Divided We Stand?

To preface my thoughts, I want to ask that each of you who read this, read all the way to the end before making a judgment call.

I would like to chime in on the valid points raised by Chris in the previous post. One of our readers, Jon Gleason commented on the issue of “working togetherism” which is one as I have seen way too often the problem that comes with everybody seeking unity at the expense of doctrinal purity just so they can “work” together. The end result ends up being things like ECT (Evangelicals and Catholics Together) or the Manhattan Declaration just to name a few. The results are not what is intended and where does the line in the sand actually get drawn. I have seen this in Europe, America, and in West Africa.

My dear friend and brother, Chris, mentioned as an example that he and another brother disagree on soteriology but still work together for the sake of the gospel. Of course, without knowing the specific points in question, this has always been a huge issue with me, because we are dealing with matters of eternity more times than not when we are talking about the doctrine of salvation. You cannot teach salvation by faith alone when or if the “brother” is teaching the addition of works, baptism, or whatever. As a small side note, I do not believe this is the case with Chris.

In my understanding of Scripture, this cannot be a joining of hands if such views take place. I understand there can be variations though on smaller points within the overall foundational truths. For instance, I would struggle to work with somebody from the Church of Christ, or Methodist, or Catholic because they all fall under the same boat – they believe and teach contrary to the Scriptures in the doctrine of Sola Fide.

The question is “How can two walk together except they are in agreement?” How can I stand in the pulpit or on a street corner giving forth a gospel appeal if the person preceding or following me is teaching a different means or way of salvation? Or, even how can this take place if the other “brother” insists that the salvation of the human soul is somehow in the remit of those who are completely and totally dead in trespasses and sins?

Is our desire to go on mission or preach each Sunday from the pulpit or share a tract or CD on a street corner so pressing that we will negotiate fundamentals of the faith or the truths for which our forefathers and the Reformers (as an example) laid down their lives because there was no compromise to be found.

However, I would ask if we remember Martin Luther? “Here I stand, I can do no other.” His reference was to the Bible alone – Sola Scriptura! Too often, we, as evangelicals and fundamentalists have a pathetic tendency to “read INTO” the Scriptures what we want it to say and these areas then become “fundamentals of the faith.” For example, type of hymns used or not used, Bible versions, rapture or no rapture, the timing of rapture if you hold to this point, Sunday school or none, etc., etc., etc.

We should well remember that where Scripture is silent, that we should remain silent. Where the Scriptures are not decisively clear, in those areas there can be room for flexibility and even working with others. Sadly in my past, I have found myself sitting in various camps on some of the above issues and refusing to get along with those who held varying (mostly only slightly different) views than my own.

What a travesty and I can certainly understand the frustration that comes when we see the bickering and arguing that takes place within our circles. In the meantime, the cults continue to take away people to their perdition because we are MORE concerned about being right than with being Biblical! Then, to our chagrin instead of finding a Biblical position, if we are not careful we will swing to the realm of ecumenicalism where all hold hands together and sing “Kumbaya” or “Michael, row the boat to shore.”

Can we proceed without “demonizing” or “anathematizing” others? Yes, we can and should if the issues are only on a secondary or tertiary level. However, I am convinced that places like DefCon and all those involved should insist that on ALL primary levels of doctrine, that there will be no compromise for any reason or for any person. There is a place for discernment and one cannot read the New Testament epistles and not realize the depths of effort that went into the writings of these men to pursue truth in all realms of early Christianity. Yes, we are even highly admonished to rebuke those who are seen departing from the faith AND from what was taught to them.

I for one will not give my support of some of those who claim to be ministers of the gospel when what they are preaching is leading people down a primrose path to destruction or is defaming the name and cause of Jesus Christ. This would most certainly include people like Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Rick Warren, Billy Graham, and Ravi Zacharias who are openly endorsing anything and everything from New Age thought to Roman Catholic mystics.

As a loving word of caution, I do not believe all these men necessarily started out with the intention of climbing in bed with everybody all for “the sake of the gospel.” It was gradual but the end result was still the same. My point here is not one of disagreement with Chris, but a clarification of my own thoughts on what is and should be important to those who claim the name of Christ.

To summarize, when we find ourselves disagreeing on tertiary or secondary issues, there is nothing wrong with debate or enjoying a coffee together. Some secondary issues may be another person’s tertiary issues though and we must have the discernment and wisdom to see that others may see things differently. We may not be able to work with somebody in realms such as swapping pulpits with another with whom we disagree on secondary or tertiary issues, but it does not mean (as Chris has rightly stated) that we must tear them to strips or “condemn” them to hell for those differences.

However, when the doctrinal truth is at stake and we are dealing with the core doctrines of the Scripture, there cannot and must not be any compromise. If at the end of the day, we have compromised just so we can share the gospel, we will find that the gospel we proclaim has also been compromised and we will be seeking to give free tickets to the celestial kingdom all because we failed to stand firm in the faith once delivered to the saints.

