Category Archives: Doctrine

Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

Most of us are familiar with the idea that you have to love yourself before you can love others, but the question I posed to my Sunday school class this morning is “Is it Biblical?” I asserted that it isn’t, and that the verses which command us to love our neighbors as ourselves are not teaching that we have to love ourselves first.  That proved to be a very unpopular opinion, even after I pointed out that the only place in the Bible where loving ourselves is mentioned is in 2 Timothy 3:2, as a warning of things to come.  I also reminded them that we had just studied last week that we are not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought (Romans 12:3), which seemed to be an exercise in futility.  Given more time, perhaps I could have explained my position more thoroughly, but as our class time is limited, we had to move on in order to finish the lesson.

So here’s where I plead my case.

Romans 12:10  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love.  Honor one another above yourselves. Love of self isn’t necessary here.  Is it?

Then there are all these verses about humbling ourselves:

Psalm 18:27  You save the humble but bring low those whose eyes are haughty.

Psalm 25:9  He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.

Psalm 147:6  The LORD sustains the humble but casts the wicked to the ground.

Proverbs 3:34  He mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.

Matthew 23:12 For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Philippians 2:3  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Here again, is it necessary to love ourselves in order to consider others better?

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.

Then there are verses like these:

Luke 9:24 “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

Ephesians 4:22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; “Put off” wouldn’t be another way of saying “love”, would it?

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.”   Now why would Jesus tell us we should hate our own lives if we are commanded to love ourselves?

Ephesians 5:29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— Here’s the clincher.  We already love ourselves!  It is our default position, therefore the command is to love your neighbor as much as you already love yourself. Not “Love your neighbor and yourself.”  Not “Love yourself so that you can love your neighbor.”

My point is this:  The command to love others is like the other commandments, in that we are unable to keep them without depending on Christ.  We are able to love because He first loved us.

1 John 4:7-8 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. Better yet, go ahead and read the whole chapter.

My aim is to emphasize the need to measure every thought/idea/belief/teaching by the standard of God’s Word.  Anything we hear/read/believe/imagine must pass this test before we accept it as truth.

It is with that aim in mind that I have decided to rename the blog yet again.  If anyone is still reading after my prolonged absence, the URL hasn’t changed, but you may want to update your link to reflect the new name.

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The Great Sadness of The Shack

Well, I finally picked up a copy of the book everyone’s been raving about.  After reading several negative reviews, I had decided that I wouldn’t waste the money, but I kept running across blogs that had nothing but praise for the novel and curiosity got the best of me.  That, and I thought perhaps I could put my discernment skills to the test.

So now that I’ve read it, what’s my reaction?  I don’t think it’s a story for children.  I was quite put off by The Missy Project – and the idea that this book “offers one of the most poignant views of God and how he relates to humanity that has been written in our time.”  Seriously?  It’s a work of fiction!

Not that it isn’t a good piece of fiction.  But therein lies “The Great Sadness.”  People are reading this fictional story about a fictional god and claiming that they’re finding within its pages a life-changing experience, a better understanding of God’s love, even a deeper relationship with God.  Huh?

Then, when error after error is pointed out, they rush to defend the book, claiming “It is fiction, you know.  It wasn’t intended to be a theology book.”  Can’t have it both ways, folks.

The author discusses his main character’s theological issues and suggests that “Nobody wanted God in a box, just a book.”  How ’bout we slap a dress on him/her, stick her in the kitchen and call her “Papa”?  That’ll fix your theological errors.  Sno ’nuff.

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Paul Washer – A Message Every Believer Should Hear

Do you find yourself nodding off during long, boring sermons? You won’t sleep through this wake-up call!

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The War on Error – False Conversion

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)

How can we be sure that the one we have led to the Lord is truly saved? The truth is, we can’t be absolutely sure. Good works don’t always indicate a changed heart.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 7:21)

We can look for outward signs, evidence of fruit, and the like, but it is not our responsibility to judge another’s heart. Just as we must not be quick to condemn, we must not take it upon ourselves to grant assurance of salvation.

We can point them to scripture, speak the Truth in love, and pray that the Holy Spirit will bring conviction or assurance. Beyond that, it’s out of our hands.

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

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What PC Really Means

In my previous post, I linked to a site that referenced a very sobering article at WorldNetDaily. If you missed it, you can read it here.

