Take Up The Bible: Mormonism Compared To Scripture

Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.

Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol 16, p. 46

Brigham Young, in this quote from the Journal of Discourses, shows that he had confidence in LDS doctrine’s consistency with the teachings of the Bible. He suggested that those who may be doubtful of his teachings look to the Bible itself and see if they are true. So… that’s exactly what we’ll do.

GOD

The Latter Day Saints:

  • God is an exalted man:

    “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens.” – Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, pg. 3

  • God is one of many gods:

    “I wish to declare I have always and in all congregations when I have preached on the subject of the Deity, it has been the plurality of Gods.” – Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, pg. 474

The Bible:

  • There is only one God:

    “…before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” – Isaiah 43:10, KJV

    “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.'” – Isaiah 44:6, KJV

     

  • God is not an exalted man, but the uncreated Creator of mankind:

    God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” – Numbers 23:19, KJV

    “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” – Genesis 1:27, KJV

JESUS

The Latter Day Saints:

  • Jesus was created:

    “These attributes are personified and called God: these had no beginning, while His person did have a beginning… the fulness of Truth, existed for endless ages before His person was formed.” – Orson Pratt, The Seer, pg. 131

  • Jesus was conceived by intercourse between God and Mary, not by the Holy Ghost:“The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood—was begotten of his Father, as we were of our fathers.” – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, pg. 115


    “When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness [flesh and blood]. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost.” – Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, pg. 50

The Bible:

  • Jesus was not created, but is the eternal Creator of all things:

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” – John 1:1-3, KJV

     

  • Jesus was conceived miraculously of the Holy Ghost, not through natural intercourse:“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” – Luke 1:35, KJV

    “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” – Matthew 1:18, KJV

SALVATION

The Latter Day Saints:

  • Saved by grace only after one has justified himself with works:

    “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” – 2 Nephi 25:23

    “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” – Article of Faith #3

The Bible:

  • Saved by grace alone through faith alone, not by works:

    “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:9-10, KJV

    “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” – Galatians 2:16, KJV

    Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” – Titus 3:5, KJV

    “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” – John 6:28-29, KJV

It is clear that the doctrine of the Latter Day Saints does not stand when tested against the measure of scripture. It teaches a different God, a different Christ, and an altogether different gospel.

Scripture says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God… all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10-12, 23). Isaiah says, “All of our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

Therefore, there are no works that can get us any closer to the Father. Rather, as Christ said, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:28-29). When Christ died on the cross, He took our sins upon Himself (1 Peter 2:24), and when we believe in Christ, His righteousness is given to us (Romans 3-5). It is Christ’s works, and not our own, that justify those who have faith in His life, death, and resurrection. This is the true gospel.

The Scriptures warn us against false gospels, saying that belief in an untrue gospel cannot save (Galatians 1:6-9). Seeing that LDS doctrines do not line up with Scripture, this means that the Mormon gospel cannot save. Therefore, if you are part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I plead with you to put your trust in the true biblical gospel and be saved. If you would like to discuss this further, I would absolutely love to talk with you at bereanworldview1711@gmail.com

If you are a Christian who believes the true biblical gospel, I exhort you to help me plead with those in the LDS church to turn to the true Christ. This is not simply a different denomination, but a false church whose doctrines have no power to save. If you know anyone who is part of this church, their eternity is on the line. Where they spend eternity may depend on your willingness to have this tough conversation.

Jesus is Lord

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.

Romans 10:9-10

“Will you accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior of your life?”

At just about the same rate as children are born in the United States, an evangelical pastor asks this question. It is asked so much, one would assume that accepting Christ’s invitation to become one’s personal authority is a common subject of the Bible. But to the surprise of the person who assumes such, these words are nowhere to be found within the pages of scripture. This should be of great concern to the Christian who has confidently uttered this phrase. If this is not the case, then the common belief that a simple confession of Christ as personal Lord does not suffice as a proper interpretation of that which Paul instructs in Romans 10. In contrast to this popular understanding, scripture teaches that the lordship of Christ is all-encompassing rather than merely personal. Instead of mere inward subjection to one’s conception of Christ, true faith confesses holistic lordship.

The Meaning of Lordship

In order to properly understand the soul-saving confession of Romans 10, one must first come to a proper definition of the word, ‘Lord’. The Greek word that Paul uses is kurios. While it can be used to refer to a slave-master, or simply as a formal title for a man (similar to ‘mister’ or ‘sir’), these are not primarily the ways in which the word is used in the case of Christ. Rather, in Paul’s context, there are two uses of the word which are most applicable to Christ, and helpful in understanding the meaning of this text. First, the word was used as a title for the emperor of Rome, and bore both a political and divine connotation. The definition of the word in this sense would be something along the lines of, “the highest authority” or “king of kings”. If you think that sounds a bit worship-y, then you get the idea. The confession that Caesar is Lord essentially meant, “Caesar is god, the highest authority over all.” This confession was at certain points compulsory to citizens of the Roman Empire, and was therefore a point of great conflict between Christians in the Roman Empire during the first and second centuries. This conflict was because Christians could only with good conscience attribute divinity and complete authority to one man: Jesus of Nazareth. It is no doubt that Paul, when he wrote his epistle to the Romans, was well aware of the Roman confession. Therefore, he also knew very well the corollary of the statement that Christ is Lord; Caesar is not Lord. But this is exactly what he intended to communicate. This salvific confession of faith is the proclamation that we are members of a royal priesthood, belonging not to the Empire of Rome or the United States of America, but rather to the Kingdom of God. It is a confession of complete submission, not to Caesar, but to God.

