Seven Important Warnings

Written By John Wesley

1. Watch and pray continually against pride. 
You can easily slide back into pride without even realizing it, if you think you have no danger of pride, or if you think you have more knowledge of God than you really have, or if you think you are so well taught by God that you don’t need anyone else to teach you anymore. Remember always that much grace does not always mean much light.  These do not always go together.  As there can be much light where there is little love, so there can also be much love where there is little light. To imagine that only such people can teach you who have overcome sin themselves, is a great and dangerous mistake.  Don’t give place to such a thought even for a moment, because it can lead you into a thousand other mistakes. Obey “those who are over you in the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 5:12), and don’t imagine that you know better than them.  Let all that you speak and do, show that you are small in your own eyes. Always be ready to acknowledge any fault of yours.  If you have at any time spoken, or acted wrongly, don’t hesitate to acknowledge it at once. 

2. Beware of fanaticism.
Don’t imagine that all dreams, voices, impressions, visions and revelations are all from God. They may be from Him, or they may be from your own mind, or they may be from the Devil. “Don’t believe every spirit, but test the spirits whether they are from God.” (1 John 4:1). Test everything by the written Word of God. You are in great danger of fanaticism, if you depart even a little from Scripture; or if you despise reason, knowledge and human learning – all of which are excellent gifts of God. Throw away the chaff – worldly wisdom – but keep the wheat. Don’t expect the end without the means. That means that you should not expect to have the true knowledge of God without searching the Scriptures; and don’t expect spiritual strength without constant prayer and steady watchfulness; and don’t expect God’s blessing if you are not hearing His Word at every opportunity.  Some have stopped searching the Scriptures and say, “God has written His Word on my heart. So, I have no need to read it”. These are all schemes of Satan (2 Corinthians 2:11). Beware of imagining that you have the gift of prophesying about future events. Beware also of judging people to be either right or wrong by your own feelings. 

3. Beware of extremism.
Don’t say, “Because I am filled with love. I don’t need so much holiness. Because I pray always, I don’t need set times for private prayer”. Magnify the written Word of God. Don’t let your love be confined only to those in your own group or to those who believe as you do. Beware of self- indulgence. Beware of judging others, or calling those who oppose you by names such as “blind”, “dead”, or “enemies of the work”. Beware of “cancelling the law (or any part of it) through faith” (Romans 3:31).  Even the great truth, that “Christ is the end of the law” (Romans 10:4), can be misunderstood, if we don’t recognize that Christ has taken every point of the moral law, and included it into the law of love.

4. Lose no opportunity to do good of any kind.
Beware of sins of omission. Be zealous to do good works (Titus 2:14). Don’t ever neglect to do works of goodness and mercy. Do all the good you possibly can to the bodies and souls of men.  Give no place to laziness. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Eccl.9:10). Be slow to speak and careful in speaking. “If you speak too much in any conversation, you will not be able to avoid sin” (Proverbs 10:19). Very few can engage in profitable conversation for more than one hour. And keep far, far away from all pious gossiping.

5. Beware of desiring anything but God. 
See to it that every desire other than the desire for God is driven out of your heart and never enters in again.  “Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22). Don’t allow any desire for pleasant food, or any pleasure of sense, or any desire that is pleasing to the eyes or to the imagination by things that are grand, or new, or beautiful, or any desire for money, or for the praise and esteem of men, or finding happiness in any human being, ever enter your heart.  Be an example to everyone of denying yourself, and taking up your cross daily (Luke 9:23).  Let others see that you desire no pleasure that will not bring you closer to God, and that you are not afraid of any pain that will bring you closer to God; that your only aim is to please Him, whether by doing or by suffering; and that the constant language of your heart, with regard to pleasure or pain, honour or dishonour, riches or poverty, is “All are alike to me, if I can live and die in my Lord”.

6. Beware of causing divisions in your church. 
Inward disunity, where the members of a church stop loving one another is at the root of all contention and divisions.  Beware of everything that leads to that.  Beware of a divisive spirit. Don’t say, “I want to listen only to this preacher. I don’t want to listen to anyone else.”  That can breed division and disunity among those whom God has joined together. Don’t imagine that anyone sins by not believing you, or by not accepting your word. Don’t imagine that some opinion of yours is essential to the work of God.  Don’t be disturbed when you are contradicted.  Don’t condemn those who don’t see things as you see them.  All such attitudes will bring division. Beware of touchiness, of unwillingness to accept rebuke, of being offended, and of avoiding people just because they don’t accept your words. Expect contradiction and opposition, together with crosses of various kinds.  It is God Who gives you opposition and reproach – all these are but tokens of His love. Such things, far from being hindrances to the work of God, are actually profitable and necessary for you.  So receive them from God, gladly and with thankfulness.  Receive them from men with humility, meekness and gentleness.  Give no offence to anyone that can possibly be avoided. Determine that you will “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour” (Tit.2:10).  Be particularly careful in speaking about yourself. Don’t deny the work that God has done in you. But speak of it in the humblest possible manner.  Avoid all proud words. Just testify to the particular work that God has wrought in you.  And if you ever fall at any time, in any way, acknowledge it immediately. Don’t deny it or hide it or disguise it – for that will destroy your soul. 

