Letters to Young Men: Let the Word be Your Authority

Dear Friend,

I hope this letter finds you doing well and continuing to grow in wisdom and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  I have written you before and challenged you Treasure God’s WordI am confident that you won’t find this letter much different, yet I still find it necessary.

When I was a younger man at the age of seventeen my father challenged me with the advice that I now share with you.  Let God’s word be the final authority in your life.  When discussing issues, debating doctrine or discerning how you will behave, know there is no more important guide than the Bible. The Apostle Paul writes about this when he addresses Timothy:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

(2Timothy 3:16-17, ESV)

You cannot and should not form doctrinal stances and practices based solely on the opinions of others men. You must first and foremost regard the Scripture as authoritative.  The words of your father, your mentor, and even your friends do not carry the same weight as the Scriptures.

Here is what you should know.  People can be wrong.  Sometimes, we cloud our judgment with self-love or hatred of others.  We dull sharp edges of the Word and sharpen dull edges to suit our needs. Often not by design, but perhaps by preference.  We embrace what is comfortable.  We accept what is tradition.

I’m not asking you to doubt everything.  Descart started us down a path that in the end only reveals that the human mind is significantly able to doubt everything.  Instead I am asking you to test the genuineness of your doctrinal positions and motivations by the Scripture.  Be correctable, but let it be the Word that corrects, not merely the opinions of another man.

I am confident of this, that those who judge the Word and hold themselves above it, will in the end be judged by the Word and found to be false.  Those who come humbly to search the Word will in turn find that their own hearts have been searched by the Word of God.  Let the Word be you authority.

 

Your Friend,

Pastor Jonathan

Letters to Young Men: Treasure the Word

Dear friend,

I hope this letter finds you doing well.  I want to be a source of strength and encouragement as you fight against the flesh and continue to grow in Christ.  I know it sounds cliché to say that when times are tough my greatest source of strength comes from being in God’s Word. I know that there are many leaders in our day and age who make light of the daily discipline of reading and studying God’s word.  Their reasons sound good.  They will say that believers in the early church could not read and only heard the word preached.  This is true, but they miss a vital point.  Because the word was scarce, it was sacred.  The danger in our day is not a lack of accessibility, but too much accessibility. No doubt you have more than one Bible and possibly more than one translations.  Here is my challenge to you… Treasure God’s Word!

Set aside a Bible that you will read from each day.  Set a particular time of day.  Get a journal and take notes.  When beginning the daily discipline of reading God’s word, one of the best things you can do is take a chapter or section at a time and summarise what you have read.  If it will help you, I will read the same scriptures and we can compare notes when we get together. If you want me to see and be able to comment post your thoughts on a blog as my pastor does or as notes on facebook like many of my other friends do.

What is challenging me and helping me to treasure God’s Word these days is to memorize portions Scripture.  I’ve set out to memorize Philippians by Easter this year and even in the first week I have been blessed beyond measure.  The amount of scripture memorized isn’t the point, the value that it has in your life is very much the point. Do you treasure God’s Word?

Do not be persuaded to put off (or never even start) the basic disciplines that will help you know and grow in Christ. Do not be fooled by arguments that these disciplines lead to just going through the motions to check off a list.  No doubt some do and will read out of false motives, but knowing the Word is one of the primary ways in which we grow in Christ.

Treasure God’s word.  Grow and develop in the basic disciplines of reading and memorization.  Journal to engage you mind with the scripture and ask God to help you grow in Christ.  I close the letter here by quoting several scripture passages that God has used to speak to me on the subject.

But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world (John 17:13-18, ESV).

while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2Timothy 3:13-17, ESV).

I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11, ESV).

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (Psalm 1:1-6, ESV).

Your Friend,

Pastor Jonathan

Letters to Young Men

Letters to Young Men

I’m starting a new blog series entitled, “Letters to Young Men.”  I hope to post on this topic once every other week or so. Though I’m not particularly old, I have been blessed and encouraged to share insights with several guys in their late teens to early 20’s in regard to life and ministry.   Some of you live in far away places and we talk only a few times a year; most of your mentoring is behind you, yet we check in from time to time.  Others of you live in closer proximity and we meet on a weekly or monthly basis.  Many you who read this post won’t know me, but hopefully you will be blessed through the series, feel free to contact me.

Many of the lessons I will share here I learned the hard way.  When appropriate, I will share my failure in hopes that you will miss a few bumps along the way. A precious few lessons I learned under the hand of various mentors in my own life and thus avoided the scars and bruises I would certainly carry apart from their influence.  When appropriate I will give them credit and honor for their influence in my own life.

I publish these thoughts to honor, educate, and encourage young men through the trials of life. I will write them as letters.  They will be addressed, “Dear Friend.”  My intention is not to share particular conversations that have taken place in private.  The letters will address subjects that are in some way particular to young men and have developed over many conversations with many people.  My goal is to produce letters that appear personal in nature and cover themes that are certainly relevant.  My prayer is that these open letters are a source of strength and encouragement to you.

I mean no disrespect by the use of the phrase “young men.” By many accounts, I myself could still be considered a young man.  I use the word “young” only in terms of comparative age; I use the word “man” in terms of maturity.

I welcome comments, feedback and input all along the way, but chose the right to delete or edit comments that I deem as disrespectful, rude, or not-profitable for discussion.