The second important use of this word is found in the Greek version of the Bible which Paul used, called the Septuagint. In the Septuagint, the Hebrew word adonai, which means ‘lord’, is translated to its Greek equivalent, kurios. More significantly, in order to show reverence for the proper name of God, Yahweh was commonly replaced by Jews with the title adonai. In carrying on with this practice, the translators of the Septuagint also translated Yahweh as kurios. While other people are referred to as ‘lord’ throughout scripture, the usage of the word in Paul’s confession is unique to any other use in reference to a man. It is applied to him in a way which would only have been used by Jewish people in reference to God. It is one thing when Paul refers to Christ as “Lord Jesus”. If we had no passages to back up His divinity, we may be able to interpret that to be a simple honorary title (though even that is a stretch). But when a Jewish man such as Paul utters the phrase, “Jesus is Lord”, there’s undoubtedly something more going on. This is a phrase which he would have known to be blasphemous were Christ not God. It must be concluded then that Paul is confessing Christ to be not a lord, but the LORD. Therefore, to confess that Jesus is Lord is to confess that Jesus is Yahweh, the God of the Old Testament.

Theonomy (For Lack of a Better Word)

Now that we have that settled, it can be clearly seen that the confession of Jesus as one’s personal authority simply will not do. The confession that Jesus is Lord is instead something far more holistic, with greater implications for both the world and for our personal lives, two of which I will discuss. First, Jesus is not simply the Christian’s personal Lord, but is instead the Lord, or highest authority, over the whole world. Jesus says, before commissioning the Church to make disciples of all the nations, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18). This is our Lord’s own definition of His lordship. As Abraham Kuyper once said, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” In other words, there is no neutral ground; it is all subjected to our King. This means, then, that there is no such thing as autonomy. There is no human, no creature, no institution which is not subject to His reign, and which has any right to rebel against it. In the abortion debate, many use the argument, “My body, my choice!” They believe they have bodily autonomy. I often respond with something like, “Go ahead and try that argument when you use your body to murder a born human being…” It simply does not work. That is because even our own bodies are subject to the righteous rule of the Lord Jesus. Likewise, there is no government which has any right to make iniquitous decrees. One cannot say to justify himself, “It is the law of the land!” The law of the land, apart from its compliance to the law of God, is no law at all. It is simply rebellion. This is because there is no such thing as autonomy. All that exists is theonomy (for lack of a better word), or else rebellion.

Second, subjection to the lordship of Christ means utter submission, sometimes to the point of great loss and possibly even death. It means complete devotion to Christ, to the point of abandonment of anything which wishes to elevate itself above His seat of authority. Christ describes the call to submission in the Gospel of Luke: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). He is saying, in other words, “You must submit to Me over all that you hold dear, even unto death, or else don’t come at all.” These words are difficult to accept, but since they come from the mouth of our Lord, we would be wise to take them to heart. The reality is that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10, Romans 14:11). The only difference is that some will do so willingly in this life, and so bow in adoration at the advent of Christ, and some will refuse in this life, and so bow by the coercion of shattered kneecaps. The option is not whether to instate Christ as Lord, but whether or not to submit to Him as the Lord who already reigns supreme. And the response of the true disciple is always submission. To believe is to submit. To have the freedom of the Spirit is to be a slave to Christ. This means that there is no such thing as a “carnal Christian”. In the words of R.C. Sproul, “There is simply no such thing as a Christian who is totally carnal. It is a contradiction in terms.” You are either born of Spirit and simultaneously brought into submission to Jesus, or else you are spiritually dead. There is no in between. You cannot have one foot in the world, and one foot in the kingdom of God. This is because the lordship of Christ means that there is no neutrality. Quite simply, there is submission, and there is rebellion.

We see an example of such submission in Paul’s confession. As I mentioned earlier, his words are intentionally similar to the Roman confession that Caesar is Lord. Not only that, but it was a phrase which would have been considered blasphemous by any unbelieving Jew. Paul himself, as well as the Romans to whom he wrote, lived in a society made up of Romans and Jews. Therefore, their confession put them at odds with just about everyone in the society around them. For the sake of such a confession, they were kicked out of synagogues, disowned by family, falsely convicted of crimes, flogged, and crucified, burned alive, or fed to lions. And all of this for sake of submission to Christ. But this is not a begrudged submission. While calling Christ Lord and ourselves His suppliants is certainly true, the description does not fully describe our relationship to Him. Not only are we humble servants who come to His holy presence in fear and trembling, but also His coheirs of the immeasurable riches of the Father’s grace. And it is in Christ Himself that we find these innumerable, all-satisfying riches. In Scripture, we find Christ’s description of the nature of our submission to his kingship, when He says, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Matthew 13:44). The Christian, like the man who found treasures in a field, when we discover Christ will give up anything to have Him. Similarly, the Psalmist writes, “at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11). Anyone who has recited the Apostle’s Creed can quickly recognize the similarity to the location of these eternal pleasures and the location of the ascended Lord Jesus. This is no coincidence. In fact, they are descriptions of the same thing. In Christ Himself are our pleasures forevermore. He Himself is the immeasurable riches of God’s grace. Our confession of, and submission to, the lordship of Christ is then our acknowledgement that He is far more satisfying than anything this life has to offer. Therefore, there is no vain pleasure which can entice us away from the faith, no friend’s betrayal which can hinder our obedience, no government official’s threats which can evoke a denial of our loyalty to the one true King.

