The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
- 1 Timothy 4:1-5
“Ever since I launched into the research for this book, I have repeatedly asked myself, Why do some opponents of the pre-Trib view attack it so vehemently? The view doesn’t promote spiritual laziness or worldliness and we have repeatedly stressed its positive effect on those who hold it: it encourages holy living in an unholy age, inspires Christians to soul-winning in view of the soon coming of Christ, and causes the church to become missionary-minded.
“John Darby himself admonished, ‘If we study the history of the Church, we shall find it to have declined in spirituality exactly in proportion as this doctrine of the expectation of the Saviour’s return had been lost sight of. In forgetting this truth it has become weak and worldly.’
“So again I return to the question, ‘Why do they do it?’ Some of the attacks have been downright vicious. Others have involved lies and distortions … all without substantiation. … the very existence of such charges, leveled by professing Christians, makes one question the motives of the assailant.”
- Tim LaHaye, Rapture [under attack]
As Pogo said a long time ago, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
That was my opening remark last week and it still fits. Our lack of being a Christian voting block largely has to do with complete disagreement among Christians on just about any topic, sadly, even the core belief topics. But why are we fighting?
Forget LaHaye’s favorite topic, the second coming of Jesus. When you hear “Presbyterian,” you think of one thing that becomes two things – the Frozen Chosen. “Frozen” in that most Presbyterian churches are old school and they are set in their ways. “Chosen” in that they believe that Christians, of all Christian faiths, are chosen by God, predestined to become believers. The detractors have a problem reconciling predestination with free will. I have heard many of these arguments and the Presbyterian in the debate usually makes little sense trying to resolve the two. I am reading John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion at the present time, all 1273 pages of small print in my copy. I am in the section regarding predestination, and once you get used to his lawyer means of explaining things, it makes sense and ties into the Bible – very hard to argue against, but many try. I am thinking of writing a post about lawyer/preachers with Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Matthew Henry in mind. Their law education comes out in their writings – a lot of words, but very precise.
I feel that the Methodists and their “falling from Grace” is a misinterpretation of a few verses in the Bible. Oddly, the best argument for the Methodist point of view came from a fellow Presbyterian, well-versed in Scripture and willing to waffle on the very few verses that hint at it. Yet, other Scripture says that God will never leave us or forsake us, and the argument against falling from Grace always comes down to having a “religious” experience without accepting Jesus into your heart, playing the Christian game until becoming bored and drifting away, never really having a relationship with Jesus in the first place – only the “look” of the Christian.
I could write pages about the issues that people have had with the Catholic church over the centuries, but I will hold on that one. No, just one, the Pope is a man and subject to the same sin nature as anyone else, and following what the Pope says blindly is no different than following someone like the ones the Apostle Paul warns us about in the Scripture above.
So, we interpret Scripture differently. If we have a life-giving belief, trust, and relationship with Jesus, our theology makes no difference in salvation. But apart from salvation, why do we fight over such things as pre-Trib, mid-Trib, or post-Trib? Why do we fight over sprinkling with water soon after birth versus dunking into water once they come of age? Note: That is Presbyterian versus Baptist fighting about the sacrament of baptism, if you did not catch it. Why do we fight over whether the bread and wine literally become Jesus’ body and blood versus the bread and wine being symbols of the same? These “fights”, posed as questions, could take a week’s worth of posts.
The Apostle Paul is talking about future times in the Scripture above, but I believe that the encouragement to not marry and encouragement to not eat certain foods were issues of his day. Yet, if we look at those signs as being signs of end times, we have both issues today. We have couples who are not married living together and enjoying a vegan lifestyle. And they seem to have religious fervor about both lifestyles. Some of these couples, with a few children in tow, are regular church goers. Most in the church are unaware of either of their chosen lifestyles. (This in no way suggests that “vegan” is necessarily wrong. Our bodies were not designed for such a lifestyle, but with some sort of IBS issue of my own, I can understand how some people may need to change their diets. Yet, religiously chasing after the latest fad diet is not a healthy way to go, especially if the diet takes on more of an importance than just nourishment.)
I have had my wife give me the “cut-cut” symbol by slashing her throat with her finger so that I will change the subject in Sunday school class. She knows the views and voting patterns of those in the class better than I do. Her throat slashing caused an argument between the two of us on the morning before I wrote this. She does not wish to offend anyone. I am much less sensitive about offense when it comes down to following the path God has set for us, and sin should not be part of that path.
Oddly, in a different setting, I discuss conservative views with one group of people, but I think that a third of them vote for the party that is extreme liberal today. They have been voting blindly for that party for 60 years, so why change? They are not offended by my conservative view, because they share it. Yet, our votes cancel one another’s. I say odd in that if we talked political parties, we would have a fight, but in discussing viewpoints, there is a majority of agreement on all issues.
A couple of months ago, I was attacked by an internet troll. I had it coming. I tackled a controversial issue, and in prayer, I anticipated a backlash – only coming months later, thus the troll worked hard to find it. Based on Biblical teaching, it should not have been controversial at all, but like the other things that I have mentioned above, there was someone who took offense.
They attacked me for “forcing people to become Christians.” God does not “force” anyone to follow Him. That is where free will comes in. I wish that I could create my list of friends and tell God, make those on this list born-again Christians, whether they like it or not. Why? Because I love them, and I do not wish for them to go to Hell. Yet, this troll (meaning trolling as in fishing, but trolling for a fight, instead of catching fish – not the troll that sits under the bridge). Anyway, this troll argued about something that made little sense Biblically, regarding a variety of ways to get to Heaven. I mentioned John 14:6, “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I was trying to keep the discussion on Biblical truth and not emotions and misinterpretations. The troll’s reply was an indignant agreement on the first half of the verse, Jesus is the way, truth, and life, but then the troll followed with Jesus does not judge people based on their beliefs. He would never do that, regardless of their belief. And here I was forcing people to believe in Jesus, how dare I do that! I replied that you must be ill-informed, because I have never said that. (It seems to be a recent theme of accusations for things I never did.) The troll replied that diplomas could be produced, but the subject died. The troll also referred to “My Jesus.” I would have loved to reply that diplomas are for head knowledge, but salvation comes from the heart. I refrained.
I hope I never refer to “my Jesus.” The Jesus that I believe in is God, too big, too powerful, too all-knowing to be “my Jesus”. The Old Testament points to Jesus. The New Testament affirms Jesus as the Old Testament Messiah, the One true sacrifice, sufficient for all, but according to what Jesus said in John 14:6, we must believe in Him. I am not forcing you. Jesus is not forcing you, but the penalty of not believing Jesus as the only way is death. “My Jesus?” I may not fully understand the attributes of God, but we cannot own God, unless it is the lower case “god,” the false god, the god of our own making. I was about to cut off the “discussion” when they cut it off. When you state that you believe in Jesus, but only half of one statement that Jesus made, it becomes a foolish argument. And it is very foolish when you talk of “Love” without saying anything other than venom and hateful remarks.
But why fight?
Satan is looking at us from the sidelines and laughing. Satan is alive and well in our churches. All he must do is stir the pot a little, and we stupid humans start chasing our tails in arguments. In the meantime, there are lost souls walking past the church, watching us argue. Let us lay aside our arguments and do as LaHaye suggests. Let us live our lives as if today were our last day on earth. Let us share God’s love with others and tell them about our wonderful Savior. It might be the last chance that we ever have to do so. Because, Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Father, but by Him.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.