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Casualties on the Battlefield of Truth - 2 Timothy 4:1-4

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One of the most probing questions Jesus asked about His future return was this, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). Today the historic Christian faith is being attacked, not just by outsiders, but insiders--by so-called Christians! Emergent-church philosophies espouse sentiments like, "Well, your truth isn't everyone else's truth." The idea of absolute truth is considered to be passe and harsh. What are we to make of all this?

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2/24/2008
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Casualties on the Battlefield of Truth
2 Timothy 4:1-4
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
One of the most probing questions Jesus asked about His future return was this, "When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8). Today the historic Christian faith is being attacked, not just by outsiders, but insiders--by so-called Christians! Emergent-church philosophies espouse sentiments like, "Well, your truth isn't everyone else's truth." The idea of absolute truth is considered to be passe and harsh. What are we to make of all this?
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Homeland Security

Homeland Security

We live in a country that is on constant guard to preserve the democracy and freedom of its current state. But do we pay as much attention to the security of our souls as we do the security of our nation?

Pastor Skip Heitzig breaks apart the basic components of today's society and looks at the threats that believers face at every level: personally, family, communally, nationally, and globally. This series focuses on what God's word says about each of these levels of society and how we can best follow God's original plan for our lives, our family, and the rest of the world.

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Outline

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I. A Prevalent Condition (vs 1)

II. A Coming Evaluation (vs 1)

A. Jesus Will Come

B. Jesus Will Judge


III. A Present Obligation (vs 2)

A. The Great Need

B. The Various Expressions


IV. A Future Renunciation (vss 3-4)

A. What They Refuse

B. What They Want

Security Questions:
1.
Why is it the natural propensity of mankind to turn away from truth and plunge into error? How have you noticed that tendency in your own life?

2. Name two personal benefits you have discovered from feeding off the truth in your own life. What difference has it made?

Transcript

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[MUSIC PLAYING]

Let's have a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, we thank you for gathering us this morning. Whatever the circumstances were of our lives that brought us here, whether we live very close or we're visiting from afar, we're here, and you have brought us to this place. And we continue, Lord, our worship. Our worship didn't end when we sang the last note. Our worship continues by sitting here and giving you our full attention and listening to what the spirit of the living God says to your people, the living Church.

I thank you for each one who has given you this part of their day this first day of the week, and pray, Lord, that you'd bless our understanding and the way we process what we hear that our lives might be filled with your discernment. In Jesus' name, Amen.

About 1,600 years ago or better in the fourth century A.D. the church was unsettled. They were up in arms all the way from Constantinople up in modern day Turkey down to Alexandria, Egypt. Christians were unsettled, and here's why. They were wrestling with some of the key foundational issues of life-- of their life of their belief system. Who is God? What about Jesus? Is there a trinity? And they were unsettled, because there was a guy named Arius of Alexandria, Egypt who started denying the fact that Jesus was God, denying the Trinity, and casting aspersions on the character and work of Christ.

So in response to that, 300 leaders convened in 325 a.d. At a little town called Nicea, which is in modern day Turkey, and they formulated a creed called the nicene creed. Some of you will be familiar with it. They brought forth a creedal statement, this is what we believe. And they said, we believe in one God, the Father, the almighty, the maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the father, God from God, light from light true God from true God, begotten and not made of one substance with the Father. We believe in the Holy Spirit and on and on the creed goes.

These were the absolutes to them. These were the unshakables, the non-negotiables, the irreducible minimum, the core of their faith. This is what they knew to be true. Things have changed. People aren't so sure what they believe. And even in the church, they're not so sure. It was Mark Twain who said, a lie can travel halfway around the world, while truth is still tying its shoes. It's amazing what gets printed as truth.

