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Posts Tagged ‘Apostle Paul’

The Missing Jewel of Christ’s Return

 

Christ the Missing Jewel

A CAREFUL AND prayerful study of the New Testament will lead us to see that Christ is central throughout its entirety. He is foreshadowed in the Old Testament and particularly through the main and minor prophets, the message is clear in pertaining to the Messiah to come; this was Israel’s hope. How the Anointed One was to be manifest was where many in Israel lost their way; many were looking for the physical restoration of the twelve tribes. Even the twelve disciples were anticipating Christ overthrowing tyranny by establishing a physical reign. For Him to die at the hands of a brutal regime was absolute madness and ran contrary to what they understood of the Scriptures. Only after when Christ opened their eyes (after His resurrection) and expounded the Scriptures, from Moses and all the Prophets, did they rightly perceive the kingdom of God.

Are we falling into the same error as Israel in foretelling and reading the signs of how and where Christ will appear? The Biblical Christ is seldom proclaimed in our westernised cultures and yet so many believers get so hung-up over eschatology (Doctrine of the Last Things). How are we to be balanced in regards to prophecy, pertaining to the future and of Christ’s Second Coming, when we fail to perceive Who He really is? If we are not enlightened (by the Holy Spirit) to Who the Son of God is, how will we ever rightly prepare for His Second Coming?

Studying eschatology is important and we are misguided to shelve (disregard) any portion of Scripture through fear of confusion and controversy. It is, however, understandable to some extent as to why some avoid this subject (in so far as discussing it) for this very reason, but that doesn’t justify ignorance in these matters; we are to grow up into Christ in all things.

The other aspect is to be obsessed with prophecy on end-time interpretations to the point where we are only concerned with the phenomena of things coming to fruition. Satan will drive us to fanaticism and have us expend all our energies on end time doctrine – or any other doctrine – so long as Christ is not central. It is the subtlety that is the deception where one is driven to excess. We know that there are numerous passages in the gospels and epistles that pertain to Christ’s Second Advent, but their main and emphatic principle is that we may know the Son of God and have life in and through Him.

Was it not Paul’s calling and desire to make Christ known, crucified and resurrected? Was it not the greatest Apostle’s office to proclaim Him: “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28)? Was it not Paul who said to the church at Galatia, “…my little children, for whom I am in the anguish of childbirth until Christ be formed in you!” (Galatians 4:19)?

When end time doctrine presides over and above our looking to Christ, we are actually straying into grievous error. Observing animosity on current public forums over how Christ will come and establish His kingdom (whether or not you adhere to Dispensationalism or Covenant Theology; A, Pre or Post Millennialism; A, pre, mid or post rapture) is disgracefully divisive and grieving to the Spirit of God. If the Apostle Paul (or any other Apostle for that matter) were to be among us today, he would address such people in the same manner as the ‘Christians’ at Corinth who were by nature carnal. What other fruit, besides arrogance and pride, does anyone get by insisting that their view is right and everyone else’s is unintelligible or stupid?

Whatever hermeneutics (science of interpretation) we may adopt in understanding the Last Times, do we give people a sense of panic, fear and frustration or do we encourage and build-up others in the most holy Faith by having them look to Christ, to trust and rely on Him with all their hearts? In all our discussions of the end times, do we magnify Christ and strengthen the hope of other believers? Do we exhort others to be ready for Christ’s appearing? Are we living in the light of His coming?

The Apostles, in light of this subject, exhorted the Church to walk in holiness and as John wrote, “…everyone who thus hopes in Him [expecting Christ’s appearing] purifies himself as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). I don’t see Christ being formed or people walking in holiness when believers are bitterly falling out with one another over the manner in which or what season and year Christ will come back. We will all find out exactly when He does actually appear in all His glory and majesty. Just as with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus who were blind and ignorant to the Truth, so it shall be with many of us when we see Him for Who He is; our eyes will be opened and all our views will be infinitely eclipsed with His unimaginable blazing-grandeur.

How or what is going to materialise – whether the millennial kingdom is through the entire Church age or a literal one-thousand year reign on earth, with all its benefits, etc, etc – it is going to be nothing compared to the beauty and majesty of God made visible to the eyes of everyone. How so many harp on all the wonderful things in the millennial reign, while, unbeknown, Christ takes second place in their conversation (this is where Satan’s misleading comes in). When John, on the Island of Patmos, saw Christ, he fell down as though dead; that was the greatest of all revelation and so it should be to anyone of us. Christ is central and He is to be central in all our worship and living. In all the visions of Isaiah and Ezekiel, the vision of God was too overwhelmingly superior to put into perfect description; human comprehension was utterly exhausted and dumbfounded.

What aspects of the coming glory do we look forward to most? My friends, I may be narrow-minded, but I don’t care if I see nothing else but God in all His glory for all ages of eternity. God forgive us for thinking that we shall not eternally gaze on Him and to not want for something else. Clothed in our right minds, we ought to say with Charles Wesley that we shall be, Lost in wonder, love and praise.” I think it was Fanny Crosby (the famous blind hymn author) who said, in her longing for heaven, that the first thing she looked forward to was not the wonder of gaining her sight, but rather to gaze upon the beauty of Jesus. When I consider that, earth and everything of it just melts away.

I have known of great friendships dissolving due to dividing on non-fundamental doctrines. I personally know what it’s like to have broken communication (not on my part) with others due to such differences, which is saddening because I dearly miss their fellowship. If we are in unity on the fundamental and primary doctrines (and one of them is that Christ is soon returning), we have no justifiable reason to exclude anyone from fellowship or to break friendship over secondary issues. There are many godly leaders who, while I may disagree with their eschatological views, will continue to respect and hold in high esteem due to their Christ-centred preaching.

God is reiterating to the Church the same words He spoke to Peter, James and John (on the Mount of Transfiguration) “This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased; listen to Him” (Matthew 17:5). God speaks through His Son; we have the Scriptures – the final word that is abundantly sufficient for the entire Church age. Everything is embodied in Christ; it is in Him that ALL the promises of God are contained. He is the express Image of God and in Him all the godhead dwells. “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, Whom He appointed the heir of all things through Whom He also created the world. He is the radiance of His glory and the exact imprint of His nature, and He upholds the universe by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:1-3).

All the phenomena, signs and wonders that we may witness are nothing compared to the majesty of Jesus Christ; He is greater than any foretelling or any inauguration of a kingdom. It was David who longed to behold the beauty of God in the sanctuary – not the kingdom nor apparels or any other instrument in the tabernacle; they were purely to aid one’s worship to focus on the God who rescued Israel out of bondage – the God Who made heaven and earth. To behold God is the essence of all things. Moses’ hearts desire was to see the glory of God; everything else was nothing to be compared. Even Christ, when addressing the Father on behalf of His disciples and others who were to believe, said, “to know You is eternal life.” To know God Himself – is that our one aim and ambition in life? Do we count everything rubbish in comparison to knowing Christ?  Do we??

Are we longing to see the King of kings and Lord of lords robed in majesty – His omnipotence unveiled before the eyes of all humanity – incomparably above all other phenomenal aspects? Do we long to know a sin-free glorified resurrection to where we can look upon Him and live and so worship Him perfectly?

It is Christ – the Alpha and the Omega – it is God our souls should yearn to behold. It shall not be the back of God (as with Moses) we shall see while He mercifully veils our eyes with His hand lest we should die; we shall see Him as He is in all His awesome glory and live. Everything else will be but shadows when we see His face.

Do we long for it, do we confidently anticipate it and are we prayerfully preparing for it?

May God restore this missing jewel in the Church!

Reposted from  Aug 30

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THE PRETRIBULATION RAPTURE

The Pretribulation Rapture

What is the Pretribulation Rapture?

