Classic Christianity – A Closer Look at The Word of God P23 (03-30-21)
What does God look at? Does He not look at the attitudes of the heart? Are you humble and teachable, open to listening to the living and active word of God, and allow that word to renew your mind with truth? Is there a dependence on the Holy Spirit, for Him to live His life in and through you? Or, are you leaning on your own understanding, having not known God or His ways? What is the motive of your heart? Men cannot weigh motives, but God can see right through any one of us. Do we do things to get accolades from men, to get money and power and fame? Do we do things to make a name for ourselves? Or do we do things, as Jesus did, to bring honor to the one who sent us? As Bob explains, with an illustration of the radar system navigating a pilot, are you letting the radar, who lives in you, direct your paths, and destination? Or, are you so proud that you think you can fly the plane of life without a radar? What mountains have you nearly hit, and how dangerous a path have you taken?
So listen now as Bob introduces the new chapter in our study guide, Warning Against False Teachers. We read and study the word of God to help us discern and be aware of false teachers and teachings in our midst. It is vitally important that we know the word of God, like following the instructions of the radar in our life, who is the Holy Spirit. The word of God is the plumb line by which to gauge everything we do, to test and see if what any man says is so. So let us allow the word of God to instruct us, relying on the Spirit of God to reveal to us the meaning of His word.
For unless a man is born again, he cannot discern the things of God, for they sound foolish to him. It does not matter if a man knows Greek, being born in Greece, or knows Hebrew, being born in Israel under the best teacher, such as Gamaliel as Saul of Tarsus was, or studies all kinds of techniques of bible study, hermeneutics or whatever it might be, if he does not have the Spirit of God, he will not be able to know what it means. So if you are not born again, start there, to ask God to reveal to you what that means, to have new spiritual life that He has offered all men. Then see what miraculous work God does within you, changing you into a new creation, with the Spirit of God living in you. There is no greater miracle than that of a new spiritual birth.
And if you are born, how stupid would it be to go through life never opening the bible, and just merely going to church once a week to listen to a preacher, and you have not a clue if what he is teaching, whether it is true or not? Would it not be wiser to listen to the Spirit of God instruct you? What are you looking for, the spectacular, the miraculous, a feel good message, a tickling of the ears of what you want to hear, and not what you need to hear? Are you simply humble enough to not rely on your own understanding and simply read the instruction manual with the intent of understanding and applying what the Spirit reveals to you?
How many wives are frustrated with their husband who refuses to read the instructions before starting a task? Would that not save you much heartache and grief if you simply followed the instructions of the Spirit of God, who reveals the truth through His word, in things so much more important as allowing Him to live His life in and through you? What is the result of that, the work of the Holy Spirit, who is the only one who can produce fruit. And we know what fruit is through the word of God in Galatians 5:22-23 and in 1 Corinthians 13, where love, one characteristic of fruit of the Spirit, is explained more thoroughly. And Jesus illustrates how this Christian life is to be lived, both in His own life, doing only what He sees His Father doing and exactly what His Father told Him to say and how to say it, but also in explaining the parable of the vine and the branches in John 15 to us.
It is exciting to go through this series on A Closer Look at the Word of God. Turn to chapter 8, Warning Against False Teachers, in our study guide. This type of thing is going on in the world today. When I am talking about false teachers, I am not talking about little incidentals in doctrine. You will always have that as you have the frailty of humanity doing the interpretation. But I am talking about those who are in positions of teaching, who are here to deceive and to control rather than to proclaim truth that has obviously has become truth in their own life or not. So the way you can judge that is by what is being taught, and as scripture says, as also by the fruit. We will get into that in a moment.
As we have progressed through our study, we started out, first of all, because we are talking about this word of God we hold in our hands today, it has to serve as our plumb line. You take a carpenter who tries to build a house without a plumb line and you will have a crooked house.
I look humorously at some of these seminars. This is certainly funny when you are in a different environment from where people live. When we do our Life in Christ seminars or where we do our counseling training seminars. So you ask people to close their eyes and point to the north. You see people pointing to every direction there is, even pointing straight up. Everyone has an opinion but it is not based on anything. If you really want to know where north is, you really need to get a compass. The word of God is our compass.
