Tuesday, July 31, 2007

*Nothing Gets Past Jesus

I had a wonderful thought recently: all my sins stop at Jesus. They never get past Him to the Father. Everything comes to an abrupt stop with Him. Well then, if my sins stop at Jesus, what goes on before to God? His righteousness that He imputed to me! This truth makes it a little easier to understand two texts speaking about God’s elect: “…for they are without fault before the throne of God”; and, “He hath made us accepted in the beloved.”

A believer’s sins are strictly between him and the Lord Jesus Christ. How humbling it is, how embarrassing, to face Him daily confessing sins that caused His great agony and death. I feel like saying with Ezra of old, “I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee.” Is it any wonder then that Paul cried out, “God forbid…” when he spoke of believers who continue to live in sin?

I think the sweetest words He utters to a sinning saint are not, “I forgive you,” but rather, “I forgive you again.”

Monday, July 30, 2007

*Sad Saints

I agree with C.S. Lewis who says there are only two times a Christian is justified in being sad: when it has to do with his or her own sins, or when seeing other peoples’ sufferings. The Corinthians, I believe, would fit under the heading of the first and Nehemiah the second.

I wonder if Joseph’s question to the butler and baker couldn’t be applied to many of us, “Wherefore look ye so sadly today?” Or better yet, Jesus query to the two disciples on the Emmaus road, as they walked with the risen Saviour and were sad.

I find when I’m in such a sad condition, like Hannah of old, it is a good thing to have a talk with my High Priest. After her chat with hers we are told, “[She]…was no more sad.” And neither will we be!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Brotherhood

The Bible does not teach the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of all men, it does teach the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of all believers in Christ. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Christians are to love all the brotherhood. If a professing Christian does not love all of God’s children, it is due to one of three reasons. The first is, they refuse to obey the direct command of Christ that we do so (John 15:12). The second cause is that they have chosen to display their affections toward a certain group, thereby turning their heart away from those of another fold (John 10:16). The third explanation is that they do not love God. To not love all the brethren, is to not love God at all (1John 4:20,b).

There is no symbol, whether it be lapel pen, an inscribed bracelet, chain hung about the neck with a cross, or a T-shirt with a picture and writing, that can convince the world that we are one of His. Jesus said the most potent and convincing argument that we can present to the world that we are God’s elect is by the love we show toward all who are called by His name.

Piety's Place

“…learn first to show piety at home…for this is good and acceptable before God.” We hear the term “pompous piety.” What does this mean? The first word is defined as “a stately show or display; pretentious, self-important.” The latter word basically carries the thought of devotion. Putting the two together we have a person who displays their sham devotion publicly. The Pharisees were of this sort. They would rather give publicly to missions than privately to their Parents.

A Christian’s first priority and duty is to his home— not his church. The home takes precedent; God established it first. If we would follow this Divine order, then we would see changed churches. There’s truth to the little adage, “Charity begins at home.” Some are more charitable to a fault in the brethren in their assemblies than they are to loved ones under our own roofs.

As C.S. Lewis wrote, “It is terrible to find how little progress one’s philosophy and charity have made when they are brought to the test of domestic life.”

Merciful or Merciless ?

“But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.” Happy is the Christian who has found the meaning of this truth. But, by my observations, how few of us there are that seem to have learned it.

Allow me to give a modern day illustration of this ancient text. I heard of a dear saint who fell morally into sin, but who was truly repentant of it, as was manifest by the fruit in their life. Her church said they forgave her, but they refused to take her back into their fellowship.

It is clear that these people never learned the meaning of what Jesus was talking about. Ironically, this same body of believers boasts of the thousands of dollars they sacrificially give to missions. But I’m afraid they come up horribly short when it comes to mercy.

The Scriptures say we’re to show mercy with cheerfulness, not callousness.

The Adequacy of God

“Our sufficiency is of God.” Paul was brilliant, well-educated, and strong- willed. For such a man, it would be easy to fall into the trap of being self-sufficient. But, with all his natural attributes, he could not be lured or coaxed by the subtle one into that confining cage. The definition of the word “sufficient” is “adequate for the purpose.” The secret of this man’s power lay in the fact that he believed himself to be inadequate to accomplish anything worthwhile, apart from God. God was sufficient in every area of his life, but he knew his talents weren’t.

Whether intellectual, emotional, physical, or spiritual, God’s grace was sufficient for this little man with the giant character. He was careful to let all know that whatever he achieved in life was because of God. He did not put a period after his statement, “I can do all things,” but, rather, added, “...through Christ which strengtheneth me.” He had grasped the great truth that so few of us realize, which is this: we cannot draw our next breath apart from God’s mercy and His permission.

