Publication:Pastoral Letter, September 2014
Dear Friend in Christ:
We like to know who is knocking or ringing the doorbell before we open it. That is certainly true now in most neighborhoods. Caution has all but eliminated door to door sales. Nevertheless there remains One who stands at the door and knocks (see Revelation 3:19-20).
In Revelation 3, Jesus is described as the one who is standing outside the Laodicea church door and knocking. That church was lukewarm, and nauseous to God. Yet, He offered to enter and dine with anyone who answered, but they had to open the door. The problem of the church was that they were deceived as to their true condition. They were unrighteous, but unaware. They were poor, but thought themselves wealthy. They were blind, but thought they could see. Jesus desired to bring them to truth so that they could fellowship with Him. Truth was and is the basis for relationship with God and one another.
What Is Truth?
“What is truth?” Pilate asked this of Jesus when our Lord was on trial (see John 18:28). Jesus had just said, “Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.” Pilate’s question is the historical question that has bedeviled humanity throughout the ages from Eden until now. Adam missed it and so did Pilate. The tragedy is that failing to hear the truth results in believing a destroying lie. Ignorance or rejection of truth is followed by deception, or thinking everything is okay, when it is not. Deception leads to death.
Truth is more than an opinion, a belief, or even a “fact”. Truth is a Person, the Person who is knocking at our door, the church door, and the culture. The apostle John refers more than once to Jesus being the truth (see John 1:1-18; 8:31, 32; 14:6). Truth was planted in Mary’s womb, was born, walked in the World, was crucified, and rose again. Truth lives; it is eternal.
There is in Heaven One who is Truth; the same yesterday, today, and forever. Truth came, not as a philosophy or an obstruction, but in flesh and blood. We judged the truth, and the truth will ultimately judge us, unless we face the truth in this life and receive Him. God’s intent is not that truth judge us but that truth should save us and free us from a lie. The lie is this: we are okay without the truth.
Any religion or philosophy that fails to bring people to the truth, fails to bring the change of heart essential to dine with the One who is knocking at the door. When truth is outside a lie is at the table. Once truth is allowed in lies are dismissed and real fellowship begins. When we face the truth, confession of sin begins. Forgiveness and cleansing begin, and discernment follows. Jesus can then bless and break the Bread of Life with us. Real fellowship must be based upon trust, and trust is founded on truth.
I well remember the night that I faced the truth about myself and about Jesus. I “answered the door” and began a relationship. Sometimes, I have strayed from truth, but truth was already in the house and at the table. If I wanted to fellowship, His eyes said, “Tell me the truth.” I don’t own the truth; the truth owns me.
Atheists and their friends, the secularists, are in denial. They not only deny Jesus but they deny that absolute truth even exists. By removing truth, the path is paved for their self-serving purpose. Let me mention just three men who have advocated a truthless philosophy in order to gain power, a power that has wreaked havoc on humanity.
Machiavelli: Authored The Prince and advocated any means necessary to gain and retain power. Nietzsche: Authored The Will to Power and God is Dead that gave us “post-modernism”, a culture without an anchor. He was the “John the Baptist” to Hitler. Alinsky: Authored Rules for Radicals. Alinsky was a “community organizer” who advocated the polarization of various groups, organizing around offenses, and using deception to gain power. The book was dedicated to Lucifer and influenced our current president and another who wants to be.
Those and others like Karl Marx have brought immeasurable destruction upon innumerable masses through deception. It is no wonder that Revelation 21:8 ranks deception alongside other serious sins: murder, sorcery, idolatry, unbelief, and every abomination. Given the destruction caused by deception, one can easily see why the One who is truth hates deception. Deception is Lucifer’s currency which can only purchase death. If a person, a church, or a culture fails to open the door to truth, they are left to dine with the Devil.
God’s prescription for humanity’s sad plight was, and is, truth … flesh and blood truth, or truth in flesh and blood. He gave us Jesus; God laid our lies upon Jesus and we crucified Him. But as many as receive Him receive the authority to become sons and daughters of God, born by the will of God. His blood sacrifice cleanses our hearts and lives of deception, makes a new covenant, and conforms us to Christ and His Word, and will made flesh (see Romans 8:28-30).