The rapture is an event that will take place sometime in the near future. Jesus will come in the air, catch up the Church from the earth, and then return to heaven with the Church. The Apostle Paul gave a clear description of the rapture event in his letters to the Thessalonians and Corinthians.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thess, 4:16-18).

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal [must] put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15:51-53).

The timing of the rapture is not known. From the Word of God and from sound reasoning–something Jesus used quite frequently–I hope to prove the reality of the pretribulation rapture.

The word “rapture” comes from Paul’s “caught up” remark in verse 17. The words “caught up” are translated from the Greek word harpazo, which means “to carry off,” “snatch up,” or “grasp hastily.” The translation from harpazo to “rapture” involved two steps: first, harpazo became the Latin word raptus; second, raptus became the English word “rapture.”

Scriptural Evidence for the Pretribulation Rapture

The Unknown Hour
When we search the Scriptures and read the passages describing the Lord Jesus’ return, we find verses that tell us we won’t know the day and hour of that event. Matthew 25:13 says Jesus will return at an unknown time, while Revelation 12:6 indicates that the Jews will have to wait on the Lord 1,260 days, starting when the Antichrist stands in the Temple of God and declares himself to be God (2 Thes 2:4). This event will take place at the mid-point of the seven-year tribulation (Dan 9:27). Note that some people only see a three-and-a-half-year tribulation. In a way, they are correct because the first half of the tribulation will be relatively peaceful compared to the second half. Nonetheless, peaceful or not, there still remains a seven-year period called the tribulation. When the Jews flee into the wilderness, they know that all they have to do is wait out those 1,260 days (Mat 24:16). There is no way to apply the phrase “neither the day nor the hour” to this situation. The only way for these two viewpoints to be true is to separate the two distinct events transpiring here: 1) the rapture of the Church, which comes before the tribulation; and 2) the return of Jesus to the earth, which takes place roughly seven years later.

The Marriage Supper of the Lamb
In Luke 12:36, the Word states that when Christ returns, He will be returning from a wedding. In Revelation 19:7-8, we read about the marriage itself. The marriage supper takes place before the marriage. According to Jewish custom, the marriage contract, which often includes a dowry, is drawn up first. The contract parallels the act of faith we use when we trust Jesus to be our Savior. The dowry is His life, which was used to purchase us. When it’s time for the wedding, the groom goes to the bride’s house unannounced. She comes out to meet him, and then he takes her to his father’s house. This precisely correlates with the events according to the pre-trib scenario. Jesus, the Groom, comes down from heaven and calls up the Church, His Bride. After meeting in the air, He and His Bride return to His Father’s house, heaven. The marriage supper itself will take place there, while down here on earth the final events of the tribulation will be playing out. After the marriage supper of Jewish tradition, the bride and groom are presented to the world as man and wife. This corresponds to the time when Jesus returns to earth accompanied by an army “clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (Rev 19:14).

What They Didn’t Teach You in History Class
Many groups try to discredit the pre-trib rapture by saying most of the end-time events in the Bible have already taken place. A group of people called preterists claims that the Book of Revelation was mostly fulfilled by 70 AD. If the events described in the Book of Revelation took place in the past, I’m at a loss to explain some of the current situations I see around us: the rebirth of Israel, the reunification of Europe, the number of global wars that have occurred, and the development of nuclear weapons. During history class, I must have slept through the part where the teacher talked about the time when a third of the trees were burned up, 100-pound hailstones fell from the sky, and the sea turned into blood (Rev 8:7-8, 16:21). I think several people would have to question their opposition to the pre-trib rapture doctrine if they knew that the evidence provided to them was based on the understanding that most tribulation prophecies have already occurred.

The People of the Millennium
If Christ were to come back after the tribulation, rapture all the saints, and slay all the ungodly, who would be left to populate the earth during the millennium? Only the pre-trib viewpoint can account for this post-trib problem. The Church is raptured before the tribulation, a vast number of souls are saved during this seven-year time frame, and those who make it through the tribulation go into the millennium while the unsaved are cast into hell.

The Saint U-Turn
In the pre-trib scenario, after we rise to meet the Lord in the air, we will go to heaven and abide there seven years. At the end of that period, Christ will come down to earth, defeat the Antichrist, and cleanse the temple. In a post-trib rapture, we would rise in the air to meet the Lord, then do a 180-degree U-turn and come back down to earth. Revelation 1:7 states that Christ will appear out of the clouds and come down to earth. Zechariah 14:4 says that His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. If He’s already headed our way, why would we need to be caught up to meet Him?

Come Up Hither”
Many pre-trib writers cite Revelation 4:1, which says, “come up hither,” as a prophetic reference to the rapture of the Church, leaving Revelation chapters 1 through 3 as a description of the Church Age. After the shout to “come up hither,” the Church is not mentioned in Scripture at all. The attention of Scripture switches from the Church to the Jews living in Israel.

Armies in Fine Linen
When Jesus returns (Rev. 19:18), an army follows Him. The army’s members are riding on white horses, and they are clothed in fine linen that is white and clean. In Revelation 19:8, we are told that the fine linen is the righteousness of the saints. If the saints of God are returning with Christ to wage war on the Antichrist, then it is not possible to have a post-trib rapture without us running into ourselves as we are coming and going.

The Time of Jacob’s Trouble
In several passages, the Bible refers to the tribulation as a time of trouble for the Jews. The phrase “Jacob’s trouble” pertains to the descendants of Jacob. Jeremiah 30:7 says that this time of trouble will come just before the Lord returns to save His people. The final week of Daniel’s 70th week is yet to take place. An angel told Daniel that, “70 weeks are determined unto thy people” (Dan 9:24). Scripture never mentions that the tribulation is meant to be a time of testing for Christians. However, some post-tribbers try to claim that they are the ones being tested during the tribulation. To make this so, they need to spiritualize the 144,000 Jewish believers in Revelation 7:2-8 who receive God’s protective seal. Placing the Church dispensation into the same time frame as the seven-year Jewish dispensation, as the post-tribbers do, raises one good question: Can two dispensations transpire at the same time? In the past, God has only dealt with one at a time. Having both present during the tribulation would have to be an exception.

“He” That is Taken Out of the Way
Before the Antichrist can be revealed, Paul said a certain “He” must be taken out of the way. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:7, the “He” that must be removed is widely thought to be the Holy Spirit. It has been promised that the Holy Spirit would never leave the Church, and without the working of the Holy Spirit remaining on earth, no one could be saved during the tribulation. The removal of the Church, which is indwelt by the Holy Ghost, would seem the best explanation for this dilemma. The working of the Holy Spirit could go on during the tribulation, but His influence would be diminished because of the missing Church.

War or Rapture
(Rev 19:19-21) When Jesus returns at the end of the tribulation, He will be coming for battle. For those who believe in a post-trib rapture, it would be strange to meet your Lord and Savior just as He’s rushing into battle. The idea that war and rapture could occur together is difficult to imagine, especially since they transpire at the same moment.

The Five Foolish Virgins
The wedding story that Jesus gave in Matthew 25:2-13, I believe, is a parable of the rapture of the Church. It explains how some will not be ready. Jesus clearly states that a group of people will miss out on an event, and will cry out to God to let them into the place where He resides, heaven. Although some try to put this parable in a post-trib context, it doesn’t fit very well. The ones left behind in a post-trib rapture will not need to seek the Lord because they’ll immediately be confronted by Him and His army of angels.

