Why I left the Baptist church

via Biblical Insights, April 2005, pp 20,21

There’s a proverb that says, “a wise man learned from the mistakes of others; a fool learns only from his own.” When asked to prepare a short treatise on my conversion, I jumped at the opportunity to do so. There was a time in my life when I was a lost person who thought he was a saved person, just like Cornelius (Acts 10) and the “many” of Matthew 7:21-23. Anything I can do to help other people who are either personally deceived, or are working with those who are, 1 will always do.

Reared a Good Calvinistic Baptist

My immediate family didn’t attend any church regularly until I was about 12 years old. We began attending church when an associate pastor of the local Baptist church moved across the street from us and invited our family to join them at services. Perhaps realizing that it was not wise to neglect the spiritual development of their children, my parents agreed to go, and my active spiritual life began. Having not really been involved in church earlier in my life, I really knew almost nothing about the Bible. I developed a strong spiritual interest, and I was eager to learn all that I could.

In my late teen years, I began to play guitar professionally in a Christian rock band. Also, I took a job working at the local Christian bookstore. Part of my job requirement was that I’d be very well read on the inventory within our store. As a result, even at the young age of about 18 years old, I had read probably hundreds of books on theology, doctrine, and Protestant church history. I probably understood Calvinistic theology and Premillennial eschatology as well (or better) as the Baptist Church staff I attended. My reading would have been essentially what those in mainline protestant denominations or evangelical churches embrace.

I distinctly remember the day that I told my family of my desire to go to seminary and become a Baptist pastor. They encouraged me in that, and said that people had prayed for generations that a preacher would arise out of the family. The Baptist Church of which I was a member also encouraged me, and I began to do a considerable amount of work within the congregation. Ultimately, I began doing preaching work at Baptist churches, presentations before youth groups, and worked as an assistant to the Sunday school director.

While I was working with the Baptist Church, I was also attending a Baptist University in preparation for my seminary studies at Dallas Theological Seminary (Ground Zero for the modern Premillennial eschatology movement). It was fairly normal for me to give “faith only” invitations, work at evangelistic rallies, deliver sermons and messages, and teach classes involving sometimes intricate areas of Calvinistic theology and eschatology.

To be completely honest, most people attending Baptist churches don’t really know their theology. Baptist theology is deeply rooted in Calvinism, yet most Baptists would deny they are Calvinistic. The entire basis of “once saved, always saved” is that you cannot be lost, because you did nothing of your own accord to be saved in the first place! I was a little unique in that my reading schedule at the bookstore had resulted in me not only knowing what I believed, but also having a thorough understanding of exactly why I believe it. Further, I was extremely zealous and evangelistic in teaching the “truth” of Calvinism, and all that it contained: original sin, the impossibility of apostasy, unconditional predestination, etc.

Although churches with Calvinistic theology are perceived as teaching “faith only” salvation, in truth they teach “nothing only” salvation. A genuine Calvinist would tell you that you have done absolutely nothing for your salvation — you were unconditionally selected before time began by God. A common Calvinistic line is “you did not choose God; God chose you.” Because this essentially makes all evangelistic activities pointless, this element of Calvinism is generally forgotten.”

My Beliefs Radically Changed

I met a young lady who was attending the church of Christ in the neighboring town. We started dating, and I agreed to visit her church on Wednesday evening. When I got there, I was astonished to find that I disagreed with almost the entirety of their doctrine and theology. This was clearly not the “faith only salvation,” “once saved always saved,” unconditional Calvinistic theology that I embraced so dearly. In fact, I had determined that my new goal was to convert the entire congregation to the “truths” of Calvinism, and committed to attending their midweek Bible study every week until I had succeeded.

Because I was now attending their Bible study, the church there began a new Bible study on denominational error. As our study went along, we evaluated characteristic error taught within various denominational churches. Much of the error we were studying were things that I held very dearly as true.

