Loading...
Menu

A "Unity" that divides Christians

A “UNITY” THAT DIVIDES CHRISTIANS

“The most dangerous counterfeit is closest to the truth”

Index Page 1

Forward Page 3

Chapter 1 Spiritual Unity among believers Page 4

More enigmas of the “intellectual consent” concept Page 6

Chapter 2 Spiritual Unity = Having Unconditional Love Page 11

And the importance of our Calling

Chapter 3 The Glory Of God Page 19

Chapter 4 “Grace and Truth” or “Grace and the Law”? Page 20

Chapter 5 “Domino Marking” – 2 Thessalonians 3:14 Page 24

Chapter 6 Defining “The System” Page 27

Chapter 7 Denominations, 1 Corinthians 8 & 12 & Romans 2 Page 34

Appendix A Article on the mistranslation of Hebrews 13:17 Page 41

Appendix B Response To R. G.’s Study On Modesty Page 42

Appendix C Subjects Of Contention Page 45

Appendix D Unbiblical Basis For Marking Page 46

Closing Thoughts Page 47

Forward

In October 1972 I moved from Conroe [near Houston] to Fort Worth, Texas.

I wanted to be with Christians who would encourage me in my spiritual life. I have never regretted that move. Christians in this association have shown a love for the Lord, for me and my family.

Some basic truths about the Lord’s love were faithfully ministered. However there was a misconception about Spiritual unity. This misconception created a lot of conditional love in those relationships.

We missed the following basic component of our calling as Christians.

The Lords instructs us to receive and love other believers unconditionally. [God’s conditional love is reserved for unbelievers].

Conditional love among Christians creates relationships that will fail. Unconditional love never fails. This is the love described in 1 Corinthians 13.

It took me 40 years to realize that I wasn’t a “Berean” on this subject. I looked at Christians who stayed in the Roman Catholic Church or similar cults and think, “How could they be so deceived?” It took me years to realize that I was basically no different.

I remained in this association for another two years working with others who had come to the same conclusion. We hoped that a course correction could be made for Christ’s sake and we could continue our testimony together.

It became obvious that many were not open to our appeals. As a result several of us stopped being identified with this religious system [Fall of 2014].

Similar separations took place in other assemblies across the country. For many this was not an issue of refusing to fellowship with these believers. Rather it was an issue of not being identified with a sectarian system that created unscriptural divisions among Gods people.

Chapter One

Spiritual Unity among believers

Is it intellectual agreement or having the unconditional love that Christ has for us?

Many thought that, “Unity means intellectual agreement on doctrine”. One of the main proof texts was. . .

1 Corinthians 1:10 ^[* “]^Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all *speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.”

If we make a practical application of this interpretation, someone must be told, “You need to say that you believe what we understand on these subjects [speak the same thing]. You also need to commit intellectual suicide so we can all be ‘perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment’”.

The problem is, who gets to decide what is scripturally correct? Is it the most respected leader? We’ve seen the sad results of that.

Should it be based on majority rule? If so, All they of Asia were right and the apostle Paul was wrong [2 Timothy 1:15]. Actually, since there are to be no divisions, shouldn’t we be in total agreement on everything?

We will develop a unified understanding on many subjects. Being in unity with Christ is the foundation for the ministry and unified understanding described in Eph. 4:11-16 esp. v. 13 ^[*13 *]^till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; Having unity with Christ and each other will result in a developing unity of “the faith” [the body of truth revealed in God’s Word].

Christians should agree on certain doctrines. 1 Cor. 1:10 is referring to sectarian attitudes.

A few months before leaving this religious system I asked an older brother to give his understanding of 1 Corinthians 1:10. He said, “You sit down and study the subject”. I said, “What if you don’t come to the same understanding [have intellectual agreement]?”

He said, “Study it some more”. I said, “What if both sides consider every passage that could possibly apply to the subject and you still don’t have a mutual understanding?”

He said, “One of you isn’t being led by The Holy Spirit”. I thought, “Who gets to decide that”?

Romans 12:16 [NKJV] says, “16^^[* ][*Be of the same mind toward one another]. . .[Then we’re told how this should be done.] Do not be wise in your own opinion.” Anyone who disregards this will question the spirituality of others when there are different interpretations. This brother was saying in essence, “If you don’t see things my or our way, you aren’t being led by the Spirit.” This is consistent with his email [pp. 8-9].

It is a grave mistake to think that “speaking the same thing” means, “We are now in agreement on a particular subject”. I have questioned some who believe this. The best they can come up with is, “We agree on many or most things”. Five or ten percent division does not satisfy Paul’s plea for “No divisions among you”. Our Savior does not ask us to accomplish the impossible.

The point of 1 Corinthians 1:10 is hearts attitude not doctrine.  The key phrases of No Divisions [of heart] or Be of the same mind means to let Christ’s mind work in you to receive others the same way He did you. Don’t have a choosey spirit about whose ministry you follow [except in areas where you believe they don’t follow Christ].

We will never achieve intellectual consent on many subjects, no matter how hard we work at it. As with salvation, we must cease from our efforts to achieve it. We must allow the Lord’s love to work through us. Only then will we be of the same mind [His].

I either have the mind of Christ that accepts you where you are in your understanding or I don’t. Unlike salvation, this heart’s attitude is only in effect when I keep my personal connection with the Spirit of Love [Ephesians 4:3].

A brother recently asked if I believed that men in leadership in this association should obey the following instructions. He also wanted to know if believers should follow those who were doing so.

1 Timothy 5:17 [NKJV] ^17 ^Let the elders who [lead] well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.

Titus 1:9 [NKJV] ^9 ^holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

Hebrews 13:7 [NKJV] ^7 ^Remember those who [lead] you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.

I responded that “leading well” and “holding fast the faithful word” was missing from a critical aspect their leadership. Because of this, many of them struggled in their relationships with some or most of their immediate family members. Should I follow that leadership in this area?

My relationship with my family has greatly improved since I’ve stopped following this area of their ministry. There are other areas that I should and will continue to follow.

More enigmas of the “intellectual consent” concept.

We should ask, “How can I be in unity with Christ? Must He and I have intellectual consent on everything? Let’s try this interpretation – “No divisions between Christ and me means that we are perfectly joined together in the same understanding on all doctrines. We ‘speak the same thing’ from a basis of intellectual agreement and mutual understanding”. This just isn’t reality.

If someone thinks this way, they don’t agree with what the Lord said in Isaiah 55:8-9 8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. [*9 *]“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. And yet, believers have the mind of Christ. How is this? It’s His hearts attitude of unconditional love. We should develop our use of His mind. Truth – will – follow.

We’ve created a situation with 1 Cor. 1:10 where the Lord expects believers to accomplish something between themselves that can’t be done with Him. Are we to have one type of unity with Him and a different type of unity among ourselves? John 17:21 rejects this. ^[*21 *]^that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us. . .

He wants our heart. When we give it, we are in unity with Him. It’s a matter of accepting and returning His love. This allows Him to begin the process of leading and guiding us into all truth Pro. 23:26. Believers can have a lack of intellectual consent in many areas while having no divisions among them. They can also have a lot of intellectual consent while one or both are not in unity with Christ. We can’t be in unity with other believers when we are not in unity with Christ.

Consider this. How much of your understanding has changed in the last few years? If unity means “no divisions [differences in] intellectual agreement”, then you haven’t been in unity with the Spirit. Would He teach you truth while you are in this “divisive” condition? And if you have been in unity [total agreement] then there was nothing for the Spirit to teach you. This is another “Catch 22”.

The intellectual agreement thinking falls short by practical application. Someone must submit to someone else’s opinion for the sake of a false peace or to be accepted by many who are caught up in this system of coercion.

Being liberated from this concept does not liberate us to serve carnal appetites. It doesn’t remove an obligation from Christians to be faithful to each other. It does relieve us from a false obligation to religiously micro-manage each other.

Over the years Christians have left this association for various reasons. Some cast off godly restraint. Others cast off the restraint of the religious system. In some cases it seems to have been a combination of both reasons.

Those in leadership typically make the following statement, *“Look at the negative results those Christians have experienced since leaving our fellowship.” [The fact is, many have left as a result of spiritual growth. See thoughts on Eph. 3 & 4, pp.13-14].

*This propaganda is often used to justify the system. These leaders seem to be unaware that their conditional love has inhibited their own and others’ spiritual growth. Had they not been abusive in this area, several may have stayed to benefit from their nurturing. Many in this association have a wonderful capacity to nurture.

It is also a mistake to take comfort in the fact that many couldn’t clearly express why they left the system. They just knew that something was wrong and were tired of the emotional abuse.

Jeremiah 23:1-3 (NKJV) 1[* “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the Lord. ^2 ^*]Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: “You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and . Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,” says the Lord.

I want to personally apologize for my part in this religious abuse.

Another point of confusion caused by this concept was the use of double binds. Double binds are often utilized as a form of control – at times unintentionally.

These messages can either be stated explicitly or by implication.

Example: “Walk in your own faith” contrasted with, “You are not walking in unity with your brethren in their position on women’s slacks. We feel it would be better for you not to speak publically or lead the singing until you can be a better spiritual example in your life”.

Attached is part of a rejection to a supper invitation I had made after leaving this system.

This was written by the same brother who gave his interpretation of 1 Corinthians 1:10. [Complete email available. I bold typed and underlined certain wording].

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dear Brother Paul,

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:6. 

Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head.  Psalms 141:5. 