Here's some examples on the extreme end. If you walked into a grocery store today, you might see these headlines on some of the tabloid newspapers. Alien mummy goes on a rampage. Here's one, cow-- mattresses help cows produce more milk. Another one, mom to be on a diet of only chicken lays a huge egg. World War II bomber found on the moon. Woman gives birth to two-year-old baby. Child walks and talks in three days. Here's one, vegan vampire attacks trees. OK, that's extreme, but it got printed and people buy them. A lie can travel halfway around the world, while truth is still tying its shoes.

Let me tell you the backdrop of the book that I've asked you to turn to. 2 Timothy to be exact. 2 Timothy 4, the backdrop in part of this little letter that Paul writes to young Timothy, his protege left in the city of Ephesus, is apostasy. That's the backdrop. Apostasy, if you've heard that term, it means a falling away or a departure from the truth. And get this it's only been 30 years since Jesus was on the earth, 30 years since the gospel first penetrated throughout the ancient world, and now only 30 years later, there's people falling, dropping like flies, casualties on the battlefield of truth.

On one hand it doesn't surprise us. It's been that way from the beginning. When God first revealed himself to man, it was in the garden that Satan said to Eve, has God said, challenging the Revelation of God. Even Jesus asked a very disturbing and penetrating question in Luke 18:8. He said when the Son of Man comes or returns, will he find faith on the earth? That's a provocative question isn't it. When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Last week we talked about the historic Christian faith being attacked from the outside. Today, I want to touch on it being attacked from the inside. It's even more disturbing what's going on inside the realm of what is called the church. Now I'm going to mention some movements and some names that some will be familiar with and some will not be familiar with, but maybe you'll become more aware after today.

There is a movement that's been going on since the 1990s. It's under a lot of different names but it's under an umbrella called the Emergent or the Emerging Church. And it's a movement that in large part denies absolutes. That's what makes it so frightening. It denies that you can know anything in an absolute way. It's really in a large degree repackaged liberalism, repackaged existentialism, and you should be aware of it. And the problem with that is that it is being called Christian evangelicalism, and a lot of people don't know the difference.

I've heard of a conversation that Abraham Lincoln had with somebody who was arguing something with him. And they were going back and forth and back and forth, and finally, Abraham Lincoln said to the disputer, let me ask you a question. How many legs does a cow have? The guy said, four, of course. Lincoln said, good, now suppose you call the tail of the cow a leg. Now, how many legs does a cow have? And the disputer said, five. Lincoln said, that's where you're wrong. It doesn't matter how many times you call a tail a leg, a cow only has four legs. It doesn't matter what you call certain things, it doesn't make it true because you title it that way.

So we're going to begin today talking about some of these streams of thought that are coming into the church. We'll take part of it this week and part of it next week. I draw your attention, though, to the text. 2 Timothy 4, let's read some of these verses, and then go back. "I charge you", in the word is "I solemnly charge you, therefore, before God," Paul writes to Timothy. "And the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom. Preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.

But according to their own desires, because they have itching ears they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned again or turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." There was a prevalent condition going on in the Church of Ephesus. I say Ephesus, because that's where Timothy was pasturing at the time. Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to, sort of, run things. There were some problems. There was an undercurrent. I mentioned part of the backdrop was this saying called apostasy.

And you'll notice even in verse one of chapter four, "I charge you, therefore, before God. I solemnly charge you, therefore" and you know the rule of thumb. Whenever there's a therefore, you find out what it's there for. And so he's not introducing a new thought, but piggybacking off of thoughts that he had previously written up to this point. So I want you to notice some of this undercurrent, this prevalent condition. Let's go back to chapter one and follow the line of thinking with me.

2 Timothy 1:13, Paul writes, "hold fast the pattern of sound words, which you have heard from me in faith and love, which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. This you know that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes." Interesting that Paul named names, and unfortunately, they're forever inscribed in scripture.

Now go down to chapter 2 verse 15. "Be diligent," he writes again to Timothy, "be diligent to present yourself approved to God. A worker who does not need to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth."" Now I want you to take that little phrase, word of truth, stick it in the front of your brain, because you're going to need it in just a minute, word of truth. "But shun profane and idle babblings for they will increase to more godliness, and their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort." Again, he names to other guys. "Who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection has already passed, and they overthrow the faith of some."

