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If you have been following along with this series, you have by now realized that the Sermon on the Mount is about more than following a list of do’s and don’ts. Oh, it could be understood and taught that way, but Jesus is after more than checklist obedience. He came to save that which was lost, to build His church, and to commission disciples. He intends to lead us, make us, and use us to make others.

Such a life requires more than passive or casual compliance. Disciples are disciplined, focused on the mission, and focused on one Master.

The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness! No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Matthew 6:22-24

Every once in a while, the translators get it wrong. Here in the NKJV, they have translated the Greek word haplous as “good”. Haplous is not translated as “good” anywhere else in the New Testament. It seems they chose “good” as the opposite of “bad”. This is understandable, but it does not do justice to the meaning of this saying.

The primary meaning of haplous is “simple” or “single”. The KJV uses “single”. On the surface, it does not make sense that the opposite of bad is single. However, it makes perfect sense in the context of the verse that follows (i.e., no one can serve two masters).

Jesus chose His words carefully. An eye that is not singularly focused is bad. Therefore, we can understand this passage to be saying, “If your eye is not singularly focused, your whole body will be full of darkness.” Read the rest of this entry »

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie… 2Thessalonians 2:9-11

If I were writing a longer article, I might argue that the Restrainer of verse seven is being removed (i.e., gradually, not in a future event). I might even argue that one cannot fall away from something if he is not already a viable part of that something. These are all subjects unto themselves, and possible distractions from the primary matter of this article.

Deception will overcome those who have not received a love of the truth, and it will do so WITH GOD’S HELP. Furthermore, that deception will prevent those poor individuals from being saved. There is no other way to interpret this passage. I am trying to avoid the “once saved, always saved” argument. Let’s not go there, except to admit that it is better to be safe than eternally sorry.

Okay, so let’s focus on “they did not receive the love of the truth” as THE way to avoid deception. Consider:

  1. The direct articles are important. There is a “the love” and a “the truth”. There is not a variety of loves, nor a variety of truths.
  2. The “love” is agapē, the same love that God has toward the world. It is a sacrificial love. The love with which we are to love the LORD with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength.
  3. The “truth” is alētheia, what is true in any matter of consideration. It is reality with a big “R”. And it is what Jesus called Himself.
  4. To “receive” suggests something has been offered. That gift is the sacrificial love for Christ and His Reality. Sacrificial love cannot be created by man, nor imposed on another. It must be discovered and received, personally.

Therefore, THE way to avoid deception is to personally receive the sacrificial love for Christ and His Reality. This requires our willing sacrifice for Jesus Christ and the Gospel (Mark 8:35), an ongoing “deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23).” Receiving is not without condition; there must be a willingness for the sacrifices inherent in the gift. Read the rest of this entry »

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. Matthew 10:24-25

Previously, we suggested there are two simple questions any Christian can use to assess their obedience to Christ and the effectiveness of their ministry:

  1. Who is discipling you?
  2. Who are you discipling?

The article seemed particularly challenging (I am only the pen); and more so for the shepherds of God’s people – pastors, preachers, teachers, etc. Being a member of this group, I was reminded: These two questions should be answerable by every Christian in every sphere of influence we have been given responsibility for as leaders.

A dear friend – and the man God has assigned to disciple me for the last 12-15 years – shared a perspective that may prove to be even more challenging. You may not like what you read. It may even offend some of you.

Generally, it’s best not to say such things at the beginning of an article. We are swimming against the current here simply because we do not want you surprised and distracted. This way, we can simply say it without a bunch of dancing around. I trust you will consider the truthfulness of it, and apply all that is worthwhile.

“Disciple Making Works”

That’s what my friend said, “Disciple making works.” He didn’t mean what I thought he meant. He went on to explain (this is the way I heard it), “Every leader is discipling everyone they lead into some understanding; and into the life that understanding prescribes. They are doing this whether they intend to, or not.

“We are either making disciples into some understanding about Christ and His Church, OR, we are making disciples to Jesus Christ Himself that He might make them as He is Himself. And it always works.” Read the rest of this entry »

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