Thinking Biblically Commentary 2/7/04
What’s With The Divisiveness ? A Few Thoughts On Christian Unity and Judgment (Part 1 of 3)(no time to read ? Listen to it online: http://theologicallycorrect.com/realaudio/unity-part1.m3u – 13:45)
I recently caused a bit of a stink (don’t I always) when a friend of mine posted on a discussion board that I frequent regarding her experience at a Benny Hinn crusade. After some other folks on the board noted that Hinn had been exposed as a fraud on Dateline a few years ago, I chimed in with Hinn’s history of false prophecy and false teaching, and providing a link to his 2000 prophecy that Jesus would physically appear with him during his crusade in Nairobi, Kenya.As in times past, I got an eyeful via e-mail, accusing me of being divisive, stuck on ‘head knowledge’ and not being concerned about people, lack of compassion and a few other things. I told the person I wrote back to that I wondered if they’d read their bible regarding what the scriptures say our responsibility is when folks preach false doctrine.This isn’t a new problem, by the way. Paul warned Pastors in Acts 20 to guard the flock because as soon as he left, savage wolves in sheep’s clothing would try to make their way in and destroy the flock with false teaching. Hinn’s not the only guilty party here. I’ve heard (and have saved here on site) a whole sermon where Creflo Dollar denies that Jesus Christ was God during the incarnation. Yet folks still flock to his church and conferences like ants to a picnic. What’s even worse is that even in the face of direct evidence, some folks seem not to care about false doctrine. Just as long as we all ‘love each other in Christ’, it’ll be ok.Speaking of false brethren, thanks a lot Mase and R. Kelly. Mason Betha, for those of you who don’t listen to hip-hop, was the second up and coming starchild of Bad Boy Records (owned by Sean ‘P-Diddy’ Colmes). A few years ago, after Bad Boy’s headliner act, Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down, Mase left the hip-hop scene, claiming to be born-again. “Man, Tupac and Big lived that life and look at where they are now. You think I want to end up there ?’, he told a popular magazine. So Mase left. He began preaching on how hip-hop music was ‘evil’ and disdained ALL manifestations of it – even slamming gospel hip-hop artists like the very theologically sound Cross Movement.Well, it’s 2005 and Mase is not only back, he’s back like he’s never left (his album dropped in August of 2004). All of his spokespersons have put a positive spin on his sudden return to what he once called evil, never mentioning any of his past comments. They, instead, say that he’s now going to minister to those in the industry and be one of the few forces in the industry with clean lyrics. Don’t think folks in the world haven’t noticed. Rappers like Cam’ron have called up local NYC radio stations while Mase was on-air and called him a hypocrite to his face. Rapper Fat Joe of the Terror Squad sings ‘I was goin’ to find God, but now that Mase is back, I think I’d rather find a ménage.’ When Mase was ordained as Pastor over his own S.A.N.E. (Saving A Nation Endangered) Church International after only a few months of leaving out of the hip-hop game, who didn’t see this as ‘too soon’ ?Do I even need to mention R. Kelly ? In one breath, he’s got a song out entitled ‘You Saved Me’, in the next, he writes about a lady moving her body in a seductive fashion (‘Move Ya Body Like A Snake, Ma’). Kells lost his credibility a while ago and has been a bit of a joke amongst many, especially in the African-American community. He’s had a history of accusations of sexual misconduct with underage girls and a history of shutting his accusers up with money. Anyone else thinking Kirk Franklin endorsed him a bit too soon a few years ago in New Man magazine ?Of course, this is the point where I say ‘now let’s stop and think biblically about this for a moment’. What’s the common denominator in all of the examples given above ? Why am I bringing up divisive topics like who might be brethren and who ain’t and running down lists of sins ? Don’t I have my own sins to deal with and couldn’t someone just as easily pull out a list of things we’ve all done which have served to drag Christs’ name through the mud ? Doesn’t the Bible tell us not to judge ?Putting aside all issues named above, let’s FIRST talk about the divisive issue of whether or not believers should make ‘judgment’ calls against the behavior of folks who claim to be believers. The answer is an unequivocal YES. This doesn’t constitute a judgment on the