Christ is Sufficient

I recently heard a story that I thought I would share.

A visiting preacher was talking to the regular preacher of a congregation where a meeting was being held.  During the course of the conversation, the visiting preacher asked the regular preacher about a lady who was in the crowd.  He had noticed her as he stood preaching, and wondered about her.  She was wearing a ring, but her husband was not with her.  She looked very tired, but her eyes were clear and bright.

When he asked about her, the regular preacher said, “That is Marsha.  We have plans to go visit at her house tomorrow.  I will tell you her story as we drive over.”

The next day, as they were travelling, the regular preacher told the story.  Marsha was the oldest of 6 children whose mother had died unexpectedly when they were still young.  Marsha’s father had never remarried and Marsha, as the oldest, became the “mother” for her siblings.  One by one, she watched them grow, get married, and leave home.  After the last was away, it was her turn to get married.  She married a good man and had a child.  The child was born with a host of medical and mental problems.  He couldn’t speak or function normally.  The doctors begged Marsha to put him in an institution, but she refused.  For 20 years she cared for her child until he died.

The regular preacher continued to explain that soon after the child had passed away that Marsha’s father came to live with them.  He was elderly and suffered from dementia and blindness.  He needed constant supervision and help.  Furthermore, Marsha’s husband had suffered a stroke two years previously and was also infirm.  Marsha cared for both of them full time.

On top of that, she had prepared lunch for these two preachers.  The visiting preacher was overwhelmed.

After lunch, as they were leaving Marsha’s house, the visiting preacher put his arm around her and asked, “How do you do it?”

Marsha looked at him with those bright, clear eyes that he had noticed while preaching and said only, “Christ is sufficient.”

In this story is a lesson that we all need to learn.  She preached a more powerful sermon by her life and three simple words than most preachers preach in a lifetime.  She showed by her actions what a Christ-like life of service really means.  She truly took the example of Paul to heart:

So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ESV)

Christ is sufficient!  Let us never forget what He did for us.

Feasting with Christ

In Matthew 26:26 – 29 we see the account of Jesus instituting what we refer to as the Lord’s Supper or communion.  We see that it was done while Christ and apostles were observing the Passover feast.

Throughout the Old Testament we see that the children of God had many feasts that they observed.  These were held to celebrate certain festivals, like Passover, and also to sacrifice peace offerings.  We see these things detailed in Exodus 12 and also in Leviticus chapters 3 and 7.

During these feasts, the Israelites had certain rules about the sacrifices that they were to follow.  For instance, the animals were to be spotless, and were to be prepared in a particular way.  If they did what they were supposed to then they would experience the blessings of God.

However, many times they failed to do what they were supposed to.  Those feasts and sacrifices were not to be profaned by offering less than perfect animals.  In Malachi, we see that Malachi was sent to the people of God to call them to repent for profaning the worship.

Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the LORD of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts. But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the LORD of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the LORD. Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the LORD of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.  (Malachi 1:10-14 ESV)

Are we guilty of the same thing when we come before the Lord to participate in the supper that He instituted?

Do we say, “What a weariness this is,” like the Israelites did?

Do we snort at it like they did?

Do we bring an unworthy attitude like they brought unworthy animals?

In other words, do we bring our best to this memorial or do we profane the worship by coming before the table with a “just-checking-another-thing-off-my-worship-list” mentality?

Just as Malachi warned the Israelites, Paul warns Christians in 1 Corinthians not to eat or drink this supper in an unworthy manner because if you do you eat and drink judgement on yourself.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.  (1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ESV)

The Lord’s Supper is a time of reflection.  A time of remembrance.  A time of solemn thanks to God for Jesus and for what He did.  The Israelites were supposed to bring their very best before God.  The same God that demanded their best still wants our very best as we approach that memorial.  If we don’t then He may also ask us, as He did the Israelites, “Shall I accept that from your hand?”

Duration of Miracles

God provided miraculous gifts to men for two main reasons.  Let’s look at each one.

