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Faithlife

Believing Correctly

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If I was going to pick the first book of the Bible that people should read when they come to Christ, I would pick the book of John.  Probably for the second I would pick 1 John.  Let me challenge you over the next few months to become familiar with the writings of the beloved disciple.  He knew Jesus like none of the others did.  He grasped the heart of Christ and with it His passion and the scope of his ministry on earth, present and to come as we see also in the book of revelation.

I believe that in these books there is great likelihood that a person wanting to discover the same heart could do so as well.  With all my heart, I’m convinced that a person lives as close to God as he/she wishes.  Often in times of trouble or despair we wonder where He is or we struggle to stay afloat spiritually.  You see the storms only tell us how close we have been living to Him.  In fair seas we don’t check so often to see where He is or what his pleasure is for our lives.  When things are going fine we sail our own course without close consultation.  Why would we be overly concerned with our proximity to Christ when we need him for nothing in particular.

And then the storm.  We are tossed emotionally.  We are devastated by bad news.  We are faced with the loss of a loved one.  And in the storm we pray like we never pray otherwise.  We don’t stop to ask ourselves whether or not we feel like it or not. 

Cyrus Brown’s Prayer

“The proper way for man to pray,”

Said Deacon Lemuel Keyes

“And the only proper attitude

Is down upon his knees.”

“No, I should say the way to pray,”

Said rev. Dr. Wise

“Is standing straight with outstretched arms,

And rapt and upturned eyes.”

“Oh, no, no, no!” said Elder Slow,

“Such posture is too proud;

A man should pray with eyes fast closed

And head contritely bowed.”

“It seems to me his hands should be

Austerely clasped in front

With both thumbs pointing toward

the ground,”

Said Rev. Dr. Blunt

“Las’ year I fell in Hodgkins well

Head first,” said Cyrus Brown

“With both my heels a-stickin’ up,

My head a-pintin’ down;

“An I made a prayer right then an’ there

Best prayer I ever said,

The prayin-est prayer I ever prayed,

A-standin’ on my head.”

The situation makes us intense and desperate and so many times God comes through, no always God comes through.  If we were more consistent and serious, if we lived out daily the importance that we profess to assign to the practice of prayer, there would be fewer storms that would cause us to panic and we would discover that God is not farther away than we have been content to have him stay.

Well the “beloved” disciple was the one who was always closest.  He needed no storms to drive him to Christ.  He loved him deeply and in his writings he paints his favorite pictures and passes them to us.  I anyone could teach us to love Christ, John could do that.


Tell me the story of Jesus

Write on my heart every word

Tell me the story most precious

Sweetest that ever was heard

Tell how the angels in chorus

Sang as they welcomed his birth

Glory to God in the highest

Peace and good tidings to earth

Tell of the Cross where they nailed him

Writhing in anguish and pain

Tell of the grave where they laid him

Tell how he liveth again

Love in that story so tender

Clearer than ever I see

Stay let me weep while you whisper

Love paid the ransom for me.


Not only was John the “beloved” disciple.  At the time of his writing, he was the only surviving disciple of Christ.  He was the leader of the early church centered in Ephesus from app. AD 68 – 100.  Paul was martyred two years earlier and he had fled Jerusalem during the Jewish War of AD 66 which precipitated the total destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

He was charged with the responsibility of uniting the predominantly Jewish Christian Church (AD 30-44, led by Peter and James, the brother of Christ) and the Gentile Christian Church in Antioch (AD 44-68 led by the Apostle Paul)

As the leader of the church, he was concerned that people believed correctly and that they believed passionately.

If you were going to tell the story of Jesus, where would you begin?  At the cross?  In the cradle?  In the cosmos?  Really that’s where it all began.  Before there was human consciousness.  In one instant He was creating, in the next He was correcting the problem of man’s God given ability to deny his creator.

