Advice for Christians on the Internet

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Truth Cloud whatsoever things are true

7 Scriptural Checks for Christians on Social Media

Pearls before swine.

That’s what comes to mind at times (all the time), when I survey my corner of the social media circus. Lions and Tigers and Christians, oh my!

Being misrepresented by others feels icky. I’m sure you’ve experienced it. It happens to everyone & try as we might, we can’t control it. But one thing that we CAN control, is how we represent OURSELVES.

And so the siren call of social media beckons; your red carpet of self representation unfurled before you in irresistible splendor. The sky’s the limit & you’re ready to “soar to high heights;” borne onward & upward by the social media machine. Successful self expression is just a click away. Or is it?

You probably have at least one online social interaction in mind at this point.

Turns out, without [SELF CONTROL], self expression can quickly turn into a crash & burn situation.

When our online alter ego takes over, common sense switches to auto pilot and the rule book gets tossed out the window without a parachute. Now would be a good time to shout mayday, but we’re blissfully enjoying the ride, buzzing on an endorphin high from those five likes and one share from Mom (Thanks, Mom). All the while, the world zips by in social feed form, as we spew & sputter out status updates in a blaze of pop culture- colored glory. “The captain always goes down with the ship” seems to exquisitely apply.

Social blunders aside, we think the wreckage is worth salvaging. With our aim at winning the world, social media provides a powerful vehicle to connect us to that world. The social fields are “white toward harvest,” if only we can fine tune our approach. If you share our sentiment, Check out these 7 scriptural checks for Christians on social media:

  1. HELLO MY NAME IS [X] & I APPROVE THIS POST: Does what I’m sharing reflect the Christ-like life I’m seeking to lead?

Not all posts are created equal. And as a Christian, not all content is worth sharing. What you post/like/share/follow, you’re endorsing. Who have you aligned yourself with online and does that put you OUT of alignment with scripture?

Filter your posts AND shares through this scriptural principle found in Philippians 4:8

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are JUST, whatsoever things are PURE, whatsoever things are LOVELY, whatsoever things of A GOOD REPORT; if there be any virtue, and there be any praise, think [POST] on these things.

Consider filtering those you follow through this criteria as well.

If it’s not good or lovely or pure don’t post it. If you’re not sure if its true, don’t share it. (FACT CHECKING IS A REAL THING.) If the content is vulgar or explicit, don’t engage and for heaven’s sake don’t share it on our feeds and force us to engage with it.

  1. INSPIRATION OVERBOARD: Is what I’m sharing in alignment with God’s word?

Stay humble. Be true to your self and your Lord.

The internet is a wellspring of inspiration, ranging from empowering, to humorous, to just plain BAD advice. It’s important to stay rooted in the Word. Choose to be inspired by things that align with scripture & remember not every preacher or quote creator is motivated by the same Spirit you are. Don’t cherry pick spiritual advice from random internet memes. God will more likely impart spiritual guidance and direction through your leaders and time of personal devotion than when you’re trolling memes on Facebook (So true-JK)

When in doubt, ask your pastor and remember this sciptural principle from Ephesians 4:14

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning crafiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”

  1. OVERSHARING OF EPIDEMIC PROPORTIONS: Am I sharing too much personal information?

The internet drives “celebrity” culture. As a result, some social feeds resemble a personally crafted autobiographical tabloid. Even your post-sharing Momma wishes you’d spare us all some of those details.

When setting your personal guidelines for appropriate amount and nature of your content, first counsel with your leadership, then consider these scriptural principles:

Ecclesiastes 10:14 says a fool’s mouth is full of words & 10:12 says, “The lips of a fool will swallow up himself.” Proverbs 21:23 says “whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue kept his soul from troubles.”

Ultimately the decision of what to make public or keep private should be guided by wisdom. The book of Proverbs is a great place to start if you want more practical wisdom for Christian living. Sharing testimonies and life experiences (that glorify God) is a great use of your social platform! Proceed with wisdom and maximize the positive impact of your platform.

