When Absolutes Were Absolutely Absolute!

absolute shirtWhatever happened to the day when a man’s word was his bond? Whatever happened to the time when the truth was the truth and a lie was a lie and there was no confusion in differentiating between the two? Whatever happened to the days of absolutes?

The philosophical thinking that governs the social interactions between human beings in our society has shifted dramatically since the beginning to the last century. At the beginning of the 20th century, in the United States, most people functioned according to basic Judeo-Christian principles and common logic. Now, this is not to say that everybody was a Christian or an upright moral person. But, there were certain values and ideas, steeped in the Judeo-Christian tradition that even non-Christians honored. Among these principles was the idea that there was such a thing as absolute truth. For example, if “A” was true and “B” was the exact opposite of “A,” then logic dictated that “B” could not be identical to “A” and hence, if “A” was indeed true, than logic and common sense dictated that “B” was false!

But, somewhere after the bitter reality of two World Wars, we sunk beneath the plane of moral absolutes and common logic. We now live in a time when truth has been transformed from something that was once absolute into something that is now relative! (By using the term: “relative” I mean something, of which the validity of is depended upon unsure and changing factors) The standard of behavior is no longer a clear-cut “black and white” issue, but has been smeared into a non-distinctive gray! For many, the truth is no longer a matter of fact, but merely a matter of popular public opinion! Moral character and integrity has been traded off for political, social and economic expediency. Today, it is considered more proper to be “politically correct” than just simply correct!

A generation ago, the virgin was normal, while the girl who had “been around” was shunned. Today, the girl who has “been around” is glamorized, while the girl (or boy) who is sexually pure is considered to be abnormal! There once was a time when homosexuality was thought to be sin, (by the way, God still calls it sin!) now it is just another of many alternative lifestyles! With the majority of society, drowning in the dark seas of relativism, those who believe in absolutes appear as lighted buoys, illuminating a channel of moral integrity that leads to the firm shore of absolute truth! But the sad reality is that instead of being attracted to the truth as moth are attracted to a light, men love darkness rather than light, so they run from the light into even greater darkness! What is truth? God’s Word is truth! Man may change; but the truth remains the same! If you want to have a firm foothold in a crumbling world, may I suggest that you plant your feet on the Rock! On Christ the Solid and Absolute Rock you can stand, all other ground is sinking sand! All other ground is sinking, shifting, transitory, relative, politically-correct, popular-opinionated sand!

Living Before We Die

Live before You DieTraditional Western Christianity and in particular, evangelical churches have done a great job in teaching and preparing people to die. But not too long ago, I received a great revelation! There is one thing we all must do before we die: We must live! And that is where modern Christianity has, for the most part, failed in preparing people. We are good at helping people to make preparations to die, but we have been tragically amiss in preparing people to live!

But the faith that is found in the Bible is all about preparing and equipping people to live! If you listen to some preachers and teachers today, you would think that the main quest of the Christian life is Heaven and that we should just suffer whatever befalls us until we die! But is that what the Bible teaches? Sure, I agree, we should not be so in love with the world that we lose sight of Heaven, but neither should we be so in love with the thought of going to Heaven that we just allow the world around us to go to Hell!

I believe it is all about balance! In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, the lesson is about waiting and being prepared for His coming. But in the Parable of the Talents, the lesson is about faithfully working, transacting Kingdom business, and making Kingdom progress until He comes! We were not saved to be idle until we die! In the Parable of the Pounds, the nobleman said to his servants: “Occupy until I come!” In other words, be about the business of life; don’t just sit idly twiddling your thumbs waiting until I come back!

Yes! While we all should prepare for the day of our transition, we should also be as equally engaged in preparing ourselves to live a life that reflects God’s love for the world and His creation: That is what the Kingdom of God/Heaven that Jesus preached about was and is all about! It’s not so much about sweet-by-and-by-pie-in-the-sky-salvation; it was and is about living life before death! The message of the Kingdom is not that we will never lose; the message of the Kingdom is that even when we do lose, God is able to turn the lost into a victory! The message of the Kingdom is that no matter what and how we suffer in this world, it’s going to be alright because we are more than conqueror through the One who loves us and gave up His life for us! No! The message of the Kingdom is not that we will always win and be happy, but it is this: No matter what happens in life; the good, the bad, and the ugly, God is working it all out for the good! And what is the “good?” It’s not prosperity, riches, fame, or living on flowery beds of ease, but rather the good is that we be conformed to the image of His Son!