John says, “In the beginning was the Word . . .” He was one of the Sons of Thunder.  His brother James was martyred in the early chapters of the book of Acts. (" It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword." (Acts 12:1-2, NIV) )

[1]

Does it really matter what we believe?  Is it important that our understanding is correct?

      If what we believe makes no difference to us then it will make no difference in us.  The difference between your beliefs and truth can be subtle and seemingly innocent but they can make a world of difference over time.  Our beliefs are as important as an accurate bearing on a compass.

It is crucial that we learn to evaluate what we hear based on our knowledge of the word.  Be careful about the things that you believe.

" Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood." (1 John 4:1-6, NIV)

[2]

I've always been amazed by what people will believe.  In recent grocery store tabloids, the following headlines were observed:

 * Dinosaurs Honked Like Buicks

 * Cow Mattresses Help Cows Produce More Milk

 * Mom To Be On Diet Of Only Chicken, Lays Huge Egg

 * WWII Bomber Found On the Moon

 * Woman Gives Birth To 2 Year Old Baby: Child Walks & Talks In 3 Days

 * Adam & Eve's Bones Found In Asia: Eve Was A Space Alien

Shirley MacLaine, who claims to have spent times in past lives as a monk, a Russian ballet dancer, a male court jester, her own daughter's daughter, a harem dancer, a Brazilian voodoo practitioner, a Chinese tai chi artist, a prostitute, an Incan youth in Peru and a Roman guard, says she has also caused trees to sway, mastered the knowledge of weather control and had the power to communicate with elephants and other animals of the jungle.  But it seems the golden girl of the New Age is having trouble communicating with several popular talk show hosts in this life.  After swearing at David Letterman and walking off his show, Shirley was told by Oprah Winfrey, "You can't go around telling people you are God.  It's a very difficult concept to accept."

Relative to heaven, people adopt groundless beliefs as well.  They are there in abundance with nothing more than human wishfulness as a foundation.

[     If I’m just good enough I’ll get to heaven

[     If I believe sincerely, it doesn’t matter what I believe because all roads lead to heaven

[     We all worship the same God

[     We’re all going to see one another in the next life one way or another – there will be some grand reuniting regardless of what we do here and now

" Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also. See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—even eternal life. I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him." (1 John 2:18-27, NIV)

[3]

      If what we believe makes no difference in us then it doesn’t matter what we believe.  If we do not conscientiously, daily, deliberately, intentionally live to portray our faith to people around us and demonstrate what we profess then it doesn’t matter what we believe.  The test of true belief is in the living out of those beliefs.

" That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives." (1 John 1:1-10, NIV)

[4]

      What we choose to believe about Jesus Christ is pivotal to our faith.  It is often in the subtle differences of belief about the deity of Christ that we identify a cult. What you believe about Jesus makes the difference as to our eternal salvation.  This is the way he begins his letter.

§         He is eternal

§         He is distinct

§         He is one and the same as God.

§         He is the creator.

§         He is the source of both life and wisdom or light. 

§         He was and is rejected by men.

§         We become children of God by personal acknowledgement of him.

When a new FBI agent is hired he is given intensive training. As part of the program, he is taught to watch for counterfeit money.  He makes a thorough study of the genuine bills -- not the phonies -- so that he can spot the fake currency immediately because of its contrast to the real thing.

The child of God can learn a lesson from this.  While it is helpful to study false religions and be fully aware of their dangerous dogmas, we should be so familiar with God's Word that whenever we encounter error, we will spot it at once.  Today many are being led astray by cults and isms because they don't recognize how they are being deceived.  The only way to prevent this is to indoctrinate believers with the truth so they will be much more discerning.  For example, if a person is solidly grounded in the teaching of salvation by grace, he won't swallow the line of the legalists who inject human works into the matter of being saved.  If he is well instructed about the person of Christ, he won't accept the error of those who deny the Savior's deity.  Knowing the truth of the second coming of Jesus, he'll not be swayed by those who distort the blessed hope, making it something less than the personal, bodily return of the Lord.  A thorough knowledge of essential biblical doctrines is the only way to detect their counterfeits!