  1. THE ELUSIVE SEARCH FOR SELF WORTH: Does my time on social media cause me to be discontent with who I am and what I have?

Life was simpler when all you had to worry about was keeping up with the Jones’. Now your life, ministry, family, wardrobe, and even your coffee mug is cast in comparison against the entire world.

One teen interviewed on the subject described it like this. He said that likes and follows were real-time, MEASUREABLE statistics of how your life measures up to your peers. Or more accurately, doesn’t measure up. It’s no wonder culture hangs desperately on every like and comment as they arbitrarily raise our lower our imaginary social value and carefully calculated self worth.

If you are logged in to ANY platform the temptation of comparison is ever present, and if we’re not vigilant, a disastrously dangerous device in the enemy’s arsenal. Paul sets a precedent with this principle to combat a mindset of comparison:

Hewbrews 13:5 says, “Let Your conversation [not just speech, but all social interactions] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee or forsake thee.”

According to Romans 3:23 every human on the planet falls short of the only true standard of perfection, God. Don’t buy the lies. No matter how flawless their feed, they are fallible and fragile and fighting to feel worthy just like you.

It’s a fallacy to think you can ever be “enough” on Your own. God has called you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Fitly framed with the body of believers. It’s time to kill comparison and measuring self-worth by anything on the net, particularly FB likes. Your worth is solely based on your sovereign election and Christ’s death for you. Get connected to the body of Christ.

  1. FOR THE GRAM OR FOR HIS GLORY: Is what I’m posting promoting me or glorifying God?

The desire to go viral is intoxicating & will pollute any acts of devotion we don’t guard.

Ephesians 6:6-8 says our actions should not be “with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service as to the Lord, and not to men.”

PERSONAL prayer, praise, ministry, devotion & sacrifice was never meant to be publicly celebrated; but simply lived out. If you didn’t post about it did it even happen? YES! It’s the unposted and unpublished acts of devotion that God desires. The ones that are just for Him. A few likes are a cheap substitute for God’s approval and anointing.

Do your public professions of faith match your private acts devotion? When the live feed ends are you still living what you preach? Are you still witnessing when your phone is dead and your paparazzi peers have the day off? Motivation matters.

We desperately need discernment when it comes to distinguishing between posting to GET praise & posting to GIVE the praise to God.

Resist the urge to market your ministry. Online platforms are easy doors for us to open for ourselves. We can waste a lot of energy fine-tuning ourselves for public platforms, and neglect the private devotion necessary for God to trust us with doors he’s prepared for us.

“Before posting ask yourself: am I building the kingdom or my ministry? I believe if we take care of His kingdom, He will take care of our ministry.”

Above all, GET WISDOM. And while you’re at it, get you a pastor/spouse/friend that loves you enough to call you out when you cross the Gram/Glory line. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the approval of “followers” can be fatally deceitful.

  1. Trending Talk is Cheap…Is what I’m posting culture centered or Christ centered?

Romans 12:22 says “be ye not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Don’t cave to the pressure to post pop-culture content. It’s ok to break the mold. It’s still right to exercise holiness and separation in our online habits. Who cares what the world is doing? The church is called to create it’s own transformed, counter-culture through Christ. If you MUST jump on a bandwagon, let it be the church’s. That one is headed somewhere worth while.

  1. The Pitfall of Political Posts & Endless Debates: Is what I’m posting best said from this platform?

1 Peter 3:15 Tells us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

Beating people down in debates is not conversation that becomes the gospel of Christ. The people you’re beating down are the very ones God called us to seek out with hope and love. Approach people in such a way that they ask YOU what you’re all about. Then answer them with empathy and respect.

“Posting so much political opinion that you almost ruin your witness. I’ve felt strongly about certain issues pushed by liberals, but I have to remember that I am living in a very multicultural town. Politics run deep in the South, and I can destroy influence with people I’ve been trying to win for months. I’m not saying to constantly be silent, but I would rather get them through the doors of the church and let them be in an environment of the power of the Holy Ghost where they hear our heartbeat for God before certain subjects get too intense. All of these are guided by our pastor, who uses much wisdom in these areas. There’s a time to speak, and a time to refrain”

It’s not our job to change people’s minds. It’s our job to GO OUT & compel them to COME into His house. Get them to church and allow God to transform their heart & their mind through the power of the Holy Ghost. Preaching, not politics, is still God’s preferred message to turn the hearts of man.

