October 30, 2010

The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth

I’ve been so blessed and overwhelmed by the many views and the interest in Keith Mitchell’s testimony that I posted here. It really seemed to strike a chord with so many. The Lord has been highlighting to me the importance of a testimony. Testimonies bring the truth of Jesus and His relationship and care for ordinary people like us down to the experiential level that so often touches our hearts like nothing else. I remember often thinking since I got saved at age seven, that my testimony wouldn’t be very interesting to hear. Now granted I did regretfully backslide from my faith when I was a teenager and then I came back to the Lord later (and I don’t recommend this in order to have a more interesting testimony =) but to me my testimony didnt' seem extraordinary enough to help anyone. But I have found through the years as I've shared my little story that there IS power in a simple testimony of God’s salvation and His kindness towards us. Like the 'begging bowl' story I shared in a previous post, it's not so much our story, as the presence of Jesus when we share Him and proclaim His truth that changes lives. We each are different and our unique testimony (no matter how dramatic or simple) has the power to touch others with hope and to direct them to Jesus.
Rev. 12:11 says “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”

Right now I’m reading two books at the same time that are both testimonies. I first read I Dared to Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh probably 20 years ago and it had a profound impact on my life. And today as I read it again, it’s still impacting me with insight and conviction. It’s the amazing story of how the Lord supernaturally revealed Himself to a wealthy Pakistani woman. Having been raised a Muslim in an Islamic nation, she knew absolutely nothing about Christianity. She had no frame of reference whatsoever to influence or to teach her. But through the best teachers available-the Holy Spirit and the Bible- she came to understand, to believe and to walk out her Christianity as she saw it in the word of God while living in a culture that was hostile to it. This lady truly lived what Paul talked about in Phil 3:8 “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”.

But it really hit home to me how that here in the West, being a Christian requires so little sacrifice; where in other cultures, being identified with Christ (through baptism in particular) could mean at the very least, being ostracized and at the most, losing your life. It would be easy to think, "wow it is so much better to be a Christian here in America. We really have it good". But as I contemplate the simplicity and purity of this woman’s faith, unfiltered by culture, tradition or religion, (she learned truth straight out of the Bible-imagine that!), and as I ponder the vibrancy and wonder of her childlike relationship with the Lord, I have to ask myself-- are we truly better off? Don’t get me wrong, I am SO thankful for the freedom of religion that we enjoy in this nation and the easy access we have to the Bible, to church and to Christian resources. I am so thankful to be born in a nation that was founded on Godly principals. But I have been struck with the realization of how overall the Western Church today is failing to teach, exhort and adhere to the unaltered truth of the whole Word of God. A social culture of Christianity has developed over time where ‘being a Christian’ in this day and age requires very little and doesn't look much different from the world. We tend to know more about the traditions of our denominations than about what the Bible really says. 'Being a Christian' in our nation has become more about statistical information (married, white, female...Christian) than about something worth dying for. The 'truth' has been watered down so much in order to be unoffensive or politically correct that it's hardly recognizable anymore, while many of us have come to expect on Sunday, something that makes us feel good, lifts our self-esteem or shows us how to get ahead.  The holiness preachers of old who preached about sin, judgment, repentance and the fear of the Lord are now often viewed with amusement while those who still adhere to the whole counsel of God are labeled as ‘legalistic’. The surprising attitude of many churches in this day and age seems to be, “The cross? The blood of Jesus? Sin? Hell? Those things might offend someone or make them uncomfortable (or worse, they might leave our church) so let’s just talk about all of the blessings in the Bible. Let’s just focus on the positive things”. Some have even taken down their crosses in order to be more 'seeker friendly'! Can you imagine what those in other countries who are gladly risking their lives in order to serve Christ must think of this?

(Added 11/1/10) Somewhere along the way we have lost the trembling holy fear of the Lord. Please understand that I'm not talking about a works-based legalism or an ungodly type fear which can be very damaging. But perhaps in our effort to counterbalance legalism, we've become way too casual with God and way too liberal with His Word. The subtle softening and the careless wielding of truth isn't as obviously alarming as the blaring all-out assault coming against absolute truth that we are seeing in our nation today. But friends it is just as dangerous, perhaps even more so, because it is coming from within the Church! And in these dark days (and they promise to get darker) if we, the Church won't proclaim absolute truth, who will? I realize that this isn’t ALL churches in the West, thank God. And down through history there always were faithful remnants who stood for truth. However this 'softer gospel' is alarmingly becoming the 'new normal' more and more and we must be careful to NOT be swept up in this flow.

