Archives For Truth

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Are you a Christian? How do you know? Are you sure? What criteria do you use to tell if someone is a Christian or not? What are the “essential doctrines” or “fundamentals” that one must agree with and believe to be considered a true convert? And one more thing: Does the devil possess any of these “Christian traits”?

I went through my Bible for some examples of the things that the devil believes and does. I wonder if these traits are enough to render him a Christian:

  1. Satan reads and has memorized his Bible. He drops verses like a pro when tempting Jesus.  (Matthew 4)
  2. Satan believes that there is one God. (James 2:19)
  3. Satan can perform signs and wonders (2 Thess 2:9)
  4. The demons (Satan’s minions) know and acknowledge that Jesus is the “Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24)
  5. The same demons also acknowledge that Jesus is the Son of God. (Luke 4:41)
  6. It appears Satan has access to the presence of God and converses with God (Job 1:6)
  7. He knows that he can do nothing without God’s permission (Job 1:6-12)

Are these “facts” enough to render Satan a Christian? And if not, what are those things that would disqualifies him from being one?

My answer is that there is at least one thing that the devil neither seems to know, BELIEVE nor ACCEPT. There is also one thing that the devil never DOES, and the reason why he doesn’t DO the latter is because he doesn’t BELIEVE the former.

First, what the devil doesn’t BELIEVE:

“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” [1 Corinthians 15:3-4]

Secondly, what the devil doesn’t DO:

“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.” [1 John 3:14]

In other words;

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  [John 13:35]

The devil does not love God and he does not love his neighbor. His loveless actions are the evidence that he does not believe the Gospel. However, the devil does claim to love people and care for people and look out for the best interest of the people. The difference is that his love, care and concern is not expressed in ways that explicitly honor and give glory to God.

Now that we know a few things that set the devil (with all his knowledge, beliefs and works) apart from the true children of God, the more important question is this: What sets the devil apart from you? Do you believe the Gospel? And has this belief caused any change in your love for God and neighbor? Doe your love for others show others that you are acting out of gratitude for what God has does for you?

I implore you to examine your heart and prayerfully consider this.

“What matters is that you are sincere” sounds like good advise, and it is, as we shall see in a moment. But it can also be the worst advise to give anyone. God does, indeed, want us to be sincere about what we do. A common dictionary definition of sincere is “free from pretense or deceit; proceeding from genuine feelings”. It is wrong to be pretentious and deceitful. We must always strive to be genuine, honest, in other words, sincere. Integrity.

Photo credit: genius.com

Photo credit: genius.com

But what if being true to who we are involves doing something that is hurtful and unkind and unloving? What if I genuinely don’t care about the homeless and the sick? Should I be sincere even then? Would it be pretentious to “do” caring things to such people because that is “the right thing to do”? Such questions lead us to something that often goes un-examined when we talk about “being sincere”: It matters what we are being sincere about. In other words, our personal feelings are not the ultimate standard of what is right or wrong. We are not automatically doing right just because we are doing what we feel like doing. There seems to be a standard of right or wrong, outside of our feelings.

Does this, then, mean that our feelings don’t matter? No. It only means that our feelings are Continue Reading…

I came across this interesting comic on the web (below). A teacher gave her students the following assignment: What is the “Golden Rule” and its source? The answers she got from her students are quite telling. In fact, many atheists use this example to illustrate why they think the Bible is not the Word of God but a mere fabrication of pre-existing (pagan) traditions.

thegoldenrule

Now, what is fascinating is that all the answers given by the students were correct, and factual. The problem is that some of the people quoted lived centuries before Jesus was born, and yet we often attribute the Golden Rule to Jesus (Matthew 7:12). But Confucius (551–479 BC) and Buddha (480-400 BC) said and taught the same thing and yet they lived hundreds of years before Jesus was born.

Similar examples have been cited as arguments against the validity of the Bible stories. Such as Noah’s flood. Many argue that the story was merely a Jewish adaptation of the Neo-Assyrian Gilgamesh flood myth found in the Epic of Gilgamesh. The myth, according to historians, is very similar to the Biblical stories and yet it existed centuries before the supposed period of Noah.

Do these examples disqualify the Bible? Many people believe so. Yet what such arguments against the Bible reveal is the arguers’ ignorance of what the Bible is and what the Bible does. The Bible is not God’s Word because it contains novel (new and unique) ideas about God. In fact, the reverse is the case, all true ideas about God that exist outside the Bible only prove that God is the author and owner of all truth. It is the reason R.C. Sproul has popularized the phrase: “all truth is God’s truth.”

Truth is truth, wherever you find it. To argue that only the Bible contains truth is to actually speak against the Bible, because the even the Bible claims that there is truth about God outside itself. Romans 1:19 actually says whatever may be known about God is available to even those who have never read the Bible. Psalms 19 talks about how nature teaches us about various attributes of God. Even Paul often  quoted pagan sages in the Bible (1 Cor 10:23).

The availability of truth apart from the Bible is actually an argument for God, not against Him. It is proof of His sovereignty — that  God is God over all people and all things, not just the Jews and the Christians. It is proof that those who will never encounter Christianity will not be judged unfairly, because “what may be known about God is “plain” to them (Rom 1:19).

No, the Bible is not a work of plagiarism. But it is a work that seriously needs to be plagiarized by you and me.

For the fame of His name.

Cornell

the-moment-of-truthThe Moment of Truth is a 2008/09 American TV game show whereby participants get to answer 21 questions and stand to win a grand prize of $500,000. Prior to going on the show, each participant is administered a polygraph exam. This is done by answering 50 random questions, most of which are intensely personal. 21 of these questions are then picked to be asked again in front of a live audience, including the contestant’s close family and friends, and he or she is supposed to answer each of the 21 questions truthfully… or walk away with nothing. What struck me about this show is how much people are willing to risk and sacrifice for the sake of half a million dollars (that’s over 40 million Kenyan shillings!).

