Revealing the SIMPLICITY that’s in Christ

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"4 benchmarks for knowing God's truth"



Do you want a good idea in understanding what God’s truth is from other messages of error? Then this lesson is for you! There are a lot of different messages being proclaimed in the church world, and just because it’s spoken behind a pulpit, or comes from a famous minister, doesn’t mean that it’s God’s truth that we’re to believe. This lesson is about recognizing God’s truth, because it is the bedrock for us growing in Christ. Look at this tremendous verse in 1 John 4:1— “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (Paul taught the same thing in 1 Thess 5:21-22). The Living Bible, which I used here, really conveys the heart of John in us knowing God’s truth from other messages of error. John instructs us that before we believe the message that we hear and jump spiritual cartwheels over it, we need to “TEST IT FIRST to see if it really is” a message from God (or, His truth). It’s critical that we believe the right messages, because if we believe the wrong ones, then our growth in Christ will be hindered (See what Paul said about this Eph 4:11-16). I want to give you 4 benchmarks in knowing the truth from error when you hear messages. Each one of these 4 benchmarks have their roots in Jesus and what He Redemptively has done (because He is the standard of all of God’s truth, please see what Paul said in Eph 4:20-21). These benchmarks are our discernment in knowing truth from error (God’s message from other messages).


Benchmark #1 — the New Covenant. Most of us have a Bible and that, of course, is a good thing, but believe it or not, it can also be a bad thing. There are 4 terms that are good to know when it comes to discerning God’s message from the Bible: the Old Covenant with its Old Testament, and the New Covenant with its New Testament. The Old Testament is the old agreement from God’s Old Covenant, as the New Testament is the new agreement from God’s New Covenant. 


It’s vital that we know that both of these agreements are antithesis to each other— they have nothing in common with each other. 


Please don’t misunderstand my meaning here, I read and study the Old Testament, but I do so, in the light of the finished work of Christ. It’s really sad that so many people preach, teach and share scriptures from the Old Testament and try their best to make it relevant for us today in trying to get something from God. This would be like me going to an attorney and trying to get in on the Rockefeller inheritance— that inheritance belonged only to the Rockefeller family and I’m not entitled to any of it. 


We now have an entirely new kind of covenant, based on the better promises of a new agreement. The New Covenant is the first benchmark for our discernment in knowing God’s truth in Jesus Christ.


Benchmark #2 — God’s love. There’s a lot of “hate” messages out there, talking about how God’s going to judge this person, or that person. I believe that most of us are familiar with a VR headset (VR stands for,“virtual reality”). People that wear this kind of headset over their eyes and they will see a 3-D image of what they’re doing, just like they were involved in it. VR headsets make things “life-like”. Using a VR headset is a great way to become completely immersed in a game or some other kind of activity. 


God’s love is our spiritual VR headset! And without understanding it in the light of Jesus Christ, it’ll be difficult to discern God’s message of truth. 


Love makes everything from God’s kingdom be in 3-D quality and like-like, making you an actual participant of what you’re seeing (Please see what Peter said in 2 Pet 1:2-4 for details to this!) It’s through understanding God’s love in Christ, that one becomes so immersed in the reality of Jesus and His kingdom, that He doesn’t have time to fulfill the lusts of his flesh! Paul said that it’s through the revelation of God’s love, that “I shall know (spiritual kingdom-things) just as I also am known”, see 1 Cor 13:12!


It was when I started understanding God’s love for me in Christ, that I became persuaded of His continual care in my life! Let me show you what Paul also said about this in 1 Cor 13:9 and 10 — “(9) For we know in part and we prophesy in part. (10) But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.” Without the revelation of God’s love, one will know fragmented parts of God’s truth and will prophesy fragments of truth. This is why the revelation from God’s love is another benchmark of discernment in knowing God’s truth.


Now look at Col 3:14-16— “(14) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. (15) And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. (16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom”


Benchmark #3 — the gospel of Jesus Christ and the word of His grace. Notice what Paul said in Rom 16:25-26— “(25) Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel (of grace) and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began (26) but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith”. One that’s ESTABLISHED is someone who’s stable and fixed and Paul said that God Himself does this to a believer through 2 things: 1) the gospel of grace (Paul’s gospel) and the preaching of Jesus Christ (Redemption). The word “gospel”, as Paul used it over 70 times in his writings and also recorded in Acts, literally means “good news”. This is why the 4 Books of the New Testament are called “Gospels”, because they introduce the man responsible for the good news— Jesus! He is the message of good news! 