Church & State

“I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.” 

– Thomas Jefferson

If you have ever had a discussion about the application of biblical law in our country’s legislation, you have most likely heard the argument, “That is a violation of the separation of church and state!” Many of those who make this argument will point to various horrific points throughout history where church and state were merged, and then claim on such basis that any biblical influence on legislation will inevitably result in persecution of unbelievers, heretics, and supposed witches. Then often comes the comparison to ISIS and Sharia Law, and so on. The only biblical support offered is generally, “Christ’s kingdom is not of this world,” ignoring the fact that Christians are also said not to be of this world, while at the same time being in it. If we are to truly be bereans, whose worldviews are grounded in solid biblical truth, then these arguments do not contain ample evidence to convince us. On the contrary, according to scripture and the original intent of our country’s founding fathers, we find a much different sort of separation than that which is preached by the atheist or pietistic Christian. Instead of a prohibition of all interaction of the two, we will rather find that the separation of church and state is the biblical doctrine of two separate institutions that are both under the direct authority of God.

Founding Fathers

It has been the belief of many that the United States is a Christian nation. While it is certainly true that many of our nation’s founders were protestant Christians, belief in Christ was quite certainly not unanimous. But what is clear is that our nation’s founding fathers were nearly unanimously theistic, whether Christian or not. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution are both written with the presupposition that there is a God, under whose direct authority are the individual, the church, and the state. This idea stood in stark contrast with the idea which had dominated the West for centuries, that the institutional church had to mediate for individuals and the state. In order to avoid a repeat of the persecution that they had endured from the Church of England, this revolutionary idea sought to keep the state from enforcing a specific religious affiliation on its citizens. This did not mean that politicians could not pass legislation from a theistic or Christian perspective, as this would have made the Constitution itself unlawful. Rather, it simply made sure that the church and state remained separate institutions, as is intended by God.

The Biblical Doctrine

Regardless of what the founding fathers thought, the primary reason we should believe the idea of separation of church and state is because its basis is in scripture. While the words, “separation of church and state” are not found anywhere in the Bible (just as the word “trinity” is not), the doctrine is certainly there. In Romans 13, Paul says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God… for [the person in authority] is God’s servant for your good” (Romans 13:1,4). This makes clear that government is not a separate kingdom from that which God presides over, but is rather an institution given to humanity by God, by his common grace. Those in authority are called servants of God, which implies, quite obviously, that they are intended to serve God. They are directly under His authority, and must rule according to His righteous judgements. They are to reward good and punish evil. And in regards to the church, we are commanded here to obey the governing authorities. This implies that there is certain authority which the state is given that the church does not have, but instead must submit to. This does not imply complete obedience, as there comes a point at which the church must say, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). But as far as the civil magistrate does not contradict the law of God, his words are to be obeyed as if they were themselves the law of God.

On the other hand, Christ said to the church, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). There is a sort of authority which is here given to the church, which is separate from that of the state. It is a spiritual sort of authority. We do not have the power to execute vengeance on our enemies, but rather are called to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). Instead of the state’s approach to restraining evil, which is the sword, we respond with the gospel of the kingdom. This is a far more powerful authority. Through the proclamation of this gospel, we bear the power for salvation to all who believe. It raises dead men to life, and turns enemies into brothers. Additionally, we have been given the authoritative word of God. And we are commanded to take that authoritative word and teach it to the nations, making them disciples of our Teacher and King. Furthermore, it is the task of the church to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27), and to be willing and cheerful in generosity (2 Corinthians 9:7). This implies that it is not the role of the state to care for the needy and enforce generosity through higher taxation, but rather that needs in the community are the responsibility of the church.

Where The Two Meet

So, now that we have defined the nature of the separation, we must now see how the two overlap. Lutherans believe in a doctrine called “Two Kingdoms”, in which the church and state are two separate kingdoms of God. This always leaves me scratching my head, wondering where Christ ever said, “Repent, for the two distinct kingdoms of heaven are at hand!” Instead, the church and state are two separate institutions within one kingdom. And being within the singular world-wide precinct of Christ’s reign, the two must often interact with one another. While the two are never to take on the authority of the other, they are not called to pretend the other does not exist. The state is to be a servant of God for the good of its citizens, protecting their God-given rights, including the freedom to worship and believe as they may, and to give approval to those who do good.

In regards to the church, having the authority of the written word of God, it is to be the conscience of the state. Some may object that if the state takes the advice of the church, then it is enforcing religious beliefs, and therefore violating the “wall of separation”. But this person is ignorant to the fact, as many are, that all laws imply a moral standard. And all moral standards stem from a worldview, whether atheistic or theistic. Therefore, by their definition of the separation, any law is unlawful, as any law presupposes a certain worldview. But based on the idea of separation, when understood properly, the church has the authority, in the word of God, to challenge any law and call legislators to repent. In fact, the state cannot function as it must unless the church does so. As Paul writes, “How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). The state cannot know their responsibilities if the church is not preaching the word of God to them, and consistently holding them accountable. Martin Luther King Jr. rightly said, “The church must be reminded that it is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool. If the church does not recapture its prophetic zeal, it will become an irrelevant social club without moral or spiritual authority.”

