Friday, March 2, 2012

Corrupt Communication



The shrill ring of the phone startled my husband Richard and me from a sound sleep. It was a business acquaintance of his, asking if it were true that Richard was stranded in Spain after his credit cards, cash and passport were stolen. How much money did he need to borrow, and how could she wire it to him?

Emerging from our dazed confusion, we finally pieced together that Richard’s email account had been hacked, and that the hacker had sent an individual email to each of my husband’s contacts, explaining the above made-up scenario and requesting a loan. Unlike most junk email and phishing scams, this one appeared to come from my husband’s correct email address and contained his name, increasing the chances that a good-hearted recipient would think it was a legitimate call for help rather than a blatant lie.

Earlier that night I had awakened from sleep with two Bible verses going through my head: “evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Corinthians 15:33) and “let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay” (Matthew 5:37). I hadn’t even made the connection until I mentioned this to my husband later in the day, and he said, “Sounds like that email hoax to me.”

It made me think about how important it is for us to avoid “corrupt communication” (Ephesians 4:29). Our family, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ who know we claim His name regard us, at least to some extent, as His representative (2 Corinthians 5:20). What we say therefore reflects on Him, whether rightly or wrongly. Those in positions of leadership must be especially careful not only that their speech honors Him, but also that it is doctrinally sound and pure.

We must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), not being hurtful or judgmental, or causing offense that would be a stumbling block to another’s faith (Romans 14:13; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 8:9; 1 Peter 2:8; 1 John 2:10). Yet in our eagerness to be kind, accepted or politically correct, we must not gloss over truths that may be painful to hear. Saying “He’s in a better place,” about a lost person who died may make his family feel better, but it is directly opposed to Biblical truth and may remove the urgency the family members might otherwise feel about getting right with God.

It is true that only God knows the heart(Psalm 44:21; Luke 16:15; Acts 15:8; 1 John 3:20) and that deathbed conversions may occur, so we can’t know for sure what any person’s eternal destiny may be. In the above situation, it may be best to focus on that, and to thank God for offering eternal life in heaven to “whosoever” believes in His Son’s death, burial and resurrection to pay for our sins (John 3:16).

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul explains the Gospel of grace – that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again, that all who have faith in Him will have eternal life. He warns against “evil communications” (v. 33) with those who would dilute or even deny this truth, which is the only means to salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). We must not allow false teachers to compromise our knowledge of this truth (2 Peter 2:1) and our urgency to share it with others, as Christ commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).

Our own testimony and witness to others must not in any way corrupt the Gospel. Instead, it must build up and instruct the hearer regarding God’s grace and salvation through His Son (Ephesians 4:29). Similarly, Jesus warns us to speak the truth plainly – yes meaning yes, and no meaning no (Matthew 5:37). If we muddle these together, we distort what is right and wrong, black and white, into shades of gray.

Recently there has been a controversial trend, known as the "King's Way," for some in positions of Christian leadership to attempt to reach out in friendship to Muslims by saying that we all worship the same God. Evangelical Christian groups are invited to participate in this partnership with mosques, but they are prohibited from sharing the Gospel.

However, our God is clearly different from how the Koran portrays Allah. Christians recognize a Triune God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all equally God, whereas Muslims do not recognize Jesus as God, but only as a prophet superceded by Mohammed. Our God is love (1 John 4:8), and He is faithful (Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 89:8; 1 Corinthians 1:9), unchanging (Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17), and true (Romans 3:4; Titus 1:2), promising eternal life to all who have a personal relationship with His Son (John 14:6-7). This promise is based only on His grace, and not on any works we could do to try to earn our salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9). When God chastises His children, He does it as a loving Father, for our ultimate good (Hebrews 12:5).

But Allah is viewed by some as punitive and one to be feared, and salvation demands works such as pilgrimages to Mecca and repetitive daily prayers. Even so, Muslims can never be sure they have done enough to merit entrance into Paradise.

The truths of Christianity may be viewed by some as exclusive and even as intolerant and offensive. This is hardly surprising, because Christ and His Word say that His truths cause division among family members (Matthew 10:21; 34-35); that He is the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6; Acts 4:12); that our hearts are wicked (Jeremiah 17:9); and that we have all broken God’s laws in thought if not always in deed (Matthew 5:28). The doctrine emphasized by Paul is indeed offensive -- that we are all sinners; that no one is righteous; and that we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10, 23).

Yet to “reach out” to nonbelievers or to strike up “friendships” with them by denying these Biblical truths may gain a “friend” during this lifetime, yet lose a soul to hell for all eternity. What kind of “friend” keeps silent about the words of eternal life? (John 6:68) Jesus commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39), but doesn’t true love demand that we speak the truth? We have the Good News that keeps people from hell, so why would we not share it?