36 thoughts on “Divided We Stand?

  1. I am not a Calvinist, nor an Arminian. I believe that God seeks/draws all men. While some repent and follow Jesus most will not, but God offers salvation to all men. I do not believe in Universalism. Does my soteriology prevent you from fellowshipping with me?

  2. I think that we are already on shakey ground when we talk about the core doctrines of the Bible. Isn’t the Bible spiritually discerned by the Holy Spirit living within? Why would He author division of any sort? Was it really the writers of the epistles who were so careful about the truth that they wrote or was it the Holy Spirit through them? If we come at the Scriptures as trying to discern what the writers intended to say, rather than what God Almighty communicated through them, without stuttering, then we are not going to allow the Word of God to speak to our hearts as we diligently search the Scriptures to shed light on the Scriptures. Maybe the men that you have mentioned adopted the same position that you are espousing at the beginning of their ministries, which is a slippery slope. In 1 Corinthians chapter 1 Paul said these words:

    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)

    Is this Paul’s desire, or God’s desire? Why would God give this instruction in the Scriptures if we aren’t able to come to such a consensus? I submit that it is because believers in Christ have been habitually turning to men for answers rather than the Scriptures.

    But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
    (1 John 2:20-21)

    But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
    (1 John 2:27)

    The supposed disagreement over the things of God isn’t reasonable given these verses. We can know what the Scriptures teach about all the doctrines of the Scriptures if we drink deeply and inbibe the wisdom of God’s Word with the illumination of the Holy Spirit. If we humbly come to the Scriptures desiring to know God who wrote them, then we will indeed be joined together perfectly in mind and judgment.

  3. very well stated JM. I cannot understand how you could have differing views on soteriology and yet work together, this is too big a doctrine to simply overlook. As you correctly state, this is an eternal matter and ” You cannot teach salvation by faith alone when or if the “brother” is teaching the addition of works, baptism, or whatever.” This type of compromise is absolutely unacceptable, there cannot be two gospels. BTW, I am not implying anyone here is doing such, I am merely responding to your statement.

    I appreciate your post and ask that the Lord would continue to bless you

    Lyn

  4. Laura,
    Didn’t Jesus say that He would draw all men to Himself? Isn’t the gospel offered freely to all? Aren’t there many Scriptures that state that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners? That is the only requirement for turning to Jesus Christ, to know that you are a sinner under the just judgment of God and in need of His salvation. I like 1 John chapter 1:

    My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
    (1 John 2:1-2)

    That pretty much sums it up. The problem is that men come to the Word of God with extra biblical doctrines and try to support those doctrines from the Scripture while ignoring or wrongly interpreting those Scriptures that refute what they say. Scripture interprets Scripture, not man. We might not completely understand God’s sovereignty in election and man’s responsibility and how that fits with the gospel freely offered to all, but our lack of understanding doesn’t negate what God says in His Word. Unfortunately, some have become so caught up with the doctrine of election that they define the gospel as such and lead many astray! Again, what does God’s Word say?

    Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
    (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

    No mention of election regarding salvation here, although we know it is the truth of the Scripture. We are saved when we believe the gospel, hallelujah! Notice how important it is that we continue to believe the gospel and not get side tracked, then it is that we have believed in vain. Or our profession of faith was false. That is frightening.

    As long as you believe the Scriptures, are trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and are filled with the Holy Spirit, being a believer, then I can fellowship with you as a believer in Jesus Christ.

  5. Laura:
    “Does my soteriology prevent you from fellowshipping with me?”

    The answer to this question would depend on two things: how closely one agrees with your soteriology, and how “fellowship” is defined.

    JM:
    “As a loving word of caution, I do not believe all these men necessarily started out with the intention of climbing in bed with everybody all for “the sake of the gospel.” It was gradual but the end result was still the same. My point here is not one of disagreement with Chris, but a clarification of my own thoughts on what is and should be important to those who claim the name of Christ.”

    This was a big part of what I was trying to get at, and you said it better. When those men preach the Gospel, I rejoice, even though I shudder at some of their other errors. But “work-togetherism” leads down the path they’ve taken.

    A secondary concern of mine is the primary / secondary / tertiary doctrines paradigm, which seems to me to have precious little Biblical basis considering the great importance it is usually given in these discussions. But this statement I thought was very helpful: “Where the Scriptures are not decisively clear, in those areas there can be room for flexibility and even working with others.” Perhaps we should be talking about clarity rather than primary / secondary / tertiary.

    Thank you for a thoughtful post.