Self-help books will not help you on to God.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

*The Saints' Preservation

“He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” You can be confident of this very thing. So says the Apostle. God has no unfinished tasks. He completes what He begins. “Faithful is he who calleth you, who also will do it.”

The preservation of the saints is only possible because of the perseverance of God. God never leaves us alone on our road home. He hounds us all the way to Heaven. The “pillar of cloud” not only goes continually before us to show the way, but follows behind us to cover our backs.

It may seem childlike to say to God...but a promise is a promise.

Monday, July 23, 2007

*Raptured With Christ

“…we…shall be caught up.” They tell us the words “caught up” in the Greek means “rapture.” I looked up the definition of this latter word and found out it meant “to transport from one place to another…a state of being carried away with joy, love, etc…ecstasy.”

In our generation, the only rapture we are aware of is one that is supposed to happen in the near future and deliver Christians out of their miserable existence in this world. The commercialization of this future rapture has lined the pockets of a few authors, so that they have now joined the ranks of the world’s millionaires. Some bookstores put these writings on the fiction shelf, rather than on the “fact racks.” Who knows? This may be closer to the truth than some would like to believe.

Paul had a rapturous experience, where he was oblivious to all around him. He was so taken up with another world that everything else, for a brief time, faded into obscurity. True, we are no Apostle Paul, and need not expect such an experience, yet we can, and should, have rapturous thoughts of Christ. We can be so taken up with Him for a time that we forget time.

Being daily enraptured with Christ should be our top priority.

Being Teachable

I believe it was one of the Philosophers who said, “Every man knows something I do not know, therefore, every man is my teacher.” This philosophical truth needs to be reiterated among us Christians. It seems many of us have become know-it-alls, who feel no one can teach us anything.

My oldest grandson, Richard, a stanch conservative, religiously and politically, attended UC Berkley. I realize I am somewhat prejudice, but I honestly cannot remember ever meeting a more teachable young man. Because of this, Richard is a walking encyclopedia, and is so interesting to carry on a conversation with.

Why is it so many of us are not more teachable? Simple, it’s our pride. It takes a real genuine humility to say, “I don’t know; will you help me?” Most of us would rather fake it through than show our ignorance.

You can always spot a good learner; invariably they’re good listeners.

*Put on Your Thinking Cap

I understand there is a Christian radio program entitled, “Let My People Think.” It’s about time someone in the Fundamental and Evangelical circles spoke out on this issue. There is a tremendous need for this today. Christian thinkers in our age are a dying breed—rare specimens that are fast becoming extinct.

When there’s dictatorial leadership in a church, family, or country, people are discouraged from reading or hearing other opinions. They are taught to listen only to the words of their leader. Hitler was an expert at this. On the other hand, when you find a cult mentality, you can read all the literature you please, in fact it’s encouraged—that is, as long as it is approved by the leadership. Any other writings are frowned upon. In both situations, you must pledge your undying loyalty, and never question their authority.

In the above two examples, the object is to keep God’s people in the dark (like in the Dark Ages) and ignorant of any other position than that of the dictator or cult leader. I remember a pastor saying to me, concerning the preacher boys I have trained, “You trained rebels.” My reply was, “No, I trained thinkers, and they are a threat to all tyrants.”

May God help us, His people, to take up the thinking caps He has given to each of us, and put them on again. And use them for the one express purpose for which they were given: to think for ourselves. A thinking people are a free people, and only ignorance brings bondage.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee.” (Hosea 4:6)

*Distinct Difference

“I shall be anointed with fresh oil.” I remember, years ago, an old backyard mechanic telling me that if I wanted long lasting performance from my car to keep the oil changed regularly. This is also true in the ministry and in our spiritual lives. Everything works better when it’s oiled. Things go smoother.

“Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him...and the spirit of the Lord came upon David.” Oh, that God would anoint our heads with oil, that it would run down upon our heads and garments as it did Aaron of old! It is this fresh oil of the Holy Spirit that makes our face to shine so that others take knowledge of us that we have been with Jesus.

The oil of the Spirit does away with friction among the saints.

*Debating at the Well

“Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” This invitation is for those who are weary, unsatisfied, and thirsty. It is for all who are still left thirsting after drinking of the world’s well. It’s our choice; a broken cistern or an artesian well.

How it must break the heart of God to see unsatisfied saints who drink from Jacob’s well arguing about non-essential religious issues. They stand around the well of life criticizing others. This is always a characteristic of those who are discontent. If we were all busy drinking from the same well of life, we’d not be so quick to find fault. I notice that when I am thirsty and am drinking a glass of cold water, I am not aware of much around me. It’s difficult to notice others at such a time, for I find my eyes are heavenward.

