Slapping the church

This post is a response to some comments that were made concerning my post “Collateral Damage”.  The issue of speaking against the church, with all of its faults and misapplication of scripture was brought up.  Should we support what the church does by not speaking out against their scriptural misconduct?  Or should we be critical of the church where it crosses with scripture?  Is it just criticism or is it called accountability.

Paul speaking to the Corinthian church talks about how they as a church put up with being slapped in the face.  Many will not be familiar with this scripture nor understand Paul’s response.  But believe it or not this has to do with our topic.  But before I get into this, ask yourself one question.  Do you think Paul has the correct perspective on the church?

You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise!  In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face.[1]

Paul is telling the Corinthian church that they put up with abuses.  He even uses sarcasm, something many in the church believe is not fitting for the believer.  He says they are so wise to put up with this abuse.  They put up with those who wish to enslave them or exploit them or take advantage of them.  Sounds like a people who hold nobody accountable for the misapplication of scripture and the abuses that follow it.  This was my point of “Collateral Damage”.

Should the people of this day have put up with this, like they did, or should someone have said enough is enough?  Would it be appropriate to expose these exploiters and call those on the carpet that enslave men to bad teachings?  Or does this not have a place in the church?

Paul treats this abuse as offensive as someone walking up and slapping us in the face.  So how much slapping should we put up with from the manipulators and control freaks of the organized church?  Should we never question when they slap us in the face with their continual abuse of the body?

Paul says these Corinthians were so wise for putting up with those who take advantage of them, but he himself was too foolish for such wisdom.  He says he is to week to put up with those who abuse the church.

To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast about.[2]

There is a contrast that Paul makes.  Those who put up with abuses are the wise ones and he who can not sit by and watch is the fool.  Those who are strong put up with the Collateral Damage, but he is too weak for that.

So are we following Paul as he follows Christ when we are so wise to put up with unbiblical doctrine and manipulation of the members to perform acts of service to the church?  Or do we follow Paul as he follows Christ when we say stupid is as stupid does?  And I am too stupid to put up with that!


[1] 2 Corinthians 11:19-20

[2] 2 Corinthians 11:21

Collateral damage

I have recently had the opportunity to spend time with a man in the community that I live in.  I have met him before, but had very little association with him.  He is the kind of guy that seams ruff around the edges and swears.  He simply seamed like the average guy who has no care of spiritual things.

This week I had the opportunity to spend two days with him and found out about his history.  He is the guy you hear about in testimonies that was a drug addict and got radically born again.  He gave up his wild way and his rock and roll music to play for Jesus.  He is the guy that we like to parade around as the poster child of a transformed life.

I was shocked to learn that he wasn’t just someone who was involved in the church activities, but someone who has had the Holy Spirit move in his life and in the church service.  He was one of those people Paul taught could speak in church.  He spoke in tongues on several occasions in church service were someone interpreted the message in tongues.

But I was looking at a man who didn’t just decide to leave the church to seek a more biblical way to serve the Lord.  He became collateral damage.

Apparently there were some leaders who taught what he could not find in scripture.  They pressured him to conform and be like them.  He found himself at odds with some of the ideology of the church and what it means to be Spirit filled.  I guess worse led to even worse and now he doesn’t know what is up or what is down.

He has turned himself off to “religion” and will not be cognitive in anything that would lead to a distinction between true faith and religion.  He now only sees duplicity and hypocrisy in the church.  To which you know I agree in a large part to if you read my post and my position on the organized church.  But this man has chosen to let himself fall away from serving the Lord, while he maintains he knows whose he is.

Some could say that he was nothing more than the soil that had the word of God fall on it, only to have the cares of this world finally choke the message of the transforming gospel out of his life and testimony.  Certainly he is responsible for his own self and the walk he chooses to have concerning his faith in God.

How many times have we run into people that we discover their past involvement with some body of believers who eventually turn from what they hoped in because of scandal, manipulation, burn out or discrepancies in scripture and the teaching they were under.  I don’t look for such people, but I am shock at what some people claim as a root of their spiritual relationship to God, only to see the long remains of their shipwrecked faith.

I know that I do not want to become collateral damage, because I used to be collateral damage.  I would vent my anger at God because of failed expectations of what it means to be a believer in Christ.  I came to hate the body of Christ and despise everything about what I thought it meant to be a believer, even the good things.

