Confidence: Don’t Leave Home Without It!

“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

When Paul expressed his confidence to the Philippians, he was careful to state in whom it was placed. His confidence was entirely in the Heavenly Father. He was sure God would finish the work he started.

Later, the apostle wrote, “put no confidence in the flesh” (3:4). He then cited his religious accomplishments. He summed it up by saying the list was all rubbish compared to gaining Christ and being found in Him (3:8-9).

Apparently, Paul needed to make an important distinction with the Philippians: Self-promotion that says, “Look at me!” gives off a stench (ex. rubbish). Knowing the Lord and being assured of salvation produces a sweet fragrance in God’s nostrils.

Confidence is a by-product of knowledge, and as such, it is intangible. It is knowing our Math grade is an “A” right after we hand in the exam. According to three-time Olympian and Gold Medalist, Bob Richards, “Life’s greatest motivation is the knowledge that God is with me.

Paul never left home without the assurance God was with him. (If God be for us, who can be against us? -Romans 8:31.)

Surprisingly, confidence in God’s Word may invite a negative reaction from some Christians. We should anticipate hostility from the world, but anger from church people about salvation is unexpected. Make no mistake, prophecy is controversial because it is all about salvation!

Standing for prophetic truth evokes a mixed response. The saints soak it up. The indoctrinated may reject it out of hand. It is possible to have false assurance. How can we have certainty if our belief is misguided or our thoughts are confused? (Who misguides? Who authors confusion?)

Many Christians regard befuddlement as normal. Some argue that what happens in the last days is like an equation no one is supposed to solve.

Does God want his people confident about their salvation, past, present, as well as future? If the Lord wants his people to be saved to the uttermost, is it boastful to say we understand his plans (Amos 3:7, Isaiah 42:9, John 15:15)?

After sharing insight about the Antichrist on the phone with a brother, he fired back, “What makes you so sure? What if you’re wrong?”

It was a great question. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to answer. It was my confidence that bothered him. Think of it this way: When you make a discovery, aren’t you excited to share what you learned? Well, so are we!

There is no swagger or puffed out chest. Being granted revelation on matters of supreme importance is humbling. Our self-assurance at tpog.com is rooted in our scientific approach. What you see comes from an unwavering faith that God is with us. Since it has passed every test for truth, we have a strong belief in what we affirm. As far as our confident, future-oriented messages: Don’t leave home without them! -jf

What is lacking?

Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. (1 Thessalonians 3:10 NIV)

For half of 1 Thessalonians, Paul praised the believers for, among other things, standing firm in the Lord (3:8) and giving him joy (3:9). Encouraged by Timothy’s on-site report, a longing was stirred in Paul to visit them and “supply what was lacking in their faith.” 

As churches go, the Thessalonians ranked high on the list. They were god-fearing people and generous givers. Even so, Paul knew that something was amiss.

There are many good churches, large and small. It would be wrong, however, to assume that because a church is doing well, they should not be doing better. Often as fellowships grow, they become immune to criticism. A church may be theologically sound, but still be less than 100% on matters of faith.

As great a teacher as Paul was, he understood that a hole in the foundation was a calamity in the making. So what did the Thessalonians lack that Paul needed to fill? It was the same as is lacking in most churches today. What was vital then, as it is now, is an accurate knowledge of prophecy. We have Paul’s Thessalonian epistles as evidence that false prophets had spread deceit (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). In the dark days ahead, a failure to fill up what is lacking will result in the house’s collapse (cf. Matthew 7:26-27).

So you love your church? That’s great, but are they teaching  the truth about the Bible’s prophecy? The Bereans, a fellowship right down the road, critically analyzed what they heard by comparing Scripture with Scripture. Luke, the historian of The Book of Acts, offered this assessment: When it came to displaying a critical ear, the Bereans were more noble than the Thessalonians (Acts 17:11).

In Thessalonica and Corinth (1 Corinthians 14:1, 3-5), prophetic truth was lacking. When this is the case, our foundation in Christ–on which we build–is in big trouble. These were good churches with sincere believers. Paul wanted to supply what was lacking, not tear them down.

To support my point, read 1 Thessalonians 3:10 in its context, include Chapters 4 and 5. After he provided instructions on holy living, plus an admonishment on love, Paul wanted to eliminate an infection in the fellowship. That is what false prophecy does; it corrupts and sickens.