Let’s be careful not to put more qualifications for drinking at His well than He does. He only requires that one be thirsty.

A Muted Love

I believe, like my wife, that all who knew my father-in law would agree that his wit, humor, and story telling could only be surpassed by someone like Will Rodgers. As a novice preacher, and young husband just starting out, I cannot list all the acts of kindness he displayed on me. He had a stoic face, and a kind of gruff air about him much like the “Grumpy Old Man,” as played by Walter Matthau in the movie by that title. But that cute little pooched mouth, when he had put one over on you, gave away that great heart of gold.

I asked my wife if she could ever remember him telling her he loved her. “Only a few times, when he was older,” she replied. Hoppy, as we called him, would not be considered a good Christian by our sticky sweet standards of today. But God’s value of him would be just the opposite.

And this is why I make such a statement. John the Beloved says, by the inspiration of God, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” This, my friend, is what I call “muted love.” Those who scrutinized our Lord said, “Behold how he loved him.” It was not something they heard, but something they beheld that impressed them about of His love for his own. You see, Jesus never told anyone when here on earth that He loved them. He showed it, and this is something to behold!

*The Calf or Christ.

“I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.” If you believe that, you’ll believe anything. It just didn’t happen. It was, “fashioned...with a graving tool.” There was a process of “making it” into what it became.

Someone has said, “We are what we have been becoming.” Whatever you and I are today is a direct result of our being shaped in the past. God is fashioning us after Christ’s image. Satan fashions after the image of the calf. One is God-like; the other is animal-like. The former brings changes by inward Christian principles. The latter, with outward carnal philosophies. True character always comes out in a crisis.

*Christ in You

I’m told that in each work of Thomas Kincaid, the artist, you will find a distinguishing ray of light. So it should be in the Christian’s life. There should be a gleam of Christ in every endeavor we undertake. As the little Sunday school boy said, “If God is so big, then when He comes into a life, He ought to stick out all over.”
Sometimes we hear the statement, “You’re the spittin’ image of your father.” And on occasions this is true. But more times than not, they are in actuality speaking characteristically, rather than cosmetically. God is not as concerned that we look like His Son, as we act like Him! He looked like us, but we are to act like Him.

*King Jesus

“…there is another king, one Jesus.” The early Christians did not get into hot water for saying Christ was their Savior, but by owning Him as their King. Not that He was going to be so at some distant date; but that He was their Sovereign at that particular moment in time. Paul used Jesus’ Kingship in the present tense, “Now unto the King eternal…” True, there was a coup and this world rejected His Kingship, resulting in His temporary exile, but this does not make Him any less a King.

As His subjects, we are to submit our lives to His rule, even though He commands us, at present, from another country. For us to do less would be to rob Him of His Royalty. He, and He alone, is to occupy the throne of our hearts, and His wish should be our command.

Those who reject His Sovereign rights now will soon find, to their embarrassment, as Shimei of old, that David’s greater is truly King. Or as Paul states it, “…in his times he shall show who is…King of Kings.” We Christians will do well to remember old John’s reference to Him in Revelation as “…thou King of saints.”

Sunday, July 22, 2007

*The Spiritual Relm

“...live in the Spirit.” There is no secular and sacred to one whose life is lived in the Spirit. All ground is holy ground to them, whether it is at church, play, or work. Those who live a life in the Spirit are characterized as being filled with the Spirit, led by the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, praying in the Spirit, etc. Such people are not religious oddities, who try to impress by flamboyant externals. You can decorate a Christmas tree, but it has no life. The thing that marks a spiritual person is their inward disposition. They are under Divine control in a world that is out of control.

These types of believers are not bound and shackled by a list of legalistic do’s and don’ts, dictated by someone who has appointed himself both judge and jury. They are not actors upon life’s stage, living by a script written for them by the hand of man. But rather, they are free men living by the Scriptures, written by the finger of God. These need no prompter behind the scenes, giving them their lines and dictating their every move. They have them written and engraved in their hearts, and an inward prompting directs all the right moves for them.

Nothing will keep a Christian more immature than trying to keep a list. (Charles Swindoll)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

High Standards

Some of the standards preached among extreme separatist movements today are: no cowboy boots, lipstick, wire-rimmed glasses, tassel shoes, slacks on women, hollow figurines (demons inhabit them), high heels, television, walking shorts, and on and on it goes. We laugh, but we should be crying. I’m ashamed to admit that in my ignorance, I was a part of one of these movement years ago.