Perhaps the very first element in my theology to fall was the idea that denominations were acceptable. Within most denominational churches, it is often accepted as a good trait that there are so many different churches to choose from. That way, people can always find a church that they agree with. Of course, the problem with this is it sets man as the ultimate arbiter of truth, rather than the scriptures. God’s expectation of us is that we conform ourselves to the truth of the word of God, not that we just move around until we can find people who agree to ignore the same portions of scripture (see Rom. 3:4).

Much to my surprise, I found myself completely unprepared to deal with the rather pointed questions I was being asked about my beliefs. What about men with long hair who claim to be godly? (see I Cor 11:14). This was problematic for me because I was a long-haired hippie type playing in a Christian rock bank. When asked about the frequency of which we observed the Lord’s Supper at the Baptist Church, I could only reply that we did so quarterly, four times a year, for no other reason than “that’s just the way we do it” (see Acts 20:7). When asked why I didn’t teach baptism was essential to salvation, I would rely on passages such as John 3:16, while admittedly ignoring passages such as Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38. I did not understand the principle of homogeny of scripture (John 10:35; Acts 15:15), and was genuinely surprised to learn that I had significant holes in my Bible knowledge.

I had preached. taught. and performed concerts in and around Baptist churches for years. I was attending a Baptist University. I had at this time read extensively on doctrine and theology. I had been formally educated in Biblical languages. But one thing I had not done was actually read the Bible much. Amazingly enough, I had logged thousands of hours in studying about the bible, but comparatively little time actually in the Bible itself I began to see where my studies had almost systematically avoided large segments of scripture. You can imagine my shock when someone read me James 2:24. I think I probably responded somewhat like Martin Luther. and thought to myself, “that just doesn’t belong in the Bible.” I was amazed that I had never seen that before.

I remember sitting in a Baptist worship service when the senior pastor’s wife went to the pulpit and proclaimed, “Many people are proud to be Christians. But I want you to know, that I’m proud to be a Baptist.” I remember exactly where I was sitting. I will never forget it. Never. I was absolutely devastated. I remember thinking to myself, “This is so wrong! We have a woman preaching about how proud she is that we have divided up the body of Christ. I just can’t do this anymore.” I determined right then that I would not be a Baptist pastor. Instead. I changed my plan to pasturing a nondenominational evangelical church. I was making progress, but I still wasn’t there yet.

My plan to “convert” the local church of Christ was not going as I had intended. Instead, I found major tenets of my theology being shot down one right after another. Clearly man had a free will, as God had given men many occasions to make a choice. It was also evident that the Bible taught about a faith that did not save. Even with my Baptist Church invitations, I appealed to Romans 10:10 which teaches the necessity of confession. For years I had managed to miss that faith plus confession did not equal faith only. Our salvation was not unconditional, but was very conditional upon an obedient faith.

And then I had the night at the church of Christ that I will never forget.

I was sitting on the back row, when someone in passing read I John 3:15: “Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” This was the straw that broke the camel’s back! I remember feeling somewhat shell-shocked at that passage. I had to have been visibly stunned. I turned to the person next to me and said. “Do you realize that this passage says if you are a murderer, you don’t have eternal life?” She said, “Of course, everybody knows that.” I replied, “You’re wrong — everybody doesn’t know that.”

Within Calvinistic theology, once a person has eternal life, it can never be forfeited. I had already determined that man had a free will. Therefore, I knew it was within the realm of possibility for a Christian to choose to commit murder. And if that Christian could choose to commit murder, I John 3:15 said he would not have eternal life. “Once saved, always saved” was not true.

I spoke with a preacher at the church of Christ, and told him my concerns. He pointed out that I took passages out of context in order to support a position I had already decided upon. To avoid this problem. I read through the entire Bible in essentially one sitting over the course of three or four days. Thereafter, I went back to the Baptist Church and told them I was leaving. My final stop that day was for scriptural baptism (Titus 3:5; Col 2:12). I am now privileged to preach “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).

