Works of Faith Don’t Need Praise

Faith without works is dead. Faith works by love.

That being the case, many look at their lives and say, “Works? Yup, got those, therefore I must have faith.”

Doesn’t always work that way.

Pharisees illustrate this point best. Before Jesus talks about the parable of the Pharisee who thanks God he isn’t like the publican, Luke says “he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.”

Trusting in your works is not the point. Works flow out of faith. Works don’t create faith, nor do they substitute for faith.

Works that come from faith don’t lead to arrogance or pride. They are not done for recognition. They don’t result in the worker needing to be praised or even thanked.

Jesus tells another parable about a guy with a servant. They work in the field. After work the master tells the servant to go make supper. Does the master “thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not.”

Jesus then makes this application to His followers:

“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.”

When you do what you are supposed to do, you shouldn’t expect a celebratory parade. This is one of the downfalls of the self-esteem movement, where everyone is a “hero” for doing their job and everyone gets a ribbon for showing up.

Obedience is a much under-served topic in Christianity today. We don’t like to view ourselves as slaves of Christ. We like our freedom lingo much better. When free people take the time to do something for someone else, they think it’s something special and worthy of reward.

Slaves don’t think that way. Slaves know their duty and do it. Then they make the Master lunch, and then go home and sleep.

The difference between our slavery to Christ and the negative view of slavery often on display in the world, is that our Master loves us and only commands what is good for us and Him anyway. There really is no drudgery to serve Him. It’s easy and light, in fact.

It’s a beautiful thing. Works out of faith don’t look for recognition and pats on the back. It was our joy to do them to begin with. In the end, our efforts are so pitiful in light of what He has done for us, we hardly think on them further.

Detecting Morons in The Church Part 2

Yesterday we covered four signs you are talking to a church-going moron: they fixate on fables, genealogies, raising questions, and things that do not edify.

Paul goes on in the same chapter of 1 Timothy to mention other signs you are dealing with a moron.

some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm.”

Here are two more signs that a moron is talking:

5) They use vain jangling.
“Vain jangling” is an awesome KJV phrase that means “empty talk.” They’re just saying stuff. This is a hard one to define, but I know it when I hear it. In my opinion, you have God’s “words of life,” and all else is vain jangling. God’s Word is eternal; vain things are very temporal and worthless.

Vain jangling is the verbal expression of stupid thoughts. Here’s an example I saw the other day.

Wow, if that isn’t “vain jangling,” I do not know what is. Empty words signifying nothing. Try to put as much of God’s Words into your conversations about God as possible. People who “put things in their own words” to improve upon what God said, or simply to avoid what God said, are evil.

6) They speak with confidence yet have no idea what they are saying.
To “affirm” means to speak with boldness and confidence. You want your teacher to know what he’s talking about, and there should be a level of confidence a teacher should have. At the same time, arrogance and cock-sure awesomeness is dangerous.

Typically, the more forceful someone puts something, the more you can know this person has no idea what they’re talking about.

In Paul’s day, people used the Law to do this. This isn’t typically our deal today, since pretty much no one talks about the Law anymore. But most Bible pontificators are one trick ponies. There is one main issue they hope to cram down your throat. Calvinism, Arminianism, Free Grace, Covenant Theology, Dispensational Theology, or any other such thing can be used this way. Usually they rely on some external, verifiable thing, code word, or object they cling to as proof you are in or out.

They’re one issue people. When they read the Bible, all they see is the stuff that backs up their point. They see nothing else. Ever. Since they ignore everything else, in the end, they end up having no idea what they are talking about.

In Paul’s day, people were so fixated on a couple of Law issues–circumcision and Sabbath keeping were the main ones–that nothing else mattered. By so doing, they ended up missing the whole point of the law:

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:

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In the end, watch out for over-confident purveyors of one niche area of theology. They aren’t giving you the whole council of Scripture; they are giving you their inflated opinion of their own opinion of their opinionated theology that trumps all other opinions. They like to hear themselves talk, and appear to be pleased the most at what came out of their dear, half-smiling mouth.

They help none at all. Avoid them like the plague.

