Your Best Life Now – Damnation Later

Seven million TV program viewers broadcasted across over 100 nations, 10.5 million weekly podcast downloads, 2.69 million Twitter followers, 7.1 million on Facebook, 55 million in book sales, a 16,000 seat church filled to max capacity(1). These are the statistics on Joel Osteen, alone, from 2015; one of the most prolific prosperity teachers in America. 

What is the prosperity gospel? It is a false gospel that says if you have enough faith, God will grant you health, wealth, and happiness. Often it uses the “name it, claim it” mantras that encourage envisioning your success – claim it in the name of Jesus, and you will receive it. Millions of people, across the globe, have been deceived by this hurtful and damning doctrine. Why is this doctrine deadly? Because it distorts the true Gospel, the Gospel that has the power to save. It emphasizes one’s own happiness and physical/material wellbeing over the wellbeing of their own soul. It says to someone that God can be used as a tool in their lives, instead of us being used by God for His glory. It says that we are basically good and God wants us to just be happy, instead of the truth – we are dead in our sins, bound for hell, and in need of a savior.

Sometimes I think to myself, “People know this already, why am I talking about this? This has been exposed, what’s the point of bringing attention to it- again.” But the numbers don’t lie. There are millions being deceived by just this one ministry, not even mentioning the hundreds of other HUGE ministries that propagate the same thing or a variation of it. 

So what other variations do we see? You can see subtler distortions of the true Gospel amongst equally popular ministries. Maybe they aren’t Joel Osteen, Kenneth Copeland, or Joyce Meyer. Maybe they are young, trendy, and talk about things that a younger generation cares about: fulfilling your potential, reaching your dreams, being true to yourself, becoming a better you, or even how to regularly experience the miraculous. They might allegorize a text instead of simply teaching what the text says. They may preach pseudo profundities that sound appealing at first, but are really just hyped up common sense – or even don’t make any sense upon further inspection. Their messages aren’t centered on the Gospel of Christ, instead the main thrust remains the same – self.

Often times the attributes of God aren’t preached, so we don’t know the true God. The messages are plucked from random scripture passages and contorted to support the topic of the pastor’s choosing; relegating the truth of scripture to a self-help reference guide. The scripture passages that are taught are taught in a way that glorifies man and man’s potential, instead of Jesus and His saving work. They teach us that the Bible is written about us, not about Jesus.

Why does this matter? What is the harm? The harm is the amount of people that believe they will be with God in heaven, who will actually spend an eternity in hell. The harm is those who wander into churches, looking for eternal hope, only to be bridled with burdens on how to make themselves better or how they lack the faith to make their wishes become reality. The harm is the fact that these teachings, ideas, and strategies are quietly seeping into the unsuspecting local church.

So what do we do? How do we protect ourselves, and our brothers and sisters, from these deadly doctrines? I don’t have all the answers, but I do have scripture – which does.

Know the Gospel

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 6:23)

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Romans 1:16)

The Gospel is this…

We are all naturally, spiritually dead. All of us. We all naturally hate God, our creator, and love our sin. Even in the midst of our love for sin, God sent his Son, Jesus, God in human flesh, to redeem His people. People that he foreknew before the foundations of the world. Jesus lived perfectly in obeying the commands of God, something as lovers of the darkness we could never do and have never done. Jesus was crucified and while on the cross, paid the full penalty of our sins – absorbing the wrath of God earned by us. After giving up His spirit to death, he was buried and raised to life again 3 days later, further proving his deity and his conquering of sin and death. By trusting and believing what Christ has done for us, we have Christ’s righteousness as our own and therefore can enjoy a right relationship with God. Additionally, when the Spirit regenerates His peoples’ hearts, upon hearing the Gospel of Christ, we are raised from death to life and are enabled to cherish and obey his commands – which are summed up in loving God with all your strength, mind and soul and loving your neighbor as yourself. We are preserved as believers and are sanctified by the Holy Spirit until the day we die or Jesus returns.