God Hath Not Appointed Us to Wrath
In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul assures us that God has not appointed His people to wrath. This wrath is plainly God’s anger that will be poured out during the tribulation. Pre-trib believers interpret this as meaning that Christians will be removed from the earth. Post-trib believers tell a different story. They describe this as meaning that God will protect Christians during the tribulation and pour this wrath out on the unbelievers only. This idea runs against the statement made in Revelation 13:7, in which the Antichrist is given power to make war with the saints and to overcome them. A post-trib view would make God’s promise of protection from wrath into a lie. In years past, it was possible to think of being protected from the guns and swords of that day. Today, when any major war would involve nuclear and chemical weapons, it’s impossible to expect that same kind of protection. When Nagasaki, Japan was bombed during World War II, the bomb exploded over a Catholic church. Everyone who was in the center of the explosion died–both Christians and non-Christians. The only way to validly interpret God’s promise of protection from wrath is by viewing 1 Thessalonians 5:9 as the bodily removal of the Church from this world.

The Salt of the Earth
Jesus said, “Ye are the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). When the believers are supenly removed, the earth will be plunged into spiritual darkness. When this happens, the Antichrist will then be free to control the world.

God Takes an Inventory
In Revelation 7:3, an angel descends to earth and seals the servants of God. Two bits of information about this sealing highly disclaim a post-trib viewpoint. The first item is the number of people sealed: 144,000. The second one is that all those who are sealed are from the 12 tribes of Israel. For the events in Revelation 7:3-8 to be true in a post-trib interpretation, either the Church has turned against God or God has turned against the Church. A post-tribber could write a thousand-word commentary about why the Church doesn’t need to be sealed. Instead of trying to argue about why the Church is not mentioned or sealed, a pre-trib proponent could just say, “We’re already in heaven.”

Noah and Lot as Examples
The tribulation period is compared to the times of Noah and Lot by Jesus in Luke 17:28. Most people argue over whether the time frame Jesus was talking about in that passage was pre-trib or post-trib. In doing so, they miss an important point. The two circumstances that the Noah and Lot situations have in common are the removal of the righteous and the judgment of the unbelievers. From these two accounts, we see that God prefers to remove His own when danger is involved.

Common-Sense Reasons for Believing in the Pretribulation Rapture

The World Test
One way to check the soundness of a doctrine is to see how the world reacts to it. One company put out a questionnaire that was used to screen prospective employees. One of the questions was, “Do you believe in the rapture?” If you answered “yes,” your chances of getting hired would not be good. Some internet sites do not allow the topics of Rapture or Second Coming. They do allow topics such as sex, gays, and drugs. The only time the news media mentions the rapture is when someone sets a date and is proven to be wrong.

That Old-Time Religion
It used to be a rule of thumb that when one was visiting a church or listening to a preacher, one could assume the preacher believed in repentance, prayer, and the baptism of the Holy Ghost if he taught the rapture doctrine. It was also true that the churches on fire for God worshipped out of storefronts. Today, many of those storefront churches have moved into marble palaces and have strayed from their principal doctrines.

Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Whenever I look at all the groups that teach false doctrine and are highly focused on end-time events, I cannot find any that support the rapture theory. Some organizations, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, teach a false gospel and are heavily into Bible prophecy. Why, then, don’t Jehovah’s Witnesses teach a false doctrine that would be right up their alley? Could it be that the demonic forces that influence these groups know something that Christians opposed to the rapture don’t know? The list of prophetically minded cults that reject the idea of a rapture goes on and on. Here are some more: the Mormons, the Worldwide Church of God and the Moonies, as well as leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh.

The Church Would Rebuke the Antichrist
If the Antichrist came to power with the Church still here, I do not see how he could operate. When Hitler was fighting to take over England, a number of Christians were praying for victory. Hitler made mistake after mistake, and England outperformed its enemy at every stage of the conflict. It is difficult to measure the impact of intercessory prayer in physical warfare. Little is known of how great a role praying saints played in the defeat of Nazi Germany. If the Church were to reside on earth during the tribulation, I am sure she would give the Antichrist fits. In Revelation 11:3, the two witnesses alone give the Antichrist enough headaches. Millions of Christians who know their Bibles well would recognize the man of sin and pray fire down on his head. The post-trib view would have to plan on the Church just rolling over and playing dead the whole seven years.

We should all remember one thing: Knowing the Antichrist’s mother’s maiden name isn’t the primary goal. Knowing Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and having your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life should be your number-one priority. The jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer was, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30-31).

http://lajbut.wordpress.com/2013/06/24/9/

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382HE IS RISEN

 

There is only one essential doctrine which is absolutely necessary for one to believe in order to be born again:  that God raised Jesus, the Lord, from the dead!  The Apostle Paul wrote, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). 
Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we are required to believe in Him as Creator of the Universe, as virgin born, as crucified for the sins of the world, or as coming again in order to be saved.  Of course, all those things are true (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Isa. 7:14; Mt. 1:23; Rom. 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:2; Acts 1:11; Rev. 19:11-16), but it is our faith that God, the Father of Jesus Christ, resurrected His only begotten Son, that saves us.269975_533162230062699_1774797072_n

Paul also preached, “And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet desired they Pilate that He should be slain.  And when they had fulfilled all that was written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid Him in a sepulchre.  But God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 13:28-30).   947341_529913050383719_845316850_n

The Apostle Peter wrote, “But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:  Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God”  (1 Pet. 1:19-21).
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Peter also preached:  “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it” (Acts 2:23-24 – see also Acts 3:14-15; 4:10).320704_10151418251282965_2022572120_n

My question to you on this day in which we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus is, Do you believe that God, the Father of Jesus Christ, raised Him from the dead, to be Lord to all who will put their trust in Him?  Has your faith in Him, as your Lord, caused you to obey His Word, to witness to others about Him, and to look forward to His return?  If not, let today be the first day of your eternal life by accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior!  It may be your last opportunity to do so!
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The angel said unto the women at the tomb, “He is not here, He is risen as He said.”

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http://skipslighthouse.blogspot.com/2013/03/he-is-risen_31.html

 

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DOCTRINA FALSĂ ESTE MAI REA DECÂT DIVIZIUNEA

J.C. Ryle ~

Dar, când a venit Chifa în Antiohia, i-am stat împotrivă în faţă, căci era de osândit.

În adevăr, înainte de venirea unora de la Iacov, el mânca împreună cu Neamurile; dar când au venit ei, s-a ferit şi a stat deoparte, de teama celor tăiaţi împrejur.

Împreună cu el au început să se prefacă şi ceilalţi Iudei, aşa că până şi Barnaba a fost prins în laţul făţărniciei lor.

Când i-am văzut eu că nu umblă drept după adevărul Evangheliei, am spus lui Chifa în faţa tuturor: “Dacă tu, care eşti Iudeu, trăieşti ca Neamurile, şi nu ca Iudeii, cum sileşti pe Neamuri să trăiască în felul Iudeilor?”

Noi suntem Iudei din fire, iar nu păcătoşi dintre Neamuri.

Totuşi, fiindcă ştim că omul nu este socotit neprihănit, prin faptele Legii, ci numai prin credinţa în Isus Hristos, am crezut şi noi în Hristos Isus, ca să fim socotiţi neprihăniţi prin credinţa în Hristos, iar nu prin faptele Legii, pentru că nimeni nu va fi socotit neprihănit prin faptele Legii. Galateni 2:11-16

În al doilea rând, “Păstrarea adevărului lui Hristos în biserica Sa este chiar mai importantă decât păstrarea relaţiei de pace.”

Să învăţăm acum a doua lecţie de la cei din Antiohia. Această lecţie este spune că “Păstrarea adevărului Scripturii în Biserică este mai importantă decât însăşi păstrarea păcii.”