  1. Miraculous gifts were provided to men as a way to confirm that new revelations were from God.
    • So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.  (Acts 14:3 ESV)
    • The signs of a true apostle were performed among you with utmost patience, with signs and wonders and mighty works.  (2 Corinthians 12:12 ESV)
    • how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.
      (Hebrews 2:3-4 ESV)
  2. Miraculous gifts were provided to men to make God’s will known to mankind.  This was to reveal what we call the New Testament.
    • When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.  (Matthew 10:19-20 ESV)
    • When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.  (John 16:13 ESV)
    • how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.  (Ephesians 3:3-5 ESV)
    • For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.  (2 Peter 1:21 ESV)

The fact that God sent miraculous gifts to men is not disputed.  Up for debate is whether the gifts were to continue after they had served the purpose God sent them for or did God cause them to cease.  Many people believe that miracles and direct revelation still happen today.  Let’s look at scripture and see if we can form a determination based on scripture.

First, we must recognize that God wants us to use logical reasoning when reading the Bible.  Isaiah 1:18 says “Come now, and let us reason together”.  Acts 17:17 says that Paul reasoned with the Jews and Gentiles.  As we reason together, we must recognize that if we discover a logical contradiction then one of our premises must be wrong.  Now onto the evidence.

Let’s first consider whether the “modern miracles” have the same traits as the miracles that are found in the Bible.  To start let’s consider modern revelations then we will move into modern miracles.

Modern revelations have the same traits as false prophecy, not true prophecy.  The Bible warns about false prophets:

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”  (Matthew 7:15 ESV)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.  (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 ESV)

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.  (2 Peter 2:1 ESV)

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.  (1 John 4:1 ESV)

Therefore, we know that there could be false prophecy.

The teaching of truly inspired men always agreed with the scriptures.  In addition to that, their prophecy of future events always came true.  On the other hand, the teaching of false prophets often disagreed with scripture and predictions did not always come true:

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?’—when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.  (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 ESV)

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  (Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)

Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.  (2 John 1:9-11 ESV)

By simply examining the revelations of modern prophets we find that invariably they disagree with scripture or, in the case of predictions, they never come true.  Here are a few examples:

  • Numerous predictions of Jesus’ return / the end of the world
  • Predictions of Mormonism
    • Jesus to return within 56 years of 1835
    • Temple would be built within a generation of 1832
    • Several Mormon “apostles” were to live to see Jesus return
    • The Civil War would be the “full end of all nations”
    • The “Book of Abraham” would be translated from a book of heathen Egyptian burial rites.
  • Prophecies of Jean Dixon
    • World War III in 1958
    • Russia to put first man on the moon
    • Lyndon Johnson would run for president in 1968
    • President Ford to resign and Rockefeller to replace him
    • Reagan would be 1976 GOP candidate
  • Faith healer Robert Tilton was sued by Beverly Crowley, because Tilton kept sending requests for donations to Mrs. Crowley’s husband and promising to heal him. One such letter said, “God spoke to me this morning specifically about you, Tom, and He’s going to heal you.” When the letter was written, Mrs. Crowley’s husband had been dead for five months! – via Greg Gwin, West Knoxville bulletin.
  • People who claim to be led by the spirit contradict each other – For example, Mormons, Catholics, Pentecostals, etc.  How can all be led by the Spirit when they contradict each other?  Which one is right?

None of these have the characteristics of true revelation.

Modern miracles, like modern revelations, also have the traits of false miracles, not true miracles.  The Bible also warns about false miracles:

But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.  (Acts 8:9-13 ESV)

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.  (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 ESV)

For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.  (Matthew 24:24 ESV)

Every true miracle always had the following traits:

  • There was conclusive evidence that the miracle actually occurred
  • The event happened instantly (or in exactly the time period God specified)
  • There were never any failures when miracles were attempted (by Jesus or His apostles after they received Holy Spirit baptism)
  • The results always completely and perfectly accomplished the intended purpose
  • The event was impossible by natural law

Men who could truly perform miracles could be distinguished from false miracle workers by examining the work performed.  True miracle workers were willing to work miracles in the presence of false teachers.  Furthermore, their miracles always had the characteristics of true miracles.  False miracle workers were known because their miracles lacked the traits of true miracles.

Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ. And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. For unclean spirits, crying out with a loud voice, came out of many who had them, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So there was much joy in that city.  But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.  (Acts 8:5-13 ESV)

When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.  (Acts 13:6-12 ESV)

So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.  Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down. Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.  And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.  (1 Kings 18:20-40 ESV)

And they did so. Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt. The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.  (Exodus 8:17-19 ESV)

Upon examination all modern miracles and modern miracle workers are found to lack some or all traits of true miracles.  In practice modern miracle workers will usually refuse to perform “miracles” in the presence of those who don’t believe they can do them or those they claim are “false teachers.”  Instead, they rely on “testimonies” of those they have “healed.”  This simply proves they are false because men with the power of true miracles did not refuse to perform them.  We constantly hear about people who claim they can do or have received miracles today.  If miraculous gifts exist today, there should be many examples that have the traits of true Bible miracles.  But all we ever see are frauds.  Therefore, we must conclude that the gifts have ceased, and all who claim to possess the gifts are false.

