Bad Quotes Christians Like- Preach the Gospel and When Necessary Use Words

Christians love to post quotes of Facebook and Twitter, I am one of them. We hear a quote and think “the world needs to hear this!” The problem however is sometimes the quotes Christians use are not theologically or biblically sound. The sounds like great words of wisdom, but in reality there is little truth in what is being quoted. I did a blog series on some of the Bible’s most misquoted Bible verses, and I got over 700 hits on those blogs. I did not do it to make anyone feel bad, but to inform them and show them what I saw the power of those verses were. My intent with going through these quotes is to look at them and see if they are biblically accurate.

“Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words”

Context:

This quoted is credited by most people to St. Francis of Assisi, Founder of the Franciscan Order. The quote is essentially saying live you life in such a way that it just screams out Jesus. The truth of the matter is we have no way in proving St. Francis actually ever said this. None of disciples, early, or late biographers have this written down from his sayings. It also is not found anywhere in any of his personal writings. So when people quote St. Francis with this, they are flat-out wrong. There is zero historical evidence to support that St. Francis ever said this. The closest he came to saying anything like this would be:

“No brother should preach contrary to the form and regulations of the holy Church nor unless he has been permitted by his minister . . All the Friars should preach by their deeds.”

Simply put, practice what you preach. If you look at his disciples, biographers, and his writings the credited quote to him is in no way how he lived his life. This quote does not line up in any way in the thinking and theology of St. Francis. So the first thing we must realize is St. Francis never said this to our knowledge.

Why it is wrong:

1. The quote is wrong for many reasons, one way is that it spews arrogance. I live my life in such a way that people see Christ through my actions. Now, I do believe we should live worthy of the calling we have received as Paul put it in Ephesians. We must remember though that our righteous works are like filthy rags.

2. It can be used as a cop-out sadly. People will use this justify not evangelizing. That the way they live tells people about Jesus. This simply not what the Bible teaches.

3. If someone has not idea who Jesus, how will they gather who he is just by how you live your life? Duane Liftin said it best:

“It’s simply impossible to preach the Gospel without words. The Gospel is inherently verbal, and preaching the Gospel is inherently verbal behavior.”

Also, Paul has a good word in Romans 10:14;

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”

4. Romans 10:17 “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Simple enough.

5. The gospel is the declaration of something that actually happened. That is why Jesus commanded us to go to the nations and tell them. He did not command us to go live among them in a holy way, and let our actions preach. And since the gospel is the saving work of Jesus, it isn’t something we can do, but it is something we must announce. We do live out its implications, but if we are to make the gospel known, we will do so through words. I can appreciate the heart and intent of why people post that quote, but let us not live our lives that way. Let the Gospel come out of our mouths truthfully and constantly. (credit Ed Stetzer to much of this point)

The gospel requires, demands even, words. So, let’s preach the gospel, and let’s use words, since they’re necessary. May they be clear and bold words that call those inside and outside the church to follow Jesus. I’ll leave you with this quote from Mark Galli:

“”Preach the gospel; use words if necessary” goes hand in hand with a postmodern assumption that words are finally empty of meaning. It subtly denigrates the high value that the prophets, Jesus, and Paul put on preaching. Of course, we want our actions to match our words as much as possible. But the gospel is a message, news about an event and a person upon which the history of the planet turns.”

4 Biblical Foundations and 4 Cultural Implications- Dr. Platt

4 Biblical Foundations:

1. God creates us as a demonstration of His glory (Genesis 1:26-31)

-Genesis one is a glorious tribute to God as creator

-When He speaks, things happen

-All creation came to be because God said.

-Days 1-5 were good, he says day 6 (the day man was created) was very good.

-Man created in the spitting image of God

Lot’s of great points here, and we see that God longs for fellowship with man and to know man. We see God’s ultimate power and the only proper response is awe. How dare we think we know better and can do things better than a holy God.