Presupun că nimeni n-a cunoscut mai bine decât apostolul Pavel valoarea păcii şi unităţii. El era cel care a scris Corintenilor despre dragoste. El era apostolul care a zis, –un singur Domn, o singură credinţă, un singur botez.”

“Trăiţi în armonie unii cu alţii, trăiţi în pace între voi; robul Domnului nu trebuie să se certe; este un singur trup, un singur Duh–după cum şi voi aţi fost chemaţi la o singură nădejde a chemării voastre

El a fost apostolul care a spus, “M-am făcut tuturor totul, ca, oricum, să mântuiesc pe unii din ei” (Romani 12:16; 1 Tesaloniceni 5:13; Filipeni 3:16; Efeseni 4:5; 1 Corinteni 9:22). Şi totuşi, iată-l cum se comportă aici! I se împotriveşte făţiş lui Petru. Îl mustră public. Îşi asumă riscul tuturor consecinţelor care puteau să urmeze. Riscă să-i provoace pe duşmanii bisericii din Antiohia să aibă ce comenta. Şi mai mult decât atât, scrie acest lucru, să rămână de amintire, spre a nu fi niciodată uitat, astfel încât oridecâte ori se va predica Evanghelia  în toată lumea, acest reproş public făcut unui apostol care a greşit să poată fi cunoscut şi citit de toţi.

De ce a făcut acest lucru? Fiindcă s-a temut de doctrina falsă; fiindcă ştia că puţin aluat dospeşte toată plămădeala, fiindcă dorea să ne înveţe  să ne luptăm cu râvnă pentru adevăr, şi să ne temem mai mult de pierderea adevărului decât de pierderea relaţiei de pace.

Am face bine să luăm aminte la exemplul lui Pavel în aceste zile. Mulţi ar accepta fără comentarii în religia lor orice aspect, numai să fie cu pace. Au o teamă morbidă de ceea ce ei numesc “controversă.” Sunt cuprinşi cu totul de o teamă morbidă de ceea ce categorisesc, în mod foarte vag, drept “spirit partinic,” deşi nu definesc niciodată cu claritate ce înţeleg prin spirit partinic. Sunt copleşiţi de dorinţa morbidă de păstrare a păcii şi de a face toate lucrurile să fie netede, clare şi plăcute, chiar cu preţul renunţării la adevăr. Atâta vreme cât li se asigură pacea, liniştea, lipsa conflictului şi rânduiala stabilită, sunt în stare să renunţe de bună voie la toate celelalte. Cred că aceştia ar fi considerat, alături de Ahab, că Ilie tulbură pe Israel, şi i-ar fi ajutat pe prinţii din Iuda când l-au aruncat pe Ieremia în temniţă pentru a-i închide gura. Nu mă îndoiesc că mulţi din aceşti oameni despre care vorbesc, ar fi considerat că Pavel s-a comportat foarte inprudent la Antiohia, şi că a mers prea departe!

Cred că această atitudine este în întregime greşită. Nu avem dreptul să aşteptăm ca altceva să facă bine sufletelor oamenilor decât Evanghelia curată a lui Cristos, neamestecată şi neschimbată; aceeaşi Evanghelie care a fost predicată de către apostoli. Cred că pentru a menţine în biserică acest adevăr curat al Evangheliei, oamenii ar trebui să fie gata să facă orice sacrificiu, chiar să pună în pericol pacea, sau să rişte să provoace neînţelegeri sau divizare. N-ar trebui să tolereze doctrina falsă mai mult decât tolerează păcatul. Ar trebui să se împotrivească la orice adăugire sau la orice ştirbire a mesajului simplu al Evangheliei lui Cristos.

De dragul adevărului, Domnul nostru Isus Cristos i-a denunţat chiar şi pe Fariseii care stăteau pe scaunul lui Moise, şi care erau învăţătorii puşi şi autorizaţi să înveţe poporul. Vai de voi, cărturari şi Farisei făţarnici!” le spune El de opt ori în capitolul 23 din Matei. Şi oare cine ar îndrăzni să se gândească că Domnul a greşit când spunea astfel?

De dragul adevărului, Pavel s-a împotrivit lui Petru şi l-a acuzat, măcar că erau fraţi. Cum să le mai fie de folos unitatea când puritatea doctrinei dispăruse? Şi cine ar îndrăzni să spună că Pavel a greşit?

De dragul adevărului, Atanasie s-a poziţionat împotriva tuturor pentru a menţine doctrina curată a dinităţii lui Cristos, şi a purtat o controversă cu majoritatea covârşitoare a bisericii din vremea lui. Şi cine ar îndrăzni oare să spună că a greşit?

De dragul adevărului, Luther a rupt unitatea bisericii în care a s-a născut, l-a denunţat pe papa cu toate faptele lui, şi a pus temelia unei noi învăţături. Şi cine ar îndrăzni oare să spună că Luther a greşit?

De dragul adevărului, Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, reformatorii englezi, i-au sfătuit pe Henry al VIII-lea şi Edward al VI-lea să se separe de Roma, şi să-şi asume consecinţele divizării. Şi cine ar îndrăzni să spună că au greşit?

De dragul adevărului, Whitefield and Wesley, acum o sută de ani, au denunţat predicarea morală stearpă a clericilor din vremea lor, şi au pornit pe drumuri şi cărărui pentru a salva suflete, ştiind bine că vor fi excluşi de la comuniunea bisericii lor. Şi cine ar îndrăzni oare să spună că au greşit?

Da, pacea fără adevăr este o pace falsă; este chiar pacea diavolului. Unitatea fără Evanghelie este o unitate fără valoare; este chiar unitatea iadului. Să nu ne lăsăm prinşi în cursa celor care vorbesc frumos despre ea. Să ne amintim cuvintele Domnului nostru Isus Cristos, “Să nu credeţi că am venit s-aduc pacea pe pământ; n-am venit să aduc pacea, ci sabia” (Matei 10:34). Să ne amintim felul în care este lăudată una din bisericile din Apocalipsa, “Ştiu faptele tale, osteneala ta şi răbdarea ta, şi că nu poţi suferi pe cei răi; că ai pus la încercare pe cei ce zic că sunt apostoli şi nu sunt, şi i-ai găsit mincinoşi (Apocalipsa 2:2). Să ne amintim reproşul pe care-l aduce alteia,

“Tu o tolerezi pe Izabela, femeia aceea care se zice proorociţă” (v. Apocalipsa 2:20).

Să nu ne facem niciodată vinovaţi de sacrificarea vreunei părţi a adevărului pe altarul păcii. Mai degrabă, să fim ca evreii care, atunci când identificau vreun manuscris care cuprindea o copie a Scripturilor Vechiului Testament care avea o greşeală la o singură literă, puneau pe foc întregul manuscris, mai degrabă decât să rişte să piardă vreo iotă sau vreo frântură de slovă din Cuvântul lui Dumnezeu. Să nu fim mulţumiţi cu nimic mai puţin decât întreaga Evanghelie a lui Cristos.

În ce fel trebuie noi să folosim în mod practic principiile generale pe care le-am arătat? Voi da cititorilor mei un sfat simplu. Cred că este un sfat vrednic să i se dea atenţie.