16 So this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
“See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who relies on it will never be stricken with panic. 17 I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the plumb line;
The word of God and Christ living in you is something like a radar unit that is inside of the airplane. When you are flying at night or in a terrific fog or storm or even when you are not, that radar tells you where you are. If a pilot decides, “I do not need that radar. I am just going on my own. After all, I have had 20 years of experience, and I am a fine pilot, and I think I know where I am”, he will probably find himself on a mountain and not for the sake of skiing, or he will end up landing in a foreign country some place. He will not stay on course. The radar is to keep us on course.
How can a Christian, that is indwelt by Christ, do these types of things? It would be like saying, “How can a pilot, that has radar in the plane, land the plane some place else?” Very simple. He did not consult with the radar. All it takes for us to land some place that we should not be is a refusal to consult with the radar. It is not that the radar is not in the plane. It is not that it is not giving out information. It is not that the information is wrong. It is the fact the pilot does not consult with it. We lean on our own understanding. That is what scripture is saying to us.
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
It is like saying to the radar, “Do not lean on your own understanding, pilot. In all things, acknowledge the radar and that radar will direct your paths”. We still have the unbelievable privilege of flying the airplane, but we are flying the airplane in accordance with the instructions that are coming from the radar unit. Incidentally, we are not automatic pilots. There are some people who interpret Christ living in you as your only hope of glory, that you just climb in that airplane, sit back and eat bon bons saying, “la la” and let the plane fly itself. That is not Christ living in you.
27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Christ said everything you see me do, the Father told me to do it, but Christ did it.
50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”
The issue is that the Father was living His life through Christ so that Christ was a direct reflection of the Father and that was through the following of the instructions of the Father and carrying them out. So Christ in you, which is your only hope of glory, is like saying to the airplane that the radar in you is your only hope of glory, your only hope of getting there. The issue is, “I pilot, am giving you the privilege of flying the airplane but you are to do so under my instructions. When you do so, the landing of that plane is really a reflection of your following the instructions of the radar. Everyone is going to applaud you and say what a good job you did. And we wink at each other, but we know who got you here.
10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’”
That is the picture and it is a perfect picture of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ came to live in us in order to give us, first of all, and foremost, the ability to understand the word of God. If Christ Jesus were not alive, living in us, we would have no capacity to discern spiritual truths.
1 Corinthians 2:14
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
Natural man cannot understand spiritual things. It is foolish to him. Spiritual things had to be discerned spiritually. They cannot be discerned naturally. They can be interpreted or misinterpreted naturally but they cannot be discerned.
So you can have a great intellectual knowledge of what the word of God says, but you do not have a clue what it means, even though you are teaching as if you know what it means. But your conclusion as to what it means is predicated on you leaning on your own understanding as to what it means. We read commentary after commentary and other people’s opinions after other people’s opinions, and we study Greek and Hebrew and think that is going to enable me to understand what the word of God means. And you are deceiving yourself because people who did not have to go to seminary to study Greek, and grew up as Greeks, did not know what it meant. The Hebrews who did not need to go to seminary to study Hebrew. They spoke Hebrew from the time they were a small child, saying “Abba. Abba.” before we had to explain what that meant as “Daddy. Daddy”, and they did not know what it meant. No one knew what the word of God means until the Spirit of God reveals it to you.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”[Isaiah 64:4] – the things God has prepared for those who love him –
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.
So when the Spirit of God comes to live within man, it gives man, as a born again believer the capacity to do something that he did not have any capacity to do prior to his conversion, and that is to understand the meaning of the word of God. I want to reiterate. You cannot understand what something says through study. And you think you know what it means as you lean on your own understanding. When you are leaning on your own understanding, then that is as good as you can get as to what it means in regard to your understanding. But when the Spirit of God reveals it to you, and the book is about grace, so who does He reveal grace to? The humble, not the puffed up proud, that gets so by knowledge. But through the humble, the one who says, “I cannot understand what this means in and of myself, so I have to rely on you to reveal that to me”. When our heart attitude is there, God is very faithful to do precisely what He says, to reveal the truth of the word of God.
6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
Why do we have so much false teaching? Because of total un-reliance on the word of God to teach us the word of God we are studying. We start out on relying on this word of God as true. That is the first thing we have to come to grips with. Is this true? If it is true, and we believe it is true, now we are in a situation of asking, “How much sense does it make to consult it?” If I did not believe the radar knew what it was doing, why would I consult it. But on the other hand, but through experience and knowledge of radar and what it is doing, I can have confidence in that, that it does know what it is doing, then I, as a pilot, would be stupid not to consult that, if I truly believed that it knew it was doing. Had I not seen a radar before and I had no idea what those lines were going around, and just thought somebody must have messed up the computer, then I would have to rely on my own understanding. But once you have become aware that is radar, and let me show you how that works, and you have confidence and you have seen it work thousands and thousands of times and listen to the testimony of pilot after pilot, who landed in the desired place in the midst of a storm as result of radar, then you believe this instruction.