How to Detect Morons in The Church

The Apostle Paul is worried about morons taking over the church. He had reason to fear: several morons had already influenced churches he had started, and he wasn’t even dead yet!

Paul has constant warnings about paying attention, being sober, thinking, testing, be on guard for false teaching. He tells us specific things to watch out for to help us detect erroneous morons. Here’s one example:

Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying

Here are several indicators a moron is talking to you:

1) You’re being taught fables.
Fables is the Greek word for “myth.” This could indicate a couple of things:

A. Jewish rabbinic stories. You can find these in what is called the Talmud. These are humanly devised explanations and elaborations of the Hebrew Scripture, some more fablish than others.

B. Gentile illustrations. Pastors and authors have been telling stories for years, many of these have been repeated so often we’re not sure if they are in the Bible or not. I generally refrain from using stock sermon illustrations for this very reason: most of them aren’t true.

C. Greek mythology. Lots of false religion influences have fashioned our Christianity. Much of our modern “holidays” are pagan in origin, for instance.

D. Stupid stuff stupid people say. “Fables” can just mean “made up stuff.” There is plenty of spiritual sounding verbiage floating around out there that has nothing to do with anything. If that’s all you’re hearing, some guy’s opinion rather than a constant return to Scripture, be on guard.

2) Endless Genealogies.
Genealogies are in your Bible for a reason. I have no idea what that reason is, but they’re there for a reason. You should be familiar with them, because they are there. But people who fixate on these things and see hidden meanings, clues, and secret codes to decipher indecipherable things, are loonies and should be avoided.

3) They minister questions.
False teaching typically begins with casting doubt. “How can you be sure that what you have is the truth?” Along the lines of Satan’s “Hath God said?” testing question to Eve. They want to engender doubt in you by asking you questions. However, mostly what they do is just stir up other questions, which they don’t answer but respond with more questions, and then you just have a giant hubbub of debate and clamor. This is a dangerous sign. Beware of those who exist to cause trouble all the time. People who stir up debate everywhere they go are handing out false doctrine. Count on it.

4) No godly edifying.
Edification is why the Church exists. The Church is a group of people who desire to grow into the perfect man Christ Jesus. It’s why we’re here. Ephesians four explains the whole process. False teachers want something from you, not something for you. False teachers want to feed their belly and take your money. The Church exists to hand out the free bread of life. Not to manipulate, but to bring you to Christ. He is the Head. The whole Body follows Him. If you meet a supposed member of the body who isn’t leading you to follow the head, you aren’t with a member of the Body!

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In the end, avoid people who are always raising doubts, causing debate, arguing, fighting, ridiculing, and taking by force what ought to be given with liberality. Beware of those who know this secret thing no one has seen before. Beware the “us vs. them” mentality that we are the hidden minority the whole world is aligned against to defeat our cause. Beware those who are constantly telling stories and pontificating out of their own supposed genius. Let them write philosophy and leave theology alone.

Be careful out there.

Oswald Chambers on Why Your Faith Doesn’t Have to be Radical or Spectacular

I like to read Oswald Chambers. He has many thought-provoking things to say. I was going to rephrase one of his articles, but he said it so well, I’m just going to quote it. I’ll highlight my favorite lines.

Direction by Impulse

There was nothing either of the nature of impulse or of cold-bloodedness about Our Lord, but only a calm strength that never got into panic. Most of us develop our Christianity along the line of our temperament, not along the line of God.

Impulse is a trait in natural life, but Our Lord always ignores it, because it hinders the development of the life of a disciple. Watch how the Spirit of God checks impulse, His checks bring a rush of self-conscious foolishness which makes us instantly want to vindicate ourselves.

Impulse is all right in a child, but it is disastrous in a man or woman; an impulsive man is always a petted man. Impulse has to be trained into intuition by discipline.

Discipleship is built entirely on the supernatural grace of God. Walking on the water is easy to impulsive pluck, but walking on dry land as a disciple of Jesus Christ is a different thing. Peter walked on the water to go to Jesus, but he followed Him afar off on the land.

We do not need the grace of God to stand crises, human nature and pride are sufficient, we can face the strain magnificently; but it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple, to live an ordinary, unobserved, ignored existence as a disciple of Jesus.

It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.

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