Moving away from what we can determine by the traits of real miracles as opposed to false miracles, let’s now consider the argument that spiritual gifts are no longer needed because their purpose has been fulfilled.

We considered the purpose for gifts earlier.  Let’s discuss each in turn.

First, we know that some gifts were given for the purpose of delivering God’s will to man.  This work was completed while the apostles were still alive.  The apostles received all truth that God gave in order for man to be saved and to know how to please God.  They then recorded that message in the Scriptures.  God then promised to preserve that message throughout all time.  We now have the completely revealed word of God in the Scriptures:

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

We need no further revelation today.  The purpose of direct revelation has been fulfilled.

Secondly, we know that some gifts were given for the purpose of confirming the revelations that God gave.  The gifts may have served other purposes as well, but the primary purpose was to confirm that the miracle worker spoke by the authority of God.  This primary purpose also determined whether the miracle even occurred or not.  When miracles were not needed to accomplish this purpose, they did not happen.

Consider:

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.  (John 20:29-31 ESV)

This tells us that the miracles were written down so that we would believe that Jesus is the son of God.  The Bible records eyewitness testimony of the miracles that confirm the message to be from God.  We do not need those miracles today.  We have adequate evidence in the written word.  Since the apostles completed writing the word for us to use, we no longer need miracles to prove that the word is true.

Throughout the Bible, whenever a work of God completed its purpose, it ceased:

  • Creation of the world – Genesis chaps 1,2 (note 2:1,2 ).
  • Universal flood – Genesis chaps. 6-9 (note 9:8-17).
  • Sacrifice of a son – Genesis chap. 22.
  • Animal sacrifices – Hebrews 10:1-18
  • Circumcision – 1 Corinthians 7:18-20; Galatians 5:2-8; etc.
  • Virgin birth – Matthew 1:18,20; Luke 1:35
  • Earthly life and death of Jesus – Hebrews 9:26,28; 10:10; 7:26,27; etc.
  • Resurrection of Jesus – Romans 1:4

God performed these works once and then ceased them once their purpose had been accomplished.  Can you think of any work that God continued to perform once it had completed its purpose and was no longer needed?  The clear pattern is that God ceases to do works, including miraculous works, when their purpose has been accomplished. All miracles have now accomplished their purpose, so the pattern of God’s past works should convince us that He stopped them all.

Next, let’s consider that there is no means by which people can receive these gifts today.  In the scripture, people received spiritual gifts by two methods; Holy Spirit baptism and laying on of apostles’ hands.  Let’s begin with Holy Spirit baptism.

Holy Spirit baptism was never required or promised to all people.  The purpose of Holy Spirit baptism was to give people miraculous gifts.  But, as mentioned before, these gifts have served their purpose it follows that Holy Spirit baptism to grant those gifts is also not needed today.  Furthermore, Ephesians 4:3-6 says there is one baptism.  We know that water baptism is still practiced today even by those who believe in ongoing Holy Spirit baptism.  So, while there were multiple baptisms in the past, by the time Ephesians was written, all had ceased except for one.  Since water baptism has continued for all ages, we know that Holy Spirit baptism must have ceased before Ephesians was written.  We also see in scripture that Holy Spirit baptism happened only twice.  Once for the Jews and once for the Gentiles.  God gave it to each group to prove miraculously that His word and salvation were open to all people.

People could also receive miraculous gifts by having the apostles lay hands on them.  By reading through scripture, we see that only apostles could impart gifts this way.  Even if someone received gifts from the apostles they could not pass them on.  Whether by Holy Spirit baptism or by laying on of apostles’ hands, there is no evidence that anyone ever received miraculous gifts after the resurrection of Jesus except by the direct involvement of an apostle.  We no longer have apostles today because no one meets the requirements to be an apostle:

  • No one works the true signs of apostles.
  • No one is directly guided by the Spirit as apostles were.
  • No one is a personal eyewitness of the resurrected Christ.
  • No one has been called directly by Jesus to serve as an apostle.