Read and know your Bible

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is trustworthy, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, bringing joy to the heart; the commandments of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true, being altogether righteous. They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb. By them indeed Your servant is warned; in keeping them is great reward. Who can discern his own errors? Cleanse me from my hidden faults. Keep Your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless and cleansed of great transgression. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.(Psalm 19:7-14)

You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Timothy 3:15-17)

Test everything against Scripture

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God. For many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1John 4:1)

Reject false teaching and false teachers

but test all things. Hold fast to what is good.(1Thessalonians 5:21)

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

Get involved in a local church that teaches the true Gospel

And let us consider how to spur one another on to love and good deeds. Let us not neglect meeting together, as some have made a habit, but let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Make disciples (and teach them how to be discerning)

You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.(2Timothy 2:2)

If you find yourself realizing that you have been a partaker of a false Gospel, repent and believe! The Gospel is an open invitation to all and without it, you are without eternal hope. No matter how good the false teaching sounds, how deep you are involved, or how confused you might feel, you have an opportunity to forsake it and grab hold of Christ. Don’t delay, for our lives are like a mist – here one moment and gone the next, but eternity is forever.

If you need help, email us. We can point you to resources that can aid you in growing in discernment, Bible study, and finding a solid local church. We have a dedicated resource page and you can also find Bible Study tips on this blog post.

We pray that you will believe the Gospel, grow up into maturity in Christ, and point others to Him. Stay on guard, brethren.

In Christ,

Michelle

  1. https://thewordonthewordoffaithinfoblog.com/2015/08/04/pastor-joel-osteen-by-the-numbers-and-statistics/



Knowing Truth: Bible Study Resources

In lieu of a blog post regarding our past week’s podcast – speaking the truth in love – I felt it was necessary to provide some helpful resources to first know what the truth is. If we don’t rightly understand the truth, there is no way we will be capable of speaking truth in love. If we don’t know the truth, our first priority should be understanding the truth that has been revealed to us, before speaking it to others. I’m not saying we must be the most knowledgeable before we can point others to the truth of the Gospel, but we should know the truth and the Gospel well enough to adequately discern what is true and what is false, and to say what the truth actually is. If we know His Word, we can know truth  (John 17:17)

That being said, below I have compiled some resources to help you in your study of God’s word. I pray this will encourage you and provide you with tools to dig deeper into God’s word to know Him and the salvation He has purchased for His people. 

Personally, I found combining these two methods to be really helpful, allowing you to get your feet wet in all of scripture and also becoming more intimately acquainted with passages or a couple verses.

Study Methods

Birds-eye view approach (broad lens, focusing on the overarching narrative of scripture)

General plan:

  • follow a “whole bible” reading plan at whatever pace is manageable for you
  • Read Old and New Testament each day
  • Make sure you begin at the start of a book, not somewhere in the middle
    • Read like you would any other book!


John MacArthur study method:

  • follow an “Old Testament in a year” plan
  • Read the New Testament, one epistle/Acts/gospel (or section of an epistle/Acts/gospel) every day, for 30 days
    • You’ll become very familiar with the text and maybe even memorize scripture along the way!
    • once the 30 days are up, continue onto the next section of the gospel/epistle or when you’re finished with it, pick another!


Christ Church has a Facebook group that reads the Bible every day together, with thousands of other women. Join their group and pick up wherever they are! Enjoy reading with women across the world! 


Inductive (a concentrated effort on smaller sections of scripture)

OIMA method:

  • Observation
    • Context (who wrote it, when was it written, where was it written, to whom was it written, why was it written)
    • Write out the basic information of the text. The “plain-Jane” information presented
      • Ex. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus, our Lord
        • Death is earned as a result of sin
        • Eternal life is a free gift of God
        • Eternal life comes through Jesus
        • Jesus is Lord
    • Make note of transition words (therefore, for, but, etc.) and what they are alluding to/referring to
    • Look up words, from the text, in a Bible dictionary 
    • Read the text in other reliable translations
    • Look up cross-references
    • Note the questions you may have about the passage
  • Interpretation
    • Paraphrase the passage
    • How does this point to Christ?
      • What shadow of the Gospel do you see?
      • Is there a Christ typology in the passage?
    • Check your paraphrase with a trustworthy commentary
    • Look up questions you still have about the passage, from trusted sources
    • Listen to a sermon/podcast or read articles on the passage or a concept in the passage, from trusted sources
  • Meditation
    • Journal a prayer to God
    • Pray the Word
  • Application (S.P.E.C.K)
    • Sin 
      • Is there a sin to avoid?
      • Is there a sin I need to repent of?
    • Promise
      • Is there a promise that applies to me?
    • Example
      • Is there an example to follow or not to follow?
    • Command
      • Is there a command to follow?
    • Know
      • What does this tell me about God and his character?
      • Scripture to memorize

Always remember to pray! Pray before you begin. If you are struggling in your study, pray! If you don’t want to study, pray! Pray thanksgiving to God for His Word and the Spirit to understand!


