Its humbling to offer a scripture which I, myself, have difficulty walking out in my own life. Nonetheless, I love it and pray the Holy Spirit will never cease to correct me when I stray from it.
Proverbs 12:18 "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
How important is it for us to be right? Thought well of? Superior? To win? "...as far as it depends on us..." We have no excuses.
The beatitudes describe the very clothing of a regenerated Christian: Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
Living in loving fellowship is important to the Father so it should be important to us.
| 2008/1/15 11:15||Profile|
| Re: MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY...|
Several years ago, I knew a very good brother in the Lord with whom I shared many words of encouragement. This brother was very transparent with his set of beliefs in regard to doctrine. He passionately shared not only the elementary truths about the Gospel, but he was fervent in sharing what often amounted to controversial truths (or sometimes, [i]supposed[/i] truths) in regard to the Faith. With many of the controversial issues, I actually agreed with him. He called into question some of the established acceptances of the local (and American) churches. He boldly preached matters of personal holiness that werent completely settled in the hearts of some believers (particularly in regard to dress, behavior, music, media, etc
Needless to say, this brother was extremely abrasive with those who grew tired of hearing his call for holiness. This brother regularly pointed to particular sins that have become common in many of todays churches, and warned about how these things are vulgar in the sight and ears of God. He was particularly harsh on Christian music (which would make me cringe when he would share, even though I agreed with much of what he said). When others declined to believe his more words, he would argue and sometimes even treat them as unwilling to acknowledge the truth (or sometimes, he would warn them that they were in danger [or guilty of] believing a lie). I remember having to excuse myself from the room when he debated some friends about tithing. He pointed his finger at them and accused them of being thieves (because he insisted that tithing is still an obligation).
I still associated and fellowshipped with this brother, because his sincerity was never in question. He was undoubtedly a lover of God, and his zeal for the holiness of God was the likely root of his abrasiveness. This brothers rough manner of speech was not limited to just what he felt were assaults on the holiness of God. He also boldly declared the truth in regard to a wide array of understood doctrines. There was no room for debate, because he claimed that these matters were firmly established in Heaven and the Word. Understandably, his tone often came across as condescending, even if this was never his intention.
Over the past four years that I have been on SermonIndex, I have matured tremendously in my relationship with the Lord. Ive also grown quite a bit in my understanding of the Scriptures. Ive not only grown, but I have also changed my perspectives on certain issues. Some of the things that I was so convinced of are now not quite so convincing. However, this is NOT a bad thing. There have been things here on SermonIndex (both in the sermons and in the forums) that have caused me to rethink the validity of my own beliefs. This is never a problem for God. The Word encourages us to seek the truth in matters. Paul described this when he instructed the Thessalonians to prove (or [i]test[/i] everything. We learn of men like the Bereans who were commended as being noble for testing the very words of the Apostle Paul (who actually wrote 2/3s of the New Testament). Even Paul declared himself as not being above such examination when he instructed the Galatians, [i] But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed[/i] (Galatians 1:8).
Do we encourage individuals to engage in Berean-style of research when we preach, teach or share? Do we encourage them to look up the facts on their own? Or are we so convinced of our own particular expertise that we dont feel that there is any research needed in this regard?
Have you ever heard the story of the young woman who kissed a frog that turned into a prince? There is a modern cliché that states, [i]Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs in order to find your prince.[/i] This is reflective of the way some believers engage in matters regarding truth. They search for those things (sort of like kissing frogs) because they are searching for that one special frog that will validate their beliefs. This is not just true about the things that we find in the media or textbooks, but is also true about the Scriptures. My friend used to search the Scriptures diligently in order to find passages that validated his accepted beliefs. Can this happen? Have you ever noticed that for every hotly debated topic in the SermonIndex forums, both sides of an argument will present Scriptures that they feel seemingly validates their beliefs?
Im certainly NOT advocating the [i]kiss frogs to find your prince[/i] type of ideology. Rather, I suggest that those who do should take a really good look at the creature that youre calling a frog. In fact, the original Brothers Grimm version of the Frog Prince actually had the princess [u]throwing[/u] the frog against the wall (she never puckered up). She was angry at her own immaturity which allowed herself to grow so close to a frog in the first place!
There is a very real danger of allowing ourselves to grow too close to a doctrine or belief that hasnt stood the test spoken of in I Thessalonians 5:21. Why should we waste time believing those things that havent stood the test of unbiased truthfulness? In addition, there is a danger in dismissing a brother or sister simply in regard to a belief (or series of beliefs) of which differ from our own understanding of Scripture. How often have we dismissed someone as being immature or unwilling to hear the truth simply because his belief differed from our own?