We can’t remain silent on the moral and social issues of our day, to be sure. But if the Sword of the Spirit had two edges, the sword of political opinion almost certainly has only one. One brings a wound unto life. The other a wound unto death. Choose your weapon wisely.

We don’t put on armor to fight people [2 Corinthians 4:12], but to push back the powers of darkness FOR PEOPLE. That’s an image of the church, putting on the armor of light and shining the truth IN LOVE by means of a radically transformed life. This is true social reform. The stuff politicians can only dream of.

Adapted from Truth Cloud

Regeneration v conversion.

 

 

“Conversion, though it may seem, in some respects, to fall in with regeneration and the effectual calling, yet may be distinguished from them both. Regeneration is the sole act of God; conversion consists both of God’s act upon men, in turning them, and of acts done by men under the influence of converting grace; they turn, being turned. Regeneration is the motion of God towards and upon the heart of a sinner; conversion is the motion of a sinner towards God, as one (Charnock) expresses it. In regeneration men are wholly passive, as they also are in the first moment of conversion; but by it become active: it is therefore sometimes expressed passively; ‘you are returned,’ or converted (1 Peter 2:25), and sometimes actively; ‘a great number believed and turned to the Lord’ (Acts 11:21)…. The effectual calling is the call of men out of darkness to light; and conversion answers to that call, and is the actual ‘turning’ of men from the one to the other; so that, with propriety, conversion may be considered as distinct from regeneration and the effectual calling.” ~

John Gill, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, Book 6, Chapter 13.

Is faith a work?

Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. John 6:29

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. Acts 16:31

The discussion in the pages of the RFPA Standard Bearer regarding the gospel message seems to be nearly complete and it does appear to me that the controversy was not over the gospel as such, but about the call of the gospel-what the preacher preaches. We all agree that the command must be preached and that this command is different from all others because, if it is said to an elect person, it comes with the power to obey (Psalm 110:3), BUT the response of faith is essential and is granted to every sheep who hear Christ’s voice and thereafter follow him. Faith is granted through the command, and the bond with Christ is made (on God’s side this has already happened by regeneration and on man’s side it is confirmed subsequently by conversion) but God doesn’t believe for man.  From the human standpoint you must believe in him and his work. The issue is not salvation from God’s point of view i.e. regeneration, the issue is how I am saved consciously, and the answer is, by responding in faith, faith granted by Christ himself who is the “one calling forth the faith, through the mouth of the preacher.”  I believe it was rightly stated that, “one cannot know forgiveness or approving love” i.e. be conscious of union with Christ without faith. Faith IS this consciousness. It is the essential activity that the call requires from sinful men AND by this call through it’s own power, because it is the word of Christ, the gift of faith is bequeathed and activity of faith is expressed.

                We don’t want to confuse faith with work though the consensus is that faith is a doing or activity. The jailer and the convicted Jews were commanded to repent and believe, not to do nothing, they had to believe. It is also obedience but does not merit. Is it not easier just to say that believing is a fruit of salvation which salvation comprises regeneration and the bond of faith AND the activity of faith being all graciously given by Christ?

 Canons Head II error 4 is crucial-faith does NOT merit!

Canons of Dort extract

The command to obey the gospel is not law, rather that, like all of Scripture it is part of God’s law/precepts/commandments/statutes (names for Scripture in Psalm 19 and Psalm 119) that convert the soul. It is only like the law in that it is also commanded. We are under Christ’s law.