Christ As King of kings

All in all, next time you are presented with the “separation of church and state” argument when discussing attempts to pass God-honoring legislation, bash ‘em over the head with biblical truth… in a gentle manner. And to those whose Christianity has up to this point been confined to a private, personal religion, I exhort you to look to Christ not only as Lord of your heart, but also Lord of all the earth. All thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities were created through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him (Matthew 28:18). Therefore, do not be afraid to stand before kings or governors or presidents in interposition for the oppressed. Rather, go and boldly proclaim Christ as King of kings before all men.

 

Additional reading:

What Is The Relationship Between The Church And State? by R.C. Sproul

A Christian Manifesto by Francis Schaeffer

It’s not about you. (Guest post by E.T. Korzeniowski)

 

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,  treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.  For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,  always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.”

-2 Timothy 3:1-8 (emphasis added)

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” This is the answer to the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism and I think it’s worth our consideration. Today many churches and Christians have this answer discombobulated. When translated to modern thought, it might more accurately say “God’s chief end is to glorify man and to enjoy him forever.” We as a culture have become ever more narcissistic and it’s effects are infiltrating the church. Sermons titles such as, “Barriers to Blessings,” “The Power of Potential,” “Your Dream is Your Destiny,” “You are Gifted,” “You Get What You Go For,” “It’s All About You,” and “Favor Is Looking For You,” seem to be discussing more about man than God (those are all real sermon titles from some of America’s most popular churches by the way). Service events, mission trips, or even simply helping others seem to be more about feeling good and taking selfies than actually aiding those in need. So what can we do? If the chief end of man is glorifying God and not himself how do we look past the mirror and selfie-stick towards Christ? How does He become greater while I become less (John 3:30)?

The Christian Narcissist

What is narcissism and why is it a problem both culturally and Biblically? The term narcissism comes from the greek myth of Narcissus who couldn’t stop looking at his own reflection to the point that he died. Biblically the root of narcissism is pride and idolatry of self. Narcissists see every situation in terms of how it affects themselves. They never see their problems as a result of their own actions, but rather excuse their behavior and blame others. The opposite is also true; when they succeed, narcissists take all the credit. This is the root of the problem: The self-centered man is never able to realize the sin in his life and his need for a savior. Rather than give thanks to God, the narcissist robs God of glory that is due to Him. The self-absorbed man is also unable to authentically love his neighbor since there will always be a self-centered ulterior motives in all his actions. The Christian narcissist is unable to worship the Lord because every part of their Christian life has become tainted with the question, “How does this benefit me?” This is why we see over 100,000 children in the U.S. awaiting adoption, in the midst of over 300,000 churches. We can’t see past our own noses to help those in need as James calls us to (James 1:27).

How have we let the trends of society influence the church? I think it’s largely based on what is being taught from the pulpit. We have exchanged expository preaching for topical fluffiness. The word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12), and “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). We need the word properly preached in order to be awakened from our self-centered slumber (and to be brought from death to life). We also need to properly understand how to read and interpret the word during our own devotion, a skill that has also largely been ignored.

“That’s just your Interpretation”

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ -Jeremiah 29:11

Part of the Christian Worldview is understanding that truth is not subjective, but rather objective. This means that truth is outside of our cultural identity, and is not subject to our personal feelings. That being said, we must understand that, while one biblical verse may have multiple applications, there is only one meaning/correct interpretation. Someone who says, “That’s just your interpretation,” denies that there is, in fact, a correct (and therefore a wrong) interpretation of any text. Perhaps even more frightening than accidentally misinterpreting scripture is, as Peter warns, that there are some who deliberately twist scripture to fit their own agendas (2 Peter 3:16). Since we have been entrusted with the Word of God, we must make great effort to ensure we are interpreting scripture correctly, and are being influenced by pastors who hold biblical interpretation in high regard.

One danger of personal interpretation is introducing our own presuppositions, agendas, and biases into the text. This is known as eisegesis. Jeremiah 29:11 is a verse where this is common practice. All you need to do is walk into any Christian bookstore and you will find hundreds of trinkets with this verse stamped on them. But who is Jeremiah really speaking to in this verse? Is he talking to Israel’s leaders who were in exile in Babylon? Is he talking to us? Or both? We must understand the literary genre in order to understand how to apply this verse. Is it poetic, wisdom literature, epistle, prophecy, historical narrative, etc?  Because this verse within Jeremiah is written as historical narrative, it should be interpreted as such. Therefore, while God may plan to prosper us as believers, this particular verse is being addressed specifically to the leaders of Israel. God upheld his promise to the Israelites in this situation and throughout the rest of the Bible, and therefore the principle of God’s faithfulness is applicable to all. That is something as believers we can apply from this verse. What we must do is draw out the meaning from within the text (exegesis) instead of the other way around (eisegesis).

Eisegesis is all too common within the church today, and it has compounded our narcissistic tendencies. Christians tend to read the Bible more like fortune cookies than in its literary context. How often have we heard sermons about “stepping into your promised land” or “reaping what we sow,” promising us God’s financial blessing if only we sacrifice a little more on our tithe? How often have misguided Christians looked to scripture for comfort (which is not a bad thing) only to take a verse out of context, in an attempt to squeeze their particular situation into it? The sad reality is we have a tendency to exchange the beautiful overarching story of the Bible for a cheap chinese counterfeit. The blessing of one day being able to stand before the face of God, and be embraced as a child, is far greater than all health and wealth the world has to offer.

