What Good Is Seminary?

What good is seminary?

As a devout Christian, after graduating with my Master’s Degree in Christian Studies from a theological seminary (and by the grace of God with a 4.0 GPA), I feel I am adequately equipped to answer this question.

Some believe that seminary is where to go if one wants to become a “professional Christian”. They believe that to go to the next level of belief and faith in God, that one should go to theological seminary or to bible college. They believe that one cannot know all there is to know about God, the church, and the Holy Bible without going to seminary.

The university from which I matriculated had four levels of seminary. There was an Associates, Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate program. Some might feel that until one attains the highest level of seminary that one is not a good enough, or well-equipped for ministry Christian. I will tell my opinion about that towards the end of this blog post after I tell a few benefits that come from attending seminary.

For starters, if you hope to be a bible teacher one day, it helps to be taught by others who have spent a lifetime of studying the Bible. Some people spend their entire adult life studying the Old Testament or the New Testament or even just one book of the Bible. Therefore, if you want to teach others about the Bible at your church, it would prove beneficial to be taught by this particular person.

Some people feel as if Bible study is unnecessary. They feel that the Holy Spirit Himself can teach them all they need to know about the Bible. That is true. The Holy Spirit can teach you whatever God wants you to know. But the reality is that because of our strong traditions that come from our church or denomination or family, we will always FILTER God’s truth through mankind’s teaching. And much of that teaching might be faulty. It is hard to drink purified water through a dirty glass. Sometimes, seminary can clean the glass so that you can rightfully receive what God is telling you about the Bible.

For example, many Christian partake of the Daniel Diet. This is the diet that we read about in the book of Daniel wherein Daniel only ate particular foods and did not eat the Babylonian food that was offered to him. Today, for ten days many Christians will refrain from eating meat and sweets as a way to get closer to God. BUT seminary can teach you that many of the foods we eat in America were not even around in Babylon, so if we were hoping to eat just like Daniel, then would not be doing exactly as he did. Also, Daniel’s purpose for eating those particular foods was not to get closer to God, but rather it was to avoid eating the unclean food being offered to him by the Babylonians. The Israelites only ate Kosher clean food, and because Daniel was a Hebrew, he could not in good conscience eat their food. And Daniel did not only eat the right food for 10 days as we do, but he ate that way his entire life. But because we are not Hebrews in Babylonian exile, we should not feel bad that we cannot do the Daniel Diet as Daniel did because we should only be trying to grasp the principle of the matter which is to hold fast to one’s convictions even under dire circumstances. These are things one might only learn in seminary. Do you see how your information determines your actions?

Another important function of seminary is when one is confronted with false doctrine. My seminary professor of Church History 1 taught us many of the false doctrines/heresies that were condemned in Councils by the Orthodox church in the first few centuries of church history. So when a friend invites me to their church or tries to convince me to believe in some false doctrine, I can automatically dismiss it because I know it as being closely related to a condemned teaching that has returned in the last one hundred years or so to deceive others. Theological seminary can be helpful in recognizing and rejecting false teaching.

I have also found theological seminary to be very helpful in me worshipping God in TRUTH. Believe it or not, but your theology will affect your praise and worship. For example, if you think of God as some cosmic Joe Jackson who is scrutinizing your performance waiting with a celestial whip with which to cast you into hell at the slightest mistake you make, it will greatly impact your relationship with Him. If you think of God as the deists who believe that God simply created all humanity and then left it alone to its own devices without any interference, then it will greatly impact your prayer life. But if you know God’s true character which is a Heavenly Father who loves you unconditionally and who chastises those whom He loves as sons, then you will have a better relationship with Him and therefore worship Him in truth. Seminary has theology classes that teach you accurately about God and His nature.

One last thing I’ll mention about the importance of seminary is that it tells you not simply WHAT the Bible says but HOW to read the Bible. We know that many a cult is begun by one charismatic leader telling an ignorant congregation EXACTLY what to think and believe. But this is uncommon in seminary. I attended a seminary that had students and teachers of different denominational backgrounds, and we were not always told WHAT to believe, but we were told HOW to read the Bible. The problem with the 33,000 – 38,000 Christian denominations is that most of them attempt to tell their members WHAT to believe. And doubtless they are being told what to believe by one imperfect human being. So whatever that one imperfect person teaches them is now believed by them and taught to their children. If the originator of the teaching was wrong, then everyone who believes everything he says is wrong too. And that is how cults get started. For example, one might teach their congregation that women must wear stockings and closed-toe shoes. Even though this is not in the Bible, it will be passed down to all generations as the truth. However, it is not true, but merely tradition and preference. Seminary will help one to see whether or not a tradition is actually and accurately based on a Bible verse or principle.

