Note: This article is reprinted in it’s entirety with the express permission of the author, Reverend Nolan Harkness. For more information about Reverend Harkness Ministry please go to: www.verticalsound.org .
A Crossless Christianity Is the Real Issue
By Rev. Nolan J Harkness
I was sitting on the beautiful St. Lawrence River in a small rowboat fishing just as the sun was setting over Canada. A vibrant mix of reds and oranges with scattered patches of various shades of sky blue created a breathtakingly magnificent sky scape to my North. Majestic mountains of great white and grey thunderhead cloud formations towered to the south over Goose Bay. Just as I felt I was going to be raptured out of there in a Heavenly experience, the sun broke through the fresh rain mix, creating a full seven colored rainbow, reaching out what seemed like miles from end to end. As I was in the middle of praising God for the beauty of his handiwork, His still small voice interrupted in a clear and somber tone and said to my heart: “Nolan, unless the cross of Jesus Christ becomes the most beautiful thing you have ever seen, you will never complete all that I have called you to do!” My head and heart dropped in immediate repentance saying, “Yes, Lord by your grace may it one day be!”
Hanging on the wall of my home are several crosses, from different acquisitions at separate times in my life. My favorite is one I just call “The Old Wooden Cross”. Soon after I rededicated my life to the Lord in my early twenties the Holy Spirit began to clean up my life. I had in my season away from God been a bartender and a bouncer in a nightclub near Williamsport, Pa. From there I moved to Jacksonville Florida in 1979. One night at Diamond Head Night Club in Jacksonville, I met the sister of a member from a internationally known rock band. We dated for about six months. It was during the highs and lows of that relationship that I finally came to the end of myself. It was while I was struggling with suicidal thoughts that I gave my life fully to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. In addition, I was also very powerfully filled with God’s Holy Spirit.
A few days ago, I was sitting on our little patio enjoying the fresh air and morning sunshine while working on part two of False Preachers, Teacher’s and Prophets. I began on a writing frenzy about how we, as mere lay people, can’t always know the truth of the Word of God if we don’t know how to read, study, and understand it to begin with.
I headed inside for a coffee refill; I felt led to my bookcases in search of a reference book or two to help me with this article. I sort through a stack of “TableTalk” Magazines[i] – on the top of the stack is the February 2018 “Doing Theology”. I opened and read the short article just inside the front cover entitled, “Doers, Not Hearers Only” by Burk Parsons. My first thought… Thank You Holy Spirit for confirming yet another article.
Throughout many of my articles, and in some stories in my Book, I make the statement “I am not a Theologian”. After reading this short article, I must now stop doing that. What first leapt off the page I read was, “…everyone is a theologian — the question is whether or not we are good theologians. The fundamental problem in our day is that many professing Christian don’t think they need to study theology, while many others don’t seem to care about theology or are simply too lazy to study it. Christians, however must care about theology. How could we not, when it tells us about the One that saves our souls?”[ii]
This is in continuation of the previous couple articles about false teachers, preachers and prophets. I think in my own mind I am trying still to answer the question of why it is so easy for false teachers and preachers to take hold and deceive the Church with their lies. Why doesn’t the Church recognize it?
I did some research and here was some enlightening information.
In a 2017 Gallup survey, 75% of Americans claim to be Christian, yet only 24% of them believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. “Fewer than one in four Americans (24%) now believe the Bible is “the actual word of God, and is to be taken literally, word for word,” similar to the 26% who view it as “a book of fables, legends, history and moral precepts recorded by man.”
Why are so many denying the Word of God? Why are so many denying the TRUTHS of the Bible – the creation, the fall of man, the flood of Noah, the Ten Commandants, God’s covenant with Abraham, the exodus from Egypt, Israel enters the promised land, Saul, David, Solomon builds the temple, Jesus is born and baptized, Jesus begins his three year ministry, the sermon on the mount, the transfiguration, His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the last supper, Jesus’ betrayal, trial, and crucifixion, Jesus’ ascension, Holy Spirit comes at Pentecost, Saul’s conversion, John’s revelation of Jesus’ return for His church… and that just names a few of the hundreds of Biblical TRUTHS.
This is part two – in continuation of last week article “The TRUTH of False Teacher, Preachers and Prophets”
We all want to think that the preacher we sit under is an anointed man of God and he is there to teach and speak the TRUTHS of the Word of God. But sometimes things happen and that person (man or woman) stumbles or falls. Somehow they begin following the wrong path. Perhaps it is greed, the allure of notoriety, the attention, or the perceived worship of an entire congregation of folks wanting to hear what they alone have to say… perhaps it is arrogance or pride… whatever it is; sometimes our leaders fall. Sometimes they take on the mantle of being the singular authority in all things Biblical. Their interpretation and understanding becomes TRUTH; and while it is acceptable and palatable to those listening, it may not be the TRUTH of the Bible.
Accurate and sound doctrine is fundamental to our salvation and increase in spiritual development. God warns us many times in the Scriptures to be alert and watchful of false teaching. As Christians, we need to be able to identify counterfeit teachers in order to know when we are being led down a wrong path. As an individual, we should be already in tune with the urgings, or promptings of Holy Spirit. Call it intuition if you want, but you know when something just isn’t right. You recognize the small voice inside telling you to be warned. When that feeling deep in you starts to stir, what then?