  6. Those ‘secondary’ issues that are believed/taught incorrectly will always lead to further error. They also defame the character of the Trinity. If it is taught that a man has the ability to seek God at a time and place of his choosing one will sooner or later believe that they can also opt out of salvation and return to the world or ‘loose’ their salvation due to some sin. That’s bad enough, but it also strikes at the heart of the Sovereignty of God by making the will of the Father subject to a man’s will. It also leads to the infamous “sinner’s prayer” that gives a man a false sense of security and leads to Antinomionism. It also leads to the failed ‘invitation’ [thank you Charles Finney] system. It is sad to see so many who claim the label ‘reformed’ pass over such a grevious error and allow/encourage the continuance of such folly.

    Then there is the rapture with all of it’s questionable timing. Does it even occur? Yes, it will. When? Before the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Why? Because Jesus loves His Bride and the Scriptures teach the rapture [you all know the related verses]. Question: If there is no pre-trib rapture, why is it that only the part of the Bride that is physically alive at that time are called upon to suffer through the tribulation? If it is our generation, why are we so ‘unspecial’ to our Lord? Do those who are asleep in Jesus experience some sort of “resurrection” in order that they, too, may suffer along side us? This, too, strikes at the character of our Lord and makes Him some sort of vindictive and hateful bridegroom.

    And now for the millennium. Many say it has occured or will never occur. What do Scriptures say? Again, you all know the related verses. Scriptures say there will indeed be a 1000 year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ on this earth. It will occur after the seven years of the Tribulation and before the final judgment of men and angels. Yet there are too many in the reformed camp who deny this and demand that their mis-interpretation of Scripture be granted validity. This a-mill theory has the end result of calling the Father and the Holy Spirit liars in that all of the as yet to be fulfilled prophesys will never [or have already] occur. Promises made exclusive to Israel, not the church. In light of Rev. 22:18 & 19 this very scary ground to make your stand.

    Bottom line: there are no truths that should ever be considered “non-essential.” Some may not be necessary for salvation, but all have a direct bearing on the very character of our Lord and the integrity of Scriptures. In view of this 2 Thes. 3:6-15; 2 John 9-11; and Gal. 2:11-14 are our guides in our relationship to those who teach error and still wish to be seen as brothers. Acts 20: 29 & 30 and 2 Cor. 6:11-18 are our guide for those arrayed in sheep’s clothing.

  7. The problems are introduced precisely at the point where we turn from our utter dependence upon the Holy Spirit to reveal His Word to us, to a dependence upon men as our source for authority on these matters.

    Don’t even think for a moment this isn’t true! 50,000 denominations and growing! The best we can hope for is to rise to the level of our teacher…Jesus said this! Who are your teachers? Men, or the God ordained person of the Holy Spirit!?!?

    Set aside your preloaded responses and meditate upon, not my words but His Word’s on the very central topic of Who is your Head and what He has ordained as His Way!

    Elders function as guides yes! But only to the extent that they guide by His Word in context as revealed by the Holy Spirit as He gives us everything Christ Jesus has for us as confirmed by the Word in context. To the extent that your favorite dead saints accurately preached the Gospel, they were like their Teacher. None the less they too were men, and according to the Word men will fail you!! God’s Word, Will, and Way will NEVER FAIL YOU. One Accord?!?! Only to the extent we are in One Accord by His Word as revealed by the Holy Spirit.

    Cast off the traditions of men which make His Word of no effect!
    ********************************************************
    While I’m fast on my rants, don’t you just hate to hear, “And I give God all the glory!”
    Question to those who use this phrase: When and why did you steal it from Him in the first place?!?!

    (Note to Flee: Is this what you meant when you told M.F. I bring trouble upon myself? LOL)

  8. gracealone1 – Again, this is not the post to debate positions on areas like eschatology. This is not to say that they are not important, but they are not issues pertaining to salvation. I have no doubt in my mind that there will be true believers in heaven who hold to varying positions on the rapture or lack thereof, and the same holds true with the millennium. Dare I say it, but I would have to venture a guess that there will be some who are in heaven who were sprinkled instead of being baptized by immersion. In fact, there will even be some there who have never even baptized at all!

    However, in light of the last two posts, may I ask that in our haste to share the gospel message, are we seeking to see souls converted that we are not trying to convert people to a certain position of eschatology or Bible version, etc.? Many true believers have held to varying positions and will do until the return of Christ.

    I might add again that Chris was very clear that the fundamentals should not be thrown out, particularly in his second paragraph. The point again that remains on the table is whether we should spend more time spreading the gospel message or spending our time looking for ways to belittle others who are true believers in Jesus Christ.

    At no point though do I digress on the foundational and fundamental truths of biblical Christianity. Any person who seeks to diminish one iota from the sovereignty of God, the inerrancy of the Bible, or the matchless Person of Jesus Christ will be brought to account on this site as and when necessary. But our desire is to see the spread of the gospel for we believe that time is of the essence.

