Feelings verses facts

Let me begin by explaining why I’m so sensitive about this. I went to Brigham Young University (BYU) on a full scholarship for football in the early 70s. I went there as a Christian. Not knowing a lot about Mormonism, and willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, I dove into their teachings. At first it seemed like it might be just another Christian denomination. After all, they believed and studied the Bible just like I did. But I soon realized that they interpretation of the Bible was very different than mine.

That set me on an interesting journey for the truth. Whose interpretation is correct? We can’t both be right. And, besides, this is serious stuff! We’re not talking about global warming here, we’re talking about eternity. When it comes to saving my soul, I don’t want to be close to getting it right, I want to absolutely get it right.

During the in depth study that ensued, I discovered that my interpretation of God’s Word was in fact correct. Their unique interpretation of the Bible was the result of their need to make it fit, or agree with, some of their heretical beliefs. If those beliefs were concerning minor issues like sprinkling or dunking with baptism it would be one thing. No, their differences had to do with the big stuff, like salvation.

Now it was serious. Now, in reality, it was Satanic. Why do I say that? Because, Satan is the master counterfeiter. He knows that effective deception depends on getting it as close to the original as possible, but in the end, the transaction fails.

My experience with Mormonism forever changed how seriously I handle the truth of God’s Word. Trust me, the Bible is not something to be toyed with. But toyed with it is in the book, and now the movie “The Shack”. When you blatantly redefine the Trinity and salvation you’re playing with fire. And, yes, I mean the fires of hell. Ironically, those two are the exact doctrines that Joseph Smith Jr. redefined with Mormonism, and millions are paying the price for it.

Even more concerning is the number of Bible believing Christians that don’t seem to have a problem with The Shack’s message. They get so caught up in the emotional heart tugging story of forgiveness that they’re willing to ignore the heretical depiction of the Trinity and the implied message of universalism; the belief that no one will be sent to hell.

The tragedy, as Al Mohler puts it, is that Christians have lost the art of biblical discernment, which must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine.

Clearly, Satan’s most effective tactic to deceive Christians, is to tug on their heart strings. Lead with feelings, and the facts will be overlooked.

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all.” Galatians 1:6

Perspective

The dictionary definition of perspective is (1) the art of drawing solid objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other when viewed from a particular point. And (2) a particular attitude toward or way of regarding something; a point of view.

One of the things that I like about being a pastor is how it keeps me grounded in reality. The situations that I encounter – typically relating to people and their problems – keeps things in perspective.

Relating to the first definition of perspective, ministry keeps me from becoming one-dimensional. Encountering the sometimes gut wrenching real-life struggles that people endure, gives me a more correct impression of the height, width, depth – and I would add length, of life. In short, ministry never ceases to give me eternal perspective.

Yesterday afternoon, on a spectacular sunshiny winter day, I traveled to a beautiful home in a somewhat exclusive neighborhood in Kennesaw, Georgia. There, I joined four of my colleagues, each a pastor at Apostles, as we ministered to a beautiful young women in her early 40s, who is dying of cancer. She has only been given a few months to live.

During our time there, we followed Jesus’ brother James advice; offering up prayers of faith. We anointed her head with oil and prayed, as she asked us to, for her healing. (James 5:13-16).

You might think that that kind of thing gets easier for a pastor over the years, but it doesn’t. It’s always agonizingly painful.

I don’t know what God’s will is for this young lady. I know that He can definitely heal her if He so chooses. But, He may not, for reasons we’ll never understand this side of Heaven.

But with that said, there’s one thing that I know for sure. Whether she lives another 3 weeks, or another 30 years, she will live again, with the Lord she loves throughout all eternity. And that, my friends, is the beauty of the gospel.

For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1