He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding – Proverbs 15:32. Rebuke a wise man and he will love you – Proverbs 9:8.

. . .I would like to give you my assessment of some of the things that you have been doing recently.  You really don’t have to reply to this letter. . .

In different brethren’s mind you have written 3 or 4 spurious Bible studies.

[p.l. Referring to studies I had written on 1 Corinthians 1:10, and Ephesians 4:1-3.]

Different brethren have tried to help you with those, but apparently to no avail. . .

1 I think there are no letters of correction simply because your beliefs have not changed from those thoughts expressed in your erroneous Bible Studies. . .

*This all could have been prevented by your following God’s Word, “In the multitude of counselors there is safety.” 

To me it is very sad that you are taking the course that you are taking, and that you feel at liberty to walk independently and without regard of your Christian brethren. . .

We love you and your family, and are sorry to see you and your family move in the direction that you are going.  I don’t say the above things to hurt you, but it is my prayer that they will help you.

. [P. L. He has “no need of me” until I see things his way. This is a rejection of Paul’s instruction to the body of Christ in 1 Cor. 12:21-25.]

Christian love, R.R.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9.

P. L. So the rejection of my supper invitation was based on “my sin” – of what?

Drug addiction? Adultery? Preaching another gospel? Murder?

No. It was simply because I couldn’t in good conscience continue interpreting those passages the same way he did. Hence his verses about refusing instruction [not submitting to his opinions] and confessing sin [of not committing intellectual suicide and supporting the system of “Our way or the highway”].

This brother has addicted himself in time and finances to minister to many people across the U.S. and other countries. We have shared good times together encouraging other Christians. We had a close relationship in many ways. Our wives were close. He played a major role in my son’s courtship and marriage. My daughters spent time with him and his wife.

F[]alse concepts have been used by Satan to basically destroy most of this.

1 *I think he means admission of guilt for not following his interpretation of God’s Word.

I too have been guilty of this unwitting Phariseeism. The following letter is an example of my thinking when I was under the deception of this system. It was a rejection of an anniversary card received by my wife and me from a family member.

Since then, we have had the privilege of apologizing and rebuilding the relationship that we destroyed ten years ago.

6-15-06

Dear W & E,

We are returning this card. The point of this is to remind you that there is no relationship between us.

We are praying that you will accept the Lord’s forgiveness for your 1 rejection of His Love and lack of fear for His word.

We love you and miss the godly participation and influence you could have in our lives.

Christian Love [This was not Christian Love. It was a counterfeit conditional love],

Paul & Miriam

There’s really no difference in the blind arrogance of this note and the older brother’s email rejection of my supper invitation. I guess you could say, “The chickens came home to roost” and I received a taste of my own medicine.

I am grateful for the Lords grace – which was very evident to my wife and me through the gracious response to our apology in January of 2013. I pray that I may never again be a source of grief to my Savior as when I wrote this letter.

1 They chose to associate with Christians that our group had noted to be avoided. This doctrine, based on 2 Thessalonians 3:14, is reviewed in Chapter 5.

Chapter Two

Spiritual Unity = Having Unconditional Love

And the importance of our calling.

There is an issue that is huge in many people’s minds. It’s the phrase in 1 Corinthians 1:10, “that you all speak the same thing.” Many believe this means we must have doctrinal agreement in areas not specifically addressed as sin or where there’s variance in interpretation. Again we’re faced with the dilemma that there are to be no divisions. The following passages confirm that this is talking about our hearts attitude as we communicate with each other [speaking with the mind of Christ].

Romans 15:5-7 ^[*5 *]^Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus [or, “The same way Christ is toward us – V.7”], ^[*6 *]^that you may with one mind and  one mouth [i.e. speak with the same heart’s attitude in order to] glorify the God [of Love]. . . Psalm 18:35 Your right hand has held me up. Your gentleness has made me great. This attitude is the foundation for edifying another believer.

^7 ^Therefore [or, In order to with one mind and *one mouth glorify the. . .Father of. . .Jesus] receive one another the same way [+that] Christ also received us to the glory of God. *This is not physical speech stating intellectual consent. It is Phil. 2:3 “esteeming others” It’s how we talk to each another that glorifies the Lord. My attitude as projected in my speech is what communicates whether or not I’m receiving/accepting you.

Romans 15:5-7 is the basically same instruction as 1 Cor. 1:10 & 1 Cor. 12:20-26.

There are other verses that stress the importance of how to communicate especially when we are not in agreement e. g. Ephesians 4:15 “. . . speaking the truth in love. [This is the same way that Christ speaks to us thru His Word] ” Colossians 4:6 “Let your speech always be with grace. . .”

Since spiritual unity means “Having the same unconditional Love”, we should build on our basic understanding of The Author and His eternal purpose for the Church.

We know that the predominant attribute of God is – Love. Without His love there would be no eternal life or relationships with Him or His children.

This fundamental reason for our existence should cause us to be extremely cautious about severing relationships with other believers.

God’s love is a basic theme throughout scripture. This was the main point of the law.

Some may remember a test given about the seventh grade. It was used to determine how well you could follow instructions. The first instruction was “Read everything before doing anything”. The second was “Write your name on this page”. This was followed by a list of several tasks. The last instruction was, “Now that you have read everything, only complete the second instruction.” The fact that this was a timed test set us up for failure. Why read everything twice when you could use the time to work out more of the problems?

This is similar to the “law test” in Exodus 20 & Matthew 22:35-40. It started with, “Love the Lord. . .”. Evidence that you have done this is that you will “love your neighbor as yourself”. You won’t blaspheme, murder, commit sexual immorality, steal, covet or bear false witness.

h1<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}.

The law was a tutor to bring us to Christ [Galatians 3:24]. This system of morals, rituals and attendant penalties burdened down the “law observer” [Acts 15:10]. There is a short cut that removes all the stress from the “law keeping test”. It is Matt 11:28-30. The only way to “Love the Lord. . .” is to enter into a relationship with Christ. As long as you maintain the relationship – Eph. 4:3, all of the law’s demands are satisfied and you are mastering the test – stress free – 1 Cor. 1:30 [Christ has already “passed it” for you].

Any person who passes this “law test” has accepted the Lords love by faith. They resist the thinking of “All that the Lord has said, we will do [in our strength]” as a way to peace and righteousness. They focus on receiving God’s love [maintaining a relationship with Him]. They work out their salvation under His direction. One proof that I am passing the test is I will not create divisions with conditional love.

The unsaved and believers will both see God in me. 1 John 4:12-13 12 *][+No one has seen God at any time+]. If we love one another, God abides in us*] , and His love has been perfected in us. [We are in Unity with Him – This is the foundation on which we fulfill our calling.] ^[*13 *]^By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit.

Eph. 4:3 emphasizes that it is important for believers to maintain their unity or “love connection” with the Spirit. It is not an “intellectual consent” endeavor between two believers. The evidence of unity is described in John 13:35 ^[*35 *]^By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. True fellowship is found in unconditional love.

1 John 2:5-7 ^[5 *]^But *whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him [“Whoever” just aced the test]. By this we know that we are in Him. ^[*7 *]^Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning. [It doesn’t matter what dispensation you are in. The other commandments should never take priority over a relationship with Christ, 1 Cor. 13:3. You can discern this commandment under the law or catch it as a new commandment in this dispensation. Either way it’s the same. “Enter into a love relationship (walk in unity) with Him]”. The stronger your relationship, the more the other commandments will be fulfilled.

We have these expressions in Ephesians 3 and 4. Notice how the love connection with our Creator and each other is an integral part of our calling and purpose in the Church today. We mature as we develop in unconditional love.

This foundation was largely missing in our assemblies.

The Church which is Christ’s body is God’s greatest achievement of all time.

It is the dispensation of the fullness of times – Ephesians 1:10.

Eph. 3:10-11 gives the reason for this “magnum opus”. ^[*10 *]^to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, 

11 *][*according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 

This eternal purpose is accomplished when the spiritual unity of God’s unconditional love is shared among believing Jews and Gentiles. The following verses establish this.

Ephesians 3: ^[14 *]^For this reason [Or, since this is God’s *eternal purpose, Paul’s prayer is]. . . ^16 *]^that He would grant you, according to the riches of *His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man [the result of Ephesians 4:3], ^[*17 *]^that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; [with the goal] that you, being rooted and grounded in [+love+]*] [His glory], ^18 ^may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— ^19 ^to know [experience firsthand] the love of Christ. . .[which is the ingredient that will enable you over time to] be filled with all the fullness of God [develop unconditional love in all areas of your life]. *The most glorious attribute of God is His love – John 17:22-26. See Chapter 3 “The Glory of God”

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, ^[*21 *]^to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus [Our fundamental calling is to glorify Him by being a conduit of His love to the lost and other members of His Body]. . .

[*4 *]^1^ I, therefore. . .beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 ^with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, [This can only be done by maintaining our relationship with the only source of unconditional love. Love is the principle fruit of the Spirit. All other fruit is produced through this “love connection”. As verse 3 says,] ^[*3 *]^endeavoring to keep the unity ^1 of the Spirit [which will result in] the bond of peace [a peaceful unity with the Lord and all other “connected” believers].

Other passages that explain the importance of our calling –

Romans 14 [NKJV] ^[*1 *]^Receive one who is weak in the faith, [instead of disputing] over doubtful things. . . ^[*2 *]^For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. ^[*3 *]^Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. 