So this is Christ proclaiming about His word. Who is Christ? If Christ is God, then it makes no sense thinking that He is lying to us? So if I want to find out if the word of God is true, you have the testimony of God Himself, who says He is God, and so you say, “Yes, he is God”.
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Then we looked at the response of the disciples to the word of God. They found it to be their very life. It was light unto their feet. It is interesting, as scripture describes the word of God, as a light to our feet. It is like radar is a light in the midst of darkness to get us to land safely.
We talked about scripture, whether it is myth or truth. Many of the stories in scripture have been diminished by the intellectual who says they are fantasy or fairy tales. Yet, they were testified by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, not as fairy tales but as actual fact. Why do we believe these things are true? Because Christ said they were true.
Then when we went to the authority of the New Testament, and we see how the canon was put together and had to be written by an apostle or an Amanuensis of an apostle, who had been with Christ and heard Christ Himself testify to the validity of the word of God and then told by Christ to those apostles, who recorded these things down in the New Testament. Jesus told them everything and He told them He would cause them to come back to their memory.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Then we hear the testimony of the apostle Paul, who had a direct encounter and direct revelation. And those words written down by Paul were confirmed by the other apostles that they truly were the truth of scriptures.
2 Peter 3:15-16
15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.
So we have the word of God in our hands as something we can truly trust. The response to the apostles teaching, which we just talked about, in fact, is how people responded to that teaching and their lives were changed. That is exactly what it said.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
What we hold in our hands today, that we call the bible, is the written word of God. He is the living word and the living word is the one who has to interpret what the written word means.
1 Peter 1:23
23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.
Thank God we have the living word living inside of us who is the interpreter of what the written word says. So we have a bible in our hands that we can without a shadow of a doubt as the absolute truth.
Now that we have confidence in the radar, we are going to realize that my role should be to consult with that, to lean not on my own understanding, but in all things to acknowledge Him and let Him direct my paths. On the other hand, there are a lot of false radars out there. We have to understand that. That is why it says to be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.
Matthew 10:16 (KJV)
16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be you therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
When talking about being wise as a serpent, we have to understand that not all people out there are who they claim to be. Not all people who say “Lord, Lord” do not know what “Lord, Lord” means. So in this entire field of religion there is false religion and then there is true religion. That is religion used as I believe it is, and that is in relationship with Christ Jesus alone.
27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
There are all kinds of religions in the world that have been initiated and their founders are that of the devil. It is demon led. We need to understand that. That is where discernment is so unbelievably important to a believer. It says that the Spirit of God living in us will discern truth if we are relying on it and depending upon it. God is in every single aspect of your life and in everything we hear it has to be bounced off the plumb line. It has to be bounced off the standard of truth.
Folks, if the word of God is our standard of truth, it does not make any sense how good something sounds. If it does not compute with the truth of the word of God, you have to discount it. The problem with the Christian world today, we are so anxious for a quick fix, so any promise of immediate feel good will suddenly substitute for the validity of the truth of the word of God. And so people are willing to say to God, “You do not know what you are talking about in order to take Mr. Feel Good.” Anything to give me a temporary fix instead of a permanent solution that people should run to and flock to, instead of seeing the Christian life as spectacular but miraculous.
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian[southern Nile region] eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
31 “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
32 This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.”[Isaiah 53:7-8]
34 The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” 35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
There was nothing spectacular about Philip meeting an Ethopian Eunuch. Do you know what you are reading and leading him to the understanding of Christ. There was nothing spectacular about that. That would not make our Christianity Today news report. That is just two on two. That is not spectacular but unbelievably miraculous. The Christian world is going for the spectacular. Show me the appearance of somebody, like somebody’s face to appear in a restroom some place, or something spectacular. That is not what the Christian life is all about. It is unbelievably miraculous to be born again. There will never be a miracle like that.
It took a miracle to hang the moon in space, to place the sun in place, but when He saved my soul, He saved my soul. It took love and grace. That is the greatest miracle in our life, the miracle of new birth.
As we enter into our lesson in Matthew 7:15, we need to watch out for false prophets. Turn to Matthew 7:15.