Some may argue that what I am describing is not collateral damage, but self inflicted wounds.  While there are many who simply reject the truth, there are many more who are left in the wake of the ship “Serving”.  Like others I have met, this man and his wife were very involved serving at the church.  There are many people who functioned as pastors, youth pastors, Sundays school teachers, worship leaders, etc. etc. etc. who feel that they were used up, without appreciation or the benefit of spiritual nourishment.  It is as if they very thing that brought them to the church eventually slew them.  The very thing that awoke them to the Lord became the vehicle to profane His name.

Our abuses of scripture, the dogmas we create and the discrepancies we don’t account for while we demand devotion causes men to blaspheme God.  But is it they who forsake the faith who profane the name of the Lord or is it us who are His people?

I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.[1]

It is us who are guilty for the profaning of God’s name not only in those who are collateral damage but those who stand a far off and criticize what they see. 

Oh God if only my neighbors would know you are the Lord.  If only those who are collateral damage could know you are the Lord, because I let you show yourself holy to them through me.  If only I, the vehicle that profanes your name among men would have the heart to let you.  If only I could trade all of my head knowledge for an unsophisticated willing, obedient, steadfast heart.  Sometimes I feel what I am and what I want to be is as far apart as the east is from the west.  Do you at times feel the same anguish too?  Do we profane the name of the Lord creating a wake of collateral damage or let the Lord show Himself holy through us?


[1] Ezekiel 36:23

Did you know that I wrote a sequel?

The sequel to The Kingdom is a continuation of the journey of Steadfast and Hope to find the army of God to help win back their fathers kingdom from the dragon Compromise.  What they discover on their journey across the wide path and into the narrow path will shock you.  It paints a picture of the spiritual condition of the church today.

If you like the teaser I have below please click “The army of God” to read the whole story.

One must take heed to the warning I am about to give as I continue to relate to you the story of The Kingdom.  For in no ordinary way it continues the efforts of Steadfast and Hope to awaken in God’s people what Compromise has destroyed.  Just as a prism will separate out light to show its true colors, so this story will lay bare your souls too.  Listen to my pleading.  You may not like what you see reflected back to you from these pages.  Now for my warning: You are who you are, whether you have believed the truth or a lie.  After reading you will be left only with the knowledge of who you are and what you believe, since there is no power here to change you.

The work of Compromise has been very thorough and at first appearances is totally complete.  For it is the subtle way it which he can get men to leave their convictions of God’s truth, to pursue the lesser things of man himself.  It is almost impossible for Steadfast and Hope to know for sure who is with them in taking back the kingdom from the dragon.  For many give lip services to their cause, but their hearts are far from it.  Compromise has made himself a place in the hearts of men where men hold to higher ideas but such notions are chained to their inner chambers by apathy.  

This is their continuing story:

Steadfast and Hope had been pushed into exile by their father Standard.  They could no longer rely on those in the king’s government for help.  The king himself put out an edict declaring all of Standard and Hope’s actions to be sedition against the kingdom.  They would have to risk their lives to restore the Law of God to its proper place in the hearts of men.  Enemies were everywhere.  People could not be trusted because those few who recognized God’s Law were not ready to lay down their comforts, positions of authority, even lives to do those things which those who had gone before them had done.

Being troubled in heart at the condition of their fellow man’s hearts Steadfast decided he must take a journey he has never undertaken.  He felt it was the best way to restore the kingdom.  He told Hope he needed to go find the army of God.  When he was younger he would hear their father speaking of it.  It was a place where men gathered to present themselves to the King of Kings.  Surely there they would find the people they needed to defeat the dragon and his sons.  Surely there he would find those who counted it all joy to suffer, even die for the kingdom.

Hope insisted that she be allowed to go with him, but Steadfast loving his sister didn’t want his sister to be in danger.  The journey would take them right across the wide path.  Eventually she convinced her brother that they should not be separated.  “Besides,” she said, “haven’t all people great and small started on the wide path.”  Marveling at such wisdom he relented to let her come with him on his search.

