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Grounded in the Truth

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Just having head knowledge of Jesus will not carry you through till the end! You must continually be growing in Him and and daily striving to increase in the list of virtues found here in II Peter. In doing so, Peter said that as we continue to increase in these virtues, we will remain grounded in the TRUTH.

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This past Wednesday, I asked the church how many of you have read the book, The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis. I mentioned to you within this book, that their is an amazing depiction of how the enemy clouds and distorts our perception of the TRUTH.

The book is ingenious in how that it shows so many clever and relatable strategies (many of which, quite a few of us would be able to relate with on a personal level), that the enemy uses to keep us from focusing in on our relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
So this morning, for a few minutes, I have a video that I want to open with, which has been done in a fashion that is similar to the motif of the Screwtape Letters. It depicts three demons, who are conspiring right after the Resurrection of Jesus, on how to keep the TRUTH from spreading throughout the ages.

Yesterday, at the men’s breakfast, we were so blessed with a teaching from Doug Martin’s son Gordon Martin, who brought to our attention some things that tie in with what I felt led to share with you this morning.

As soon as Gordon was done with his lesson, I went and asked him if I could have the link to the information that he opened up with, because it dealt with a current statistic from the Barna Group and their newest survey.
You guys know that I love to read these stats!
So, I wanted to share with you what the newest findings are, as to the condition of the church and the professing Christians in this nation, from just a few months ago.
To the men that at the breakfast yesterday, you will already know this statistic that I am about to read and the information that goes behind it.
According to latest study done by the Barna Research Group, alongside of Summit Ministries, they found that only 17% of Christians have what the researchers consider a Biblical worldview.
Now, as to what criteria they used to establish a Biblical worldview, they provided these absolute markers to go by within their study: A belief that absolute moral truth exists; that the Bible is TOTALLY ACCURATE in all of its principles that it teaches; that Satan is considered to be a real being or force and not merely symbolic; that a person CANNOT earn their way into heaven by trying to be good or do good works; that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life here on earth; and that God is the all-knowing, all powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today!
Does all of that bear witness with you guys?!
These are the criteria that the study group used as a basis for doing their survey/study.
These fundamental TRUTHS that they used, also, closely mirror the Biblical tenants that our very church is based and built on!
Based upon this study, some 61% of the Christians strongly agreed with at least one of the ideas of “new spirituality” -as in, that everyone is praying to the same god/ultimate being, regardless of the name they use for it; that “meaning and purpose” come from becoming one with all that is; and that good deeds are rewarded with good and that bad deeds are rewarded with bad in turn.
54% of the practicing Christians agree with one of the study’s statements about postmodernism (which is a philosophy rooted in the theory that objectivity doesn’t exist): “no one can know for certain what meaning and purpose there is to life,” which 19 percent strongly agreed with; 23 percent strong agreed that morality is subjective and 15 percent strongly agreed with the statement that “if your beliefs offend someone or hurt their feelings, they are wrong.”
So, when you look at what this study is showing, in relation to the church of the modern Christian, or at least the vast majority, you see a generalized statement that is forming behind the scenes, which says, “there are no more ABSOLUTE TRUTHS”!
We have become a nation of relativism. (Meaning that what is right and or wrong for you is relative to you and your life and way of thinking, but does not apply so equally to me.)
The main thrust of the internet and its accessibility to most everyone who wants it, has afforded the ability for people of all ages to explore all of the “options” for the world’s religious beliefs, political beliefs, modern philosophy tenants, social media outlets and every other system that exists out there within the WORLD.
It is like shopping online with for a religion! You view the “religion” that looks good, that meets your lifestyle and your core belief system and then you click and order it and within a matter of days, you are a professing “__________”; or at least until your values change again, or you finally decide that “religion” doesn’t really fit into your life at that particular point!
This is what we are becoming as a nation! (What is even more scary is that this is the direction that many professing Christians are heading!)
When TRUTH is becoming blurred by what the world says, and not observed through the lens of the BIBLE, in all matters and situations, then you are heading into the great state of APOSTASY!

