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Sunday, March 19, 2017

God Loves Truth, Satan Loves Half-Truths - John 8:31-32

half truths can be more deceptive than lies

Satan is most effective using half-truths instead of outright lies.

He likes promoting just enough truth about God to appear Biblical while denying the power of the Gospel to save and transform (2 Timothy 3:1-5) - God's love without His standards, salvation without repentance, blessings without responsibilities.(1)  

Scripture records Satan's half-truth tactic:  

1. He told Eve she'd understand good and evil (Genesis 3:4-5).  

2. He quoted Psalm 91 to Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11).  

3. He inspired Ananias' charitable giving (Acts 5:1-2).  

Satan's half-truths are always deadly and deceptive:

1. All mankind suffered because Eve not only understood evil, she committed it (Genesis 3:22-24).  

2. Jesus rebuked Satan’s misuse of Scripture (Matthew 4:10).  

3. God struck Ananias dead for his half-truth giving (Acts 5:3-11).  

Jesus said: “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32 

Full and complete truth is important to God. Is it important to you?
Note: There are many half-truths promoted in Christian circles: Self-esteem Doctrine, Prosperity Gospel, Twisted Scriptures, Universal Salvation, "The Shack". Each of the highlighted words in the body of the devotion are also links to pertinent devotions.

Bible Study

1. Below is the most tragic example of someone embracing a half-truth. 

half truths can be more deadly than outright lies

Half of what Satan told Eve was true: her eyes were opened to good and evil. But she didn't become like God. Instead, she became less like God through unbelief and sin.
Genesis 3:1-5: Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

2. Note how Satan used Scripture to tempt Christ to disobey God!

Matthew 4:5-7: Then the devil took him [Jesus] to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” [Psalm 91:11-12] 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

3. If we think God is impressed with doing something good based on a half-truth, we need only read the story of Ananias and Saphira in Acts 5:1-10.

For the sake of space, I will not include this longer passage, but I encourage you to read through it and note that Ananias and Saphira were doing something good - giving money to the needs of the church - but they weren't telling the full truth about their giving.

As Peter told them - they were free to give as little or as much as they wanted to the church. But their half-truth giving was not acceptable.

copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, March 12, 2017

We Can't Change God, But He Can Change Us

We can't pick and choose which parts of God we like...
It’s popular on cooking shows for chefs to serve “deconstructed” dishes highlighting the separate ingredients of a recipe. 

It’s also popular in some sectors of Christianity to serve a “deconstructed” God. However, instead of highlighting each separate aspect of God’s character, they leave some aspects off the plate altogether. 

Just as strawberry shortcake without the strawberries can’t legitimately be called strawberry shortcake, a god built on half-truths cannot legitimately be called God.

We can't serve people God's grace without His truth, His love without His commands, His forgiveness without His justice, or His salvation without His wrath (John 1:14-17)

Half truths about God make people feel warm and fuzzy. But half-truths won't save their souls or bring genuine change to their hearts.

The True God isn't popular because He forces us to face our sins (John 3:19-20Acts 3:19).

But He is our God and we are proud of Who He is. God doesn't need to deconstruct Himself to please people (Hebrews 13:8), so let's present Him as He is.


You might also enjoy reading "Have Christians Forgotten How Much God Hates Sin?" and "A Healthy Fear of God" and "Reviews of "The Shack's" Deconstructed God" and "Why Hoping All Men Will Be Saved is Unbelief."

Bible Study

Half-truths about God, The Shack

We cannot truly know the grace of God unless we also know His wrath and His truth. His truth explains, among other things, the serious nature of our sin. His wrath explains what we deserve and what we have been spared through Jesus.

John 1:14-17: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  

The Greek word used for truth in this passage is alétheia and it is defined this way: “truth, but not merely truth as spoken; truth of idea, reality, sincerity, truth in the moral sphere, divine truth revealed to man, straightforwardness.”

Strongs explains it further: "the truth, as taught in the Christian religion, respecting God and the execution of his purposes through Christ, and respecting the duties of man, opposed alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and to the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians.” 

