Tag Archives: criticism

The Church and Salvation:  Learning to Receive Criticism and Instruction

Today’s message summary of December 31, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

There are periods when Jesus spent time with his apostles to train them for what was to come after He turned over His ministry to them.

How much do you like criticism?  Many of us don’t, but there are times when criticism is necessary.  For those of us at the forefront of ministry, this criticism is indeed constructive and beneficial.  The apostles had to receive instruction in this way in order to make sure that (1) they were living in the right way, and (2) to demonstrate before others a life of service in Jesus Christ.

We are to respect those who criticize us, because they are ultimately watching us.  It is the act of analysis or of the qualities as an evaluation in comparison to others.  There may be a finding of fault or even disapproval of what is being done, but it is in the spirit of correction.  (We are often not as critical of ourselves as we should be.)

Being a Christian is not easy.  It starts with obedience to Him, and it involves a surrendering to the Holy Spirit, who is developing you into the person that will serve Jesus.  This is how you can experience success–in spite of the flesh.

If you were to pick twelve people to do a task, and only one of the twelve failed, how would you grade yourself?  This was the result of Jesus’ training of his apostles.

There is a historical contrast between Jesus, the Jewish leaders, and John the Baptist.

The Jewish teachers and John the Baptist didn’t choose their disciples.  Their disciples chose them.  Jesus, in contrast, hand picked each of His disciples in order that they would become His apostles.

They were not self-made.  They had to stay chose to Jesus in order to continue to develop, learn and grow.

John 15:16

You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

Mark 3:13-15

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.

This was a change from what was the religious norm of the time (instead of what happened with John and the Jewish leaders).  Jesus wanted the apostles and appointed them.  He wanted them to be with Him.  He would sent them out to preach, and gave them authority to drive out demons.

The real wonder of the apostles lies in the making and development of the men for their ministry.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!

The real wonder of a Christian is their growth and development.  Jesus wants to not just give salvation, but He wants to be with the believer to help him grow.  Where the old has left, the new has come.

The apostles reveal what is going to happen in the life of those who will accept Jesus as Savior.  The old has gone, and the new has come.

They had to learn to take criticism from other religious people.  There were many (Jews and Pharisees) who were watching them.

Mark 7:1-13

The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around him. They observed that some of his disciples were eating bread with uncleanthat is, unwashedhands. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, keeping the tradition of the elders. When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they have washed. And there are many other customs they have received and keep, like the washing of cups, pitchers, kettles, and dining couches.) So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, Why dont your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders, instead of eating bread with ceremonially unclean hands?

He answered them, Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,

but their heart is far from me.

They worship me in vain,

teaching as doctrines human commands.

Abandoning the command of God, you hold on to human tradition. He also said to them, You have a fine way of invalidating Gods command in order to set up your tradition!  For Moses said: Honor your father and your mother; and Whoever speaks evil of father or mother must be put to death. But you say, If anyone tells his father or mother: Whatever benefit you might have received from me is corban’” (that is, an offering devoted to God), you no longer let him do anything for his father or mother. You nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many other similar things.


“Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders?” (from Mark 7:5)

Jesus reminded the critics of the words of Scripture in defense of the disciples and noted that those who professed to follow the Lord had hearts that were not following Him.  He teaches the critics with the words of Isaiah.

Isaiah 29:13-19

The Lord said:

These people approach me with their speeches

to honor me with lip-service

yet their hearts are far from me,

and human rules direct their worship of me.

Therefore, I will again confound these people

with wonder after wonder.

The wisdom of their wise will vanish,

and the perception of their perceptive will be hidden.


Woe to those who go to great lengths

to hide their plans from the Lord.

They do their works in the dark,

and say, Who sees us? Who knows us?

You have turned things around,

as if the potter were the same as the clay.

How can what is made say about its maker,

He didnt make me?

How can what is formed

say about the one who formed it,

He doesnt understand what hes doing?


