Truth & Love: The Bookends

At the grocery store, I have a bad habit of getting a basket, when I need a buggy. Soon, stuff is hanging out of the basket and I’m trying to carry the rest in my arms…I guess it’s a guy thing because buggies just aren’t cool. When it comes to my walk with Christ, I do the same thing. I have “basket” expectations in the middle of a “buggy” size process. So as a believer, what should I expect? What are some defined points of the journey? Let’s look at something I call the “bookends”.

Life is full of pages and chapters. In the Christian life, we can be confident of two set boundaries established by God in His dealings with us – Truth & Love. They’re also to be our standards for personal interaction, which looks something like this…

I. Holy Spirit-to-me

With Jesus telling us in John 16:13 that the Holy Spirit will “guide us into all truth” and the declaration in I John 4:8 that “God is love”; I know He’s going to guide me that way. When the Holy Spirit is speaking to me, I’m confident He’ll always speak truth in love.

So how specifically does it happen? Well, I won’t attempt to define how God works, but I will mention three common things we know, but still resist at times:

  • Bible time – I need to get into His Word to read, listen, and contemplate.
  • Prayer – I need to communicate with Him (by the way, it’s a two-way conversation).
  • Obedience – I need to do what’s already been revealed to me, because I can’t expect further revelation if I’m ignoring what I already know.

II. Me-to-me

Paul instructs us in Ephesians 6:14 to gird our waist with truth. I remember in a former job (one of those previous chapters) when working in the warehouse, we were required to wear back support braces around our waist. It’s the same with truthfulness, it braces and supports. Without it come strain, injury, and painful recovery. We must be people of truth. However to be a person of truth, I must start by being truthful with myself.

I have to do as Jesus said and clean the speck out of my eye first before inspecting others. As I go through self-examination, I should remember the first point though. The Holy Spirit will guide me in truth and love. It’s not a time to get depressed, but a time to find victory. It often includes repentance, but with it comes liberty…precious liberty within the strength of a loving Savior!

III. Me-to-others

When reading I John 4:7-11, we see an “environment’ of love. John starts the passage with “Beloved, let us love one another…” and describes how authentic, self-less love is evidence of God’s presence in our lives and a direct reflection of Him. Speaking the truth sometimes isn’t the hard part; it’s the “in love” part that presents a challenge.

As tough as it is, we are mandated by scripture to live this way. It’s expected of me, as a follower of Christ, to live within the boundaries of truth and love:

  • In family life
  • In friendships
  • In career
  • In service to others

Ephesians 4:15 speaks of the benefits of truth spoken in love, and that’s maturity. It’s not always the easy path, but one definitely worth traveling. So put back the basket and grab a buggy…you’ll be glad you did!

The Everyday Life

Over the years, the words of Oswald Chambers have greatly impacted me. For some reason, I feel compelled to share a quote I read this morning and a thought:

“We have a tendency to look for wonder in our experience, and we mistake heroic actions for real heroes. It is one thing to go through a crisis grandly, yet quite another to go through every day glorifying God when there is no witness, no limelight, and no one paying the remotest attention to us. If we are not looking for halos, we at least want something that will make people say, “What a wonderful man of prayer he is!” or “What a great woman of devotion she is!” If you are properly devoted to the Lord Jesus, you have reached the lofty height where no one would ever notice you personally. All that is noticed is the power of God coming through you all the time.”

                                                            – Oswald Chambers – “My Utmost for His Highest” Revised Edition

Thinking about it, I recall an early lesson I learned in the Army. It was simply to “do my duty.” Most of the time, the duty (even the cool stuff) wasn’t in sight of anyone. It wasn’t caught on camera, or followed up by an appreciative word, however, at the end of the day I could take pride in having been faithful to the call of service. It’s the same in my daily walk of faith as a Christ-follower. Sometimes God’s working may be visible or it may not be, however Ephesians 6:7 says to do everything “as to the Lord and not men.”

Maybe today as you journey through the Christian life your “backpack” is feeling heavy or the “trail” is getting steep – I encourage you to keep moving…please keep moving. Your fellow soldiers need you. Your family needs you, and lost people looking for hope need you. Remember to keep your eyes on Christ…consider His faithfulness…and soldier on!

