Category Archives: Gaze Into the Gospel

A Subtle False Doctrine (1 Timothy 1:4)

When we think of false doctrine, certain things come to mind:

  1. Faith healers
  2. Cult groups
  3. Works Salvation
  4. Or Doctrinal error

While this is true, 1 Timothy is very helpful in pointing out the more subtle forms of false doctrine that are in churches, and individuals hold to. Paul focuses on two specific characteristics of subtle false doctrine.

  • It’s about man instead of God (1 Timothy 1:3-7)
  • It is based on good works, or “rules” (1 Timothy 1:8-11)

One specific attribute of false doctrine it’s based on mans opinions instead of Gods Word (1:4). Paul was specifically referring in this passage to those who taught works salvation. But sadly many beliefs that cannot be found in Scripture are held because teachers or preachers share mans opinion instead of God’s word.

In a way this kind of teaching does more damage than false doctrine because we notice when someone teaches something like works Salvation. But it’s difficult to notice when someone preaches their own opinions:

  1. By taking Scripture out of context
  2. By spending ten minutes in Scripture, and a half hour telling funny stories
  3. By adapting messages to the needs of the people (how to have a successful marriage)
  4. By giving the people what they want to hear (always talking about God’s love)
  5. Or by focusing on entertainment/engagement instead of explaining the text

The problem with this teaching is individuals will hold to, and build their life upon beliefs that cannot be found anywhere in Scripture. So instead of using the bible to defend their beliefs, they use emotion, personal interpretation, or their on experiences.

As a missionary I’ve had to break fellowship in recent years with Baptist churches in SVG because of their false doctrine. The thing is that false doctrine didn’t arrive overnight, instead it crept in quietly over time as men preached their own opinion instead of God’s truth.

May we vigilantly fight against the major forms of false doctrine, and the one that creeps in quietly

Winning the War not the Battle With Our Sin-Nature (Joshua 15:14)

A theme from the book of Joshua is to “claim the land.” This theme comes because Joshua is called by God to conquer the land of Canaan, so Jews can then claim it by driving out final enemies, and building their own houses.

Joshua fulfils the call of God by conquering almost all of the land till he can no longer fight. Sadly the Jews do a very poor job of claiming that land.

In Joshua seventeen the tribe of Joseph complained that Joshua had not given them enough land, but were unwilling to expand into new territory, because they were afraid of the Canaanites (Joshua 17:15-16). Then in chapter eighteen Joshua confronts many tribes who because of fear, had refused to claim the land that God had given (Joshua 18:3).

As a contrast to these passive individuals, the Lord gives us the example of Caleb. Who at the age of eighty-five (Joshua 14:10-11) conquered the areas that young men were afraid to attack (Joshua 15:14).

There are many things that we can learn from the life of Caleb….

But the most important is to win a complete victory

For most of the Jews, gaining large victories over the Canaanite enemies was good enough. There was no reason to drive them out, since they were so weak. Of course in Judges those enemies allowed to survive would eventually drive the Jews out.

In other words, most Jews were satisfied with winning the battle, instead of the war

But not Caleb!

The application the Lord brought to my heart through this passage is I settle for winning battles over my sin nature instead of the war.

After defeating a sinful habit enough times it will become weak, or something that we don’t struggle with anymore. At this point it’s easy to overlook that sin as something unimportant, and we allow it to remain.

But winning the battle makes little difference if we let sin win the war.

Of course it’s impossible to completely eliminate sin from our lives till the Lord gives us a glorified body. So like Caleb we must just keep fighting.

Continue to wage war on the indwelling sin with a sharp sword until the day God calls you home, or your’e taken up. Then, and ONLY THEN can you lay your sword down.

The Gospel Prioritises Worship Over Work (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

This week with the new year coming I’ve been spending lots of time brainstorming and planning for 2022.

Lots of questions come to mind in seasons of planning like this

  1. What went well (and didn’t go well) last year?
  2. How can I do better?
  3. And what should be my ministry goals?

Along with this I try to create daily schedules that revolve around ministry habits. This doesn’t mean I can’t change the schedule, but it helps to have an idea of what would come next each day.

Things like evaluation, ministry schedules, and goals are very important because they help me become efficient. Or accomplish more things in less time.

When efficiency becomes the goal of ministry however, it creates serious problems.

Part of the new year is defining success, or asking “what will make this year successful ministry wise? The temptation with this is to focus on activities, such as the amount of hours spent working, or how many new ministries have been launched.

