Striving, Not Striving #3

Friday, February 8, 2019

Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord (Philippians 4:1,2 KJV).

Rather than striving with each other, we saints need to strive together.

Of all the tens of thousands of “Christian” assemblies, many are simply specimens of denominationalists as opposed to members of the Church the Body of Christ. They have neither known the clear Grace Gospel nor believed it. Most of all, saved or lost, the vast majority are spiritually immature. To them, drapery colors, upholstery fabrics, flooring, and wallpaper are worth fighting over. They, ignorant of sound Bible doctrine, cannot contend for the more excellent. Envy and gossip, not Bible study and charity, pervade their services. They engage in philanthropy but not spirituality.

In today’s Scripture, two Christian women are striving with each other concerning some unspecified disagreement. Whatever the case, it was a petty issue causing major disruption. There is a running joke, with some basis, that these believers in Christ are “Odious” (as obnoxious or unbearable) and “Soon-touchy” (as grumpy or quarrelsome). Notice Paul—yea, the Holy Spirit—never bothered to say whether Euodias was right or Syntyche was right. Why? Ultimately, they were both wrong! They were reminiscent of the childish, schismatic saints at Corinth from years earlier: “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

The undisclosed issue between Euodias and Syntyche was not one of doctrine—for we should always contend for the faith, defend the doctrine—but something insignificant. It was not worth fighting over. Time and energy would continue to be wasted in pursuing this trivial matter that was hindering God’s ministry at Philippi. Rather than striving together for the Gospel, they were full of strife and thus contrary to the Gospel. Essentially, they were doing the Devil’s work for him! Satan does not have to labor, for even Christians, unfortunately, can (and often do) undermine God’s work….

The Greater Condemnation #3

Thursday, June 14, 2018

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:1,2 KJV).

While many want to lead in local assemblies, today’s Scripture issues a stern warning. They had better reconsider!

“Masters” here is didaskalos, or teachers (“didactic”—instructive). God’s Word repeatedly cautions against corrupt teachers, those who should not be leading congregations. We should be on guard concerning their “ministries.” First Timothy chapter 6 says of those who refuse to embrace Pauline doctrine: “[3] If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; [4] He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, [5] Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”

The Holy Spirit forewarned in 2 Peter chapter 2: “[1] But there were false prophets also among the people [see 1:19-21], even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. [2] And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. [3] And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

Chapter 3 also speaks of non-dispensational teachers, those “wresting” (distorting) God’s Word: “[15] And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; [16] As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” Brethren, such spiritual catastrophes are the risks we run when we hastily appoint teachers or rashly become “masters” ourselves….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Was Luke 21:20-24 fulfilled in A.D. 70?

The Greater Condemnation #2

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:1,2 KJV).

While many want to lead in local assemblies, today’s Scripture issues a stern warning. They had better reconsider!

A dear sister in Christ recently explained to me how her pastor has gotten into the habit of delivering “conspiracy theory” sermons. She and her family have to deliberately skip fellowshipping there at times in order to avoid hearing that nonsense. When the brother could be talking about valuable material, he wastes time on speculations and schemes. They are prudent in shunning such services!

“For your obedience is come abroad unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil” (Romans 16:19). The Holy Spirit through Paul said He preferred us to be “wise” (knowledgeable) concerning good, and “simple” (inexperienced) regarding evil. Rather than focusing on erroneous thoughts and committing wicked deeds, we should be entertaining beneficial information and conducting our lives accordingly.

Every Christian—especially the minister—needs to reflect on Ephesians 4:29: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” Dear friends, if our message does not underscore God’s grace, Pauline doctrine, it is destructive to our listeners and readers. We had better not utter one peep or pen one letter—the best action to take is to be silent!

In the context of today’s Scripture, James is writing about the dangers of the human tongue. Read that third chapter in your own time. The Holy Spirit has quite some ghastly insight into how man’s uncontrollable tongue gets him into such major trouble! All gossipers and tabloid writers, and many reporters and news anchors, are experts here. Well, frankly, a lot of preachers and teachers are professionals in this regard as well. Rather than talking about sound Bible doctrine, they (sidetracked) can rattle on and on about everything else (and thus distract their audience). They need to take heed as James instructs….

Familiar Battle

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; ) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 KJV).

This most intense battle usually involves kinfolk!

A Christian, at home, once received a visit from an unsaved sister. The sister, somewhat intoxicated, told the Christian some very troubling family news. Understandably, the Christian was deeply affected—angered and hurt because a family member had allegedly said some nasty things about her. The Christian later learned from that “slanderous” relative that the inebriated sister had blown the issue “out of proportion.” Alcohol had caused the sister to exaggerate, and actually fabricate, certain details. This erroneous news and thinking, however, had already generated resentment in the Christian’s heart, and further strained her relationships with the “slanderer” and the drunkard. (What a mess!)

Friends, sadly, Satan uses our unsaved family members to cause trouble in our lives. To some extent, we can all testify to this most unfortunate fact. Although we go to great lengths, making every attempt possible to get along with them, peace is not guaranteed. The best action to take is to limit our contact with those known to be contentious. Oftentimes, we cannot permanently cut off communication with our family. Still, we would be prudent not to expose ourselves to foolishness. It is wise for us to decline to associate with drunken relatives until they are sober. We may be Christians, but we are not doormats! Under no circumstances are we obligated to let drunkards into our homes and let them generate strife.

