I had 30 spam comments this morning on my blog, which is why the comments are moderated. The spam comments are all very similar. There is a nonsense sentence followed by links. Who would do this? What are they trying to accomplish? I’m having trouble thinking of a scenario where someone would actually click on those links.
This post is called “Questions and Complaints” because those are where most of my writing ideas come from. Either someone asks me a question or I’m complaining about something I don’t think is right or don’t agree with. This post is on the complaint side, a hodgepodge of responses to things I read this morning.
I got up early this Sunday morning, read Discover magazine a bit, then got online and googled “the church,” hoping maybe to find some interesting, committed group of people that understands the importance of the church. I found out that there’s an Australian rock band called The Church, and it’s also a popular name for bars, both in America and England. However, I also found a number of sites of churches.
It fascinated me to find a group in London that has a web site just beginning. The one page they saw fit to have up on their site was their beliefs page, which was arranged, of course, like a statement of faith with numbered points. Point number one was their belief in the Bible as the “word for word” revelation of God. They even saw fit to describe the Bible as the “complete” revelation of God.
Should this really be point number one in a statement of faith? The early churches had a statement of faith that over 300 years developed into the Nicene (or Apostles) Creed, which never mentions the Scriptures, despite the fact that the bishops at Nicea had a strong belief in the inspiration of the Scriptures (the books of which were not yet defined; several were still in question). These bishops had such a strong attachment to the Scriptures that the greatest difficulty at the Council of Nicea was a struggle over adding an extra-scriptural word to the statement (they called it a “rule”) of faith they were developing. Nonetheless, the only reference to the Scriptures in the creed they came up with, which is still quoted weekly by many churches today, is in the line “. . . rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
The next church page I went to was http://www.thechurchofgod.com. Their front page has only one paragraph on it. It begins with “Welcome to the official website of the Church of God. We are fully committed to the Bible . . .” That’s nice. How about God? Are you committed to God? Can you be? Or is he unknowable, and is it dangerous to try to follow him?
That’s my greatest objection to all these statements about following the Scriptures. Do you know that the Scriptures say they can’t be followed unless you’re first following God? The Word of God is foolishness to the natural man, and the natural man cannot comprehend them. God–yes, God, that being that runs the universe–must reveal the things of God to you in order for you to understand them. Examine away! Study the Scriptures! Make sure you’ve carefully checked out everything you’ve been told! In the end, unless God gives you revelation, you will be deceived.
What should you do about all these voices calling out to you? How do you decide between all the various groups claiming to be the church and all the various messages coming from Christian denominations? Check it out in the Scriptures, right? That’s not what the Scriptures say. The Scriptures say that you will know a prophet by his fruit. Only a good tree can produce good fruit. Bad trees will produce bad fruit.
That’s the teaching of Christ. I wonder if we believe it. I am in possession of a 19-page refutation of Rose Creek Village written back when we were “The Church in Bethel Springs.” The pastor who wrote it gave a glowing testimony of our fruit here. He said that the testimony of all the brothers he knew who had visited was that we were everything a church ought to be. His conclusion? This great fruit was produced by a bad tree. How did he know it was bad? He disagreed with Noah and me on a couple interpretations of Scripture. Worse, he couldn’t even present any good arguments for those interpretations of his. All he had is that his interpretations were more common than ours. Surely Scripturally it is not a very good argument that there are a multitude of people–a broad path–that agree with you, especially when you acknowledge in advance, as this pastor did, that his own church and others like it are prone to backbiting and half-heartedness.
Let me give you a different message. If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you have some idea where I’m coming from already, you are open to it, and you will look at what I’m saying Scripturally and agree. However, if you’re just passing by and found this blog on a search, there’s little chance you’ll agree with me no matter how clear the Scriptures are on the following subject. American Christians like to honor the Scriptures with first place on their statement of faith, but actually believing the Scriptures when they disagree with that statement of faith is of little importance to almost any Christian. Really. I’ve talked to thousands of them all over the world. It is a rare Christian that can look at a Scripture verse honestly if itÂ disagrees with his or her church.
Okay, so here’s that different message. It is the church that is the pillar and support of the truth. People who believe that the Scriptures are the pillar and support of the truth really don’t like it when I say that, but it’s simply a Scripture quote (1 Tim. 3:15). There’s a similar statement made in 1 John 2:27. If someone is trying to seduce you, John says, the safety you have is that “you don’t need anyone to teach you, but the anointing will teach you all things, and it will be true and not a lie.” The “yous” in that verse are all plural, not singular. There’s no promises that God will guide an individual into truth in this manner–in fact, there’s promises to the contrary (Heb. 3:13)–but 1 Jn. 2:27 does promise some sort of infallibility to an obedient church.Â History testifies that this guidance into what is true comes with stops and starts, mistakes and corrections, but it is nonetheless a guidance into truth, and it is a promise of God, a promise he has repeatedly fulfilled.
If you really want to follow and believe the Scriptures, you need to follow and believe the anointing of God with other believers. Can you imagine a statement of faith that began with, “We believe that all the truth and revelation we have has been humbly received from God by the anointing of his Spirit because we can’t trust our carnal minds to interpret Scripture without that revelation”?
I promised a hodgepodge of issues, but I got carried away with this one, and this post is long enough. I’ll address the other major issue I wanted to cover in my next post. I think it’s important to cover the issue of trusting God’s anointing over and over and over again. Many American Christians are stuck in dead and powerless tradition, and those who are not don’t have a clue about the power and importance of the church. Thus, they are stuck in a system that keeps them in fellowship with dead and powerless Christians, pouring themselves out in ministry to them, until they become burned out, exhausted, and sometimes unbelieving. They have no idea what God wants to bring them into, the joy and power of the unity of disciples. They have no idea of the ministry God will automatically create if those who have given their lives up for God knit themselves together as God’s people, having the candlestick of God’s approval in their midst (see Rev. chs. 1-3), and becoming the city of God whose light cannot be hidden. It’s far more important than people realize. Just because Christians gather together doesn’t mean that God calls them a church. It is possible to have your candlestick pulled (Rev. 2:5), yet wind up together trying to be a church without realizing God has departed from you. We quote Rev. 3:20 as a salvation verse, but it is a statement to the church in Laodicea that Jesus is now on the outside, knocking to come in, rather than being in their midst, all of them being joined to him.