4 *][*Who are you to judge another’s servant? [In areas where God makes allowances for personal choice and understanding. One example would be the subject of wine. Several of us have a friend in Europe who was raised in an environment where drinking wine on occasion is normal. As far as I know, he’s never been drunk. Another friend was raised in the western U.S. He’s seen alcohol destroy his biological family. He once told me, “I won’t touch it with a ten foot pole”. I believe that is a wise decision. For each of these brothers,] To his own master he stands or falls. . .God is able to make him stand. [Even if I think he won’t because I disagree with his understanding or choice – 1 Cor. 12:23].

12 *][*So then each of us shall give account of himself to God ^[*13 *]^Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way. . .

[This is the other side of the issue. If the brother from Europe invites the brother from the U.S. to dinner, should he serve wine on that occasion? If he is aware of the situation, love would compel him to not put a stumbling block or a strain on the relationship.]

1 As long as a believer endeavors to maintain the unity that is designed and originated by The Holy Spirit, he will build up other believers around him. This is the ministry of Eph. 4:15-17. He is walking worthy of his vocation [calling], Eph. 4:1. No two believers have unity between them unless both have unity with the Spirit.

^[14 *]^I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but [*to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him *]it is[ unclean*] [just don’t force a coercive “recommendation” on others]. ^15 *]^Yet if your brother is grieved because of your food, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy with your food the one for whom Christ died. [*16 *]^Therefore do not let your good be spoken of as evil; ^[*17 *]^for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. ^[*18 *][*For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men.

[19 *][*Therefore let us pursue the things *]which make[ for peace and the things by which one may edify another*]. . .

Colossians 3:12-15 [NKJV] ^[*12 *]^Therefore. . .put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;

13 ^bearing with one another, and forgiving one another. . .even as Christ forgave you. . . ^14 *][*But above all these things put on [***]love, which is the bond of perfection.^[15 *]^And *let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in [****]one body; [Not “only those you choose to fellowship with to the exclusion of others who have a relationship with the lord but don’t see things your way”]. . .

[***]Love unifies and matures. If my love for others is conditional, my spiritual growth and their edification is restricted, Eph. 4:15. Unconditional love compels me to apply the above instructions to [****]all believers, not just those that I agree with the most.

Colossians 3:13-14 is simply a rewording of Rom. 15:7. ^[*7 *]^Therefore receive one another as Christ also received us. . . Demonstrated love will bring joy and a peaceful relationship with many other Christians. “Blessed are the peacemakers”.

God forbid that a believer would labor under the delusion that Christ won’t receive them until they are perfectly joined together with Him intellectually. All of His children have been “accepted in the beloved” with all of our brokenness and faulty understanding. Contrary to the way the system has functioned, there is no time limit. If I’m not longsuffering with you when there’s a difference in understanding, I’ve broken unity.

Although the definition of Love and Unity are not the same, it is similar to the imperfect cliché about smoke and fire. “Where there’s smoke there’s fire”.

Where there’s unconditional love between two believers there is unity.

Where there’s conditional love between two believers there is not true unity – no matter how much they agree intellectually.

Accepting each other where we are is a fundamental manifestation of God’s love. This includes differences in understanding, maturity, social and cultural backgrounds, and scriptural interpretation and application. There are certain overt carnal lifestyle exceptions like those listed in 1 Corinthians. 5:11.

Philippians 2:1-8 1[Therefore if *]there is[ any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any*] , if any affection and mercy, ^2 ^fulfill my joy by [***], [How do we do this? By] having the same love, [as Who? The Author of Love] being[* of one accord, of one mind*] .

The next few verses let us know that this has nothing to do with “intellectual consent” and everything with exercising the [***]mind of Christ.  

^3 *]^Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but [***][+in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself+]*] [We will “speak the same thing” or “speak in love” when we have differences in understanding. A wife’s submission is proven when she disagrees with her husband. In like manner, Unity of [or unconditional love from] The Spirit is truly manifested when we disagree with each other and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. . .

This does not mean that we should not be graciously candid with each other.

5 *][***][+Let this mind+]*] +] be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, . .  

7 *]. . .[***][+made Himself of no reputation+]*], . .  8 *]. . . [He humbled Himself. . . .

We will have a growing intellectual consent [Unity of the faith Eph. 4:13] with other believers. This is the byproduct of our unity relationship with The Holy Spirit.

Not forcing intellectual consent eliminates the need to wipe egg off our faces. Leadership has had to apologize when they realized that they were the ones who were wrong on a given subject.

The problem was compounded when they made the difference in understanding an issue of fellowship. A lot of relationships were stressed, destroyed or put on hold.

This isn’t about crying over spilled milk. This is to emphasize the importance of facing and learning from our mistakes.

Christians should agree on subjects like the gospel and deity of Christ and to not partake of sins of the flesh like those listed in 1 Corinthians 5:11.

Do I believe this is what 1 Corinthians 1:10 and Ephesians 4:3 is referring to? No. Otherwise we must be in 100% agreement on all doctrines – have no divisions among us - be perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment on every Scripture.

It is also important to realize that the Holy Spirit teaches His children different applications of truth. For example, the young man who is inexperienced in handling the advances of a seductress is told in Proverbs 5:8, “do not go near the door of her house”.

On the other hand, another person may be led by the Spirit to do the exact opposite. They will go to her house and make an appeal. Or they may ask her to meet them elsewhere, depending on the situation. This could be various relatives or others who are established in the faith and motivated by love for this woman.

So this spiritually mature person makes an appeal. Hopefully the seductress allows the Holy Spirit to convict her to give, or recommit her life to Christ.

So 1James 5:19-20 and 2 Galatians 6:1-2 commends a believer for doing the opposite of what the young man is told to do in Proverbs 5:8.

They fulfill the law of Christ – Mark 12:29-31 [NKJV] ^29 ^. . .“The first of all the commandments is:. . . 30 ‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart. . .soul. . .mind, and. . .strength.’. .^31 ^And the second. . . is[* ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”*]

1 James 5:19 [*19 *]^Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, ^[*20 *]. . .he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

2 Galatians 6:1-2 [NKJV] 1 [Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who *]are[ spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. ^2 ^*]Bear one another’s burdens [instead of adding to the burdens of struggling Christians, or believers who have differing views.] and so fulfill the [moral] law of Christ.

h1<>{color:#000;}.

In Romans 14, Paul says there must be allowances for different judgement calls in life. Although at least one example is dispensational, he applies the non-dispensational principle of Romans 15:7 [V. 5] “^2 ^For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. ^3 ^Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. . .^5 ^One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind [Don’t coerce another believer to walk in your faith].”

Maybe I think that a woman in pants loses a dimension of femininity in her appearance. Let’s say it’s based on my personal interpretation of the scriptural principle addressing the need to clearly distinguishing between the sexes.

I may be the weak person in Romans 15:1 whose scruples [moral standards] are excessive. Those who are strong in the faith are encouraged to make allowance for my scruples [I should do the same if I think I’m strong in the faith – 1Cor. 12:23].

When we don’t have intellectual consent in these issues, we need to rest in verse 4, “. . .to each man’s Master, he stands or falls”. It’s not always a matter of Spirituality, but of personal judgement and understanding.

There are certainly times that we need to acknowledge the fact that a professing Christian is obviously out of fellowship with their Heavenly Father.

The scriptures make those instances clear. For example, 1 Corinthians 5:11 (NKJV), speaks of certain lifestyles. ^[11 *]^But now I have written to you *not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler [known for using abusive language], or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person.

Gal. 1:8 adds another “fellowship breaker”: preaching another gospel.

Gal. 5:20-21 [ERV] [*20 *]. . . causing people to argue and divide into separate groups [That hits close to home!], [*21 *]. . . getting drunk, having wild parties,

And Titus 3:10 says, “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject;”

Chapter Three

THE GLORY OF GOD

John 17:20-26 [ESV] ^20 ^I. . . ask. . ., ^21 ^that , just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in[+ ][+us], so that the world may believe that you have sent me .

22 *][*The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

What I get from this statement is, “You have given Me [Christ] an attribute called The Glory. You have also given Me the stewardship of passing on The Glory to your adopted children. This ingredient will give them the ability to ‘be one even as You and I are one’”.

^[*23 *]^I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and[+ ][+loved them even as][+ ][+you loved me].

^[*24 *]^Father, I desire that they also. . .may. . .see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  

[*25 *] O righteous Father. . . . ^[*26 *]^I made known to them your name. . .that the love[+ ][+with which you have loved me may be in them, and][+ ][+I in them.]”

I shared this passage [with the same phrases emphasized] with 12 folks on different occasions. I asked them to identify the glory based on the context. This opened up some very enjoyable conversations.

When they let the context define The Glory, 11 of the 12 said, “Love”.

As each came to this conclusion, I shared the following, “Actually, I would say that ‘the glory’ is ‘the ability to love’ from God. He created each of us for a love relationship. He was willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice of His Son to provide this.”

As this passage in John 17 so clearly shows, Love is the unifying ingredient between the Father and the Son. Why would it become an “impossible to maintain concept” of intellectual agreement between God’s children?

Again John 13:35, “By this will all men know that you are my disciples if .

Chapter Four

“Grace and Truth” or “Grace and the Law”?

In April 15, 2012 Andy Stanley gave a message titled, “When Gracie met Truthy”.

Several times Mr. Stanley made the comment that, “There is a tension between grace and truth”. Following are excerpts from his message.

