility to set a godly example with our behavior. As good an example as Kay sets in other areas of her life and teaching, she sets a very poor and damaging example by unrepentantly persisting in the sin of teaching men.

 

Because her doctrine seems to be sound and she generally handles God’s word correctly, I will not say that Kay Arthur is a false teacher or a heretic. However, because she continues in the sin of teaching men and doesn’t see that speaking at conferences which use her good name to promote false doctrine is biblically problematic, I cannot commend her or her materials and conferences to others. There are many other fine Bible teachers and authors out there, both male and female, whose doctrine is sound and whose behavior in these areas is not in question.

It is my hope that Kay will repent where repentance is needed and bring these areas of her life and ministry into submission to and alignment with God’s word. It would then give me great joy to enthusiastically endorse her.


¹Kay Arthur – Co-Founder of Precept Ministries on the Precept Ministries International web site.


Additional Resources:

Disclaimer: The specific links below are provided and endorsed as evidence pertaining to this article only. I do not endorse any of these sites in so far as any of them might deviate from Scripture or conflict with my beliefs as outlined in the “Welcome or Statement of Faith tabs at the top of this page.
Additionally, I would urge you, when examining these resources, to take note of the dates of the events referred to and consider whether or not Kay Arthur is still engaging in these beliefs and practices.

The Question of Recommending Kay Arthur by Lori Williams

Women Teachers? Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, and Priscilla Shirer Believe In Teaching Men Too at Surph’s Side

The Bomb Was Bound To Burst About Kay Arthur From Precept Ministries International at For the Love of His Truth

Kay Arthur to Join Contemplative/Emergents at Canadian Conference Breakforth Again this Month at Discern the Time

Is Kay Arthur More Biblically Sound? at Branded

Kay Arthur at Apprising Ministries

Happy Birthday, Kay Arthur! by Elizabeth Prata

 

 

Throwback Thursday ~ Great Expectations

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Originally published February 6, 2014expectgreatthings-necklace (1)

Do we expect too much from God? Is that even possible?

No.

Yes.

Well, kinda.

You see, I’m not talking about expecting something and God being unable to deliver it. That’s just plain silly when talking about our omnipotent God. No, what I’m talking about is whether or not the expectations we come up with are grounded in biblical reality.

What do we mean when we talk about “praying expectantly” or coming to a time of corporate worship, study, or prayer, and “expecting God to do something”? Just what is it we are expecting God to do?

Could it be that He’s already doing something and we’re just not seeing it?

Sometimes, when we read God’s word, we expect God to do something just as “big” as He did in Moses’, Paul’s, or some other Bible hero’s life. We forget that the Bible is sort of like a “highlight reel” of the events in the lives of a handful of people that God drafted to be part of His visible activity at that moment in history.

We focus on the moments Moses had at the burning bush or walking through the Red Sea, and that’s what we want, too. r643167_4468740But we forget that Moses’ life wasn’t like that every day. We forget about the eighty years he spent wandering around the desert, half in the day to day monotony of shepherding on the back side of Midian, the other half, wandering around the wilderness with the people of Israel.

Eighty years of nothing special. Day after day of ordinary. Week after week of God not “showing up” and doing something amazing. Eighty years. That’s a lifetime for most of us.

Was God any less at work in Moses’ eighty years of desert thwandering than He was when He gave Moses the Law or spoke to him face to face or sent manna? Of course not. During those days, God was protecting Moses from the heat and wild animals, providing food and shelter for him, blessing him with a wife and children, directing his steps, teaching him obedience and trust.

Just like He does for us.

Have you read a Bible passage this week that allowed you to see more of God’s glory? God is doing something. He’s revealing Himself to you.

Are you praying for someone’s salvation? God is doing something. He’s working on the heart of that person.

Did you have a place to sleep last night and food on your table today? God is doing something. He’s providing for your needs.

Do you leave church on Sundays having been fed the truth of God’s word by your pastor? God is doing something. He’s growing you to spiritual maturity.

Is it possible that we’re expecting God to do something in our lives that isn’t in His particular plan for us? You aren’t Moses, and neither am I. Neither were the million or so other Israelites Moses led out of Egypt, and neither have the billions of other people been who have inhabited earth since Creation. Moses was Moses. You are you. God doesn’t have the same plan for your life He had for Moses’ life.