The Bible tells us to RIGHTLY divide the word of truth. It does not tell us to blindly swallow whatever we are told. And seminary has taught me that. I have learned to prayerfully read the Scriptures with illumination from the Holy Spirit; I have long ago ceased to accept everything I am told even though I know the Bible says the opposite or otherwise. Seminary has not made me a better Christian or a more godly person, but it has cleared my mind of the traditions of men that are not rooted in the Bible so that I might be more clearly influenced by the truth of God. If nothing else, seminary can serve as type of detox for tradition clutter.

Is Your Pastor More of a Shepherd or a Zookeeper?

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Acts: 2:36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…47…And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Seems like the order here for church membership is 1. Knowing for certain that God made Jesus Lord and Christ. 2. Asking a believer what your response should be. 3. Repent. 4. Be baptized. 5. Receive the Holy Spirit. 6. Be added to the church after being saved according to the LORD’S recognizing you as being saved.

At a supervisor’s meetings several months ago, my pastor said something very interesting. He said it was his job to pastor sheep, but instead, he’s been feeling like he’s supposed to be a zookeeper. How profound! The Bible often uses shepherding terminology when referring to God’s people. So the pastor is supposed to shepherd the sheep of his pasture. But instead of him tending to docile sheep, pastors lately appear to be shepherding a bunch of wild animals! Must be hard! Especially since we know that pastors are not qualified to keep zoo animals.

But WHY are all these zebras, lions, giraffes, apes, snakes, and etc. found in churches so much nowadays? Sure, the churches of the New Testament contained their share of a wild one, but it was not characteristic of the church to be FULL of them to the point that they outnumbered the sheep!

I hadn’t thought of the reason why until one of my seminary professors talked about the topic. The truth was so common sense, but it was so unlike how I had been raised to believe. So it was shocking to me when I first heard what he had to say about people joining churches. A few of my seminarian classmates disagreed, but what my professor said made so much sense. He said that at his church, they did not extend the “right hand of fellowship” to just any ole’ body.

WHAT?!

You mean to tell me that if at a Sunday morning service someone were to walk down the corridor and ask to join the church that you would turn them away? Sounds pretty harsh, wouldn’t you agree? But that harsh response would actually be the most appropriate response. Why on earth would you grant a total stranger total access to all the precious members of your church? Why would you allow a person you know absolutely nothing about to be considered a member who is allowed to join whichever ministry or auxiliary s/he chooses so that they can unleash whatever they please?

Would you employ this method of giving a stranger access to your home? To your job? To your car? To your children? To your husband? Wouldn’t you want to at least know an adequate amount of information about a person before you give them the keys to your apartment or vehicle? Wouldn’t you want to know something about the lady you just hired as your babysitter or the teen you just hired as your dog sitter? Wouldn’t you want to know something about the sexy lady your husband is considering hiring as his secretary? Wouldn’t you want to know something about the roommate you chose from Craigslist? Most certainly!

However, we are much more lax about who we let join our churches. We figure, “I caught them, and I’ll let God skin them!” (Thinking of them as fish.) We figure that regardless of who or what they are, if we get them to come to biweekly services, that God will fix whatever issues they have. Unfortunately, God has not promised us that in His word. He did not say to let any and every one who walks down the aisle and who fills out a membership form with their name, address, email, phone number, etc. and that He will some day make them sheep regardless of whatever kind of snake, wolf, or dog they came in as.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely know that God can change a person’s nature. He changed mine! But what I am saying is that we should take some time to see who we are granting access to in our churches. Be careful not to be letting a lifelong pedophile to join the children’s ministry. Be careful not to let an undelivered homosexual, adulterer, whoremonger sign-up to do independent counseling for people struggling with the same issues. Be mindful not to let a liar and a thief work in the finance department. I don’t care how full of tears their eyes are when they come to join the church, GIVE THEM TIME TO SHOW WHO THEY REALLY ARE! Because after the tears dry, their true nature will come out and wreak havoc in your church.