heart of a person – only God can judge the heart, because only God sees the heart. But believers ARE commanded – repeatedly – in the NT to judge the FRUIT of the lives of professing believers around them. The other half of Matthew 7:1 reads like this: “2 For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:2-4, NIV) What Jesus is telling us here in this very hilarious word-picture is that we are to judge with RIGHTEOUS judgment. The same standard for judging, for example, false teaching, MUST equally be applied to both the judger and the judgee. This introspection is given as an admonition to be ‘real’ with our Christianity. No one could call Mase a hypocrite if he’d fess up that he was wrong in the past on calling hip-hop the ‘devil’s music’. He’d be judging his own work fairly – both past and present AND he’d be letting us know he is ‘real’ and capable of being wrong and open for correction.But that’s not all. We’re commanded to ‘diligently test all things’ in 1 Thessalonians 5:21 and hold on to that which is good or proved. The image is of a jeweler applying a hot fire to rock of gold to find impurities. In 1 Corinthians 11, we are told that every man is to examine himself before coming to the table of the Lord. And further, Paul chides the church for not disciplining its’ membership and points to it as proof of why some have grown weak, sick and some have passed away. A few chapters prior in chapter 5, Paul tells the very loving and tolerant Corinthian church to put out a man who has been involved in an incestuous affair with his mother-in-law. The reason ? A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Put away the evil from among you. Do not associate with someone who claims to be a brother, but whose visible life is either “sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler” (1 Cor. 5:11, NIV). Don’t even have lunch with him.But 1 Corinthians 2 is the clincher. Believers are told that because we have the Spirit of God, we are qualified to judge things – not just some things, but ALL things. 1 Timothy 3:16-17 tells us that the scriptures are God-breathed and are to be used for reproof, correction, training in righteousness and all areas of the Christian life so that the man or woman of God may be thoroughly equipped to carry out every good work. How in the world can you decide what is a ‘good work’ if you’re not judging anything to be good or not good ?Many of our churches today are missing this level of discernment. They do not judge righteously – in fact, many don’t judge at all! And here lies the root of the problem facing believers and their visible unity.Such things were not a problem in the early church. When false teachers floated around teaching that the resurrection and final judgment had already passed, Paul did not only deal with the doctrine at length in 2 Thessalonians, but he named names. This point is important – if someone was going around murdering folks, wouldn’t you think it stupid of the police to issue a statement saying ‘Well, we just want to let you know there’s someone murdering people. We know his name, but out of kindness, we’re not going to reveal it to the public. We don’t judge people.’ How much more for those who teach doctrines that lead people into SPIRITUAL death! So Paul tells us to ‘mark off’ or ‘point out’ folks who cause these types of divisions in congregations (2 Thess. 3:14) and not keep company with him. Paul reminds us of folks like Hymenaeus repeatedly in 1 Tim. 1:20 and 2 Tim. 2:17 who are false teachers. Jude tells believers to ‘earnestly contend for the faith’ in Jude 3 and 4. All of these passages are utterly useless if the believer doesn’t make some ‘judgment’ as to what the faith is and what the faith isn’t. Further, all of these commands to abstain from company with folks who fall under these categories cannot be carried out if we don’t take time to analyze the fruit put out by folks who claim to be brothers. It is in this non-discerning atmosphere that ‘false prophets’ secretly bring in destructive heresies, as foretold in 2 Peter 2:1.”Wait, Kerry.. I thought this was about Christian unity ?” It is. We need to have discernment, first and foremost on WHAT it means to be a Christian and WHO we call ‘brethren’. One of the questions recently posed to me by a charismatic believer who shuns my criticisms of Benny Hinn is ‘What Did the Holy Spirit Tell You ?’ Well. God doesn’t work in a vacuum of ignorance. Old Testament prophets were studied and steeped in the scriptures and all they taught. The bulk of today’s pseudo-prophets and ‘evangelists’ have about as much in common with OT prophets (or NT Prophets for that matter) as a Lexus RS 330 has in common with a horse and carriage. The falsity of their claims becomes apparent when they can’t even get basic doctrine right – or don’t care to. Christ said His sheep know Him and hear His voice. It is highly unlikely that His audible voice would discourage further systematic study of His word, which is His written voice. And until we get back to the final ‘standard’ for judging all things righteously, which is the Word of God, the church will remain divided.When we take the offensive with righteous judgment and judge the fruit of those professing to be believers – well, a lot of things come to light. First, we know that any true prophet of God won’t fudge on basic doctrine. So when a T.D. Jakes says ‘I’ve purposely remained aloof from theological controversies because they don’t matter to me’, we know something is WRONG with this picture. So when Benny Hinn comes forth and claims to make a prophecy that Jesus will appear physically on the platform with him during his crusade, we know that this is false. After Jesus left the earth in Acts 1, the angels told us He would return in like fashion as He left. We see this will be fulfilled in Rev. 19 at His second coming. So Hinn’s theology is already suspect. Even examining the truth of his prophecy and whether or not it came to pass – Hinn falls terribly short.When Creflo Dollar comes out and teaches that Jesus was not God the Son when He entered humanity, red lights go off all over the place for me (and if you believe the scriptures, they should for you too!). John 1:1-14 vs Creflo…guess who wins. No matter how many people attend Creflo’s seminars, he’s a heretic if he gets this point wrong (and he does). He is NOT a brother – and falls under the condemnation of 2 Peter 2 and Jude 8-17.When Mase gets ordained in a short amount of time with no solid theological background coming straight out from the world, the passage on the qualifications for a bishop or elder come to mind. one of which is NOT to lay hands on a new convert. So Mase’s going back into what he once called evil and having other rappers mock him and Christ is no real surprise to me.When I hear R. Kelly come out sounding spiritual in one song and quite fleshly in the next, questions like “Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” I truly wonder if this brother is simply pimpin’ folks in church because he has a good voice. And even moreso, I wonder why those who name the name of Christ who have named him as a ‘brother’ in the past are not condemning his behavior and calling for his visible repentance. Of course, many of us have ‘R. Kellys’ in our churches.like the choir director and a member living in open sin or the members who cohabit and engage in sexual sin intercourse prior to marriage. Or the openly homosexual deacon. Need I go on ?The question I’ve heard is ‘Where is your love and compassion ?’ Actually, this call to be discerning IS love. It’s Biblical love. Biblical love pulls no punches, speaks the truth, lacks the mushy sentimentalism we’ve come to accept as love and is active in demonstrating itself. Because the Holy Spirit within me is grieved at the state of the church today, I write these words and implore those who name the name of Christ to follow the words of the Master. Because I love my brother and want to see him live, I’m going to not keep company with him so that he might be ashamed of his sin (2 Thess. 3:14) and repent. I’m going to warn him as a brother that the wrath of God is coming upon him and all those like him who think God is mocked. I’m going to warn the Mases’ of the world that he, like Peter, was demanding that folks live one way and then himself going back to living another and that this is hypocrisy and does nothing to advance the cause of the Kingdom.I’m going to write letters to ministries like T.D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar and ask them to stand up for the truth or stop calling yourselves Christians. And if they chose to remain in error, by the power of the Holy Spirit within me Who testifies of the God-Man Christ, I will oppose such false teaching and continually preach ‘REPENT!’ until the last breath of air passes from my lungs and the Triune God Himself calls me home.This, my friend, should be cry of every Christian heart. A love and a passion for God’s truth is the FIRST step on the road to Christian unity. And when we’re unified on truth and able to judge rightly because of it, the church of Christ will grow.For Theologically Correct dot Com, I’m Kerry Gilliard. Be blessed.