How do we know that an apostle was required to impart the gifts?  Acts 8 gives us the evidence of that.  Notice in Acts 6 that Philip was one of the 7 men chosen to serve tables.  In Acts 6:6, we see that the apostles prayed for those 7 men and then laid hands on them and imparted gifts.  We know that Philip could perform miracles because Acts 8:6 says that Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ to them performing miracles “which he did.”  Acts 8:12 tells us that they believed Philip “concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ” and “they were baptized, both men and women.”  But notice what Acts 8:14 – 17 says:

“Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.”  (Acts 8:14 – 17 ESV)

If Philip who could perform miracles through the Holy Spirit had the ability to pass that gift on then why didn’t he do it?  He was already in Samaria and had preached to them and performed miracles.  They believed and were baptized, so they were saved believers.  But, scripture clearly says even though they were saved believers that the spirit had fallen on none of them.  Not until apostles came and laid hands on them were those gifts imparted.  This clearly demonstrates that apostolic participation was required for gifts to be imparted.

Since an apostle was needed to impart the gifts and there are no apostles today, there is no way for people to receive gifts today.

The Bible teaches that miracles would cease when their purpose was fulfilled.  This is shown in 1 Corinthians 12, 13 and 14.

Chapter 12 lists the gifts and their purposes at the time the gift existed.  But then verse 31 contrasts those gifts to a “more excellent way.”

Chapter 13 then shows that the “more excellent way” is love.  Love is greater than the spiritual gifts because it would endure forever whereas the gifts would pass way.

Chapter 14 gives rules regarding the proper use of the gifts for the temporary period of time when they continued to exist.

Chapter 13:8-10 tells us when and why gifts would cease:

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  (1 Corinthians 13:8-10 ESV)

Verse 9 and 10 tells us that the gifts were in part.  They were imperfect.  Verse 10 then contrasts “that which is perfect” against “that which is in part.”  It says when that which is perfect has come then that which in part will be done away with.  “That which is perfect” completes and perfects what is in part or incomplete about spiritual gifts.

The next question is to determine in what way spiritual gifts were “in part.”  At the time Paul wrote this, the gifts had only partly accomplished their purpose…after all, Paul hadn’t completed writing it all down yet.  Seeing that the scripture contrasts “that which is perfect (complete)” against “that which is in part”, we must conclude “that which is perfect” must refer to the complete revelation of all truth. After the revelation had been delivered in full, miraculous gifts would have served their purpose and would no longer be needed.

Some people think that “that which is perfect” refers to Jesus’ second coming.  However, the 3 spiritual gifts listed (prophecy, tongues, and knowledge – v8) are also contrasted to 3 abiding qualities: faith, hope, and love (v13).  The spiritual gifts are temporary – they cease “when that which is perfect” is come (v10). But faith, hope, and love are abiding compared to the gifts. Hence, they do not cease “when that which is perfect is come.”

But this cannot refer to Jesus’ second coming, for when Jesus returns faith and hope will cease:

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees?  (Romans 8:24 ESV)

for we walk by faith, not by sight.  (2 Corinthians 5:7 ESV)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  (Hebrews 11:1 ESV)

To say spiritual gifts will last till Jesus returns would be to say that the gifts are as enduring as faith and hope; but this is just the opposite of what the passage says.

James 1:25 describes the word as the “perfect law of liberty.”  Jude 3 says that the gospel was delivered “once.“  Hebrews 9:26,28; 10:10; 7:26,27; 1 Peter 3:18 use the same greek word, “once” to describe Jesus’ death in contrast to animal sacrifices.  Old Testament sacrifices did not completely remove sins, so they continued to be offered. But Jesus’ death was perfect and sufficient to completely remove all sin for all men of all ages, so it happened only “once”. It did not need to be repeated, so it never will be repeated. To say we need more sacrifice would be to deny the perfection of Jesus’ sacrifice.

Spiritual gifts remained as long as God’s perfect word had not been perfectly revealed.  But the perfect word was perfectly delivered to men in the first century. It does not need to be revealed again, so it won’t be again. It follows that the spiritual gifts by which it was delivered have ceased. To say we still need spiritual gifts would be to deny the perfection of the Scripture.

All that Jesus did was perfect. He gave us a perfect sacrifice for sin and He gave us the perfect word to tell us how to have our sins forgiven (Hebrews 1:1,2; James 1:25). The word needs no improvement just as the death of Jesus needs no improvement.  Therefore, neither will be repeated.