With much provision they set off.  They avoided all towns and kept to the small trails.  Since they new men had proven themselves to be untrustworthy, they avoided talking as much as they could to those they met along the way.  After some time they no longer had to go around any town.  The trails were mostly grown over and they could tell they had left the kingdom.  Steadfast understood from his father’s stories they could not miss their destination since it was the one place all men travelled.  However, his mind pondered the one and only man in all creation who had avoided it.  “His footprints you will not see there,” he remembered his father say.

It had been countless days since they had begun when suddenly they stepped out of the woods.  “This must be it”, Standard said to his sister.  They were both looking up at a big warning sign.  It read in big bold words,

WIDE IS THE PATH THAT LEADS TO DISTRUCTION

Did you know I wrote a short story?

Yes it is true, I have written a couple of short stories that are tucked away here on my blog.  I think many of you are unaware of them.  I would like to introduce you to one called “The Kingdom”. If you liked the beginning you will love the end.  Click the link for the full story.

Not long ago but very near and present.  In a place uncomfortably close although not found on any map there is a kingdom.  Strangely today most people no longer believe in this realm, although everyone recognizes it when they see it.  Rest assured this place is real and the battles are fierce, but where one does not see danger there is nothing to fight for.  Sadly its memory has become so faint and the belief in it so rare, it may have even slipped from your mind. 

The dragon is the most terrible of beast.  It wasn’t the claws that could hurt a man that needed to be feared.  Nor was it its sharp teeth and powerful jaw it used to devour its enemies.  One might even suspect it was the fire of its wrath directed at those who would challenge it.  Instead this beast is the most hideous of creatures because of its tongue.  With it the dragon will lure men away from the laws of God to their ruin.  By offering so called new liberties for men to live their lives by, he can lead them to pursue self fulfillment and pleasure instead of righteousness, bringing them to their destruction.  This most terrible and dangerous of beast went by many names.  Most people know him as the dragon Compromise.

Compromise loathed the king of the land.  For the king stood for everything the dragon sought to destroy.  Compromise wanted to bring and end to justice and righteousness, and all who obeyed the Laws of God.  Time and time again the dragon would attack the kingdom, but the king Standard would not let Compromise overcome the Laws of God and take control of his kingdom.  Every attack that Compromise made against Standard ended in failure.  The dragon had to think of a new strategy to destroy the king and his kingdom.

King Standard was a good king because he himself never forgot to obey God’s Law when he ruled his kingdom.  By applying God’s Law to his people they dwelled in safety, which he protected with his sword Justice. He always remembered it when he judged the peoples because the sword was always by his side ready to be drawn to serve.

The crown on his head is called Unity by which all the people came together under God’s Law in agreement to served the king.  Not because they feared the king but because they knew he reigned righteously.  The people knew they were of one people and one cause.

Everything was done with impartiality and this was represented by the King’s necklace.  Every time the people stood before their king they would always look up and remember the king didn’t play favorites because they saw the necklace.  Everyone was the same before the law because they knew the king feared God.

The cross on the king’s breast plate was the symbol of the righteousness people live in when they obeyed the Laws of God.  This was the king’s desire for his people.  He knew that this was they only way that he could guarantee his subjects their liberty.  It was the only way the king could keep the kingdom strong and not let it be destroyed.

Now after much time and failed attempts at destroying King Standard, the dragon crafted plans for new weapons that he knew for sure would destroy the king.  With his new plan the king would never know he was under attack, because it wouldn’t be the dragon he would have to defend himself from.  The King would have to defend himself from his own compromise.  The attack would be subtle and unnoticed.

The Holy Spirit and the hope of salvation

Many feel that the deposit of the Holy Spirit is the shoe in that they have received their salvation.  Ignoring the scriptural teaching discussed in yesterdays post “Salvation the hope”.  We so stubbornly want to posses what scripture teaches we have to live our lives out till the end in order to make our hope sure.

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.[1]

Speaking of the hope, scripture teaches us we have this hope through the washing rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit. 

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.[2]

Is God suffering from duplicity in His word when He mixes saved with the hope of eternal life in the same group of verses?  Certainly not, for our God is a God that calls things that are not as if they were, not things that are as if they were not.  So we can be confident we have hope of salvation but God can see the finished work long before it is done.