      Our true beliefs about Jesus will be evident in our living.  It doesn’t matter what you give lip service to – it matters what you do about your profession.  Correct living comes from correct believing.

" I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:13-15, NIV)

[5]

Why would John have offered us this theological picture of the identity of Christ?

John differentiated between Jesus and God.

He differentiated between John and Jesus

" In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies concerning him. He cries out, saying, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’” From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known." (John 1:1-18, NIV)

[6]

PROOFS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD

While theology may take God's existence as absolutely necessary on the basis of authority, faith, or revelation, many philosophers-and some theologians-have thought it possible to demonstrate by reason that there must be a God.

St. Thomas Aquinas, in the thirteenth century, formulated the famous "five ways" by which God's existence can be demonstrated philosophically:

1- The "unmoved mover" argument We know that there is motion in the world; whatever is in motion is moved by another thing; this other thing also must be moved by something; to avoid an infinite regression, we must posit a "first  mover," which is God.

2- The "nothing is caused by itself" argument- For example, a table  is brought into being by a carpenter, who is caused by his parents- Again, we cannot go on to infinity, so there must be a first cause, which is God.

3- The cosmological argument- All physical things, even mountains, boulders, and rivers, come into being and go out of existence, no matter how long they last. Therefore, since time is infinite, there must be some time at which none of these things existed. But if there were nothing at that point in time. How could there be anything at all now, since nothing cannot cause anything? Thus, there must always have been at least one necessary thing that is eternal, which is God.

4. Objects in the world have differing degrees of qualities such as goodness- But speaking of more or less goodness makes sense only by comparison with what is the maximum goodness, which is God.

5. The teleological argument (argument from design)- Things in the world move toward goals, just as the arrow does not move toward its goal except by the archer's directing it. Thus, there must be an intelligent designer who directs all things to their goals, and this is God.

Two other historically important "proofs" are the ontological argument and the moral argument. The former, made famous by St. Anselm in the eleventh century and defended in another form by Descartes, holds that it would be logically contradictory to deny God's existence. St. Anselm began by defining God as "that [being] than which nothing greater can be conceived." If God existed only in the mind,  He then would not be the greatest conceivable being, for we could imagine another being that is greater because it would exist both in the mind and in reality, and that being would then be God.

Therefore, to imagine God as existing only in the mind but not in reality leads to a logical contradiction; this proves the existence of God both in the mind and in reality.

Immanuel Kant rejected not only the ontological argument but the teleological and cosmological arguments as well, based on his theory that reason is too limited to know anything beyond human experience. However, he did argue that religion could be established as presupposed by the workings of morality in the human mind ("practical reason"). God's existence is a necessary presupposition of there being any moral judgments that are objective, that go beyond mere relativistic moral preferences; such judgments require standards external to any human mind-that is, they presumeGod's mind.

GOD KNOWS

When you are tired and discouraged from fruitless efforts. . .God knows how hard you have tried.

When you've cried so long and your heart is in anguish. . .God has counted your tears.

If you feel that your life is on hold and time has passed you by. . .God is waiting with you.

When you're lonely and your friends are too busy even for a phone call. . .God is by your side.

When you think you've tried everything and don't know where to turn. . .God has a solution.

When nothing makes sense and you are confused or frustrated. . .God has the answer.

If suddenly your outlook is brighter and you find traces of hope. . .God has whispered to you.

When things are going well and you have much to be thankful for. . .God has blessed you.

When something joyful happens and you are filled with awe. . .God has smiled upon you.

When you have a purpose to fulfill and a dream to follow. . .God has opened your eyes and called you by name.

Remember that wherever you are or whatever you are facing . . .GOD KNOWS.


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[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[2] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[3] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[4] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[5] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[6] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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