And, by the way, have you ever noticed that most of the people in the Bible through whom God did something “big” were not expecting it or asking for it? Moses wasn’t expecting God to show up in that burning bush. David wasn’t asking God to do great things in his life when Samuel dropped by to anoint him as the next king. Both of them were hanging out with the sheep when God called them. Paul thought he was already an awesome servant of God when he got knocked off his high horse. Mary wasn’t expecting to be expecting. She was just a teenage girl growing up and learning how to run a household.

1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12 says:

But we urge you, brothers to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

That’s what all of those Bible characters were doing when God chose them. Just regular people living regular lives doing regular work. Just like billions of other people through whom God has not chosen to do anything big and spectacular.

keep-calm-god-is-at-workBut that doesn’t mean God hasn’t been “doing something” in all of our lives. In fact, the vast majority of the work God does in our lives every single day goes unnoticed and unappreciated.

So, instead of setting our expectations on those very rare “wow factor” works of God that seem so appealing, maybe we should be asking Him to open our eyes to, and make us thankful for, all of the things He’s already doing in our lives. Instead of having great expectations of things that God has never promised us, maybe we should ask Him for, and expect Him to, do what He has promised:

Forgiveness for our sin

Christ-likeness

Provision for our needs

Endurance

The ability and opportunity to help others

Faithfulness

Humility

Patience

The opportunity to share the gospel

Because “all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” You can expect it.

Wednesday’s Word ~ Philemon

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philemon 6

Philemon

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24 and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


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


Questions to Consider:

1. Who is the author (1,19) of this letter, and to whom (1) was it written? Who are Onesimus and Philemon? What was the purpose of this letter?

2. What is the overall tone of this letter? Is it rebuking? Tender? Friendly? What are some words and phrases which enlighten you to Paul’s tone? What kind of relationship did Paul and Philemon have? (1, 4-7)

3. How does Paul’s instruction to Philemon to consider his returning slave as a brother in Christ (15-16) relate to Galatians 3:28? How do both of these passages speak to the issue of different roles yet equal worth in Christ? Does God’s love for you depend on your station in life?

4. What does Paul mean in verse 19 when he says Philemon owes “me even your own self”? How much do we owe to the person(s) who shared the gospel with us? Have you ever thanked God for the person who shared the gospel with you? 

5. Many people think the Bible condones the kind of slavery that was legal in the United States in earlier centuries. Does it seem as though the book of Philemon would support that assertion? Why or why not?

Guest Post: Itching Ears

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Since I’ve had to temporarily cut back on blogging I’ve asked some friends to contribute guest posts. If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.michael coughlin itching ears

Itching Ears
by Michael Coughlin

Itching ears abound in 2016. If you are reading this blog, you likely value discernment to a great deal. Consider a section of Scripture such as 2 Timothy 4:3-4:

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 and wander off into myths.

What we see here is the contrast between those who will desire sound teaching and those who will not. False teachers will be propped up by people with ‘itching ears’ to satisfy their own lusts.

The picture painted is striking. As I write this, I am imagining if my ears were itchy how I’d be unable to avoid scratching them. In fact, just thinking about it made my ear tingle, and I had to satisfy the itch! The analogy extends to other activities as well. There is a nearly unavoidable response by unregenerate man to his or her lust to attempt to satisfy those passions. The only mode of satisfaction which must be avoided is that of repentance toward sin and faith in Christ. Anything else goes.

In comes your friendly neighborhood spiritual leader/false teacher. You know the type. He or she is likable in some important way, speaking in a way which boosts self-esteems, smiling a lot, and using the word “God” or the phrase “God’s Word” like they were called to it! This false teacher may even proclaim the name of Jesus unashamedly. These folks are like a fingernail on the itch…they possess exactly what is needed to temporarily satisfy the longing!

So, good, discerning people like you and I investigate them. We watch a few sermons, read some of their websites or publications, and we write a post on a blog warning the brethren of the insidiousness of the false teacher. Maybe we throw out a tweet or two reminding people we love that this teacher will lead them away from God. Who knows, a Facebook group could ensue…and even be warranted. We use phrases like, “love rejoices in truth!” And we really believe that and mean it.