Isnt it true that in just a little while

Lebanon will become an orchard,

and the orchard will seem like a forest?

On that day the deaf will hear

the words of a document,

and out of a deep darkness

the eyes of the blind will see.

The humble will have joy

after joy in the Lord,

and the poor people will rejoice

in the Holy One of Israel.


The disciples were observant of the dialogue between Jesus and the Pharisees, but they were observing and learning from the exchange.

They learned how to move from answering their question to stating a fact about the accusers (Mark 7:9-13).

Now Jesus takes the question from the Pharisees to the multitude of people and His disciples–a much larger group.  He turns the question into a teachable moment for all who are listening.

Mark 7:14-19

Summoning the crowd again, he told them, Listen to me, all of you, and understand: Nothing that goes into a person from outside can defile him but the things that come out of a person are what defile him.

When he went into the house away from the crowd, his disciples asked him about the parable. He said to them, Are you also as lacking in understanding? Dont you realize that nothing going into a person from the outside can defile him? For it doesnt go into his heart but into the stomach and is eliminated (thus he declared all foods clean).

Remember that his disciples–soon to be apostles–were raised in Jewish tradition.  They had to see how these traditions were not nearly as important as the heart of the person.  The heart is to lead all of the actions for the glory of God.  Are things being done out of tradition, or are they being done out of a love and obedience for God?

Mark 7:20-23

And he said, What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of peoples hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immoralities, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, evil actions, deceit, self-indulgence, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a person.

Jesus brings all of the observers into the discussion and shares this important truth.

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should always be mindful of where their hearts are and remain obedient to the Lord–and not grieve the Holy Spirit.








Jesus is More Than a Savior…He is God

Jesus is more than just a Savior…He is God. He’s not just the second Person of the Trinity (defining persons help us understand the concept of the Trinity)…He is God. He is more than just a friend…He is the living God.
John 8:58
Jesus said to them, ” I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.”

Jesus did not come forth to prove His existence. He spoke in order that Israel would know that He is the Messiah (John 8:12), and it was the Pharisees who openly questioned Jesus about who He was while He was giving instruction.

God communicates to us that if we sincerely seek Him, He will reveal Himself. He is a God who wants His people to know Him and to learn more about Him.

The Pharisees challenge Jesus’ statements about who He is, yet Jesus notes that His comments about being “the light” is self-explanatory.

John 8:12-18

12 Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”

 13 So the Pharisees said to Him, “You are testifying about Yourself. Your testimony is not valid.”

    14 “Even if I testify about Myself,” Jesus replied, “My testimony is valid, because I know where I came from and where I’m going. But you don’t know where I come from or where I’m going. 15 You judge by human standards.  I judge no one. 16 And if I do judge, My judgment is true, because I am not alone, but I and the Father who sent Me [judge together]. 17 Even in your law it is written that the witness of two men is valid. 18 I am the One who testifies about Myself, and the Father who sent Me testifies about Me.”

The Pharisees complained that Jesus was testifying about himself, but they were using human reasoning. Jesus points out that there are no earthly witnesses that can make a testimony of who He is based upon His preexistence; therefore, only God can make the testimony, and He reveals who He is to those who desire to know Him.

John 8:19-20

19 Then they asked Him, “Where is Your Father?”

    “You know neither Me nor My Father,” Jesus answered. “If you knew Me, you would also know My Father.” 20 He spoke these words by the treasury, while teaching in the temple complex. But no one seized Him, because His hour had not come.

Jesus makes two confirmations of Himself…through His crucifixion and through God’s Word.

John 8:27-29

27 They did not know He was speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [He], and that I do nothing on My own. But just as the Father taught Me, I say these things. 29 The One who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, because I always do what pleases Him.”

