Spiritual Warfare Prep

Spiritual Warfare Prep
We Are In The Lord's Army

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What Isn't a Passion for Us, Will Become Optional For Our Children

  I don't know how this quote goes, but it is very true. If we don't have a strong conviction about something, or if we don't hold something at its proper value, for our children, it will become optional.
   I think about the past generation and how different the children have turned out compared to about 100 years ago. It is even different now than when I was a kid.
   People used to go to church weekly, have family gatherings, stayed married even when marriage was difficult, and everyone, for the most part, had a Bible in their homes. We don't see this today. What happened?
   When I was a teenager, if a girl got pregnant out of wedlock, she was called a 'bad girl' because she had a sexual relationship outside of marriage. There are no more 'bad girls' because now it is normal for girls to have a sexual relationship outside of marriage. Something would be wrong if she didn't, at least society would think that. What is the problem here? Did our parents forget something?
   Parent's convictions weakened and became shaped by society instead of by the word of God. We looked at what our neighbor was doing instead of what the Bible says about it. Society became the standard. The Bible was considered Passe, unfortunately.
   We lost the fear of God. We went after other idols, many of them. We got hooked. We forgot the convictions our grandparents and ancestors had.
   Something broke. Something got lost. What was it? One aspect of what happened was that lies were being taught as facts in our schools, and our children asked about what was real, and the only thing the parents would say was, "God said it. I believe it. That settles it!" Does that answer the questions of evolution that are being brought up by our children? Does it explain how we really got here in the first place? Does the Bible have anything to say about creation?
   I think we all should be students of apologetics. Not all of us are going to major in apologetics, but it is helpful in giving people a reason for why we believe what we believe, and who we believe in.
  So my conclusion is that the things of God were not really that important to those in the past generation. They claimed to believe in God's word and proudly had Bibles in their homes, but the truth of the Bible did not take root in their hearts. Many, if not most, went to church weekly. Many would identify with Christianity. But when the rubber meets the road, when life gets challenging, when the heat is on, so to speak, there is nothing there to hold us to what we profess to believe in.
   We were founded as a nation, on Christian principles. Our forefathers believed in a high moral standard of life, although not all of them practiced them well. People respected the word of God. At some point, our major colleges, which were founded by Bible believing, God fearing men, opened the door to Atheists heading them up. Years later an Atheist woman manages to go through all the trouble of taking prayer out of schools. Someone else created the idea of 'separation of church and state' and we assumed it really was in the Constitution. No one researched it or challenged it.  In law school, you may actually learn that it is in the Constitution, but if you look, you won't find it there. Young teenage girls are not required to have their parent's permission for an abortion. All this happened seemingly under the rug, but what really happened was that a passion for God was lacking in those who were professing Christians. It was more important to plan out a vacation and work through any obstacles that would prevent them from taking place than it was to take action in preventing Atheists from running our schools. It was more important that we make  every effort to get tickets to the latest movie than it was for us to write letters to our senators about issues that were lowering our standards and integrity. Entertainment replaced responsibility. Now we are in a crisis and we are trying to turn the tide back, but laws and philosophies have taken root in our society and are hard to pull up.
    The answer is to pray. The need is for us to fear God once again. Pray, teach the Gospel, be a responsible citizen and encourage others to do the same. We are a people who are far away from God and we don't know how to find our way back. God is our only hope.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

God's Visitation

“Have your heart right with Christ, and he will visit you often, and so turn weekdays into Sundays, meals into sacraments, homes into temples, and earth into heaven.” 
 Charles H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Can a Christian Do Anything He Wants. Even Sinning?

  I hear this response sometimes when I attempt to share the Gospel with someone. It goes something like this:
Me: Have you ever heard the Gospel before?
Other Person: Yes, I was raised in the church.
Me:  (Continuing on with the Gospel until I get interrupted)
Other Person: God is all forgiving. It doesn't matter what you do because He forgives. I can do whatever I want because God forgives.