2 min, 54 sec. “When you open the New Testament and you ask the question, ‘How did Jesus love?’ Here’s what you discover. It was messy. It was inconsistent. At times you have to say, ‘Okay, That’s just unfair’. And at the end of the day a lot of it’s just really, really, really confusing, because there’s a tension. And my temptation and your temptation is to resolve the tension.

4:00 “Many of our gay attenders. . .left the predominantly gay churches to come to our churches. . .[They say] ’in the churches that kind of cater to gay couples, I feel like all they do is affirm my gayness and they don’t really teach the bible. And I wanted more bible teaching. So Andy, I’ve come to your church and to be honest, it’s a little scary for me. At times I feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. At times I wonder how welcome I am here, but I just don’t feel like I’m getting the whole truth at these other churches.’ 1 There’s a tension there”…

“Now, you know what grace is. You know what truth is. Truth says, ‘Hey! You’re accountable.’ Grace says, ‘Ah, you’re forgiven.’ Grace says, ‘You’re fine.’ Truth says, ‘No, You’re broken’. Grace says, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ 2 Truth says, ‘Ah. You’ve got to work on it.’. . 3 There’s a tension.”

1 P. L. Part of the tension is caused by The Holy Spirit’s faithfulness to a guilty conscience who hasn’t repented. Our loving Heavenly Father wants to free homosexuals from this tension by accepting His grace. This will empower them to forsake the sin.

2 The truth about The law says this, but not the truth about Grace.

3 In reality, he’s saying, “There’s a conflict”.

13:43 “’For the law was given through Moses. . .grace and truth came through Jesus Christ…’ Not the balance between grace and truth. That’s where we all want to live. The full measure of, the embodiment of, 4 and this is what made Jesus so , what made Him so , what made Him so unpredictable. He was all of it. And He brought all of it to bear on every individual He talked to…” [End of Andy’s quote]

Sadly, Mr. Stanley presents Grace as though it was in conflict with Truth.

They are never in conflict. Consequently there is no tension between them.

The fact is, there is biblical truth about Grace and biblical truth about The Law. The Truth about The Law is, “You are broken, lost in sin and deserve death”. The Truth about Grace is, “You are broken, lost in sin and but I have paid sin’s penalty. You will fully benefit if you will accept the payment by faith”.

It is important to understand the three aspects of The Law in order to understand its meaning in any given passage.

[1] The moral, royal or law of Christ, is summarized in nine of the ten Commandments in Exodus 20. “Love the Lord and love your neighbor as yourself”. The proof of this is that you won’t blaspheme, murder, commit sexual immorality, steal, covet or bear false witness.

It is important to realize that this aspect of “The Law” was not nailed to the cross.

Romans 3:31 “^[31 *]^Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, *we establish the law.”

2 Corinthians 5:21 ”^[21 *]^For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, *that we might [***]become the righteousness of God in Him [*be perfect law keepers when we walk in our new nature].”

The moral law is a description of the Nature of God. If we could operate with this “Love Nature” 24/7 in thought, word and deed, from the second we were born until the second we died, we would duplicate the righteousness and nature of God. There would be no need for atonement. This aspect of the law was given to show that we could never measure up to His righteousness by our own efforts.

4 Sometimes what Christ said or did was confusing because of man’s imperfect understanding.

Romans 9:3-11 “9 *]. . .both Jews and Greeks. . .are all under sin. ^[*10 *]^As it is written: “[*There is none righteous, no, not one; ^[*11 *]^There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.”

Galatians 3:24 “[*24 *]. . .the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

The aspects of the Law that were nailed to the cross were the death penalty against law breakers and the type and shadow rituals.

[2] A system of penalties for law breakers, up to and including death. The point of this was, “This is what you deserve”. Some examples are,

[a] The man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath was stoned to death – Numbers 15:32-36.

[b] Uzzah was slain for reaching out to steady the ark of the covenant. – 2 Samuel 6:6-7.

© Cities and entire civilizations were destroyed by direct acts of God or through Israel. This included the Flood of Noah’s day, the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, the Amalekites and other Canaanite civilizations.

KEY POINT: Some in my prior association pointed to these passages about God’s execution of wrath and judgement on mankind. They would use these to justify certain aspects of their form of Church discipline which included both “marking” and what was sometimes known as “domino marking”, i.e. “Treat them as though they are dead”*.*

Again, the law was given to teach us “This is what you deserve.” What seems to have been partially forgotten about the law dispensation is, “When God marks [deals with] iniquity, no one stands”. I don’t have the luxury to choose judgment for you while exempting myself when it comes to personal understanding and opinion.

[3] Rituals & Liturgies These were incorporated in the Old Law Covenant or Testament. They consisted of “meats and drinks and various baptisms imposed on [Israel] until a time of change” – Hebrews 9:1-10. Also “Touch not, Taste not, Handle not” – Colossians 2:16-17, 20-23.

The Law works beautifully with Grace to encourage Adams race to enter into a fulfilling relationship with Christ – Galatians 3:24. When you understand that this is how Christ always used the penalty of the law to bring mankind to Himself, there is no confusion, nothing messy, no tension. He would in essence tell the repentant woman who had been caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you. Now walk in My power over your sin”.

The tension comes when you welcome practicing and unrepentant adulterers, homosexuals, fornicators, extortioners, etc. to meet with you on a regular basis but don’t graciously and faithfully help them to overcome their very destructive sin.

This is the message they need. ”Your Savior paid the ultimate price to deliver you from this terrible slavery. If you will accept His love, He will supply the power to break these shackles of bondage for you”.

There is always a price to pay for sin – always. God’s mercy and grace brings forgiveness but there is always reaping.

Galatians 6:7-8 [Para.] “Be not deceived, God is not mocked – whenever you sew to the flesh, the reaping is going to be destructive”. This is true because our Savior doesn’t want us to be comfortable in our sin. The reaping can be loss of peace, hindered prayers or stronger consequences. 1 Corinthians 3 mentions losing rewards for eternity.

When God’s children sin, His love and care is never diminished. Ephesians 1:6 [Para.] “We are [permanently] accepted in the beloved”. Deuteronomy 33:27 “. . . Underneath are the everlasting arms”. However, we can restrict His ability to bless us.

Christians should never define Grace as, “God accepts or ignores your sin”. Grace is always used to deliver from sin – Titus 3:5 & Romans 5:20-21. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more i.e. grace “outdistances” sin. Why is this? Our Savior goes to great lengths to deliver us from sin. The only person who truly benefits from grace is the person who is willing to be delivered from sin. The person who thinks that God’s grace gives them permission to sin is deceived.

The Scriptures make it clear that believers can harden their hearts and quench the Spirit – to a point of no return? I personally believe that where there’s life there’s hope, because of the incredible power of God’s grace.

The difficulty is with overcoming the mental roadblocks that grow from years of hardening our conscience. Grace still abounds but becomes increasingly difficult to accept, the longer we continue under the bondage of sin.

To summarize: Some professing Christians misunderstand the truth about Grace. Others misunderstand the truth about the Law.

Chapter Five

“Domino Marking” – 2 Thessalonians 3:14

In the fellowship of Christians I met with, we practiced a form of the biblical concept of “Noting” or “Marking to be avoided”. I say form because some aspects of our understanding and implementation were outside of biblically sound concepts and therefore destructive to our testimony for Jesus Christ.

This is where the misconception of 1 Corinthians 1:10 caused much abuse and heartache. In other words, “If ‘the men’ agree – especially those in leadership, then you need to follow our interpretation of this passage or face church discipline”. This ranged from being considered weak or unspiritual to not being included in certain activities and areas of public or private ministry. It could be as severe as being socially shunned by many or all of the assembly.

The accepted interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 3:14 was an instruction to,

“Mark someone who doesn’t observe the Marking of the disorderly person in verse 6” which says, “. . .withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.”

“^14 *]^And if anyone does not obey [+our word+]*] in this epistle [it was assumed that this was the instruction to withdraw from the disorderly person mentioned in verse 6], note that person [also] and do not keep company with him [either], that he may be ashamed.”

On the surface when you put those two verses together and leave out the context, it’s easy to come to that conclusion.

People were shunned, not because of bad fruit in their own life, but because of their association with others. This was justified under the premise that, “You are not walking in unity with your brethren”. In other words, you weren’t “obeying those who had the rule over you” [A mistranslation of Hebrews 13:17. See Appendix A]. In essence we were saying, “You do have bad fruit because you are walking in your own faith instead of our judgment call.”

The Apostle Paul never said, “Follow me whether or not you agree, or else be willing to suffer the consequences – especially if you’ve been among us for several years”. Instead, he gave us the truth of Romans 14 and 15.

He also said, “Follow me as I follow Christ”. Outside of exclusions such as 1 Corinthians 5:11, he made allowance for believers to walk in the conviction of their own conscience – hopefully guided by the Holy Spirit.

Many times there is wisdom in following the cautions of spiritually successful Christians even when we don’t see the danger they refer to – Proverbs 13:18, 15:32-33.

Please consider Paul’s thoughts highlighted in red and green.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-15 [NKJV] 6 But we command you. . .withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.

7[* ]. . .for we were not disorderly among you[;] [*8][* ]nor did we eat anyone’s bread free of charge, but *], . . .9 . . . to make ourselves an example . . .
10[* ]*] we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11[* ]For we hear that , not working at all, but are busybodies.*]
12[* Now those who are such*] we command and exhort . . . that they work in quietness and eat their own bread. 13[* *]. . .
14[* And if anyone does*] not obey our word in this epistle [to ], note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15[* *]Yet do not count him as an enemy [by refusing to shake his hand or crossing the street when you see him], but admonish him as a brother.