Last year, 2016, the Oxford dictionary released the new, “word of the year”. Does anyone know what this new word which was released by this prestigious publication was?

“POST-TRUTH”.........this was last year’s “word of the year” in the Oxford Dictionary.
Post-Truth, according to the Oxford Dictionary, was chosen as the word of the year, because it reflected what was viewed as a "highly-charged" political 12 months; in light of following the British Brexit vote and the US presidential election.
Post-Truth meaning - Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective  facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals  to emotion and personal belief. (Basically, the TRUTH that people accepts as the truth, is proportional to what is going on in their lives at that time! There is no absolute truth in the moral and ethical arena with this mind set!) It is RELATIVISM!
In a society and in a nation where the TRUTH becomes interpretive and relative, you begin to see such things as a famous professional athlete, who when being questioned about his involvement in the use of performance enhancing drugs, (which are illegal in professional sports, by the way), making up a new word/ or phrase and answering the court with an answer like, “I misremembered”!
You can misrepresent, you can misinterpret, you can misunderstand, you can misdirect, but how do you misremember?
Or, in the political arena, when a particularly famous and powerful political figure in this country, was being questioned about an inappropriate situation they were involved in, and the person questioning this political figure asked, “Is this correct”, the person makes the statement, “that depends on what the meaning of the word “is”, is!”
How do people say and get by with this sort of thing? Easy, POST-TRUTH, relativism and self-enlightenment; a.k.a. deception/lies and immorality!
This is really not a new thing, just as Ecclesiastes told us there is nothing new under the sun, this same mindset of logic and rational justification for “a truth”, not “THE TRUTH”, but “a truth”, goes all the way back to the first book in the Bible, when you find the devil asking Eve, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
Eve answered, “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden. It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
And the devil said, “You won’t die! God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
Now look what happens as soon as the devil introduces this self-logical, self-serving, self-interpretive understanding of what TRUTH exists; or rather, as soon as the devil makes Eve believe that she and Adam just “MISREMEMBERED” what God had told them and that it all depended upon what their definition of the meaning of the word “is” is!
At that exact moment, when the human mind was introduced to “relativism” and open ended truths, the Bible says that what Eve had before seen as a sin, was now seen as desirable and good for food!
The ABSOLUTE TRUTH was altered because of Eve not submitting to God and His word and resisting the lies of the devil!
Look in and the situation of the Golden Calf with the children of Israel. Moses, before getting the stone tablets told the people God’s commandments, as shown in chapter 24. One of which is the absolute of, “You shall have no other gods before me, you shall not make any idol for yourself”. The people all declared, “All the words which the Lord has spoken, we will do.”
In other words, “We recognize the TRUTH of God’s commands”!
My point is, that altering the meaning of the truth, is not new. But in a nation that was, at one time, predominantly a Jehovah believing, Jesus worshipping nation and is now a, “TRUTH is relative” nation, this is disturbing to say the least and it come with a cost.
Broken homes, broken marriages, depression and suicide rate increase, drug and alcohol addiction runs rampant, sexual sins at all levels become accepted by vast majorities!
Look, when you can look at a new born baby and see, based on its genitalia, what the sex of that baby is and then turn around and say to the doctor, “don’t list the baby’s sex on the document, we haven’t decided the TRUTH of the sex yet”!
“Houston, we have a major problem going on!”