Who would have thought that in this country it would be politically correct to persecute Christians? In the name of tolerance, we have exercised our right to remain silent. Shall we now face prosecution should we choose to give up that right?

It was to be expected. Jesus said so Himself.

John 15:19-21 ~ If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.

We have been duly warned. In fact, it’s only going to get worse.

2 Timothy 3:12-13 ~ In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

We must not be afraid to stand for Truth.

Psalm 27:1 ~ The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

It’s one thing to say that I am willing to face persecution, prosecution, or even death to defend my faith, but am I prepared to do so?

Are you?

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The War on Error – False Security

I’ve run across several Christian debates in blogland over whose doctrine is most biblical. The interesting thing is how many points of view there are, and the funny thing is that these same debates have been going on for centuries. There really is nothing new under the sun. The sad thing is that, much like a political debate, each side has a tendency to misrepresent the other side’s stance. I don’t think they do this intentionally, though it seems that some of them have such disdain for anyone who doesn’t agree with their doctrine that they resort to name-calling and other immature tactics. From the sidelines, it often appears that they are really only arguing over semantics. More on that later.

What draws me to these blogs? It’s a good thing to defend the faith, and I find it helpful to read others who are more discerning than myself. I’ve learned quite a lot since I began blogging, and here is where I will be sharing some of those things with you.

We’ll start with “Once Saved Always Saved.” I was brought up believing this and had never questioned it, until a few months ago, when I read an article claiming that it’s a dangerous doctrine. So I did a little more research, and found that I agree with that assessment.

I did not say that I no longer believe it. I just said I agree that it can be dangerous, in that it must be handled with care.

There are those who say it isn’t even biblical, and then they go on to say “Nowhere in the Bible does it say that!” I say that’s a lame argument. You won’t find the word “trinity” in the Bible either, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t biblical. Try again.

The real danger is in using the excuse of Eternal Security as a license to sin. This is a fatal error! Consider the following statements*:

Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy.

The Bible clearly teaches that God’s love for His people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand.

You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our enduring Lord.

Yes, there are people who believe these false teachings.

I am not one of them. I don’t think Heaven will be populated with unbelievers.

2 Peter 2: 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.

17 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

Your thoughts?

*Quotes from a book written by a well-known pastor who has twice been elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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Puppy Love

Our pastor said something yesterday that sounded a bit strange to me, but I don’t think it’s the first time I’ve heard him say it. Before I tell you what he said, let me tell you about the service.

Since it was a 5th Sunday, the ministerial team decided to try something new. If it went over well, it would become a regular event. Rather than having the pastor preach a traditional sermon, we had a song sermon, in which several songs were selected to emphasize a particular theme. Between each song, the pastor provided a segue – an short speech to introduce the next song. The theme was Love, Grace, and Mercy. As part of the Ladies’ ensemble who sang the first song of the sermon, I had the privilege of attending all 3 services. That’s right, 3. It was enjoyable, albeit a bit redundant.

Our early service is attended mostly by older members and is traditional Methodist. A few hymns, the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the sermon. The pastor used his notes for this service. I think it went well.

The 9:40 service is more contemporary – praise songs take the place of the Apostle’s Creed. The sermon is the same, as are the anecdotes. Almost word for word. It also went well.

The 11:00 service is even more contemporary – a younger, more lively crowd. This service usually runs longer than the earlier services. In the past, this was because worship was more energetic and no one was in a hurry for it to end. This seems to be a new concept for our current pastor, who tried to get us out by noon when he first came to us in June. He has since been informed, apparently, that we prefer a longer service. His tendency is to draw out the message, addding a few anecdotes or extra comments in order to fill the time. But it’s still the same sermon. Almost.

So, the three services were all the same, except that in the 3rd service, the preacher man decided to ditch his segue notes, and this is when it got a little strange. He got ahead of himself and had to ad-lib his way back to the intro of the first song. He recovered pretty well, and unless you had been to the other services, you probably wouldn’t have caught it. Towards the end, however, it got a little hairy. This is when, in talking about God’s love, he made some vague reference to the “Hound of Heaven” and God’s relentless pursuit of us. Somehow, this led to his memory of owning a kennel and the puppies that would chase and nip at his heels.

I looked at my husband and asked “Is that supposed to be an analogy?” To which my beloved replied, “Yes, God is like a puppy.”

Kinda makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, don’t it?

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