Anyone who seeks miraculous gifts today is saying (even without realizing it) that the complete and perfect revelation of God’s will in the form of the Bible is not enough to satisfy their faith.  When one is satisfied with the scriptures they require no other revelation.

Your Life Director

By day, I’m a technologist.  That’s a fancy word for “computer programmer.”  I have enjoyed working on computers since I first sat down at one when I was about 8 in Mrs. Willoughby’s math class.

Not only do I spend a lot of time programming, I also spend a lot of time reading other programmer’s articles about programming.  After all, I want to get better at what I do.  So, I seek out people that I consider to be “experts” and read what they are doing so I can learn from them.

At this point, you probably think I’m going to draw a comparison between my seeking out knowledgeable technologists and learning from them and studying our Bibles more.  While that is a pretty good example and a great topic, I have another in mind, so just stick we me.

One of the technologists I read has recently expanded his scope of interest from just computer related posts to what he calls “lifehacking.”  This has to do with relationship advice, making yourself more productive, etc.  I usually don’t read those posts, but the title of one caught my eye and I had to read it.

You can find it here: http://www.hanselman.com/blog/WhoIsOnYourLifesBoardOfDirectors.aspx

Although the sentiment of his article is sound (we should all have friends we can confide in and ask advice from), I felt the need to respond from a spiritual perspective.

He first talked about a mission statement for your marriage.  That’s a FANTASTIC idea.  I recommend the mission statement for marriage that God inspired Paul to write:

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  (Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV)

Simple and beautiful.  God invented marriage, so He knows how it should work.  He has a role that He wants the man to play, and a different role for the woman to play within the marriage.  As long as both play the role they are intended to, everything will work out.  If they don’t, it won’t.  Wives, you are to submit to your husbands…I know that’s difficult, but I promise if they hold up their end, you won’t mind.  Before you stop reading out of anger, please look at the next paragraph.

Husbands, your wives won’t mind submitting if you hold up your end of the bargain.  If you learn nothing else from this article, please learn the next sentence.  YOU ARE NOT KING OF THE HOUSE.  You are leader…that means you first have to lead in Godliness, servitude, and spirituality.  Jesus was our perfect example of this.  He is King, yet He died for us.  He is King, yet He served.  We are not the strong arm of our house keeping it in submission by way of an iron fist.

“As Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.”  (1 Peter 3:6 ESV)

The story is told of how one man after reading that verse declared “We need more Sarahs!”  To which his preacher proclaimed, “We will have more Sarahs when we have more Abrahams!”  Men, you are the examples to your family…make sure you are an Abraham.

The writer of the article also presented the idea of having a Life Board of Directors.  Although I like the idea that we need people to confide in and ask advice from, I don’t really like the term “Board of Directors.”  Why?  Because, there should only be one person directing our lives.

“I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.”  (Jeremiah 10:23 ESV)

God needs to be our only Director.  When we have a problem, we need to turn to Him.  So, if you want to find that group of people to help you, please do.  Make sure they have your best interests at heart and are people of God.  If you feel the need to give them a fancy title, may I suggest “Board of Advisers?”  Or how about just “friends?”

“Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends, each by name.”  (3 John 1:15 ESV)

A mission statement for your life is also a great idea…but once again, God beat us to it:

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”  (Ecclesiastes 12:13 ESV)

I like it!  It’s simple, short, and easy to remember!

So, we have our mission statement for life, our friends, our Director, and a plan for our marriage in just a few simple scriptures.  Consider the other great treasure contained in the Bible that you have yet to uncover.

“I rejoice at your word like one who finds great treasure.”  (Psalm 119:162)

So Quickly Removed

I graduated from high school 21 years ago.  When I think about that, I’m a little surprised.  After all, those memories are still vivid in my mind.  I remember the things we did as teenagers.  I remember the people I went to school with.  I remember friends that I haven’t talked to in many years.

I have recently devoted myself to trying to write at least three times each week.  I want to do this because I want to do everything I can to spread the word of God.    To reach the largest number of people I can, I’ve decided to post links to the articles on the normal social media groups…namely Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  I have spent the past few days updating my Facebook page and sending friends request to new friends I’ve made as well as old friends that I haven’t spoken to in a while.