says this,

Romans 1:18–25 NLT
But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God. Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.
All of mankind knows that their is a moral truth and can see the existence of a living God, just from creation itself.
This passage tells us that we are without excuse if we deny the sovereign existence of God, when His own creation is screaming out the ABSOLUTE TRUTH of it!
Look again at ,
Romans 2:14–16 NLT
Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.
What is Paul saying here to us?
In every civilization, in every culture, people of every race and tribe and tongue know that there is a moral code, definite moral truth written on their hearts, even if they have never seen or heard of the law and the commandments of God within a Bible!
People know that it is morally wrong to murder in every culture and yet people do it and break that moral truth with understood punishment!
People know that lying is wrong and they depend on the honesty of others, because in their hearts, a moral TRUTH exists!’
Stealing is understood to be wrong, it has never been tolerated, because people just have a moral truth inside of them!
Paul is simply saying we are never exempt from the ABSOLUTE MORAL TRUTH of God, because He has implanted it inside of us, as part of His creation!
Nature itself is governed by the ABSOLUTES of TRUTH: the effects of gravity (9.8 m/s2, GIVE EXAMPLE), the speed of light (186,000 miles/second), the earth is round, etc.
We know that there are set and untouchable, exact and ABSOLUTE TRUTHS in our universe and I can assure you today friends, there is an exact and ABSOLUTE TRUTH at work within the spiritual realm and in the heavenlies all around us!
Within the Word of God, there are numerous mentions of the ABSOLUTE TRUTH that pertains to God.
By the way, ABSOLUTE TRUTH, as defined by the philosophical understanding, means: an inflexible reality: fixed, invariable, unalterable facts. (i.e. it is an ABSOLUTE TRUTH that there are no square circles or round squares!)
And within the Bible we see ABSOLUTE TRUTHS that pertain to God and His nature:
Psalm 119:160 NLT
The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever.
Psalm 145:18 NLT
The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.
Psalm 40:11 ESV
As for you, O Lord, you will not restrain your mercy from me; your steadfast love and your faithfulness will ever preserve me!
Psalm 145:18 NLT
The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.
John 4:24 NLT
For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
John 17:17 ESV
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
James 1:18 ESV
Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
And then, as we talked about recently in, ,
Philippians 4:8 NLT
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
What is TRUE that you may fix your thoughts on? What do we have in this life that is worthy of devoting our thoughts and time and attention to?
Well, Jesus told us in , “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”
The Word of God is all TRUTH; ABSOLUTE TRUTH!
Trying to fit the world (non-truth) into God’s Word, is like the square peg in the round hole; it doesn’t fit!

This past week, we talked about taking every thought captive and tearing down the strongholds of the enemy so that the lies of the enemy will not have a hold on our walk with the lord!

If you did this last Sunday, or are walking it out in your life daily right now, as we all should be, then you need to understand, that the enemy and the lies of the enemy are not going to cease or ease up, just because you took authority over them!
In fact, you may find very quickly that they will increase!
So, you and I need to keep our thoughts and our hearts and our minds, focused on God and His ABSOLUTE TRUTHS for our lives, as we walk through this ever changing world that is ran by a spiritually wicked host.
Remember, last Sunday I mentioned that the enemy is the father of lies and when you are going up against a powerful adversary and you know their prime strength, you need a powerful weapon to dismantle their power over you!
Andrei Sakharov, who gave the Soviets the atomic bomb, said before he died: “I always thought the most powerful weapon in the world was the bomb. I have changed my mind. The most powerful weapon in the world is not the bomb. It is the truth.”
The only weapon that we have to dismantle the stronghold of the enemy in our lives is the ABSOLUTE TRUTH of the Word of God!
The ABSOLUTE TRUTH vanquishes the ABSOLUTE LIES of the world!

So, it is not enough for me to tell you the very casual statement, “Read in the Word of God and you will be fine”, because the world is always fighting for our thoughts and attention.

This is why the statistic given earlier, is showing that only 17% of the Christians believe in or have a biblical Worldview!
People have been under the delusional mindset of, “If I read me some Bible today, I’m good, I’m protected and where I need to be”.
The video that we started off with depicting the strategies of the enemy and of how he wants us to believe in something that appeases our minds, and yet, all the while, we could be slowly drifting away from our Biblical ABSOLUTE TRUTHS and not even realize it!
We need to be firmly anchored to, firmly established upon and firmly ROOTED within the ABSOLUTE TRUTH!
Can we be uprooted? Can a person who comes to know the ABSOLUTE TRUTH in their life, walk away from the solid foundational TRUTH of God and turn back to cares of this world and the god of this world?
Jesus said in His parable of the Four Soils, of the seed that fell among the thorns, “The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.”
The cares and desires of the world begin to choke out the TRUTH in a person’s life, if they do become firmly ROOTED/GROUNDED within the WORD of GOD!
Jesus went on to tell us in , this of the Kingdom of God and how we are to view it, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. “
“Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!
What Jesus is saying to us is that the Kingdom of God and the ABSOLUTE TRUTH of that Kingdom, MUST become the all consuming object of your life.
To the point to where you will give up everything and abandon everything that tries to choke out that TRUTH!
Jesus, who is, “The WAY, the TRUTH and the LIFE”, said Himself, that we MUST make Him and our relationship with Him, the primary focus, of our lives. Nothing and NO ONE is to be put first!
The moment that anything or anyone takes that position in your life, you are already starting to lose ground in holding to the ABSOLUTE TRUTH!