Jen Wilkin also has a great and thorough method of study. In her book “Women of the Word” she outlines this method. You can also find a quick reference guide for her “6 Principles for Solid Bible Study” here: https://static.crossway.org/excerpt/bookmark-women-of-the-word2.pdf


Below I have listed some reliable sites that have reference materials and resources you can use for both types of study!

Online Reference Sites

Bible Hub

https://biblehub.com/

Blue Letter Bible

www.blbclassic.org/index.cfm

E-Sword 

– A free, downloadable Bible Study Tool (iphone app available)

https://e-sword.net/

Trusted Ministries

Ligonier Ministries

https://www.ligonier.org/ (iphone app available)

Table Talk Magazine

  • a great resource if you need direction on what to study, with daily devotionals, reading plan, and related topical articles. Available online(for free) and in print(for an affordable subscription price, and free trial)

https://tabletalkmagazine.com/

Grace to You Ministries

https://www.gty.org/

GotQuestions

https://www.gotquestions.org/

This list is not exhaustive, but a great starting point and contain solid, trusted ministries.

If you know of some resources you think would be a great addition to this list, email/message us and we would love to share them here for others to utilize!

More than anything, I pray you see the absolute necessity, command, and blessing we have been given in studying God’s Word. He is a great God, the God of our salvation, and we can (and should) know Him through His Word. Thanks be to God for this gift!

In Christ,

Michelle

Read Your Bible…It’s Not That Hard

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Okay, so maybe reading the Word isn’t always as easy as we think it should be, but that doesn’t mean we get to neglect it. It is essential to our walk with Christ to be steeped in reading and study of scripture. Before we move forward, let’s take a peek at what the Bible says:

 

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

 

Colossians 3:16  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

 

1 Timothy 4:13 “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”

 

2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”

 

Job 23:12 “I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food.

 

Of course this isn’t an exhaustive list of what scripture says about the importance of reading the Bible, but I think the point is clear: we need to be in the Word. This may not come easy to us. In fact, I’m gonna say it’s going to be really difficult at times. Our sinful nature causes us to be rebellious and not want to obey the commands we are given (Eph.2:1-2). But if we are in Christ, then the Holy Spirit dwells within us to convict us of sin and enables us to be obedient (John 15:26). So, we are not alone in this effort and Praise God for that!

 

First off, we might need to adjust our perspective on how we see the Bible. The Bible isn’t about us. It’s about God. If we are approaching our time in the Word with a focus on ourselves then we are going to miss the point of it all. Yes, there is scripture for practical living (Proverbs…like all of them), but if we open our Bibles and then ask, “What is this saying about me?” then we are limiting what the Bible is really saying. Instead let’s ask, “What is this teaching me about God?”.

 

Second, we cannot let our feelings guide our study. I’m not saying that reading scripture should be a cold heartless act, but I am saying that we can’t be led solely by our emotions since our hearts are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). If we are constantly depending on the Bible to engage our feelings then we will easily skip over scriptures that may be difficult or confusing to us. Trying to maintain these feelings can be tricky and defeating as well. If your time reading the Bible doesn’t meet that emotional expectation then you will quickly be disheartened and you’ll be missing out on so much more. Mark 12:30 commands us to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let’s obey this command by also loving God with our minds! Let’s get our brains in on the game!

 

Bible literacy should be important to all of us. It isn’t only for teachers, preachers, and scholars. Being Bible literate will keep us from falling into error. We will grow in discernment and will be able to know when something that is being taught is harmful or incorrect. We will be able to defend our faith based upon the Word of God not our opinion, share the Gospel the way it’s intended to be shared, and obey the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) by discipling others rightly – in the Holy Scriptures.