The contrast has to be kept between faith and good works as the means of salvation but faith as the first step, and good works as subsequent evidence of faith and the fruit of that faith are linked by all being of  grace

Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;

Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
Both of these verse  inextricably link faith with good works and James says that faith without works is dead! Faith works by love!
  Faith and good works are not two ways of meriting salvation but they are linked in the fact that grace precedes and enables faith and all the subsequent good works of the saved believer. Faith always does work. And when we do get to glory we will only say that we did our duty and  then cast our crowns before the Lord.
 Christ saves us. He saves us objectively and he saves us subjectively. We receive this salvation by faith through which all his imperious life, and what he achieved through his death and  resurrection save us  objectively and subjectively.
When Paul says to the jailer that by believing he shall be saved-perhaps we ought to say that his activity of faith, enabled by the command of the preacher, brought him to the assurance that he was saved (subjective faith). What actually saved him was regeneration by the Holy Spirit that made him cry out, “What must I do?” Subsequently he expressed that faith and was baptized.
Believing in Christ and subsequent good works are examples of Philippians 2:13 in action, both the will to do and the doing are  wrought by Christ and the promise of eternal life for the first and the reward of grace for the second stand firm. This is confessional.

 

Preaching and witnessing

“Ye shall be my witnesses” said Christ to his disciples who were divinely appointed preachers of the gospel in whose line every modern-day pastor/teacher stands publicly declaring the good tidings of the evangel or gospel. The words used for preaching and witnessing, by this latter term I mean the private speaking of Biblical truth to one’s neighbour, are evangelize (evangeliso) and proclaim (kerrusso) are used interchangeably, so how do we differentiate, compare and contrast these two activities.

It is clear that those sent to preach publicly and pastor a church or plant a new one are ordained by other elders or pastors in a church and approved of their prospective congregation. The believer who is also a prophet, is also anointed of God to speak the word in private, and along with the pastor to live a godly life which is also a powerful witness to the truth. Because the unbeliever shies away from and detests the preaching in a true instituted church is all the more reason the members have to take it to them in the world. The aim being to bring them to church and into the church. Whatever the means and whoever the speakers, the word itself is the power of God unto salvation and likewise if it is read or listened to in private.

Witnessing also occurs in the context of the local church where pastor or member testifies to God’s truth to those in error or ignorant or backsliding.

Billy Graham false teacher!

See how man-centred and wrong the man was! He puts cart before horse!

Billy Graham: “The context of John 3 teaches that the new birth is something that God does for man when man is willing to yield to God … Any person who is willing to trust Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour and Lord can receive the new birth now … All you have to do to be born again is to repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour … Repentance is first, and absolutely necessary, if we are to be born again … The Holy Spirit will do everything possible to disturb you, draw you, love you, but finally it is your personal decision” (How to Be Born Again, pp. 133, 136, 140, 144, 146).

John 4 shows this is false, “The wind blows where it listeth” it is not controlled by man or at his beck and call. It is by regeneration we are made able to repent and believe and that God does SOVEREIGNLY.

Operation Mobilisation

Operation Mobilisation (Ships)

                     

Strengths                                                                     Weaknesses
Multinational and multicultural.                               Interdenominational (LCD)
Emphasis on prayer/Bible study.                               Not Reformed
Evangelism                                                                      False gospel, lay preaching.
World Mission
Faith based (finances)
Leadership

I benefited enormously from my two years on Logos, seeing some wonderful places, learned about the world, met many believers from all over, discussed doctrine, got into trouble, learned to pray, sinned grievously but had prayer answered when I met my wife. I plan to elaborate on the points above in the future.

Witness (2)

The encounter of Christ with the Samaritan Woman in John 4 is a wonderful pattern of witnessing.

  1. It was a natural encounter-he was tired and thirsty and she was at a well with access to water.
  2. Christ asked her a favour and moved her thinking from the physical water to the spiritual water he had.
  3. When she showed interest he brought up her sin and way of life.
  4. When convicted and moving to religious topics he spoke of what constituted true worship.
  5. He told her He was the Messiah.

We would do well to remember this pattern and follow it should opportunity arise.

  1. Move from the world around us to spiritual reality.

2. If people are interested share about true worship and what constitutes sin.

3. Tell them of Messiah.

Witness (1)

Witnessing or testifying of Christ

In our part in the great commission to extend Christ’s kingdom to the ends of the earth we witness of what we know to believers and unbelievers. Our witness echoes the official preaching.