It’s amazing just what people are willing to sacrifice for 40 million shillings. When the moment of truth comes, the contestant is willing to forsake all, his friendships, his marriage and his family… for a good amount of money. A wife is willing to destroy a 20 year marriage for 40 million shillings. A son is willing to alienate his parents for 40 million shillings… Husbands will readily admit that they have been cheating on their wives; wives will confess to be in love with the husband’s brother or best friend and a daughter, like Melanie Williams who won the grand prize, will confess that she believed her dad was a pedophile.

I was watching this show the other day when it hit me; these people are willing to literally confess their most heinous sins and uncover their vilest secrets in front of a national audience for the sake of their god. Money is a powerful idol that is often underestimated. Paul was right, “…the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils…” Human beings are willing to bare their souls, revealing their utter wretchedness and lay all their sins at the foot of the money-god.

But am I willing to do the same for my God? Am I willing to lay down my vilest sins, confessing them before God and man for the sake of the ultimate prize of eternal glory? My God, who is LORD of all, Creator of all universe and the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills… Is He appealing enough to risk my dignity and reputation for? Am I willing to hate my mother and father for the sake of this God of mine the way others are willing to do it for the sake of money? When the moment of truth comes, am I willing to lay down my pride, lay bare my soul and count it all as loss for the sake of knowing Him, and owning Him?

I am not so much shocked that people in this show are willing to stake it all for the sake of 40 million shillings; I am more appalled that if the same demand was to be made of me regarding my love for my God, I will hesitate, and most likely settle for nothing.

“Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” [Romans 7:24-25a]

joseph-princeExactly. I thought I was the only one asking this question. Apparently, I am not. In the few times that I’ve listened to snippets of Joseph Prince’s sermons, I’ve found it difficult to understand how he gets airtime on TBN. Yes, he admits that he is a Word of Faith preacher like the rest of the TBN “cast”, but his sermons are different. You will not hear him out-rightly calling people to claim their inheritance and turn their faith into gold. Pastor Prince’s gospel is slightly different. The difference is so subtle that even I missed it for quite awhile. I admit, I am a grace junkie, and every preacher who teaches on God’s grace is bound to tickle my ears. I guess that’s what blindly drew me to Joseph Prince at first. He is an excellent communicator and a passionate preacher. Grace, or unmerited favor, is at the core of all his messages. Continue Reading…

I’ve been thinking about stories, and why they are such effective, timeless modes of communication. Children learn best through stories. So do adults. The best writers are storytellers. Stories just have a way of gripping our attention because they invade our imagination. Stories enter the minds of their hearers unannounced and take a seat on their soul, uninvited. They take us on adventurous journeys without our permission. It’s why we love movies. And stories never get old. It doesn’t matter what age we are living in, from the age of oral tradition to the blogging generation, stories continue to win the hearts of men. It doesn’t matter whether one is shipping a lie or mailing the truth, stories continue to be the best courier services.

It is therefore no coincidence that the Bible is a story. Of course, there are proverbs, laws, psalms and abstract apostolic teachings in the Bible, but all of these find their validity in the greater context of the biblical narrative. To isolate any law, or proverb from the story is to destroy that law or proverb. No wonder expository preaching is considered better and more faithful to the scripture compared to topical preaching. No wonder great Bible commentators and expositors emphasize context. The story matters. The overall account counts. Continue Reading…

godly_fellowship

  1. “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” [John 17:21-23]
  2. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” [1 Corinthians 12:27]
  3. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” [Hebrews 10:24-25] Continue Reading…

He stumbles into my courtyard. His hands tightly bound at the wrists in leather straps. His hair is an entangled mess of blood and sweat, yet there seems to be no scratch or cut on his face. I wonder wonder whose blood that is, or where it came from. His knees are buckling with exhaustion. His eyelids are heavy…, yet somehow, he manages to keep his footing. He stands before me.

The voices behind him scream for his blood. “Crucify him!” They want him dead. Dead on a cross. Common sense and my political advisers tell me I should just let the crowd have its way; that they must be justified in their unanimous verdict. But the eyes of the accused man catch mine… and I begin to study this captive.

His looks are haggard, those of a drifter, a wanderer. His frame outlines the features of an outcast. His sandals spell the poverty of a pauper. Everything about his form and appearance screams suspicion and guilt, everything… but his eyes! Continue Reading…

It has come to my attention that my last review of Mavuno Church’s ongoing series, The Sex Files: Living in an R-Rated World came off to many people as being predominantly [and therefore unfairly] negative. It appeared as if I was out to pick out all the flaws in the sermon and ignore all the positive things communicated [ and even nuanced] in the sermon. So, this blog post will focus on one key component of the second sermon which I found useful and worth expounding upon. If you have read my post on The problem with half truths in Preaching, you will hopefully understand my difficulty in acknowledging as positive, those elements of a message that independently sound true but are not based on an overarching sense of Gospel-centrism. Continue Reading…

You’ve probably heard or read this quote before, “The problem with half-truths is if you have the wrong half.” Well, the truth is that there is no such thing as a half truth. It doesn’t really matter which half you have, they are both falsehoods. I am not the first person to point this out. A casual scan through classical authors and ancient proverbs confirms this. It was Mark Twain who said that “a half truth is the most cowardly of lies.” Alfred Lord Tennyson put it even more darkly, “a lie that is half-truth is the darkest of all lies.” A Yiddish proverb goes straight to the point, “a half truth is a whole lie”. So, what happens when we preach half-truths about God? But even before we answer this, what is considered a half-truth about God? Continue Reading…