Atenţionez deci pe orice om care-şi iubeşte sufletul să fie selectiv ce predici ascultă de obicei, în ce loc se duce de obicei să se închine. Cel care se aşează conştient sub umbrela vreunei biserici sau organizaţii care este în mod clar nesănătoasă, este foarte neînţelept. Eu niciodată n-aş ezita să spun ce gândesc în acest aspect. Ştiu bine că mulţi consideră şocant ca o persoană să-şi părăsească biserica locală. Eu nu pot vedea prin ochii acestor oameni. Eu fac o distincţie largă între învăţătura care este cu lipsuri şi învăţătura care este complet falsă; între învăţătura cu posibile erori de interpretare şi cea care este clar nebiblică. Însă cred cu tărie că, dacă într-o biserică locală se propovăduieşte în mod obişnuit o doctrină falsă, credinciosul care-şi iubeşte sufletul are perfectă dreptate să nu se mai ducă la acea biserică. A asculta predici nebiblice de cincizeci şi două de ori pe an este un lucru serios. Este o alimentare continuă a minţii cu doze mici de otravă. Cred că este aproape imposibil pentru cineva să se supună singur la aşa ceva, şi să nu fie afectat.

Văd că ni se spune clar în Noul Testament să “cercetăm toate lucrurile,” şi să “păstrăm ce este bun” (1 Tesaloniceni 5:21). Văd în cartea Proverbelor că ni se porunceşte, “Încetează, fiule, să mai asculţi învăţătura, dacă ea te depărtează de învăţăturile înţelepte” (Proverbe 19:27) Dacă aceste cuvinte nu îndreptăţesc pe cineva să se oprească în a se mai închina într-o anumită biserică în care se predică o doctrină falsă, nu ştiu ce alte cuvinte l-ar putea convinge.

  • Îţi dă cineva de înţeles că frecventarea bisericii sau denominaţiei tale este absolut necesară pentru mântuire? Dacă da, ai mare grijă! Să aibă curajul să ne-o spună şi nouă.

  • Vrea cineva să te facă să înţelegi că frecventarea unei anumite biserici sau denominaţiuni mântuieşte sufletul cuiva, chiar dacă acesta moare neconvertit şi în ignoranţă cu privire la Cristos? Dacă da, ai mare grijă! Să aibă curajul să ne-o spună şi nouă.

  • Vrea cineva să-ţi spună că a merge la o anumită biserică sau denominaţie îl învaţă pe om ceva despre Cristos, sau despre schimbarea inimii, sau despre credinţă, sau despre pocăinţă, dacă aceste subiecte de-abia dacă sunt pomenite în respectiva biserică, şi niciodată nu sunt explicate cum se cuvine? Dacă da, ai mare grijă! Să aibă curajul să ne-o spună şi nouă.

  • Îţi dă cineva de înţeles că omul care se pocăieşte, crede în Cristos, trăieşte o viaţă nouă şi sfântă, îşi va pierde sufletul fiindcă şi-a părăsit biserica şi a învăţat religia în altă parte? Dacă da, ai mare grijă! Să aibă curajul să ne-o spună şi nouă.

 În ce mă priveşte, nu pot să sufăr astfel de idei monstruoase şi extravagante. Nu văd nici o urmă de temelie biblică în ele. Şi cred că cei ce ţin astfel de învăţături este extrem de mic.

Există multe biserici în care învăţătura religioasă este aproape nulă. Se cuvine oare ca membrii unor astfel de biserici să stea liniştiţi, să fie mulţumiţi, şi să se bucure de “pace”? Nicidecum. De ce? Fiindcă, la fel ca Pavel, ar trebui să prefere adevărul păcii.

Există multe biserici unde învăţătura religioasă este doar o simplă moralitate. Doctrinele distinctive ale creştinătăţii nu sunt niciodată proclamate în mod clar. Platon, Seneca sau Confucius ar fi putut să propovăduiască aceleaşi învăţături. Se cuvine oare ca membrii unor astfel de biserici să stea liniştiţi, să fie mulţumiţi, şi să se bucure de “pace”? Nicidecum. De ce? Fiindcă, la fel ca Pavel, ar trebui să prefere adevărul păcii.

  • Folosesc oare un limbaj dur în această parte a subiectului meu? Ştiu că este aşa.

  • Umblu oare într-o zonă delicată? Ştiu că este aşa.

  • Atac oare subiecte care sunt în general lăsate în pace şi trecute sub tăcere? Ştiu că este aşa.

Spun ceea ce spun dintr-un simţ al datoriei faţă de biserica pe care o slujesc. Cred că situaţia din lume şi starea adunării cer să vorbim deschis. În multe biserici, sufletele pier în ignoranţă. Membrii cinstiţi ai bisericii sunt dezgustaţi şi încurcaţi. Nu mai este vreme de cuvinte delicate. Nu sunt ignorant de acele cuvinte magice, “ordine, diviziune, schismă, unitate, controversă,” şi altele ca ele. Ştiu influenţa pe care aceste cuvinte par să o aibă asupra anumitor oameni: le provoacă crampe abdominale sau îi face să nu‑şi poată ridica glasul. Şi eu m-am gândit în linişte şi cu atenţie la ele, şi despre fiecare vreau să vă spun ceva.

(a) Biserica denominaţională este un lucru admirabil în teorie. Numai să fie bine administrat şi pus în practică de lucrători cu adevărat spirituali, şi atunci va aduce naţiunii întregi cea mai mare binecuvântare. Însă nu poţi să aştepţi ataşament faţă de anumită biserică atunci când slujitorii ei sunt ignoranţi în ce priveşte Biblia sau sunt iubitori de lume. În astfel de cazuri n-ar fi de mirare ca oamenii să părăsească respectiva biserică, şi să caute adevărul acolo unde poate fi găsit. Dacă slujitorii bisericii respective nu predică Evanghelia şi nu trăiesc Evanghelia, condiţiile în baza cărora pretind atenţia congregaţiei lor sunt încălcate de ei înşişi, iar pretenţiile de a fi ascultaţi au ajuns la capăt. Este absurd să te aştepţi de la capul unei familii să pună în pericol sufletele copiilor săi, dar şi sufletul său, doar de dragul “bisericii” sale. În Biblie nu se pomeneşte despre biserici, nici catolice, nici ortodoxe, nici denominaţionale, şi astfel nimeni nu are dreptul de a cere oamenilor să trăiască şi să moară în ignoranţă, doar pentru ca la urmă să poată spune, “Eu toată viaţa nu mi-am schimbat biserica, m-am dus doar la una.”

(b) Diviziunile şi separările sunt foarte de condamnat în religie. Ele slăbesc cauza adevăratei creştinătăţi. Ele dau vrăjmaşilor celor buni ocazia să hulească, să blasfemieze. Dar înainte de a-i acuza pe oameni pentru că fac asta, trebuie să avem grijă să vedem bine cine este vinovatul. Doctrina falsă şi erezia sunt mai rele decât schisma. Dacă oamenii se separă de învăţătura care este în mod clar falsă şi nebiblică, ar trebui mai degrabă să-i lăudăm decât să-i condamnăm. În astfel de cazuri separarea este o virtute, nu un păcat. Este uşor să faci remarci dispreţuitoare despre cei pe care “îi gâdilă urechile,” şi “iubesc distracţia;” însă nu este uşor să convingi un cititor simplu al Bibliei că este datoria lui să se ducă să asculte în fiecare duminică o doctrină falsă, când cu un pic de efort ar putea merge să asculte adevărul.

(c) Unitatea, liniştea şi rânduiala între cei ce se declară creştini sunt binecuvântări extraordinare. Ele dau tărie, frumuseţe şi eficienţă cauzei lui Cristos. Dar chiar şi aurul poate fi cumpărat prea scump. Unitatea obţinută prin sacrificarea adevărului nu are valoare. Nu unitatea place lui Dumnezeu. Biserica Romei se laudă în gura mare cu o unitate care nu-şi merită numele. Această unitate obţinută prin luarea Bibliei din mâinile oamenilor, prin trâmbiţarea unor păreri şi judecăţi individuale, prin încurajarea ignoranţei, prin a interzice oamenilor să gândească pentru ei înşişi şi să aibă păreri proprii. Întocmai ca luptătorii exterminatori din vechime, Biserica Catolică a Romei forţează o izolare şi o numeşte pace. Există destulă tăcere şi linişte chiar şi în mormânt, însă nu este o linişte a sănătăţii, ci a morţii. Profeţii falşi erau aceia care strigau “Pace,” când nu era pace.