Again, there are passages warning believers to be careful about interacting with those who can adversely affect you spiritually. Application of this depends on the spiritual maturity of the individual and the purpose of the interaction.

However, I know of no instruction from the apostle Paul to shun another believer because they associate with one who is pointed out to be shunned.

I believe The Holy Spirit knew that some would be shunned in error. Why would He have me destroy a relationship with someone because of the poor judgment call of others? Should I follow them when they are not following Christ?

There have also been cases of wholesale “noting to be avoided” based on the misconception that “Leaven always leavens”. As has been explained, the young man in Proverbs 5 was susceptible to being spiritually affected. Others portrayed in Galatians 6 and James 5 could be spiritually insulated from a particular leaven. I believe the principle in Romans 14:2-3 applies here, i.e. “If you’re weak, don’t get involved. But don’t negatively judge someone else who is able to or should be involved”.

We should be faithful to a weak or young-in-the-faith Christian who associates with a professing Christian who is involved in sin like adultery or drunkenness. We know that, “Evil company corrupts good habits.” and “A wise man should choose his friends carefully.”

We all must guard our hearts and examine our motives for this type of interaction. If we don’t, we can become spiritually leavened to the point that we may need to be shunned. Why? Our relationship with the Lord has been affected to the point that we are no longer bearing good fruit.

The real issue here is a heart that is not abiding in a relationship with Christ.

On the other hand we should not try to make a spiritual utopia for ourselves. This is spiritual laziness. It’s a religious take off of the Howard Hughes syndrome.

As John 15:5-6 says, 5 *]“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. ^6 ^], he is cast out as a branch* and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”

Also, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “^[*27 *]^But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified [from ministering to others]”.

Chapter Six

Defining “The System” [Conditional love produced by a counterfeit unity]

I have been asked by about my use of this term. First I should repeat – This system was built around a misunderstanding of 1 Cor. 1:10 & Eph. 4:3. As a result many relationships have been stressed or destroyed.

In the 1920’s – 1930’s, several Christians across the U.S. came out of various denominations. They were disenchanted with the showmanship, hypocrisy, politics and humanistic thinking that is an integral part of much of man-made religion.

Their desire was to build Christian lives and Christian homes. They wanted to accurately represent local manifestations of the church which is Christ’s body.

They believed that the Scriptures would completely instruct them in all areas of their personal lives and fellowship together. They saw no spiritual benefit to adding to these instructions on how to function as local assemblies.

They were also concerned about immodesty and other spiritually destructive influences that were so prevalent in much of Denominationalism and the secular world in general.

I believe these were legitimate concerns. They took steps to insulate themselves from Satan’s attacks in these areas. The question is, “Where did they [we] go wrong”?

The Desire: To protect their loved ones from returning to Denominationalism and areas of serving the carnal appetites. In many cases they recognized that abuse or unwise use [1 Corinthians 7:31] of many of these areas would weaken the spiritual vitality of their families. As the scriptures clearly state, we do live in a time of apostasy [a falling away from holiness].

This caused a religious system to be built: Satan used our fears to motivate us to create a system of arbitrary enforcement. This was designed to help people walk the straight and narrow – for their own protection and for the safety of the rest of the flock. But this denied the ability of the Holy Spirit to lead.

We assumed that, “Those who don’t see things our way after a time are in rebellion. They’re not walking in unity”.

Following is a partial list of protective boundaries that were established. Not all of these were “recommended” with the same emphasis in all assemblies. Leadership in different areas disagreed about the rationale applied to various subjects. Applying their misinterpretation of 1 Cor. 1:10, they weren’t “perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment and didn’t speak the same thing”. They were ‘walking in division’. And yet few, if any were marked to be avoided because of this – another inconsistency.

A side note: Most men who were in public ministry addicted themselves to the care of their assemblies. They took on heavy responsibilities at personal sacrifice. I believe their hearts attitude was to serve Christ. They would have been much more effective had they not misunderstood the subject of Spiritual Unity.

No make up [Exceptions given where it is used to cover up scars or blemishes.]

No pants for ladies [Exceptions given like for working on a ladder as long as there was a skirt worn as well].

No male or female shorts or ladies skirts with slits in them.

No television in the home [if used to watch “Hollywood” produced shows and most professional sporting events]. I remember a men’s meeting where a list had been compiled of Christians among us who owned TV’s [These were “the spiritually weak”].

One ministering brother mentioned several times about visiting Christians who owned a TV. He said, “I approached the door and saw flashing lights through the curtains. When I knocked, someone would peek out of the window then scramble off to hide the T.V. Then the door would be opened and I would be warmly invited in.”

Here’s the point for recounting this. It’s one thing to share concerns about spending too much time on any number of forms of entertainment. There’s also the Lot syndrome to be considered. We can vex our righteous souls by entertaining ourselves with the immoral actions and attitudes of Christ rejecters. This is something we all need to soberly consider.

It’s something altogether different to generate an environment where people who don’t draw the same lines as you in their activities, dress etc. are made to feel like 2nd class Christians.

I personally believe that use of a T.V. can be potentially dangerous [And yes, I own one]. The same could be said for any number of technologies and activities. But I hope I would never convey this in such a way that people would feel compelled to act in hypocrisy. It’s one thing to react from a truly guilty conscience. But it’s sad when a religious system coerces you to walk in convictions contrary to your own, in order to be accepted. Proverbs 29:25-GNT “^[*25 *]^It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you, but if you trust the Lord, you are safe.”

Don’t attend movies [some exceptions like documentary or nature related].

Don’t attend college or professional sporting events.

Ladies shouldn’t attend college [with few exceptions]. I’m going to make another point with this. Could there be cases where someone could send their son or daughter to college and a particular environment be spiritually unhealthy for them? Yes. Should we be faithful to point out the potential pitfalls of these and other areas in life? We should.

There’s a difference between ministering concerns and what the religious system produced in our association. Parents were often made to feel that their decisions should be made based on, “Those in leadership recommend “X”. Hebrews 13:17 says, “They watch out for your souls”. Many times the implied message was, “Those in leadership are the surrogate head of your home in these areas”.

I don’t believe that anyone in leadership would actually state this. The fact remains that this was often the tacit message if you made practical judgment calls contrary to certain “recommendations” of leadership.

Certainly wisdom dictates that fathers soberly listen to and consider counsel and recommendations from others. But at the end of the day, the father is responsible before the Lord to make his own decisions.

Don’t allow your children to participate in extracurricular school sports [with a few exceptions].

Don’t grow a beard or mustache This one is somewhat outdated. In the early ‘80’s one minister from Texas gave the following exception when challenged with the example of an older respected brother among us who wore a mustache. ”It’s okay if someone grew facial hair back in the 1920’s or 30’s and kept the style through the subsequent decades when facial hair wasn’t in style.” P.L. I guess that’s being “Grandfathered in”.

Don’t wear certain types of Jewelry such as earrings. About January 1990 there was a ministers meeting in Houston, TX. Probably the most nationally respected minister at that time gave his definition of modest jewelry. His thought in essence was, “Modest jewelry is an article of jewelry that is functional”.

Not functional as jewelry alone, but like a watch or cufflink. One example he gave was, “Let’s say that two ladies are wearing the same necklace with the same locket on it. One lady has a picture of her fiancé or husband in the locket. When she wears this article of jewelry, it’s modest because it has that ‘carrying his picture’ function.” [On a different occasion, he said, “The necklace and locket are functional because they carry a special meaning of being given to her by her husband or fiancé”. (Compare this with his statement in Appendix B. He says that necklaces call attention to the area of the breasts.)]

I didn’t have a problem with this brother offering his “functional jewelry” interpretation for consideration. The problem came when I questioned his interpretation. I mentioned that, “In etymology [origin of words], the word modest is derived from its root word moderation or ‘keeping due measure’, ‘to control’, ‘not excessively large, elaborate, or expensive’”.

Two things occurred. I was verbally nailed to the wall. None of the other [I’m guessing, about 40] men challenged this brother’s interpretation at that time. Yet no one that I recall talking to afterwards, agreed with his interpretation. Was it fear of man? The Lord knows.

In all fairness, there were other times that concepts were challenged and revisited. Sometimes changes were made. But you never knew when you could challenge something without having your spirituality called into question.

Another major component of this system of walking in unity and protecting the flock was our interpretation of getting counsel.

Serious Bible students recognize the wisdom and safety of getting counsel. Following are examples of taking it to an extreme [lacking in wisdom].

By 2012 – 2013 several in our local Texas assembly had come to realize the damage we had done with many of our unscriptural and emotionally abusive “markings to be avoided”. We had men’s meetings to discuss writing a letter of apology to Christians who had been disciplined in error.

There was a disagreement among us about doing this. Several thought that all of the markings were legitimate and there was no need to write such a letter. Others of us believed that we should.

In the process of preparing a rough draft, I contacted some of those who had been adversely affected by 1 unscriptural marking.

I[] wanted to get their perspective and be as accurate as possible concerning the alleged offenses involved.

1 There is a biblical basis for noting and avoiding a professing Christian who is involved in unrepentant and unforsaken adultery, homosexuality, fornication, extortion, covetousness [that defrauds another], 2 heresy [a “choosey spirit” that stirs up strife, conflict and causes divisions and/or leads away disciples to follow him instead of the Lord. These terms are a compilation of several translations of Titus 3:10].