The Good News

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us,  even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,  so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” -Ephesians 2: 4-10

The Bible is not about us, but rather it’s about God and His redemptive work in history through His people, His Son and His Spirit. This is good news. As the verse above says: before we come to know Christ we are spiritually dead. We don’t need self help on how we can “defeat the Goliaths in our lives” (which doesn’t at all help a dead person). We need to be resuscitated. The good news is that we don’t need to rely on ourselves or our performances to be in right relationship with God. If we attempt to do so, we will consistently fail. But thankfully, we have a humble Redeemer, who died on a cross for proud, self-seeking sinners like you and I. What is more humbling than that? There is nothing you or I did or can do to earn favor with God. Rather, His grace is freely given to us who cling to Christ and His works. This good news should help us stop worrying about ourselves and instead turn our focus to God and to our neighbors. Only the Gospel is the solution to our self-centeredness and narcissism, because it helps us realize it’s not about us, but what Christ has done for us.

Resources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSnp1wJFFeQ

https://www.whitehorseinn.org/show/guidelines-for-interpreting-scripture-1/

https://www.whitehorseinn.org/show/guidelines-for-interpreting-scripture-2/

https://connect.ligonier.org/library/principles-of-biblical-interpretation-2/14321/about/

https://www.amazon.com/How-Read-Bible-All-Worth/dp/0310246040

https://virtueinthewasteland.squarespace.com/episodes/2016/9/15/viw30-defining-narcissism

*Sidenote: I myself have narcissistic tendencies and have put my thoughts to paper so that I can better address the problem within myself, I hope it is also helpful to you.

Creative Christianity: A Case For More Creative Christians

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:27

It is the idea of some Christians that the Church’s role is simply worry about salvation-related issues. Any effort put into non-salvation issues then is effort that would have been better spent on more “spiritual” things. This neoplatonic dichotomy between the physical and spiritual is the result of pietism, a movement within Lutheranism in the 17th century that emphasized the importance of private personal piety, so much so that it resulted in neglect of the physical world, similar to the Gnostics or Monastics. Influenced by this thinking, much of western Christianity has deemed creativity useful only for means of tract-making, hymn-writing, or other more seemingly spiritual matters. In order for creativity to have any worth whatsoever, one must include some sort of evangelical twist. But I believe that mankind was given creativity for a purpose that stretches far beyond a simple means toward other spiritual ends. I wish to show how human creativity points to the glory of our God, who is the ultimate Creator and Author of all things.

Lord of The Arts

We often forget that the Bible opens with a display of divine creativity. We love to focus on what the creation account tells us about His eternality and sovereignty, both of which are extremely important, but all the while we ignore God’s creativity. And I completely get it. His pre-existence to all of creation, to even time itself, is an amazing concept that one could think about for.. well, all of eternity! And His sovereignty is a crucial concept to understanding salvation, the grace of God, and the whole Christian life, so obviously it is something we should concern ourselves with. But in creation, we also learn something extremely beautiful about God: He loves to create. And when He creates, He is not simply concerned with practicality. I have heard atheists object to the possibility of the existence of God because they do not see certain parts of creation as having a practical purpose, in regards to what they consider practical, such as contributing to the survival of the human race or environmental maintenance. But this is not a worthwhile objection when we consider that much like humans, God does not only create things for a practical purpose, but also for the mere sake of creating something beautiful or hilarious or delicious or thrilling. We, as Christians, must not be like the atheist who sees the world simply in terms of survival. Instead, we must meditate on that fact that we worship a God who created the blobfish, sunsets, the fainting goat, Jupiter, mountain lions, giant sequoia trees, and cute toddlers who can’t quite say their R’s, and the reason why may plainly be, “Because it is good.”

Not only do we see creativity in the things that God has created, but also in the story He has written, called “history”. It is commonly believed that man sets the course of history, and it is certainly true that decisions we make have an effect on its course. Nonetheless, it is hubris to assume that we are its authors. Rather, God’s spoken word acts as the eternal feather pen which alone has the power to jot down cosmic ink on the page of history. No event happens which was not included in the story God spoke into existence at the foundation of the world. From the fall of Adam, to the disintegration of the Roman empire, to the sinking of the Titanic, to the heartburn you got last Friday after the wild night at Buffalo Wild Wings, every event in human history is part of one great divine novel. And the very center, the climax, the towering pinnacle of this literary masterpiece is when the author Himself entered the story in order to redeem all His characters from the terrible antagonists: sin and death. He is the true author, after whom all authors model themselves, whose words do not construct sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, but real creatures and worlds and galaxies. And in order that we can understand the story being told, He gave us Scripture. Those of us who have a great concern for pinpointing correct doctrine may sometimes wish that He had revealed Himself with a divinely inspired systematic theology, but this desire would miss the point. God instead revealed Himself in history, and through beautiful accounts of His redemption and grace and power and holiness, through various human co-authors and styles, in the Holy Scriptures. This is all to show us that He cares about creating something beautiful, not just practical. He doesn’t want to simply tell us facts about Himself. He wants to tell us a story, and that is a glorious revelation in itself.