  I had a conversation (or rather started a conversation) with a classmate when I was a Senior in high school. All I had to say was a couple of words about the Gospel and she finished the rest of the conversation then walked away. She basically informed me that she could do whatever she wanted, then go into her prayer closet and ask God for forgiveness. She was involved in a relationship with a guy that she was not married to and wanted to defend her immorality. I noticed that she did not give me an opportunity to talk. She also walked away when she was done talking. This says a couple of things. One of them is that deep down in her heart, she had some idea of right and wrong, and she knew that what she was doing was wrong, and she wanted to defend herself in doing wrong before God. She was resistant to hearing the truth.
   The reason I am writing this is because there are those who do evangelism who are frustrated with these people. Human beings tend to react to things and this situation is no different. We go out and share the Gospel. The other person we are talking to covers up his or her sin with wrong doctrine and doesn't give the evangelist an opportunity to speak. The evangelist comes up with a strategy of finding a doctrine that combats this way of thinking. But here is where the problem is. Now the evangelist tries to find verses that prove that what the other person said is wrong. We use verses like the one in 1 John that tells us that a Christian cannot sin, or that they won't sin. But doing this is dangerous, because we are taking verses out of context and trying to combat what the opposing person is saying and believing, then we start promoting this doctrine which is not helpful to the cause of Christ.
   When we run into people who try to defend their sin while being a Christian, we have to realize that this is not much different than a person arguing with us about the deity of Christ, or, being saved by being good. Yes we need to combat wrong thinking with Scripture, but we take the whole of Scripture and use it to help the other person see his or her error.
   In talking with people who are defending their sinning while being a Christian, you will have to realize that most of these people are not going to converse with you. In evangelism, we tend to react to their sin. We take extra measures to try to prove to them that a Christian won't sin if they are truly saved. But that leaves a number of other difficulties in dealing with people. Not everyone you talk to is going to try to defend their permission to sin while still being a Christian, but there are those who will truly want to be free from sin. If you try to explain, across the board, that a Christian doesn't sin, then you are going to cause these people who are struggling to be free from sin, to be discouraged and they will want to quit. They will believe the lie that they have to be perfect if they are truly saved. What they need to understand is that even after they come to Christ, they will struggle against sin. It is our job to give them the tools they need to have to fight against sin. If these people are truly saved, they will appreciate that and will want to use the tools to fight their sinful hearts with.
   Also, Paul wrote several letters to churches that were made up of Christians, many of whom were entangled in sin issues. If it is true that when a person comes to Christ and is truly saved, and he or she will no longer sin because he is now a Christian, then much of what Paul wrote was a waste of time. He wrote to Christians who were enslaved in various types of sin. He wanted them to repent. He also wanted the church to respond to Christians who are in sin. Look at how he dealt with the Corinthians and Galatians. Also, take a look at the first chapters in Revelation when Jesus addressed the seven churches. He rebuked all of them (except one) because of sinful practices they got themselves into.
   Yes, it is true that a person who has a new heart and is a new creature in Christ does not have to live in sin or practice sin anymore! The power of the Gospel can break chains of sin. The blood of Christ is the most powerful weapon available to over come sin. It is a heart issue. If a person still wants to live in sin and believe the he or she is still a Christian, then something is seriously wrong with his or her belief system. Jesus died to forgive us of sin, and to set us free from sin. Why should we want to go back into sin, when we realize how much it destroys us and brings dishonor to His name?
   One the one hand, it is true that a person can be a true believer in Jesus Christ and still sin, however, he will have a struggle now between his new nature and his old, sinful nature. Sometimes, a person comes to Christ with much baggage, and it takes a lot of time and effort for the baggage to drop off. We have to be careful to be patient with people. God forgives us instantly when we come to Christ (justification), but we will spend the rest of our earthly lives fighting against the Enemy of our souls, continual temptations to sin, the lust of the world, and pride. We need the tools to help us overcome sin, and resist temptation to sin. We need the grace of God to say 'no' to sin, and 'yes' to righteousness.
   So next time you talk with someone who boasts about being allowed to sin, while believing in Jesus and being fully forgiven for everything they are doing, remember that God knows what they are doing. They are not fooling anyone but themselves. God is big enough to help them to see their need for a Savior. Don't go to the other extreme of teaching people that Christians don't sin anymore, and if the opposing person were truly saved, they wouldn't sin. If you do have the opportunity to talk to the person, if he or she opens up, you might have a good conversation with that person. At first, they will put their guard up (sinning while being a Christian as being allowed), but if you are patient, you might find that they would want to talk about the issue.
   I saw something like this happen one time. We were at a jazz festival, and wherever Chris would be preaching, a small crowd gathered. There was one woman who was opposing him. She kept insisting that Jesus never talked about hell. She believed that God was all loving, etc. I noticed that wherever Chris went, she appeared. After a while she seemed to soften a bit. I have to wonder if she really was interested, but was too prideful to put her guard down at first.
   After a person comes to Christ, and has truly been born again, there will be fruit or evidence in that person's life of conversion. The Bible says that we will know people by their fruit. It doesn't say that people will know that a person is truly a Christian because of living a perfect live. A Christian's life will be marked by humility and love. There will be a hunger for knowing God. Sin will become more and more distasteful. God will become more attractive to the person who is truly born again.
   Don't be afraid of people's reactions to the Gospel message. Respond in love and kindness. Speak the truth in love, whenever possible. Be patient with people. Remember, there is only one group of people that Jesus opposed, and that was the group which believed they were holy before God, yet their lives were full of sin. They didn't live openly sinful lives, but they failed to keep the Royal Law which is to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. They were not repentant, because they did not see their sin. If they were keeping the Royal Law, they would have loved Jesus, because Jesus came from God and is God.
    Most of the people out there are not these kinds of people. Most of them are ignorant of Scripture or the Gospel. Be open to those who think they have sinned to greatly for God to forgive them. The devil has people either believe that their sin doesn't matter to God, or, that they have sinned too greatly for God to forgive them. Be sensitive, and don't assume everyone is like the Scribes or Pharisees or Jesus' Day. And don't tell them to 'quit sinning' because they can't. They can repent, and you can give them the tools they need to overcome sin in their lives. That is what discipleship is for. Let's be disciples and let's disciple others. That's how the church will become healthy.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Great Commandments