But I have noticed something which occurs once in a while which I think is ungodly and detracts from our real message. It seems to occur in media where shorter quips are thrown out, like Twitter, but can happen everywhere. Now I’m going to say something that to some people will be difficult to swallow:

Not every time a bad or false teacher says something are they wrong.

Yes, you read that right. Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, TD Jakes, Benny Hinn and Paula White are all right sometimes. Each of the examples above are folks who, made in God’s image, cannot help but agree with at least some things God has said. Just like the atheist who actually lives according to God’s precepts which are written on his heart…these people have an understanding of some of the things of God. Think about it…when they actually do quote Scripture they are saying something true.

I know, I know…”but they twist it,” you say! Yes, often they do. But not EVERY TIME, to be sure. The trend that most concerns me is the trend I see which is to take a single sentence or two out of the context that was given and absolutely lambaste a false teacher for their heretical beliefs. If anyone did that with the theologians you like and I look up to as well, we’d be annoyed. Good men (including Jesus, John, Paul) have made statements that, out of the context the statement was uttered, would be terribly evil or at least inane.

How many times has someone reminded you Jesus said “Judge not?” It would be easy to make a case for sinless perfection being taught by the Apostle John from 1 John, if you take a few verses out of context. And Paul? I don’t know how many times I’ve heard the ‘Paul was a misogynist’ argument based on a handful of instructions concerning women. And honestly, I can see how it would sound like it out of context.

My point is this – we ought to give the most ardent false teacher the same treatment as we give the Bible and good teachers in regard to judging the things they say in context. Not because they deserve it, but because it is the right thing to do. When we attack something that someone didn’t exactly say, we commit an error which is easily refuted by those who are being led astray by these folks, and we come out looking like the fools who can’t even be honest about what the person we are attacking really meant.

We owe it to our great God and Savior Jesus Christ to honestly present and assess opposing teachings to His wonderful doctrines. It is scholarly to make cases for biblical teaching against the best possible arguments against it. It is immature and dishonest to mischaracterize your opposition’s argument, and no honor is given to God in that process.

Application: So what do we do with this knowledge? Commit with me to ensure that you will treat false teachers’ statements like we would treat our favorite preacher’s statement, evaluating them in context. It may take a little effort, but it will be worth it. Most of the world’s false teachers say enough wicked, contradictory-to-Scripture things that you don’t have to reach too hard to find something to expose them for what they are!


Michael Coughlin is a street evangelist from Ohio. He and his wife, Erin have 5 children. You can find him on Twitter, at his blog, or on Sermon Audio.


ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THE BLOGGERS WHO SUBMIT GUEST POSTS, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANY BLOGGER YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.

 

Guest Post: A Portrait of the Heaven-Bound Slave

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Since I’ve had to temporarily cut back on blogging I’ve asked some friends to contribute guest posts. If your theology pretty much matches up with mine (as outlined in the “Welcome” and “Statement of Faith” tabs) and you’d like to contribute a guest post, drop me an e-mail at MichelleLesley1@yahoo.com, and let’s chat about it.

Kesha talents

A Portrait of the Heaven-Bound Slave
By: Kesha Griffin

When you think of the character of a Christian, what comes to mind? For some, we may think of loving, patient, kindness, giving, self-less, etc. (at least I hope this describes most Christians you know). Although all of these characteristics are important, I think many of us overlook one trait that our Lord often spoke about and held in high regard…faithfulness. In fact, the Bible teaches us that faithfulness (to the Word, to God, to His work) is a mark of a true believer. Sadly, we often hear how faithful God is to us (and He is), but rarely hear about the importance of being a faithful servant to our Master.

The Parable of the Talent is a great depiction of a faithful Christian. In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus is speaking to His disciples about the kingdom of heaven and begins telling them this parable of the talents. The parable involves a master, his three slaves, and the master’s talents (a measurement of gold, silver, money, etc.).The master represents Christ and the slaves represent believers and unbelievers. The story as told by Jesus, says the master was going away on a journey, and entrusted his slaves with his talents to manage while he was away. When the master returns home from his journey, his slaves show him what they did with the talents they were given.