After being included in Christ through our faith in the word of truth, we as believers are set apart by the Holy Spirit which serves as a seal.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,[3]

The purpose of this seal is to mark us for the day of redemption.  The day Christ comes back to bring us our salvation.  This is why it is so important to not grieve the Holy Spirit.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.[4]

On the contrary we are to guard this good deposit with the help of the Holy Spirit.  For there is a difference between those who guard the deposit of the Holy Spirit and those who grieve the Holy Spirit.

Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.[5]

The one who after believing the message of our gospel and received the deposit of the Holy Spirit and yes even the power of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, will die in their sins if they fall away.  There is no guarantee that the deposit will bring us to the day of our redemption if we break the seal by falling away from the faith our hope.  It is not the Holy Spirit who breaks faith with us, but us with Him when we fall away into disobedience.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.[6]

So it is not impossible for someone who has been given the washing or renewal and rebirth by the Holy Spirit to grieve Him so as to offend Him and loose all hope of salvation.  This is why we are instructed not to believe in vain.

By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.[7]

We have to hold firmly to what we have in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and this to the end, in order to make our hope sure, or we will have believed and fellowshipped with the Holy Spirit in vain.


[1] Hebrews 6:11

[2] Titus 3:5-7

[3] Ephesians 1:3

[4] Ephesians 4:30

[5] 2 Timothy 1:14

[6] Hebrews 6:4-6

[7] 1 Corinthians 15:2

Salvation the hope

Nearly every believer in Jesus says they are saved.  They completely ignore that our New Testament speaks of God calling things that are not as if they were.  When confronted by this, we say not in our gospel you don’t.

If Paul was so certain of the fact of the believer’s salvation, why did he tell the believer to put on the hope of salvation for their spiritual armor?

But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,[1]

Why would Paul speak of a hope of salvation to a believer?  If these believers had salvation there would be no need for hoping would there?  I mean really, who hopes for what he has?  Paul even taught nobody hopes for what he has.

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.[2]

Wait for it!  We wait for it.  Then it must not mean that those who are waiting and looking for the return of Jesus to bring them their salvation, are hoping for Him to save them physically only.  It must mean what Paul says, that our salvation is a hope.

Peter even agrees that our salvation is but a hope.  For he too says we have been birthed into hope.  This hope comes to us through the resurrection of Christ.  Peter further says that by our faith we are shielded by God’s power until guess what?  Until the coming of salvation, not a tense of salvation, physical salvation but salvation to be revealed in the last time.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.[3]

Have we forgotten that Jesus is our salvation?  That He is to be revealed in all His glory at His coming.  Have we forgotten the testimony of Simeon?  Jesus is our salvation that is to be revealed in the day of His coming.

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,[4]

The scriptural teaching of our salvation being a hope that we wait for patiently until the coming of the one who is to bring us our salvation, is agreed to by the writers of Hebrews.

So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.[5]

We all know Christ bore our sins when He came the first time, how is it nearly all of us have somehow missed the teaching in scripture that we as believers have a coming hope of salvation at Christ return?  Oh I know how this happened.  We ignore the other scriptural teaching that God calls things that are not as if they were when scripture speaks of our hope of salvation as a done deal.

Could this hope of salvation to come to us at Christ return be the reason why scripture over and over again uses certain words?  You know like deposit, guaranteed, assurance and heirs.  All words that imply something hoped for, longed for, yet not quite possessed by the one doing the hoping.

Because of this hope we are urged not to receive the grace of God in vain. 

We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.[6]


[1] 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9

[2] Romans 8:24-25

[3] 1 Peter 1:3-5

[4] Luke 2:30

[5] Hebrews 9:28

[6] 2 Corinthians 6:1

Preaching it all wrong

Since I have given you the “Scriptural Challenge” which dealt with those who can speak at a gathering of believers (Church), I though it would be prudent to address other issues of the church as well.  I would like to thank Jason for the prompting.  Before I begin, I would like to review who it was that Paul said could speak on “Sunday go to meeting”.  They are people who give a word in tongues, interpreted the message of tongues, prophesy or have a special revelation.  And that was the end of the list.

For clarification, scripture makes a distinction from preaching and teaching.  Preaching at best appears to be a public proclamation of the gospel while teaching is the instructions to live by and doctrine of righteousness.