2. God designs us for the display of His Gospel (Genesis 2:18-25)

-Man and woman were created with equal dignity but with different roles.

-First time God said something was not good was when Adam was alone, he made someone to compliment him.

-Woman was made for man, plain and simple. To compliment him

-This is not male domination

-Woman is defined as the “helper” which is a significant role.

-Man and woman is purposeful, it shows the Gospel in how Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5)

Man and woman were made for each other and designed that way. To multiply and to show love to one another. What shows the love of Christ more beautifully than a husband laying down his life for the church? Or the woman helping the man as we are servants of the Gospel? We are equals, but are roles are clearly defined and display God’s glory. Words like submission are thrown around abused, and used incorrectly. In the proper context remember, Jesus submitted to God and that was a good thing

3.God judges us by his righteous law (Genesis 3)

-The assumption that what God says is subject to human judgment is ludicrous.

-God seeks the guilty

-On the worst day in all the world, He gave the greatest news (Genesis 3:15)

Adam, our federal head, sinned and allowed sin into the world. Thus, we were all made slaved to sin at conception (Psalm 51:5) and destined to death (Romans 5:12). God judges righteously and justly, but he still sought us out liked a father does His son and makes us united with Him again (Romans 5:19).

4. God Pursues us with His redeeming love

-Consider the ramifications of this truth applied in our culture today.

Who are we pursuing? What a wonderful display for us to show God by pursuing lost people, like God pursued us. I posed a question Sunday that if God answered all your prayers from the previous week, maybe the month, or the whole year how many people would have come to faith through Jesus? God pursues us let us apply that to our culture.

4 Cultural Implications

1. We fight abortion as an assault on God’s creation and affront to God’s glory.

-We fight abortion as an assault on God’s creation and affront to God’s glory.

-1 million babies aborted in the US every year

-That is a modern day holocaust but worse

-He alone has power to give and take life, no one else.

-Psalm 139

-If the person in the womb is a person than Christian’s in no way can ever support it

-You cannot believe the Word of God and stay silent on abortion

Great points here on abortion. If we believe the Scriptures of our Sovereign God then there is no middle ground. There is absolutely no way we can condone and ever say that is okay to abort as believers. That is the destruction of God’s creation.
2. We flee sexual immortality in our lives.

-Run from it!

-All kinds. Homosexuality, pornography, adultery, etc

-We defend what God set up for His glory

-God designed what he did sexually for a reason, for the display of the gospel in the context of marriage.

-Selective moral outrage in culture is wrong. Heterosexual sin is wrong, doesn’t change because you are in the majority.

-Heterosexual and Homosexual alike, we all have sexual sin and are in need of salvation from a holy and loving God.

Great, just great message here. Sexual sin is rampant in the world today. While homosexuals are a part of that so are heterosexuals. Just because our sin is in the majority doesn’t mean we just point out the sin of the minority. We must flee sexual temptation. We must pursue purity.
3. We work for justice in the world as we speak about the Judge of the world.

-Justice is important to God so it should be important to us too

-We have lost sight of God due to lack of social ministry

-Surely the greatest social injustice in our day is that 6,000 people groups have yet to hear of the redeeming love of God
4. We must give our lives and lead our churches to pursue people still unreached by God’s redeeming love

-We seek people like God sought us

-We do not show God by sitting in the confines of our churches and comfortable homes, but by pursuing people like He did.

Other Quotes

“Let our belief be consistent, and our proclamation be constant”

“Our selective justice is injustice”

“Followers of God must defend marriage as passionately as we fight poverty and human trafficking”

“We don’t have an option of what battles we will fight, and which one’s we will sit out.”

“Sin makes us centered on ourselves rather than those in need, and the God we most need

Follow Me: 4 Common Threads in Following Jesus

I just sat down and watched Dr. David Platt’s “Follow Me” simulcast which was filmed last week in the Middle East. He gathered with brothers and sisters in a small room and presented a powerful message. I took down some notes and wanted to share with you what I got out of it, and what it means to biblically follow Jesus.