John tells us that Jesus is the light and, if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin (see 1 John 1:7). This passage goes on to tell us that we all have sin, “But if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us, our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Now, I believe that the confession that is necessary to cleansing is both to God and to others who sit at the table of truth, because John is talking about fellowship. Truth is required by the Lord but also by our fellow disciples. James 5:16 says, “Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed.” How often do we pray for healing without confession?
The problem with confession is trust and the problem with trust is truth. We are rightly reticent to confess when trust is questionable. I would not want to confess to my fellow members in the “Laodicean church.” I’d rather sing with them or hear a good message. I need to trust before I confess; I need to trust Jesus and my fellow disciples.
My pastor, Ken Sumrall, is now with the Lord. We had an open, trusting relationship around the table of truth. Everyone needs someone with whom they can walk in the light.
Thomas Aquinas said, “As a matter of honor, one man owes it to another to manifest the truth.” But if truth is outside knocking, what are the relationships like inside? J.C. Ryle said, “Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace.” The prophets and apostles believed that in that they loved the truth more than life itself. Great men and women have always loved the truth more than themselves. They loved it more than some desired outcome. Truth is its own reward. John Wycliffe said, “I believe that in the end truth will conquer.” Wicked people work to conquer truth by using deception as a tool to conquer others.
I love the Hymn “Rock of Ages.” I especially appreciate the verse that says, “In my hand no price I bring. Simply to Thy Cross I cling.” The Cross is where we die to ourselves so that God’s Truth becomes our life. And that is where “The community of Truth” is born.
When David sinned so grievously, the sword entered within his own family and within his kingdom.
Psalms 51 records his confession and it is the “gold standard” for confessing to God. He answered the door when truth knocked. He said, “Behold you desire truth in the inward parts” (see verse 6). Notice the connection between confession, cleansing (see verse 7), joy (see verse 12), and the ability to teach transgressors (see verse 13). Truth must be at the heart of it all. I love Malachi, especially chapter 3. In verses 16-18, he tells us that in the days of judgment, those that feared the Lord conversed with each other and God listened to their conversation. He heard them, not because they were perfect or self-righteous, but because they spoke in the awe of God. He promised to remember them, spare them and treat them as His “jewels”. He promised to give them the ability to discern the righteous from the wicked. What gifts!
What might the “God fearers” have been saying to one another? You can be sure it was the truth! They were sharing revealed truth, wisdom, and not mere gossip or the news of current events. When times get serious, people should get serious about the Lord of the times.
Revelation 3:14-22 addresses the lukewarm church of Laodicea who thought everything was just fine. But Jesus, the truth, was outside knocking at the door. In verse 20, He said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” If anyone could hear Him, and open, He would come in and dine with them. What happens when Jesus breaks bread and blesses it? Eyes are opened and He makes Himself known.
He reveals the “Bread of Life”. This is what the “God Fearers” are talking to one another about, the blessed bread of life. They are exchanging eternal truth; they are being built up in Christ and become overcomers in times of trouble.
We live in such times today. How will we respond when Jesus knocks? Is He knocking now?
Where Truth Begins
Truth begins with God. Then truth is exchanged with others who opened the door. Then the light shines from them as a city set on a hill and others are drawn to the light. Some flee from the light and others try to put it out. But, as John said in his Gospel, chapter one verse 5, that is not possible. Darkness cannot put out the light.
I pray daily for those who shine the light in the darkest of circumstances, the persecuted Church. Many are loving “the light” more than their very lives. I highly respect those who hold the truth to the loss of all things and seek their reward beyond this life. I only pray that we can stand among them as they stand before Christ!
Please plan now to be with us in Gatlinburg, TN, on May 13-15, 2015, for our annual CSM Leadership Conference. We will hear from Nik Ripken, author of “The Insanity of God” and “The Insanity of Obedience”, who works closely with persecuted believers worldwide and who has reported on their courage and effectiveness for the Lord. Visit www.csmpublishing.org for more information. We sincerely ask for your continued prayer and financial support this month. CSM faces many financial needs and this is a time of great change and opportunity for us. Would you partner with us to make a difference worldwide? Thank you so much for your friendship!
Scripture Reference: Revelations, John, 1 John, Psalms,