While looking at the profiles of some of my old friends, I couldn’t help but be reminded of what the apostle Paul said in Galatians:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.  For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  (Galatians 1:6-10 ESV)

It’s more than a little shocking to discover that some of the people I knew in high school have abandoned the ideals they held then.  Sometimes that change is for the good.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised to see that some of the people who seemed to have no morals then have become good family people with high moral standards.

But, more shocking are those who shared some of my ideals in high school who have now abandoned those ideals.  Sadly, this doesn’t apply to just people that I knew in high school but also to people that I’ve known for 10 years or less.  Like Paul, I find myself marveling that it didn’t take very long at all for some of them to abandon sound doctrine and turn to false doctrine because they seek to please man (usually themselves) rather than God.  Some have abandoned God altogether and have turned to such worldly concepts as earth worship, goddess worship, atheism, and agnosticism.  All such thinking is false.

I realize that in the present climate of everyone teaching “tolerance,” I’m probably going to draw some fire for even writing this.  After all, tolerance has become a virtue in our society.  A brother in Christ recently wrote:

The United Nations Declaration on the Principles of Tolerance states that tolerance involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism. Thus, according to the UN, if you believe dogmatically in anything or if you believe anything is absolute, then you are by definition intolerant and worthy of rebuke.”

Even the United Nations says that if we don’t tolerate certain sin then you are worthy of rebuke.  Well, I think I’ll go with what Jesus said while speaking to the church at Thyatira:

“But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.”  (Revelation 2:20 ESV)

G.K. Chesterton wrote:

“Tolerance is a virtue of a man without convictions.”

We must never tolerate sin or those who teach others to sin.  In this Christ is, once again, our perfect example and we must be intolerant when He is intolerant.

I realize that many take the “Oprah” approach to religion and have decided that there are many different paths to God, but that is simply a lie.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”  (John 14:6 ESV)

I realize some may read this and reject it completely.  I’m sorry for you.  Some will read this and want to know more, but will be too afraid to ask questions so you will just continue along your path of life as if nothing happened.  Winston Churchill was talking about you when he said:

“Occasionally a man stumbles over the truth. Most dust themselves off and continue walking as though nothing had happened.”  (Winston Churchill)

To those left, I issue a challenge.  Ask questions.  Contact me.  It would be my distinct privilege to study the Bible with you and help you understand what God wants you to do.  There is more at stake here than intolerance.

Don’t be removed from the one who made you!

Reverence

Recently, I’ve been doing a study on the book of Revelation.  I’m not going to get into trying to explain what it means, but the study has forced me to ask a very important question.  Do we give God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit the reverence they deserve?

I think if we simply look around society, we have to honestly answer that question with a “no.”  Society has taken the name of God and made a common swear out of it.  Society has taken the name of Jesus and used it as an utterance of contempt.  In Psalms 25 it says:

“To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.  O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” – Psalm 25:1-2 ESV

Society has taken this plea of protection to the almighty creator of the universe and all that is in it and abbreviated it into “OMG.”  Society uses that abbreviation to decorate insignificant text messages about missing a phone call or spilling a cup of coffee.  Society uses that plea of protection on television, in movies, and constantly on the internet.  Society takes that plea of protection and turns it to trivial uses.  Let’s look at what the Scripture says:

“Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?’ And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, ‘Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.’

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.’

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’

And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.” – Revelation 5 ESV

What a beautiful picture!  Jesus is described in this reading as the “Lion of the tribe of Judah”, “the Root of David”, and “the Lamb.”  It says that He has conquered; that He is worthy.  It says that “myriads and myriads and thousands and thousands” worshipped with loud voice.  It says that He is worthy to receive “power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”  All that was in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and in the sea worshipped Him!

This is the type of reverence that God the Creator of the Universe and all that is in it, the Great I Am, the Alpha and the Omega deserves!  We need to remember that He is the creator and we are just the creation.

This the is reverence that Jesus the Son, the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Lamb that was slain, the Savior, the Messiah, the Redeemer deserves and is worthy of.  We need to remember that He is the Savior and we are just the saved.

In other words, we need to remember our station and quit trying to put ourselves above it.

One of the most beautiful examples of reverence I know is one that  I heard from a friend a couple of years ago.  He was telling me a story about hearing a child pray.  This child was about 5 years old and had already gone through more hardship than most adults have.  He had lost both parents and was homeless and hungry.  My friend had the honor of hearing this child pray.  Here was his prayer:

“Dear God,  you are God and I am not God.  So, You do what God does and I’ll be OK with that.  Amen.”