The sad thing is that this unending list is taught to be biblically based. The truth is, few, if any of them have any semblance of a Scriptural basis. Is it any wonder then, the people who occupy the pews, and the youth in our homes, after coming to this startling realization, rebel against legitimate Biblical standards? They have been taught, “Thus saith the Lord,” when there is no Lord in these taboos.

To God’s limited but complete list of laws on how His people were to live, the Jews added something like six hundred and thirteen of their own. I think sometimes the separatists have out-done their Jewish brethren. I personally would like to hear some preaching on the thirteen sins Jesus mentioned in Mark chapter seven, verses eighteen through twenty-three.

Far too many of us, I’m afraid, are like the woman my son Andrew tells of. She was upset at his teaching on wine and strong drink. He had said, “The Bible does not teach abstinence, but moderation.” Her reply to him was, “Yes, I realize this, but don’t you think God holds His children to a higher standard?” I refer to this sort as, “mindless mystics.”

*Outside the Box

God’s popular saints live outside of things. Don’t feel sorry for them; they may be “outside the camp,” but they’re “inside the veil.” Why would one choose to go outside and be rejected, when all the security and acceptance was on the inside? There was nothing outside the camp but such things as the local garbage dump. To dwell there, you would be considered the filth and off-scouring of the world. But you’d be in good company, for that’s where Jesus was.

Inside was icy legalism, and a cold mechanical piety. Inside the box was a life of man-made rules and regulation. Within those four little walls, it’s more important to be externally proper, than internally pure. The “letter” is esteemed highly, but the "Spirit" holds a low place. It’s a religion without reality. Within the confines of this mortician’s paradise, He is no longer the God of the living, but of the dead.

You would think that outside the camp would be a lonely place, but how can anyone be lonely with their Lover? With Him, the lion’s den becomes a lovely place; with Him, secluded Patmos becomes pleasant; and with Him, the garbage dump gives off a new aroma that’s sweet to the nostrils of any who are willing to “suffer without the gate". “Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach”.

*Prophecy and Normalcy

At midnight on March 21, 1842, William Miller, along with thousands of his followers, waited for the Second Coming of our Lord. He had predicted it, not only to the year and day, but to the very minute. It seems his kind have not passed away. Even among Fundamental and Evangelical brethren, who should know better, we are still plagued with date-setters. I’ve observed that predicting prophetic events can be a profitable business.

As far as I can see, the Scriptures teach against setting dates. “All things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” is the testimony of a lost world prior to His coming. Our Lord Jesus said it will be “as it was in the days of Noe,” and “as it was in the days of Lot.”
He was not mainly referring to the sinful conditions associated with their days, as many prophetic teachers preach today. Read the context in Luke 17:26-30. He is referring to normalcy in both their days. “They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day...” Of Lot’s days He added, “They did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded, But the same day...” You see, in both cases, people were living their normal, everyday lives. “Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.”
During the ordinary, everyday affairs of this life, this great extraordinary event will take place.

*The Imperiative Mood

"He must increase, but I must decrease." We might say John the Baptist only had one mood…the "imperative mood." He was a "must" man. The greatest man ever born of a woman made one of the greatest utterances of mortal man. This "best man" wanted all to see his best Friend, the Bridegroom. To accomplish this, he turned his back on his own shadow to face the Son.

This text should be the motto of every child of God. I must grow smaller and smaller; He must grow larger and larger. I must decay to nothing; He must increase into everything. There must be less and less of me and more and more of Him. Hudson Taylor described himself as "the little servant of an illustrious Master."

We need more snail-like Christians, growing smaller and smaller with each day.

Friday, July 20, 2007

*Higher Education

“…neither are your ways my ways…my ways [are] higher than your ways.” In the school of man, we first learn the subject; then comes the test. But it is not so in God’s university of higher learning. In His classroom, He starts with the test, then we begin the process of learning what it means.

Therefore, when being tested, the question is not, why is this happening? but rather, what can I learn from it? What is God trying to teach me? Passing God’s tests basically has to do with how much we’ve learned from them. If nothing, then, as in all schools, we must take it again.

Passing just one of God’s tests is an education all in itself.

*Fun on the Way

Certainly Salle and I have had our ups and downs through the years. I regret the down times immensely. But, as an old preacher used to say, “You can’t put two completely different personalities under one roof and not have disagreement”. Jacob and Rachel had theirs, and we are certainly no better than they.

