Tuesday, January 4, 2011
The Christian Dilemma
"Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel…Phl 1:27
"Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." Phl 2:1, 2
When Paul made these statement to the Church in Philippi, division and false teaching had already crept into the churches. Paul exhorted the believers to be like minded and to be of one spirit and of one mind. Just as in the past, we see much division in the body of Christ today. We have denominations that vary in doctrine i.e. teachings. Some are so liberal that they deny the inerrancy of the scriptures. Pastors today preach a seeker friendly message from the pulpit in order not to offend anybody. Many are driven by the prosperity gospel, thinking God is a ATM machine and others have embraced the "green gospel". Paul and the other apostles had to deal with a lot of false teachers, deceivers and heretics. Looking at Christianity today around the world, the picture is not much different. Some churches have completely departed from the faith, denying sin, denying the deity of Christ His blood sacrifice on the cross and they do not want to talk about hell at all. The goal is to make people comfortable and cozy by preaching a watered down gospel, which really is no gospel at all. I have heard someone say that if John Wesley, who founded the Methodist church, would preach a sermon today, he would be kicked out of his own church. There are so many divisions within the church today that it can get very confusing to the unbelievers who may be seeking God and instead are getting bombarded with different doctrines. How is it that if we all read the same book, come up with so many different opinions, views and teachings? Are we not suppose to have the same Holy Spirit living within us and teachings us all the same truth? How is it that some that call themselves Christians come up with false teachings, taking scriptures and twisting them to fit their own theology? Could it be that many that claim to be Christians never really study the Bible and rather listen with itching ears what others teach? They follow men rather than the word of God. They call themselves Calvinist, Armenians, Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Seventh Day Adventist, Jehovah Witnesses, Mormons and the list goes on and on. Every one of them claims to have the truth, but obviously are not of the same mind and spirit as Paul exhorted us to be. The Bible is the infallible word of God and the absolute truth, by which we must abide. It is the responsibility of every believer to study the Bible and to know the word, so that they would not listen to false teachings or getting trapped into legalism.
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." 2Timothy 2:15
Paul is making it very clear, we as believers need to study the word with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth and if we do we will not listen to false doctrine. We who know the word will not be lead astray from the truth and we will have the knowledge to defend the truth against those who are contrary to the teaching of the Bible. The Roman Catholic Church kept the people in darkness for over 1100 years, telling the people that they can not understand the Bible and that they need to be taught by the priest, rather than reading and learning for themselves. Until today, most Roman Catholics don't know the Bible. Many believers in other denominational churches are in the same boat, because they are not getting encouraged by their pastors to read and study the Bible. I believe that knowing the word of God, by studying and attending a Bible believing and teaching church is crucial to every believer. If not, many that confess to be Christian can easily be drawn into false teachings and liberal views and there is a danger to fall into the hands of a cult or legalistic oriented church. These false fellowships are all over the place and many are drawn to these movements like the Toronto blessings, the Holy laughter movement, the emergent church headed by Brian McLaren and Rob Bell and the many seeker friendly, make me feel good churches. The Christian dilemma is that we look divided, striving with one another and are not of the same mind and spirit. To the outsider, the churches do appear to be divided and striving against each other. That is not what the Bible teaches. We as believers are the body with Christ being the head of His church. We are to follow Christ and His teachings and not the teachings of men. Do we trust and believe in Men or do we put our faith and trust solely in Christ Jesus?
"For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe's household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, "I am of Paul," or "I am of Apollos," or "I am of Cephas," or "I am of Christ." Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" 1Cr 1:11-13
Just as in Paul's days, today we have many that follow certain men and their teachings rather than being one and all in Christ. Christ is all sufficient and we do not need anybody to lead us into the truth. God has given us His truth and it is not hidden or in secret for some select people. God wants us to know the truth and it is revealed in His word. Christians, I exhort you to read and study God's word, the word of truth.
"Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32