“Nominal Christianity is not Christianity” – David Platt

“To be called by Christ is to be commissioned by Christ” -Pastor Platt

Jesus uses the phrase “Follow me” 6 different times in the book of Matthew. He says it in:

-Matthew 4:18-22

-Matthew 8:18-22

-Matthew 9:9-13

-Matthew 10:34-39

-Matthew 16:24-28

-Matthew 19:16-30

I encourage to read all these passages to get a greater understanding of the points.

Through these passages we can see 4 common threads when it comes to following Jesus.

1. Merciful Invitation 

This invitation is for ALL people. Jesus here went to the poor, fishermen, tax collectors, and rich people. This is a great gospel truth that Jesus is available for all people, and all people groups. Unfortunately though, 6,000 people groups have no access to the gospel and anyone to tell them. They will live their life and die and never hear the name of Jesus. In Northern Yemen for example, there are 8 million people but only 20-30 Christians. Friends the gospel is urgent.

Also, we see from this the disciples did not come to Jesus but Jesus came to them. In face in the instances where the people went to Jesus they did not come to be disciples. Jesus did not call them though because of what they brought to the table, because like us they brought nothing. He chose them because he wanted to use them. We do not pursue Jesus, Jesus pursues us. Jesus went to the tax collector! The invitation starts with him and not us, and that is important. He mercifully invites us to join him.

2. Purposeful Invitation 

The purpose of following Christ is of the utmost importance. I think of men like Jim Elliot who sacrificially laid down his life so the Huaorani people of Ecuador could know Christ. When we follow Christ and join on making disciples we see people walk from death into life. What greater purpose could we have with our lives than join the commission of Christ into the ends of the world? Not only that but making disciples who disciples. My prayer is that in 500 years no on knows my name, but there are people around who were impacted by chain of people I was able to impact.

Our life is not meant to say a prayer inviting Jesus into our heart and living a comfortable life. Where is the purpose in that? What kind of example are we being by doing that? No, the purpose is to live a life that looks different to the lost, that looks biblical.

3. Costly Invitation

Following Christ is without a doubt associated with cost. It will cost you comfort, security, friends, family, safety, and perhaps your life. We see in the cases of Matthew 8 & 19 that to these men it was not worth the cost. Is it worth it to you? Following Christ is not a prayer of asking him into your heart, biblically this is simply not true. It means you will lose things, and is that worth it to you. I think so many times we invite people to know Christ without telling them the cost. Think of Matthew 10:16, ““Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves….” 10/10 times those sheep are going to die they are defenseless, dumb, and slow. Following Christ means walking amongst persecution. In face in Matthew 10 it does not say “if” you are persecuted but “when.” We must learn to expect. embrace, and experience that for biblically following Christ.

When we surrender to Christ however we are no longer worried about safety because it is no longer or priority and self is no longer our god, but Christ is. We’re in far greater danger of being safe than living recklessly for the Gospel to all people.

“The cost of discipleship is great, but the cost of non-discipleship is greater.”

4. Rewarding Invitation

Lastly, along with the other three invitations we see this as a rewarding invitation as well. It is in fact it is far more rewarding than it is costly. Look at what it says in Matthew 19:27-30, ”

27 Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?”

28 Jesus replied, “I assure you that when the world is made new[a] and the Son of Man[b] sits upon his glorious throne, you who have been my followers will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then.”

The reward for making disciples is great, and  following Christ is great and is a life worth living. Doing so we live a life that biblically says that Jesus is ruler in my life. Though it will cost us things and persecution with be knocking at the door we have an eternal reward. On earth we will find happiness, peace, joy and fulfillment.

So what will you and I do? For the 6,000 people groups with no access to the gospel? To the 4.5 billion people in the world on a path towards hell. Pursue people as Christ pursued you and I, what beautiful symbolism. Christ tells us to make disciples, let us do that then for the glory of God!