Now, this is not to say that we should never refute certain gross inaccuracies from Scripture. There are certain doctrinal truths that are inarguable from Scripture. There are also things that we can reasonably conclude from the Scriptures. For instance, we can conclude that the Churches in the western world are not working properly and in terrible need of revival. While the causes for this condition are certainly debatable, it doesnt hide the obvious. This is no different from parents arriving home to find their two teenage sons standing in a mess that used to be a living room. Something happened that caused this mess even if we arent quite certain what it was (a party, a wrestling match, a burglar, etc
). All the parents know is that something went wrong. The same can be said of the western Church. Something somewhere went wrong, because the Church no longer resembles what it looked like in the Book of Acts. It is the obligation of the parents to uncover the truth. The final verdict of what went wrong must be based upon inarguable facts. Hebrews 6:1-2 actually includes a short list of those things that are a foundation for our beliefs. We are encouraged to know these things (considered milk at the end of Hebrews chapter 5) and go on to perfection (considered strong meat in 5:12-14).
The problem comes when people have their own idea of just [i]what[/i] this strong meat consists of. Many believers who have known the Lord for sometime consider their own beliefs to be the strong meat mentioned here. But is it really? Have we tested our meat in order to determine that it is, in fact, [i]meat[/i]? Are we certain that what we are feeding upon (and passing to others) is not something that looks like meat (i.e. spiritual [i]tofu[/i], etc
). In a day in which we need the protein from Gods Word (there are no spiritual vegetarians), we cannot survive on something that merely resembles meat. We need to test those things that we consume or provide to others. Does our doctrine truly stand up to such a test?
I suppose that on the surface, [u]all[/u] of our doctrinal beliefs seem to be rooted in Scripture. Why would we believe something that isnt completely confirmed by a preponderance of Scripture? If this is true, then why are there so many disagreements in the Body of Christ even amongst revival seeking believers? A person like the friend that I mentioned would immediately suppose that the problem is that most people have not studied or come to the truth like he has. This causes an [i]I stand with God on the truth[/i] type of attitude where the thoughts, opinions and questioning of anyone else are prematurely dismissed. Do you see the problem with this sort of thinking? The friend that I mentioned claims to be gifted with the I Corinthians chapter 12 gift of knowledge. He feels persecuted by those who disagree with him as those who do not understand or acknowledge his gift.
Do you see the problems associated with the tone by which our posts can come across? How often are we [u]quick[/u] to speak in regard to things in which we feel to be experts? Is it not better to be [i]swift to hear, [u]slow[/u] to speak and [u]slow[/u] to wrath[/i] (James 1:19)? Why? [i]For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God[/i] (James 1:20). In other words, we shouldnt talk too much. This can be really difficult if we see something in which we feel a need to say something. So when and why should we speak? In Chapter 3, James speaks about the difficulties with taming the tongue. He speaks about how dangerous an untamed tongue can be. In the end, James says:
[b] 13[/b] Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
[b] 14[/b] But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.
[b] 15[/b] This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
[b] 16[/b] For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
[b] 17[/b] But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
[b] 18[/b] And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
- James 3:13-18
While God expects that we preach the truth of the Word of God with boldness, He also expects us to be peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits
. How does this contrast with the tone of our conversations? Do we [u]fight[/u] in order to make our point? God has been dealing with me (personally) about the need to refrain from such conflict. Yes, I can still point out something in which I feel needs to be said (in total love and humility). But I should simply let my yes be yes and my no be no (Matthew 5:37). In discussions of Biblical doctrine or other matters (such as standards of holiness, conduct or even controversial issues), we should present our belief and then move over to allow the Lord to lead a person to the truth of a matter. We should avoid any sort of squabbling.
Is this how we want the world to view us (particularly since we are Christs Ambassadors to this dark world)? I remember hearing David Wilkerson preach once about a divisive woman who left a Church across town because God led her to Times Square Church. Immediately after hearing this woman issue complaint and complaint about the doctrine and attitudes of those from her former congregation who would not hear the truth, Wilkerson told some of the other Church leaders to be cautious about this woman. He warned that it might only be a matter of time before this woman found a certain clique of loud, divisive believers within the TSC congregation who act and behave the same way. In his message, David Wilkerson said that it wasnt a short time before he saw these individuals sitting together. It wasnt long after that in which these individuals had to be reproached for creating division through their sanctified gossip in regard to violations of doctrinal truth that they supposed was occurring. As expected, these individuals left the congregation (wiping the dust from their feet) and acting as if they were being persecuted for righteousness. A friend who heard this particular message commented that these people are probably out frequenting another congregation doing the same. How sad!