 

Okay so how do we start? First, pray and ask God for help and guidance. Don’t skip this part. Then get out your Bible and read it. Do not flip to a random page and start reading wherever your finger lands. Pick a book of the Bible and begin reading it from the beginning. Read the major prophets, read the gospels, read the epistles, read Genesis all the way to Revelation. The Bible is literature so we can treat it as such. There are also many study methods that can be used – some simplified and some more complicated. Pray about which method you should try and maybe even read a book on how to study the Word (We love “Women of the Word” by Jen Wilkin). Join a bible study at your church. Encourage your group to actually study the Bible rather than a topical or subject study. Ask your pastor for help.

 

Reading the Word of God is a habit that all professing Christians should share. It will take effort and discipline, but it will be worth it.

 

“The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”

‭‭Psalm ‭19:7-11‬ ‭ESV

 

In Christ,

Betsy

 

You Look Hungry

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-tvdqd-bf1327

You’re looking hungry! Have a seat at the table to hear about the Word our souls can feast on. We discuss: What is the Bible? Why can we trust it? Do we really need to read it – how much, and how can we? This may seem elementary to some, but see the feast the Lord has given us in fresh light and renew your craving!

Make sure to listen to the end, as we announce a super amazing PRIZE! You don’t want to miss out on this!

Christ: Our Answer to Victimhood Mentality

This past week, Betsy and I researched the victimhood mentality that has grown to full bloom in our culture at large. We see it in our interactions throughout the day, when insignificant slights (purposeful or accidental) are taken as grandiose insults to our personal character or group in which we identify. In these slights, we often seek out the public to validate our “victimization.” We turn to social media or the immediate witnesses to our “crime” to engage in our piling on of sympathy and outrage. And we feel good about it, feeling as though our victimization has given us a special kind of righteousness. A righteousness that can stomp our oppressors into the dirt and lift us up as the victor. All while making a public spectacle. This mentality has even invaded the grounds of the local church body. We often consider our various “victim” status as a source of pride and/or righteousness, destroying the very relationships we are to nourish and seek to serve.

 

No matter if our victimhood is developed by a genuine victimization or just one of our own imagining, we can have hope in Christ. Praise the Lord.

 

This week we remembered that Christ offered Himself up as a sacrifice, laying His life down for the redemption of His people. In a sense, He was the only true “victim” that has ever walked the earth – because He was completely innocent, yet endured the just punishment for His people’s sins. However, he willingly laid his life down, out of love. Even more so, He was raised three days later, securing our victory over death and sin.

 

So how does this relate to the victimhood mentality of our day and age?

 

  1. We don’t need to fashion for ourselves “fig leaves” to cover our shame. Christ is our covering

 

In our search for righteousness, we attempt to procure our own in the form of victim righteousness. We stomp over others, at any and every mistake/slight that is in our direction, to lift ourselves up. But with Christ’s righteousness applied to our own guilt and shame – our offenses that were toward a holy, perfect, and good God – we can rest from our scrambling. We can lift others up to see the righteousness we have been given in Christ. A righteousness that we could never earn by our works or by our claim to victimization.

 

      2. We have hope in the victory of Christ

 

When we are truly victimized; whether by circumstances, evilness in the world, or our own sinful nature, we have an everlasting hope in Christ. We can rest knowing that our own wrongs won’t be punished on us for eternity, because if we are in Christ, our punishment has been absorbed by Him on the cross. We also know that whatever hurt we experience in this life, no matter how grand or painful, we will be glorified – wholly renewed in our mind and bodies. When we are resurrected to life with Him, we will have no tears, no sin, no hurts.

 

     3. We get to answer evil with love and justice

 

Because of Christ’s work on the cross, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit. He conforms us to Christ’s image. A character that doesn’t revile back, but sacrifices his life for his friends. When evil is done to us, we don’t have to worry if the government, the public, or ourselves can handle dealing just punishment. We know that God is sovereign and just. He is trustworthy and punishes all wickedness – either in the unrepentant sinner in eternity or for the repentant, on His Son. Because of this, we get to focus on showing His great love – to which we have been recipients.

 

So family, I entreat you to trust Him who judges rightly, and also who forgives our iniquities against Him. Run to Christ. Seek refuge in His work and His righteousness. Trust his justice and cover a multitude of sins in love, as He has done for you.

 

Blessings in Christ,

Michelle

 

The Rotten Fruit of Anger

As a woman, and as a Mom, one descriptor I never thought I would have for myself is angry. But anger is a sin that I battle, and sometimes let rule over me. And if I am to be really transparent, this battle occurs on a daily basis.