(d) Controversa în religie este ceva detestabil. Este destul că avem de luptat împotriva diavolului, împotrivă lumii şi a cărnii sau firii noastre păcătoase, nu trebuie să mai avem lupte şi datorită diferenţelor particulare din propria tabără. Însă există un lucru care este mai grav decât controversa, şi anume tolerarea, îngăduirea, permiterea doctrinei false, fără a ne împotrivi sau fără a fi deranjaţi. Chiar controversa a câştigat bătălia Reformei protestante. Dacă învăţăturile oamenilor de atunci erau corecte, este clar că n‑ar fi fost nevoie de nici o Reformă! De dragul păcii, ar fi trebuit să continuăm să ne închinăm Fecioarei şi să ne plecăm în faţa icoanelor şi moaştelor până în ziua de astăzi! Hai să terminăm cu prostiile astea! Există anumite perioade când controversa nu este doar o datorie, ci şi un câştig. Mie daţi-mi mai bine tunetul cel puternic decât malaria cea mortală. Cea din urmă umblă în întuneric şi ne otrăveşte în tăcere, şi niciodată nu vom fi în siguranţă. Primul ne înspăimântă şi ne alarmează doar pentru puţină vreme. Dar apoi a trecut, şi împrospătează aerul. Avem o datorie biblică clară “să luptăm pentru credinţa care a fost dată sfinţilor o dată pentru totdeauna” (Iuda 1:3).

Sunt deplin conştient că lucrurile pe care le-am spus sunt extrem de neplăcute pentru mulţi. Cred că mulţi se mulţumeac cu o învăţătură care nu este adevărul întreg, şi îşi închipuie că la urmă va fi “tot una.” Îmi pare rău pentru aceştia. Sunt convins că nimic altceva în afară de adevărul întreg nu va putea, ca regulă generală, să facă bine sufletelor. Ştiu că acei care de bună voie se mulţumesc cu orice altceva decât adevărul întreg, vor descoperi în cele din urmă că suletul lor a avut mult de suferit. Există trei lucruri cu care oamenii nu trebuie niciodată să se joace: puţină otravă, puţină învăţătură falsă, şi puţin păcat.

Sunt deplin conştient că atunci când cineva exprimă opinii de felul celor pe care tocmai vi le-am prezentat, vor exista mulţi care să zică, “Omul acesta nu mai este credincios bisericii.” Ascult astfel de acuzaţii fără să mai mişte. Ziua judecăţii va arăta cine au fost adevăraţii prieteni ai bisericii, şi cine nu. Eu am văzut în ultimii treizeci şi doi de ani că, dacă un pastor/slujitor duce o viaţă liniştită, îi lasă în pace pe cei neconvertiţi din lume şi predică aşa încât să nu deranjeze pe nimeni, dar nici să nu zidească pe nimeni, va fi catalogat de mulţi drept “un pastor/slujitor bun.”

Am mai descoperit că dacă cineva studiază Scriptura, lucrează necontenit pentru mântuirea sufletelor, aderă fără rezerve la doctrinele mari ale Reformei, condamnă cu credincioşie învăţăturile nebiblice, şi predică cu putere predici care caută să-i convingă pe oameni, va fi considerat probabil un instigator şi unul care “tulbură pe Israel.” Dar, să spună oamenii ce vor. Prietenii adevăraţi ai bisericii sunt acei care se trudesc cel mai mult pentru păstrarea adevărului.

Am aşternut aceste rânduri în faţa cititorilor, invitându-i să le ia cu seriozitate în seamă. Îi provoc să nu uite niciodată că adevărul este mai important pentru biserică decât pacea. Le cer să fie gata să ducă mai departe principiile enunţate, şi să lupte cu toată puterea, dacă este cazul, pentru adevăr. Dacă vom face aşa, înseamnă că am învăţat ceva de la cei din Antiohia.

– J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
luată din: The Fallibility of Ministers.

Doctrina falsă est mai rea decât diviziunea

 Posted on Oct25

https://ioan17.wordpress.com/2012/10/27/false-doctrine-is-worse-than-division

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False Doctrine Is Worse Than Division

J.C. Ryle  ~

When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.  Before certain men  came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles.  But when  they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself  from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.

The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their   hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.  When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I  said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.  How is it, then,  that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?”

We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners” know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.  So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus  that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.  Galatians 2:11-16

The second is,  ”That to keep the truth of Christ in His Church is even more important than to keep peace.” 

I now pass on to the second lesson that we learn from Antioch.  That lesson is, “That to keep Gospel truth in the Church is of even greater importance than to keep peace.”

I suppose no man knew better the value of peace and unity than the Apostle Paul.  He was the Apostle who wrote to the Corinthians about love.  He was the Apostle who said, “Live in harmony with one another; live in peace with each other; the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism.”  He was the Apostle who said, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (Romans 12:16; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; Philemon 3:16; Ephesians 4:5; 1 Corinthians 9:22).  Yet see how he acts here!  He withstands Peter to the face.  He publicly rebukes him.  He runs the risk of all the consequences that might follow.  He takes the chance of everything that might be said by the enemies of the Church at Antioch.  Above all, he writes it down for a perpetual memorial, that it never might be forgotten, that, wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the world, this public rebuke of an erring Apostle might be known and read of all men.

Now, why did he do this?  Because he dreaded false doctrine; because he knew that a little leaven leavens the whole lump, because he would teach us that we ought to contend for the truth jealously, and to fear the loss of truth more than the loss of peace.

Paul’s example is one we shall do well to remember in the present day.  Many people will put up with anything in religion, if they may only have a quiet life.  They have a morbid dread of what they call “controversy.” They are filled with a morbid fear of what they style, in a vague way, ”party spirit,” though they never define clearly what party spirit is.  They are possessed with a morbid desire to keep the peace, and make all things smooth and pleasant, even though it be at the expense of truth.  So long as they have outward calm, smoothness, stillness, and order, they seem content to give up everything else.  I believe they would have thought with Ahab that Elijah was a troubler of Israel, and would have helped the princes of Judah when they put Jeremiah in prison, to stop his mouth.  I have no doubt that many of these men of whom I speak, would have thought that Paul at Antioch was a very imprudent man, and that he went too far!

I believe this is all wrong.  We have no right to expect anything but the pure Gospel of Christ, unmixed and unadulterated; the same Gospel that was taught by the Apostles; to do good to the souls of men.  I believe that to maintain this pure truth in the Church men should be ready to make any sacrifice, to hazard peace, to risk dissension, and run the chance of division.  They should no more tolerate false doctrine than they would tolerate sin.  They should withstand any adding to or taking away from the simple message of the Gospel of Christ.

For the truth’s sake, our Lord Jesus Christ denounced the Pharisees, though they sat in Moses’ seat, and were the appointed and authorized teachers of men.  “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites,” He says, eight times over, in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew.  And who shall dare to breathe a suspicion that our Lord was wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Paul withstood and blamed Peter, though a brother.  Where was the use of unity when pure doctrine was gone?  And who shall dare to say he was wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Athanasius stood out against the world to maintain the pure doctrine about the divinity of Christ, and waged a controversy with the great majority of the professing Church.  And who shall dare to say he was wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Luther broke the unity of the Church in which he was born, denounced the Pope and all his ways, and laid the foundation of a new teaching.  And who shall dare to say that Luther was wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, the English Reformers, counseled Henry VIII and Edward VI to separate from Rome, and to risk the consequences of division.  And who shall dare to say that they were wrong?