But, in spite of the problems, we have had our good times, and they have always outweighed and dwarfed the other. We have experienced some fun times along our journey together. I’m thinking of a wall plaque in our kitchen that reads, “He who laughs, lasts.” I believe this is why so many marriages fail. I am told to “live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the day of [thy] life…”
I’ve been impressed over the last few months with the words found in Proverbs 5:18, “...rejoice with the wife of thy youth.” Three wonderful truths jump out of the text. First, it’s alright for youth to marry. Secondly, it shows the longevity of marriage, and third, after years of marriage, you’re still to be rejoicing with one another.

God help me to rejoice together with Salle at the end of our travels as much as I did at the start of them.

“As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.”

Another Generation

“One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh.” So says the wise man about life. This passing off the scene is not abrupt, but gradual. It is a transition period, you might say. The one co-exists with the other for a brief time. There are cases when some stick around longer. We are told, “Joseph saw...the third generation.’

In these latter times, there are dramatic changes from one generation to the other. One area in which this occurs is seen most vividly among our youth. How often we hear the previous generation use the classic, but well worn line, “What are our young people coming to?” These ancients have forgotten the same was said of them by the elders of their day. Yet they seem to have turned out alright, for the most part. Youth is something we pass through; we do not remain in it. And the end product usually amazes us.

We need to be cautious with our criticism. The younger generation of today is, for all practical purposes, the result of our culture. A culture we helped to create or either sat by passively and did nothing to change. Generally, the youth of today were virtually brought up knowing nothing of loving discipline, high standards, or healthy morals. “There arose another generation after them which knew not...”

Young people are more apt to ask advice from those who keep their opinions to themselves. You may not approve or enjoy what you see or hear, but criticism seldom improves relationships. The fledglings usually migrate to sympathetic and understanding people who are good listeners.

*A Happy Camper

“If ye know these things, happy are ye…” Someone has aptly said, “The grand essentials to happiness in this life are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.”

If this be true, then I can consider myself of all men most happy, for I have something to do (serve God); Someone to love (Jesus Christ), and some place I hope for (Heaven).

“Happy is that people, whose God is the Lord.” Are you happy? If not, you can be. Make Him Lord of all your life, and you’ll be happy for all of life. Happiness and Him go together.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

*The Endurance Test

God’s Word emphasizes endurance. The word has a legion of associated meanings, some of which are: perseverance, staying power, determination, sticking it out, stamina, resolve, keeping on, plodders, and grit. The old timers crudely, but correctly, called it guts.

There is much theological debate over the meaning of Jesus’ words, “[H]e that endureth to the end shall be saved.” But there is no question as to what it says. We are told of our Lord that He set His face like a flint. He had Divine determination.

We need a new generation of Christians with what old Dr. Bob Jones Sr. referred to as, intestinal fortitude—backbone, if you please.
The Bible speaks of professing Christians who, “…dureth for a while.” In other words, they have an evaporating endurance.

A hero is not a hero because he is braver than anyone else; he is a hero because he is brave five minutes longer. Of such it is said, “…we count them happy which endure.” It’s always too early to give in. Individuals who do not hold out are those who are known as being, “A day late and a dollar short.”

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

*Those Embarrassing Stains

“Let thy garments be always white.” How can we do this, for they are soiled again soon after they have been washed clean? But God says we are to let them always to be white. It is not an impossible thing if He tells us to do it. Yet it is understandable that we would think it so.

After all, I cannot keep my garments white for five minutes. A careless thought, a wrong word, an uncharitable deed—all these put a dark stain upon my white garments and make me feel ashamed. Anyone other than our precious Lord would give up on me in disgust. But He is longer suffering than anyone who ever walked this earth.

Thank God He has provided a spot remover that keeps my garments continually white and clean, and it leaves no circle to remind me that it was there. “The blood of Jesus Christ...cleanseth us from all sin.” By simply acknowledging and confessing each sin, we can keep our garments continually white. In Heaven, John describes us as those who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

*Woe to the Status Quo

“Behold, I stand at the door…” How could these saints enter their church every week and leave their Savior standing without, at the door? Simple. It had become the status quo. That is, by definition, they accepted the existing state of affairs. They had become used to the fact of not having His Presence among them. His absence was the accepted norm. They were very tolerant of lifeless, dead, services.

Many pastors of such churches, whether they be Fundamental, Evangelical, or Reformed, still expect their people to come to church excited. I don’t know about you, but I, for one, have always found it difficult to get excited about attending funeral services. The pitiful thing in all of this is the fact that none dare testify during such services that Christ is risen and alive, lest they upset the funeral in process.

The boat needs to be rocked, if it’s stuck on a sand bar.