7.  Be exemplary in all things. 
Be an example in outward things: In the way you dress, in the use of money, in avoiding unnecessary expenditure, in steady seriousness in your life, and in the usefulness of all your conversation.  Thus you will be a light, shining in a dark place.Thus you will “grow in grace” (2 Peter 3:18), and “you will be given an abundant entrance into the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11).

Christians Who Think They Have Understood The New-Covenant

Written by Bro. Zac Poonen

The Jews gloried in the fact that they had God’s Word unlike the rest of the world. But they did not live according to that Word; and they finally rejected the One about Whom God’s Word had prophesied, when He came into their midst. It is possible for those of us who have understood the new covenant also to glory in a similar way and to deceive ourselves.

The following is an adaptation of Romans Chapter 2 (from the Living Bible) – adapted to the danger we face:

You may be saying, “How sad it is that so many Christians have not understood the new covenant that we have understood so clearly”.

But wait! Examine your life honestly and see if it is better than the lives of those other Christians who have not understood the new covenant. Are you perhaps boasting only in a theoretical  knowledge of the new covenant? Or have you actually entered into the new-covenant life?

We know that God is righteous and that there is no partiality with Him. Then, do you think He then that God will condemn those other Christians for what they do, but overlook what you do, when you are doing the same things – just because you claim to be “a new-covenant Christian”?

God is actually being patient with you. He is giving you time to see your true condition in His sight. His kindness towards you is meant to lead you to judge yourself and to repent.

But you may be thinking that everything is all right with you, just because you not only understand the new covenant but can even explain it to others. You are then in an even greater danger of God’s judgment – because you are not living according to the truths that you claim to be teaching others.

The day is coming when God will judge the secret lives of everyone – their inmost thoughts, attitudes and motives. He will then give each one exactly what his deeds deserved – eternal life to those who patiently did His will, and sought His glory and honour. And He will reject those who merely said that they knew the new covenant but walked in selfishness and spiritual pride and secret sin.

There will be eternal sorrow in that day, for both new-covenant Christians as well as for other Christians, if they had kept on sinning. But there will be glory and honour from God for those who obeyed him, whether they called themselves “new-covenant” Christians or any other type of Christians. There is no partiality with God.

The truth is that God will punish sin wherever it is found. He will punish even non-Christians for their sin, because even though they don’t have a Bible, He has given them a conscience that tells them what is right and what is wrong. God’s laws are written within them and their conscience either accuses them, or excuses them.

But God will punish new-covenant Christians even more, if they sin, because they knew His laws better than the others, but did not obey them. Salvation is not given to those who merely know what to do, but to those who actually do it. And God expects more from those to whom He has given more.

So you “new-covenant Christians” should not imagine that all is well between you and God just because you understand His truths. You may even be imagining that you are God’s special friends, because you know what He wants; you know right from wrong and you have understood the terms of His new covenant clearly. You may also be imagining that you are beacon lights that can guide the simple-minded into the deeper truths of God.

But examine yourselves first. Perhaps you tell others not to steal — but have you ever stolen the credit for what you did not do? You say it is wrong to commit adultery—but do you lust after pretty girls? You say “Don’t worship idols” – but do you make money your god?

Are you proud of knowing God’s new covenant, but dishonouring Him by the way you live?

Knowing the new covenant is worth something only if you live according to it. But if you don’t live according to it, then you are no better than anyone else. And if those other Christians (whom you look down on) obey God’s laws, then God will reward them even if they did not understand the new covenant. They will be better off in the day of judgment, than you who knew so much about God and His promises but didn’t live accordingly.

You are not a new-covenant Christian just because you belong to a new-covenant church or because you understand its truths. No. A real new-covenant Christian is one whose heart is always right with God because he judges himself and therefore lives an overcoming life every day. God is not looking for those who have their doctrines right, but for those who have allowed their hearts and minds to be changed by the Holy Spirit to actually walk in Jesus’ footsteps daily. Only those who have that kind of change in their lives will get their praise from God in the final day.