The markings under consideration had nothing to do with those sins. Several were marked for their affiliations with Denominations. The act of leaving our fellowship and/or going to, or interacting with Christians in a denominational or non-denominational church setting was, in itself considered divisive.

[Footnote cont.] There were also “domino” markings based on a misunderstanding of 2 Thessalonians 3:14.

2 I don’t have the luxury of calling you a heretic just because you don’t agree with my opinion. This is another problem created by the misunderstanding of 1 Cor. 1:10. Men in the system admit they haven’t attained obedience to their own definition of this verse. Yet they choose to shun some on certain subjects while cutting others slack where they disagree on other subjects. Maybe they did the best they could. They were just working with a faulty concept that forced them to be inconsistent.

Remember Paul said that those who weren’t of the same mind and speaking the same thing were divisive. Using the standard “system” understanding, it’s not okay to be divisive in some cases but not in others. Again Paul clearly states, “let there be no divisions”, not “five or ten percent is okay”.

When I’m not of the same mind toward you as Christ is toward me I don’t need to work on it for 50 years. My divisive heart’s attitude can be corrected instantly even if I never agree with you as to whether or not Simon the sorcerer was saved, Jephthah sacrificed his daughter, water baptism is or isn’t for today, is it okay to play golf, go to a Rangers game or let my wife wear pants or ear rings. [End of Footnote]

At one of our gatherings an older brother approached me. He mentioned that he had overheard a couple of other men discussing the rumor that I had been in touch with one of the “marked” Christians. The individual in question had been shunned for 32 years. Two of his children had very little to do with him for the majority of this time. This obviously affected his ability to interact with his grandchildren as well.

I confirmed that I had been in touch with this “marked” brother. The older brother said, “There is concern that you have not gotten counsel from 1older brethren before making this contact. It has also been suggested that you consider not giving messages until you re-establish a better testimony in this area.”

1 I was 61 at the time

I responded that to me, this wasn’t an issue of getting counsel, but of getting permission. Furthermore I had visited about this situation with several men that I did have confidence in. I also mentioned that if my ability to give messages was conditional on getting permission prior to actions like this, then I would plan on not speaking again.

Furthermore, I believed those men under consideration were not following Christ in this particular area. I felt a responsibility to not follow their counsel.

2nd Example: There have been situations where a younger married couple decided to move to another part of the country. At times this included going to another area where there were Christians who functioned the same way. If the young couple didn’t get counsel or follow the counsel given, they were told, “The brethren in this local assembly can’t endorse or support you in this move.” This is a prime example of trying to play “The Holy Spirit” in other’s lives.

Chapter Seven

Denominations, 1 Corinthians 8:1-3, 12:20-26 and Romans 2

Colossians 3:17 instructs Christians to do everything is the name of Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:9 states that we were called into the fellowship of Jesus Christ.

We should want to represent and be solely identified with The One who redeemed us. He is head over every aspect of the Church which is His body. He is not the author of the confusion that many Christians have become a part of.

We are complete in Him. His Word fully provides us with clear instructions for serving and representing Him alone. This is knowledge and this is truth!

If you have this knowledge you may be deceived in a self-righteous way to think, “I thank thee Oh God that I’m not like Christians who are involved in denominations”.

Now consider 1 Corinthians 8:1-3 (CEB). ^1 ^. . .we all have knowledge. Knowledge [alone] makes people arrogant, but love builds people up. ^2 ^If anyone thinks they know something, they don’t yet know as much as they should [for they are not using that knowledge with grace – 2 Pet. 3:18]. ^3 ^But if someone loves God, then they [have the type of relationship with] God .

[+ 2 Peter 3:18+] 18 . . .[first][* ]grow[ ]in[ ]the[ ]grace[ *]and [then in the] knowledge of. . .Jesus Christ.

Many saints admit that they can’t validate denominationalism from the Bible. It’s just the best or only way they know how to function. The Lord knows that He has their fidelity in many other ways, in spite of what may be a weak spot in that part of their testimony. I say may be because this may be the only viable option they have in certain situations to fulfill Hebrews 10:24-25, Ephesians 4:15-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:20-26.

There is no legitimate reason to believe that these verses apply exclusively to Christians who don’t take a name or a title.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (NKJV) ^24 ^And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, ^25 ^[not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as *]is[ the manner of some, but exhorting ]one another,[ and so much the more as you see the Day approaching*] [Only if you find those who meet in Christ’s name]?

Ephesians 4:15-16 (NKJV) ^15 ^but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— ^16 ^from whom the whole body, joined and knit together . [Someone with a sectarian spirit would say this can’t be accomplished by Christians who are in a denomination. I have been guilty of this opinion in the past.]

1 Corinthians 12:20-25 (NKJV) ^20 ^[But now indeed *]there are[ many members, yet one body. ^21 ^*]And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you” ][; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you+].” ^22 ^No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker [*are necessary. *]

^23 ^[And those *]members[ of the body which*] we think , on these we bestow greater honor; [We don’t obey this when we shun those among us who interact with Christians in a Denominational setting.] [and our unpresentable *]parts[ have greater modesty, ^24 ^*]but our presentable parts[* have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that ]part[ which lacks it, *]

^25 ^[+ +]thatthe members should have the same care for one another [If we shun instead of bestow greater honor, our actions are divisive. It’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance. It also leads to spiritual growth – Psalm 18:35.]

.

1 Corinthians 12 warrants a second look. There is a reason that the head of the body gave us these expressions, “those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary and [those *]members[ of the body which*] , on these we bestow greater honor.

Isaiah 55:8-9 should be kept in mind. The way that the members think will often not line up with way that the Head thinks.

As we grow into the fullness of the stature of the head, there will be times that we realize, “Oops! I was the one who was weaker and less honorable in my views. The other believer was doing just fine. I was the one with the pharisaical view of subject X.

I’m glad I don’t have to wipe egg off of my face. I followed the Heads instruction to give greater honor.”

Our false concept of unity has caused us to violate this instruction repeatedly.

If 1 Corinthians 12:20-26 was written according to the false unity concept, it should say,

^21 ^The eye should say [*to the hand, “We have no need of you until you come around to our way of thinking” *]

^22 ^Those members of the body which seem to be weaker [*are unnecessary. *]

^23 ^[And those *]members[ of the body which*] , are marked to be avoided;

[Although The Head gives more honor to that *]part[ which lacks it, the members give less. *]

^25 ^There should be many schisms in the body, because the members give preferential treatment to those who

agree with them .

I don’t believe that this was what of most of the believers in this association intended. We were deceived and blinded by the “Unity” counterfeiter.

Not every Christian is sectarian in heart by virtue of being in a denomination. They may desire to be one with all of God’s children.

.

There may be Christians who know of those who refuse to take a name or a title. They may also recognize that the system these “no title” Christians are in, is more schismatic in spirit than the denomination they are in.

It is also important to realize that the divisive attitude shown in 1 Corinthians 1 and 3 was much more serious than taking a name as a title [See Closing Thoughts, Para. 2].

The real issue was a choosy spirit of accepting the ministry of some while rejecting the ministry of 1^other members of the body of Christ. This is what 1 Cor. 12:20-25 warns against. This is a serious heresy [choosey spirit] that this association has ministered for decades. ^2 “Only those who ‘speak’ among us are qualified to minister to you”.

^1^Certainly there should be certain qualifications involved. See 1 Cor. 11:1, 1 Tim. 3:6, 1 Tim. 5:22. ^2^With a few exceptions.

As already mentioned, several saints among us fellowshipped under the name of Maranatha Tabernacle. This went on for some time after they left the Methodist Church. Because they were not sectarian in heart they allowed Nels Thompson to help them make a correction in this aspect of their testimony for Christ. I believe it would have been a much lesser sin to have kept the name and not develop into the no-name sect that emotionally brutalized scores of Christian Families for decades. The optimal would be to avoid both sins.

If you were a young person, would you rather have parents who attended Maranatha Tabernacle but provided for your spiritual and emotional needs?

Or would you rather have parents who meet in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ but struggle in their relationship. They struggle in their ability to care for your spiritual and emotional needs. Which situation would Christ prefer for you?

There can be situations where parents have three options.

(1) Don’t provide their family with Christian fellowship.

(2) Meet with Christians who take a name but provide a lot of edification.

(3) Meet with Christians who won’t take a name and do a lot of right things, but religiously micro manage each other and operate under a spirit of coercion.

What is the wisest choice spiritually?

The point is not to excuse sin. The point is what Paul said in Romans 2 “You who are so quick to pass judgement on someone else . In judging the sins of another, you are self-condemned .”

In verses 17-21, 24 He says, ^17 ^. . .you are called a Jew, and rest on the law, make your boast in God, ^18 ^[You] [know *]His[ will, and*] , being instructed out of the law, ^19 ^[You] are confident that you are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, ^20 ^an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, [*having the form of knowledge and truth in the law. *]

^21 ^You, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?. . . ^23 ^You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law [by failing “the love test” or the real point of the law?]

[* ^24 ^*]For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,”

Someone might point out that this passage is addressed to “Israel after the flesh”. This doesn’t negate the principle that Paul was giving. Let me rephrase these verses. In doing so, I want to honestly face where this might apply to me. I want to continue making needed changes for Christ’s sake.

You know a lot of truth. You’re confident that you know His will since you are instructed out of the Scriptures. You consider yourself to be a guide to all those blind people in Denominations, a light to those who listen to religious rock music, practice water baptism, etc. Unfortunately in other more important areas, you only have the form of knowledge and truth.