Chapter 3 Verse 1, "But know this in the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traders, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure, more than lovers of God." That's a pretty bad description. But get this, on top of all that, that same group verse 5, "having a form of godliness, but denying it's power. And from such people turn away. For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins led away by various lusts. Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

Now again get this, he writes this 30 years post Jesus Christ on the earth. The truths of the gospel hasn't been around very long, but as you can see, it doesn't take long for the truth to get sidelined. And it's not just in Timothy. If you've had any time at all in the New Testament, especially in the letters that Paul writes, you'll notice there's a lot of warnings in them. There's a lot of warnings in the letters of Paul, and even in some of the words of Jesus. The letters whether Paul writes them or Peter or John, there's a lot of warnings about falling away, departing from the truth. It's this undercurrent through the New Testament.

A few examples, we don't have time for a lot. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, you don't have to turn there. I'll just give you a few texts. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul is writing about the second coming of Christ. And he says, "that day will not come until the falling away comes first." Apostesia, apostasy departure from the truth. It says, "the second coming of Christ won't come until in the end times there's going to be a huge departure from the truth. 1 Timothy 1:19, "concerning the faith, many have suffered shipwreck." Peter says in 2 Peter 2, "that there are teachers among you who secretly bring in destructive heresies.

John would chime in, in 1 John 2:19 saying, "they went out from us, but they were never really of us. For if they had been of us, they would have no doubt continued with us. And then Jesus would chime in, Revelation 2 and 3. There's seven letters to seven different churches. They're short little letters, and he gives them a report card. And he says, I know your works. I know this about you. I know that about you. But in almost all of the letters he says, Nevertheless, I have something against you. With Ephesus, you left your first love. To another church, you follow the doctrine of balaam. To another church, you listen to a woman called Jezebel. There was already in those assemblies a departure from the truth.

So the New Testament has lots of warnings, and here's why. It's because the church has always been right in the middle of the battle for truth. That's why. Now follow my thinking. At the forefront of the battle for truth has always been the church. Paul called the church, listen to how he describes it in 1 Timothy 3:15, "the Church of the living God, which is the pillar and the ground of all truth." Well if the church is the pillar and the ground of all truth, that means one of the biggest attack zones, one of the theaters of the spiritual battle will take place in the church.

That's why we're not surprised when liberalism rises. We're not surprised when cults try to come into the church. We're not even surprised when tax and splits come to the church, because the church is ground zero. And we all need to be, as the New Testament warns, on our guard and discerning. Now there's a name that's been around for a long time. Some of you have heard of it. Maybe some of you don't even know about. It's called the WCC, the World Council of Churches. Anybody ever heard of that term? The World Council of Church, they've been around a long time. And there's about 350 or almost that number of churches, organizations, denominations that subscribe to the World Council of Churches, several countries.

They claim 55 million adherents to the World Council of Churches. And just the name sounds good, doesn't it? It's like, oh, we're all getting together, all promoting unity. We're a World Council of Churches. They meet in Geneva, Switzerland. That's their headquarters. Recently when 25 theologians gathered in this consortium. They put out this statement. There's 25 church theologians saying quote, "all religions and all religious traditions are ambiguous." In other words a combination of good and bad. "We need to move beyond a theology which confines salvation to the explicit, personal commitment to Jesus Christ." This is church leaders. We've got to move beyond Jesus.

One of the theologians to the World Council of Churches, a Korean theologian by the name of [INAUDIBLE]-- I think I got that right-- said, "I've discovered that my bowel is a Shamanist bowel, my heart is a Buddhist heart, and my head is a Christian head. I have no idea what that means. Now fast forward to modern day. We have a movement going on. They call it a conversation, called the emerging or the emergent church, and it's an umbrella. It started back in the 90s, and I think it started to be a very good thing. It wasn't bad at all. In fact, there are parts of it today that I think are very, very good.