For the truth’s sake, Whitefield and Wesley, a hundred years ago, denounced the mere barren moral preaching of the clergy of their day, and went out into the highways and byways to save souls, knowing well that they would be cast out from the Church’s communion.  And who shall dare to say that they were wrong?

Yes! peace without truth is a false peace; it is the very peace of the devil.  Unity without the Gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of hell.  Let us never be ensnared by those who speak kindly of it.  Let us remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34)  Let us remember the praise He gives to one of the Churches in Revelation, “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false” (Revelation 2:2).  Let us remember the blame He casts on another, “You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess” (Revelation 2:20).  Never let us be guilty of sacrificing any portion of truth on the altar of peace.  Let us rather be like the Jews, who, if they found any manuscript copy of the Old Testament Scriptures incorrect in a single letter, burned the whole copy, rather than run the risk of losing one jot or tittle of the Word of God.  Let us be content with nothing short of the whole Gospel of Christ.

In what way are we to make practical use of the general principles which I have just laid down?  I will give my readers one simple piece of advice.  I believe it is advice which deserves serious consideration.

I warn then every one who loves his soul, to be very selective as to the preaching he regularly hears, and the place of worship he regularly attends.  He who deliberately settles down under any ministry which is positively unsound is a very unwise man.  I will never hesitate to speak my mind on this point.  I know well that many think it a shocking thing for a man to forsake his local church.  I cannot see with the eyes of such people.  I draw a wide distinction between teaching which is defective and teaching which is thoroughly false; between teaching which errs on the negative side and teaching which is positively unscriptural.  But I do believe, if false doctrine is unmistakably preached in a local church, a Christian who loves his soul is quite right in not going to that local church.  To hear unscriptural teaching fifty-two Sundays in every year is a serious thing.  It is a continual dropping of slow poison into the mind.  I think it almost impossible for a man willfully to submit himself to it, and not be harmed.

I see in the New Testament we are plainly told to “Test everything” and ”Hold on to the good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  I see in the Book of Proverbs that we are commanded to “Stop listening to instruction, my son, and you will stray from the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27).  If these words do not justify a man in ceasing to worship at a church, if positively false doctrine is preached in it, I do not know what words can.

–Does any one mean to tell us that to attend your local denominational church is absolutely needful to a person’s salvation?  If there is such a one, let him speak out, and give us his name.

–Does any one mean to tell us that going to the denominational church will save any man’s soul, if he dies unconverted and ignorant of Christ?  If there is such a one, let him speak out, and give us his name.

–Does any one mean to tell us that going to the denominational church will teach a man anything about Christ, or conversion, or faith, or repentance, if these subjects are hardly ever named in the denomination church, and never properly explained?  If there is such a one, let him speak out, and give us his name.

–Does any one mean to say that a man who repents, believes in Christ, is converted and holy, will lose his soul, because he has forsaken his denomination and learned his religion elsewhere?  If there is such a one, let him speak out, and give us his name.

For my part I abhor such monstrous and extravagant ideas.  I do not see a speck of foundation for them in the Word of God.  I trust that the number of those who deliberately hold them is exceedingly small.

There are many churches where the religious teaching is little better than Roman Catholicism.  Ought the congregation of such churches to sit still, be content, and take it quietly?  They ought not.  And why? Because, like Paul, they ought to prefer truth to peace.

There are many churches where the religious teaching is little better than morality.  The distinctive doctrines of Christianity are never clearly proclaimed.  Plato, or Seneca, or Confucius, could have taught almost as much.  Ought the congregation in such churches to sit still, be content, and take it quietly?  They ought not.  And why? Because, like Paul, they ought to prefer truth to peace.

–I am using strong language in dealing with this part of my subject: I know it.

–I am trenching on delicate ground: I know it.

–I am handling matters which are generally let alone, and passed over in silence: I know it.

I say what I say from a sense of duty to the Church of which I am a minister.  I believe the state of the times, and the position of the congregation require plain speaking.  Souls are perishing, in many churches, in ignorance.  Honest members of the church are disgusted and perplexed.  This is no time for smooth words.  I am not ignorant of those magic expressions, “order, division, schism, unity, controversy,” and the like.  I know the cramping, silencing influence which they seem to exercise on some minds.  I too have considered those expressions calmly and deliberately, and on each of them I am prepared to speak my mind.

(a) The denominational church is an admirable thing in theory.  Let it only be well administered, and worked by truly spiritual ministers, and it is calculated to confer the greatest blessings on the nation.  But it is useless to expect attachment to the denomination, when the minister of the denominational church is ignorant of the Gospel or a lover of the world.  In such a case we must never be surprised if men forsake their denomination, and seek truth wherever truth is to be found.  If the denominational minister does not preach the Gospel and live the Gospel, the conditions on which he claims the attention of his congregation are virtually violated, and his claim to be heard is at an end.  It is absurd to expect the head of a family to endanger the souls of his children, as well as his own, for the sake of “the denomination.”  There is no mention of denominations in the Bible, and we have no right to require men to live and die in ignorance, in order that they may be able to say at last, ”I always attended my local denominational church.”

(b)  Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion.  They weaken the cause of true Christianity.  They give occasion to the enemies of all godliness to blaspheme.  But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved.  False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism.  If people separate themselves from teaching which is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved.  In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin.  It is easy to make sneering remarks about “itching ears,” and “love of excitement;” but it is not so easy to convince a plain reader of the Bible that it is his duty to hear false doctrine every Sunday, when by a little exertion he can hear truth.

(c)  Unity, quiet, and order among professing Christians are mighty blessings.  They give strength, beauty, and efficiency to the cause of Christ.  But even gold may be bought too dear.  Unity which is obtained by the sacrifice of truth is worth nothing.  It is not the unity which pleases God.  The Church of Rome boasts loudly of a unity which does not deserve the name.  It is unity which is obtained by taking away the Bible from the people, by gagging private judgment, by encouraging ignorance, by forbidding men to think for themselves.  Like the exterminating warriors of old, the Catholic Church of Rome makes a solitude and calls it peace.  There is quiet and stillness enough in the grave, but it is not the quiet of health, but of death.  It was the false prophets who cried “Peace,” when there was no peace.

(d) Controversy in religion is a hateful thing, It is hard enough to fight the devil, the world and the flesh, without private differences in our own camp.  But there is one thing which is even worse than controversy, and that is false doctrine tolerated, allowed, and permitted without protest or molestation.  It was controversy that won the battle of Protestant Reformation.  If the views that some men hold were correct, it is plain we never ought to have had any Reformation at all!  For the sake of peace, we ought to have gone on worshipping the Virgin, and bowing down to images and relics to this very day! Away with such trifling!  There are times when controversy is not only a duty but a benefit.  Give me the mighty thunderstorm rather than the deadly malaria.  The one walks in darkness and poisons us in silence, and we are never safe.  The other frightens and alarms for a little while.  But it is soon over, and it clears the air.  It is a plain Scriptural duty to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

I am quite aware that the things I have said are exceedingly distasteful to many minds.  I believe many are content with teaching which is not the whole truth, and fancy it will be “all the same” in the end.  I am sorry for them.  I am convinced that nothing but the whole truth is likely, as a general rule, to do good to souls.  I am satisfied that those who willfully put up with anything short of the whole truth, will find at last that their souls have received much damage.  There are three things which men never ought to trifle with: a little poison, a little false doctrine, and a little sin.