So, you can’t wait to get to Heaven? Well, as my daddy used to say: “Hold your horses buddy!” We were not saved just so we could go to Heaven when we die; we were also saved so that we might be ambassadors of the Kingdom and instruments of God’s righteousness upon the earth while we live! If we would just learn how to live the life that God has ordained for us to live upon the earth; dying and going to Heaven would take care of themselves! But remember! Before we die; we must live! And if we want to go to Heaven when we die, then we must allow His Kingdom to come into our lives, that is allow His sovereign rule and authority to be manifested in word, thought and action in our lives while we live!

Spiritual Checks and Balances

checks and balancesOur government has a system of checks and balances designed to keep the Legislative: Congress, Executive: President, or Judicial: Supreme Court branch from exercising undue power over one another or over the people. The system was designed as a fail-safe to keep any one branch from gaining or exercising too much power! Well, did you know that there is a system of checks and balances in the Kingdom of God?

When we first moved to the Atlanta area, I didn’t know if it was the location or the time, but it seemed as if everybody and their momma had a “word” from the Lord for me! I mean, I’m not perfect, but the Lord and I are on speaking terms: We talk everyday! So I couldn’t understand why he would tell somebody to tell me something and yet not mention it to me in our daily conversations! Well, I came to the conclusion that it was not so much that these people had a “word” for me as it was their attempt to impress me with their super-pseudo-spirituality! But, just in case you encounter some of these people, you need to know that there are some principles (a system of checks and balances) that govern a “word” from the Lord.

First of all, as a rule of thumb, the Lord will usually never tell anybody (not even the preacher!) to tell you anything that he hasn’t already told you! In other words, he usually doesn’t give other people a “new” word for you; he usually uses other people to confirm the word he has already spoken to you! He doesn’t use them for a “fresh” word, he uses them to say “Amen” to the word he has already spoken and revealed to you! (You need to make sure you have “ears to hear” as the Lord speaks! We talk to God through prayer; God talks to us, primarily through his written word! But, if you don’t read, study and meditate on the written word, you leave yourself open to deception because God has spoken, but you didn’t hear and you weren’t listening!)

Secondly, not only whenever someone claims to have a word from the Lord, will their word confirm what God has already told you, but their spoken word will also agree with God’s written word! I have heard of people today who are claiming that they are so spiritual that they have a revelation that is so fresh (a “rhema word”) that it is not even in the Bible! Well, they are more spiritual than Jesus or any of the prophets! For Jesus only spoke what the Father told him (See John 12:49) and what the Father told him was really not anything new, but rather the Father used Jesus to confirm the word he had spoken to the Prophets of the Old Testament! So whatever anyone tells you, if it is really from God, it will confirm what God has already told you and it will agree with the written word; the Bible!

And then thirdly, it will settle and resonate in your spirit! You will not have to wonder; you will know it is from God because the Holy Spirit will confirm it within your spirit! Whenever you hear a sermon and it seems like the preacher is talking to nobody but you; that’s the Holy Spirit confirming that word in your spirit! When something is said in the sermon and you think that surely your wife, your husband or somebody must have had a private conversation with the Pastor about you; that’s the Holy Spirit confirming the word in your spirit! So don’t get mad at the preacher or look cross-eyed at your spouse or the people around you! Just thank God that his word is a Living Word!

All three of these principles will come into play: confirmation of an already given word, agreement with the written word, and a spirit/Spirit agreement, whenever someone says they have a word from the Lord for you! Don’t be fooled by pseudo-prophets looking for a profit! Don’t be impressed by people trying to impress you with their super spirituality! If it is really from God, it will pass all three tests! Thank God for this system of spiritual checks and balances and remember the words of the Apostle John: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (1John 4:1 KJV)

 

Armor Bearer is NOT a Biblical Church Office: A Guest Post by H. B. Charles, Jr.

He picked me up from the airport. We headed straight to the church.

I wanted to look over my manuscript once more before I preached. But I took a few minutes to chat with my driver.

I asked my standard questions, including, “Where do you serve in the church?”

“I’m pastor’s chief armor bearer,” he said proudly.

I summoned all the self-control I could muster. But I couldn’t resist. I had to ask. “What does that mean?”

He explained the various ways he serves his pastor. “I am basically pastor’s right-hand man,” he concluded.

I changed the subject.

But there was another question I wanted to ask: “You do know that armor bearer is not a biblical church office, don’t you?”

This time, self-control prevailed. Thankfully.

I read Terry Nance’s book, God’s Armor Bearers, when it was first published some years ago. I found it interesting. Then I forgot it. I never expected it would get so much traction. Yet there is a now a movement of “armor bearers.” And I am not sure it’s a good thing.

Let me clear. It is good for men to have hearts and hands to serve in the church. And it is good when men are willing to serve their pastor. Every man should have another man in his life that he submits to. But I wonder if all this “armor bearer” stuff is taking things too far.