    Mickey Merrie, thank you also for your thoughts and words. I wish more pastors and teachers would proclaim the truth you have shared. We are called to follow Christ, NOT the traditions of men.

    Jon Gleason, yes, I like the idea of using the word clarity rather than breaking things down into our own (sometimes) preconceived ideas of what should fall into “secondary” or “tertiary” levels of doctrine.

  9. TJG:
    It was not my intent to pick a fight with anyone. The examples given were just that, examples. None of which are necessary to believe correctly for saving faith to occur. If my last paragraph missed the intent of your original post, forgive me. If my assessment is incorrect, please provide the necessary Scriptures to set the record straight.

    Darrel

  10. Laura, I would like to answer your comment separately. The question is not necessarily one of fellowship. If we met and your testimony showed that you were a true believer in Christ, I would have no problem fellowshiping with you. However, if you were an unbeliever and we had a chance to sit down and share a coffee, I would be willing to do so, but I would not call it fellowship. The point that we are seeking to make is whether we are able to work together for the sake of the gospel.

    In other words, what is the line in the sand that you or I will not cross? For example, I will not hold hands with Roman Catholics, Mormons, or JW’s in any area that has to do with spreading the gospel for they do not believe the truth of the Gospel. This is what has happened with those involved with ECT and the Manhattan Declaration.

    Would I be willing to preach the message of the complete and total depravity of man while espousing the sovereignty of God knowing that the person following me would proclaim that man has a completely free will and can “choose” God any time that person wants to do so without any direct intervention by any Person of the Godhead? The answer must be no. This would be a very conflicting message with one that is Biblical and Christocentric while the other is ego or man-centered.

    On the other side though, I would be willing to share a pulpit and have done so with some who hold to a different position on the rapture and other points of eschatology. I have been granted the liberty to minister in a church where baptism was not just by immersion only. Would I be willing to proclaim the gospel with such a group? YES, YES, YES!

    I hope this clarifies what I was trying to share, and what I also believe that Chris is trying to point to as well with his good post. However, if there are any questions, you are more than welcome to ask for clarification – and yes, you might even disagree with me or Chris on some points.

    Anybody want to go get a coffee??

  11. JM – thanks for your excellent post and words of wisdom. I truly hope that the message I conveyed in my post was not one of unity at all costs with just anyone who claims to follow Christ. My intent was to call upon Christians to cease attacking solidly saved brethren over non-salvation doctrines. I hope I made it clear that those issues are important and that we should strive to learn correct theology. However, it was my argument, as you rightly stated here, that we should not allow our debates over these doctrines to deter from our mission to see souls saved. Thanks again brother :)

  12. Darrell, you stated, “Bottom line: there are no truths that should ever be considered “non-essential.” Some may not be necessary for salvation, but all have a direct bearing on the very character of our Lord and the integrity of Scriptures.”

    I agree that no doctrine of Scripture is “non-essential.” However, i do not believe that all hold the same level of importance as that of say – salvation. We must be very careful that we do not elevate points of Scripture that are not completely clear to the level of salvation. If, for example, the question of the rapture’s timing was a matter of salvation, there are many who died with no hope. While I do not agree with a pre-trib position, I find ample evidence in the Scriptures that do not bar me from fellowshiping with somebody who does. The problem though is compounded when many have elevated it to such a point.

    Through the years, I have heard many messages on a “pre-trib, imminent” rapture, but rarely heard messages extolling the holiness of God or His complete sovereignty. Many of the pastors may have meant well, but they missed the overarching picture that is clearly presented through the life and ministry of what Jesus Christ came to accomplish.

    Today, we have hordes of various camps, as Chris rightly stated, and each one claims to be the banner holder for the King of kings. The flag flies from each encampment and instead of firing our cannons at the enemy of man’s soul, instead we are cleaning our bayonets and hoping for another opportunity to use it against another encampment – all for the testimony of Christ to be sure!

    In this regard, we are very wrong. We must stand on the fundamentals and not give any ground either to the enemy or to any who are his ministers seeking to demean any aspect of the gospel message. We long and desire to see true believers of Jesus Christ, and the message cannot be compromised or there will be hope worth sharing with others.

  13. “Bottom line: there are no truths that should ever be considered “non-essential.””

    Agreed 100% that there are no non-essential Gospel truths, but we can be guilty like the pharisees of straining out gnats while swallowing camels. We all draw lines in the sand somewhere though, may it never be drawn to far or to near from where the Lord would have us draw it. There has to be room for growth in Jesus too for young converts. If a man forces some doctrine like predestination on their conscience they are bound to it by law, but if the Holy Spirit teaches these things (yes of course using teachers, evangelists, etc who expound the word) a young convert will REALLY know them in truth.

