Imagine you are sitting in church, listening to your pastor’s message, and he says,
“By the way, a lot of people around here aren’t going to Heaven!” (Everybody perks up and starts to pay attention.)
He continues, “The door to heaven is pretty small. So, many people are going to go through the wrong door. In fact, only a few people will find the right door, only a few.”
The people are thinking, “What? Is that really true?”
He continues, “You better make sure you are studying your Bible or you won’t find the small door. Instead, you’ll follow the crowd through the big door. Some of you tend to do what sounds good, instead of carefully studying your Bible.” (People start to fidget because they don’t have time to read their Bibles. They’re really busy!)
The pastor exclaims, “Now that big door is not only the wrong door, it is the door that, once opened, will take you down a big, wide road that looks like a good road, but it isn’t! It leads to devastation and disaster!” (This isn’t what the people want to hear. They think he is too negative.)
He ends by saying, “Make sure you find the small door. Like I said, study your Bible. It is the GPS to the small door.”
Will the people start studying their Bibles, or will they dismiss the pastor’s warning?
Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14
That is an intriguing statement, made by our Lord Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus and the Apostles gave us many warnings in the New Testament. We would do well to know what they are. We mustn’t only read and study the promises. We must read and study all of God’s Word.
African-American slaves wrote many heartfelt songs, often referred to as Negro Spirituals. Perhaps it is surprising that the people who enslaved and and oppressed them are the same people who introduced them to Christianity.
One would think these slaves wouldn’t be open to hearing about Jesus from their oppressor, but Jesus opened their hearts to believe the Good News. That’s the only plausible explanation for it.
The Bible says of Lydia, ” The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.” Acts 16:14.
Yes, He can do that, even under the most desperate and cruel circumstances. Just as the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, He opened their hearts as well.
One of my favorite hymns is Give Me Jesus. The words are simple, yet they are deeply moving. I was not surprised to find out it is an African-American spiritual, written by slaves looking to our Lord and Savior for deliverance. Just as He brought deliverance to Israel through the leadership of Moses, they believed He would deliver them from slavery. And He did.
In the morning when I rise, In the morning when I rise, In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus. Give me Jesus, give me Jesus, You may have all this world, Give me Jesus.
I can imagine these desperate Christians singing these words from their heart, looking for deliverance when Jesus comes to take them home. This exemplifies loving God with all your heart and soul, strength, and mind.
When I come to die When I come to die Oh, when I come to die Give me Jesus
Many of the spirituals and songs were birthed out of the trials and struggles of those in slavery. “Give Me Jesus” is an excellent example of how the victims of American slavery were able to express in song God’s presence and care in the midst of heartache and pain.
“Give Me Jesus” is but one of many spirituals written during slavery with no known composer or text writer. “Persons in slavery, deprived and besieged in this life, might have nothing earthly to hold on to. But, if they were Christians, they believed they had an inheritance in God” (Warren, 1997, 37).
The tune GIVE ME JESUS, written by African-American slaves, appears in nineteen hymnal collections and supplements today.
Dear Lord, May we cling to you, seek you, and worship you with the same devotion and love as our brothers and sisters in Christ who cried out to you in their pain and trusted you in the midst of cruelty and injustice. Forgive us for our petty complaints and help us to be thankful for all our many blessings. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
In spite of what people think, ignorance is not bliss!
People like to think it is – when the truth is too hard to face. Selah* (Pause and calmly think of that.)
“I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” Romans 16:17-18
This topic is heavy on my heart because many devout Christians are being led astray because they are naive. When I listen to various popular Bible teachers on YouTube, I’m shocked at how ignorant the audience is of Biblical Truth. I’m shocked at how blind they are to a spirit of pride from the pulpit.
Well, I guess I’m not really shocked since I was taken in by it myself once. Yes, in fact, I had to “unlearn” a lot of teaching, and that is not easy to do.
You’re probably thinking, “What did you have to unlearn? What false teaching did you buy into?
Well, I’m not going to tell you.
Why? Because you must identify false teaching yourself through studying the Word of God. If I told you that a Bible teacher you liked taught false doctrine, I know what you would think because it’s what I used to think: “They don’t understand because they’re in a dead church.” OR “They don’t have revelation.” OR, my favorite: “They’re religious.”
I assure you, I am not dead or religious! (Isn’t that judging someone’s heart?)
All this stems from pride – the false assumption that I have revelation of the Scripture others don’t have. Selah
I would venture to say that all those “old, religious people at the church down the street” have more experience walking through trials with the Lord at their side than some of us ever will.
How I wish I could talk to my grandmother about God, again. She would be about 130 years old now. If only I would have known to seek her wisdom when I was a youth and she was still around.
But, alas, when we’re young we think we know it all. I know this because I teach in a middle school! Students will argue about anything, even how to do a math problem! (Are you kidding me?)
Why just today, a student tried to prove to me that you didn’t have to start a 2-digit plus 2-digit addition problem in the ones column. He thought he proved it to me by getting the right answer even when he started in the tens column. You guessed it! There was no regrouping involved. (No carrying.) He hadn’t thought of that!
You can think you’re right “til the cows come home”, but that doesn’t make you right.
My point is, if you are learning about God from a Bible teacher, instead of from the Bible, be careful. Check the Scriptures given to see if they have been taken out of context. (That happens a lot and is the basis of much of the false teaching accepted today!)
Respect those “old Christians” you think are dead or religious. It’s wise to listen to the elderly with respect.
Have you ever heard someone say, “I wish I knew then what I know now.”? Selah
“Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring understanding?” Job 12:12
Did my journey with false teachers and prophets affect my life?
Yes! It almost shipwrecked my faith. It took many years for me to recover. (That’s a story for another time.)
“For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 NLT
Lord, Guide us and teach us to walk with you in truth and humility. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If I compare myself to the Apostle Paul, Joseph in the Old Testament, Corrie ten Boom, or any number of other saints who did great things in their generation, I find myself seriously lacking in many areas. I just don’t measure up. But God had a plan for these people in their generation.
The Bible says, “After David had done the will of God in his own generation, he died and was buried with his ancestors…” (Acts 13:36) God had a plan for David that was specific to the generation in which he lived. I believe He has a plan for us in this specific time period.
I don’t live in the same generation as the Apostle Paul, therefore I am not confronted with shipwrecks, angry crowds, horrific prisons, or the prospect of being stoned.
I don’t live in the same generation as Joseph so I don’t have to worry about being sold as a slave, thrown in a dungeon, or having all my brothers hate me. We know that Joseph became ruler over all of Egypt and was highly honored. But …
“In time, Joseph and all of his brothers died, ending that entire generation.” Exodus 1:6
And did things change! The new king didn’t know Joseph and he feared the Israelites, so he made them all slaves. They were mistreated and abused.
My favorite heroine is Corrie ten Boom. She lived during the Nazi invasion of Holland. She and her father and her sister hid Jews in their home during the Holocaust. They were eventually discovered and all three were sent to Ravensbruck Concentration Camp. Her father and sister died there. Corrie was eventually released due to an admistrative error.
I don’t live in the same generation as Corrie ten Boom, so I don’t have to face the horrors of the Holocaust.
When Esther was selected to be the Queen, her cousin, Mordecai said, “And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
It makes me ponder the question, “What is God calling me to do in my generation?”
This generation is as unique as the generations described above. We have problems that are different than any seen before. School shootings, pressure to conform to the world and its unbiblical views, world starvation, false teachers, teen suicide. The list goes on.
In this unique time, what is God calling us to do?
Tell others about Jesus and the Gospel.
Share our story.
Read and study the Word of God so that we won’t be seduced by error.
Love the Lord.
Pray about everything.
As we become mature in the faith, perhaps God will call us to do something we can’t imagine having the strength to do right now. (Consider how God prepared Joseph to lead Egypt.) But for now, we know exactly what He is calling us to do.
What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts.
P.S. If you haven’t read it, be sure to read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom.
According to research, only 9% of Americans have read the entire Bible more than once. No wonder they don’t know what it says!
Christians need to know the Bible really well. There is great danger in relying on others to teach us what God’s Word says (no matter how famous the preacher or how big their church).
Why do we do it? Are we too lazy to study our Bible for ourselves? Is it easier to listen to great speakers telling us what God’s Word says and means?
I know this because years ago I was part of a church that gradually slid over into false teaching. The first thing I noticed was arrogance from the pulpit, a message that says, “We have revelation of the Scripture, but that church down the street, they’re religious … I used to go to one of those churches.” (chuckle, chuckle) The congregation begins to feel superior to other Christians.
The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18
The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Timothy 4:3
This happens because Christians do not read and study their Bible for themselves, and therefore they do not recognize false doctrine.
Proverbs 14:15 “A gullible person believes anything, but a sensible person watches his step.”
Romans 16:18 “For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”
Ephesians 5:6 “Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”
2 Thessalonians 2:3 “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.”
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”
Well, it’s certainly something for us to think about….