The gospel is the good news of Redemption— what Jesus Christ has done for us at the cross and has wrought inside us at the new birth! 


The gospel involves 4 Redemptive realities: Christ’s death, burial, resurrection and our identification with Him in those things! Any message that is outside the scope of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our identification with Him in what He did, is not the gospel— no matter how good that it sounds.


As I said, the gospel is GOOD NEWS — it’s not bad news. Throughout the years, many messages have been proclaimed that are bad news. Simply put, if it’s bad news about God, it’s probably not the gospel! Yes, there is God’s judgment, but the good news is that Jesus already absorbed for us at the cross and we’ve been saved from the upcoming judgment as seen in the book of Revelation! Somebody asks, “But what about God’s chastisement. Isn’t that His anger and disappointment?” God corrects and chastises, but never in anger, but in His loving goodness (It’s interesting that the word “teaching” in Titus 2:12, referring to what grace does in our lives, is the same word that’s used 3 times in Heb 12 as “chastise”, see Heb 12:6, 7, 10. God’s chastisement is about His grace working in our lives in becoming more conformed to Jesus in this life). Simply put if it’s bad news, it’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ and must not be heeded. This is why the gospel of Christ is another benchmark in discerning God’s truth.


Benchmark #4 — true wisdom, according to James. Simply put, wisdom is insight. Because wisdom is insight, there are many different kinds of wisdom. James classified wisdom into 4 categories: God’s wisdom; earthly wisdom; sensual wisdom; demonic wisdom (see James 3:15 for reference. I won’t go into detail about the other kinds, because I’m just focusing on God’s wisdom). It’s good to know what the standard is for knowing what God’s wisdom is, so that we won’t be lead by the wrong information by the other types of wisdom. 


All of God’s wisdom— His wisdom for us to know— is hidden in Christ, because He has become for us wisdom from God, see Col 2:3 and 1 Cor 1:30. To receive God’s wisdom regarding any and every situation of life is to look unto Jesus, see Heb 12:2! However, James gives us the main characteristics of God’s wisdom found in Christ. Look at what he said in James 3:17— “the wisdom that is from above (God’s wisdom in Christ) is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” 


We should compare every message that we hear, believe and hold to with these glorious characteristics of what God’s wisdom in Christ is. 


Let’s briefly look at these 8 descriptions that James gives us concerning what God’s wisdom in Christ is. 


God’s wisdom is first PURE. The message of God’s wisdom is all about Jesus and His Redemptive work. It’s message isn’t MIXED with anything else, like Jesus and your work, or it’s Jesus and your obedience. No, God’s wisdom is Jesus plus nothing! Jesus plus nothing equals everything!


God’s wisdom is PEACEABLE. Peaceable refers to God’s RECONCILIATION, see Paul’s teaching of this in 2 Cor 5:17-21. The message of God’s wisdom is all about our peace with Him!


God’s wisdom is WILLING TO YIELD. The message of God’s wisdom causes us to SUBMIT to each other, not to have strife and division with each other over who’s right or who’s wrong. 


God’s wisdom is FULL OF MERCY. The message of God’s wisdom causes us to FORGIVE one another as we have been forgiven— unconditionally and unequivocally (not “I’ll forgive, but I’ll never forget!”). God’s wisdom doesn’t cause us to avoid one another because of our different beliefs and opinions over trivial things (If it’s not about Jesus, then it’s trivial). 


God’s wisdom is FULL OF GOOD FRUITS. The message of God’s wisdom produces real growth and maturity in believers (see what Paul said in Gal 5:22-23.)


God’s wisdom is WITHOUT PARTIALITY. The message of God’s wisdom is true for everyone— it’s not according to one’s culture, denomination, etc. God’s wisdom doesn’t cause friction and partiality. Much of what people believe and preach is about one’s PREFERENCE about certain things, then find Scriptures to back up their preferences.


God’s wisdom is WITHOUT HYPOCRISY. The message of God’s wisdom is all about His unconditional love and forgiveness! His message to you doesn’t change, based on your performance to Him. It’s because people have given messages like, “God loves you so much!”, and then turns around and says, “God’s going to get you for that!”, that people have seen God as being TWO-FACED based one’s behavior. No, the true message of God’s wisdom isn’t flippant news, but it’s consistent good news!


There you have it! These 4 benchmarks are not some kind of “formula” to know or memorize, but rather, I’ve given them to help you discern what God’s truth is from religious myths. One of the best ways to spot the counterfeit (a religious myth) is by becoming obsessed with what’s true— Jesus Christ!

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