The good news is that the Apostle Peter, in his epistle (that is a tongue twister), II Peter, gave us a list of “qualities” that we should strive to add into our lives daily.

He tells us that we are to “MAKE EVERY EFFORT”, to add or supply these “qualities”, or “virtues” into our lives.
The Greek word used in this passage by Peter, for “add” is a word that has the understanding of someone who is a generous benefactor, that is, someone who gives in rich proportions, without thought of the price or cost!
So, what Peter is saying, is that we are to “ADD”, or “SUPPLY” all of these qualities that he lists out, to our lives and not sparingly, but rather, LAVISHLY, ABUNDANTLY, without regard or thought of the cost!
Turn with me to ,
2 Peter 1:3–11 NLT
By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires. In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
A few points here about this list that Peter gives us:
Note that the list starts with your FAITH. It is the gift of FAITH that God gives to each believer, that allows you to come to know Jesus as Lord, in the first place.
The word in other translations of the Bible, say your virtue is added to your faith. Virtue is moral excellence, or GOODNESS. We are to strive to become morally excellent, and so mimic Jesus Christ to the world. This quality is one that the world sees openly in your daily walk!
The quality listed here as KNOWLEDGE, is not the same knowledge that Peter first mentions in verses 2 and 3, where he uses the Greek word epignosis, which refers to having an understanding or familiarity with.
In verse 5, the word that Peter uses for KNOWLEDGE, is the word, gnosis, which comes from the Greek word, ginosko, and it carries a more deep and intimate level of understanding about someone or something. To the Jewish culture, this idiom expressed a level of intimacy similar to sexual intimacy, so that the understanding was the ginosko of someone or something, was not just head knowledge, but completely involving the heart and soul and mind!
You and I are to ginosko Jesus, or know Him with greatest level of intimacy in our lives!
The word in verse 6 of godliness, means that we are to live with devoutness, piety and complete devotion to God!
The Greek word for “brotherly affection or kindness”, is the word, philadelphia, and it means, brotherly love. We are called to love one another in our walk with Jesus.
The world says, “Do unto others before they can do unto you” and yet Jesus teaches of looking out for others needs and their life more than your own. LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF!
The list that Peter gives us, ends with GREATEST quality of our walk, our LOVE!
The list begins with FAITH, for your walk with Jesus cannot start without this quality and it all points to and finalizes with LOVE!
“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
LOVE, true Godly LOVE, agape LOVE, is the one thing that is total proof of ABSOLUTE TRUTH to the world.
Secular historians, as well as the Bible, document that Jesus of Nazareth was crucified. That is the TRUTH, but the reason that He went to the Cross, is the proof of ABSOLUTE TRUTH!
It was His love for us and that of His Father, that led Him by the hand to the Cross of Calvary!

Peter tells us in verses 8-11 that if these qualities are yours and are increasing in your life, then you will not become ineffective or unfruitful. He says that if you are growing in these qualities, you will never fall away from the ABSOLUTE TRUTH!

My question to you this morning, is do you desire to both know the ABSOLUTE TRUTH as well as remain firmly grounded, rooted in that TRUTH?
If you would say, “YES”, then , needs to be at the forefront of your daily walk.
You may say, “Well, I already know this stuff” and yet listen to what Peter reminds us in verse 12-13, “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught.   And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.”
The moment that we ever take for granted these qualities for our lives and let them slip by, we are at risk of becoming like the 83% of the Christians who have lost that BIBLICAL TRUTH!
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