The Creator’s Self-Portraits

God created us in His image. We are His most beloved creatures with a personal touch, little self portraits. As His self-portraits, we have the ability to create, or as Tolkien put it, to engage in “sub-creation”. As I already mentioned, it is often believed, especially among Christians in our culture, that art has no value simply as a work of art. Rather, we base the value of art on its ability to convey a certain message or accomplish some further end beyond creativity itself. For example, we only listen to K-Love because the only good and godly music mentions Jesus by name several times. Or we only watch movies like Veggie Tales, Left Behind, and God’s Not Dead because the only holy art is that which contains directly theological subject matter. But according to the biblical worldview, it is simply on the basis that we are expressing our Godlikeness that the art that we create has value. Francis Schaeffer made this same argument, writing, “An art work has value as a creation because man is made in the image of God, and therefore man not only can love and think and feel emotion but also has the capacity to create. Being in the image of the Creator, we are called upon to have creativity. In fact, it is part of the image of God to be creative, or to have creativity.” Therefore, even love songs, action movies, and Drake and Josh Wedding Feud memes bring glory to God, regardless of their inclusion of explicitly theological content. This is because, through the imago dei, human creativity inescapably points to the glory of God in the creation of the world.

Additionally, more specifically than simply being called to be creative, we are called to be storytellers. As ND Wilson said, “When the first missionaries went out, when the disciples were sent, they were going out combatting the old gods. And they did this with miracles, with the good news, with a story.” The gospel of the kingdom is a story. It is the redemptive story that God told from the beginning of time, which came to its climax in Christ. Therefore, the Great Commission is a command to be storytellers to all the nations. God has told His story, and we are called to retell it again and again until we see all of Christ’s enemies crushed under His feet. It is a story we must tell our friends, our families, our coworkers, our politicians, our enemies, and even ourselves, over and over. It is a story which never grows old, but which itself contains the power to make all things new, and give new life to men who are dead in their sins. And if God has made a story the means of His greatest act of restoration, should we who bear His image not also be storytellers like our Father?

Art and Worldview

In addition to the primary purpose of art, which is embracing our identity as images of God, art is also an important means of expressing a worldview. In fact, there is no art that does not express a worldview. Even a local teenage band’s Nirvana-esque dirge that exclaims, “Everything is meaningless!!!” expresses a view of the world, no matter how contradictory that claim may be. Something tragic that has happened in western culture is that Christians, who were once at the forefront of the humanities, have lost sight of the value of art for art’s sake. As a result, they have retreated to their cultural monasteries, ignoring all art which does not express the same worldview as themselves, and so becoming utterly irrelevant to the world of art. As Francis Schaeffer pointed out, this comes from the inability to distinguish the quality of a work of art and the quality of its worldview, but rather lumping the two together in one’s analysis. Therefore, art has basically been pushed into two primary categories: quality art and art with a correct worldview. This has forced Christians to choose between art that is enjoyable and art that is theologically accurate.

But this is not a problem only of Christians finding enjoyment in art, but even more importantly, of the Christian worldview having an influence in culture. You see, if all art expresses a worldview, this means that every time we watch a movie or listen to a song, we are being fed a perspective. If we are honest, most people are sheep (not in the biblical sense, but in the easily-fooled and unquestioning sense). Therefore, most people who enjoy a good work of art are also thinking within its creator’s worldview for the duration of their enjoyment. We should not then underestimate the great influence that art and media have on our worldviews. It has the power to shape an entire culture’s view of reality and morality.

Since this is the case, we can much more easily see how the Church’s retreat from creativity has contributed to the moral decline of our society. Most people are not going to church, or if they are, it’s a megachurch that simply itches ears. They are not listening to sermons or studying their bibles or watching Ask Pastor John videos. But they are binge-watching Netflix. They are listening to Spotify. They are viewing video after video as they scroll endlessly on Facebook. These are our mission-fields. This is therefore where we should be expressing our worldview. This does not mean that we need to produce songs which have five steps toward salvation or mention Jesus every line, nor do we particularly need more movies depicting the crucifixion of Christ. While these things are certainly good, and at times important, what we primarily need is to simply express our worldview. And this happens, not only through a direct gospel proclamation (which, do not get me wrong, is absolutely crucial) but also through an abundance of quality art created from the perspective of Christians. Through this, we can fight back against our society’s constant stream of art made from a perspective where women are sex-objects, children are burdens, God is non-existent, and life has no meaning. Through the totality of our discographies and filmographies, we can show the world that the gospel has something to say about everything from love to comedy to war to friendship.

So Christian, be creative. Glorify your Creator by imitating His perfect creativity!

 

P.S. If you want to hear some of my attempts at creativity, click here… 😉

Living A Bridled Life

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 1:26-27

In my last blog post, I discussed James’ teaching on how we must “be doers of the word, and not hearers only”. In this post, I will go over the next couple verses in which he gets a bit more practical, explaining what exactly a heart embedded with the implanted word looks like. But first, I’d like to go over some of the apparent issues among the recipients of the epistle, which can be gathered from its content. While it is broadly addressed to the “twelve tribes in the Dispersion” (referring to general believers from different localities), particular issues are confronted that were widespread among Christians at the time. The dilemma that faced these believers was intense persecution for their faith, which resulted in greed, partiality, envy, adultery, and overall worldliness. If you believe, as many do, that the first century church was spotless, then think again. The picture painted here is messy. And the lesson that James teaches in order to tackle their messiness speaks greatly to the messy American church today. It is this: The fruit of the implanted word is a bridled life.

The Tongue and Directional Bridling

After speaking of being doers of the word, James makes a point to instruct his hearers to begin their doing with a bridled tongue. He says, “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless” (James 1:26). He explains this further in chapter 3, saying, “For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body” (James 3:2). In other words, obedience begins with the tongue. If you can practice righteousness and self-control with your words, then you will be able also to do so in deed. If you are unable to do so with your words, neither will you be be able to do so in deed, and you will not bear the fruit that is proof of discipleship. Christ said, “what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matthew 15:18-19). Therefore, proof of the word’s implantation in one’s heart begins with a bridled tongue, which is the first step toward its working to bridle the believer’s life.