  We are learning in Biblical counseling how worship is revealed in us by the way we treat other people. We might think this is trite, but God puts  it at a place of utmost importance.
  The two Commandments that go together to make the Royal Law are: 1. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength. 2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
   From my experience, I can assume that many people believe they already love God with all their hearts, souls, and strength, and their neighbors as themselves. But are we fooling ourselves? Do we really think we can love like this?
  We need a reality check so we can look at our own hearts first. The Bible says that our hearts are deceitful and asks, 'Who can know it?'. I think we trick ourselves into thinking we really do love, when we are merely just paying attention to something.
  If I have a relationship with someone, I can be aware of the fact that I have a relationship with that person, but that is not the same as serving the person I have a relationship with. Love has to do with serving and sacrificing for the good of the person who is the object of that love. What are we willing to give up in order to make another person successful? What are some ways we can serve other people instead of ourselves?
   We show our devotion to Christ in the way we treat others. The Bible is full of verses on how we should treat other people. Here are a couple: Micah 6:6-8, Matthew 5, 23, 24, Matthew 25:40, Galatians 6:1,2, Romans 12:10, Matthew 18:15, 1 Corinthians 10:23,24
  Our worship of God is visible in our relationships with other people. Our worship has to find its expression in our relationships with our neighbors. So, we can analyze our relationships with other people and that will help determine what kind of worship we are offering to our God.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Living Out the Scriptures or Legalism?