Remember the order of being BIBLICALLY saved according to this passage in Acts 2. It didn’t say 1. Here a vague, incomplete mention of Jesus. 2. Agree that as your grandmother said, you ought to be going to church regularly. 3. Go the altar to publically acknowledge you are joining the church for whatever reason. 4. Fill out the church’s paperwork. Now if you already KNOW the person who is coming up to join, that’s fine because they know what your church is about and what your church is against, so they will have no surprises and neither will you. But if you let a stranger join, they will have joined prematurely only to regret it because they know nothing of your church’s practices or doctrines. And they on week three of being a member, they are upset because they don’t believe women should have to wear dresses or that men can’t marry other men or that they have to give 10% of their paycheck to your church. Let them go to your church’s orientation first so that they can make sure that this is the fellowship they want to join.

I notice in the Acts 2 order that God did not add any to their group any who were not saved. Any who did not show evidence of belief. But even this detailed account does not give enough information about the significance of what occurred the day of Pentecost. There were many Jews who traveled back to Jerusalem for the holy day/holiday known as Pentecost. They had come from many different nations. And when they arrived, they encountered this Christian sect of about 120 members. And they overheard Galileans speaking in their 17 different languages. They were amazed. So they were all ears when their “main guy” began to preach about Jesus Christ. And they were so impressed that 3,000 believed that the same Jesus that the Jews had crucified was in fact the Messiah about whom the Old Testament had prophesied. So they asked what should they do in appropriate response. Let’s revisit the passage to see if he gave them a brief, incomplete gospel message or an adequate amount of information to prove to them that Jesus was indeed the Christ:

Here are a few observations I gleaned from these passages about church membership/qualifications: 1. It must be based on a true, biblical belief in Jesus Christ. If your view of Jesus or gospel of Jesus is not biblically sound, then it cannot save anybody, let alone put them into God’s true church. 2. This biblical gospel will lead to conviction in one’s heart. It cannot just be head knowledge; it must be acknowledged in one’s heart of hearts which only the Holy Spirit can do because only He can convict. 3. This heart conviction will inevitably lead to an immediate response of asking what one should do which the answer is repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit because the Lord has indeed called them to Himself. 4. Once that happens, one should – as Peter did – “with MANY other words bore witness and CONTINUED to exhort them”. This says to me that we should not give some perfunctory introduction to Jesus and expect people to truly understand what they should know because they commit the rest of their lives and indeed their eternities to Him. 5. Once and only after the words of the gospel are received should the listener be baptized because baptism represents a public acknowledgment of a personal belief and transaction with God. Because first a personal transaction has occurred (conversion of one’s soul), then a person can be considered as being a member of Christ’s body, the church. AFTERWARDS, these persons should be devoting themselves to the apostles’ teachings and fellowship with the other true believers. And as verse 47 says, people were only being added to their number as they were saved (and might I add BIBLICALLY saved).

Enough is enough! We ought to stop granting people membership in our churches just to get them on the roster so that we can brag to other churches about how many hundreds of members we have. So what if you have the fewest members of your friends’ churches? I’d rather have 200 sheep than 1,000 wolves in sheep’s clothing raising hell in God’s church. Be content with your faithful few. And why do you want so many members anyway? Do you just want them for bragging rights? Do you want to be considered a mega-church pastor? Do you want their tithes and offerings? Many churches will only ask for a person’s tithes after they have been added to the church membership roll. So is that why you want them? Certainly one can pay a mortgage off faster with 1,000 tithers than 200 tithers. But will it be worth it? All the heartache, all the low retention rate, all the scandal? Do you want to be known as the church full of fools wherein “ain’t nobody saved in that church” or the church where “all the members sleep around”? So when you attend these church growth seminars, just know that it’s not God adding to His church, rather it is you adding to YOUR church. It’s not God adding saved sheep, but rather it’s YOU adding a bunch of “zoo animals”.

I don’t see a problem with these wanna-be/future members visiting however often they please, but just let them visit until they get saved for real. THEN add to them to your church.

False Profits: Prophe-lying to Remain Relevant?

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2 Peter 1:20-21 –  knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Aren’t you glad that Peter was used of God to tell us some important information about prophecy? I mean, if not for these two bible verses, we would have to worry about being deceived by false prophecies being produced by the will of man. We would also have to worry about random people misinterpreting God’s word or what they CLAIM to be God’s word. This way, we will not be deceived.