Let’s examine the slaves in more detail:

#1- The Slave’s Portion
The master gave each slave a talent. The talent did not belong to the slave, it was entrusted to the slave. It belonged to the master (vs 14). Also notice, that the master gave each slave the amount he wanted them to have; One slave had five talents, one had two talents, and the other slave was given one talent. Finally, notice that the amount of the talents given to each slave was given according to their own ability (vs 15). The slaves didn’t ask the master to give them a certain amount of talents, the master decided how much, and to whom.

#2- The Slave’s Character
In the parable, two of the slaves immediately went out and starting working. This implies they had a sense of urgency, didn’t waste any time, and were eager to do the work of their master. It also appears these slaves were hard-working, searched for opportunity, put in effort, for the Scripture says they “went and traded” (vs 16). Lastly, not only did these slaves spend their time working diligently for their master, they found opportunities to make more for their master. They both doubled what was initially given to them.

The parable also reveals the character of the last slave. Although this slave was only given one talent, he went away, dug a hole and hid the money (vs 18). This implies that he didn’t want to work, there was no sense of urgency, and no desire to please his master. In fact, the Scripture says, he was “lazy and wicked” (vs 26). After burying his talent in the ground, he must have spent the rest of his time doing…whatever he wanted to do. His life was free from toiling for his master, he could do as he pleased.

Not only was this slave lazy but he had several excuses as to why he didn’t work for his master. He blamed his master, to the point of attacking the master’s character, saying that his master was a “hard” man (vs 24), and he blamed fear, said he was afraid (vs 25). He also tried to cover up his lack of effort by presenting the master the one talent he was entrusted with, as if he honestly wanted to please his master (vs 25).

#3- The Slave’s Reward
The two slaves who diligently worked for their master, both doubled their portion originally entrusted to them. Notice that although one slave ended up with ten talents, and the other four talents, they both received the same reward. The master commended them both and gave them more. How thrilled the slaves must have been to fulfill their obligated duty to work for the master, and to be rewarded by Him for doing so. What joy to hear their master say “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” (vs 21 and 23)

Sadly, the wicked and lazy slave received condemnation and punishment from the master (vs 26-28). The one talent he had was taken and given to the slave who had the most. His master called him a worthless slave and cast him into outer darkness, a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (vs 30). How tragic.

It seems like a harsh punishment for a slave who was simply lazy right? Well, let me suggest that this lazy slave was not simply lazy. He is a depiction of an unbeliever. A person who is wicked, and who doesn’t have a relationship with the Master. Notice the slave didn’t want to work or even attempt to please the master (buried the talent in the ground). He didn’t appear to know (personally/intimately) the master well, he accused the master of being a hard man. He didn’t make the most of the talent that was given to him, not even investing it in the bank to gain interest (vs 27). He was disobedient, not wanting to do as the master instructed, and lived his life for himself, not for the master.

Faithfulness is a characteristic of a true believer. Although not perfectly, are we truly living for Jesus, working diligently to make the most of all he has given us (our time, spiritual gifts, money, etc.), like a faithful slave? Is it our goal to please our Master? When Jesus comes to “settle the account” with us, will we hear the Master say “Well done my good and faithful slave…enter in”?


Kesha LOVES finding hidden treasures buried in Scripture and learning how to apply them to daily living. Her heart’s desire is that every Christian woman is equipped with sound doctrine, so that she may know God truthfully and intimately, and learn how to fight life with the sword, the Word of God. Follow Kesha at treasuresbykesha.com and on Twitter: @MrsKeshaGriffin and @treasurebyKesha.


ALTHOUGH I DO MY BEST TO THOROUGHLY VET THE THEOLOGY OF THE BLOGGERS who submit guest posts, IT IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE FOR THINGS TO SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS. PLEASE MAKE SURE ANY BLOGGER YOU FOLLOW, INCLUDING ME, RIGHTLY AND FAITHFULLY HANDLES GOD’S WORD AND HOLDS TO SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE.

Risky Business

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risky business

Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of preachers and divangelistas out there teaching that Christians have to constantly take “risks” as proof that we’re growing in Christ, that we have to perform acts of faith that take us outside of our comfort zone, that we have to dare to attempt things that could never be done without God’s direct, miraculous intervention or empowerment.