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Denomination Dictionary

In Genesis eleven, the story of the Tower of Babel, we read where God confounded the language of mankind. One of the lessons we learn from this true story is that language has the power to unify people. Sometimes for evil, but it can also unify people for good.

To be united we need to speak the same language, and equally important, we need to define the words the same way. Though we can use our smartphones to communicate with folks who speak another language, it’s challenging to communicate with people who speak the same language but use different definitions.

One of the complications of evangelism is the fact that the terms we use are defined differently in the denominations. It’s nearly impossible to communicate with another if we’re not speaking the same language.

So that we can evangelize more effectively allow me to provide a list of common Biblical words and what they mean to the person in a denomination.

CHURCH: A building where believers gather to worship, fellowship, have trunk or treat or play games.

What Does the Bible Say? The church is the ‘Called out.’ It is the group of people which God adds a person to when they have obeyed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. [ Acts 2:47]

The church is the body of Jesus Christ, and there is only one. [Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4]

One must be in the church to be saved for Jesus is the savior of the body (the church). [Ephesians 5:23]

CHRISTIAN: Any person who believes in Jesus, but not necessarily an obedient or repentant person.

What Does the Bible Say? A Christian is what scripture calls those who have obeyed the gospel of Jesus Christ and are faithfully following the doctrine of Christ.

WORSHIP: The feeling that one’s whole life pays homage to God. The activity one does to pay homage to God, as long as it feels good, includes mechanical music and is followed by a lunch. It is not necessary to follow the biblical pattern to ‘worship’.

What Does the Bible Say? Jesus said that the people who worship must do so in spirit and truth [John 4:24] which means that it is heart filled as well as scripturally authorized [Matthew 18:20]. He also said that it’s possible to worship in vain [Matthew 15:9].

BAPTISM: An outward sign of an inward grace.

What Does the Bible Say? Baptism is IMMERSION in water [Ephesians 5:26] which models the DEATH, BURIAL & RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ in obedience to the Gospel [1Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 6:1-4; 2Thessalonians 1:8]. It is an essential part of salvation for the person AFTER he, Believes that Jesus is the Christ, Repents of their sins, and Confesses that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God [Matthew 16:16-18; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Rom 10:10].

GRACE: The free gift of salvation that Christ gave by dying on a cross. There is nothing a person can do to accept that free gift…except believe (unless you’re a Unitarian who thinks every person is saved without believing). Repentance is also not required, unless you’re a member of the church of Christ, in which case that person must repent of believing that repentance is an essential part of salvation. However, if you don’t bring forth fruit of the non-requirement of repentance, then you probably weren’t saved in the first place.

What Does the Bible Say? Grace is the gift of God [Ephesians 2:8], through Jesus as the perfect sacrifice, becoming the propitiation of our sins [1John 2:1-2]. Everyone can access this gift through HEARING the Gospel, BELIEVING, REPENTING of our sins, CONFESSING that Jesus is the Christ and being BAPTIZED into Christ for the remission of sins. [Romans 10:10, 17; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:27].

LOVE: An emotion one must have toward everyone regardless of their lifestyle which does not judge or condemn, neither does it try to convince others to change.

What Does the Bible Say? Love is PATIENT and is KIND [1Corinthians 13:4], but it also REBUKES (convince of right or wrong) and CHASTENS (discipline / instruction). “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” [Hebrews 12:4-11].

These are just a few examples of the many Biblical words that have been redefined by denominations. My intention is not to mock, rather it is to point out that there is only one truth, and that truth is God’s word. The redefining of these words is causing many to be lead astray. Effective evangelism recognizes that the world is speaking a secular language different from the language of the Bible.

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. John 17:17

Taking a Knee

There has been a lot of news of late about football players taking a knee during the national anthem. What we’re witnessing are people, players, TV & Politicians vying for our attention in the most irreverent way possible, by making us angry. It seems to me that the real controversy here isn’t about patriotism, social justice, racial inequality, or free speech. It’s not even about the flag or the national anthem. It’s only about one thing – Gratitude.