    This is an ongoing theme in our fellowship, where do we draw line. I may even differ from many here that I draw that line more on practical christian character than “head” theology. I will fellowship with a brother who I disagree with on some theological issues over a murderous John Calvin who says “Whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt.”.

    -Jim

  14. Clarity is a good thing. May I be afforded clarity on your part toward me? You used the rapture as an example in your original post and yet I am called to task for doing the same. I am calling for an end to differing view points on Scripture and yet you hint at the use of bayonets (by me?) for those who hold differing points of view. How have I belittled anyone? If it is belittling to point out error in interpretations, then I plead guilty. You say that “we must stand on the fundamentals and not give any ground…” and yet I get the uncomfortable feeling that compromise is better than conflict from your original post and your two responses to me as it relates to “secondary” doctrines. Are you saying [clarity is all I seek] that the doctrines you deem to be “secondary” are therefore open to multiple interpretations. You say you do not mean that, but your overall tone is that you do. Who makes the decision as to what is “secondary” and what is not. Are you prepared to tell the Holy Spirit that He should now allow for differing interpretations of these “secondary” issues. *************** I am not trying to provoke you or anyone else to anger or a fight, simply seeking clarification to this discussion as you have left many things up in the air.******It seems that the five references I gave in my first post have not yet been addressed, yet these are clear instructions of what we are to do when facing wrong doctrine. There are others like Eph. 5:11 where we are told not to have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. It seems like that to expose the evil as concerning the “secondary” issues is taboo in your book. Please explain.

    It is my responsibility to stand for the truth of the Word, no matter how minial a doctrine may be to some. Pastors are told to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort.” We are all told to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Yet, it seems disturbingly evident that only those doctrines deemed “primary” are worthy of ‘going to the mate’ over and the “secondary” ones are allowed to be correctly taught or not. Please tell me it ain’t so!!! Scriptural references for your beliefs in this matter would be great benefit.

    Darrel

  15. Hi Darrel, thanks for your query. The point was not using rapture as a primary point of doctrine, but was used as an example to show how we can make a point of doctrine that is not explicitly stated in Scripture to state our 100% belief that everybody else is wrong. For example, you stated, “This, too, strikes at the character of our Lord and makes Him some sort of vindictive and hateful bridegroom.”

    So unless we have missed something in your post, you used your position holding to a pretribulational rapture to level the playing field against all those who do not hold to such. I was raised a pretribulationist but hold to a different position today. I still believe in a rapture, but yet according to your position, my belief shows that I demean the character of the Lord. You have chosen to make the doctrine of the rapture a position that is not clearly supported by Scripture to the study of many godly men and churches around the world. While we would disagree with you, I would not have any problems working with somebody who holds to a different position on the rapture because it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with our salvation. A person holding to a pre-wrath, pre-trib, post-trib, or mid-trib position will still find themselves in the presence of the Lord at His appearing.

    My question to you would be – would you extend the same grace to somebody who holds to a different timing of the rapture? We are not saying that any doctrine is trivial. We are stating that for the sake of the gospel and unity, there are some doctrines that are not so clearly defined in Scripture as to cause a rift in the body of Christ. For example, while I am a credobaptist, I would not fall out without somebody who baptized 3 times versus 1 time. I will not fall out with somebody over the timing of the rapture because even Paul indicated that the point of contention was not the timing, but whether it had actually occurred.

    To conclude, Darrel, the point of my post was not directed toward you but was written with a much wider audience in mind than one as were my comments. On what will we part company? Is it the fundamentals of the faith or is it areas of teachings in Scripture that are not clearly delineated? Having grown up in IFB (independent fundamental Baptist) circles, I can attest to the nitpicking over areas of belief that are merely positions (hymns, choruses, KJV only, long-hair on men, pants on women, blah, blah, blah) If a person holds to such as a personal preference that is fine, but let’s not fall out or refuse to fellowship or to seek to win others to Christ because we don’t hold the same version of a hymnbook or Bible in our hands, or because I wear a mustache and beard, or because your wife or daughters wear pants or mine do, or because you are pretrib and I hold to pre-wrath.

    I hope this clarifies my point further. If not, feel free to comment again or respond.

  16. Somewhere I have a nice chart given me by a dear brother that attempted to put essentials in clear language, debatables in another box, matters of opinion in a closed box. If I can find it, I will post it – it helps one keep the essentials in clear view and stand firm without being dragged off on secondary and tertiary issues. I’ve been slowly learning to be less reactive on lesser things, although I cannot understand how any Christian can believe dispensationalism. Not to pick a fight on that issue, here, now, mind you.

  17. Some good counsel from J.C. Ryles: “Yes! Peace without Truth is a false peace; it is the very peace of the Devil. Unity without the Gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of Hell.”

    There is a line we must draw and, with Luther, stand here, unable to do more.