*Nevertheless

When the Scriptures say “…with God nothing shall be impossible,” it does not warrant using this truth as an Aladdin’s lamp in every situation. While all things certainly are possible, it is not applicable when voiding God’s predestined plan. It is perfectly right to pray, in dire circumstances, “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” Our Lord did this. But it must always be followed by a “…nevertheless,” accepting His will, even though it be a cross.

James and John, along with their mother, requested that these two brothers might sit on either side of Jesus in His Kingdom, to which He responded, “…[it] is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” Yes, all things are possible with God, but it’s only possible within His will. The world says, “Never say never,” but the Christian is to always say, “Nevertheless.”

*Natural or Supernatural.

The story is told of an old Scottish preacher driving a young visiting minister to the railway station in his buggy. The young man spotted the train rapidly approaching, and fearing he would miss it shouted to the old man, “Don’t you think we ought to pray?” To which the elder replied, as he cracked the reins, “Let’s wait till we see what the horse can do.”

I thank God that some fifty-three years ago He used an old Methodist preacher to instill in me this great truth: “God will not do for me what I can do for myself.” God does not use the supernatural when the natural will do. He can be in the ordinary as well as in the extraordinary.

George Mueller was asked by a young man if he would pray for him that he would get up at five o’clock every morning for devotions. Mueller said, no, he would not, but added, “If you’ll put one foot on the floor, I’ll pray God that He’ll help you put the other one out.”

Yes, it was the sword of the Lord, but it was in Gideon’s hand.

Why I Left the Fundamentalist Movement

Note: The following was written some years ago in reply to a dear brother's request, asking why I left fundamentalism. Please keep in mind there is a remnant among this movement that do not fit into the categories I’ve listed. These good men have chosen to stay in; I had to come out. “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

1. Soul winning and service are put above worship, both in public and private.

2 There is a distorted emphasis in the doctrine of grace. Though they preach we are saved and kept by grace, their main thrust seems to be the saved part. They are tolerant and longsuffering with any despicable person who is lost, but the same grace is not shown with a brother or sister inside their churches or within their homes.

3. There is a warped view of Lordship. Something that is settled in Heaven is argued down here. Every New Testament salvation text carries with it Lordship, either directly or indirectly, in the context. True, one may not submit or understand, but the commitment to Lordship goes along with receiving Christ as Savior, A woman promises to obey and submit to her husband, though, for one reason or another, she may not. But the commitment is still there; it is not done at a later date.

4. The teaching of salvation is no longer God-ward, but man-ward. Because the emphasis is on ''whosoever,'' we have led people to believe that they can choose ''whenever,'' thus teaching the Holy Spirit's preliminary work is no longer necessary.

5. Pastoral authority has become abusive to the extent that the pastor lords it over the flock, rather than being a servant to his people. No where do we find Jesus pastoring His little flock in the way we see many of the pastors among this movement doing today.

6. Concerning personal separation: in the last 2S years, we have moved from internal religion to a man-made external one. We have replaced God's ten commandments with our own standards. We speak much about worldliness, but forget that primarily it has to do with affections. Everything inanimate is worldly, and will pass away. We are told the tabernacle was "worldly." Many godly women pride themselves in being modestly dress, but an Amish woman, according to her standards, would believe they are worldly. I am simply saying, we need to be cautious.

7. In all my years, I have never heard one pastor (including myself ,who pastored 20 years) ever pray, with a burden, because his people did not love one another. There is such a lack of love among this group, that it is nauseating to even the least discerning of Christians. Yet this is the greatest commandment. But, of course, they preach you are not "under law" so, I guess, you are at liberty to break it.

8. There seems, to me, to be absolutely no ''priesthood of all believers" taught in their assemblies. Everything is regimented from the pulpit, and there is no longer any individuality, spiritually or intellectually, in the pew.

9. When I began my ministry, modernism was the issue. These people cut out anything in the Bible they disliked or could not answer. Today, it is done under the guise of Dispensationalist. An entire system of Bible interpretation has been built on one text. We are taught that it is a Biblical doctrine, in spite of the fact (the way it is presented today), it only began some 100 years ago.

In closing, I could go into many practical things, such as dogmatism on secondary doctrines, an exclusiveness, leaving out many of God's dear saints, and a haughty spirit of superiority that is surpassed by none but the Pharisees of old. I can truthfully say, from the heart, that I still love these people.

Monday, July 16, 2007

*Sayings of Old

“Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time…” Even in Jesus’ day they had old time sayings that had been passed down from generation to generation. No doubt like those of our own day, some were good and practical, while others could not hold water as another old time saying goes.

One such saying I remember my Granny using was, “Live and let live.” This philosophical principle kept our forefathers from a lot of troubles with those around them, including loved ones and friends. It seems today we are not content living our own lives; we must live other people’s lives for them also.