Peter says that NO prophecy – not a single godly prophecy – NOT A SINGLE ONE – comes from any human being’s interpretation. Not an evangelist’s, not a prophet(ess’), not a pastor’s, not a bishop’s. The interpretation is not up to US, it is up to the Holy Spirit. Both verses say “no prophecy”. That means that if anybody claims to have a new, personal interpretation of Scriptural prophecy or prophecy in general, then s/he is a liar. God will not reveal one thing in Scripture only to have some man or woman come by 2,000 years or so later to change God’s mind. Sometimes, you will hear televangelists come up with fancy, cute interpretations to tickle your fancy. For example, I remember hearing one very popular televangelist who said that Adam could fly in the Garden of Eden. Nowhere in Scripture can that be verified or substantiated. This claim has not been supported or even hinted at by any preachers for the past two millennia, yet this man decides that someone opened this truth up to him. His reason behind this claim was that Adam was given dominion over all the animals and that Adam couldn’t truly have dominion over birds if he could not go (or fly) to where they could fly. Foolishness! This interpretation was produced by the will of this man. (Inbox me if you’d like to know his name and I can even lead you to the audio clip where he said this.)

The thing about prophecy is this: It does not come “horizontally” but “vertically”. It does not from within, or internally, but it comes externally from God. Contrary to popular belief, a prophecy does not come just because you invite a popular evangelist or prophet to come to town to your church to raise money. God does not send words because someone got an invite to your church. God sends a word to who He wants to send a word to. He’s not “on dial” as many suppose.

I know of a prophet who was recently exposed of “producing prophecy” of his own will. He knew this lady had a particular disease, so he looked online some information about her or her condition and then latter prophesied to her. Now, I’m not saying that 100% of this man’s prophecies or visions or revelations were false just because he made up that one (and likely many others), but I am saying that that particular prophecy was not spoken of God through this man as he was moved by the Holy Spirit. Now, the truth of the matter is that because this man received so many invites because of his gift of prophecy, he felt that if he did not come up with some prophecy whether from his own will or interpretation or God’s, that he would stop receiving invites and his money would dry up (because he was being paid a portion of the offerings from that night). So this is partly the fault of the one who invited him, the fault of the people who packed out the church venue to hear him prophesy, and the fault of the prophet making up prophecies to tickle their fancy. This all happens because people seem to think that just because someone has a prophetic gift that God gives them a constant stream of prophecies to hand out depending on who wants them.

But think of this: the prophets of the Old Testament could not pack out a church. In fact, most people wanted to silence them. Most people wanted them to leave their presence. Most people would not pay them a generous offering to give a word from the Lord. And the reason is this, because most people in the Old Testament knew the prophet was coming to tell them something they did not want to hear. The prophets of the Old Testament were not going to tell a wicked priest that God had a brand new home waiting for him if he paid a 30 shekel offering. The prophets of the Old Testament would not tell an adulterer that God would bless them with a new and higher paying job. Rather, the prophet would tell that wicked priest and that adulterer that God was very displeased with their behavior and that if they did not repent from their wicked ways that God would execute His harsh wrath on them. An Old Testament prophet would not ignore your blatant sin in order to promise you blessings falsely.

But how different are these prophets today! They will come in your church and tell the most wicked church member that God is going to give them a raise. They will come in your church and tell a home-wrecking missionary that if they sow a $100 seed that God will pay for their college tuition. Now if God is saying this through them, then absolutely tell them whether they be wicked or not, but I just feel it isn’t true to God’s nature to tell unrepentant persons that blessings are on the way especially if they have shown no contrition. So I guess the question is, DID GOD SAY IT?

I’m not saying that God’ won’t prophesy blessings to unrepentant sinners. Perhaps that prophecy will mark the turning point in their life. But wouldn’t it make more sense for God to tell the child molesting youth pastor to repent and THEN to tell him that God will send him the wife of his dreams? And in that order? But to make a church full of people think that God overlooks sin and blesses the reprobate all because God chose to prophecy to him publicly before people who know his true corrupt character is not a good look.

As the verse says, the prophecy comes as men speak from God as carried by the Holy Spirit. Again, I repeat, prophecies do not come just because there is a mic in your mouth and a large group of people with a pocketbook full of money. If you can’t share your godly prophecy in a parking lot to a homeless man, I don’t suppose you’ll have it in a church setting as long as people have money.