You see, the reason anyone can “take a knee” is due to the fact that men and women of all colors spilled red blood on the ground to form this great country and to protect it from those who would want to see it fall. To be ignorant of that point is proof that many in our country have grown to be ungrateful. People often take for granted those things, the price of which was paid by another.

But this article is not for politics, it’s to give a biblical perspective on the world. You see, we’re not immune to becoming ungrateful. It’s easy for us to overlook the sacrifice and spilled blood that bought the church, that bought our lives [1Cor 6:20]. We too, take for granted those things that were done for us. And sometimes we forget that God is Sovereign, that Jesus is King and that He Reigns. [1Peter 3:22]

It reminds me of another person where it appeared he was being treated unfairly. A man who found himself in the middle of a discussion between God and Satan. His name is Job, and as he was living his life, minding his own business, everything changed. In a very short time, he lost all his 10 children to tragedy, he lost all his wealth worse than any stock market crash, he lost his health and then he lost the support of his wife. Last of all he lost all hope of receiving sympathy from his friends. You can read about it in the book of Job, chapters 1-2. Have any of us, or those players, suffered this kind of loss, experienced this kind of injustice?

Life is unfair, it’s cruel and often makes no sense. That was Job’s situation, he didn’t know why he had suffered so much pain. So, what did Job do? HE TOOK A KNEE!

Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, [Job 1:20]

Taking a Knee

Job didn’t give up, he didn’t curse God as his wife suggested, and he didn’t believe the false narrative of the mainstream. He maintained his integrity and remembered his creator. [Job 4:17, 36:3] This is gratitude. He could have easily believed the lie, but he had so much love for the truth [2Thess 2:10-11].

In good times, it’s easy to forget what God has done for us [Mat 5:45, Acts 14:17]. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. [James 1:17] In bad times, it’s even harder, often resorting to blaming Him or even doubting His existence. We can learn something from Job. We can learn to seek God in the good times and the bad.

But that’s not all. Job TOOK A KNEE on another occasion. At the end of the book, Job TOOK A KNEE for those who had been condemning him incorrectly. [Job 42:8-10]. It was after he prayed for his friends that God restored to him all his wealth.

With Job in mind, let’s see how we ought to ‘take a knee’…

  • Mt 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
  • 2Th 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
  • 1Timothy 2:1-4 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

One more thing, while a few are “taking a knee”, there will come a day when EVERYONE will ‘TAKE A KNEE’ as they face the judgement.

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.

Romans 14:11

That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; Philippians 2:10

An open letter to “Prayer over Borger”

August 22, 2017

This open letter, to the organizers & participants of the “Prayer over Borger” event scheduled for September 23, 2017, is written as an appeal for Biblical Unity. This open letter does not seek to divide us further, rather it’s an appeal out of an earnest love for people to know the Lord, Christ Jesus. Neither is it to criticize the desire to pray over Borger. God’s word teaches us to pray for those who are in authority; “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;” [1Timothy 2:1] It’s truly refreshing to hear about folks who have a desire for the wellness of our community.

However, we must admit, that part of the problem we face in our community is the DISUNITY that exists among us. As the letter sent out states, “Borger only has ONE church but we meet in many buildings with various names.” How can we consider ourselves to be of “ONE church” when we are separated by so many doctrines of men? We are divided over…

  • God’s plan of salvation; Mark 16:15-16
  • Faith only James; 2:14, 17, 24
  • Baptism; Acts 22:16
  • Sin; Rom 3:23
  • Fornication; 1Cor 6:18
  • Worship; John 4:24
  • Names; Romans 16:16
  • Clergy / Laity; 1Peter 2:9
  • Which day we worship; Acts 20:7, 1Cor 16:1-2
  • Instrumental music; Eph 5:19, Col 3:16
  • Operation of the Holy Spirit; 1Cor 13:10
  • Repentance; Acts 17:30
  • And more…

How can we be called “ONE church” when these things divide us? The Holy Spirit, writing through Paul, said, “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” [1Corinthians 1:10] It is clear from God’s divine word that divisions (denominations) are a sin and will affect our salvation. We are NOT speaking the same thing, nor of the same mind, nor of the same judgement.