Luke 23:47

47 When the centurion saw what happened, he began to glorify God, saying, “This man really was righteous!”

John 8:30-32

 30 As He was saying these things, many believed in Him. 31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples. 32 You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The Pharisees could not defend their position–in fact, Jesus told the truth about who they were. The Pharisees were descendants of Abraham, but they were not children of God.

John 8:33-47

33 “We are descendants of Abraham,” they answered Him, “and we have never been enslaved to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will become free’?”

    34 Jesus responded, ” I assure you: Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. 36 Therefore if the Son sets you free, you really will be free. 37 I know you are descendants of Abraham, but you are trying to kill Me because My word is not welcome among you. 38 I speak what I have seen in the presence of the Father, and therefore you do what you have heard from your father.”

    39 “Our father is Abraham!” they replied.

    “If you were Abraham’s children,” Jesus told them, “you would do what Abraham did. 40 But now you are trying to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this! 41 You’re doing what your father does.”

    “We weren’t born of sexual immorality,” they said. “We have one Father—God.”

    42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, because I came from God and I am here. For I didn’t come on My own, but He sent Me. 43 Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me? 47 The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.”

The Pharisees continued to talk to Jesus in a denigrating manner.

John 8:48-49

48 The Jews responded to Him, “Aren’t we right in saying that You’re a Samaritan and have a demon?”

    49 “I do not have a demon,” Jesus answered. “On the contrary, I honor My Father and you dishonor Me.

Jesus’ Word is true and He will keep it.

John 8:50-51

50 I do not seek My glory; the One who seeks it also judges. 51 I assure you: If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death—ever!”

The Pharisees use human reasoning about Abraham and the prophets, but their knowledge of Abraham is limited–in fact, they know nothing about Abraham, but Jesus clearly knew him.

Matthew 17:1-5

1 After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 He was transformed in front of them, and His face shone like the sun. Even His clothes became as white as the light. 3 Suddenly, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.

    4 Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it’s good for us to be here! If You want, I will make three tabernacles here: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

    5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said:

    This is My beloved Son.

    I take delight in Him.

    Listen to Him!

John 8:52-56

52 Then the Jews said, “Now we know You have a demon. Abraham died and so did the prophets. You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste death—ever!’ 53 Are You greater than our father Abraham who died? Even the prophets died. Who do You pretend to be?”

    54 “If I glorify Myself,” Jesus answered, “My glory is nothing. My Father–you say about Him, ‘He is our God.’–He is the One who glorifies Me. 55 You’ve never known Him, but I know Him. If I were to say I don’t know Him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know Him, and I keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham was overjoyed that he would see My day; he saw it and rejoiced.”

Finally, the Pharisees tried to attack Jesus’ youth (1 Timothy 4:12), but Jesus is able to hide from those that were right in front of Him and moved away from the crowd.

John 8:57-59

57 The Jews replied, “You aren’t 50 years old yet, and You’ve seen Abraham?”

    58 Jesus said to them, ” I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am.”

    59 At that, they picked up stones to throw at Him. But Jesus was hidden and went out of the temple complex.

Exodus 3:13-15

13 Then Moses asked God, “If I go to the Israelites and say to them: The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me, ‘What is His name?’ what should I tell them?”

    14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation.

Jesus reminds us, through His testimony in revealing Himself, that He is God.

Isaiah 43:10-13

10 “You are My witnesses” —
          the LORD’s declaration—
    “and My servant whom I have chosen,
    so that you may know and believe Me
    and understand that I am He.
    No god was formed before Me,
    and there will be none after Me.

    11 I, I am the LORD,
    and there is no other Savior but Me.

    12 I alone declared, saved, and proclaimed—
    and not some foreign god among you.
    So you are My witnesses”—
          the LORD’s declaration—
    “and I am God.

    13 Also, from today on I am He [alone],
    and no one can take [anything] from My hand.
    I act, and who can reverse it?”

God is the One who reveals Himself, and your true salvation through Jesus Christ comes from God speaking directly to you. If you are listening to Him, you will know how God is operating in your life.