And granted, there ARE lots of hurting people out there who desperately need encouragement and who need to know about God’s love. But until one is told the whole truth about their sin, they won’t fully appreciate the depths Love had to come to save them. Until one really understands that they are lost, they can’t truly recognize their need for a Savior. The full truth must be preached to have the full impact. Because regardless of how uncomfortable it may make us, it’s only the unapologetic truth that will set us free and change us. And that’s where we will find the real joy and the real peace that we have been searching for. The world's type of ‘peace’ won’t sustain us when our world is shaken. And at some point in our lives, our world WILL be shaken. We can count on that. But even in the shaking, if our anchor is in Jesus- Who is the Truth, it promises to hold. "So God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his promise with confidence. This confidence is like a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain of heaven into God's inner sanctuary." Heb 6:18-19

But we MUST know the whole truth for ourselves. This has just made me realize how much my beliefs have been influenced by what I've been told or by my heritiage, culture or traditions rather than the freshness of discovery in the Bible and intimate experience. I've been guilty of viewing the Bible through these very filters rather than seeing what He's actually saying. I so long to see the truth afresh like this precious Pakistani lady who discovered this priceless treasure in Christ and.who simply took God at His word. In Matthew 24 it tells of the last days, how there will be many who will come in the name of the Lord performing signs and wonders and many will be deceived. Without a clear understanding of the Word of God we have the potential to be deceived and drawn away from the Truth. In Acts 17 we are told of the Bereans who when they heard the word preached, searched the scriptures for themselves to make sure they were being taught truth. And a good pastor will encourage us to check out what he is preaching in God's word and if we find something contrary, to respectfully come and show him. We absolutely must know the Word ourselves and be able to discern and accurately proclaim the truth, especially in these last days.

Now friends on another (although similar) note, please don't forget to vote this next week. I pray that you will vote in favor of those who best uphold absolute (not watered-down or incomplete) Biblical truth.

Let me briefly share some of the thoughts I just heard in a message on voting by Lou Engle. (Not all are direct quotes unless in quotation marks). Lou says, "Voting is a prophetic act of justice". He says we have a moral obligation, a mandate, to cast our vote for righteousness and justice. If God's people would take a stand in these upcoming elections, we could help restrain, to hold back the wave of lawlessness coming against our nation. In this democracy of ours we get the privilege of participating in governing by...voting. Voting is an act of conscience. It is not a political choice, but it is a prophetic witness to a higher king and a higher law. Elected officials are the elected conscience of the nation. Did Hitler personally kill the millions of Jews in the Holocaust? No, but he killed by decree. In the same way, in our silence and in our voting for pro-choice candidates, we are responsible for the shedding of innocent blood by decree.

So please, vote according to TRUTH. And pray for those in authority and for our governement. (1 Tim 2:2).

My prayer is that we would see Truth, unfiltered and alive, as if for the very first time. "Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law". (Ps 119:18). Despite the traditions of men that have influenced us and despite the the watered-down doctrines that have confused us, may we now truly know, proclaim and obey the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! So help us God!

God bless and have a great week :). KHJ

P.S. I am experimenting with my blog template so until I am settled on one, it is likely to change... often :).


Keith said...

Good stuff. Challenged me to evaluate things. We tend to accept things as "truth" just because we heard them in church growing up etc. We must KNOW the Truth for ourselves. Keep on bringing it! Love ya!

Michael G Montague said...

I'd like to see some videos of you singing to Jesus with your Guitar. Who knows, the Holy Ghost might even bring an impartation or two? You are a gifted songwriter, a great mother, a devoted wife, and getting better everyday! The Bible says "You shall KNOW the truth, and the Truth shall set you free." Jesus is the Truth! "Thy WORD is truth." If we know the Son, we know the Father. You never met my Father, but you know Him well. I am His reflection on this earth. Sometimes that is a scary thought, but the Father and the Son are ONE! One thing have I desired, that I may Know Him and be like Him in all of my ways!