Prophets and prophetesses, only speak as God leads you. Do not make up prophecies because that’s what people expect of you. Do not make up prophecies because you know you can make thousands of dollars that night if you do. Do not make up prophecies to remain “relevant” in the charismatic church world. ONLY speak as God’s vessel IF God gives you to speak. Do not make up prophecies and say, “Thus saith the Lord” just because you know saying God said it gives you false credibility. Because of what you say does not come to pass (and if it comes from you, it usually won’t), then people will be looking at God crazy because He didn’t fulfill your false prophecy when He’s only to be expected to fulfill His OWN prophecies. Stop trying to be popular and relevant and work YOUR GIFT and get out of YOUR FLESH.

Why God’s One Church Is Better Than Our 33,000 Christian Denominations

Have you ever stopped to think of the power of ONE? After having one of my enlightening convos with God where He seems to download insights into me about random subjects, I began to have an appreciation of the power, significance, and benefits of the number 1.

Because zero has no value, 1 is the first number of value. There is always something special about being the first. The bible talks of how being the first born is a coveted position for a child to be in. Number 1 is also the simplest number. When you think of monogamy, which basically means a one woman marriage, you can already know that compared to a polygamous marriage, it will be much simpler. Also think of a couple with an only child vs. a couple with sextuplets. Life is much simpler with singles.

One also signifies wholeness. One is a whole number. It has no division, no dissension. But think of a fraction. 1/2, 3/4, and 5/6 are fractured numbers; they are no longer whole. You know that 1/2 is missing a half, 3/4 is missing a quarter, and 5/6 is missing a sixth of its worth. But one is missing nothing.

Throughout the New Testament of the Holy Bible, we see that God desires ONENESS in the church.

1 Corinthians 1:10-13 – I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you AGREE, and that there be NO DIVISIONS among you, but that you BE UNITED in the SAME mind and the SAME judgment.

Philippians 1:27 – Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in ONE spirit, with ONE mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel

Ephesians 4:4 – There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call

Philippians 2:2 – …complete my joy by being of the SAME mind, having the SAME love, being in FULL ACCORD and of ONE mind.

Matthew 19:3-6 – The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

We can see from the above bible verses that God desires for Christians NOT to divide ourselves. And what is division but separating a whole thing? Think of divorce for example. The bible asays that what God puts/cleaves together (a husband and a wife in marriage), let no man put asunder. It says the TWO shall combine into being ONE flesh after marriage. It says that they are no more TWO SEPARATES, but are now ONE WHOLE UNIT. The word asunder means “torn apart” or “divided”. When a couple divorces, both parties will tell you that they feel fractured, they feel as if their lives have been torn apart. There were ONE, but are now not two wholes (until God restores them), but they are two HALVES of a previous whole.

God made the church WHOLE. He only made ONE, WHOLE church. He did not establish two whole separate churches. And He also did not create two church halves either. Just the one. But it is said that the CHRISTIAN religion has anywhere from 33,000 to 38,000 denominations!

A denomination means a group of people who have the same religious/biblical/spiritual beliefs. So that means that from the time the church was first established about 2,000 years ago to this date, the one church disagreed thousands upon thousands upon thousands upon thousands of times. Now of course, some of these disagreements were very minor. All of the Christian denominations ought to be believing in Jesus Christ as our only Lord and Savior and hopefully they all believe in the truths of the Holy Bible. But it is still disconcerting that we can all be reading the same ONE bible (even with its different versions and translations), and still come up with up with over 30,000+ interpretations of certain doctrine. One really is a simple number! Much simpler than 38,000!

Matthew 16:18 – And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Let me tell you what I think Satan hates about the number 1. As we know, Jesus created one church. He did not say in Matthew 16:18 that “upon this rock I will build my churchES; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against THEM.” He said CHURCH and IT. The lack of plurality denotes ONENESS. And as Jesus said, the gates of hell cannot prevail against His one church. But is does seem as if Satan is coming against the church quite heavily. He is making a fool of many church denominations it seems. He is causing us to lose our credibility it seems. Why is it so easy for him to do this?

Well, another important thing about ONE, is that it is very POWERFUL. There is power in an army of one. As we know, ones add up. Some people may disparage receiving 1 cent and 1 dollar because they are the smallest units of American currency. But when you combine a lot of pennies, you can have a dollar. And when you combine a lot of dollars, you can have a billion! But ONLY when they are UNIFIED. So when every Saint/believer/Christian comes together, we have so much more than we have separate or divided. Over 2 million of the world’s population identify with the Christian religion. But we are so divided. And not only are we divided, but we are also WEAKER. If a couple is married and both combined have a billion dollars, they are both billionaires. But if they divorce one another and split all the money down the middle, they become millionaires. A millionaire doesn’t have as much spending power as a billionaire does!