Well, I’d like to challenge all the proponents of that teaching to take a risk that (I hope) won’t be out of their comfort zone and doesn’t require any miraculous intervention from God:

Find the prescriptive passage of Scripture, chapter and verse, in context, rightly divided, that teaches this “risk doctrine”.

Because I don’t see it.

I see 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11 exhorting us to love the bretheren, live quietly, work with our own hands, and walk wisely before outsiders.

I see Titus 2:1-10 telling Christian men and women to learn to be, and teach others to be, submissive, self-controlled, loving, reverent, and kind.

I see the book of 1 John saying that salvation is evidenced by loving Christ, obeying God’s word, shunning worldliness, and confessing our sin.

I don’t see a single Bible character deciding “Hmmm…I’d better come up with some kind of daring deed to do to prove my faith.”

Moses was minding his own business tending sheep when God spoke to Him from the burning bush and called on him to confront Pharaoh and lead Israel out of Egypt. Moses’ response? “Send somebody else.”

David wanted to do a great thing for the Lord by building the temple, and God said no.

Paul and the apostles simply obeyed God’s command to preach the gospel. Their earthly reward? Persecution and martyrdom.

Sometimes, as we walk in daily obedience to God’s word, situations will arise that are scary. Circumstances in which we must trust Scripture over our experiences. Life events that require us to obey God’s word even if we lose a job or a friend. Times when we have to believe that God is doing what is best even if it isn’t the outcome we wanted. That’s not a risk; that’s walking in faith and obedience, depending on Christ to carry us through whatever He places in our path.

But the Bible doesn’t say anywhere that we have to prove our faith or growth in Christ by proactively coming up with some big, fat, hairy risk to take, stepping outside of our comfort zone, and daring to do what can only be done by the power of God.

In fact, that kind of thing sounds eerily similar to what Satan tempted Jesus to do. Among other things, Satan tempted Jesus to prove Himself by literally “stepping out on faith” – right off the top of the temple – and trusting God to catch Him. And what did Jesus do? He went straight to God’s word and obeyed it by saying no. “You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” It didn’t work that way for Jesus, and it doesn’t work that way for us.

The Bible teaches us to act in wisdom, to walk in obedience to Scripture, to trust God even when it’s scary or inconvenient or counter-intuitive. But for a pastor or teacher to say that Christians have to commit acts of derring do as proof of our faith or level of growth?

That’s risky business.

Throwback Thursday ~ Crafted Like Christ

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Originally published July 2, 2013crafted like christ

“Lord, make me more like Jesus,” I prayed.
“Yes, Beloved. I will,” He smiled.
He began to lay out the tools of His trade,
A sculptor’s tools, for shaping His child.

“Oh no, Lord, not those,” I gently whined,
As chisel and mallet He took in hand,
“Use instruments of a softer kind,
To help me walk as faith demands.”

“See, over here, the tools I’ve laid,
To gladden my spirit and brighten my eye.
Surely, the velvet cloth of blissful days,
Will change my heart into one like Christ’s.”

“And here,” I went on, “Another I’ve brought,
A feathered brush of comfort and ease,
To keep at bay life’s dust and rot,
This will bring holiness, certainly.”

“At end, I’ve laid a pleasant salve,
Of bountiful health and silver and gold,
Take this, Lord; it’s yours to have,
To make me for the gospel bold.”

“Wish you to remain a stone?”
I heard my Master say,
“My tools are used to chip and hone
What looks not like Christ away.”

“The mallet of trial, the chisel of need,
The grind of suffering,
These in love and grace I wield,
To conform you to the likeness of your King.”

“Your implements will come, in time,
Velvet will dry the tears you weep,
Feathers brush off toil’s grit and grime,
Salve, your deepest pain will ease.”

“This will make me like my Lord?” I groaned in disbelief…
“Do not spurn my tools, my child” my God said, lovingly,
“For Christ was a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief,
And learned obedience through suffering.”

Wednesday’s Word ~ Song of Solomon 2

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song of solomon 2 4

Song of Solomon 2

I am a rose of Sharon,
    a lily of the valleys.

He

As a lily among brambles,
    so is my love among the young women.

She

As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
    so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
    and his fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
    and his banner over me was love.
Sustain me with raisins;
    refresh me with apples,
    for I am sick with love.
His left hand is under my head,
    and his right hand embraces me!
I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
    by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
    until it pleases.