See it started as an idea where a group of people got together and said, how do we do church today? How do we do church in a postmodern age? Let's upgrade the music. Let's upgrade the style. Let's do church 2.0 for the next generation. All that was good when you're talking about style. When you're talking about substance and doctrine and truth, it becomes a different arena.

And so what happened under this umbrella called emergent church is other streams started flowing into this river. It's really an amorphous movement. It's hard to pin down and define. It's, sort of, a moving target. So it's not all true of every church under the emerging label, but they, basically, by and large question the notion of absolute truth. You can't know anything absolutely. In fact, one leader said and I quote, "the concept of absolute truth is a rationalization of the worst sort." This is what it means, when you talk about sin, we're unsure what that is. You talk about salvation, we're unsure what that is.

And it's very confusing. And it was described one of the best and most helpful things is let's say you had a brand new red Lexus, and the red Lexus had everything in it. I don't know what it has in it, side airbags, front airbags, iPod player, a GPS, automatic emergency brake. So you got the red Lexus, and somebody comes up to you and says, how do you know it's a Lexus? I think it looks like an Oles Mobile.

Somebody else comes up to you, how do you know it's red? Maybe it's blue. Maybe you just think it's red. Somebody else comes up to you and says, well, how do you know it really works? Did you really pay that much for it? Does it really have side airbags? Does the iPod work-- or the thing work? Doesn't it have really automatic emergency brakes? On and on and then finally somebody comes up and says, how do you know it's really a car? Now replace the car with Jesus, and you have the approach of many in the movement called the emerging church. Well, we'll get back to that, but let's go back to our text.

The prevalent condition is brought up by Paul, because again, in verse 1 there is a coming evaluation. There's something on the horizon that every one should be concerned about, and that is the coming of Christ. Verse 1, "I charge you, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing." That's the first stage for his church. And His kingdom, that's the second stage.

So there's a lot in that verse, but let me just sort of sum it up this way. Paul's saying, Timothy, listen buddy. Young Timothy, in view of the fact that you're going to have to stand before God and give an account for your ministry, in view of that fact preach the word. Timothy, preach the word.

Because you see ultimately none of us are going to have to give an account before our mom or dad or our son or daughter or our pastor or a committee or a board or a denomination, but ultimately before God. And the big issue won't be were you hip enough? Were you cool enough? Were you postmodern enough? Were you edgy enough? The real issue is going to be were you faithful to the truth enough? That's going to be the real issue, and that's what Paul says to Timothy. He talks about the coming of Jesus Christ.

Now I don't know about you, but when I hear about the coming of Jesus Christ, I get pretty excited. I don't know when it's going to come. I'm not going to make any predictions, but I get pretty excited about it, and here's why. The coming of Jesus Christ, historically, has been the culmination of Christian hope since the beginning. He's going to come. He's going to deal with us. He's going to judge the world and make things right. It's always been a Christian hope. We've been even taught to pray thy kingdom come. So we get pretty excited about it. And we get excited about it, because the Bible points to it a lot.

1,845 Times there is a direct reference or an allusion to the second coming of Christ. For every one mention of the first coming, we figure about eight mentions of the second coming. Jesus spoke about his return 21 times. And 50 times in the Bible, we're told to be ready for it. That's the culmination of hope. He's coming. It inspired songs throughout the ages, like Julia Ward How, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory of the Coming of the Lord. It's about the second coming.

Or Joy to the World by Isaac Watts not written about Christmas, but we have conveniently thrown it in at that time. It's about the second coming. Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her King. Or How Great Thou Art about the second coming. The words are when Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation and take me home, what joy will fill my heart. But as much as the Bible points to it, as much as all these songs point to it, many leaders in this emergent, emerging church would point you away from it.

