Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6).

"Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love. How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded" (2 John 3-4).

"Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. Some of the brothers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth" (3 John 2-4).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A call for discernment of God’s will

Junior year at our public high school, English class included a unit on media and society. I was surprised when my teacher, a Christ-follower, showed an episode of a popular cartoon television comedy.

It was appalling. The pseudo-humor denigrated women, depicted soft-core porn, cursed, blasphemed the Lord’s Name, badmouthed family, dishonored parents, and spit in authority’s face.

Suddenly, I realized my teacher’s wisdom: what a clear way to portray the poisonous effects of ungodly media on society. I couldn’t wait for group discussion; now my classmates would certainly understand.

However, to my utter dismay, the majority confessed they enjoyed the episode and hoped we’d watch another next class. After all, “it might not be good for children, but it’s perfectly fine for me.” I was troubled by their double standard.

Most of these class members were not believers in Jesus. But many professing Christians similarly lack discernment. It’s disgusting and dangerous.

In Philippians 4:8-9, the Holy Spirit speaks through Paul: if it's true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy let it into your head, so you can think about it (vs. 8). Whether you like it or not, what you let in your head sinks down into your heart and begins to flow out in what you say and do. If you put Christ-honoring things into your head and into practice, God will be with you (vs. 9).

Should the Philippians passage serve as a filter for Jesus-followers? That depends on whether or not you want God to be near to you. It depends on how much you desire to walk closely within His will for your life.

Christian liberty and grace are not licenses to love the things of the world, pursue youthful lusts, or naively believe everything we hear (Rom. 6:1-4; 2 Tim. 2:22). I’m sounding the alarm and calling for discernment.

Discernment is not only required for entertainment choices. It enables believers to judge teaching and counsel. We must hold every truth claim up to the standard of the Bible, as the Bereans did (1 Thes. 5:21). They didn’t even take Paul’s word for it; they tested his teaching according to God’s written Word (Acts 17:11). We should not believe all we hear. We cannot do everything unbelievers do.

If you follow Christ, ensure His message is never compromised. Guarding your heart yields a clear mind to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice (Prov. 4:23). Then you can discern the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2). When you discern His will, you ready yourself to carry it out.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Receive God the Holy Spirit

“Oh, Marcus!” exclaimed my roommate, barreling into our dorm room. “My professor said something you would love. He started class by saying, ‘The Trinity is not the Father, the Son, and the Holy Bible. We cannot neglect the Holy Spirit!’”

I smiled. My roommate was right. I do long for professing believers to stop grieving and neglecting the Holy Spirit. Too bad after that class, the professor never mentioned the Holy Spirit again. Must have slipped his mind.

Due to the excesses of some, many professing Christians fear the Holy Spirit and His manifestations. Sure, they might not admit it outright or use that exact wording, but they resist Him.

Reactionary living is deadly. We must always draw our theology from the Bible, not experience. We must embrace the Word and the Spirit.

It must be remembered that Holy Spirit is a co-equal member of the Trinity, the promise of the Father, the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 2:33; 16:7). The Holy Spirit is God (5:3-4). Forgetting Him is a form of blasphemy.

More than a century ago, A.J. Gordon of the Student Volunteer Movement questioned, "Have we forgotten that there is a Holy Ghost, that we must insist upon walking on crutches when we might fly?"

Many of the disorders plaguing believers today—fear, stagnancy, anemic faith—result from neglecting the integral role of Jesus’ Spirit. Christ said it would be better for us when He left, because He would send the Spirit (Jn. 16:7-15). By His Spirit, we will do greater works than Jesus did (Jn. 14:12). Without Him, we’re dead. Intimacy with the Holy Spirit yields His fruit, holiness, power, and passion for the lost (Gal. 5:22-26; 2 Thes. 2:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:2; Acts 1:8).

It’s remarkable. When Jesus came in flesh, He was not recognized (Jn. 1:10-11). Now that He’s sent His Spirit, mankind has given Him the same cold-shoulder treatment.

Most great people of faith have a common element in their testimonies, a personal empowering encounter with the Holy Spirit. Think about Torrey, Tozer, Ravenhill, and Moody. Seeking to experience God is utterly Biblical. We should starve to hear His voice and pant for His nearness.

I issue a challenge: set aside some time in the coming days for a vital appointment. Put it on your calendar. “Meet with Holy Spirit.” Ask Jesus for His Holy Spirit and don’t stop asking until He comes. How will you know when He shows up? Oh, you’ll know. He will bring His gifts and His power for your witness. You'll never be the same again.