  18. TJM,
    Just as you used the rature as an example, so did I. It seems to have become an unintended focal point. The point was clearly made that a view other than pre-trib would call into question the character of God. My question as to the fate of the saints from Pentecost forward remains unanswered, so be it.
    The rapture, the millennium, etc. are not the focus of your post nor of my responses. The main intent of all of this is “to fellowship or not to fellowship, that is the question.” There are many outspoken, popular and charismatic folk who claim to be a brother/sister in Christ and yet their fruit betrays them. Most have the “plan of salvation” with all of the necessary Scrpitures memorized and could spout it off in their sleep. However, on the doctrines that have been deemed “secondary” or the new classification of “tertiary” their interpretations range from suspect to outright heresy. For all of thet, many would hold hands with such in the name of UNITY.

    “For I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also FROM AMONG YOURSELVES men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” Acts 20:29&30. Was this only for the brethren at Ephesus or for all the saints? The list of names would be endless who fall into the savage wolf catagory. Yet some consider that Mormons and JWs are the only wolves in our midst.

    The preaching of the Gospel has been compromised enough in our day. People are fed 90% truth and 10% error and soon enough the ratio is 80/20; 50/50 and so on. Truth in ALL matters of doctrine is a must that cannot be compromised. Two opposing view points cannot both be true; both can be wrong, but not true at the same time. Why no revival? Why aren’t more people being saved? Could it be that many have regressed to “a form of godliness, but deny the power?” Compromise on any level will never be blessed by the Lord, whether for the sake of ‘keeping the peace’ or ‘unity’ or ‘love’ or whatever.

  19. Darrel,

    Let me address a few of your points, but first state that it is important to make sure our “proof texts” are actually in context.

    You stated, “2 Thes. 3:6-15; 2 John 9-11; and Gal. 2:11-14 are our guides in our relationship to those who teach error and still wish to be seen as brothers. Acts 20: 29 & 30 and 2 Cor. 6:11-18.”

    2 Thess. 3:6-15 has absolutely nothing to do with differing views on the rapture. In fact, Paul makes it clear that this is a passage in regards to work. If somebody refuses this teaching on how we are to conduct ourselves, that person is to be admonished as a “brother” not as an enemy. Even here, Paul gives grace.

    2 John 9-11 is a direct reference to the doctrine of Christ. Again, these verses do not speak against teachings of Scripture that are not clear such as the rapture. The verses previous put this passage in context – John is speaking about Christ as God coming to earth and becoming a man.

    Gal. 2:11-14 is dealing with the matter of Peter playing a hypocrite in the matter of eating with Gentiles. This has nothing to do with separating with those who hold to positions that are not clearly delineated in Scripture. Even though Paul did not agree with Peter’s position, he withstood him to the face, but they were STILL brothers in Christ. He did not castigate Peter over all of their differences but only in this one area because he was being a hypocrite about his beliefs.

    Acts 20:29-30 is a passage that does deal with error in the flock. However, this verse does not grant leeway to make unclear Scriptures into areas where we break fellowship. He is speaking in the previous verses about declaring the gospel of Jesus Christ. After, he continues by stating that wolves will come in and seek to scatter the flock. There is nothing to indicate that Paul’s words were meant to be taken as reasons to separate over hymn usage, Bible versions, timing of the rapture, etc. This is reading into the text. Paul’s admonition in other passages shows that only those who reject the gospel of Jesus Christ and then teach contrary to all those doctrines surrounding the gospel message are to be considered as enemies and not as believers.

    2 Cor. 6:11-18 – Again, in context, this passage is referring to forms of syncretism whereby the believers in Corinth were mixing teachings of Belial with those of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In addition, Paul clearly indicates that there is to be a separation between those who are unbelievers and those who are true believers. In other words, there can be no fellowship between two people who are diametrically opposed on the issue of the gospel message.

    So through all of this, you have made it clear from your perspective that a position such as a pre-trib rapture is the ONLY one that does not call the character of God into question. That is an amazing jump to make from the verses you have used. This is not about watering down the Scriptures in any ration (80/20, or 90/10, or 50/50). This is about teaching the truths of Scripture that are clearly seen from an expositional standpoint. We have no leeway to read into passages such as John 14 or 1 Thess. 4 and come up with a position such as pre-trib that was not even believed or taught prior to the dreams of a young girl in the early 1800’s.

    I would clarify here that again Paul’s statement to the Thessalonians was that they were being told that Christ had already come and they had been left behind. There was no teaching to indicate that the rapture was an imminent one, but ONLY that it was to happen at some point in the future.

    On another point – you mentioned a question about “the fate of saints from Pentecost forward.” I have gone back and reread all of the comments and did not find this particular question. Would you mind sharing the question here and I would be happy to try and answer?

