Muddy Waters

Short Essay by Pamela Eason

“Beloved, … I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed …

Sometimes, like dirt on a river bottom, what you thought was all settled in nice lovely patterns, gets all mixed up and you are left with muddy waters. Christian waters get muddied a lot. Splashes and swishes and swirls are forever getting everything all stirred up.

Things get really stirred up when influential people, both inside and outside the church, stir and splash, and think and write. When they do, publishers publish and distributors distribute. Sweet abiding truths, along with mud-flung falsities, flow to and from pages of books, blogs, and songs to conference stages, recording studios, lecterns, pulpits, and people.

Sometimes muddy waters are a good thing.

This stirring up of things in Christian rivers is not new. Muddy waters have flowed down church isles and out their doors for as long as church has existed, and this is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, when things settle after they’ve been swirled around a bit the result is truer truth and clearer clarity.

Sometimes they are not.

But other times, even when a teeny-tiny murky idea has just the slightest bit of error in it, the beautiful “Jesus Saves” message gets distorted. And, when the River of Life, whose beautiful pristine waters provide the thirsty with the “Jesus Saves” way of salvation gets muddy, some people drink the polluted water and die.

Rescue the perishing.

So, in an effort to show mercy and rescue the perishing by snatching them from the fire (or for this blog’s over-pressed metaphor, muddy waters), I would urge you to look very carefully at the waters you are about to plunge into or perhaps are already swimming in. Consider where they will take you so that you won’t find yourself, all tired out, treading in turbid waters that will dupe you to your death.

Are you the perishing?

Ask yourself, “Is the river I’m wading in, or swimming in, or treading in, or floating in murky or clear? Will it lead me …

  • to Jesus or to another savior?
  • to the salvation Jesus fully secured for me and that is freely available to me by faith alone in Christ alone or to another way of salvation?
  • to justification through Christ alone by God alone or to some other way of justifying myself?
  • to the Holy Spirit’s work of producing love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in me or to self-transformation?
  • to a sovereign LORD who is in total control or to a god who is not completely in control, or better – one who I can control?
  • to a God who did all the things he said he did and will do all the things he promised or to a god who’s not so much like that?
  • to the understanding that Scripture is God’s own authoritative word to his people directed by the Holy Spirit and written by men?
  • to a church God builds or to one I have to build?
  • to a message that uses catchy phrases or beautiful words that pull at your emotions, and that sounds “kinda Christian,” but not quite, and you just can’t seem to put your finger on the problem with it?
  • to life or to death?
  • to God’s glory or to mine?”

If you are the perishing, what can you do?

If you find yourself in muddy waters, don’t panic! Instead …

  • remember that Jesus predicted “there would be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions,” Jude, verse 18.
  • build “yourself up in your most holy faith,” Jude, verse 20.
  • pray “in the Holy Spirit,” Jude, verse 20.
  • keep “yourselves in the love of God,” Jude, verse 21.
  • wait “for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life,” Jude, verse 21.

Only Jesus Saves!

You can do all these things and you should, but still you may find yourself stumbling and slogging around in muddy waters now and again. But, do not fear. All is not lost because, after all, in the end, only Jesus Saves!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time, now and forever. Amen, Jude 24-25, ESV.

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