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

Did Paul make this teaching up? Take note: He passed on what he received from the Lord himself (4:15). That’s what accurate prophecy provides; it offers clear teaching from the Lord himself. Does your church believe in a literal interpretation of 4:13-18, the classic rapture passage? Why wouldn’t Christians believe that it means what it says?  Remember, these words came from Christ.

If we were talking patient-to-doctor, I might offer a cure, “Here is where you are lacking! You lack the knowledge of your faith.”

Nearly every ill facing God’s people would disappear if we grasped prophetic truth. Allow Paul and other prophets to speak into your spirit. Be the eager student you should be (cf. 2 Peter 1:10).

Filling up where we lack is an easy fix; time alone each day studying God’s prophets. Determine your need, then prescribe your own dose of prophetic truth. jf

Over the edge

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…who acquit the guilty for a bribe and deprive the innocent of his right! (Isaiah 5:20a, 23 ESV)

It should not shock anyone. We can no longer overlook one of the Bible’s signs of impending disaster. Increasingly, the lines between good and evil, the innocent and guilty, are being blurred. Readers do not need examples. We see it almost every day and are sickened. Never before have we seen such haughtiness among the wicked or the anger level so high. What used to be good is now bad. What was once wrong is now politically-correct. Surely we are in the last days.

In the present, God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah:

“A horrible and shocking thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and my people love it that way. But what will you do in the end?” (Jeremiah 5:30-31 NIV)

Cultures that have gone amok were lured by the lie. Whatever country we call home, if it has not gone too far yet, it is perilously close. When truth is no longer convenient, demanded or held in high regard by authorities, then “woes” will appear.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do  what ought not to  be done. They have become filled with every type of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. (Romans 1:24-25, 28-29a NIV)

We have been warned. According to God’s Word, it may be too late for a remedy (Jeremiah 30:12-13). What is not certain is whether we, as individuals, are anchored to the solid rock, Jesus (John 14:6). If not, the society to which we surrendered our soul, will thrust us over the edge with it.

The Pinocchio Syndrome

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Revelation 20:8 NIV)

Many are familiar with Pinocchio, the wooden boy made famous by the 1940 Walt Disney full-length animated film. According to the blue fairy, to become a real boy he had to obey his conscience.

It did not take long for Pinocchio to fail. He found it expedient to lie but each time he did his nose became longer. Eventually it turned into a tree limb. His falsehoods had observable consequences, therefore, we have the Pinocchio syndrome. As the Blue Fairy wisely said, “A lie keeps growing and growing until it’s as plain as the nose on your face.”

Perhaps watching Pinocchio should be made mandatory. We are living in an age of unprecedented deceit. In America, controversy has recently swirled around the confirmation of Bret Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. (That’s an understatement!) With his confirmation, U.S. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), cited the contribution of another senator, Susan Collins (R-ME). About her Graham stated: “Senator Collins saved the senate from plunging over the abyss.” I firmly believe the statement of the senator from South Carolina was correct. 

Long regarded as a top choice for the nation’s highest court, Bret Kavanaugh has been put through an incredible ordeal. I won’t rehash all the details. Enough has been written, however, much of it by men and women with the Pinocchio Syndrome. 

As a general observation, the media and anti-Kavanaugh forces cared little that key details were missing from Dr. Ford’s testimony. Also, there was a total lack of corroboration with her description of the incident. Add to that glaring inconsistencies in her story. In short, the accuser had no case except in the court of public opinion. Nevertheless, we repeatedly heard about Professor Ford’s credibility.

Despite the rancor, threats and mob tactics aligned against him, Bret Kavanaugh was confirmed, then sworn in as Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The vicious assault on his integrity was withstood.

Much of America breathed a collective sigh of relief. They are now ready to move on. Is there motivation to find out the truth or to investigate the accusers? Probably not.

America’s vulnerability to tyranny has been exposed. Without a scintilla of evidence, an almost successful campaign was orchestrated to ruin a good man–and all for political reasons. When promoters of a lie are of sufficient number to intimidate and to drown out the truth, it is over.

To a culture once steeped in justice, lies and deceit are growing and growing. The Pinocchio syndrome means falsehoods that are as plain as the nose on your face are believed anyway. Choosing the lie is choosing a tempting road from which there is no return.

The Bible makes clear that before Jesus comes back, God will rid the earth of all who deal in lies (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). To become a real Christ-follower, we must yield to this thing called conscience or be condemned.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness… Therefore, God gave them over to the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen. (Romans 1:18, 24-25 NIV)