I don’t wish to be redundant with my references, but I could not write on this passage without again quoting Douglas Wilson, who I quoted in my previous post. On this passage, he writes, “The Lord’s brother James draws a straight line between governance of the tongue and governance of everything else. He compares self-control here to a bit and bridle that enables a rider to direct a horse where it needs to go… But there are two reasons why we want to be able to direct a horse we are riding. The first is to prevent it from going where we don’t want to go. The first is to keep us on the trail, to keep us from arriving at a destination we do not want. The second is to direct us positively, to actually arrive where we need to be.”

In regards to the exercise of self-control, what comes to most people’s minds is the ability to abstain from what you do not desire to do. This is certainly a great deal of what self-control is, but it is not the whole of it. It also includes the ability to do that which you wish to do, or more in line with the illustration, to arrive at your intended destination. Bridling of the tongue then means not only refraining from saying what you ought not, but also engaging in the saying of what you ought. You can then see how James uses this to transition into the two defining fruits of pure religion: 1. “to visit orphans and widows in their affliction”, and 2. “to keep oneself unstained from the world.” He defines word-implanted faith as that which is manifested in the negative (being unlike the world) and the positive (performing acts of justice toward the needy). The purification of the stains of the world is the pulling of the horse out of the ditch, whereas the acts of justice are the destination. Both the negative and positive make up the whole of the bridled life, and the ability to do this comes ultimately from a bridled heart and tongue. And a bridled life is what James calls “religion that is pure and undefiled before God.”

The Church (Un)stained

To begin our self-examination according to these truths, let us begin by observing the call to keep ourselves unstained from the world. Would you say that “unstained” is a good defining term for the American church? “Pure”? “Holy”? If we are honest, these words are just about the last we would use to describe the state of much of the Christianity that surrounds us. R.C. Sproul successfully identified our condition when he said, “The greatest weakness in the church today is that the servants of God keep looking over their shoulder for the approval of men.” We are like 10 year old boys in a little league baseball game who look to the stands, after getting a base hit, to see if dad was watching. Should we not then be surprised that we can go only a few steps toward first base before tripping over our own feet? But it is even worse, as in our case, we are not looking to our Father for approval, but rather the very men who oppose our Father. Their father is the enemy who seeks our destruction. Should it be of any surprise to us then that the church lacks any power whatsoever? Step back and examine the average American church service for a moment. What is the focus? Is it an unashamed proclamation of the gospel? Is it solid doctrine? Is it heart-felt, Godward praise? Is it iron-sharpening and exhortation? Not quite… Rather, the focus is very much on entertainment or personalities or performances or vague “spiritual” abstracts that never touch reality enough to convict a single soul. We have let the world write our liturgy. We have let the world decide what we can or cannot preach. This is most prevalent in the seeker-sensitive movement, but I am not only speaking of them. Even churches with the most solid theology shy away from certain truths and actions in an effort to appease unbelievers. The American church is submitted not to the lordship of Christ, but rather to the opinions of men.

And by our submission to men’s opinions we have neglected the orphan and widow. If you can’t see how this is the case, then you have probably never been outside an abortion clinic. At the Planned Parenthood nearest to where I live, at least 75-100 children are led to the slaughter by their own mothers on a weekly basis. To watch woman after woman walk in, knowing the atrocity they are about to commit, is absolutely heartbreaking. Seeing them hours later having to be carried out of the building by their boyfriend or husband or mom or dad while bawling their eyes, out is beyond heartbreaking. But the most heartbreaking sight of all is when I turn around from preaching to these women to see only a couple other Christians behind me. The churches in the city outnumber Planned Parenthood more than 100 to 1, and yet only a handful of Christians are ever there to plead with mothers, offer assistance, and preach the gospel. And why are Christians nowhere to be found? Like the first century believers to whom James wrote his epistle, our care of the world’s opinion of us has superseded our responsibility to love all of our neighbors impartially. We hold vague pro-life opinions. We reluctantly give sanctity of life sermons, ending with a call to put money in a baby bottle. We hold yearly marches. We vote for presidential candidates who make empty promises. And this is just about where our efforts end. It is not enough. In fact, we know it’s not enough. Yet we continue to do the bare minimum, and I am convinced that it is because we know that if we started to truly live as if children are being murdered, the world would not tolerate it. Just like the recipients of James’ epistle, we neglect our responsibility to care for the orphan and widow for the sake of a preserved reputation before the world. Our religion is far from pure and undefiled. Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:23 is also a rebuke of the American church; “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices–mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law–justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” We take time out of our week to listen to sermons, sing songs, and give our tithes, but how much of our time is given to establishing justice, extending mercy, and doing the faithful work of caring for the ‘least of these’?

Repentance and Hope

We have to repent of our apathy in regards to the unborn children being led to the slaughter and the many women in need of assistance. And this begins with a bridled tongue. How so? Well, it begins by using our bridle to direct our tongues positively toward the preaching of the gospel. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again from the dead, abolishing death and claiming authority over all things, according to His plan to reconcile all things to Himself. We are the ambassadors of a God who saves sinners. We are the messengers of a Creator who redeems murderers and gives them new life. Once we understand the heart of the gospel and successfully communicate it to ourselves and those around us, then we are also able to understand why it is the farthest thing from unloving to preach it to those who are so enslaved by this culture of death that they are willing to pay someone to tear their own child apart. They believe that whatever sin led to their situation can be covered by the blood of their child. But we know that the only blood able to atone for sins is the blood of the spotless lamb, Jesus Christ. Therefore, there is no greater message to be preached to women, no greater message to be offered in interposition for the unborn, than the gospel. But, as Paul writes, “how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). And who has the ability to preach the gospel with power, other than the Church, in whom the Spirit of the living God dwells? You, if you are in Christ, have the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation. There are children and souls waiting to be saved, and you have the power to do so. Don’t hide your light. Instead, let it shine and light up the darkest corners of this world.