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, a former Muslim who has been preaching the Gospel since he was born again, is awaiting execution in Iran rather than renouncing the truth. He is a true friend to his flock, one who lays down his life for his friends (John 15:13), willing to die for telling the truth so that others may live.

May our prayers be with him and others who face persecution and death rather than speaking corrupt communication. His captors have offered to spare his life if only he would renounce Jesus, but Pastor Yousef says:

"I am resolute in my faith and Christianity and have no wish to recant.”


© 2012 Laurie Collett


31 comments:

  1. Oh, I'm so sorry because of Your husband and his e-mail account.
    Yes, I know problem with comparising Islam and Christanity. Many people think that this is the same God, but in reality it isn't this same. I read a book: "Islamic invasion" (translated into Polish, but it is American). I read in this book, that Islam is nothing more than Arabic culture from 7th century, but today Muslims want to spread this all over the world in 21st century.
    I think most people don't know anything about this religion... So it is very important to write notes like Your.
    I pray almost everyday for pastor Nadarkhani.
    Blessings for You.

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  2. Thanks Zim, for your good wishes, comment, and prayers for Pastor Nadarkhani.
    God bless you and your ministry,
    Laurie

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  3. Praying for dear Pastor Nadarkhani, and his family.

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  4. A doctor who refused to tell a patient about a potentially fatal condition because they would be upset by knowing about it, especially when an effective treatment for the condition was readily available would be guilty of malpractice. A Christian who doesn't tell others what they need for salvation because they might not appreciate it is equally guilty of malpractice.

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  5. Hi Denise,
    Thank you so much for your prayers. May God bless you and your ministry.
    Laurie

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  6. Amen, dfish! If we knew of a 100% effective cure for cancer or the common cold, we'd be shouting it from the rooftops. But we do know a 100% effective way to ensure eternity in heaven rather than in hell, yet we keep silent.
    God bless,
    Laurie

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  7. A very good post.
    First, reading about the identity scam can make by blood boil. It is all down to the love of money being the root of all evil.
    Second, I agree with Dfish that we need to share the Gospel to the lost. My situation is that I have tried that many times with my own parents, who although Catholics, Dad in particular, is agnostic, which he admits himself. They both know of my conversion for the better part of forty years. Now Dad, who is in his mid eighties, has been in and out of hospital several times as a result of a stroke. The very thought of him being in Hell after death crushes my heart. On my last visit to hospital to see him, he expressed his disappointment in my dessertion of the Catholic faith, and that he insists that the Church has been around for nearly 2,000 years, far longer than any groups I go to, and he himself believes in Jesus Christ, so he tells me. He ended up preaching at me. All I can do is to commit him to God, for only he knows the true nature of Dad's heart. Maybe God's grace is wider than our Protestant attitude would allow, but nevertheless, I would be much happier to know for sure that all his sins had been atoned for and he would go to Heaven after death.
    Finally, thankyou for your comment on my last blog. Your explanation about the genetic colouring of various flowers was the footing for my current article.
    All the best,
    Frank

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  8. Thanks, Frank! And you're very welcome for my comment on your blog.
    Praise God that He does not require success from us -- just obedience. It sounds like you have been highly obedient to share the Gospel with your parents -- now it is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit to do the rest. He will reward you richly for fulfilling the Great Commission.
    I personally believe that although there are many doctrines in the Catholic church that are non-Biblical, that individuals who consider themselves to be part of that church may still be saved. If they have repented of their sins; have faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as the only way to Heaven; and have a personal relationship with Him, they are saved regardless of what church they attend. Only God knows the hearts. I will pray for your parents.
    Blessings to you,
    Laurie

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  9. I enjoyed your post and also one of your dance videos with your husband which I watched the other day. I try to take the opportunity to share God with unbelievers whenever I can and with others who have backslid though I know I fail to do my part oftentimes. As I've grown older I realize that all I need to do is be obedient and not argue or debate but simply present the truth in a natural way as circumstances open up around me. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.

    It sad that so many scammers abound these days and your husband's hacked email account is so common and catches many people unawares. Just like the enemy does to those that are not alert, Christians and non Christians alike. I understand better as I grow older that even the very elect can be fooled if we are not careful to abide in him.

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  10. Thanks, Joyful, for your thoughtful comment and for watching one of our videos. Praise God for your faithfulness to share the Gospel. If we yield to the Holy Spirit and walk through the doors He opens, He will give us the words to say, and He will also give us discernment.
    May you have a blessed week in Him!
    Laurie

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  11. Good teaching, thinking, sharing. I have a lot of the same thought processes. My opinion: quite a number of us Christians are going to be considered extremists b/c we won't sluff a number of these present issues off just to be better friends. Popularity is going to be a non-descriptive word of most of us re: our present-day cultural character. Oh, well. Gotta do what we gotta do.