This young child understood reverence in a way that most adults can’t.  He put his trust in God!  He understood reverence toward God in a way that most adults can’t fathom.  He knew exactly who was in charge and he pleaded with his master and creator for help.

This is exactly why Jesus said:

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 18:3

Let us always remember to honor our Father and give Him the reverence He deserves.

Unity

We just started a new study recently on Denominational Differences.  In the first class, the speaker, spent the entire session speaking about unity.  That is a fantastic way to start off with that topic!  Since hearing it, I’ve been unable to think about much else.

Unity is what should be foremost in our minds.

“There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4:4-6

In today’s religious world, there exist hundreds, if not thousands, of denominations.  This simply should not be.  As is mentioned above, Jesus established ONE church.

“He said to them, ‘But, who do you say that I am?’  Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’  And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah!  For flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’” – Matthew 16:15-18

Jesus established His church on the confession of Peter that Jesus was the Christ and Jesus established only one church.

If I look up “denomination” on dictionary.com, I am told that it is a “a religious group, usually including many local churches,often larger than a sect.”  English has mutated to obscure the real meaning of this word.  It’s real meaning is “a division.”  We still use it that way in other places.

In math, a division problem has a numerator and a denominator.  That’s the same root word.  We divide the numerator by the denominator.  We can also express division in the form of a “fraction.”  The word “fraction” comes from the Latin “fract” which means to fracture or break into pieces.

Is that really what God intended?  Absolutely not!  God wanted one church and Jesus established one church.  Man fractured that church into pieces.  Man broke that church.

So, with that in mind, unity was indeed the perfect place to start when talking about denominational differences.

The speaker did a wonderful job of laying out some ground rules and setting our minds where they should be.  He brought up the fact that we should always be moving toward unity and that the goal of unity should be to reconcile all people to Christ as He wanted.

“For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” – Ephesians 2:14-16

The “two” Paul mentions here is both Jews and Gentiles.  God reconciles all people to himself through Christ.  Our goal must be that as well.

The speaker brought up the idea that often when we engage someone in conversation about God that we are often more intent on being “right” than we are on the goal of unity.  God loves that person’s soul and honestly desires for that person to spend eternity with Him.  When we forget that our goal is to win that soul to Christ and instead devote ourselves to “winning” the argument, we do harm to ourselves, the person we are talking to, and God.

He went on to point out that on doctrinal issues we must not compromise.  Our duty is to God and his commandments first.  So, when we are talking to someone about these issues our attitude must be that of teacher and not of conqueror.  He pointed out that God doesn’t need sergeants at arms to win arguments for Him.  His Word is all that is required to win battles.  God needs teachers to patiently teach people what He wants.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me.  And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” – Hosea 4:6

A good teacher will be patient with the student.  We should take encouragement from the example of Philip:

“So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’  And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’  And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” – Acts 8:30-31

This example is beautiful.  Philip had the heart of a teacher.  He showed the eunuch that he truly cared and wanted to help.  May we always follow that example.

As I said, since the class, I’ve thought of little else.  My thoughts have taken it a bit farther than we discussed in class, and that is the primary reason I am writing this.

Sometimes, we can have the proper attitude when teaching someone who is in a denomination but fail to have the proper attitude when dealing with our own brothers and sisters in Christ.  We, often times, revert back to wanting to “win” the argument instead of teaching.

I think there are a couple of main reasons for this.  I’ll address them in turn.

We Disagree Over Matters of Opinion

The first one I want to address is one that the speaker brought up by way of example during the class.  He told a story about an elder of the congregation that he attended formerly that he didn’t get along with.  The disagreement between them was over their different disciplinary styles with regards to children.  He thought the other wasn’t harsh enough and the other though he was too harsh.  Although the Bible does tell us to discipline our children and even to spank them, it is left up to us to determine when that discipline is required and how much is required.  They each had a different opinion of where those various lines should be drawn.

The speaker pointed out the tragedy of brothers in Christ who agree on 99% of topics letting the 1% of disagreements cause such a rift between them.  I think the fact that we may agree with a fellow Christian on 99% of the topics that we discuss makes that 1% we disagree on almost unbearable.

We feel like they should be able to understand, as we do, that our way is so much better.  And, it is because of that feeling, that we are more apt to quit trying to teach and start trying to “win.”  We start asking ourselves (and maybe them) questions like, “Why are you not understanding this?!?!?”

