Friday, February 24, 2012

How Does God Speak to Us?

Have you ever heard a voice from above that gave you a powerful message? Let me share my experience. When I just a kid, I was out in the hog house doing chores and as I walked out of the building I heard this voice from above that said, “Shake baby shake, I said shake baby shake!” Since no one else was around, I was a bit inclined to tremble/shake a bit, but then I looked over to where Dad had parked the semi just a few feet away from the hog house. I then realized that when he had shut it off, he had turned the key too far and the radio was playing a song by Jerry Lee Lewis. After that there was not much “shaking going on” on my part. - The subject of voices, dreams, and other forms of extra-biblical revelation often comes up as I minister. A number of questions come up in this discussion. One of the first I try to address is, “does God have the power to give extra-biblical revelation?” My answer is an emphatic, “Yes, God does have the power to reveal anything He wants to any way He wants.” If God can use a donkey to speak to Balaam then He can use Jerry Lee Lewis to get me to shake, but there is another important question we must consider. How authoritative would any vision, voice, or dream be? - Let me share another of my personal experiences. I had a dream about rats just before a neighbor came over with his pay loader to bury some junk piles. Sure enough as he was pushing those piles around, rats came running out. So was my dream prophetic or was I subconsciously thinking about rats as I slept because I already knew there were rats living in those junk piles that we were getting ready to bury? - These sorts of questions are real challenges we face as we begin to deal with extra-biblical revelation. How do we know if this is a specific message from God or something subconsciously manufactured within our own mind? Let us not forget Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Furthermore, not only do we have to be concerned about our own hearts deceiving us into thinking something has come from God, we also have to be worried about the devil and his ministers trying to trick us. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) - So how do we know that what we are receiving has really come from God? The answer is actually fairly simple. Trust the sufficiency of the Bible. When we go to the Bible, we know that we have God’s word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” Not only are we assured that scripture comes from God, but that it is sufficient to thoroughly furnish us unto all good works. - Many do not want to give up the idea of extra-biblical revelation because so many of their beliefs are based on things outside of the Bible. I would argue that most cults and many false doctrines would fall apart if extra-biblical revelation was not embraced. Let us trust the sufficiency of scripture.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Should We Horde The TV?

My wife has been decluttering- getting rid of things that we seldom use so that we do not become like the people on that hoarders show. The only time we have seen Hoarders is when we have been away from home or watched it on the internet, because we do not have TV reception in our house. Thus as my wife has been decluttering, she has suggested getting rid of the TV. I have argued that without the TV, we could not watch anymore VCR tapes. Of course if we got rid of the TV, we would not have to hoard all those old tapes. - Really it is not a bad idea to have a house without television because so many of the programs on today are completely ungodly. I would not want our children to be able to watch whatever happened to be on. Does that mean that all TV is sinful? Not at all; in fact, part of the reason I do not want to get rid of the VCR is because I still have some tapes in that format that can be used for ministry. - The television is one of those electronically animated inanimate objects that has the potential to be used for good or evil. Thus some have chosen to not even have one in their homes and I can definitely see the wisdom of that decision. As I consider the works of the flesh listed in Galatians 5 (adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like) I realize that all those things are promoted as good by many TV programs. By getting rid of the TV, you are able to get rid of a source of such influences. Further, it is so easy to waste a lot of time in front of the set. - But what about the people who discipline themselves to not use the TV as a time waster and are careful not to watch filthy content? I do believe it is possible for a mature Christian to do that; however, for others it may be best to get rid of the source of temptation. - For those who do decide to get rid of the TV, let me encourage you to do so, but let me also give a very important warning. Just because you have gotten rid of a powerful source of temptation, do not think that you no longer have to worry about adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like in your life. Paul wrote about these things in his letter to Galatians and that letter was written thousands of years ago- long before TV was even an issue. - The point that I am making is that as Christians we have a lot of liberty, but we should not use that liberty as an excuse to sin (Galatians 5:13). The liberty to watch TV can become liberty to sin if we end up watching shows that lead us to sin (Matthew 5:28- But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.) We also have the liberty to get rid of the TV, but if we use the excuse that we are “godly” because we do not have a TV, yet continue to sin, then we have used that liberty as an excuse for our ungodly sinfulness. - As Christians, we should have high standards for our conduct, but let us never make a manmade rule or point of conduct into an excuse to violate the clear expectations God has set out for us in His word. Regardless of how set apart we are in some of these areas of liberty, let us make sure we are truly set apart from sin and unto God.