The Scriptures need to form an integral and powerful part of our efforts to win the elect and see them established in true churches, it will also serve to harden the reprobate.

We are to teach all Christ commanded. We need courage. Our holy lives are vital. We witness at every opportunity and we are vital to the growth of the church. Significant occasions are when we are asked and this seems to be the NT emphasis rather than by our aggressive instigation.

We witness to persecutors, to unbelieving family, neighbours and other acquaintances and to advocates of false religions or false doctrines.  We condemn error. Our witness comforts, encourages, edifies, instructs and rebukes fellow believers.

Suffering for Christ’s sake is powerful witness.

A word about “friendship evangelism.” We love our neighbour by befriending him and seeking his good. The unbeliever who manifests enmity to God we are to hate. Any friendship that encourages worldliness e.g. listening to ungodly advice, condoning or taking part in sinful behaviour, scorning truth has to be avoided (Psalm 1). Friendship is usually based on a common interest e.g. sport, but stops well short of fellowship which is the meeting of Christian minds and speaking about the things of God!

Mainly adapted from “Ye are my witnesses” speeches by David Engelsma and Herman Hanko at British Reformed fellowship conference 2012.

Available here.

Holding Forth the Word of Life.

Holding Forth the Word of Life

Three messages from Protestant Reformed Young People’s Convention 2017 in summary.

Philippians 2:15,16. “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”

 

  1. Being Bold in the Lord                            Rev.Wilbur Bruinsma

Rev. Bruinsma admits that as a young pastor he spent little time speaking to others outside the church about God’s word. That all changed when he was sent to Jamaica as a missionary. All believers are called to give a reason for our hope and that takes boldness, confidence of faith alongside zeal and enthusiasm inspired by our own salvation. Paul, wherever he went, believed that the gospel (any part of God’s word) is the power of God unto salvation. If we are passionate about something we will talk about it! Our deliverance, our new life, our standing with God, our church…let me tell you what God has done for me! Yes people can be intimidating. “The subject we address when witnessing will be determined by the occasion and circumstances in which we find ourselves. It will be natural.” Listen and keep in mind you are no better than they.

 

  1. Walking in the Light                               Rev. Richard Smit

So much darkness-sin, false religion, apostate churches.  Christ and his word and we ourselves are the light. Believing and living according to the word we shine as children of light. OUR LIVES MUST BE CONSISTENT. The light of Christ and his word energizes us (like UV light a plant). We are continually cleansed by confession and receiving forgiveness (I John 1:9, II Cor.7:1). Hypocrisy (e.g. Lot) will reap misery. There will be opposition and persecution. Results are in God’s hands.

 

  1. Being all things to all men                            Rev. Daniel Kleyn

Taking into account the hearer. Being a servant.  Avoiding offence, cultural gaffes. Seek to establish friendship, understand, be sensitive, show care. Never must we compromise.

May the Lord help us to be faithful in our life and witness!

Taken from Beacon Lights October 2017

Magazine website

Winning the Souls of Unbelievers – J. Payne

So true. Forget the cold turkey stuff that bears little fruit and take the opportunities as God provides especially anyone asking you a pointed question.

The Three R's Blog

As we pointed out earlier this month (see my Sept.10 post) the September 2017 issue of Tabletalk has as its theme “Soul Winning,” with the featured articles covering the various aspects of the Christian calling and methods of this task (based Prov.11:30).

I have once again profited from these articles, including that by Jon D. Payne, “Winning the Souls of Unbelievers.” In the first main section of this article, headed by the words “Wonderfully Ordinary,” Payne gives the “regular” believer great encouragement in the calling to evangelize.

I post these paragraphs tonight, so that you too may be assured that God has you right where you ought to be to be a means to win souls.

Rather than heap guilt on regular Christians for not soul winning on street corners or in market squares (which few believers are called or gifted to do), wouldn’t it be far better to foster…

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