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  12. Thanks, caryjo! I think you're right -- as the world moves toward one-world religion as prophesied, evangelical Christian views will be considered extreme. But if we are not ashamed of Him, He will not be ashamed of us.
    Blessings to you,
    Laurie

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  13. Excellent post and great examples too. Sorry about your husband's e-mail being hacked. My friend had this happen to her. One thing we want to avoid is to get scammed with corrupt communication even if it comes from the pulpit. It is wise to keep your virus protection on and allow the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.

    Oh no those awful blurry letters - well here goes try #2

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  14. Thanks, A Joyful Noise! You're so right -- corrupt communication will come at us from all directions, even the pulpit of some churches. We must be sober and vigilant and discerning to distinguish Bible truth from false teaching.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  15. This afternoon, as I did my bible study, I went over the concept that our tongues are powerful...both for good and for evil! It is important to always use it for good and to ask the Lord to bring to the surface any areas where we are not doing this: gossip, lying, tossing His name around casually, swearing, inappropriate jokes - both uncouth and also jokes uttered at someone else's expense... The list could go on and on! Your post is a great confirmation. Thank you Laurie!

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  16. Dear Denise,
    Thanks for your prayers, and much love to you,
    Laurie

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  17. Dear Joan, It is so awesome when He reinforces what He is saying to us through the words of others! It scares me when I remember that we'll have to give account for every idle word -- not just blasphemy, lies or gossip, but even the times when we were chatting about nothing important while failing to share the Gospel with one we believe to be lost. Thanks as always for your thoughtful comment -- you are a blessing!
    Laurie

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    1. I call those reinforcement, "God echos"! It is as if He is echoing His message to me until I hear it! Blessings!

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  18. I will so be in prayer for Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani and for all our brothers and sisters in Christ who suffer under persecution. To have the courage to proclaim the truth in these circumstances bring much glory to God. Thank you, Laurie.

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  19. Thank you, Laura, for your prayers who suffer persecution rather than renounce His truth.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  20. Hi Laurie,
    Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani is in my prayers. Yes indeed, he is a shining example of what a true follower of Christ looks like, willing to lay down his own life for the gospel.

    One can’t help but notice how warfare has increased worldwide in the past few years. Are we losing our freedom because we’ve been so politically correct? All that will save us now, I’ve heard, is a great awakening. Pray that God will heal our land.

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  21. Dear Debra,
    Thanks so much for your comment and for following Saved by Grace, and especially for your prayers for Pastor Yousef.
    I believe we are in the End Times, with increased wars and rumors of wars, wickedness in high places, and a falling away from the truth.
    You are so right, Christians need to pray for healing of our nation. 2 Chronicles 7:14: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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  22. Thank you for sharing this thoughtful post. I also like the comment you made just above this one to Debra. I certainly agree with you.
    Blessings,
    Charlotte

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  23. The truths of Christianity may be viewed by some as exclusive and even as intolerant and offensive. This is hardly surprising, because Christ and His Word say that His truths cause division among family members (Matthew 10:21; 34-35); ...

    I've been going through the above with family lately. I actually don't say anything and find myself cringing if they bring something up (normally in an angry manner) - they want me to react. I don't. At least not outwardly. They keep trying to "convert" me... to their way of thinking.

    Lately though they have been more polite. I know some even read my blog. I just won't waver.

    On another note we need to pray for those who are so bold to preach the word like Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani. I know many having been doing all they can to free him.

    Great post :) Have a blessed weekend.

    http://theemptynestexpress.com

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  24. Thanks, Charlotte, and God bless!
    Laurie

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  25. Dear Ms. Kathleen,
    I will keep your family in my prayers. All you can do is to pray and to keep planting the seed, not only through your testimony and writing, but by reacting to them in love, as you are doing. As they see Christ's love shine through you, their hearts will be softened. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to do the rest. Stand fast in what you believe and God will bless you richly.

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  26. Laurie - you are so right, it is important to speak the truth in love. And there is no compromise - Jesus is the only way. It is dangerous when Christians begin to compromise their belief all in the name of being "politially correct."

    Blessings,
    Joan

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  27. Thanks, Joan! He warned severely of adding to or taking away from the truths in His Word.
    God bless you,
    Laurie

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  28. Thank you for joining us with your true story at our new Blog Party site. Your post does caution us to be careful of communication even when it seems to be coming from a friend.

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  29. Thanks, A Joyful Noise, for your comment and for hosting the Blog Party site.
    Love in Him,
    Laurie

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