Yes, you’ve figured out many aspects of The Scriptures. However you have failed the real test in many areas because you missed the most important instruction. “Understand God’s love so you can love your neighbor as yourself – unconditionally”. Remember how the Samaritan’s loved his neighbor? His attitude was, “Whatever it takes to get this man healed, I’m good for it and there’s no time limit.” Unconditional love never fails.

In these areas your knowledge tempts you to be arrogant. You lack the love which would enable you to edify all truly qualified believers [Those who should be shunned aren’t in a condition to be edified]. You are confident that you have “the sin of sectarianism” figured out. But you actually dishonor God by disregarding your calling to receive others as He received you with all of your brokenness and faulty concepts. This makes you more sectarian than many denominational Christians.

“Because of this, the name of God is belittled by some who are looking on, i.e. ‘If this is Christianity, I want no part of it. These Christians attack each other emotionally like the Mafia and Roman Catholics have done physically’”.

I have observed and experienced demonstrations of love from many in leadership. Unfortunately much of it has been conditional based on operating under their definition of unity.

In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 Paul said there was no relationship between light and darkness, Christ and Belial, a believer and an unbeliever or the temple of God [believers] and the temple of idols.

Then he said, V 17-18 “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.” ^18 ^“I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters. . . .” The question has been asked, “What happens to Christians who don’t come out of unequal yokes?” Some have claimed that The Lord won’t receive them or be a Father to them.

This statement denies truths like Romans 15:5-7, Hebrews 13:5.

The point of Paul’s statement in 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 was to encourage Christians in this particular area of their life. To paraphrase, “The Lord can’t bless an unequal yoke between a believer and the unsaved. There won’t be fellowship. This does not prohibit two believers in the Baptist church from edifying each other. His blessings are conditional. His love is not.

Another misleading question was, “If you come out of a religious unequal yoke, won’t you be coming out of fellowship with the believers who stay in that unequal yoke?” All believers are one in Christ positionally whether or not they are in or out of an unequal yoke. Coming out of an unequal yoke dissolves your superficial identification with the unsaved. It never severs your connection with other members in the body of Christ.

Christ made it a point to receive and work with people where they were. His interaction with his disciples, the publicans and other sinners was a constant source of frustration to many of the Pharisees.

Although he was not part of the hierarchy, He worked within a religious system that was far removed from His Fathers original design. He also took opportunities to expose the hypocrisy of that system.

Those who maintained allegiance to the system, rejected Him in varying degrees.

1 Corinthians 8 is saying, “Don’t engage in an activity that encourages another to sin. If you have knowledge about an idol’s temple, don’t go in and eat meat offered to the idol”.

So I’m not going to partake of the idolatry that is practiced in a Roman Catholic, Lutheran or Mormon service. I would also have to think twice about attending a “no title” meeting of Christians who destroy relationships among Christians because of faulty concepts about unity.

There are Christians who participate in “Maranatha Tabernacle” type meetings without being on or having a church membership roll. I want to encourage saints where I should. Short of participating in idolatrous activity, all Christians should take opportunities to function according to Hebrews 10:24-25, Ephesians 4:15-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:20-26.

The point is, don’t be a stumbling block but take appropriate opportunities to edify Christians. We should be honest with our motives and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us.

I believe many Christians have left the system because of spiritual growth. Others were forced to choose a far lesser evil by associating with Christians who met under some title yet provided far greater encouragement to them and their families. It’s better to “leave in the gnat and not swallow the camel”.

The gnat equals having fellowship with those who take a name. The camel equals having a system of conditional love based on a counterfeit unity. The “camel system” violates our basic calling as Christians.

Appendix A

Article on the mistranslation of Hebrews 13:17

Hebrews 13:17 should read “Be persuaded peitho[_] by those who have earned your respect [attended by a conviction of the Holy Spirit],” No church leader has “dominion over your faith”.

http://fromtpm.com/blog/2016/12/03/obey-them-that-have-rule-over-you/

From Vine’s Expository Dictionary: “Peitho: to persuade, to win over; to be persuaded, to listen to, as in Acts 5:40 [passive voice]. The obedience suggested is not by submission to authority. . .

From Thayer’s and Smith’s Greek Lexicon: “Peitho: To persuade; to induce one by words to believe; to make friends of. . .To be persuaded, to suffer one’s self to be persuaded. . .to have faith in a thing; to believe.”

The Greek word for “obey” is “hupakouo.” “Hupakouo”. . .is properly translated either as “obey,” “obedience,” or “obeyed.”

Matthew 8:27 “. . .What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”

Ephesians 6:1[_ “][_Children,] obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”

1st Peter 3:6[* ]“Even as Sara *obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. . .”

The winds and the sea obeyed Christ; children are admonished to obey their parents; and Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. . .[The Scriptures never tell us that. . .] any “church leader” has the right to rule over [believers in this manner.

Following are verses using “peitho.”]. . .

. . .many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who. . . persuaded [peitho] them to continue in the grace of God.” Acts 13:43

And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for the space of three months, disputing [dialegomai: reasoning] and persuading [peitho] the things concerning the kingdom of God.” Acts 19:8

Appendix B

Response To R. G.’s Study On Modesty

Following are quotes from his 1990 study.

R. G. “1 Peter 3:3 simply states, her adorning is not to be the ‘outward’. . .In other words her adorning is not to be the external, physical adorning but in contrast it is to be the inward spiritual adorning.

1 The inner will reflect outward, but the outward will never produce the inner spiritual. . .The key word is ‘not’ We can substitute ‘moderate’. . . 2 The only problem we have with doing this is finding something in the text which supports adding these thoughts or words” [p. 6, para. 2].

P.L. 1 I believe it is more accurate to say, “The inner will reflect outward while the outward in moderation will not distract from but rather harmonize with the inward.”

P.L. 2 There is adequate evidence in the context of 1 Timothy 2:9-10 and 1 Peter 3:2-6 to support the fact that modest does mean moderate. Locking in on part of the wording is misleading. “No outward” isn’t true when considering the context.

P.L. 1 Peter 3:3-6 [KJV] [*3 *]^Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; If this is saying to “wear no jewelry”, then it’s saying to not arrange their hair and not wear clothes. Rather it is telling them to “let it not be excesses in these areas, i.e. moderation”. They will be known for having a demeanor that is at rest. I believe this is why translations like the NKJV say, “[*3 *]^Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel.”

^[*4 *]^But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

^[*5 *]^For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: [It is interesting to note who Paul used as an example. I strongly suspect that Rebekkah wore jewelry at times other than the occasion when representations of Abraham’s wealth and station in life were given to her in Genesis 24:22.

[Footnote cont.] P.L. I also find it difficult to believe that Abraham’s wife wore no jewelry. It would be inconsistent for Paul to use these ladies as an example if he meant “no jewelry” in this passage.] ^[*6 *]^Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. . . [Footnote End]

R. G. “The ability to. . .have peace of mind will contribute to her physical health and radiance. Nothing she buys and puts on the outside can do this for her[p. 5, para. 6]

P. L. It can be established that the physical side of this equation done in moderation [modestly] is in harmony with the adornment of a meek and quiet spirit. A husband or father who limits his wife or daughter to “functional” jewelry is not dwelling with them with understanding in this area of their emotional needs [1 Peter 3:7]. Our ladies should look presentable, not gaudy or flashy.

All of mankind, saved and unsaved, has insecurities. Believers are tempted to “overdo it” in many areas. The remedy is to rest in our Savior’s love. This will bring us peace and empower us to not overindulge.

How apropos are the words of this song, “Christ is not a disappointment, every longing in my breast, finds in Him complete fulfillment, He has brought me into rest. . .” This won’t cause me to stop eating, drinking, sleeping, engaging in recreational activities or dressing appropriately. But it will empower me to not be a glutton or lazy. I will redeem the time and use my assets in service for Christ.

P.L. The following passage makes it clear that there are not to be excesses with the outward adorning, not “No outward adorning”. 1 Timothy 2:9 [KJ21] “. . .that women should adorn themselves in modest apparel. . .” [NASB]. . .I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly. . .”[“Situation appropriate”, keeping in mind your station in life and your testimony for Christ.]

Since “Modest” does have its origin in the word “Moderate”, neither the extremes of flashy, sensual or pretentious, nor extremes of drab or religious is modest [like garb worn by Amish today or Roman Catholic nuns of years ago]”.

R. G. “I know nothing in 1 Pet. 3, or 1 Ti. 2 that indicates approval for any specific degree of outward adornment” [p.7, para. 3].

R. G. “Also, I feel it is a mistake to take the position that anything made of gold, silver or any precious stone falls into the category of ‘adornment’. In our society there are several articles of this nature that we wear which are functional. Examples would be, engagement rings, wedding rings, watches and possibly others” .

“It is beyond my comprehension how one can even use the words moderate etc.” when referring [to] women or their husbands who feel the need to take the risk of infection and suffer the irritation that comes with putting holes in their ears, into which they can place jewels for the sole purpose of adornment” [p. 7 Para. 5].

P. L. This is like saying, “It is beyond my comprehension why someone would risk infection and suffer the irritation that comes from shaving with a razor. If God wanted you to be clean shaven, He would never have given you facial hair”.

R. G. “I also believe that at times we are not realistic or don’t stop to consider why certain pieces of jewelry are worn in the location where they are worn. . . The earring draws the eye to the ears and then down to the neck. The necklace draws attention to the area of the breasts[p. 7 Para. 6]. [P.L. Does it no longer call attention to this area if the necklace and/or locket were given to her by her husband or fiancée? What about large gaudy belt buckles on men?]