In fact, they would tell you that to talk about looking for Jesus Christ return to come back is silly notion, and it's very alienating to people. Rob Bell one of the leaders of the emergent church said to preach about the return of Jesus Christ for the church and the following judgment is a horrible and toxic message. Oh, really? A horrible and a toxic message? Well, the Bible calls it the blessed hope, not a horrible and a toxic message. He also said, the whole system that says a few people, because of what they said, did, or believe in are going to heaven and everybody else is going to hell is a deeply flawed system and must die. So now the whole question of salvation, getting to heaven is in question.

Listen, we're to be spiritually alert. And here's the truth, Baby Ruth. Here's the bottom line. We know too much to be cavalier or to be apathetic or to be uncertain. We need to be on the alert in these matters. WG Burns once said, "a Christian is not likely to fall asleep in a fire or in deep waters, but he is likely to grow drowsy in the sunshine. Now go down to verse 2, and that's really where we're going to-- it's only about as far as we'll be able to get today.

After the condition that Paul has been writing about, the prevalent condition, this tendency to move away from truth and the coming judgement of Christ, this evaluation. Now there is a present obligation. Here's the great need. Verse 2, preach the word. "Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, Because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers and will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables."

Timothy, all that stuff's happening buddy boy. So, because God is coming, the Lord Jesus Christ himself will evaluate you, you preach the word. Not suggest or discuss or throw your hat in the ring with other philosophies, preach the word. Now I'm not saying there's not a room for discussion with other people about their world view. There definitely is. It shows love and humility to do so. But Timothy is told in Ephesus to preach. Now let me tell you what the word preach means. Kay Russo, it means to proclaim with authority.

It was a word that was used to describe an imperial messenger. Not an imperial storm trooper, Star Wars. An imperial messenger was somebody who would march through the streets of the city and announce the news, the policies, the new laws of the kingdom, the appearance of the ruler, the King, and he would do it with authority. That's the word preach. And here's why Timothy should do that. Because he's surrounded with a lot of different very intelligent, persuasive, sophisticated, gifted orators who are twisting the truth. Timothy, I'm telling you buddy before God, preach the word.

And what does it mean, the word? What does it mean to preach the word? I had a discussion with somebody this week about the word. They said, well, that probably just means preach Jesus. Talk about Jesus. The word, like John said in John 1:1, the beginning was the word. The word was with God. It's true. Jesus is included in the message, but preach the word means the true message, the gospel, the word of God, the scriptures. Remember back in chapter 2:15, the word of truth. Remember, you put it right here in the front of your head. The word of truth, the scripture.

Let me show you the context of this. We'll follow it all true, and it will crystallize. Go back to chapter 3 verse 15. "From childhood you have known the holy scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction, and righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. I charge you, therefore, before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing in his kingdom, preach the word." So word equals scripture equals doctrine equals truths. That's what he was to preach.

Did you notice down in verse 3 where it says "the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine." And we'll get more to that verse next week. Let me tell you something, if ever I felt sorry for a word, it's this word. I feel sorry for the word doctrine. It's gotten beat up a lot and backhanded a lot. Even though Paul seemed to like it, back in Chapter 3 verse 16, he said, "all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine." The word is didascalia.

Then he says that in verse 2 of chapter 4, "preach the word. Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering," and notice this word, "teaching the didascalia" doctrine, same word. And then verse 3, "the time is coming they will not endure sound doctrine." Paul liked it a lot. He used it a lot. But I feel sorry for the word doctrine, because this is how I hear a lot of people use it. I'm not in to doctrine. I'm just into Jesus. It sounds really cool and really humble, really meek, really hip. I'm not into doctrine, because doctrine is so technical, so dogmatic, so divisive. I'm just into Jesus.

