Monday, August 30, 2010

Simply Christian, Part 10

Are all churches apostate? Of course not, but many are drifting (or have drifted) partially or completely into it; I can’t help but believe denominational segregation has aided in weakening the body of Christ against an infiltration of false doctrine. Are all church schisms evil? Paul wrote, “For first of all when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you,” 1st Corinthians 11:18-19.

God apparently uses divisions to extract His people from wayward teaching and carnal thinking in the church. This process of separation is an ancient one: “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him. Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him,” Malachi 3:17-18. God knows those who are His, 2nd Timothy 2:19; though schisms of themselves are evil, God will preserve a faithful remnant of His body, the universal church. Likely this body is sprinkled throughout Christendom like the anointing oil of the priests, giving off the fragrance of Christ. All churches holding a modicum of truth likely have believers in them; the letters in Revelation 2-3 reveal this much.

We are also commanded to assemble as believers: “…not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching,” Hebrews 10:25. If someone has been burned by church, do not despair, and do not become a “lone-wolf” Christian. Please, the Holy Spirit pleads with you to find like-minded believers to worship and fellowship with; it is a plea worth answering. Personally, my wife and I have met some of the finest people we have ever known when we chose to stop being “lone-wolves” two or three years ago.

The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to “give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away,” Hebrews 2:1. Paul said, “Guard what was committed to your trust (a ministry rooted in sound doctrine; see 1st Timothy 4:13, 16), avoiding the profane and idle babblings of what is falsely called knowledge—by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith,” 1st Timothy 6:20-21.

There was a change of focus in Paul’s teaching by the time the letters to Timothy and Titus were being written (63-64 AD are common dates for their writings). Why? Doctrine was being revealed through the Apostles to the infant church via their epistles. By the time Paul wrote 1st Timothy he was quoting from Luke’s gospel (possibly written by 60 AD); see 1st Timothy 5:18; Luke 10:7. Knowledge of the Way was proliferating, making the need for accompanying signs and wonders to confirm the message unnecessary. The letters of Timothy, Titus, Hebrews, and John’s letters (written perhaps as late as 85-90 AD) focused primarily on doctrine; they focused on knowing Christ.

This was not experiential, experimental knowledge, but revealed truth that was inspired and in written form open for confirmation to all. Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus, now ministers of the word, that it was imperative to know what one believes, AND WHY. In 1st John alone the Apostle used the word “know” 33 times in a mere 105 verses! Physical manifestations of the Spirit, while demonstrating power, do not convey truth; Jesus wanted us to know the truth that sets us free, 1st John 5:20; John 8:31-32. Furthermore, signs and wonders fail to convince and convert men, John 12:37; Revelation 9:20-21. If they did, Jesus should have converted all Israel. Yet history reveals He did not.

Teachers are commended for assimilating knowledge and disseminating it to their students/disciples. The more clearly the word is conveyed the better. Or to put it another way: the less of us that gets in the way of the message, the better. We should be like a window pane, as clearly as possible allowing the light of the Sun of Righteousness to shine through us. Our human reason, efforts, strength, wisdom and pride create a film that stifles His ability to use us so that we are merely broken cisterns that hold no water, rather than dispensers of the living water that is Jesus Christ, Jeremiah 2:13; John 8:37-38; 2nd Timothy 2:21. Again, it is sound doctrine that saves the hearer, 1st Timothy 4:16; Romans 10:17. One’s denomination or device (signs and wonders, health and wealth, etc) avails nothing.

As a final note on gifts, I am not opposed to spiritual gifts; rather the opposite. But Paul wrote that he would rather speak five words to teach others than 10,000 in a foreign tongue, 1st Corinthians 14:19. Gifts properly used are wonderful; teaching is a tremendous gift, as is discerning the spirits, faith, hope and love. But a denomination driven by anything outside sound doctrine is no longer a church of God. Does this sound harsh? “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words,” 1st Timothy 6:3-4. “As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed,” Galatians 1:9.
To be Concluded

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for stopping by my little corner and leaving an encouraging comment. I have read a couple of your posts, including you and your wife's testimonies. What an awesome God we serve.

    I must come back and read with more time. I know I'm going to enjoy these posts. You seem passionate about truth and there's really one inerrant foundation--His Word. It is good to see your teaching is rooted there. When all other things, including gifts, cease one day, His Word shall stand forever. Is truth offensive? Absolutely. I always say truth is intolerant. Yes, intolerant. It doesn't get more offensive than that but an apple is an apple no matter how much someone may want to call it a banana.

    I liked seeing my brother in Christ, Lloyd, on your google follow. ;) What a small world.

    Blessings to both you and your wife as you continue to shine His light.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I must say how coincidental (aka providential) your comment is; my mother was just relating to me the same thing during a conversation some days ago. Truth offends; it isn't what we would expect or necessarily ask for, but it is what we need.

    I always marvel when I see the Holy Spirit conveying the same unchanging truth through different vessels. You are 100% right; we have an awesome God! I liked your blog, and I too will be back to visit! Ian.

    ReplyDelete

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