Some may say, “We only differ in style” or “we’re all going to the same harbor on different ships.” This cannot be true. When you examine the list, you will notice that many of these do impact whether or not one is saved. Jesus said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:19] We didn’t say that, the Lord Jesus did. Jesus is in complete authority over EVERYTHING (Mat 28:18), both in Heaven and upon earth. If it is possible to worship in vain, and Jesus is Supreme authority on all matters, can we truly say that we’re “ONE church” and differ on things pertaining to salvation and worship? Read Matthew 7:21-29.

I will continue to pray for our community (as I often do), but my prayer will be the same as the one Jesus prayed in the Garden on the night of His betrayal; “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” [John 17:21]. In that beautiful prayer, the Lord Jesus also said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” [v17]. If God’s word is truth, and I know you believe that it is, then why aren’t our words the same?

With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” [Ephesians 4:2-6]

Is God Speaking to you?

MANY FOLKS I MEET say that God is speaking to them (separate and apart from the written word of God). It’s obvious to me that God is not in fact speaking with them. You can see it as well, because these folks are…

  • worshiping differently from the word,
  • acting (often with sin) different from the word
  • speaking differently from the word.

Ironically, these folks are lousy at quoting scripture, correctly referring to scripture and generally ignorant about scripture. If God is speaking to you then why are they so ignorant about scripture? Only 2 conclusions can be drawn, either they aren’t being spoken to by God (my belief) or God is an author of confusion. “For God is NOT the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” [1Co 14:33]. (emphasis mine)

There are 4 major problems with this position. Not only is it ERROR but it has a problem with AUTHENTICITY, a problem of REPEATED REVIEW by others and a problem with ACCESS to others. The written word of God solves every one of these problems. Let’s look at the first 2; ERROR & AUTHENTICITY.

The 1st Problem of A Personal Revelation, ERROR.

God speaks to us through His divine written word. Jesus said that “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” [Matt 28:18]. He also said that the Holy Spirit would come to guide the Apostles into all truth [John 16:13]. This is exactly what happened, and as the Holy Spirit guided them, He provided signs & wonders as a confirmation that what they spoke was from God [Mark 16:20; Acts 5:12; 14:3; 1Cor 2:4-5; Heb 2:4]. These men both spoke AND wrote what they received from God [2Peter 1:21; Eph 3:3; John 20:30-31]. Finally, after the revelation from God was completed, the signs & wonders also ceased [1Cor 13:8-10].

Therefore, when we read, we can understand and believe what they understood and believed about Jesus the Christ [Eph 3:4]. A person that studies God’s revealed, written word, can know EVERYTHING he needs to know regarding life, godliness and salvation [2Tim 3:16-17]. To suppose that God is speaking directly to you today (separate and apart from His written word) is to say that God is doing something that scripture shows to be a very RARE occurrence and that you’re somehow more special than everyone else making God out to be a respecter of persons [Acts 10:34].

Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.”

The 2nd Problem of A Personal Revelation, AUTHENTICITY.

How do you know that what you’re “hearing” is from God and not due to a feeling, desire or lust? James wrote that we are drawn by our own lusts, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” [Jas 1:14-15]. How do you know that the “voice” you’re hearing is not a Mental health problem? You may hear voices if you experience psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression.

IF you’re being spoken to by God, how do WE know? In the Bible, the person who received instructions from God also had signs to CONFIRM that what they said was from God. He even gave us tests to know the difference between someone speaking from God from one who was not.

4 TESTS of a PROPHET;

First, do they deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh [1John 4:2]? Second, does what they’re saying match the written word [1John 4:6; Gal 1:8, 9]? Third, does what they predict or affirm come true, or if they say a miracle will happen, does it [Deuteronomy 18:21-22]? Last, even if by some chance their sign does comes to pass, do their teachings contradict the teachings that have already been written [Deuteronomy 13:1-3]? If they’re able to perform a wonder, the accompanying teaching still must match the written word! Each of these tests has one thing in common, it must be consistent with what has already been revealed and written.