You wouldn't know about Jesus unless you had doctrine. Doctrine simply means correct, right, healthy, teaching. That's why I say I feel sorry for the word doctrine. And it's, sort of, like having a gadget. I don't know if you're like me, but when I buy a gadget, it comes with a manual. I don't like the manual. The gadget is cool and sleek, intuitive, user friendly, and the manual's like 40 times bigger than the gadget. Forget the manual, give me a gadget until the gadget breaks. Where's that manual. Oh, that's right. It's a doorstop. There it is.

That's how a lot of people live their lives. We're the gadget. Here's the manual. They don't want to read-- they'll carry the manual around. They'll make reference, I own a manual. But they don't follow the manual as any rule of life. The tendency today among a majority of Christians is all about how you feel, not about what is true. Something is said, well, how do you feel about that? What does that mean to you? Those are valid questions, but they can never supersede what is the meaning of the truth, absolute truth. But it's not about truth. It's not about knowledge. It's about how you feel about it.

Hosea, the prophet, God spoke through him said, my people perish through lack of knowledge. In Acts 2, the church continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine. 1 Timothy 4 he says, "until I come, give attention to reading, exhortation, and doctrine. To Titus Paul will write, "teach what is in accord with sound doctrine."

James Montgomery Boyce who's now in heaven once wrote these words just a few years back. "We do not have a strong church today, nor do we have many strong Christians. We can trace the cause to an acute lack of spiritual knowledge. Ask an average Christian to talk about God, and after getting past the expected answers, you will find that his God is a little God of vacillating sentiments.

I counted four times in the New Testament in the Gospels where Jesus went up to the leaders and said, have you not read in the scriptures? Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You guys are like scribes and Pharisees. So they're like big dudes, the theological guys. Have you not read? Don't you know this stuff in your Bible? Now here's where things get a little muddied in the emerging church. Among so much of the emerging or emergent church, they think that the scripture is not clear. In fact, one of them said, and I quote, "I don't know if anyone has ever gotten the gospel right." Close quote.

Now think about that statement. Nobody has ever gotten the gospel right. John didn't get it right. Peter didn't get it right. Paul didn't get it right. Nobody's gotten it right. Now you've come just in time to let us know and to rescue us from all of our ignorance for 2000 years. None of us have gotten it right. We've been absolutely wrong. But they will tell you it's impossible to know absolute truth. In fact, they see a certain virtue in uncertainty. They say you're not supposed to know truth. They'll say that. In fact, One of their mantras is, we don't offer answers, we offer mysteries. So it's a dialogue. There's no absolute truth.

Well, I understand something this is directly against one of the major tenants of the Protestant Reformation under Martin Luther called the perspicuity of scripture. Perspicuity means clarity. That the scripture is clear. The scripture is meant to be understood. That the central message of the Bible can be plainly seen, plainly interpreted in the scripture. The emerging church leaders say, God may have spoken, but he mumbled. We don't exactly know what he said.

Tony Jones one of the leaders of the emerging church said, and I quote, "I'm quite convinced the Bible is a subversive text." This is what he said, "I think the Bible is a blanking scary book." I can't-- it's an expletive that's so bad, I could never repeat it. "I think the Bible is a blanking scary book. Pardon my French. I think that deconstruction is the only hermeneutical avenue that comes close to expressing the transgressive nature of the sacred text." You say, what on earth does that mean? That's my point.

I read a lot of these guys and listen to them, and I go, huh? And I, sort of, feel like well one guy said about philosophers. Philosophers are people who talk about things they don't understand, but they make it sound like it's your fault. I get that feeling. But here's what Tony Jones is basically saying. The only way to get at the true message of the Bible is to deconstruct its traditional message. In other words, whatever it means, and we don't exactly know what that is, it certainly can't mean what traditionally you have thought that it meant.

So now the Bible is viewed through the lens of modern or post-modern culture. It means through the lens of our culture we adapt it. Rather than seeing our culture through the lens of scripture, they see scripture through the lens of culture. And so they'll never come to any agreement on what is right, wrong, what salvation is, what sin is, and if you don't believe in anything, you can't offend anybody. That's, sort of, the whole point. More about this next time, but I want to close with this.