This is dangerous because it forgets God cares much more about my worship than my work.

Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is a very well known passage of Scripture because Jesus quoted it as part of the greatest commandment along with, “and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

These verses help us understand that God cared much more about the Jews heart relationship with Him, or level of commitment than their outward obedience. This is because it was possible for them to continue obeying the outer rules of the law such as giving sacrifices or attending feasts, and have a sinful heart.

Throughout Scripture God always placed a priority on worshipping Him above all other things. The first of the ten commandments is “thou shalt have no other God’s before me.” And through the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah, God calls outwardly religious people to turn from their hidden sins.

Applying this to life and ministry means success should be defined not by how many hours I serve, but how close I am to the Lord.

Obviously this doesn’t mean I become lazy and never do any work…..

Instead it means that worship comes first.

Practically this calls me to prioritise habits that focus on spending time with the Lord.

  1. Deep Bible study
  2. Uninterrupted prayer
  3. Reading strong Christian books
  4. Furthering my theological education
  5. And Memorisation of Scripture, along with journaling

To describe it a different way, I must serve the Lord with a full spiritual cup. It’s only as my own cup has been filled by quality time with the Lord that I’m truly able to serve others effectively.

You are Not Strong Enough (Matthew 26:40)

Christ in Matthew 26 has a supper with the disciples bearing not only the pain of Judas coming betrayal, but the disciples abandonment.

Jesus knew that in His moment of greatest need, the disciples would not be there.

Of course that doesn’t mean they did want to be there! We all know the words of Peter who promised that he would NEVER deny Christ.

And we also know how that turned out

  1. Three times Peter fell asleep instead of praying
  2. He attempted to defend Jesus with a knife (failing badly)
  3. He ran away instead fo helping Jesus
  4. He followed at a distance so the chief priests would not put him on trial
  5. And he denied knowing Christ three times

The words of Jesus in Matthew 26:41 are significant….”the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

that sentence describes the constant battle for Christians between a desire in our hearts to serve the Lord, and a lack of strength to do it.

Thankfully Christ gives to us the power of the Holy Spirit so we can accomplish His work…..

But there will always be in our hearts a desire to do the work in our own strength.

As a missionary one of the greatest temptations is to do God’s work in my strength. The Lord often calls me to do a great work for Him on the mission field. This leads to brainstorming, and planning, along with prayer.

There is nothing wrong with this! In fact, the Lord wants me to go through this process of planning because it clarifies the next steps.

The danger comes when I try to accomplish those plans on my own.

The most detailed strategic plan in the world is absolutely useless apart from the presence of God. So instead of charging up the hill to accomplish the victory myself, the greatest power is found on my knees.

Pursuing Lost Sheep (Luke 15:5-6)

I have a close unsaved friend in the community who is close to accepting Christ. Shortly before my medical furlough to care for my eyes during the summer, we had a long discussion about the Gospel, and I truly believed he would accept the Lord soon.

Sadly that didn’t happen

During my medical furlough he stopped coming to church, and our relationship just wasn’t the same after I returned. Satan I believe used that time away to draw my friend back into sin.

I wish this was a rare, but it’s actually incredibly common

Many close to accepting Christ have been lured back into the world by Satan.

But these frustrating situations give us an opportunity to display the gracious love of God.

In Luke 15 many wicked sinners come to heart Jesus teach. The religious leaders immediately begin complaining among themselves that Christ is spending time with sinners (15:2. Jesus responds by saying the wicked coming to hear is a blessing, because Salvation brings the greatest joy to God (15:7, 15:10).

The principle of this passage is God will pursue us when we wander from Him.

We in our sinfulness continue to stubbornly wander away from God. His response is always to find us, humble us (through punishment if necessary), and restore us. He does this because of His love for us, not because we deserve it.

The rest of Luke 15 is an illustration of that truth through the parable of the Prodigal Son. God bings great sorrow and suffering into his life so that he finally “comes to himself”, repents, and returns home.

The attitude of the religious leaders is also seen in the parable through the oldest son who refuses to accept his younger brother. He had an attitude of superiority that felt himself much better than the son who had wandered.

Missions is not about looking down on those who have wandered.

Instead it’s about pursuing lost sheep…..

This is not easy since the sheep are often stubborn, and selfish.

But we continue going out to rescue them, because our loving Father never fails to restore us.

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