LOVE NOT THE WORLD (part 2)

UntitledWhy is 1 John 2:15-17 unacceptable to most people?  Almost everyone I know changes the words in this passage to say: do not love the evil in the world.  Is that what it says?  Is this talking about the people?  Who is in the world?  We have neighbors, friends, enemies and brethren.  We are commanded to love our neighbor.  We also are commanded to love our brethren, enemies and friends.  Who else is there in the world?  Is this a contradiction in the Bible?  Is He talking about souls or things?

Loving the “people” of the world is loving ones’ neighbor, which is commanded and good.

  • “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Though the world hates us, we must love them (even our enemies).

  • “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).
  • “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:44-45).

We were born into this material world, not into worldliness. 

  • “But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Tim. 6:6-7).

The word “world” is used in the sense of the physical world much the same as Romans 1:25 uses the word creation.

  • “Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature (creation) more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen” (Rom. 1:25).
  • NT:3844=para, which is a primary preposition; properly, near; i.e. (with genitive case) from beside (literally or figuratively), (with dative case) at (or in) the vicinity of (objectively or subjectively), (with accusative case) to the proximity with (local [especially beyond or opposed to] or causal [on account of]:

The verse (if translated exactly according to the Greek words God inspired) would literally read, “Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creation (what God created) along side of (or as well as) God.”

The cares of this physical world are what choke the word.

  • “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matt. 13:22).

The word world in the Greek language is kosmos—literally orderly arrangement—the same word we use in English for the universe.  What is he saying?  What does he mean when he says, “Do not love the kosmos?”  What about the things around us in the world?  Do not love “the things that are in the world.”  He has to be talking about the world itself and the material things in it.

Do you know any scripture that contradicts this command which says we can love the material things of the world but are not to love “worldliness” or the “evil” things which are in the world?  At first glance Colossians 2:20-22 appears to give permission to love the material things in the world, but let’s see if it does.

CONCENTRIC CIRCLES OF CONCERN: Seven Stages for Making Disciples

The expression may be strange to your ears, but the doctrine is a familiar one. The world seeks to lower our standards–something which the Lord warned about (Rom. 12:2). The book, Concentric Circles of Concern, advocates including rather than excluding others from our circle of faithful brethren. This would be of little import were it not for the great strides the doctrine has made in the denominational world. Its influence continually swallows up more and more Christians in a persistent advance upon all who bow to its towering demands.

Continue reading CONCENTRIC CIRCLES OF CONCERN: Seven Stages for Making Disciples

DON’T DROP THAT BATON!

At times I have wondered if some of the world’s church related statistics have not been worded in such a way as to discourage parents—especially Christian parents.

“They’re leaving!”

It’s hard to miss that ugly declaration in bulletins and periodicals everywhere. One such report from George Barna’s stats proclaimed that an average of 70% of teens will leave the church after high school graduation.[i] Should we be frightened? What should be our response?

One blogger testifies that families and the church are dysfunctional and that kids want to get away from both. They want to find their own “functionality” for their lives without the problems they see around them.[ii]

Not only are the children leaving, but scores of women are said to have already left the church for institutions where their voices may be heard from the pulpits and stages. Supposedly even preachers are leaving for systems where they are not so restricted by laws.[iii]

My husband and I have given birth to three strong-willed, independent-thinking children, beginning with our firstborn in 1963. Later we adopted two more equally strong willed children whose families were not there for them. While I was a public school teacher, my husband was a full time minister, and after more than a half-century of investing our lives in our children’s spiritual development, supplementing their education, eventually beginning to home school, we have learned a whole lot about what it means to transfer the baton to the next generation.

Passing the BatonEarly on we learned that home educators are particularly blessed with an edge. They have the benefit of access to their children 24/7, leading by example and exercising a powerful influence, primarily because they have the luxuries of time and togetherness. Yes, after I became a homeschooling mom, my thoughts have often been occupied with pencils, papers, and curriculum, but my overriding mission and passion has always been more about imparting spiritual concepts to our children than simply pursuing an academic agenda.

The average Christian parent whose children are sent out to be educated doesn’t get to see his school-aged child for seven to ten hours of each weekday, because during those hours children are on the way to school, being influenced by the world in school, or on the way home from school. That same child may spend about as much time sleeping in his bed at night. The hours left for meaningful parent-child interaction are not only few, but they also are chock-full of stressed carpools, debriefing, dinner preparations, chores, homework, and assorted extracurricular activities. The fact is, the world’s formal schooling holds families hostage to a system that dominates their days, nights, and weekends. Within that system, only crumbs of time are left for directing the children toward discipleship.

Worse yet, while the vice of secular academia grips these vulnerable kids in its jaws, they are likely to be exposed to all manner of negative influences during their countless hours on campus. In public schools it’s no secret that their course of study will be permeated with secular humanistic philosophy,[iv] while at the same time they could be dodging bullets,[v] bullies,[vi]blatant sexual perversity,[vii] and peer pressure, to name a few of the dangers they could encounter daily. And let’s be honest, private schools cannot guarantee a child exemption from such hazards.

On weekends (if there’s time after soccer, hockey, band, and football), this same parent may drop his children off to attend church programs designed to save them from the deplorable indoctrination experienced while engaged in their educational institution. Crazy, wouldn’t you say? Such programs are just one more way for the world to take the children away from the influence of the parents.

Local churches too often offer elaborate décor, Wii games, basketball, air hockey, and other age-appropriate amusements. These folks are serious about impacting the youth, but in my decades of experience, I have learned that providing myriad special youth nights and extravagant pleasure for teens doesn’t keep the teen sheep in the fold. Institutions will not save our kids. It’s up to parents to create our own revolution in our homes for our sons and daughters.