This is from my heart now. As a pastor, as your pastor, it is my prayer, my hope, my aim, my purpose to make you, the most loved, best fed congregation anywhere. And that is why we plow deeply into the text. That's why we uncover words and sentence structure and go deep to understand what it says, so we can then apply it to our lives as to what it means. Now there are going to be some sermons that you like more, and some sermons you like less, and some sermons that think this is so-- who cares about this? And some sermons that cure insomnia maybe. What is the point?

But all of them together, I'm hoping, will be the word of God, preaching the word, so that you can be equipped with absolute truth to get bearings in your life. Some of them will be good. Some of them will be bad. Some of them will be is it time to wake up. Let me tell you a quick story. There was a pastor's wife. She was going into surgery. And the pastor, her husband, was at her bedside, and she wasn't sure if she was going to make it through surgery. So she said honey, listen, if I die on the operating table, I just want you to know something. A, I love you. B, there's a shoe box under the bed that I've kept secret. There's some things in it. I want you to see it. That's if I die.

She goes into surgery. This guy can't wait till she dies. He runs right home, right, right. He runs right home to see what is this nonsense about, and goes under the bed. And there's a shoe box, and there's $10,000 in it and three eggs. He thought, this is weird. So he goes back to the hospital. She wakes up, post-op now. She's fine. And he said, honey, I love you. I'm glad you're out of surgery. And I saw the shoe box. Help me understand, $10,000, three eggs what's all that about.

She said, honey, when we first got married, I was determined not to be a complaining, critical, nagging spouse. So what I thought is that every time you preach a bad sermon, I'll put one egg in the box. And I won't say anything about it. He thought, huh, 31 years of marriage, three eggs. That's a pretty good track record. He's feeling really good about himself until she then finished the sentence. She said, and whenever I got a dozen eggs, I'd sell it and put the money in the box.

So I don't know how many eggs you got in your box at home, or how much money you've made off of it. But I do want to say be careful what you hear, listen with great discernment, and filter everything through the absolute grid of scripture. Are there a lot of texts that are ambiguous. Are there some things we won't understand? Absolutely. But the central message of the Bible is clear and understandable, and the more we go through it and the more we apply it, you'll have a firm footing for your future.

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for Paul and Timothy, and thank you for these words that we read about. And we understand that there were issues and concerns about truth very early on in the early church-- in the earliest days of the early church. And how often that needs to be addressed. And how we need to be on our guard and aware. As the Bible says, our loins gerd with truth, putting on the belt of truth. Lord, I pray that your people would be strengthened. That rather than looking through the lens of postmodernism or the lens of fundamentalism or the lens of any other ism, they look at the world through the lens of the word of God. I pray that because of that, they be comforted and strengthened. In Jesus' name, amen.