2 Peter 2:1 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.”
Matthew 7:15-20 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
Our first responsibility as followers of Jesus Christ is to the TRUTH. We are called to speak it, teach it, write about it, and if annointed, preach it… but most of all we are to live it. And we aren’t to do this for a season or when it’s easy and comfortable – we’re called to do it until. Until when… until the Word of God is spoken to the four corners of the globe… until every ear has heard the TRUTH of Salvation through Jesus Christ.
Early in February 2018, the Holy Spirit woke me in the very early hours of the morning and impressed these words onto my heart… “Speak the TRUTH to the whole world”. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do next. So with an open mind and heart and with pen in hand, I prayed. I prayed for guidance about “TRUTH”. This is something which has been on my heart for quite some time. My desire to write an ongoing series of articles was born from a story I wrote in my book – “Refined by the Fire” – called “TRUTH”. The book was published in September 2017; it has taken me until February 2018 to begin the “TRUTH” series. And while I’ve hit some snags… I am discovering the articles which had the most impact were ones that flowed easily from my pen. The difficult articles took days and days to write, while struggling over words and defining the direction of the article, they did not flow as easily as I wanted, they were a clumsy and awkward read. It didn’t take long to realize that I had to take me out of the decision making process of what to write. I have taken the direction and subject of the articles out of my hands and now pray for guidance and let the Holy Spirit lead.
Speaking the TRUTH isn’t always popular, but… are we called to be popular… or are we called to speak the TRUTH? The TRUTH of the gift of eternal life and salvation offered only through Jesus Christ… to speak the TRUTH of good news of the Kingdom to a dark and dying world?
I was watching television the other day and a 15 second commercial for a weekly show came on. It was for a show called “Lucifer”. Well it was quite the Holy Spirit moment, as Mike had been telling me about the talk at work in relation to this show and how the guys at works told him (Mike) should watch it… ‘it’s not what you think it is’… ‘it’s a really good show’… ‘lucifer is the devil, but he really wants to be a good guy’… etc.
In this 15-second blurb, lucifer speaks out and says ‘you need to know the truth’. Yes, you’re right… You DO need to know the truth. And with those words, here we are. I have seen so much lately of good being called evil and evil being called good. I feel compelled to speak the truth. I am going to try to keep on point… however please keep in mind that this is a huge subject. There is much Truth to be told. You will find an article I wrote six months or so ago on this subject entitled The Truth of the Enemy on this blog at https://titus345.com/2017/10/04/the-truth-of-the-enemy/
“I do not accept praise from men.” John 5:41
The religious leaders of Jesus’ time enjoyed great honor and prestige in Israel. But to Jesus their approval meant nothing. He was about His Father’s approval. Whose praise do you seek?
If you were to receive gold medals, global recognition, prestigious awards, million dollar bonuses, world-wide acclaim, standing ovations, peer approval, top level endorsement, etc from the greatest leaders of the world. If your name were spoken in the highest of regards by Kings, Queens, Presidents, Emperors, and Popes…or the most prestigious influential global leaders of industry, commerce, finance, business… or perhaps a Senator or Representative or even a 4-Star General… what have you earned? Nothing.
You can seek praise and approval from the four corners of the planet and still have a heart that is seeking. When the only affirmation you need seek is God’s blessing and approval of our actions and plans. If God is not in our dealings, if we are not about our Father’s business, if we are not led by Him, and spend our lives in service to His agenda, then all we do is useless, ineffective and self-seeking.
“Jesus said: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” John 16:7
Who is Holy Spirit and where did He come from?
There are many mistaken beliefs about who or what Holy Spirit is, or isn’t. Some view the Holy Spirit as a supernatural force. Others see the Holy Spirit as an impersonal, distant authority that God makes available to followers of Jesus Christ.
“What does the Bible say about of the Holy Spirit? Simply put, the Bible declares that the Holy Spirit is God. The Bible also tells us that the Holy Spirit is a divine person, a being with a mind, emotions, and a will.”
How can Holy Spirit be God? The Bible tells us that Holy Spirit is fully God. Along with God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ), God the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is the third member of the Godhead or the Trinity. (more about the topic of the Trinity in another post) We read this in the very first lines of the Bible – Genesis 1:1-2 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
“Then one of the Twelve, the one called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?” And they set out for him thirty pieces of silver.” Matthew 26:14-15
What amount of money would it take for you to sell out Jesus Christ? For Judas, it was 30 pieces of silver. What’s your price?
We live in a society where we are so interconnected… we have the ability, in the blink of an eye, to post, snap, tweet, share, pin, link, blog, ping and tag any and every random thought, idea or belief to family, friends, colleagues and strangers around the world. But what if our family, friends, colleagues and strangers don’t agree with our thoughts and beliefs? What then? At what point do you stop posting, snapping, tweeting, sharing, pinning, linking, blogging, pinging and tagging? Continue reading
“If I regard sin and baseness in my heart [that is, if I know it is there and do nothing about it], The Lord will not hear [me]” Ps 66:18 AMP
What is cherished sin? Cherished sin is any sin that lives inside of us that we know is there, yet we choose to keep it hidden. It is those deeds and actions that we choose to coddle and excuse from our life.
It is the kind of sin that hinders our prayers and our relationship with God.
“We know [according to your tradition] that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone fears God and does His will, He hears him.” John 9:31 Continue reading