He who has ears to hear let him hear.

What Can We Learn From The Life Of Philemon

By Praveen Jayamohan

(From Paul’s Letter to Philemon)

There is a reason why God has kept the letter to Philemon in the Bible. Philemon was probably one of the elders in his local church. He was also a rich man by the fact that he owned slaves, and also had a house big enough to host church meetings. Even though the primary purpose of the letter was for Paul to ask Philemon to receive back Onesimus (runaway slave) as a brother, there are a few things that are mentioned about Philemon that we can learn.

First, Philemon loved God’s people. Paul in his letter starts off with appreciation of certain qualities in Philemon. Paul had much joy and comfort in the love that Philemon had toward God’s holy people. Philemon loved the brothers and sisters in his church and refreshed their hearts (Philemon 5 and 7). The scripture encourages God’s children to encourage one another daily (Hebrews 3:13). We are also encouraged to be filled with the Spirit and speak to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18-19). 

We don’t need to have a public or a visible ministry in order to encourage one another. We can encourage one another by simply starting with telling others what God has worked in our life. This can happen when we meet one another in our church meetings, or through a phone call, or maybe through a text message during the week. The key to encouraging one another is to love and carry our brothers and sisters in our local fellowship in our hearts and pray for them. The scripture also encourages us to earnestly desire the gift of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:39) so that we can say the apt word that the Lord wants to communicate through us to encourage others.

Second, Philemon was a man of faith. Paul did not flatter people for personal gain, but expressed honest appreciation whenever it is due. Paul had heard about Philemon’s faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ (verse 5). The brothers who reported about Philemon’s faith must have seen the evidence of fruit that came out of his life. I am sure that Paul was not referring to a faith as it is proclaimed by preachers who spread the health and wealth gospel. Rather it is a faith that will inherit the high standard of life that the Lord Jesus paved for us. The Lord Jesus inaugurated the new and living way that leads us to a higher standard of life that the old covenant saints could only dream off (Hebrews 11:39-40). We must grow in faith believing what the Lord has promised for us and be overcomers (Acts 16:31). 

Our faith must grow from a cup, to a well and to become rivers. It is a blessed truth to know that the Lord is not a respecter of persons and that He will reward those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). We should take it seriously to grow in our faith, which evidence is primarily seen in our homes, in the way we live with our spouses and interact with our children.

Third, Philemon was a teachable man who submitted to the authority of Paul.  From Philemon verse 8, I believe Philemon was a humble brother who created space for Paul, that Paul felt comfortable that Philemon would do anything even if he had ordered him. This quality is also evident from the tone of the entirety of the letter to Philemon. As children of God we must learn to be teachable and stop being offended (quickly). The apostle Peter is also a good example to us in this area. Peter received one of the strongest rebuke a Christian could receive (Matthew 16:23), but he stuck with Jesus because Jesus had the words to eternal life. 

Imagine saying something to Jesus with all good intention, and receiving a really strong rebuke like, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” What would be your response? Would you say, “Give me a break! I am packing my bags and I am out of here!”, or would you have responded like Peter did saying, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68) We must realize that the words of Jesus are eternal life even when it comes in the form of a strong rebuke. God has appointed apostles and elders to lead us to godliness. And the Lord wants us to listen to His rebuke or exhortation that comes through them. The Lord rebukes and disciplines us because we are his sons, and He wants to make us more godly toward Christ’s likeness. Let us learn to be humble and teachable.

Last, Philemon washed the feet of the saints. If we were around Philemon, I am sure we would leave refreshed and encouraged. Philemon was also a man who went the extra mile and did more than what was asked of him (verse 21). I also believe that it must have been Philemon’s habit to accommodate God’s servants who were travelling through his city. Philemon and his family must have been hospitable to the Lord’s servants. Paul did not have any hesitation to ask Philemon to prepare a lodging place for his visit (verse 22). 

Today some churches follow the tradition called “the washing of the feet” without understanding the heart behind it. “Washing of the feet” simply means doing lowly and menial jobs that most people would not like to do. There is usually no visibility and no honor associated with such jobs. Such jobs also incur inconveniences and involve hard work. Let us humble ourselves and learn to serve the Lord (and not men). Let us learn to truly care for the Lord’s interests and wash the feet of our brothers and sisters. After finishing such tasks, let us learn to say “we have only done our duty”, and not expect someone to appreciate us. In this present age when a “serve me” mentality is rampant and super-emphasized, let us remember the words of the Lord Jesus who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

Let us pray to the Lord that He will enable us to grow in these qualities in an increasing measure.