   Legalism happens when we take a Biblical principle and make a practical application to it, and hold the practical application as the standard for it. For example, we can look at the verses throughout Proverbs instructing the parents to teach their children and work that out through homeschooling, then put down people who aren’t homeschooling as those who aren’t following the Bible. The principle is for parents to teach their children, but it doesn’t tell us specifically how that is to be done (there are a variety of ways this can be accomplished.) We teach our children, and there could be different ways this can be accomplished, not just one specific way. So, if a family is not homeschooling, but they are faithfully spending time teaching and nurturing their children, the principle is being followed. If this family is looked upon as not following Scriptures because they are not homeschooling, that is legalism. The reverse could also happen. A family could be a homeschooling family, yet not be spending time teaching their children what God says and working with them on following the Bible. I’ve even heard people that are Atheists who homeschool!
   This is not a case against homeschooling! Homeschooling makes the job of bringing our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, much easier. It lends itself well to teaching a Christian worldview to our children. I recommend homeschooling highly for Christian parents. But if you choose not to homeschool your children, you have not broken the law (unless you know in your heart that God wants you to do this and you are resisting!). The key is to know in your hearts what God wants you to do, whether homeschool or something else. What Scripture tells us to do is to diligently teach our children to know God. That is what we have to obey.
    Another example would be for us to obey the Scriptures and be modest. Being modest really implies doing the opposite of attracting attention. It involves not making ourselves known by the way we live and dress, and handle ourselves. There are many ways to do this, but if we tend to be literal, we will set up standards for how we are to dress, particularly women. I am not talking about a dress code for school here either. Some of them have dress codes that are very conservative, and the school has the right to do that. But when we take that specific dress code and set it as a standard for what we consider modest, that could be legalism. If, for example, the dress code says that a skirt or dress has to be 2 inches below the knee, if we take that as the Biblical standard for modesty and use that standard on ourselves and our daughters, or even in a church setting, that could easily become legalism. When we see a woman with a skirt that is a little above her knee level, we could tell her that she is being immodest, and that she needs to change her clothing. That would be legalism. But if a person’s clothing (either guy or gal) is obviously immodest, then that is wrong. Also, a person could be really flashy looking, with elaborate jewelry or tattoos, etc. to draw attention to themselves, and when that type of attire is really distracting, then you know there is something deeper going on in the heart. We want to represent Christ, and represent Him well, and when we are dressed inappropriately (where our dress causes attention to ourselves) then we have gone against Scriptures.
   One last example of this is in the area of evangelism. I remember someone having a poll or a challenge for people to post how many tracts they passed out each day. I don’t see anything wrong with that in itself, but someone pointed out that it could lead to legalism. Johnny in California passes out 20 a day. Susie in Virginia passes out 50 a day. But Billy in Florida only passes out 2 a day, if he can get out. Then there are those who haven’t felt ready to pass out a tract yet. Or, Susie passes out 50 a day, so why can’t she pass out 75 a day? Or, it could be like another group I was invited to join which required you to pass out a certain amount of tracts each day, and talking to a certain amount of people about the Gospel. This sounds like a good idea at first, but if you can’t get the opportunity to pass out tracts on certain days, you fail the whole event! That is legalism. The Bible doesn’t tell us that we have to pass out tracts each day. It tells us that we need to be sharing the Gospel with people, and making disciples of all nations. That is the command we are to obey. There are many, many, many ways this can be done. We can give to ministries financially. We can go on missions trips with the intention of sharing the Gospel. We can go to our neighbors and share the Gospel with them. We can have Bible clubs for children in our homes. We can have Bible studies for adults in our homes. We can give out tracts. We can mail out Bibles. We can talk with people individually or in groups. The list of ideas can go on. The key is that we are obeying what the Bible says about preaching the Gospel. It’s not how many tracts you gave out last week, or how many people you talked to yesterday, although those are important, but that you did have it in your heart to share the Gospel with people. The Bible says that we are to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, and we are to love our neighbors as ourselves. How we carry that out will look different for different people. To say that a certain way (like passing out 10 tracts a day) is how we are to do that, is legalism. We should pass out tracts a day. It’s a great way to communicate the Gospel, but if you don’t use tracts, you haven’t broken the law.
   I know a guy who is effective in doing evangelism, but I have never seen him doing open-air evangelism. I was puzzled at first because I thought that everyone who is effective in evangelism does open air. So, everyone does what God calls him or her to do, whether they use tracts, teach, serve, pray, open air, one on one, door to door, or whatever. Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 both talk about the variety of spiritual gifts. Not only are there different spiritual gifts, but there is variety in the way they are used. There is diversity. If we set up a standard for how a certain gift is to be used or applied, we have suppressed the proper intent of the gift. We have also set a trap for legalism.
   So, let’s obey the Scriptures using the gifts and talents God gave us, but let’s not set up as a standard, the specifics for how God wants us to carry those works out. Standards can be helpful many times, but we have to be careful that they don’t lead to legalism, or that we don’t hold our particular application of the Scriptures for everyone else to follow. They might use our applications, but if they don’t, they haven’t broken the law! We have to remember that for ourselves and one another.
"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work." 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NIV