I am quite aware that when a man expresses such opinions as those I have just brought forward, there are many ready to say, “He is not faithful to the Church.”  I hear such accusations unmoved.  The day of judgment will show who were the true friends of the Church and who were not.  I have learned in the last thirty-two years that if a minister leads a quiet life, leaves alone the unconverted part of the world, and preaches so as to offend none and edify none, he will be called by many “a good pastor.”

And I have also learned that if a man studies Scriptures, labors continually for the conversion of souls, adheres closely to the great principals of the Reformation, bears a faithful testimony against Romanism, and preaches powerful, convicting sermons, he will probably be thought a firebrand and “troubler of Israel.”  Let men say what they will.  They are the truest friends of the Church who labor most for the preservation of truth.

I lay these things before the readers of this paper, and invite their serious attention to them.  I charge them never to forget that truth is of more importance to a Church than peace.  I ask them to be ready to carry out the principles I have laid down, and to contend zealously, if needs be, for the truth.  If we do this, we shall have learned something from Antioch.

– J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)
taken from: The Fallibility of Ministers.

Posted on Oct25

http://fortheloveofhistruth.com/2012/10/25/false-doctrine-is-worse-than-division/#comment-3916

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Forgive or else!

Jesus taught His followers to include forgiveness in their daily prayers. Along with the request for daily bread, they should pray:

“Forgive us the wrong we have done, as we have forgiven those who have wronged us” (Matthew 6:12 N.E.B.).

Recognizing the brokenness of our world, Jesus taught his followers to anticipate two daily needs:

1. The need to receive forgiveness

2. The need to offer forgiveness.

Jesus knew there would be occasions (daily) when they would sin against God (and need to receive His forgiveness) and occasions when they would be sinned against (and need to offer forgiveness).

If we ignore either one of these needs, the results are personally and relationally destructive. A failure to receive forgiveness results in unresolved guilt. A failure to offer forgiveness results in unresolved anger. Unresolved guilt and unresolved anger are physically, emotionally, and spiritually debilitating. They also easily multiply into other sins because they alienate us from God and other people (Hebrews 12:15).

Forgiving others and God’s forgiveness of your sins

After presenting His guide for daily prayer, Jesus had more to say about forgiveness. Perhaps he sensed a need for additional clarity about just how important forgiveness is to God. Jesus warned, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

Forgive, or else!

Does this strike you as a “Forgive, or else…” kind of warning? It certainly qualifies as one of the hard sayings of Jesus. “How can this be?” we ask. Is Jesus teaching that there is a conditional relationship between the forgiveness that we offer to others and the forgiveness we receive from God? Is he saying that God will withhold forgiveness from us if we refuse to forgive others? Yes. This much is clear. In another place, Jesus said, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins” (Mark 11:25).

Quid pro quo

What do you find confusing about  a conditional relationship between your act of forgiving and God’s forgiveness of your sins? Does it appear to teach that we earn or merit God’s forgiveness by forgiving others? Does it contradict a gospel of grace? Is there a quid pro qo arrangement (a favor for a favor) in the gospel? I thought our salvation was based on God’s unmerited favor in Jesus Christ. What Jesus teaches appears to be a works based approach to God.

Don’t confuse the order in the gospel:

The key to resolving what feels like a tension to us is to understand what we receive in the gospel of God’s grace and to keep first things first. In the order of the gospel, forgiveness of our sins is so great that God expects forgiven people to forgive others (See: Matthew 18:23-32; Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:13). God’s forgiveness of our sins then is the basis for our forgiveness of others. So it would look like this: Since God has so graciously forgiven your sins by lovingly bearing the just penalty of them at the cross (II Corinthians 5:18-21), He expects you to forgive as He forgave you. If, in daily experience, as a forgiven disciple of Christ, you refuse to forgive those who sin against you, don’t come talking to God about your need for His forgiveness. This is the order of the gospel.

The Apostle Paul had this order in mind when he wrote: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32, NLT).

Anger, bitterness……idolatry

We must not gloss over the urgent warning from our Lord in Matthew 6:14-15. The spiritual consequences of withholding forgiveness are significant. In fact, this may be one of the primary reasons why many followers of Christ are not experiencing the joy and fulness of life in Christ. A little root of bitterness is personally troubling and poisonously infectious. When we’ve been hurt we become vulnerable to anger and angry people are vulnerable to bitterness. Anger gains full hold when it turns into bitterness and bitter people are difficult to help. God pictured anger as a vicious animal looking to pounce its’ prey (Genesis 4:6-7).  We must deal with our anger before it becomes bitterness (see: Hebrews 12:15; Ephesians 4:26-27). When bitterness is a fully entrenched condition of the heart, it is more difficult to dislodge.  Bitterness for many people has become a form of idolatry that rules their hearts in place of God. To gain freedom, we must see bitterness as a protective mechanism used to guard our cherished resentments and we must confess it as idolatry.

A bad attitude toward God?

Sometimes the resentments we hold have a subtle line directed at God. After all, God could have changed things but evidently chose not to! But those who stay connected to the Christian community typically conceal their attitude toward God behind a veneer of expected Christian gregariousness. I encounter this often when I travel and teach on forgiveness themes. I am usually approached with general questions about “why God would allow…?” Then, as I probe, I find out that the issue is more personal. We must not take lightly the dangers of allowing our hearts to become resentful toward God. The father in the book of Proverbs warned his son about the danger of a bad attitude toward God. ”My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves” (Proverbs 3:11-12). The father wisely offered advanced notice to his son that life will not always turn out the way you think it should. The father had already told his son to trust God with all of his heart and acknowledge God in all of his ways (proverbs 3:5-6). But when trials and hardships come, and one feels helpless to change his circumstances, God becomes an easy target of a resentful heart. Many centuries later the writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews treated this father’s advice as God’s enduring word to first century believers (see Hebrews 12:1-15). They too stood in danger of misunderstanding their hardships (i. e. hostile treatment from sinful men) and becoming resentful and bitter toward God.

The point:

The teaching of Jesus is a firm reminder that an unforgiving heart contradicts the gospel and disrupts spiritual progress (Philippians 2:12-13). The way out of unforgiveness, resentment and anger is to meditate continuously on the greatness of God’s forgiveness of your sins— on the gospel of grace).

Reflect on these great words:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” “…if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (I John 1:9;2:1-2)

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2).

“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:8-14).

Note: Don’t confuse forgiveness and reconciliation. Some people struggle to forgive because they think forgiveness always means immediate restoration to an offender. It does not.

Reblogged from Wisdomforlife

http://thinkpoint.wordpress.com/2010/10/08/forgive-or-else/

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Major Daniel Webster Whittle (1840-1901) was an American evangelist, Bible teacher and hymn writer. Through the influence of D. L. Moody, he entered full-time evangelism.  This is one of his many hymns…

Going forth at Christ’s command,
Going forth to every land;
Full salvation making known,
Through the blood of God’s dear Son.

Serving God through all our days,
Toiling not for purse or praise;
But to magnify His name,
While the gospel we proclaim.

Seeking only souls to win,
From the deadly power of sin;
We would guide their steps aright,
Out of darkness into light.

“Saved to serve!” the watchword ring,
“Saved to serve,” our glorious King;
Tell the story o’er and o’er,
“Saved to serve” forever more.

Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together!

I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.

There is only ONE statement made by our Lord Jesus Christ that is recorded in all four Gospels:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”  Matthew 16: 24-25

“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”  Mark 8:35

“And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”  Luke 14:27

“He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”  John 12: 25-26

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~****************~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:16  “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!”

It’s my prayer, that each new day is one in which we offer ourselves as servants to our  Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ!  Our life does not belong to us… it is HIS!

August 23, 2012 by alwayzhis  at http://learning2bestill.com/2012/08/23/saved-to-serve/#respond

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