Theology Not Lived Is Theology Not Learned.

Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

James 1:21-25

Religious hypocrisy is a problem. Many leave the church, saying, “I can’t trust an institution that is so hypocritical!” Of course, these people reveal that their problem was not particularly the church, but rather themselves, as they were seeking to trust the church rather than God Himself. And it is quite true that there is an extent to which this is pretty unfair, as no one cares about the fact that, for example, no atheist truly lives as if humans are just sacks of meaningless stardust, which is exactly what we all are if atheism is true. Nonetheless, it is rather problematic that the word “church” is thought of by many as synonymous with “hypocrisy”. Because of this perception, it is important for Christians to be diligent in practicing what we preach. I believe that the root issue of religious hypocrisy is primarily a widespread lack of theological understanding. This is not because there is not enough teaching, but rather because we have left our solid teaching in the abstract and not brought it into practical reality. The message of this passage of James, which is important for the American church today, is this: Theology not lived is theology not learned.

The Implanted Word

The foundational idea that must be understood in the passage is the idea of “the implanted word”. James commands the recipients of the epistle to “put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness”, or in other words to repent of their sins. Along with repentance, they are to “receive with meekness the implanted word”. What exactly is “the implanted word”? He is speaking of reading scripture. But he is not talking about a casual read through a YouVersion bible plan, with no comprehension. “Implanted” bears implications of the word being deeply-rooted. This language recalls the passage in John in which Jesus speaks of himself as “the true vine” (John 15:1). He says in that chapter, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8). Jesus elsewhere compares the word to seeds being scattered and our hearts as soil into which the word is planted (Matthew 13). This is what James is talking about here. The word that is properly understood is that which is firmly planted in a humble heart and bears fruit, which is obedience to the word. Such obedience, Christ says, is the proof of the genuineness of our faith. This is why James commands them to be “not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Just as one who bears fruit proves to be a genuine believer, so also one who does not bear fruit proves that he is a fake. He’s lying to himself, and to God. This is because theology not lived is theology not learned.

This has great implications about what it truly means to be a theologian. A theologian is an expert in theology. The word ‘theologian’ brings to our minds men with chins full of beard, mouths full of cigar smoke, and brains full of knowledge. But the way that scripture describes a true expert of theology is not simply one who knows theology, but one who also does theology. It is one in whom the word of God is alive and firmly planted, and whose fruits can be seen by those around him, being manifested in a practical way. James describes one that is not a doer as one who forgets what he looks like the moment he walks away from the mirror. No matter how many Spurgeon quotes he may have in his arsenal, a man who is not a doer knows absolutely nothing of theology. On the other hand, the man who commonly mistakes J.C. Ryle for Toronto Blue Jays’ starting pitcher J.A. Happ, yet is being conformed into the image of Christ through the word of God, can be rightly called a great theological scholar. As Paul writes, “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). “And this is love,” John writes, “that we walk according to his commandments” (2 John 1:6). This is certainly not to say that theology is unimportant. On the contrary, one cannot live out his theology without first gaining knowledge of theology. But theology that does not reach the surface is not theology that has truly been learned or believed in the heart.

Unconscious Theology

Douglas Wilson often says, “whatever it is that comes out your fingertips is your theology.” The knowledgeable man who does not live his theology is no theologian at all, and this is because a mere profession is not sufficient proof of belief. Rather, what he truly believes in his heart is what he proves to believe with his actions. Christ says in Matthew 15, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person… For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.” That which you say and do is an overflow of what you believe in your heart. You may acknowledge that the Bible says, “You shall not murder,” and say you believe it to be true, but if you then turn and murder your neighbor, you prove your claim to have been a lie. This is an extreme example, but I hope you see the point. Your true beliefs are those which you live out, not necessarily what you claim to believe.

A dangerous trap many fall into is the trust that one’s profession of belief in solid doctrine can save oneself from being a heretic. Yet if the theology expressed in every Christian’s actions were to be translated into a systematic theology, many who cross every confessional ’t’ and dot every catechismal ‘i’ would surely find themselves to be very unorthodox, in the worst sense of the word. But because there has yet to be invented an iPhone app to execute such a translation, we find ourselves in danger of falling into this trap without any natural way of recognizing it. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough just how important it is to look intently, consistently, and humbly into the mirror of the word of God. The author of Hebrews writes, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13). The only process by which we are able to discern our unconscious theology is, through our humble searching of the word, that the word also searches us and illuminates the parts of our hearts which formerly sat, covered in cobwebs, in complete darkness. By the grace of God, through the living word of God and the Holy Spirit who lives within us, the veil is lifted and we can see the holy truth of the Law of Liberty set in stark contrast with the counterfeit theology with which we have aligned our lives.

So, if we must bring our theology out of the mere abstract and into the practical, should I not myself then provide some practical application? Indeed. I will get to that in my next post on James 1:26-27.