The voice of my beloved!
    Behold, he comes,
leaping over the mountains,
    bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle
    or a young stag.
Behold, there he stands
    behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
    looking through the lattice.
10 My beloved speaks and says to me:
“Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away,
11 for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singing has come,
and the voice of the turtledove
    is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree ripens its figs,
    and the vines are in blossom;
    they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
    and come away.
14 O my dove, in the clefts of the rock,
    in the crannies of the cliff,
let me see your face,
    let me hear your voice,
for your voice is sweet,
    and your face is lovely.
15 Catch the foxes for us,
    the little foxes
that spoil the vineyards,
    for our vineyards are in blossom.”

16 My beloved is mine, and I am his;
    he grazes among the lilies.
17 Until the day breathes
    and the shadows flee,
turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle
    or a young stag on cleft mountains.


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


Questions to Consider:

1. Who wrote the book of Song of Solomon? What is the theme of this book? Which genre of biblical literature (epistle, poetry, historical narrative, etc.) is it? Why do you think God put this book into the Bible?

2. Refer back to chapter 1. Who are the “he” and “she” mentioned in chapter 2? Which person speaks the words in 2:1? (Hint: there were no chapter and verse numbers in this book when it was written.)

3. Examine the metaphors the man and woman use to describe each other. What are some of the objects each compares the other to? Why did they choose these particular objects? How does this chapter point to the importance of familiarizing ourselves with the culture and context of the Bible passages we study?

4. It has been said that the Bible has a “Victorian” or “repressed” view of sex. Do you think that’s true in light of this passage?

5. How does this passage (and the rest of Song of Solomon) fit in with God’s perspective of sex and marriage? Does it complement or conflict with passages such as 1 Corinthians 7:2-5, Hebrews 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:3, and Ephesians 5:22-33?

 

Discernment: What’s Love Got to Do with It?

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discernment love

…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…
Ephesians 4:14-15

Christians who know what discernment is have a variety of perspectives about how it should be practiced. Should we teach about false doctrine at all or just make sure our church is teaching sound doctrine? Should we name the names of false teachers or speak about them anonymously? Should we warn people away from false teachers or just pray for them privately? What’s the biblical precedent for using a stringent tone when speaking of those who teach false doctrine?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase “speaking the truth in love” from Ephesians 4:15 as it pertains to speaking and writing about false doctrine and false teachers.

Many Christian women have the mistaken idea that “speaking the truth in love” equates to being “nice.” We’re always smilingly sweet and never say anything that might hurt someone’s feelings or could rock the boat at church.

Are we to be kind? Yes. Are we to do our best not to hurt others? Of course. Should we be making waves over every little thing that rubs us the wrong way? Absolutely not. We are to deny ourselves, setting aside our personal preferences and, in many cases, even our own rights, to the point of laying down our lives for others.

But we need to understand the distinction between personal preferences and biblical doctrine. And that’s where I think a lot of people get confused. We die to personal preferences. We die for the purity of biblical doctrine. The enemy is stealthily infiltrating and conquering church after church with false doctrine. We are at war. And that’s going to mean ruffling feathers, rocking the boat, and hurting feelings sometimes. Because the full armor of God doesn’t come with a white flag or a pen for signing peace treaties.

But how do we war for the truth “in love”?

Well, think about the concept and practice of “love.” Love always has an object. We don’t just say, “I love.” We say, “I love my children,” or “I love peanut butter and chocolate ice cream.” Speaking the truth “in love” is not as much about our demeanor or tone of voice as it is about the object of our love. It’s our love for others that compels us to speak biblical truth. And it’s that same love for others that should drive the manner in which we speak the truth.

So when it comes to speaking the truth about false doctrine, how should we be motivated by love? And love for whom?

We love Christ– As Christians, our love for Christ should motivate everything we do. If we’re speaking truth from fleshly motives such as pride, the desire to make a name for ourselves, or the competitive drive to win an argument, everything we say can be 100% factually right and we can still be spiritually in the wrong because the motive of our heart is wrong. God isn’t a debate judge awarding us points for compelling arguments. God weighs the heart.