I said “home educators have an edge,” but I didn’t say “they have it in the bag.” Many enthusiastic homeschool parents are smugly touting their youngsters the “signs and wonders following them,” but a word of caution: babes under your wing aren’t yet adults who’ve decided to follow Jesus.

I’ve met many disappointed parents and heard much debate related to this topic. I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve found what I think is the non-negotiable in this all-important matter of getting—and keeping—our kids in the race (Heb. 12:1-2, KJV).

It begins with us. The good news is that we are the models! Wow! There is so much power in our very own hands to impact the next generation! The bad news is that we are . . . the . . . models. Sigh! What a huge responsibility we have before God to make right choices for the sake of our children.

It’s my conviction that we pass on to our children far more than our physical DNA. Our sons and daughters will reflect what we are. We establish the standard and cast the mold, and that’s serious stuff. We can preach truth day-in-and-day-out, but if we aren’t living it, kids know that. You can’t get anything past them.

So . . . what are you? I’m not asking if you’re a church member, a homeschool parent, how much money you give, or what good works you do. What we are and what we do can be two very different things.

Are we simply religious followers in systems, attending to those duties prescribed by the church or traditions of men, or are we decidedly dedicated disciples of Christ, recognizing that “…he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:15, KJV)?

As Christian parents, we are far more than educators equipping our students for a future vocation; we are the primary ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our impressionable youngsters. Isn’t that sobering?

If we believe Jesus’ statement that “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40, KJV), our mission is paramount. We cannot deny that our toughest job is to first lead ourselves strongly (with the baton firmly in hand) to grow into the image of our Master (Eph. 4:11-13). Let’s be done with lesser things and “. . . So run, that ye may obtain.” (1 Cor. 9:24, KJV)!


[i]www.barna.org/teens-next-gen-articles/534-fivemyths-about-young-adult-church-dropouts.

[ii]http://thegospelbeacon.blogspot.com/2014/01/why-do-young-people-leave-church.html

[iii]http://www.thepalmerperspective.com/2013/10/31/its-you-not-me-why-more-more-minister-are-leaving-churches-of-christ/

[iv]http://secular-humanism.com/

[v]http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777958.html

[vi] http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/school-bullying.html

WALK AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:” (Eph. 5:8).

Light is the opposite of darkness. The Bible speaks of light as the symbol of God’s presence and righteous works. “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen” (1 Tim. 6:16). Physical light has been associated with God’s presence, while spiritual light is associated with His knowledge, truth, and righteousness since creation. Darkness, on the other hand, symbolizes ignorance, error, evil, and the works of Satan.

God and His Word are frequently pictured as lights or lamps to enlighten and guide the believer down the dark roads of life. “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:” (1 John 1:5-6). “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psa. 119:105). The Psalmist also declared, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” (Psa. 27:1). Light is also used as a symbol of holiness and purity. Paul counseled the Christians at Rome to “put on the armour of light” (Rom. 13:12).

The New Testament presents Jesus as the personification of light or divine illumination: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). He is the one who brought the truth and knowledge of God into the world (John 1:18). Jesus plainly stated that those who rejected this divine light would bring judgment upon themselves. “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:19-21). Jesus and the New Testament writers extended the figure of light to include faithful Christians, who were called “children of light” (Eph 5:8).

Hating the light will bring condemnation. Turning to the light brings salvation, as He said: “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:” (Col. 1:13-14). Walking in the light is not just believing a certain doctrine. Walking in the light, which is God’s word, is walking according to God’s direction for us””doing what He says. That light, when it enters our hearts, gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6).

Jesus not only brought the light, but He walked according to the light and therefore is our example of what it means to be light. We need to grow in that light, both in knowing the light as well as becoming a light to others. God’s prophesy (the word of God) is that light which shines and needs to grow brighter and brighter until the day star rises in our hearts! (2 Pet. 1:19). The more of God’s truth and word we understand the brighter the light. Paul prayed that the Colossians would be filled with all knowledge and spiritual understanding, which would mean all light (Col. 1:9-10). Truly the day star comes closer and closer the more knowledge and understanding we add. When we live according to that light we do many good deeds which glorify the Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Our obedience glorifies our Father. We are admonished to walk as children of light (Eph 5:8), which we do when we obey more and more of His commands.

QUESTIONS:

1. RESEARCH QUESTION: Many ancient cultures were fascinated with light and its implications. Using a concordance or a Bible dictionary, find as many examples as possible of ancient people whose religions called for the worship of light or the sources of light (stars, moon or the sun). As much as possible, give examples from scripture of what God thought of these people.

2. Who were the people who sat in darkness, and what “great light” did they see (Matt. 4:16; Luke 1:79)?

3. What is the light of the body? What happens to people whose “eye is evil” (Matt. 6:22-23: Luke 11:34-36)?

4. Why did men love the darkness (John 3:19)? Did they comprehend the light (John 1:5)?

5. What was Jesus called (John 8:12; John 12:35)?

6. What was the purpose of “the light” (John 12:46; Acts 26:18)?

7. DISCUSSION QUESTION: If we hate our brother for any reason, where are we dwelling (1 John 2:8-9)? Can we be saved in that condition? Please also consider 1 John 4:20.

8. If we walk in the light, what do men in the world see (Matt. 5:16)?

9. What does it mean that the day star can rise in our hearts (2 Pet. 1:19)?

10. How can the light of God shine more and more in our hearts and actions (Col. 1:9-10; Matt. 5:16)?