Friday, April 5, 2013

Church Growth

   A thought just came to my mind about church growth. I know there are quite a few 'mega' churches around and I have to wonder what the health of such churches is. My concern is with the methods that are employed to 'grow a church'.
   Around the turn of the last century, there was the thought of churches not growing very well, so a principle was adopted that had to do with making the Gospel more palatable. The leaders thought that if they could get away from teaching about hell, sin, and the judgment to come, then people would start coming to their churches, and then their churches would grow.
   We have to wonder if this is a Biblical principle on growing a church though. Let's say it did work. There are now a lot of people coming to the church because they feel more comfortable than they did before. Do you ever get to the place where you actually do teach the Gospel? When would that be? Let's say the size of the congregation doubled. Do you take the chance of having most of those people leave if you start to preach the Gospel? Maybe the goal is simply to have a large church. If that is the goal, will the people ever hear the Gospel? Which is better; people hear the Gospel and get saved (but at the risk of losing many people in the church) or having lots and lots of people in the church, who never hear the Gospel, but it makes the pastor look good because now his church (or he thinks it is his church) has a lot of people under him? Whose church is it really?
   Would it be better to have a group of people who are part of that particular church, to be active members because of their love for the Gospel, or would it be better to have a larger group of people there, really not united under anything, but who are part of a specific church because they don't feel the pressure of hearing about a God who will judge them for their sins? If I were a pastor of a church, I would certainly want people to be there who wanted to be there because of their love for God and their desire to be changed by the grace of God. If someone is attending the church and doesn't like hearing the truths of God's word, then he can leave and go somewhere else. There are plenty of other churches available that won't be upsetting to him.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Whistle Blowing or Slandering?