Conclusion:

To believe that God is speaking to you today (separate and apart from the written word) contradicts scripture and creates a huge problem of AUTHENTICITY. The next article will address the problem of REPEATED REVIEW by others. The only way to know what God’s will is for your life is through a diligent study of His divine word, rightly divided.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”   2Timothy 2:15

Is One Denomination as good as another?

all-denominations

IT ALWAYS amazes me when someone explains how one denomination is as good as another regarding worship or salvation. Denomination, by its very definition means division. Today, there are around 33,000 Christian denominations in the U.S.

These 33,000 are subdivided into 6 major mega-blocs in order of size, rounded slightly for convenience:

  • Independents (about 22000)
  • Protestants (about 9000)
  • “Marginals” (about 1600)
  • Orthodox (781)
  • Roman Catholics (242)
  • Anglicans (168)

One reason there are so many denominations is because of the variety of teachings. Some teach baptism by sprinkling, others teach no baptism at all. Still others teach sin is wrong whereas others teach no repentance is required. You can join a black only church, a woman church, or even a church of Satan! Is this what Jesus had in mind when He built His church?

WHY SO MANY DIVISIONS?

Some very important questions are raised when you begin to think about these divisions. Did God authorize so many divisions? Is one denomination just as good as another? Does it matter which church you join? All of them are important questions, so what does the bible say? The Apostle Paul found this division problem as far back as the 1st century, and he wrote to the church to correct it;

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” [1Co 1:10-13]

It’s clear from this text that God had no intention for us to divide up into these denominations. These divisions are causing confusion among people and they are being led astray, or even being turned off of religion because they don’t know where to turn for truth. If ANY DENOMINATION will do, does that make God an author of confusion? Certainly not…

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.” [1Corinthians 14:33].

Let’s illustrate why this fallacy of “any denomination is as good as another” is wrong. Look at our own currency. We call the different size bills, denominations.

denominations-bills

If you could have only one of these bills, which would you choose? Since, “one denomination is as good as another” it makes no difference which bill you take, right? After using this illustration, one person said, “Yes it makes a difference, one denomination goes farther than the other.” That is exactly right, just as in our currency, so also with denominations of religion, one goes farther UP than another. Again, we go back to the scriptures for the answer…

Jesus said, “I will build MY church.” [Matthew 16:18]. He didn’t say “churches” plural, He said “church” singular.

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit who instructed Paul to write, “there is ONE body” [Ephesians 4:4], and the body is the church, [Ephesians 1:22-23].

The reason there are so many denominations comes down to this one point; error. Jesus said, “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures,” [Matthew 22:29]. We are supposed to teach the same thing [Mat 28:20], when we do we will be added to the one church that Christ has built.

Please everyone Lose everything

donkey

THERE WAS AN OLD MAN, a boy and a donkey. They were going to town and the boy was riding the donkey, with the old man walking alongside.

As they rambled along, they passed some old women sitting in the shade. One of the women called out, ”Shame on you, a great lump of a boy, riding while your old father is walking.” The man and boy decided that maybe the critics were right so they changed positions.

Later they ambled by a group of mothers watching their young children play by the river. One cried out in protest, “How could you make your little boy walk in the hot sun while you ride?!” The two travelers decided that maybe they both should walk.

Next, they met some young men out for a stroll. “How stupid you are to walk when you have a perfectly good donkey to ride!” one yelled derisively. So, both father and son clambered onto the donkey, deciding they both should ride.

They were soon settled and underway again. They next encountered some children who were on their way home from school. One girl shouted, “How mean to put such a load on a poor little animal.” The old man and the boy saw no alternative. Maybe the critics were right. They now struggled to carry the donkey. As they crossed a bridge, they lost their grip on the confused animal and he fell to his death in the river.

