Twisted Things

Acts 20:28-32 – Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. 32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

2014-01-21 - Twisted Things (IMG_6800_CROP)Twisted tree roots at Jasmine Rocks, along Rough Trail, near Gray’s ArchRed River Gorge Geological Area, Daniel Boone National Forest, Kentucky.

Today’s passage from the book of Acts is part of Paul’s admonition to the leaders in the church at Ephesus as he was preparing to depart for Jerusalem.  And, although he was speaking specifically to church “overseers” in first century Ephesus, his warning is one that Christians, leaders and laity alike, of all generations would do well to heed.

Generally most of us are aware of the lies that abound in the world outside the doors of our churches.  However, spotting the false teachings, the “twisted things,” within the walls of the church can often be a much more difficult endeavor.  In Matthew 7:15 Jesus warns of this, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”  The fact that they are disguised as sheep makes them that much harder to recognize.  So what are we to do?

We need to follow Paul’s example and “commend [our leaders] to God and to the word of his grace,” that is, to pray for them and hold them accountable to the teachings found in the Bible.  Not that we should eye every pastor with suspicion, or dissect every sermon with a fileting knife, but we do need to “be alert” for false teachings coming from within our churches, both locally and globally.  Of course the only way we can do this is if we, ourselves, spend enough time studying the word so we are able to recognize something that is contrary to Scripture.

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.

A Crooked and Twisted Generation

Philippians 2:12-16 12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. 14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

2014-01-07 - A Crooked and Twisted Generation (IMG_0172)The twisted roots of a sycamore tree along the bank of Caesar Creek.  Caesar Creek Gorge State Nature Preserve, Oregonia, Ohio.

In today’s passage Paul is writing to encourage the church in Philippi, who it seems were living “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.”  Every generation since the fall of mankind in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3) has lived with its share of problems and corruption, and we certainly have no shortage of either in our times.

Paul’s advice is just as relevant to today’s generation of Christians as it was to the Philippian church nearly two thousand years ago.  First, we are told to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling.”  This is certainly not a call to works righteousness, because we are quickly reminded that “it is God who works in [us], both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”  Even though our salvation is through faith in Christ alone, by God’s grace, this passage does remind us that our faith is active, not passive.  We cannot just sit on the sidelines.

We are also told to “do all things without grumbling or disputing” so that we “may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish.”  If we can do these things that Paul instructs, and hold “fast to the word of life,” that is cling to the promise of the gospel of Christ, then we will “shine as lights in the world,” “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.”  And, as Jesus, himself tells us in Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts

© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.