  I am writing this article with much caution and care. This can be a touchy subject for people and I understand that. At this time, I am seeing Christians interact with each other in cyberspace, and for the most part, it is not a pretty sight. I am saddened by what I see. I have friends on Facebook who are deleting their accounts because of the division and discord in the body of Christ. I see activity that should not be named among the body of Christ. With all of this, I am very sad. At times, I become angry. It is easy for me to fall into sin, as well in dealing with this subject.
  Let's define the two different topics listed. One of them is 'whistle-blowing' and the other is 'slandering'. Whistle-blowing is done with the intent to warn people about a harmful teaching or teacher in the church who would be teaching heresy. Heresy is a very strong word. Sometimes people think that if a professing Christian doesn't share the same convictions as he or she does, that person becomes a heretic. But a heretic is a person who has denied the faith. It is a deliberate attempt to change the Gospel in a subtle way. There are people who are college professors who are heretics. They teach classes in religion and are considered authorities on the subject. But they deny the truths of the Bible, such as the deity of Christ, or the resurrection, or even the miracles that are done in the Bible are relegated to mythology. Bart Ehrman and James Tabor are such men who are well respected but they deny the truths of the Bible regarding the basics of Christianity. Yet, many would think of them as authority figures and will listen to them, much like the people who lived in Jesus' day listened and believed the Pharisees. They were the most respected people around, because of their dedication to learning about God, but they missed the heart of the message that God was giving them. But some false teachers come into the church with the guise of holding the real truth. Cult teachings such as Jehovah's Witnesses doctrine or Mormonism pose as 'Christian' teachings. But in the church itself, it is even more subtle. For example, there are 'Christian' churches which would hold to either legalistic teachings or lawlessness. Out of the church I attend, many left because there was a house church started, which drew many people away. As we listened to the tapes of the man heading up this group (Tree of Life), we could tell that he was not preaching a correct Gospel. He taught a Gospel in which a person could be saved, but repentance wasn't necessary. This is a classic example of a so called church teaching heresy. After our pastor heard the tapes, he addressed the congregation and warned them of what this house church was about. That is an example of whistle blowing. It was warning the church about a dangerous teaching or a group which held a false Gospel. Whistle blowing doesn't have to involve smearing a person or trying to destroy his or her reputation.
    Slander happens when stories about a person or group get misconstrued. It could start out by telling half truths and twisting them around to make them sound plausible. It's intent is to destroy a person's reputation. I will give a couple of examples of this as it is happening today.
   The first one I think of is Billy Graham. He has been called many different names by people today. There are some people who think he is in league with the Anti-Christ. I was perplexed as I learned about this, but as I researched this subject, I began to see what is happening. You have to understand, first of all, there are many, many Christians who believe in what is called, 'Dispensationalism'. Dispensationalism came about in the last 100 years or so, and believes that there are different dispensations in the Bible. These people also tend to believe that the book of Revelation is literal and everything in it is going to come about at a specific time. Hal Lindsay wrote a book 40 years ago, called, 'The Late, Great Planet Earth' which was about the end times. It dealt with the symbolism in the book of Revelation and related the prophetic imagery to temporal items of our day ( a helicopter was symbolic of an animal that had teeth in Revelation). There are four general views of the end times as explained in the book of Revelation. A book that I recommend to read is by Vern Poythress called, 'The Returning King". I am not writing to go into any great detail of the book of Revelation here, but only how it relates to the slander of Billy Graham. There are people who have theories about the end times and one of those theories includes the idea of a one-world church, a unified church throughout the world. Whenever a denomination gets large enough, there is fear of that group becoming unified and becoming the 'One-world Church'. People who think like this don't like to see unity in the body of Christ because they think it will lead to what is called, 'ecumenicalism' which means all faiths coming together as one. When the Bible talks about the unity in the body of Christ, it is not talking about ecumenicalism. The Bible has a lot to say about building up the body of Christ. This is the biggest complaint against Billy Graham. He has shown kindness to many people that some Christians think we should reject. He has prayed for presidents. He is involved in different religious organizations, possibly to reach the people in those with the Gospel. If you listen to Billy Graham's messages in the past, he preaches a clear Gospel and pulls no punches. But people think he is part of this uniting of the one-world church which will ultimately bring in the one-world government with the Beast being the main leader. This is pure speculation on their part, and I am sorry for Billy Graham to have to be the brunt of their theory. They are also sure he is a Mason. Again, there is no clear cut evidence anywhere the Billy Graham is a 33rd degree Mason. I did some research on this and read one person's opinion on it and he was saying the he knows of three people who can confirm that Billy Graham is a 33rd degree Mason. So what? Anyone can say anything. I can tell people I am a doctor and I have a cure for cancer, and I'm sure there will be some gullible people who would believe it!
   I think it is interesting to note that some Christians have no concern about lying. I found a picture on the internet depicting a set of clouds that were being pulled by two hands. Obviously, the hands were supposed to be God's hands. I was going to post it on Facebook, but wanted to check first to make sure it wasn't fraudulent. Well, it was, and the person who embellished the picture just thought it would be a cool idea to do that. People corrected her and pointed out how that by doing what she did, was deceptive, and how disappointing that a Christian would do that.