Our unsaved loved ones have flesh (sin nature) that works to Satan’s advantage. We Christians also have flesh that works to Satan’s advantage. However, when we conform our thoughts “to the obedience of Christ”—His finished crosswork—we will behave in a manner becoming to Calvary. We will deal with our loved ones in kindness and grace, but we will certainly not entertain hearsay and nonsense!

When Peace Means Distance

Sunday, February 15, 2015

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18 KJV).

What wonderful advice to save ourselves headache and heartache!

Recently, some Christians who were dealing with an unbearable Christian family member, asked me for advice. Today’s Scripture summarizes what they should do. They are to live “peaceably” with the gossiper and liar—sadly, in their case, peace is only possible long-distance! Beloved, we are not doormats. The Holy Spirit’s guidance in dealing with Christians who are fornicators, covetous, idolaters, railers (uttering constant bitter complaints against people or things), drunkards, and extortioners, is “with such an one no not to eat” (1 Corinthians 5:11). Have no social relations with that Christian until he or she improves. But, what if they never reform? Then never have social relations with them.

Through the years of ministry, I have met some very obnoxious people, lost souls and Christians (!). Even today, honestly, it is best to avoid them as much as possible. They are troublemakers who delight in disgracing and destroying sound Bible ministries. They had no desire to hear what the Bible says, and no desire to uphold what the Bible says. While I love them as the Lord Jesus Christ would, and I forgive them in Christ if they have done me wrong, that does not mean that I have to seek them out and be around them and hear or read their nonsense. If they are hungry, or thirsty, and they come to me for help, that is something else entirely (Romans 12:20), but I have no reason whatsoever to go after them and attempt to reform them. They were already given verses that they rejected, and I will not force myself on anyone.

Beloved, the mature Christian should most definitely attempt to correct or reform a wayward brother or sister in Christ in meekness and love (Galatians 6:1), but eventually we must “reject” the “heretick.” After the first and second admonition (warning), we need to leave the person alone and move on to something more worthwhile (Titus 3:10,11). Sometimes peace means distance—it is a shame but long distance may also be necessary!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Who will have children in the Millennium?

Brethren, Pray for Us

Friday, November 2, 2012

“Brethren, pray for us” (1 Thessalonians 5:25 KJV).

Today’s Scripture exhorts us to pray for our Christian brethren, and we beseech you to especially pray for this ministry.

Saints, I hope you do not mind, but I must share with you what has been on my heart for these past few weeks (and several months). It is very difficult to express in words, but I have endured (and am still enduring) one of the most heart-wrenching issues life affords. The issue, whose details God knows, has hindered this ministry for nearly 18 months now. From the very beginning, I tried my absolute best to handle it Scripturally, hoping to avoid the disastrous outcome that nevertheless came to fruition.

In short, dear readers, I want to take this opportunity to counsel with you, in hopes that you will spare your Christian brethren the emotional, spiritual, and mental turmoil that troubles me still. I beseech you to take the utmost care in the words you say and the deeds you do, especially to your grace brethren in Christ. The lost world is certainly unkind to us Christians. Why must we too “consume one another?” When we do it to the Christian brethren, we do it to Christ!!!!

We Christians always have forgiveness at Christ’s cross, but the damage we do to our Christian brethren does not magically disappear. We can never take back those harsh words. Thus, let us exercise great care in what words we speak, especially to our grace brethren in Christ. Let us prayerfully meditate on the rightly divided King James Bible before we make rash decisions we will later regret. We do and will make mistakes, but if we persist in those mistakes, we really have not grasped what grace living is all about.

Grace living is not sinless living, but letting God’s grace transform you, and allowing it to correct you when you do make mistakes. Selfishness, bitterness, and bickering are inconsistent with God’s grace to us in Christ; consequently, they do not belong in our lives. “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Living As Peaceably As Possible

Monday, August 27, 2012

“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18 KJV).

Having recently listened to family members and friends discuss their struggles, my advice to them was simple—apply today’s Scripture.

Saints, today’s Scripture is clear. We should make every attempt possible to get along with others, especially with our Christian brethren (as always, please remember that we never, EVER compromise sound Bible doctrine for the sake of unity). But, there does come a point where we cannot resolve conflict, and we must leave the situation alone. Notice today’s Scripture: “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” It is not always possible to live peaceably, even with fellow Christians (which is so sad).

In fact, there are such deep divisions among some Christians—including myself—that they cannot be resolved until heaven. I have met people who cause their own problems, thereby making other people’s lives—and mine—miserable. We all make mistakes, but what makes it sadder is that even after they are warned repeatedly, they continue in their error, with little to no remorse.

When dealing with these kinds of people who absolutely refuse to apply sound Bible doctrine in handling a disagreement, we must step back and say, “There is nothing more that I can do. It is time to leave these individuals alone.” Again we apply today’s Scripture and move on; otherwise we risk making the situation worse with hatred, bitterness, physical altercations, gossiping, cursing, et cetera.

Regrettably, sin causes squabbling, which results in division. Our “friends” will turn other friends against us, and divorce destroys our marriages and families. It is most pitiful when these divisions occur within the local church, disrupting the unity of God’s people and furthering the plan of the adversary (Satan). While we do “forgive [others] as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven [us]” (Ephesians 4:32), we are not to be doormats. In this sinful world, we cannot live harmoniously with everyone.

“If it be possible,” saints, “IF it be possible,” “live peaceably with all men….”