Additional Messages in this Series

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1/6/2008
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Threat Level - Red?
1 Chronicles 12:32
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The Department of Homeland Security was established after the September 11, 2001 attack. Designed to inform the public as to the threat of terrorism by color-coded levels, it has now become part of our culture. But radical terrorism isn't our only challenge. In this series we will consider the dangers we face personally, culturally, with our family, nationally and globally. In a culture conditioned by fear, how can we have peace?
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1/13/2008
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Securing the Foundations
Matthew 7:21-27
Skip Heitzig
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The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security issued an important statement, "We [speak] often about protecting our nation, protecting our states, protecting our cities. [But we need] to reiterate the importance of protecting our homes." He acknowledged that the country's foundation is the individual and individual homes. But what about the foundation of the home? What about the foundation of each person? How can you be personally secure--forever?
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1/20/2008
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Heaven-Bound and Enjoying the Ride
1 John 5:13
Skip Heitzig
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Having the assurance of salvation is a prerequisite for enjoying the Christian life. Some don't have that certainty and it shows--they are weighed down by insecurity. Others feel certain that they're saved but they're delusional. Why is it important to know your eternal destination and how can we know? Let's shore up the security of our souls.
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1/27/2008
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Fractured Families-Broken Lives
2 Samuel 13-18
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
The Department of Homeland Security was established after the attacks of September 11, 2001. It was, in part, a response to terrorism. But what about our response to the terrorism taking place to our own homes? Our society is hardly family-friendly. There are powerful forces operating to undermine the moral underpinnings of the family unit. Let's discover what happened to Israel's First Family. Lets review the story of David and Absalom that sadly repeats itself today.
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2/3/2008
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Stop the Dominoes!
Joshua 24:14-15
Skip Heitzig
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Joshua's last State-of-the-Union address to Israel was timely. As leader of that nation he knew his people, and he knew there were forces threatening their spiritual survival. He could already begin to see the "domino effect" of compromise happening in his own day. "Put away the gods your fathers served" (vs14), he admonished them. Then as a leader, both of the country and of his own home, he made his own resolve to serve God with his family. Let's consider what this same kind of steadfast determination could mean today for securing our families. Find out how you can help stop the Dominoes.
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2/10/2008
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How to Prevent Soul Thieves!
Nehemiah 1-2
Skip Heitzig
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The Christian is not to be "conformed to this world, but transformed" (Romans 12:2). This value system that the Bible calls the "world" imposes itself on us twenty-four-seven. It beckons to us to lower our standards of righteousness and conform to its unrighteous standard. Just as enemies and thieves were threatening to invade Jerusalem during the days of Nehemiah, "soul thieves" are breaching the walls of our homes and eroding the souls of those inside. What can we do? Find out how to prevent Soul Thieves.
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2/17/2008
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Is the Church Secure?
Luke 21:12-19
Skip Heitzig
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There is an aggressive, consistently growing, vocal and active attack on the church in our culture. In a society where every viewpoint is tolerated and every ideology is celebrated, there is one that is becoming unacceptable--the Christian viewpoint. Once we were marginalized; now we are attacked. What are we to make of this? How secure is the church of Christ? What can we expect in the future and how should we respond to those who want to silence us?
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3/2/2008
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The Slippery Slope
2 Timothy 4:2-8
Skip Heitzig
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Here's a question: Is everyone who can say "Baahhh" necessarily a sheep? Is every person who throws around the name of Jesus a disciple? In our series on Homeland Security we have considered how to be secure spiritually, relationally, morally and even socially. But what about the future of the church? What kind of Christian legacy are we passing on to the next generation?
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3/9/2008
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Abraham's Other Son
Genesis 16
Skip Heitzig
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Every Muslim reveres Ishmael as the son of Abraham more so than Isaac (whom the Bible calls the son of promise). In fact, Muslims claim that Islam began with Abraham and his son Ishmael, thus claiming that it is older than both Judaism and Christianity. According to the Koran, Ishmael is called both, "an apostle and a prophet". How does this biblical story relate to the modern threat of radical Islam? How does this ancient account in Genesis 16 tie in with the spread of extremist ideas of jihad?
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3/16/2008
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Testimony of a First-Century Terrorist
Acts 9:1-6
Skip Heitzig
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Historians still talk about the amazing transformation of Saul of Tarsus. He was once rabidly hostile to the early Christians, terrorizing them in Jerusalem and in attempting to do the same in Syria. Paul's life shouts to us that no one is too hard, too lost or too far-gone to be saved. If we could really believe that last sentence, it would change forever how we deal with people. Let's consider how God might use us to reach out to the Islamic world with the gospel.
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3/30/2008
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What Now?
Romans 12:1-2
Skip Heitzig
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For the past 11 weeks we have probed the scriptures to find peace in times of terror. We've considered the dangers we face personally, culturally, nationally and within our own family. Today we bring all the pieces together to wrap up with a final application. I'll be joined with a few friends of mine to help me as we think about what to do now!
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There are 11 additional messages in this series.