Is it any wonder many of us carry twice the burden allotted us of the Lord? Those of us who live such double lives need to heed a line spoken in the Old Testament, “Ye take too much upon you.” True, we are to bear other’s burdens in prayer, but we are not to relieve them of their personal responsibilities (Gal.6:2,5). Even God doesn’t do that!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

*Do What You Can.

“And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to…” What is your sworn adversary telling you that you are not able to accomplish? He makes sure he reminds us of our limitations. But no one is exempt from these. We are all limited in some area. Therefore, each can contribute where someone else cannot. As the old-timers used to say, “Make best with what you have.”

We need to forget our limitations and make most of our opportunities. The only real failures in life are those who do not use the abilities they have. Many do nothing, because they can do little. But isn’t it better to do something than nothing? Richard Hooker said, “When the best things are not possible, the best may be made of those things that are.”

Greatness of soul has to do with learning how to adapt to one’s limitations. Genius is rare. Mediocrity is the portion of most of us. Normal Christianity is adjusting to life by doing what we can do. Or to quote our Lord, “She hath done what she could.”

*Dead Certain Can Be Dead Wrong

Judgmental dogmatism can be a Christian’s downfall. For years I prided myself in being able to look at an individual or situation, and “size them up,” so to speak, in a moment’s time. I’m embarrassed to think of all the times I was horribly wrong. It takes some of us “experts” a long time to realize the truth of the old adage, “Things aren’t always the way they seem.”

This was the problem of the carnal Christians at Corinth. Paul said of them, “...ye look on the things after the outward appearance.” Jesus told the religious know-it-alls of His day “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.” Isaiah chapter eleven speaks prophetically of our Lord, but the text can also be applied to all Spirit-filled believers. One characteristic of a spiritual person is “...he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes.”

Cultic Characteristics

When my wife was still in school at one of our local colleges, we often discussed her subjects, especially those of some particular interest. One such topic was a paper she did on “Christianity, Islam, and Women.” As she read her report to me, I was impressed how various cults have basic resembling marks that distinguish them as such. Here are a few from Islamic Fundamentalism:

These cultic Fundamentalists divide into groups according to individual beliefs within the movement, each following a different leader. They use the same book (Koran), but have different interpretations, especially on manner of life. Each autonomy has its own set of standards, some hold to the strict view, while others are more lenient. The former look at the latter as being heretics. One of the main rules has to do with the women and girls—how they should act and dress. If they do not wear the heavy black cloaks and head-coverings, with veiled faces, the extreme Fundamentalists consider them “worldly.”

They separate from their own kind, and have nothing to do with those that do not follow their particular group’s ways to the letter. The main characteristic that marks them is that each life revolves around one human, spiritual leader. He is in complete control of them, even to the extent of telling them what to believe. What he says is law, and you must never question him.

Cults have to do with regimentation, uniformity, and bondage. Christianity, with individuality and freedom.

*Conviction and Position

"In this thing the Lord pardon thy servant, that when my master goeth into the house of Rimmon to worship there, and he leaneth on my hand, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon: when I bow down myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon thy servant in this thing. And he said unto him, Go in peace."

Although Naaman now believes in the one true God of Israel, his king still expects him to continue his official acts, one of which was to enter the pagan temple with his master, and to kneel with him as the king leaned upon his hand for support, either because of his attire, age, or regal protocol.

To illustrate, it would be something like a Protestant son entering his aged mother's Catholic church and, as she holds his hand for assistance, he kneels with her at the altar. Notice in our story that Elisha did not preach to Naaman about abstaining from all appearance evil. There was no lecture, just, "Go in peace."

We must be careful about judging those in difficult positions, such as politics, business, etc., not to mention young converts. The three Hebrew children didn't bow because of the conviction they held. Naaman did bow because of the position he held. They are not the same. But each believed in, and loved, the same God.

It's not the bending of the knee, but the bowing of the heart, that's top priority with God.

*Competitive Holiness

"Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou." This clan of Isaiah's day has not died out. They are among us still today. They pass off their biased isolation as Biblical separation. The one thing that characterizes them is their aloofness and their superior spirit. Their philosophy is "I am not as other men are." They always have an exalted estimate of themselves.

Among this sect there is a competitive holiness. They are constantly comparing themselves among themselves. This was Korah and his cronies' problem (Num.16:3). He saw in the meek Moses what the Scriptures refer to as "true holiness," and he couldn't stand it. I have often found that those who are the furthest from God want to make an issue out of holiness.

A counterfeit holiness will not let others get close to it, not because of a concern of contamination, but realization . They feel others will see them as they really are. They cannot afford friendly familiarity lest they be found out.