Is this our goal of our conversations? Should we engage in such conflicting speech? Are we profiting the Kingdom of God by forcing those things that we suppose to be truth upon our listeners? Are we helping others by the manner in which we belittle those things that others hold true?
I have been considering these things recently. I dont ever want to come across like my zealous friend. While I still consider him as a dear brother, he really doesnt hold the respect of many people. I have no doubt that we should stand for truth. But I feel that my heart has been distracted by conflict rather than a desire to bring honor and glory to the Lord. I feel that it would be better sometimes to remain silent than to comment on certain matters. Ive been thinking so much about praying BEFORE I speak (or in this case, make a comment). This has usually been the case in my years at SermonIndex. Yet, try as I may, I still engage in conversation from time to time in which I am forced to repent. It isnt that I necessarily repent for [i]what[/i] I said but for the manner in which I spoke. I should stand up for what I feel to be true (or against a violation of what I feel to be true). But I should never do so at the expense of another.
With this, I plan on avoiding any conversations that might prove unfruitful. Sometimes, it is best to walk away from a conflict. At other times, it might be better to speak about a concern in private rather than in a public forum. There are a great many individuals who might visit this website. Should we not live and speak as if we are living epistles? Are we producing death or life in our conversations? Are we presenting rumors, allegations and insinuations, or are we compelled to differentiate between pure, unadulterated truth and anything else? Are we proud in our knowledge and speech? Are we a dripping faucet of impure words and insinuations? Do we consider others before ourselves? Are we peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy? With Gods grace and with His guidance, we can be a faithful witness to the goodness and pure truthfulness of our Lord.
| 2008/1/17 15:52||Profile|
North Central Florida
| problems associated with the tone by which our posts can come across|
Your latest post should be a monthly *must read.*
Thank you and Praise the Lord for moving you to post it.
Marvelous isn't it? How the past events in our lives serve to teach God's truth if we will only take the time to reflect upon them in light of His Word.
We lose the benefit of what we read for want of meditation.
| 2008/11/27 13:23||Profile|
| Re: problems associated with the tone by which our posts can come across|
iron sharpening iron has to be a good thing though. No?
| 2008/12/2 2:43|
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11
iron sharpening iron has to be a good thing though. No?
Debating, Arguing, and trying to convince people mentally of theological positions brings strife, envy, and every evil work. This wisdom James says comes from below. We must realize that we can give our flesh authority by mis-quoting bible verses. There is a great need for humility, teachableness, meekness, gentleness in the body of Christ and in discussion forums such as this on sermonindex.net
I want to write as one that will bear account for His words before the God who is all seeing and knowing. Judging the motives, intentions and spirit behind our words.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon
| 2008/12/2 3:09||Profile|
I praise God for the original article that was posted, and for the words of wisdom from our brother Chris.
I am truly sorry for everytime I have searched the scriptures in these threads in order to validate my own beliefs instead of being open to the Holy Spirit to recieve the truth from brothers and sisters that saw things in a different light.
We can be on the right side scripturally on a issue and have a wrong spirit. Some of the most zealous saints for truth come across with a critical spirit.
May the Lord help us to contend earnestly for the faith, speaking the truth in love, esteeming our brothers and sisters more highly than ourseleves.
| 2008/12/2 9:27||Profile|
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (James 1:19,20)
| 2008/12/2 9:45||Profile|
Excellent! A much-needed article!
"The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle..."
Paul W. Lamicela
| 2008/12/2 12:08||Profile|
I believe this a great goal 'to leave peaceably with all men' (Romans 12:18). It is a challenge for us as sinful humans, when it comes to discussing topics which we feel passionately about ( It sure is for me !). It's so easy for us to cling to our position, and not to look impartially at the points which someone else is presenting, if they run contrary to our position.
On issues which are controversial, if they can be discussed in a way which maintains 'the bonds of peace', then I feel it is not a problem to discuss them. But if in discussing them, my words and attitudes convey a lack of love and respect for my brother or sister, Christ's 'law of love' would tell me I need to abandon the discussion. Under God's rulership, not only will the lion and lamb lie down with one another some day...but you could say the Whitefield and the Wesley, will also dwell together in peace ;-)
One thing I had been meaning to comment on earlier, was how much I appreciated the tone of the discussion in one particular thread on this forum. It had to do with whether or not Christians should drink alcohol. Although the participants expressed varied opinions on this subject, throughout the discussion there was a warm, Christian atmosphere maintained by the thread participants.
This sort of thing seems like a 'touch of revival':-)
Love to all my brothers and sisters in Christ !
| 2008/12/2 13:25||Profile|
"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." (2Timothy 2:23-26)
| 2008/12/2 18:04||Profile|