15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
The thing we have to realize is that everything that glitters is not gold. A ferocious wolf would have no ability to deceive you at all coming to you as a ferocious wolf. In other words, revealing to you what his agenda really was, and that is to eat you. In order to get into your camp and to be accepted so that he can chow down on you and turn you into nothing but food, he has got to dress himself up in sheep’s clothing, to look fuzzy and nice and harmless. Which is what a sheep is, a harmless appearing animal. We have to realize that a false prophet is not going to be one who appears in any way shape or form to be what he really is, a ferocious wolf. He will come to you in appearance as gentleness, and as if to have a total interest in you. But it says, by their fruit you will recognize them.
16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?
Do you do that? No. You do not do that.
17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
When you are talking about, again, when so many times in the Christian world, we have looked at fruit as witnessing, and getting converts. So, it is very easy for a ferocious wolf to develop ploys to either get true converts, because a wolf can convert. The word of God is strong even when it is used by a ferocious wolf. But people will say, “How can this man not be of God, for look at all the people flocking down accepting Christ?” That is not fruit that is talked about in scriptures. Stones would cry out and proclaim the word of God. The fruit is the fruit of the Spirit. It explains that in scripture.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
The whole definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, that is all a part of fruit.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails.
All of those characteristics can only be produced by Christ Jesus. That is why it is talking about how you are not going to pick grapes from thorn bushes, because that bush does not have life of grapes in it. The true bush has a life of grapes in it. So fruit can only be from the life you are abiding in. So when talking about a false teacher, you will not be judging them by what appears to be results of the ministry. The results of the word of God are produced by the word of God.
I think when you enter into this thing of false prophets and false teachers, let us look at the radar illustration. That radar has to be done a hundred percent or it is nothing. If it was on course just eighty percent of the time, then in the twenty percent, it is not on, you might be on a mountain top. That radar has to be one hundred percent. That is where the deception comes in. For God, who is the total producer of results. All the false prophet has to do is give five words in a message and God can give those nice words to a heart that is receptive to truth. But the rest of it could be error, but a person who has responded to truth, he is going to take the seed away from that with error or paralyze him in the application of it.
Your internal discernment is what is going to have to be the standard as you study the word of God and allow God to reveal truth as to what it means. You will have to rely on the word of God to help you point out false teaching. So it is vitally important for any Christian to be aware that all teaching done under the banner of God is not of God. The scripture warns of this danger. The following passage contains some of the danger signals to help you identify those attempting to perpetuate a false gospel. So when you hear these passages, you can put them in your head there. Have I been hearing this from television or radio or a pastor or whoever it might be, and if so, it is either coming from a false prophet or from a true man of God who is deceived on the word of God on this particular part of scripture or whatever it might be.
Turn to Matthew 7:21-23.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
What is the will of the Father? What is the work of the ministry? To believe in the one who was sent, Jesus Chrsit.
29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”
The will of the Father is to consult the radar. The will of the Father is to live through the instruction of the radar. That is the will of the Father. So it is talking about doing the will of the Father, the one who has come to understand they had nothing to do with their salvation except to receive what has already been done for them in Christ Jesus and live their life in the same way. So not everyone who says “Lord. Lord.” is going to enter the kingdom of God.
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord’
Listen to what some of those people who Christ identifies as false prophets are going to be saying and see if you can equate any of this possibly to what you might be hearing in today’s modern Christianity.
22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
You have people today who are claiming to be prophets, claiming to be continually to drive out demons, claiming one miracle after another, slaying people in the spirit, and all of those kinds of things, that again I have to match my opinion of those things up against the word of God. I say I cannot come down and judge the motives, but I do know that according to the word of God, Jesus said people doing those things, some of those, are going to be saying “Lord, Lord” and He is going to say this to them.
23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
“You say evil doers but I was prophesying about you.” “Evil doer.” says Jesus. “I was driving out demons.” “Evil doer.” ssays Jesus. “I was performing miracles.” “Evil doer.” “How could somebody casting a demon out of somebody be an evil doer, according to you, Jesus? How could doing a miracle be an evil doer? After all, I got my leg straightened out. How could that be an evil doer? When I stood up and gave this prophecy, how could that be an evil doer?” “Because not an ounce of it came from Me”, says Jesus. “It was all done by you to draw attention to you, to bring money to you. It had nothing to do with Me.” “Lord, I gave credit. I said praise God and praise Jesus.” “Yes, in order to draw attention to you, and accolades to you and to make people think you were a super saint when the fact of the matter, I do not even know who you are.”