You know the moral of the story, if you try to please everyone you will never know what to do, it will be hard to get anywhere, you will please no-one, not even yourself, and you will probably lose everything. We can say it another way, DON’T SET YOURSELF ON FIRE TRYING TO KEEP OTHERS WARM.

We spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think about us. We are continually perplexed because we can never please everybody. The English poet, John Lydgate once said, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. Another problem that arises from seeking others approval, is when we find out that they weren’t thinking about us at all. STOP TRYING!

We ought rather, to strive to please God and do unto others as we would have them do unto us [Mat 7:12], instead of worrying about someone thinking us foolish. There is a lesson here for all of us. We will be happier if we learn it.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian church: “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I know nothing against myself, yet I am not justified by this; but He who judges me is the Lord.” [1Cor 4:3-4]

There comes a point when you must realize that you’ll never be good enough for some people. That’s their problem. The only One from whom we need any approval is God and He always knows what is right and what is in your heart. [Heb 4:12; cr. John 8:29; Rom 8:8; 1Cor 7:32, 10:33; Gal 1:10; Php 4:18; 1Thess 2:15; 4:1; 2Tim 2:4; Hebrews 11:6; 13:21]

“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” [2Corinthians 5:9-10]

How Liberalism wins.

BEFORE WE BEGIN, for the purpose of this article, we shall use the simple definitions of liberal & conservative. Liberal means; “not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted.”1 Conservative means; “the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change.”2

As it relates to religion, a conservative is one who wants to hold fast to the word of God. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” [1Pe 4:11], means that we do not go beyond the text of the scriptures. We’re told to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” [1Thess 5:21], and “not to think beyond what is written” [1Cor 4:6]. [cr. 2Peter 1:19-21; John 12:48; 2Thess 2:15]. This is what the Christians here at Franklin & Juniper church of Christ in Borger Texas want to do, hold fast to the Word of God.

A liberal, therefore, is the one who believes that we have freedom to move from tradition and authority, and have the ability to adjust religious beliefs and practices for the culture. They believe that strict adherance to the word of God is legalistic and unloving.

Many folks will apply labels of “liberal” or “conservative” but those terms mean different things according to where you’re standing at the time. As for me, I start with the undefiled Word of God [John 12:48] and want to CONSERVE that purity in my life and the church. “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him” [Pr 30:5 (cr. Psalm 119)].

Have you ever wondered why folks with strong conservative values allow error to creep in and pledge support for these errors? How do the “grievous wolves” that Paul spoke about, appear and how do they lead astray so many, even causing division in the church? Paul warned the Ephesian elders; “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” [Ac 20:29-30]. He also warned that Satan himself would appear as an “angel of light” and his ministers would appear as “ministers of righteousness” [2Cor 11:14-15].

I’ve noticed 3 arguments that are most often used in support of error. They are EMOTIONALIZE, DEMONIZE & CRITICIZE. Remember also, that change agents appear as “angels of light” [2Cor 11:14]. Let’s examine how this works, not with hate toward others, rather as a warning to all of us as we strive to do God’s will.

The 3 Arguments in support of error

EMOTIONALIZE: “It’s for the children” is the most oft used emotional argument to promote error. The users of these arguments seldom use scripture and when they do they “wrest the scriptures” [2Pe 3:16]. We saw it when denominations pushed for infant baptism. Truth teaches that babies are safe in the Lord [2Sam 12:23; Mat 19:13-14]. This argument continues to be utilized to go around the clear commands of God. We have to resist the urge to break God’s word when our emotions begin to burn. “Whether it is pleasing or displeasing, we will obey the voice of the LORD our God to whom we send you, that it may be well with us when we obey the voice of the LORD our God” [Jer 42:6]. Remember, our hearts can be (and often are) deceived [2Thess 2:10-11; 2Cor 11:14; Gal 1:8-9; Gal 6:7].