    Darrel, on one final note – we are not talking about holding hand with Charismatics or others whose fruit does not line up with Scripture. Even a casual reading of our past blogposts would make this very clear as to where we stand. We are extremely conservative in just about every aspect of doctrine. What we are doing here is seeking to determine what is vitally important that would either allow us to fellowship with another who claims to be a believer or to refuse fellowship because their works portray them as an unbeliever.

    A final question, if a person like myself believed all the core doctrines, was Baptist by name and faith, and was pre-millennial – would I be refused fellowship because I use a NKJV or because I do not hold to a pre-trib view? You see, the answer to this very important. There must be consistency and our consistency must be based on the clarity of the Scriptures, not based on what we are taught to assume is doctrine of the highest order.

    Look forward to hearing back from you and I appreciate your thoughts.

  20. Mary, while we did not mention Methodism, there are some definite areas within mainstream denominationalism of the Methodist church that are rank liberal in their theology. If you are truly interested in knowing the differences according to Scripture, feel free to write back.

    *********

    Manfred, I would love to see that information as well.

  21. Reread your original post again (4th or 5th time) and find complete agreement with the last four paragraphs. And most of the rest of it. Thank you for finally addressing the Scriptures given as reference. As to “the fate of the saints from Pentecost forward” that’s in my first response paragraph two. The five references I gave were not intended to strengthen my stand on the rapture (as you rightly stated they have nothing to do with the rapture) the intent was to show the proper response in varying situations brother to brother and brother to apostate (2 John & 2 Cor.). It seems the rapture is still center-stage, though I never meant for it to be so. You stated that it was never taught until a girl had a dream about it in the 1800’s. I’ve never heard that one so please give source [you have my e-mail if you want to make an OT. Along the same line, wasn't the a-mill belief started by some of the reformers in the 1600's?]

    My greatest concern is relegating precious truths to secondary or tertiary status. On this I must insist on Scriptural support or command. I know of none. In all of your postings on this matter I have found no such references. When a person goes down the path of believing that something is true when it is not it will eventually lead to further and greater error. There is a simple and Biblical solution for all of this found in James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” There is a correct answer to all the questions concerning any doctrine-including the rapture. The problem lies in preconceived ideas, hearing what we want to hear and reading what we want to read.

    My other biggest concern in all of this is allowing some precious truths of the Word to have differing interpretations and both be considered true [I AM NOT SAYING THAT YOU HAVE DONE THAT]. As one rescued from such a thing and graciously saved by our Lord, I do not wish to see others fall prey to it also.

  22. Hi Darrel,

    A few links for you to read on the pre-trib position. I will get back to the rest of your thoughts later on, Lord willing.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapture

    http://www.essentialchristianity.com/pages.asp?pageid=21918 — Another link but this one is interesting in that it actually quotes an ancient writer with a supposed pre-trib rapture position but the person quoted clearly states a 3 1/2 year tribulation period, not a 7 year period.

    http://reformedonline.com/view/reformedonline/rapture.htm

    Every blessing,

    Mark – TJM

  23. Any opinion that contradicts the clear teaching of the Scriptures is condemned by the Scriptures! The Holy Spirit gives but one interpretation of the Scriptures, otherwise He is the Spirit of confusion. Most of the trouble with doctrines contrary to the Scriptures is that they are the direct product of the wishful thinking of the vain imaginations of man. If you study to show yourself approved rightly dividing the Word of God, you will know the doctrine of the Scripture. It is a lie to believe that there are many interpretations. The Scriptures make clear the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and His return for the church. The doctrine of the rapture is clearly taught in 1 Cor. 15:49-54 and 1 Thess. 4:14-5:9, even though the term rapture isn’t mentioned. The Second Coming of Christ is an essential doctrine, as are all the doctrines of the Scriptures, but it is given even greater weight by what the Holy Spirit says through Paul in 2 Thess. 2:1-14. Notice that Paul says don’t let any man deceive you by any means, and then he gives the distinguishing characteristics of that time period when we can know Christ is soon to appear. Even so come Lord Jesus! Regarding the misinterpretation of doctrine of Scriptures be warned by what Peter says in 2 Peter:

    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; 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. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
    (2 Peter 3:15-18)
    Here the Holy Spirit has been speaking through Peter about the end times. The Holy Spirit says that teaching contrary to what the Scriptures teach about the Second Coming of Christ is the error of the wicked! How dare we as people relegate the things that God has placed supreme importance upon to secondary matters! How can we not be in agreement upon these doctrines that are so clearly taught in the Scriptures? It is because men within the church have shirked their God given duty to be students of the Scriptures and have instead become students of the writings of men. This is the very ill that plagued the people when Christ came the first time.
    2 Thessalonians chapter 2 says that Christ will come after the great falling away has taken place, and why has it taken place, because people refused to receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. The only remedy for loving the doctrines of men is to turn away from them and cling exclusively to the Scriptures. That is the work that God has done in my heart by the Holy Spirit and my understanding of the Scriptures has increased by leaps and bounds.

    Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.
    (Proverbs 30:5-6)
    I’m afraid there are many liars spreading confusion is the church of the Living God!

  24. Lauren, there is no contributor on this site that would reject the doctrine of the Second Coming. This post is not about the denial of doctrines clearly stated. It is about how we can work with others who may have a different understanding on a particular point of Scripture that is not clearly stated or may just be implied.

  25. Lauren – as someone who holds to a pre-millenial, dispensational view of eschatology, I believe those who hold to other camps are wrong. That being said, I will still fellowship with and call them brethren. At no point in these articles have JM and I said that these doctrinal issues are not important. I believe that we have both argued that we must study the issues out so that we do come to a full and correct knowledge of our faith. However, the issue at hand is that these discussions have become elevated to the point in the church lately that brethren are practically calling each other heretics because they are in disagreement on matters that are not essential to salvation. Heresy is something that would damn someone to hell. Getting eschatology wrong or baptism wrong is not going to do that. Do we debate and discuss so that we grow in our understanding of right doctrine? Yes! But do we break fellowship or anathematize our brethren because we believe they are wrong on these doctrines? Absolutely not.

  26. Darrel – I have not published your comment as you have made some overly critical remarks of TJM, which violates our rules of engagement. If you would like to resubmit it with a respectful tone, addressing your specific biblical objections to his statements, I will of course approve it. Thank you.

  27. Darrel, you have deliberately misread into every statement I made. Further you have indeed made comments designed to malign my own personal and doctrinal integrity. I have explained fully my own positions and any reader coming to this site with no perceived agenda knows where I stand theologically. I am sorry that you cannot move past your own assumptions about Scripture and can only try to gain approval for such by impugning those who do not agree with you on every point.

    Your last comment will not be printed, but we thank you for stopping by and can only pray that our words and blogs continue to provide encouragement in the gospel and the arena of discernment.

    Soli Deo Gloria!

  28. Can someone please remove me from all correspondence from this forum? I have in subscribed several times and still receive this biblical babble yet you will not publish my statements!

  29. Kevin – if you have subscribed to the comments on this blog, I have no means to unsubscribe you. If you have clicked on the link that allows you to follow all the posts on this blog, then your email should have the instructions to unsubscribe from receiving further posts.

  30. Further to note, Kevin, I have not seen any comments from yourself up to this point. You could of course resubmit, but I am afraid that your recent comment reveals a good deal about your own thoughts already. I would hope that I am wrong.

  31. Scripture taken in the normal literal sense leaves no room for differing opinions about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is when people come at the Bible with someone else’s perspective that they misinterpret the Scriptures. Scripture left to speak for itself makes clear that Jesus Christ is coming again bodily and will set up His kingdom upon this earth before the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. There are just so many Scriptures that make this clear without resorting to Revelation at all. If we look at the Scriptures through the lenses of someone else’s opinions then we can’t help but come away with a wrong interpretation. Again, God is not the Author of confusion! The Holy Spirit reveals the truth to us as we diligently study His Word. His thinking about the Second Coming of Christ is revealed in the Scriptures and we can know it as we study His Word and not what others think about His Word. One other thing, if we look at the fountainheads of these differing views of the Second Coming of Christ and the proper way to interpret Scripture we will see that they lead to apostasy! What is God’s remedy for this situation?

    “Now I urge you, brethern, note those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you learned and avoid them.” Romans 16:17

    But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to there own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. Jude 17-19

    Either God’s Word is one cohesive whole or it is a mishmosh of allegory that can be twisted to say whatever we want it to say. I for one believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God in its entirity as we have it now providentially preserved in the Received Text.

    For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
    (Romans 11:25-29)

    Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.
    (Zechariah 8:1-3)

    And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
    (Zechariah 12:9-10)

    Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
    (Zechariah 14:3-4)

    Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. But go thou thy way till the end be: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days.
    (Daniel 12:10-13)

    When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) … And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. … And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
    (Matthew 24:15-31)

    And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect’s sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:
    (Mark 13:13-28)

    For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
    (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

    And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.
    (Revelation 19:15-21)

    Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
    (Psalms 2:6-12)

    Those who allegorize the Scriptures to fit with their preconceived ideas about the Second Coming of Christ are causing divisions within the church and should be rejected as those who promote false doctrine.

  32. Lauren – given that you are willing to continue division within the ranks of Christian brethren over this matter, we will not be publishing this comment, or any further comments from you. You are welcome to continue reading our articles of course. This site exists for the defense of the faith and the edification of the saints. We will not allow people to sow seeds of discord and division.

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