We love God’s word– To love Christ is to love the Bible because Scripture is literally God Himself speaking to us. Besides the cleansing of the temple, the passage in which we see Jesus’ righteous anger displayed most clearly is Matthew 23. Here, Jesus delivers a scorching rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees for twisting God’s word and, in doing so, leading people away from the truth of Scripture. It is only natural for those of us who have the mind of Christ and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit to have that same love for God’s word and feel righteous anger over the maligning of it.

We love the church– To love Christ is also to love His bride, the church. Christ gave his life to cleanse the church “so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Seeing Christ’s bride blemished and corrupted by false doctrine should grieve us deeply and motivate us to call the church to be cleansed “by the washing of water with the word.”

We love the captives– Paul speaks of false teachers “who creep into households and capture weak women.” Often, the women who follow false teachers simply don’t know any better. They are casualties and prisoners of war held hostage by the enemy. We are to love them enough to show them the truth of God’s word so that “they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

We love the enemyEvery Christian was at one time an enemy of the cross. Every last one of us. Until someone loved us enough to intervene with the truth of the gospel. False teachers – those who, despite biblical correction, unrepentantly teach doctrine which is plainly refuted by Scripture – have made themselves enemies of the cross, even if they call themselves “Christian,” even if they wear the title of “pastor,” even if they’re holding a Bible in their hands and refer to it occasionally as they “teach” us.

In the same way a loving sister would not turn a blind eye and hope for the best if her sibling began using drugs and became increasingly addicted, it is not loving to stand idly by and allow false teachers to continue to sink deeper and deeper into Satan’s clutches by doing his bidding without making every effort to stop them in order to rescue them.

Sometimes – just as with the drug abuser – this can be accomplished early on with a private word of correction. And sometimes – as with the addict – more extreme measures of “tough love” and intervention must be employed. But we always love them enough to desire that they come to repentance and embrace the truth.

 

Our love for these also drives the manner in which we speak truth to them. A good soldier would never deal with a civilian casualty in the same way he would fight off an enemy bent on waging war. Likewise, part of discernment is knowing who the enemy is (and is not) and dealing with people in a biblically appropriate way. This requires humility, wisdom, thorough proficiency with our tools and weapons, unceasing prayer, and complete dependence on and self-crucifying love for our King. We trust in Him and His word to guide us in the wise and loving way to humbly speak His truth.

Discernment. Speaking truth. What’s love got to do with it?

Everything.

Throwback Thursday ~ The 10 Commandments of Parenting- 10

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Originally published August 14, 200810 Commandments Parenting 10

10.
Thou shalt love.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:11

Loving our children isn’t something that just happens. It also isn’t just a nice fuzzy feeling. It’s a duty. A responsibility. A command from the lips of God Himself.

“…if God SO loved us…” What does that “so” mean? It’s talking about the way God loves us.

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:9-10

God loved us enough to do what was best for us even though it cost Him that which He held most dear. He loved us sacrificially and unselfishly.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Even when we were living in outright rebellion against Him and didn’t care that he wanted what was best for us, God loved us.

For whom the LORD loves He reproves; Even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:12

God loves His children too much to allow us to continue in our sin, so He disciplines us.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us Ephesians 2:4
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

But, even as God disciplines us, in His mercy he forgives us when we repent of our sin.

The steps of a man are established by the LORD; And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong; Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand. Psalm 37:23-24

God delights in our obedience to Him and our love for Him. And even when we fall, He’s right there holding our hand and helping us get back up.

He who has clean hands and a pure heart; Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood; And has not sworn deceitfully. He shall receive a blessing from the LORD; And righteousness from the God of his salvation. Psalm 24:4-5

God rewards and blesses obedience to His word.

Do we love our children the way God loves us? Do we…

  • love them sacrificially and unselfishly?
  • love them enough to want what’s best for them?
  • love them enough tofollow through and do what’s best for them even if they fight us every step of the way?
  • love them enough to disicipline them?
  • love them enough to forgive them?
  • love them by delighting in them?
  • love them by blessing and rewarding them for doing well?

It’s a huge challenge. Our kids are going to drive us up the wall, rebel, pout, whine, and at times, break our hearts. Just like we do to God. But if He so loved us, we ought also to love our children.

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