So when a large group of people with a lot of power begin to divide many times over, it results in a lot of weaker people. It seems as if the church has lost its effectiveness when it began dividing. If you split a one in half, it has HALF its former power. If you split a church in half, it will have half of its members which means it may have HALF of its gifts. One half of the church is robbing the other half of the church of its gifts, and vice versa. When the Baptists are competing with the Church of God in Christ, and the Reformers are debating with the Church of Christ, and when the Apostolics are arguing with the Methodists, we are robbing each other of the other’s “power”. We know that God has let THE church know what His will is for us to do on the earth. But no one denomination has ALL the answers. So if we unify in some manner, we can have access to all the answers God wants us to have for this time.

I am not pushing an ecumenical agenda where we pretend that every denomination is 100% right just so that we can combine with a clear conscience. But what I am trying to do is bring awareness of a very simple concept and dynamic of God’s which is the power of ONE. ONE has more power, effectiveness, resources, gifts, unity, etc. than 33,000. So many believers are so making enemies and competitors of other believers that they aren’t focusing their attention and efforts on those who need Christ. When separated we can’t do the work that we can do if we are one.

John 13:35 – By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Now I am not naive to the fact that many churches create denominations because they are CONVINCED that another denomination has many false doctrines. And who wants to be under a denominational name that is known for poor bible interpretation and unbiblical practices? And so many denomination leaders branched off to identify their organization as THE organization with the TRUTH with 100% of God’s “backing”. But is that not arrogant? If you are the ONE TRUE church, you don’t need any name other than “church” because you are the one true church. If Christians would truly seek God’s will and only interpretation of the different bible questions we may have, He’ll only give ONE answer. So obviously, we’re not seeking Him as we should. Instead we assume our interpretation is the one, right one and that everyone else is deceived and lost until they adopt our beliefs.

We need to stop majoring in the minors. Let’s love one another and accept one another. The verse above tells us that the WHOLE WORLD can know that Jesus is real and that He has real disciples if we love one another. But when they turn on the tube and see that Christians act hatefully to one another, they laugh at and deride Christians everywhere. They can’t believe in Jesus because they have no witnesses (no disciples) to observe acting Christ-like. Two billion of the world’s population identify with Christianity, but there is little unity amongst us. No wonder the world is confused.

No one denomination has it ALL together. Every one is doing something unbiblical. But let’s be unified in love and our belief in the God of the Bible – YHWH has being the only one holy, true living God and Creator of all and in Jesus (Yahushua) in being the one mediator and Savior and Deliverer and Messiah of all those who believe and apply the gospel message! Let’s not major in the minors. Let’s be unified and gain back the power and effectiveness that the church had in the beginning.

Are Ye Lights of the World?

If these lights had not shown this night, the whole world would lie in darkness

Matthew 5:14 – “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 – Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Jesus said in Matthew 5:14 & 16 that we believers are the lights of the world. We are not THE light as He is, but we are smaller lights. He also told us to let our lights shine before men that they could see our good works and glorify our heavenly Father. So we Christians are clearly told what is our purpose as world lights. We are to shine brightly to get the attention of people so that we may direct their ultimate attention to the glorious God that we serve.

But what happens when the attention that we receive for our good works never gets redirected to God? Remember, Jesus said that our light is to bring attention to our good works, BUT that that attention should reflect what a mighty God it is that we Christians serve. But because there are lights in the world that do not understand Jesus direction, God is not getting all the glory and honor that He deserves and that He is due.

I went to a gospel rap concert this Friday that blessed me so much. One of the first things I noticed when I walked in was the poor stage lighting. I remarked to the friend I came with the lighting was so bad that I could not even see the rapper who was on stage. Little did I know, it was likely a God-ordained lighting problem that drove home a point that the second rapper delivered to the crowd. The second rapper’s name was Andy Mineo (f/k/a C-Lite). In between songs, Andy would minister. And one of the things he touched on was the lighting (which by that time had been fixed). He asked, “Have any of you noticed the lights?” He pointed our attention to the stage lights above that shined down on him. All of the crowd looked up at the lights to see what on earth he was talking about. He asked us if we had noticed the lights and of course none of us did because were so enmeshed in his rapping and ministering. He continued on to say, “Exactly. The purpose of the lights are not to draw attention to themselves, but to put the attention on whoever is on stage. No one in the audience was watching the lights. We were watching what the light was directed at. POWERFUL!