Often we forget that the topic at hand is a matter of opinion and make a “crusade” out of it.  To combat this, we need to be able to distinguish between opinion and command.  Paul had quite a bit to say about opinion:

“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables.   Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.   Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.  One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.  The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.”  Romans 14:2-6

Paul is talking about matter of opinion here and makes it clear that we are not to judge a brother on those matters.  Paul was dealing with vegetarians versus meat-eaters and with people who thought a certain day higher than others versus people who thought everyday was the same.  We can look at this reading and say, “Well, those are silly arguments” and at the same time defend our own silly arguments.  Here are a few examples:

  • One cup or many
  • Where announcements belong during service
  • Songbooks or Powerpoint
  • Should the preacher use Powerpoint or not
  • Should the collection immediately follow the communion or be done later
  • Should the invitation be attached to the sermon or done at a later time
  • Should the song leader use a pitch pipe, a tuning fork, or nothing at all
  • Should we bow our heads or kneel in prayer
  • Should the congregation borrow money to build or save up and then build
  • Should the congregation run a bus ministry or not
  • Should the congregation have a website or not
  • And a million others…

None of these are problems until we start judging one another over them.  Sometimes, we start making statements that follow the form: “Anyone who does X is Y” where X is a matter of opinion and Y is a perceived sin.  For instance:

  • Anyone who kneels to pray is being pompous.
  • Any congregation that has a website is being worldly.
  • Anyone who quotes scripture from memory instead of reading it from the Bible is being prideful.
  • Anyone who uses a tuning fork is being showy.
  • Anyone who doesn’t offer an invitation attached to the sermon is violating scripture.

Isn’t this precisely what the Pharisees did?

“Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed.  (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash.  And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)  And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, ‘Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?’  And he said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’’” – Mark 7:1-7

Anytime we let a matter of opinion elicit a judgement on a brother from us, we are lifting our opinion up to the level of a commandment from God and we are worthy of the same response that Jesus gave the Pharisees.  The Pharisees had an opinion that everyone should wash their hands before eating.  Jesus quoted scripture to show them that they were doing wrong.  We need to guard ourselves against that behavior or we might have the Lord think of us, “in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.”

Sadly, though it happens far too frequently.  I know of congregations that have split over silly matters of opinion.  Let’s resolve to not let that happen in the congregations where we serve!  There is no doubt that we all have good ideas from time to time and it is normal to think our way is the best way to do something but let’s not try to force that on someone else.  And, let’s certainly not accuse someone else of sin when they aren’t doing it “our way.”

On matters of doctrine, we should not budge…but on matter of opinion, we should not judge.

We Disagree Over Matters of Doctrine

Sometimes we will disagree with a brother or sister in Christ over a matter of doctrine.  In these instances, we need to remember to keep a firm grasp on our emotion.

It is far too easy to become emotional over a matter of doctrine.  After all, we want to defend the Word of God!  That is a noble sentiment.  The problem is that when we become emotionally involved in a discussion, we are much more likely to lose our temper.

When we lose our temper we are not holding firm to the proper attitude of teaching that our speaker talked about.  We start saying things to wound the adversary instead of saying things to win the soul.

Sometimes, as was mentioned in class, we may feel the need of getting that brother or sister in Christ to abandon their false doctrine because we understand the urgency of the situation.  We stop teaching and start challenging.

We may start saying things like, “Well, maybe your life would be better if you would…” or “If you would get out of the sinful situation you are in, then …”  Instead of teaching them we have begun to attack them.  And like anyone who is attacked, they go on the defense.  Ears close, eyes glaze over, anger sets in, and the conversation stops.  You beaten them…but at what cost?

You have been like Job’s friends, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, as they held fast to the opinion that Job was being punished for sin.  Instead, we should be like Elihu who tried to teach the others that God is just all the time and that his mercy is great.  God rebuked Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, but did not rebuke Elihu!

Matters of doctrine are vastly important and it may come to a point that we have to withdraw from that person because they will not give up their false doctrines.  But, until that point, we should maintain that heart of a teacher and keep reminding ourselves that that person has a soul that is as important to God as ours is.

Conclusion

I am certain there are other things that cause problems between brother and sister in Christ and perhaps I’ll write more on that at some later date.  But for now, I will leave you with this thought.  Let us always strive to maintain unity as Christ wanted:

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 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. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17:20-26