Lord, we pray that you will continue to affirm your presence in our lives as your children. We pray that as we remain obedient to you and that we will be fully persuaded that you are God…the great I AM…the one who restores and truly blesses. Thank you for helping us to believe your Word and for revealing your truth to us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Growing Through Adversity

No one wants or welcomes adversity in his or her life. There are some that would prefer to dictate how the events of life should occur and try to avoid adversity, but we all should conclude that we can’t control the “ups and downs” in life. When there is difficulty, this is a test as to what we believe as followers of Jesus Christ. It requires faith and trust in Him and the remembrance that God is in control.Adversity is not a bad thing; in fact, it is good thing, because it challenges our faith and provides opportunities for growth in our faith and trust in Jesus Christ.

Job 14:1

Man born of woman is short of days and full of trouble.

Adversity is what can be defined as “commotion,” or the condition of being physically agitated… restlessness, an uneasy or nervous state… a disastrous failure or defeat.

The worst thing that we can do is run away from life in response to moments of adversity. If believers are “more than conquerers,” then why run away…what are we running from? Adversity should, in fact, should be drawing us closer to God rather than away from Him. Depending upon where you are and what you are going through, it may require a consistent act of continually seeking Christ, in many ways, just to endure the hardship. It also requires compliance and agreement with God’s Word, which means humility and surrendering to Him as to whatever He wants to do in our live…whether we like it or not. It is a matter of obedience to God’s Word, and the joy realized with the peace of God that allows us to transcend beyond the adversity.

We are to have peace with God in order to have the peace of God.

Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:5-8

5 For those whose lives are according to the flesh think about the things of the flesh, but those whose lives are according to the Spirit, about the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind-set of the flesh is death, but the mind-set of the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable to do so. 8 Those whose lives are in the flesh are unable to please God.

Philippians 2:5

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus.

John 14:27

“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

In our adversity, we should always be mindful that we are walking with the Lord in fellowship through our life and our actions. This will enable each of us to know that we have the peace of God in our lives.

John 16:33
“I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.”

Peace is the very thing that God provides for us in the midst of difficulty.

It is important to seek the Lord and live in God’s peace and avoid the things that can disrupt your peace. Those who will readily criticize you and make claims that you never do anything right should be avoided (constructive criticism with justification is much different from harsh, unreasonable criticism). Another stumbling block is to compare where you are a person against that of where you perceive someone else is. There is no real peace when you are taking the focus off of God. The disruption of one’s peace also comes from carnality of the flesh, which prevents seeking the Lord in all things. It implies operating on one’s own strength instead of relying upon God.

Matthew 20:24-27

24 When the 10 [disciples] heard this, they became indignant with the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them. 26 It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.

1 Timothy 1:5
Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

Ephesians 4:7
Now grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of the Messiah’s gift. For it says: When He ascended on high, He took prisoners into captivity; He gave gifts to people.

Adversity reveals the real life that we are living in Christ (or without Him). Are we living according to God’s standards and expectations?

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

19 Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.

Romans 2:21

…you then, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach, “You must not steal”—do you steal?

James 1:2-3

 2 Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

His glory is revealed in us by our commitment to living the life that glorifies Him.

His glory is revealed to us in these three areas of life:
1. Goodness
2. Faithfulness
3. Servanthood

Goodness reflects how well we treat others in spite of our adversity. Faithfulness has to do with your word being your word, because you are living according to God’s Word. Servanthood refers to how you serve others with the desire to serve Christ and glorify Him, and not because you are looking for special recognition.

Each of these becomes our agenda in life only when we believe that God is sovereign and totally in control. He has absolute authority over everything in His creation.

John 19:10-11
So Pilate said to Him, “You’re not talking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You and the authority to crucify You?” “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given to you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”

John 3:27
John responded, “No one can receive a single thing unless it’s given to him from heaven.”

Matthew 10:29
“Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent.”