Ephesians 5:8 – for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 – (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 – and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 – Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 – For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 – But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 – for anything that becomes visible is light.

See, the only time I paid attention to the lights was when they were NOT doing their job. When I first entered the concert, I only noticed the lighting because it was not bright enough or because it was not on or because it was not directed at the rapper on stage. I was annoyed by it because I know what lights are for. Lights are to ILLUMINATE, expose, make manifest, make visible the person it is shining on. But when a light is not shining, it is as worthless is salt that is not salty. If a light bulb is blown and if a candle wick will not catch on fire, then it is good for nothing. Are you a dead light bulb or a incompetent candle? What good is a sun that doesn’t shine or a moon that doesn’t reflect light?

Do you get mad when people don’t praise you for your good works? Do you get mad when the church doesn’t acknowledge or thank you? Do you not understand that God will never thank you? He will reward you in heaven, but He will never thank you for doing your job as a light. Lights shine. It comes natural. The only time you SHOULD be acknowledged regarding your light is when you are NOT doing your job. And by acknowledgement, I mean the only time you should be addressed is when you are being negatively addressed by being replaced for NOT shining.

John 1:4 – In him was life, and the life was the light of men…9 – The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

We have to understand what Jesus has done for us and what He has made us for. Jesus is that Original Light. The light with the capital “L”. And just as we do with physical candles, Jesus enlightened our candle wick with his flame. And so we become lights. And Jesus told us to use our lights to glorify God. The problem arises when people use their light to glorify themselves OR when they refuse to let their light shine.

Let me give you two examples that I’ve seen that people do with their lights. Last Tuesday, I visited a church. It was a charismatic, Pentecostal church, so praise and worship is very lively and active. But after everyone had settled down to hear the Word preached, a man in the choir stand continued to praise. And we were all fine with that because that happens in charismatic churches. But then the man continued and began to be disruptive. And it was apparent to every discerning person that this man was just acting out for attention. He wanted to impress people with his praise because he thought it made him seem holier and really connected to or appreciative of God. But it just made him look pathetic and made people want to laugh at him because he was trying to hard. Even though Jesus called this man to be a light to glorify God, this man clearly was using praise as a platform to bring glory to himself. No one looked at this man and thought, “Man! I want to serve the God he’s serving! He must be an awesome God to be praising God like that!” Something tells me that this man would not praise God like that in the privacy of his car or home because he wouldn’t have an audience to impress in he did. This man was a light alright. He was a high beam in your eye that was so glaring you wanted to look away.

But there is another type of light that I dislike. And that is the dim or dead light. I’ve observed people in church who simply REFUSE to let their light shine. They say things like, “It don’t take all that. Y’all doing too much. I ain’t gotta stand up and praise Him. He know my heart. He know how I feel about Him.” So they just sit there with their arms crossed with a frown on their face waiting for praise and worship to be over. If an atheist, Satanist, or Muslim were to watch them, they’d certainly be thinking, “See, I knew all this Christianity stuff was fake. God is so un-awesome that this so-called Christian over here won’t even stand up or clap at all. She’s not said ONE positive thing about the God she serves. He must not be all that after all.” These types of lights need to be replaced or thrown out. You look at them and don’t see ANYTHING glorious about the God they claim to serve.

Of course, Matthew 5:14-16 was talking about good works (not praise and worship), but I think the point still applies. Whatever you do should be done to the glory of God. And I believe that includes praise and worship. When people see me, I want to have JUST the right amount of light shining. And I want ALL of the light to be shining on the TRUE showstopper – THE Headliner on stage. And that main attraction is the Lord. No one sits there in admiration at stage lights. Everyone with common sense knows that they came to see what’s or who’s on stage. Sure lighting can be pretty, but it should not steal the show. Light is to make manifest or visible what counts. The sun is not shining just to be shining. God put the sun up there for other reasons. One of those reasons is to allow humans to see every thing that the sunlight is shining upon. So examine yourselves. Readjust your lighting. Make sure that you are not an attention-seeking light nor a dead light. Let God be glorified in all that you do!