So let us look at the subject of preaching.  Scripture reveals that John the Baptist preached and so did Jesus, Paul, false teachers etc.  So there are many who can preach any kind of message.  But what about us who attend the local body, who is to do the preaching and how is it done?

How is preaching done?

By answering how it is done, will impact who is to do the preaching.  Preaching is to be done as we do it today, persuasively with well thought out sermons so that men might grasp the message of the gospel, so their faith will be anchored in solid teaching.  This may be what we have come to expect and believe, but this is not what we have as our example to follow.

Instead as men who have been entrusted with the gospel and given the Holy Spirit upon conversion, we are to preach not with wise words, but with a demonstration of God’s power.  Men are to have their faith rest not in our clever sermons but in God’s power.  Now if we fail to do this, whose fault is it but our own?

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.[1]

Who is to be responsible to preach?

Elders are those who could possible preach, for they are worthy of double honor.  In particular those who preach, but even those who do not.  So not all elders preach, but they can.

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.[2]

Timothy was instructed by Paul to preach.  Being he was now without Paul in ministry, I suppose he would be the elder of that church and Paul wanted that particular elder to preach.

Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.[3]

We also have a hint those who evangelize are to preach the gospel.  For how can anyone believe what they have not heard?  Preaching (the proclamation of the gospel) is how the lost are able to hear and believe.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?[4]

So scripturally speaking elders can preach if they want, but everyone who wants to share Christ has to.  So if you are a believe who wants to obey Christ and preach His message, then every believer is a preacher.

Where is preaching to take place?

Where is the preaching to take place?  Only is church?  Preaching is to be done not only publically but from house to house.  Paul didn’t think it beneath him to go preach in small groups that met in homes.  He also didn’t think it was a bad idea to preach on the street corner either.  Yes he preached in churches (Synagogues) too.  Anywhere he could persuade men by the power of God.

You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house.[5]

What is to be preached?

Now with the power of God behind us in our preaching, what is it we should preach?  How about preaching what Paul preached?  That seems good enough.  In fact it is so good, He said that if anyone came preaching other that what he and the other who worked with him preached, those people are to be condemned to hell.  So let’s stick with the doctrine of Paul and all that agrees with it.  Hint, this would be all of scripture.  But not all of our current doctrine and understanding of scripture.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned![6]

What type of compensation for preaching?

Those who preach are to make their living at it, not their fortunes.

In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.[7]

When to preach?

Preaching is something that needs to take place at all times.  Anytime we wish to share Christ to the lost or give an answer for the hope in us we are to be ready to preach.  Not just Sunday morning to the already enlightened.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.[8]

Conclusion

Remember I said Paul taught that in the local body one who gives a word in tongues, he who interpret it, he who prophesies and he who has a word of revelation can speak in the “Sunday service” (meeting of believers).  We also learned that elders can preach, but this in not meant to br taken as a Sunday morning event.  The preaching of the elder in many ways means evangelism, just as much as it means meeting house to house in small groups.  But did you notice what was not mentioned, hinted at or left to guessing?  Exactly what we have in our churches today.  A man who holds the office of the pastor is the one who has taken it upon himself to preach and this mainly to the Saints?  To the lost yes, for we are all to share Christ, but where is it said the pastor is the one who preaches to the saints, let alone every Sabbath?  Where is it said the pastor, because he is the pastor, is to speak outside of speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, prophesying or giving a word of revelation?

And you think I am off my rocker for saying the church has left the teachings in scriptures.  Who is obeying the Lord here in His word and who is not?  Some say yes to God and do not do as His word says.  They replace what we have been instructed to do, with that we have never been instructed to do.

Yet we will justify the existence of what we do to reach the lost for Christ.  This we do by ignoring those who Paul instructs should speak at the local gathering for the Pastor to preach.  And this we say to reach the lost.  If we were serious about reaching the lost wouldn’t we do it in the power that Paul preached?

But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”[9]


[1] 1 Corinthians 2:4-5

[2] 1Timothy 5:17

[3] 1 Timothy 4:13

[4] Romans 10:14

[5] Acts 20:20

[6] Galatians 1:8-9

[7] 1 Corinthians 9:14

[8] 2 Timothy 4:2

[9] 1 Corinthians 14:24-25