Misused Bible Verses: Philippians 4:13

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“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

You have seen on athlete’s eye black, in speeches, and you yourself (like I) have probably used this verses. I have even seen it painted on the side of a Christians school basketball court. It is a verse that is very popular and probably seen in a lot of homes, and used when faced with adversity. I want to be clear that this is a great verse and a powerful verse when applied in the proper context.

Let us imagine there are two christian quarterbacks playing against one another in a game. Both of them are clinging to this verse during the game. They are telling their teammates remember we can do all thing through Christ who gives us strength. They play hard and leave it all on the field, but when the game is over there will be a victor and there will be a loser. The winner will go home thinking, man that was awesome! God really gave me the strength to win the game and proved himself. While the loser is thinking,  where was God tonight? Why did he let me down? These are the dangers of taking scripture of the context it was written (and inspired by God) to fit into our lives. It leaves people empty and doubting which is never a good combination. Is this how Paul meant this verse to be applied?

I am moving this weekend and all though I am excited about the move the actual moving stuff is less than enjoyable. Let’s say I am carrying a box in the house that should take people should I seriously think, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!? Because I will probably drop the box breaking items, does that then make me or my God weak? Or maybe God did not give me the strength, but I mean it does say all things. Though this illustration is not perfect it is an example of how the verse is often used, and it cannot be how the Apostle Paul meant it when he wrote it.  When we take Scripture out of context and use the Bible to fit our lives we will walk away in defeat.

So that makes us ask the question, what does Paul mean here in verse 13? How can we apply this to our lives today? What strength is he talking about? What does “all things” even mean? Let’s take a look because I believe this is something we all need to understand better.

This verse comes from the book of Philippians and was written by Paul to the Church at Philippi. Paul was under house arrest in Rome when it was written and his future was uncertain. This was the first church he started in Greece and the church was faithful in praying for and supporting Paul in his mission trips. This was a letter of update, encouragement, and exhortation. He speaks on unity, sacrificing, and joy in Christ. Joy and rejoice are used no less than sixteen times in the who letter. It is a great book and one of my favorites.

Joy in Christ, this is something that the church here had struggled with. They loved the Lord but put a lot on their on shoulders in living the Christian life. Do we not do the same today? Christianity is a team sport my friends, do it alone and you will fail. We try to do to much and leave our cup dry. Because of their actions they worried, they got aggravated, and even upset with one another. We worry about how we  will pay the next bill (I am very guilty of this one), what we are to do with our lives, and a plethora of other things. These worries throw up walls in our faith and show a lack of trust. Living by faith is hard, but it is what is commanded of us. When we trust in that though our lives I believe our lives make more sense and we find joy. We also can rest in the fact of another great verse in Philippians 4 looking at verse 19:

God will meet all of your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”

This was a word for the church at Philippi, stop worrying! Something we need to listen to and to apply today. Look at Peter for example and the time he walked on water (Matthew 14: 22-31) there is a great take away from that. If we spend more time fearing what is around us (wind/waves) instead of keeping our eyes on Christ, we are bound to find ourselves sinking fast.

So what is this verse about to the church at Philippi? Contentment. Let’s look at the verses before verse 13:

10″ I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want.”

Paul uses an example of receiving gifts from the church to teach the church, no matter what your situation is in life, be content. No matter if you are rich, poor, hungry, or hurt be content. Here is where verse 13 comes into play, our ability to be content through struggles/hard times rest in this: I can do everything through him who gives me strength. “I have learned to be content in any and every situation because God is the One who is giving me the spiritual strength to be content.”

We can rest in the truth that we can trust Christ to provide for us in all things. He is provider and we can rest in him! We will be less grouch, more optimistic, and focused on telling people about Jesus. Our lives will be better not matter our situation. It is not about scoring touchdowns, or getting an A test. This verse is about having strength to be content with no matter what life throws at you. This about having faith in God who proves, a sovereign God who is in control of everything that happens to us, a God who knows our needs and has promised to fulfill them through Christ!

