Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.
We are doing our best to maintain the essential functions of the church during the pandemic shutdown. We continue to care for each other, even from a distance. We continue to pray and worship, even if not all in one place or at the same time. We continue to proclaim the word of God and call one another to faith and obedience. We continue to preach Christ, crucified and risen to set us free. Proclaiming the truth of scripture, especially the means of our salvation through Jesus, is essential to the mission of the church, and something we can never compromise.
From the earliest days of the church, leaders have pushed back strongly against false teaching. Paul often confronted those, even within the church, who promoted ideas and doctrines that contradicted the grace of God offered through Jesus Christ. In the case of the Philippian church, there were people teaching a distorted message of salvation, requiring Christians to first “become Jewish” through circumcision or other rituals tied to Old Testament law. This teaching not only placed an unnecessary burden on believers, but even worse, it denied the saving power of God’s grace, suggesting that we can be saved through our own religious actions.
False teaching still plagues the church. Today’s favorite heresies include universalism (that everyone goes to heaven, even without faith in Jesus), religious subjectivism (that all religions are equally true), and moral relativism (that people, not God, can determine what is right and wrong). I preach God’s word, as clearly and accurately as I can, to encourage our faith, to help unbelievers find new life in Jesus, and to keep all of us from falling for false teaching. During this time of physical separation, I pray that you are reading God’s word for yourself and watching/streaming/listening to Biblical preaching that proclaims Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Father, thank You for Your church. Please give wisdom and strength to those who preach Your word, that they might understand and communicate Your truth, not their own ideas. Help me to cling to what is true and life-giving, through Jesus my Savior. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian