(Previous post in this series: Exposing the Spirit of a Magician)
Another occasion where the Lord spoke dramatically to me in defense of His Word was many years ago when someone first presented the idea to us that the gospels are not really supposed to be considered part of the New Testament, diminishing their relevance and significance for Christians today.
We were loaned a book that promoted this concept. The author – apparently unable to reconcile his version of grace and the gospel with the teachings of Jesus – wrote this book to argue that the gospels were actually only intended for the Jews, not for believers today. He claimed they were intended only for a brief inter-testamental period to help the Jews transition from the law to grace. Therefore, he proposed that Jesus’ teachings were never intended for Christians living under grace …
This was not a widespread idea we were hearing at the time; just one person offering one book. I took the book home, in spite of feeling “a check” (caution, misgiving) in my spirit about this premise. From its temporary perch on our guest bed, where I could see it each time I passed by the room, it provoked an ongoing deliberation about whether or not to invest time reading it.
Finally, I prayed, “Lord, I really don’t want to waste time reading that if it’s not true and not of You. So please just tell me what YOU have to say about it. Are Jesus’ teachings still for the church today?”
As I turned to walk out of the room, the Lord spoke so strongly to my spirit that it stopped me in my tracks. Similar to what I described in the first “magician” post, it “felt” audible, though I don’t believe it was, resonating so loudly it arrested me.
Immediately, I recognized this as Jesus’ great commission to his first disciples/apostles, after His resurrection and before His ascension (Matthew 28:19-20). This was not a passage I’d been recently studying or thinking about. It was not on my radar screen during the discussion with our friend or in the time afterward of debating about whether to read the book. But in that moment I asked the Lord for wisdom, He brought it to my remembrance in a powerful way.
I was in AWE! With ONE passage He refuted the entire premise of the book. Jesus made clear that His teachings to the disciples were not just for the Jews during an extremely brief inter-testamental period. According to Him, they were intended to be taught to ALL NATIONS. Nor did He affirm that they’re only given to us as helpful or good advice, but not authoritative for the lives of “post-resurrection” believers, as some say. The same Jesus who died to deliver us from the curse of the law also said we’re to follow and obey the things He taught and commanded (under His Lordship and grace).
I wish I could say that was the only time we ever encountered this teaching, and that it was duly discarded in the trash bin of baseless heresies without being seriously entertained by the church. But unfortunately, we ran into it again several years later being taught in a setting with international influence by someone new to authority there. This was during the same season the Lord revealed the spirit of a magician and how he operates to deceive even the elect. Apparently this spirit even seeks to make entire books and sections of Scripture disappear, and in this particular case his magic was connected to his end-times finale. I was so thankful the Lord had already settled this matter for us years earlier in such an unforgettable way.
I imagine even those who have never heard this teaching directly may have encountered its effects in some form – and the effects of similar ideas that imply we can have a version of the gospel, grace, salvation, and Jesus divorced from the teachings of the real Jesus revealed in Scripture. I pray all will understand that this is no minor matter, but one of paramount importance.
When warning us that in the end He will turn away MANY who were tragically deceived about their salvation, Jesus revealed that even though those He will turn away acknowledge Him as Lord, they did not truly live under His Lordship – they practiced lawlessness (sin). But thankfully He immediately gave us the remedy to avoid this horrifying fate – to hear His words and act upon/obey them – to build our lives on the Rock of His Word/teachings. (Mt 7:21-29) This is not a contradiction to being saved by grace through faith. It is simply understanding the vital truth that Jesus does not offer Himself to us as Savior unless we also truly receive Him as our Lord. May we continue in His teachings and become His true disciples, that we may continually know the truth that sets us free in every area of our lives (John 8:30-59).
“Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son.” II John 1:9
“And this is how we may discern [daily, by experience] that we are coming to know Him [to perceive, recognize, understand, and become better acquainted with Him]: if we keep (bear in mind, observe, practice) His teachings (precepts, commandments). Whoever says, I know Him [I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him] but fails to keep and obey His commandments (teachings) is a liar, and the Truth is not in him. But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected (completed, reached maturity). By this we may perceive (know, recognize, and be sure) that we are in Him: Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself.” I John 2:3-6
If you [really] love Me, you will keep (obey) My commands. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever— The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come [back] to you. Just a little while now, and the world will not see Me any more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you. The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.] Judas, not Iscariot, asked Him, Lord, how is it that You will reveal Yourself [make Yourself real] to us and not to the world? Jesus answered, If a person [really] loves Me, he will keep My word [obey My teaching]; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him. Anyone who does not [really] love Me does not observe and obey My teaching. And the teaching which you hear and heed is not Mine, but [comes] from the Father Who sent Me. I have told you these things while I am still with you. But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you. John 14:15-26
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