I wanted to write about how we have a culture of anger and how that produces angry people. But if I am to be wise in my understanding, I should look to scripture. And scripture says that it’s not what goes into a man, but what comes out of the man which defiles him (Mark 7:15). We don’t need any help being angry, because in our sin nature, we already are. We have an anger problem stemming from the heart. The very first sin we see, after Adam and Eve are exiled from Eden, is the murder of Abel. It’s no surprise that Scripture tells us if we have anger in our heart toward our brother that we are guilty of murder (1Jn. 3:15). 

Now, I can make a lot of legitimate excuses why I get angry: I’m tired, I have needy children, I deal with diagnosed anxiety, etc. However, if I am to really examine the reason why I am angry, it is not anything outside of my being – as we have seen scripture say already – it is because of sin. And that sin is pride. In my pride, I want things to be a certain way. I have a constant desire to control other people and situations. I want people to think a certain way of me. I want to feel a certain way about myself. All of these are rooted in pride and express themselves in anger. Sometimes it’s bubbling under the surface anger, which looks like being snippy or short with my children and husband. Other times it’s flying off the handle, can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t speak without yelling kind of anger. All of it sinful. None of it glorifying to God. 

We know that anger is a secondary emotion (thank you brief, but valuable, masters level counseling courses) that is not only played out in us, but God as well. God shows His wrath as a secondary characteristic to His holiness. This to say, that God is not characterized by His wrath, but by His holiness, and a holy God must take action against sin and evil. This action against sin and evil is His righteous, and just, wrath. 

How I could ever justify my anger as being righteous (in how I daily display it) is laughable. Showing anger toward my children, husband, or whomever has the pleasure of crossing my path, is not displaying righteous anger. What it is displaying is how little I consider the holiness of God. How little I consider the penalty that Jesus willingly paid for my sinful anger.

Do you know how much I really deserve to be angry? Zero. Why? Because nothing that is done to me, or that inconveniences me, or that makes me anxious, is against an innocent me. It is right to be angry about injustice. It is right to be angry about evil in the world. It is not right to be angry about an offense toward myself. I am not an innocent party. I am guilty before God. Even in my grumbling, I grumble against God – not man. 

However, do you know who was innocent? Jesus. Jesus was completely innocent and yet declared guilty. He took on my guilt before a holy God and He imputed his righteousness to me. He didn’t revile back when he was reviled by sinners who sought to murder Him (1Peter 2:23). Father God was pleased to crush Jesus as a perfect sacrifice for sin – because He became sin for us (Is 53:10). 

You see, the person who should have been angry – and rightfully so – was Jesus. He should’ve been angry toward the people who betrayed Him, the disciples who abandoned Him, the people who wrongfully accused Him and tortured Him. He was the only innocent person who ever walked the Earth. And yet, the only anger we see from Him, is anger at sin against God and its effects on people. Not against the wrong done to Him while on Earth. Can you see the difference? I hope so.

We have no right to be angry. We aren’t innocent. We are deserving of God’s righteous wrath toward us for our sin against Him. Not only that, if you are a believer, you are acquitted from your guilt before God. How can we, who have been forgiven of so much, not dispel our anger for relatively minor offenses?  And if you see this reality, but still struggle with the sin of anger, we can know that we have been gifted with the Holy Spirit. Jesus paid the penalty for our sin, and also secured our sanctification by the Spirit’s work in us (Phil. 1:6). 

Through His work, we can have the fruit of the Spirit bearing in our lives – which is so very contrary to anger: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal 5:22-23). In Him we get to be transformed into Christ’s likeness. And we already saw how glorious He was in response to the wrong done to Him. 

We, angry folk, have hope. I pray for you and for me, that we would admit our guilt before God – that we have been wrongfully angry. That we try to protect our pride by being angry toward others. That we would be so thankful for the penalty that was due us, for the innumerous sins against God (including anger) that we have committed, but is now washed away by the blood of Christ. That we would thank God for holding His wrath and letting it build up, only to spare us and pour it out on His innocent Son. I pray that we would trust the Spirit’s work in sanctification and respond in a new fervor for killing our sinful anger. I pray all this for you and I, in Jesus’ great and wonderful name. 

Blessings in Christ,

Michelle