Scent and sound has such an important place on our mountain abode - frog songs in the mist, the smell of a damp forest, the call of a jackal buzzard, the welcoming fragrance of wattle fires, the scent of indigenous herbs in the hot sun. Our dogs return from a run along forest paths with my husband, their coats carrying the rich smell of woodland undergrowth. It is a delight to bury your nose in a warm furry neck and sense the places they've been.
That in itself is a very "loose" description of the purpose of my "belief". At a time when the strings of moral laws and Biblical truths are being "let out" to allow for more and more tolerance, masked in a sweet coated religious cocktail - in which all is acceptable and permissible through love - Truth is lost.
False teachings are often blatant, but increasingly often, it is so cunningly subtle that it is hard to tell "the wood for the trees".
Here is an example, which I found on a website that "answers" tough questions that young people ask about faith and religion. Read it and see how soon you are able to discern it to be a true or false teaching.
"Unlike anything else you have encountered, a relationship with God does not begin with you filling in the blank, "Accept me because..."
It starts with God saying, "I accept you." "I welcome you."
Whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered or have questions, God is not our enemy. If you have not already begun one, God wants a relationship with you. He offers this to anyone and everyone.
In Scripture, you'll see only one group that consistently angered Jesus...the religious self-righteous.
Jesus seemed okay with everyone else, including prostitutes and criminals. However, the religious elite irritated and saddened Jesus. He saw them as judgemental, arrogant, unloving, and hypocritical.
You might see those words and immediately think of religious people who have been hurtful, rude or judgemental toward you. Does that represent Jesus' heart? No. Jesus said to love your neighbour as yourself. How would hurtful comments fit into that? Not very well.
This is Jesus' heart revealed. He said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls."
The above is just one example of truth interwoven with human doctrine, and a twisted adaptation and quoted out of context of Scripture. Cunningly paraphrased and altered into something which is soothing to anyone lost on the wide road to ruin, but which promises to lead to an all-accepting, loving God.
Rather than to unpack all the lies, I thought it to be a good time to go back to confirm what it is I actually believe. And to pray without ceasing and trust the Holy Spirit to bestow on me both a spirit of love and a spirit of discernment.
The notes on the following five "Solas" (only, alone) are not my own words, but a mostly verbatim copy of our most recent bible study notes. With scripture references to substantiate them.
1. FAITH ALONE
Faith alone is the instrument of our salvation. Salvation is not by works, it is by faith, that is, trusting the Lord Jesus Christ. Even saving faith is a gift of God's grace.
Romans 5: 1-2 "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God."
2. SCRIPTURE ALONE
This truth declares that the Bible alone is our authority for faith (what we believe) and conduct (how we live). The Bible alone is God's Word written. It is without error, it is authoritative, it is sufficient for all things pertaining to life and godliness. It must be preached and lived out.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 "But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
3. CHRIST ALONE
It is in Christ alone that we have salvation. In His perfect life and substitutionary death alone we have salvation. Through Him and Him alone, we have the forgiveness of our sins and are declared righteous before God.
Acts 4:11-12 "Jesus is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
4. GRACE ALONE
It answers the question of who does what in salvation. Many think that salvation is a "grace and..." project. If this is true then "grace is no longer grace" (Romans 11:6). The Bible is clear, salvation is all of grace and grace alone because "salvation is of the Lord" (Jonah 2:9).
2 Timothy 1:9 "He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time."
5. GLORY TO GOD ALONE
It is the great goal of all God's purposes in Jesus Christ. All that God does, He does for His own glory. He created all things for His glory. He sustains and rules over the world and our lives for His glory. Our salvation is all of grace through Christ for all His glory. God and God alone is worthy of all glory and praise!
Romans 11: 33-36 "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counsellor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them? For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."
and therefore: 1 Cor 10:31 "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,
do it all for the glory of God."
***************Having confirmed what I believe, "I should "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you (me) to give the reason for the hope that you (I) have. But do this with gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15).
Truth sets us free. If Jesus has set you free you are free indeed. Not to do as you and I wish, but free from lies, from spiritual confusion, free to choose to live in His will, free from fear, free from doubt, free from a lust for power, wealth or status, free from guilt, free from burdens of the past, free from the curse of sin, freed from the jaws of death itself.
A caged bird sees freedom through bars and longs for it without knowing what it is longing for. It has food, shelter, a simulated environment to suit its needs and perceived instincts. So it is content. A bird that has been set free from captivity, sees the cage and stays clear of it. Having tasted true freedom, it can never return to that false environment. It soars ever higher and the cage serves only as a reminder of the sad limitations of captivity.
Be anchored in the One and True Gospel of Christ Jesus. It is not a chain or a cage, it is knowing that we in ourselves are fledgelings, with Jesus beneath our wings. He longs to gather to Himself His elect, the often scorned but steadfast. I truly long to be counted as one of the few of true faith that Christ may find when He returns. And in this time where we see the predicted spiral of sorrows leading to an unprecedented time of trouble, to be able to say with confidence: Even so, come Lord Jesus!