Paul had struggles my friends, remember the “thorn” in his life. Something that God allowed to teach paul as we read in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This shows us what Paul is trying to tell the Philippians. God provides the strength and power to be content when life is not what we want or expect it to be; he gives us the grace to stand through and to overcome. Also, there is something about being weak that gave God’s power an opportunity to be on display, and in the end this brought God glory. This should be the chief aim of our lives, bring God glory!

So yes, this is a very powerful verse when applied correctly. That we be content and find our strength in Christ to endure all things, because he does give us strength. When we apply that and rely on him for contentment God is glorifies, and his strength is  and on display.

Misused Bible Verses: Romans 8:28

romans828

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28

God is good all the time, all the time God is good. If you have been involved in the church for any length of time you may have heard that saying. To say God is good says that within the heart of God he is morally excellent and kind. His heart is true, his love is pure, and his kindness is seen in the goodness and mercy that he gives in abundance. This is how King David puts it in Psalm 23:

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” Psalm 23:6

How about in the difficult times though? Looking at this verse out of context can make it seem that God has lied, or failed his promise. When tragedy strikes where where is the good? Where is the goodness when we suffer? What does this promise mean? “When the doctor has called and the cancer has returned, is it true the all things work together for good? When you lose your job,  is it true the all things work together for good? When you lose your marriage,  is it true the all things work together for good? Where do you find the good when the doctor says there is nothing more I can do bur maker her comfortable?” To many people Romans 8:28 at times can seem like and unkept promise, or lie. This is why we have to be careful how we uses verses. Out of context can mislead and let down other people. Let’s examine this verse as Paul wrote it as inspired by God himself.

So what is this verse not saying that people may misuse it as? People can use it to say only good things will happen to us. Or we can misunderstand what good is, like this story:

When I was in high school, I had a friend that I really looked up to. Greg was bright, talented, and most importantly he deeply loved the Lord Jesus. Unlike some of our other Christian friends, Greg was going somewhere for God. If anyone had a promising life of ministry ahead of him, surely it was Greg.

Early one Friday evening in the spring of my junior year, the phone rang. Greg had just had a freak accident. He was in a great deal of pain, and the doctors were not sure if he would pull through. I remember like it was yesterday staying up all night, sitting on the hospital floor, praying, numbly, staring at the “intensive care” sign that stood between me and Greg. I prayed for healing, and I had strong faith that God would answer. It never occurred to me that His answer might be “no.” It was. A few days later Greg entered the presence of Jesus.

Greg’s father was not a Christian, and he was understandably a broken man. Many of us who were Christians had opportunity to share with him. I will never forget when one of my brothers in Christ said to Greg’s dad, “You know, the Bible says all things work together for good.” His reaction was both understandable and predictable. He was angry and bitter, not only at Greg’s death, but at the sheer audacity of someone apparently labeling his son’s tragic death as “good!”’

It is also not saying that every event is a good event. I have torn my ACL three different times, is that good? I tell you it was not fun. But God used events to make “All things” work together for good. There have been opportunities because of these surgeries to share with others, and teach me things and that is where the good is found. So what does the verse mean?

First, we need to understand who Paul is talking to in this scripture. Paul has just given the idea that believers in Christ are set to receive an inheritance from God and bound for glory, that will put suffering into perspective. Paul even says that the sufferings we experience in life are nothing compared to the future glory that awaits us as believers. The bible says we groan inwardly, all creation does, when we will be taken from the fallen flesh and Christ returns. Until then we rest in the Holy Spirit who is our Helper to get through the day to days, to intercede when we do not know how. We don’t know all the answers, and we don’t know why things happen. We do not know how to interpret our daily struggles, or how to pray about things due to human limitations and weakness, but this we do know:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28

See the difference? We do not know much but we do know is all things work together for good. So whom is this for? Is it for everyone? No, this is set aside for those who have placed their faith in Christ, and love God. Not everyone can claim this verse because we are not all believers. Christians, be so very careful when using this verse to a friend who is not a believer.  It may sound harsh, but this promise is not for them but those who love God, that is those who are called according to his purpose. Let us remember that.