See "Are We Ashamed of God?

We cannot experience God's grace without experiencing His truth and one aspect of that truth is His wrath:

How can we appreciate a god who saves us from nothing? God's wrath assures us that we have received the greatest gift of life and eternity through the shed blood of Christ.

Romans 5:9: Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!

Romans 1:18: The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness...

The Greek word for wrath is orgé.

Definition: “anger, wrath, passion; punishment, vengeance” 

Remember that God’s vengeance is not the same as man’s revenge. God is justified in everything He does. See "Deadly Revenge."
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Popular Heresy of Universal Salvation and Why We Should Not Hope For It

Only Christians will go to heaven
Universal Salvation(1) – the belief that Christ will save all men regardless of their beliefs - is a hot topic lately.

This is largely due to the popularity of The Shack.(2) 

As Christians, it should be our heart's desire to share Christ so men and women will come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

But hoping God will save unrepentant men who reject Christ means hoping God is lying about salvation in His Word. We should never hope for that (Titus 1:1-3).

If we can't trust what God says about hell, how can we trust what He says about heaven or anything else?(3)

When confronted with clear Biblical principles, I sometimes hear Christians say, "Well that depends on how you interpret Scripture."

Christians interpret a number of non-essential doctrines differently.  But we agree on the essential doctrines of faith in Christ which are clearly presented in Scripture, and hell is one of those doctrines.
Only Christians will go to heaven
(1) Universal Salvation is different from Universalism. Universalism teaches that many paths lead to God. Universal Salvation teaches that through Christ all men will be saved whether they repent and turn to Him or not. 
(2) The current popularity of Universal Salvation has been fueled by The Shack’s message that God forgives all men and saves all men regardless of their beliefs. Please see:
5 Errors About God in "The Shack"
5 Errors About Salvation in "The Shack"
(3)  Former mega pastor Rob Bell suggested in his 2011 book Love Wins that it was "fitting and proper" for Christians to long for Universal Salvation. It should be no surprise that Bell no longer sees the Bible as God's Word (Source). 

Bible Study

1. God is not vague about the existence of hell and the punishment of the unrepentant.  

When we suggest that a good God would not send men to hell, we are really saying that we know more about goodness than God does.

Matthew 25:46: "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

2 Thessalonians 1:9: They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might  
Only Christians will be saved

Jude 1:7: In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

There are many passages about hell in Scripture. Here's a few more: Matthew 5:29Matthew 7:13; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 23:33; Luke 12:5; Luke 16:19-31

2. Not only does the Bible teach there is a place of eternal punishment called hell, it teaches that only those who commit their lives to Christ will be saved from that second death.

Romans 10:9: If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  

Matthew 10:32: "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven."

1 John 5:12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

3. We need to be like the Bereans - those in Acts who checked everything against Scripture:

Acts 17:11: Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 

Universal Salvation teaches all men will be saved through Jesus, unrepentant sinner and repentant believer, atheist, Satanist, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian alike. While ignoring or "reinterpreting" clear descriptions about eternal punishment in Scripture, they make their case with passages like 1 Timothy 4:10: “…the living God, who is the Savior of all people.” 

Context is so important. The complete passage reads “the living God, who is the Savior of all people and especially of those who believe.” 

If 1 Timothy 4:10 were the only passage about salvation in Scripture, I think there would be a case for Universal Salvation. We would still need to explain what "especially of those who believe" means, but it could be done. But adding 1 Timothy 4:10 to the scores of other passages about salvation gives us the true meaning.

Like 1 Timothy 4:10, John 3:16  says God so loved the world (all the world) but it makes the "especially those who believe" part clearer by saying that "whosoever believes" has eternal life. 

The need to know all that Scripture teaches about a subject is made especially clear in this example using Scriptures about prayer: Pieces Parts

Dear Christians, we must guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) against false philosophies which sound attractive on the surface but place man's wisdom above God's wisdom (Colossians 2:8). 
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
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