   Jonathan Edwards, was one of the greatest preachers during the revival. He preached the message, 'Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" which affected many people. From what I have read about this man, he had a true encounter with God. His messages were true and God used them to minister to many. However, his ministry was not without problems. In his congregation, one man took it upon himself to spread bad reports about Jonathan Edwards. People must have believed these reports as Jonathan Edwards lost the pulpit. So, Jonathan Edwards had decided to become a missionary to the Indians. The man who did the slandering repented many years later, and asked Jonathan for forgiveness.
   There is a difference between whistle-blowing and slandering. Whistle-blowing involves warning, while slandering involves demeaning a person or smearing his or her reputation. Many times, what is told about the person is true, or has some truth in it, but it is embellished to make the scenario entirely different that what it is. It is like creating a straw-man.
   Recently, I have heard Mark Driscoll, John Piper, and John MacArthur as being heretics. Do you think we are discerning them properly? Do they have a secret agenda to obtain a status in the church, only to get the people to believe another Gospel behind our backs? How far are we going to take this 'warning' admonition? What is the proper criteria for deciding if a person is a heretic? Is it when the person disagrees with you on doctrine? Do you hold the perfect standard on doctrine? The Bible says that we see through a glass darkly. Even with the illumination of the Holy Spirit on the word of God in our hearts, we still don't have a clear picture of the way things really are in the spiritual realm.
    Someone put a Facebook post about a book by Mark Driscoll that he was reading and recommending. There were a few comments after the post, then there was a comment from a woman. All she said was that Mark Driscoll was a heretic. The poster asked her if she had read any of his books to which she replied that she didn't have to read any of his books to know that he was a heretic. This kind of thing is speculation, and slander. Unless you have studied the person in question, and have found consistently that he or she is teaching wrong doctrine, then you have no business calling someone a heretic.
   Sadly, I have been guilty of doing this very thing. There is a Christian band who have been accused of being heretical because they don't believe in the Trinity. I did research on them and couldn't find anything, but I have heard that they are heretics, and have read that they are, so I assume that this it true. And it may be true, but I don't know from my own experiences that this group truly doesn't believe in the Trinity, because I haven't found any information on it anywhere. So a song that they are singing comes on the radio, and I make the announcement that they are heretics. My husband asked me how I know that. I didn't have an answer except that it was common knowledge among Christians. I realized then that I need to have the research to back up what I am saying, if I am going to make a statement like that one.
   One afternoon, I was going evangelizing and sat down with a group of four college age students. They weren't happy about what I was doing. Two of them were professing Christians and informed me that Jesus wouldn't like what I was doing. One of them said that whenever I give out a tract, it was like putting a check mark in the box. They told me that the people around would end up hating me for doing that. This discussion went on for quite a while. At the end, one of the girls recommended a couple of books for me to read. One of them was 'Velvet Elvis' by Rob Bell. Now I had heard bad things about Rob Bell, but I did not have any first hand experiences with anything he had said or written. I made a noise with my voice when she said 'Rob Bell' and she informed me that people think that he is a universalist, but he really isn't. When I went home that day, I did a thorough research on Rob Bell. From what he had written, I could tell that this man has a problem with the church. More than that, he has a problem with the Bible. He despises evangelism, as well as evangelists. I thought it was interesting that one of the girls told me that when I give a tract out, that it was like putting a check in the box, because Rob Bell said the same thing in his book, only he used the illustration of a notch in the belt buckle. After I studied Rob Bell, I didn't feel any hesitation on warning people about this man, and his teachings, as he is very popular among young people. I will post any recent information on what he says, if I feel it will help people to not embrace his teachings. I have a Facebook friend who 'liked' Rob Bell's fan page. I wrote to my friend and explained to him about Rob Bell and sent him some information on Mr. Bell, so he could be informed about this man's teachings and error. This is considered 'warning' but I could take this a step further and I could smear Rob Bell all over the internet. Does God want me to do this? Nope. I am not going to hate Rob Bell, but I definitely hate what he is doing and what he believes in. It is the teaching that we attack, not the person.
   Here is one more example of how things can be reported with bias. I saw a post on Facebook about a man who was fined for using rainbarrels in his yard. This seemed so unfair. What would rainbarrels be illegal? I don't know if I read the article, but I did repost it. There was some discussion on it as well. A couple of weeks later, I found out what really happened. The man who was fined for having the rainbarrels was actually not fined because of having the rainbarrels, but because he was channeling water into the rainbarrels from an outside source like a river or stream. That's what was illegal, not the rainbarrels. People can take anything and make them into a plausible story, and we fall for it, almost every time. Let's start taking the time to research claims that people are making against other people before we report these things. Our sinful nature loves to hear juicy stories. We enjoy it when people make mistakes and we jump on the opportunity to spread the information. People in the church are going to make mistakes. Some of them are going to sin. The Bible tells us clearly how to work through that. We go to the brother or sister and tell them of their fault. If they repent, then restoration takes place. If they don't, then we take the next step of taking a few others with us. Then if the brother or sister who has sinned still doesn't listen, we bring it before the church (not Facebook, not the blogs either). There might have to be a time for excommunication. There might even be a time when another church will have to be told of this person. When it comes to a person's sin against another, it stays in the church. If it has to do with false teaching, we can warn other Christians (especially since so much of our communication is through books, television, radio, and the internet). We don't have to attack a heretic. They are not a threat to us. God is bigger than they are. We only need to warn. We can be discerning without being critical.