Now what does it mean for all things to work together for good? We may be tempted today to use good the way we as Americans see it. Health, success,wealth, and an easy life; the American dream. If that is true then that seems like God has failed those who love him in many cases. Because as believers we do not all experience these things, Paul certainly did not as a believer. We experience tragedy, we lose people we love, people get cancer, we lose jobs, and children get hurt. If Christians never experienced this would everyone not be one anyways. Here is the key, what does verse 29 say?

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to image of the Son”

That is it! The ultimate goal, what that good is, is making us like Jesus. Throwaway what we us as good, in materialistic terms, and view it in how God intends it. Our definition of good in this should literally be understood as we are being made to look like Jesus.

In this way all the things that happen in our life have a purpose as christians, to be more like Jesus. To bring God glory, spreading the proclamation of His kingdom, filling us with his love and making us holy. God allows great things and tragedies to occur for his sovereign purpose, which includes changing us.

“The most dramatic example of this is found at the cross of Christ. Here is where Satan, the Evil One, though he had won, but God had purposely woven together the actions of sinful men into something that was for our great good (salvation).” Acts 4 shows us this very well. Peter and John are banned to preach or teach the name of Jesus and threatened not to do so. This is what they pray out loud after that meeting:

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

This is the beautiful mystery we need to come to understand. Bad things happen, and they don’t happen to good people because there are no good people, but they do happen. However God works it for good. He had the plan for Jesus back at creation. That he would go to the cross, but with a purpose and it was in God’s sovereign purpose, to defeat the enemy and make a way for us to be united with God again. So that we the ones that would be  “called according to his purpose,” might receive the ultimate good. Salvation in Christ.

So let us remember, no matter what is happening in life it does not take God by surprise and he is working through it. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on into completion” (Philippians 1:6). When the worst things happen to Christians it is for the greater good of bringing glory to God and making him known. Read the Bible, read about martyrs. Bad things happened to these men and women, but it was for good and God is and will be glorified through them.

Jim Elliot is the prime example. He went to Ecuador to be a missionary to a hostile tribe of warriors. Jim lost his life, and some other men when attempting to share the love of God. Months of work ended quickly with a spear from the warriors into these men. Where is the good in that? Later after the tragedy Jim’s wife Elizabeth got to go to the tribe and minister. They heard, and responded to the truth of Christ. Yes, Jim died but his example of not killing the warriors with his gun led them to ask questions and opened the door for his wife. The tribe converted and God was glorified. I encourage to look up Jim’s story and read it.

To us dying young does not seem good, but it was good in this case for the ultimate purpose of making God known. God does work all things for our good, but maybe not the man-made form of what we see as good today.  He works for the good of advancing the kingdom, and the glorification of his name. We may not see it until we are in glory and His work in us is completed but we can trust that is what he is doing. Let us be careful how we use this verse and strive to understand its true beauty. As Christians he is working it all out for us, but in ways we may not yet see or understand. When we suffer, we suffer for his name and glory and that is good.

Do not misunderstand me, God does do good things for us and blesses us. When the storms come we must realize He has not left. When tragedy occurs we must not ask why he failed. If God is sovereign it means He is in complete control. Nothing can happen without his permission. I imagine God holding back 99.99% of all the bad than can happen to me, and He allows .01% to happen. Why? To teach, stretch, and grow me. To teach me to run to Him, and see more of who He is and rely on that. All of it is for my good. Just like it was for the disciples, and many martyrs. As christians our lives will be marked with suffering of sorts, rest in the fact that God in the end will work that for the good. And what ever we do suffer here is temporary and short, and the glory we will experience will be better than good.