Christians are commanded to honor their pastors. At the same time, however, pastors are commanded to be servant-leaders, not celebrities.

  • Do you really need security with earpieces to protect you from interaction with your congregation?
  • Do you really need someone to carry your Bible, manuscript, and anointed handkerchief to the pulpit for you before you preach?
  • Do you really need the men in your church who have a servant’s heart to be used as your chauffeurs and butlers?

But there is a bigger question: You do know armor bearer is not a biblical church office, don’t you?

There are two biblical offices in the New Testament church: elders and deacons. Elders serve by leading. Deacons lead by serving.

Unfortunately, many pastors and congregations resist the hard work of developing biblical church leadership. Most would not dare consider establishing elders. And pastors and deacons often have a love-hate relationship, as they wrestle for power. (Trustees are not in the Bible. And they should NOT have final authority in the church, just because they handle the money.)

Brothers, if we are going to disciple men for Christian growth, service, and leadership, why not use the terms and offices the Lord has ordained? The church needs godly elders and faithful deacons not ecclesiastical rent-a-cops.

Come on, if you are going to fight what that armor, can’t you carry it?

As pastors, we should model Christlike humility and servanthood. We should labor to nurture biblical church leadership. Our goal should be congregational health, not personal comfort. We need Christian soldiers that will lead the army of God into spiritual warfare.

And may we do so dressed in the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-20), so we won’t need anyone to bear our armor for us!

H. B. Charles, Jr.

Who Is Our God?

who is godWho is our God? Sounds like a fairly simple question, but in reality, it is not so simple! For the Christian community, the textbook answer is: “Our God is the God of the Bible!” But I want to ask, those of us who are part to the Christian community in America, is the God of the Bible really our God? I mean, think about it for a minute. A recent survey by the American Bible Society revealed that 88 percent of respondents said they own a Bible, 80 percent think the Bible is sacred, 61 percent wish they read the Bible more, and the average household has 4.4 Bibles, yet only one in five Americans read the Bible on a regular basis! My question is this: How can we say that our God is the God of the Bible when we really don’t know the God of the Bible? I say we really don’t know that God of the Bible because the only way we can know the God of the Bible is by reading and studying the Bible! Therefore, if we don’t know the Bible, we can’t know the God of the Bible because the God of the Bible reveals Himself and makes Himself knowable and known through the Bible!

So, if we (Americans) as a whole don’t really know the God of the Bible (because we don’t read and study the Bible), then who is our God? From what I am hearing in many so-called Christian camps today, our God is Mammon: The God of Wealth and Prosperity; The Money God! Jesus said: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mat 6:24 ESV) This passage and many others are in direct contradiction to those who preach and teach that the primary aim of Christianity is health, wealth and prosperity. The God of the Bible is not the least bit excited by silver or gold. In fact, I read somewhere in the Bible that gold is of such low value in the God of the Bible’s economy that it is used to pave the streets of Heaven! It’s ironic that many people are robbing, killing, and selling their souls to get what the God of the Bible uses as asphalt!

There is also a tradition that says Barabbas’ first name was also “Jesus.” So when Pilate presented the choice to the Jewish crowd in Matthew 27:17, he actually asked which “Jesus” they wanted: Jesus Barabbas or Jesus of Nazareth? Now the irony of the situation was that the name; Barabbas actually meant: “son of the father!” The crowd picked “the (false) son of the father” to go free and chose to allow Jesus of Nazareth (who was and is actually the “real” Son of the Father) to be crucified! Now, I said all of that to say this: There are many in Christian circles today who are calling on the name of Jesus, but my question is: Which Jesus? When people used profanity and say “Jesus @#*n% Christ” that is not the Jesus of the Bible! That is a “Jesus” of their own making; that Jesus is an idol! When we as Christians say we love Jesus, yet we are not willing to submit to his lordship over our lives, the Jesus we love is not the Jesus of the Bible! The Jesus of the Bible plainly declares to love him is to obey him! (see John 14:23-24)

If the God we serve only loves the people we love, doesn’t disagree with anything we do, never rebukes or correct us and doesn’t require a change in attitude or behavior from anybody, that is a god of our own making! If we serve a god like that; we are serving an idol! A god shaped in our image! In fact, the reality of the situation is, a god like that serves us! And if that is the case, then we make ourselves to be god!

The God of the Bible cannot and will not be manipulated by our prayers or by our faith! It is He who has made us and not us who made Him! Therefore the only proper and correct response is humble submission to His will and to His way. For that is the purpose for which we were created: To do God’s will upon the earth. Therefore, when we live life oblivious to the God of the Bible’s will and purpose for our lives, then the answer to the original question is “us!” We are our god!