R. G. “. . .if we thoughtfully answer the question, ‘Why is the world so caught up in using and promoting this type of adornment?’, we will become knowledgeable Christians, and will not want to follow the worlds example” [p. 8, para. 2].

P. L. I hope all believers would agree with this statement as it applies to extremes. The world is also caught up in using and promoting food, restaurants, soft drinks, recreation, vacation spots, cars etc. Moderation is the key.

I do appreciate many of the cautions that R. G. and others gave on many subjects. I personally choose to apply them in my life. But we must never discard the instructions of Romans 14 & 15:1-7 in order to religiously micro manage others.

It is appropriate to share a concern and then rest in the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit. And a person may say they don’t “see it” when they really do. That’s something they get to answer for. On the other hand, we’re all in for some surprises at the Judgment Seat of Christ when it comes to the spiritual accuracy of some of our opinions.

Appendix C

Subjects Of Contention

Is a professing Christian free to remarry after being divorced from a professing Christian spouse?

At least one Christian married couple was publically “marked to be avoided” for years over this subject. This couple remained in our fellowship for 25 – 30 years after we realized we were the ones who were wrong on this subject. This couple had a beautiful testimony for Christ. Their marriage lasted until the husband died a couple of years ago.

Should Christians attend weddings or memorial services officiated by denominational preachers.

Should Christians carry insurance not required by law or a lending institution or not provided as a free benefit of employment?

For several decades any believer among us who purchased insurance in addition to these exceptions, was viewed as not trusting the Lord. Fortunately, this position has been discarded for several years. Interestingly enough, R. G. was one who helped change our faulty thinking on this subject. I was one who was on the wrong side of that issue. I appreciate his clarity is helping us discard that position.

The White Bridal Dress and shades of John 8:1-12

This is one of the most heart rending pieces of Phariseeism ever forced on our Christian ladies. Those who had been involved in illicit sexual activity before marriage were “counselled” to wear a non-white or off-white wedding dress. This was like saying, “We know that your sins were as scarlet, and God has made them as white as snow. However the men want you to be paraded before the public in a vestige of shame on the second most important and joyous day of your life. Where are your accusers? Some of those in leadership. What about a man who has also been guilty? He is exempted from this public humiliation”.

Appendix D

Unbiblical basis for marking

After being a part of this association for a certain length of time, if you leave you are considered divisive. [This has changed in the thinking of some.]

After being a part of this association for a certain length of time, if you start going to a denomination you are considered divisive.

After being a part of this association for a certain length of time, if you sit under the teaching of a denominational preacher you are considered divisive.

Scores of Christians were marked to be avoided because of these three infractions. Hundreds more were “domino marked” for refusing to go along with these abusive actions.

Documentary evidence is available on request.

It is true that there were Christians in these situations that were divisive. Unfortunately, it was those of us who were abusing Church discipline. Again, consider Gal. 5:20-21 [ERV] 20 *]. . .[*causing people to argue and divide into separate groups. . . .

In 1985 some young couples attended a series given by Tim LaHaye on husband – wife relationships. They were chided for doing this.

Meanwhile one of the ministers among us borrowed heavily from Tim LaHaye’s ministry to use in a message on this subject. This suggests the idea that someone in leadership can avail themselves of the ministry of those in a denomination while others are considered to be weak or divisive for doing so. This is another double standard brought about by the system.

Closing Thoughts

I offered an initial copy of this book to two Christian men from central California. Both said, “I probably won’t read it”. One said he felt the need to ^1^*”follow the counsel of older brethren that he has confidence in” – to the exclusion of any who challenge the spiritual accuracy of that counsel. This isn’t the attitude of a Berean.

This attitude was also condemned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:11-13 (NIV) [*11 *]^My brothers and sisters. . . there are quarrels among you.[*12 *]^. . .One of you says, “I follow Paul”; [to the exclusion of Apollos or Cephas] another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”[with the same sectarian attitude] still another, “I [only] follow Christ [which is not true either, because Christ put Paul, Apollos, Cephas and others in the body to minister.].”^[*13 *]^Is Christ divided?. . .

To state it plainly, we have no right to let anyone except Christ’s Spirit be the final authority in our lives. We should also not be exclusive about who we allow to love and encourage us. 1 Cor. 12:20-25 condemns that attitude. It causes schisms in the body of Christ.

Paul brings up this issue again in Chapter 3, “^[5 *]^Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? ^[*6 *]^I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. ^[*7 *]^So then *neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Another aspect of this would be, “You may have great appreciation for the planting that I did. Just don’t reject the watering that Apollos should do in your life. That would be the sectarian attitude that I am condemning. Do be careful to only follow each of us as we follow Christ.”

This sectarian attitude was also expressed to me by one who had been in leadership. He said, “Paul, I’ve encouraged different ones to not accept an invitation from you.” I understand the “trying to protect the flock” thinking behind this. Unfortunately this is an abuse of his authority in their lives.

Let’s think through this scenario. This person thinks I am dangerous to his concept of unity. He is right. I also think he is dangerous to the truth about unity. If the situation was reversed and someone asked me should they accept this man’s invitation, I would encourage them to do so. I would also suggest that they request that someone accompany them if they felt they might be verbally overpowered with what might be a misuse of the scriptures.

This is a win – win situation. The person invited to supper gets to hear both sides of the issue. At the end of the day, the Holy Spirit should be the final authority. If the person who is in error has an open heart to the truth, he will be helped.

I also offered an earlier printing of this book to the brother who told others not to accept invitations for fellowship from me. He declined to take it until I was willing to see where I was wrong on this subject. This is a little humorous. If I thought the book was scripturally inaccurate, I wouldn’t be offering it.

This brother also offered me a book he had written on the Lord’s love. I was glad to let him minister what he thought was truth to me. Much of it was good – some I question.

The following verses give an additional exposé on the, “I follow these men” thinking. Jeremiah 17 has physical aspects to it but there are spiritual applications to consider.

Jeremiah 17:5-9 ^[*5 *]^The Lord says, “I will condemn those who *turn away from me and put their trust in human beings, in the strength of mortals. ^[*6 *]^He is like a bush in the desert which grows in the dry wasteland. . . [spiritual growth is restricted]. Nothing good ever happens to him [In these areas of misplaced trust].

7 Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. . . [*8 *]. . .he. . .will not fear when heat comes [He is not afraid to have his beliefs challenged];

[*9 *]“Who can understand the human heart?  There is nothing else so deceitful. . .

Jeremiah 17:5-9 reveals two dangers from depending heavily on “the counsel of older brethren”. One: Both their and our hearts can be deceived.

Two: [It transfers our confidence from the Lord to men*].

John 3:19-23 (NKJV) ^19 ^And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. ^20 ^For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. [* ^21 ^*]But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

This passage is not intrinsic proof that what I’ve shared is “the light”. But it is part of the word of God that reveals the hearts of men [Hebrews 4:12-13, Jude 3].

As the apostle Paul said about his religious life before he came to know Christ. . .

Philippians 3:6-7 “6 *][*concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. ^[*7 *]^But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.”

Although Paul was referring to his past as a Christ rejecter, all believers are capable of being caught up in religious fervor over scriptural misunderstanding.

I would gladly trade all I’ve learned from “the leadership” for my understanding of 1 Cor. 1:10, 12:20-26 and Romans 15:5-7. I am grateful for all truth that I’ve received.

I appreciate what I’ve learned about water baptism, the Lords supper, the deity of Christ, the sin of taking a denominational name, and many aspects of separation from sensuality and humanism etc.

I also learned a very narrow view of husband-wife, parent-child and other relationships in the family of God.

This is why many leaders in this association were unqualified spiritually in this area. They scattered the flock by building a broken cistern of conditional love. It failed!

My prayer is that more of these saints will one day be willing to sit down and revisit the subject of true biblical unity. Many of us who have left this religious system would love the opportunity to benefit again from mutual edification.

I want to be longsuffering and gracious to any who are caught up in this “no name” system. And I have the same obligation towards a brother or sister who is in a denomination – Romans 15:5-7.

Your brother in the good fight of faith,

Paul Lane – March 2017

Is this your calling?

Romans 14:19 ^19 ^Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. . .

[*Eph. 4 *]^1^ I, therefore. . .beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 ^with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,  ^[*3 *]^endeavoring to keep the unity ^1 of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Romans 15:5-7 ^[*5 *]^Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, ^[*6 *]^that you may with one mind and  one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. ^7 ^Therefore receive one another as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 1:10 [* “]^Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all *speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” ^[*11 *]. . .there are contentions among you. [*12 *]. . .each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” ^[*13 *]^Is Christ divided?. . .

1 Corinthians 12:21-25 (NKJV) ^21 ^.” ^22 ^. . .those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.

^23 ^[And those *]members[ of the body which*] we think , on these we bestow greater honor; . . . ^24 ^[. . . But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that *]part[ which lacks it, ] [*^25 ^][+ +]thatthe members should have the same care for one another.

75

 


A "Unity" that divides Christians

I explore verses and passages that were misused to create a counterfeit "Unity" based on an conditional love. This misunderstanding of true biblical unity destroyed hundreds of relationships among Christians I knew. My prayer is that this book can be used to liberate any brother or sister in Christ who is in the bondage of a "Works for approval" system.

  • ISBN: 9781370209705
  • Author: Paul Lane
  • Published: 2017-04-24 06:50:26
  • Words: 17240
A A