For more info on Oswald Chambers and daily devotions, here’s a link: http://utmost.org/

Jehovah’s Witnesses – “The Working Religion”

Scenario: You’re busy cleaning out the garage on a Saturday morning and notice two well-dressed people going door-to-door on your street. Your neighbor seems interested and takes their material. Later, the neighbor asks your thoughts on their publication called “The Watchtower”. What do you say?

 Most of us have had contact with Jehovah’s Witnesses at least once. Years ago, I worked with several and they were good friends. So what do they teach, and what motivates them to give up time going door-to-door? Let’s take a look…  

I. The History

  • The Watchtower Bible & Tract Society was founded around 1872 by Charles T. Russell. Russell had been a follower of the Adventist movement, but left to form a new group called the International Bible Students Associations. They were first referred to as “Russellites”. In 1931, the name was changed to the WBTS under Russell’s successor “Judge” Joseph Franklin Rutherford.
  • Historically, the focus has always been on the world’s end, and the establishment of Jehovah’s kingdom on Earth. Setting dates for the end has even been part of the belief over the years, with the last one being 1975.

II. The Structure

  • They are headquartered in Brooklyn, NY under the direction of the “Governing Body”.
  • The meeting place is called the “Kingdom Hall” due to the belief that the Church Age is already over.
  • The primary method for making new converts is door-to-door visitation with materials and invites to Bible studies.

III. The Text

  • Charles Russell’s writings, such as a seven volume series called Studies in the Scriptures and published sermons laid the doctrinal foundation.
  • Their own proprietary Bible translation called the New World Translation (NWT) is used by Witnesses for study and proselytizing. Key passages are slightly altered to reflect WBTS doctrine.
  • Publications such as The Watchtower, Awake and others are used for Sunday sermons, and giving away to potential converts.

IV. The Beliefs

  • They believe in Jehovah (God the Father), but deny the deity of Christ.
  • Jesus is believed to be created by God first. His name was “Michael the Archangel” before the time on Earth.
  • The hope is to be of the truest 144,000 Witnesses, therefore being part of the “Anointed Class” ruling with Christ.
  • The other Witnesses not part of the 144,000 hope to be part of the future Earthly Kingdom.
  • Non-believers will simply cease to exist after death (Annihilation).
  • There is no belief in eternal punishment such as Hell.
  • The era of human political structures are said to be past, so loyalty to a flag, pledge, military service, and participating in voting are forbidden.
  • To avoid misplaced recognition and worship, holidays, birthdays, and other celebrations are completely avoided.
  • Witnessing and attendance (Sunday meetings and Bible Studies) are required components of being a part of WBTS.

V. The Response

Witnesses are usually nice, polite folks, but are trained to maintain strict discipline in conversation about spiritual matters. Specifically, the use of publications and certain scripture passages (NWT translation) is primary, but here are 5 key areas of response: 

  • The Trinity – Although the word “Trinity” is not specifically used in scripture it is described throughout the Bible. Matthew 28:19 clearly references each Person of the Trinity. I Peter 1:2 and John 15:26 illustrate separate roles.
  • Jesus – Colossians 2:9 says that Jesus embodied the very fullness of God. He wasn’t a product of God’s work, but is God Himself in the flesh. Jesus on several occasions taught that He is God, John 8:58 and 10:30 are examples.
  • Good Works – The Witnesses teach right works to be the key to eternal destination, but the scripture teaches different. Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-9 we’re saved by God’s grace, not works. All through the book of Romans, the Bible teaches we can never earn salvation. We have all fell far short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23). We need a savior, not better habits. Romans 10:9 states that if we confess Jesus with our mouth and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead we WILL be saved.
  • Hell – Matthew 25 and Luke 16 both teach of a literal Hell. Revelation 20 says those whose names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will be cast into theLake ofFire.
  • 144, 000 – the description in Revelation chapter 7 of 144,000 people saved in the end is very specific. It speaks of Jewish people who embrace Christ during the Great Tribulation, not Gentiles living now. The tribes of origin are even listed.

VI. Conclusion

Even though there are points of response and doctrinal flaws to discuss, Christ’s love in us should rule the day. As a Christian, there is nothing more powerful than sharing what God has done and continues to do in your personal life. Our story of God’s grace and forgiveness is exactly what those around us need to hear. NEVER underestimate the simple sharing of what Christ means to you!

Series: Consider this… “A Conversational Defense of our Faith” – Lesson 11

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