Monday, August 13, 2012

Guest Post Sam Ronicker (my dad)

Quick biography note before getting to the post. My dad has held a variety of jobs, though when I was growing up he mostly worked in the newspaper business. He left the newspaper business when all of us were grown and started working in ministry. He's run a home for men, been a dorm parent, and now the administrator of Operation Rebirth boys' boarding school near St. Paris, Ohio. He's also a pastor of a small Baptist church near there, this is a chapter from his upcoming book, "Sermons from a Tiny Pulpit."

Let’s Be Real!

One of things that I think we are responsible to do as part of the body of Christ is to protect ourselves, protect the Church with a capital ‘C’.

Some verses that really, really bother me:

II Peter 2:-12 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.

II Corinthians 11:13-14 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

I Timothy 4:1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

This one troubles me most of all-

Matthew 24:24

For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

I don’t want to be deceived, I want to be careful that what I believe is the truth, and that the truth is what I believe. It’s tough these days, the world and Satan want to fool us into being of no use to God, to the church to each other. Think about it- even our language has changed: the word ‘Christian’ doesn’t mean what it used to mean. We get bombarded with worldly thinking…we get infiltrated by the media, the environment, our society. We don’t need to be afraid, but be smart. Einstein once said the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limitations…

There have been false teachers since the dawn of time…clear back to the Garden of Eden. Let’s be smart- the Bible calls this discernment. Matthew 10:16- be wise as serpents, harmless as doves.

So how do know when something is real, how do we know when something is true or not. How can we tell if even the elect, the saved have been deceived?

Besides truth, I would guess that the thing that gets counterfeited the most is money. Technology is great- it’s made it so criminals can print fake money easier than ever. So they change the design every so often to stay one step ahead.

But the bottom line is, how can you tell a fake?

To know a counterfeit, study the real thing. Does that seem the opposite?

Think about it- there are many counterfeits, but only one real-

There is lots of untruth in the world, there are lots of counterfeit bills out there but only one is real- there are lots of ‘christs’ but only one is real. All roads lead to God- not true. I am the way the truth and the life said Jesus and there is only one of Him. There are lots of writings out there, but only one Bible. Let’s study the real Scripture, the real Jesus, the real way of salvation so when a phony comes along, we don’t get fooled again (The Who). Dr. Adrian Rogers, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and founder of Love Worth Finding Ministries once preached a message about recognizing counterfeit preachers- five tests:

Source Test- what is their information based upon? Is it the Bible?

Savior Test- do they believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior? The Only Savior?

Subject Test – is the Bible their primary source of teaching?

Salvation Test- how are we saved? What is the requirement for Salvation? Don’t add to it or take away from it! (Romans 10:13 says Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. In the original Greek that literally means Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved!)

Sanctification Test- are we holy, set apart, different from the rest of the world, are we even different from the rest of the church little ‘c’?

Let’s study the real thing! Let’s be real! And here is the big question: are we the real thing? Have we been fooled into believing that we are something that we are not? Are we really Christians…what the word used to mean?

Look at the book of James 2:14-26

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that —and shudder.  20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.  25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

You see faith without works is dead, as in real, real dead. (Not just mostly dead, but completely dead.)

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves as we examine our hearts:

Was there a time when I honestly realized I was sinner and admitted this to myself and to God? Was there a time when my heart stirred me to flee from the wrath to come? Have I ever seriously been bothered by my sins? Do I truly understand the Gospel, that Christ died for my sins and arose again? Do I understand and confess that I cannot save myself? Did I sincerely repent of my sins and turn from them? Or, do I hate sin and fear God? Have I trusted Christ and Christ alone for my salvation? (In the original Greek this means have I trusted Christ and Christ alone for my Salvation?) Do I enjoy having a living relationship with Him through the Word and in the Spirit?

Has there been a change in my life? Do I maintain good works or are my works occasional and weak? Do I seek to grow in the things of the Lord? Can others tell that I have been with Jesus? Do I have a desire to share Christ with others? Or, am I ashamed of Him? Do I enjoy the fellowship of God’s people? Is worship a delight to me? Do I love the Church with a capital “C." Am I ready for the Lord’s return? Or, will I be ashamed when He comes for me?

Is my faith alive or dead?

Let’s be the real thing.

And to make sure we don’t get fooled, let’s study the real thing,

And let’s make sure we know the real Savior, Jesus Christ.

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O Lord, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

(Numbers 6:24–26, NIV) The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make His face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn His face toward you
and give you peace.