If there’s no success with this, they move onto…

DEMONIZE; The promoters of error demonize those that oppose them. While hanging onto the emotional argument, they malign the opposition. Paul faced this himself, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” [Ga 4:16] They’ll say we hate children, or are unloving, calling us “anti’s” & “legalists” because we say “I could not go beyond the word of the LORD, to do good or bad of my own will. What the LORD says, that I must speak‘?” [Num 24:13]

Then they will….

CRITICIZE; the opposition for doing things that they themselves are doing. The Apostles faced this very thing. They were criticized for preaching for gain, or for being arrogant, while the critics themselves were doing the very things they spoke against. “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.” [3John 1:9-10 (cr 2Cor 11 & 12)].

Many errors begin due to a lack of understanding on how to determine scriptural authority (or permissions). They also come due to a misunderstanding of the true work of the church. The work of the church is found in “the Great commission”; “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen [Mat 28:19-20]. It’s to TEACH the gospel and TEACH the new disciples to observe WHATSOEVER our Lord has commanded.

Please understand, I’m not against helping children, or being benevolent to strangers. I just want to do it God’s way. “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” [Col 3:17].

1 – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberal

2 – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conservate

I Love Facebook. I Hate Facebook.

THE AVERAGE FACEBOOK user now has about 338 friends, though the median number, 200, is quite a bit lower. This means that while half of all Facebook users have 200 or fewer friends, many of the billion-plus Facebookers have quite a few more. In fact, 15 percent of users have friend lists topping 500.

These numbers are consistent with other statistics on the number of people that the average person knows well enough to come to their wedding or funeral, about 150 – 200 friends. In essence, Facebook allows a person to communicate with every single person they know, every day.

In the past, if folks wanted to speak to every one of their friends they needed to have a TV program. Before that, their own radio program. Before that, 1895, they would have to send a personal communication to each and every person. Before that, it became much more complicated.

WHY I LOVE FACEBOOK

Facebook is a really big hill, a really, really big hill. It is for this reason alone that I love Facebook. As a Christian, I have a duty from God. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14, 16

Facebook gives us Christians an opportunity to demonstrate our good works, our Christian attitudes, our Christian love and our Christian values to every one of our family & friends that we’re connected with through social media. Another thing, when you add in the other forms of public social media, we have a platform that is so large that it would make the first century Christians cry with joy, recognizing the ability to Proclaim the word of the Lord to all the world. They did it the old fashioned way, through word of mouth [Romans 1:8; 10:18; 1Th 1:8].

For most of human history, conveying a message required huge amounts of effort, person to person, and from mouth to ear. Technology has aided in declaring God’s word. A written language, the development of paper. The Roman roads of the first century. The printing of the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 with the invention of the printing press. In our modern times, mass electronic communication methods such as radio, TV and now the internet has increased our reach.

WHY I HATE FACEBOOK

Unfortunately, I have not always shown my good works through social media and Facebook. Many of us use it as a soapbox for our political & personal ranting, ravings and whinings. I’ve personally noticed how we have alienated friends, family and even brethren over our personal opinions. Worse yet, the posting of less that Christ like pictures, likes, links and shares.

On numerous occasions, myself and other brethren, have posted mean spirited, ungodly and downright sinful compositions, even disparaging remarks about the Church! We expect that from the world [1Peter 2:12; 3:16], but ought not be named among brethren. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.” [James 3:10]

Though the thoughts may be true and the brethren sometimes falter [1Cor 6:11; 1Peter 2:18], God gave us a method for addressing sinful activities in the church. Go to him alone Mat 18:15, then only the church if he won’t hear you Mat 18:16-17. To take it to the world is absolutely condemned. “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” [1Corinthians 6:1-8]. How does publically complaining about the church of our Lord aid in our evangelism efforts?

I declare to my brethren right now, I CONFESS MY SIN AND REPENT OF THIS UNRIGHTEOUS ACTIVITY. I hope you will too. Please pray for me as I also pray for you.

“Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.” [Matthew 15:11]

– Spencer

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”  (KJV) [Colossians 4:6]