Life by the Spirit and the Gospel pt. 1
The greatest controversy in our church history and one that continues to run havoc in our world today is that of church doctrine. More friends have been divided, families separated and churches split because of arguments over the tribulation, eternal salvation, tithing, baptism and speaking in other tongues. Issues of doctrine are the primary basis for all the different church denominations that exist today. Knowing what we believe and why we believe it are vital in our personal walk with the Lord. Trying to convince and convict others is where the problem of disunity originates.
When Jesus left this earth for heaven, His glorious prayer in John 17 was for unity among believers, that "You, Holy Father, keep in Your Name, in the knowledge of Yourself, those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are one." The knowledge of Who God is should be paramount in our personal quest for His Kingdom made manifested in our lives and to the people that we serve. Without the true knowing of the character of Great God Jehovah, we cannot ever be one with each other. To be one with each other means knowing with confidence who we are in Him, knowing what He has commissioned us to do during our mission on earth and duplicating the lifestyle of Jesus, as He disciples us. Being one with each other means loving others as we love ourselves and means that we are not afraid of one another, that we have no superiority over one another and that all our motives are pure and honorable before God. Jesus prayed that His church would be "sanctified by truth (purified from lies, consecrated, separated for His Kingdom and made holy). THY Word is Truth."
Knowing God and making Him known is to be our only sermon topic. Allowing people, even people who sit under our ministries influence, to work out their OWN salvation with fear and trembling is the true test of our confidence that God is building His church, not us. We are to love God and love His people. We must care about people and when those people are seeking to grow and excel they will come to us and ask us about our personal walk with the Lord. We can share the revelations that God has given to us in matters of life and godliness and how we apply them to our lives, but to try and convince people of our own convictions is not love. Unfortunately many Pastors and church leaders are bringing condemnation and guilt upon their people, trying to force people to agree with things that the Holy Spirit has not made known to them. When we as church leaders attempt to do the work of the Holy Spirit, the results will always be in strife and ultimately, division.
In the John chapter 16 as Jesus was teaching His disciples, He defines 'Truth' (capitalized) as "He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth) For He will not speak His own message (on His own authority); but He will tell whatever He hears (from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him) and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come (that will happen in the future). He will honor and glorify Me, because He will take of (receive, draw upon) what is Mine and will reveal (declare, disclose and transmit it to you."
The source of all doctrine originates in the Holy Scriptures. Each side of opposing doctrines can argue their beliefs using the same book of God. The bible is routinely used to beat people over the head into submission to the one teaching the doctrine. This is not right nor is it God's intention. The scriptures were divinely inspired by God to give us the knowledge of Who He is and how He judges and acts righteously. The scriptures give us the knowledge that keeps us from perishing and as we learn from the experiences of Jesus and others from the bible, we grow in knowledge.
We must accept that God's will and His plan is for people to be taught truth by His Spirit. We must teach and train those that God has given to us out of this world, as Jesus did, to seek the Spirit of God and to come to know the personal friendship and guidance of this most awesome, loving gift and blessing from God … His Spirit dwelling in us. We must have total dependence upon God that He will lead and guide all His people into truth.
Rather than teach people doctrine from the scriptures, we must teach them in the knowledge of Who God is. This alone will bring unity in our private churches and in the church of Jesus Christ throughout the world today. Apply I Corinthians chapter 13 to this teaching letter and we will understand more fully what true love is. Love is the power of God in action by allowing people to work out their own salvation, knowing that God Himself takes full responsibility for their private salvation issues. Trust God's Spirit to convict people of righteousness, sin and judgement. If our people have learned to love God and only want to do His good pleasure, they will easily hear and follow the prompting of His Spirit in doctrinal issues.
True love is allowing people to follow their own convictions without battles. It is not our position to try and control people and force them to accept doctrine just because we have personal convictions from God. Allow God to be God to them as well. Those who seek God will always find God, when they seek Him with all of their heart. It matters not to God whether people are doing this or doing that. What matters to God is do His people have a heart to obey Him? Are they willing to yield to His Spirit? Will they obey when He gives them instruction? As leaders this must be our focus as well. Our people will learn to obey God out of love for Him and a desire to please Him, rather than in our attempts to force them to believe something that has not been divinely revealed to them.
Walking in unity with each other means loving people enough to grant them the right of freedom to believe what they want to. We pray for them and make ourselves available to tell them our reasons for our personal convictions, should they inquire. But when people are loving God and serving Him God finds them worthy of His salvation. All believers will go to heaven whether or not they ever enter into the fullness of God's plan for their lives here on earth. It's a personal choice that each of us makes; will we enter heaven gloriously or will we enter heaven defeated and broken. God's love is not dependence on either choice. God's will is for His people to live life abundantly here on earth, but if they don't ever enter into that revelation, it matters not to their eternal salvation. We need to think like God thinks and accept people for where they are in their own personal walk with the Lord. Rescuing those who are perishing, sometimes even snatching them from the fire but not ever trying to force them to run the race that God has laid out for us. Not ever condemning them for their lack of faith, or their inability to grasp hold of a truth that is crystal clear to us. God is bigger than this. We must grow bigger in our acceptance of people and truly loving them in spite of the doctrine differences.
We are told to submit to one another in love. In our next issue we will look at the scriptures in greater depth as Paul and Peter taught how we must behave when we are around immature Christians. May you take these words to heart and meditate on them, searching the scriptures to judge the truths herein. Allowing the Holy Spirit to work truth in you, to the renewing of your mind. Rest for your soul. Have a light and easy week as you accomplish great things for His Kingdom!