Holiness does not lead one to be a hermit.

*Cloned Churches

In the latter part of 1 Corinthians, chapter twelve, Paul likens the local church to a body. As such, he shows each member is individual and distinct. There are some things true of them, as a whole, but, on the other hand, each is to have his or her own characteristics.

In the Bible there are general truths that deal with all of us, and specific ones that only apply to each of us. An example of the first is the Ten Commandments. The latter can be seen in individual gifts. God is not for “Christian cloning,” whether it be people, families, or churches. Even Christ-likeness has to do with internal principles not external look-alikes.

The danger in denominations, fellowships, associations, etc., is that a church body can lose its individuality and become like its sister churches. It is always sad to see siblings who are just alike. Though they have the same father, it is refreshing to see individuality.

God is individualistic; after each new thing He makes, He throws away the mold.

*Choked by a Gnat

“Ye...strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” This type is more interested in dotting the “i’s” than spelling the word right. They major on minors. They’re sticklers for details but blind to principles. They are troubled over little things but pay no attention to greater matters.

There is a segment in Christendom today that is more concerned with their religious rites than with being right. This kind is interested only in the “letter of the law,” not the unseen Spirit behind it. Being externally proper is more important than being internally pure. The applause of man is their goal not the approval of God.

He eats an elephant, and is suffocated by a gnat.
(Arabian Proverb)

A Blinded Believer

“And when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand...And he was three days without sight... "(Acts 9:8-9). Why would God allow a new convert, a babe in Christ, to be blind at his spiritual birth? It was not a punitive blindness, as Samson’s. What then, was the purpose? It was instructional. It was not permanent, as in Samson’s case, but temporary. God evidently wanted Paul to learn some important lessons early in his Christian life. Here is a list of reasons, I believe, for his brief time of blindness:

He would lose sight of this world and the things in it. It no longer could impress him.

He now must walk by faith. No longer could he walk by sight.

He lost his independent spirit from others. He could no longer say, “I have no need of thee.”

His hearing would become more sensitive. He heard and understood the voice of Jesus, while those around him didn’t understand.

His handicap did not keep him from prayer: “Behold he prayeth.”

He could no longer judge people by the seeing of the eye. He must now accept them the way they were.

He got a clear picture of Jesus. “Last of all, he was seen of me.”

May God in His mercy grant that each of us pass through this school of blindness, if we have not already. This school’s graduates are the ones who leave God’s mark on this world permanently. Paul’s has lasted over 2000 years now.

*Who are you?

“Who am I, O Lord God?” If true humility is seeing yourself as you really are, and seeing God as He actually is, then David was truly a humble man. God’s darling never thought higher of himself than he should. In fact, when he was “before the Lord,” it was the opposite. As Matthew Henry states, “The greatest of men are worms, and the best are sinners.”

The shepherd boy never forgot his humble beginnings, how God had taken him from the sheepcotes, and following the sheep, to being ruler over His people. It is easy to forget the pit we were dug from, once God has made something out of the clay.

It would be wise for many of us today to think back about our origin in life, before God chose us. If we did, I imagine we all would have to say, with Mephibosheth of old, “What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am.”

*Egocentric

“Then said Jesus…If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.” This is not a call to deny one’s humanity. It has to do more with renunciation than recognition. It has to do with “self-rights.”

J.I. Packer says, “It seems clear to me now that when Jesus called for self-denial, He meant the negating of carnal self— that is to say, self-will, self-assertion, the Adamic syndrome, the sinful, egotistical behavior pattern which one has been developing from birth, the reoccurring, irrational impulse to do anything rather than to obey God and embrace what one knows to be right.”

The best way to forget self is to lose yourself in something outside yourself. I find the times when I am desperately miserable are those times when I am intensely concerned with myself. It seems at such times that I am a solid little lump of ego, weighing a ton.

*A glorious Goal

“I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus”. Paul was a natural achiever. He excelled in anything he attempted. But after his conversion, his only goal was God. From this point on, he was like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress; he could not be distracted long. His goal was the God of the Celestial City.

From the beginning, God intended Himself to be man’s main goal. When Adam was created, the first and only Person he saw was God. He didn’t have all the goals set before him that we have set for ourselves today. The plurality of goals didn’t show up until Satan came on the scene.

It is well to notice, that those who have goals other than God, are never satisfied, even when they’re reached. They still remain empty inside. Critics point out that you can also fail in your pursuit of God. But my answer to them is that such a goal is so worthy, it’s glorious, even when you fail.

Saint Augustine said, “Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee”.