Friday, May 01, 2009

In Submission to Sovereignty: Greatest Hits

While still mired in blogging-burnout, I remembered what many popular musicians do when new material is slow in coming: they release a "greatest hits" album. So having complied a modest library of blogs (some of which some of you may have missed)I present to you: In Submission to Sovereignty: Greatest Hits!!!

With the increased media exposure of the likes of Creflo "Cashflow" Dollar; I thought we should be reminded of . . .

The Subtle Sinfulness of Silence

I knew when I began publishing this blog that my comments about heretical teachers, aberrant theologies, etc. would ruffle a lot of feathers. I expected to encounter fierce opposition and that many would be offended by what I have to say. I can honestly state, however, that it is not my intention to offend. It is my hope that someone, somewhere is given pause to think about what their being taught and then to move in a God-honoring direction. One of the unfortunate side-effects of "truth" is frequently "offense".

Of greater concern to me, is the prospect of having to stand before God one day and having to explain why I was silent. Having to explain why I said nothing when I observed some of those very near and dear to me walking toward a cliff. I firmly believe that my salvation is a done deal and that my sinful silence would be forgiven; but let's just say that I want to be able to cast as many crowns before the feet of my Savior as is possible.

That said, I would like for you to consider a few scenarios and honestly answer for yourself . . . what would you do?

Imagine, your mother needs serious medical treatment. She selects a physician whom you know to have been misdiagnosing illnesses, prescribing improper medications and has been successfully sued for malpractice multiple times. Would you warn your mother? She really likes this doctor. She really trusts this doctor. What would you do?

Imagine, your brother receives a large sum of money and decides to invest in the stock market. Your brother chooses a stockbroker whom you know to be entirely disreputable. He charges exorbitant fees for his services, all his clients have lost large sums of money while he continually prospers greatly. Would you warn your brother?

Imagine, your sister falls in love with the man of her dreams. They become engaged and begin to plan their wedding. One night, your staying at a hotel and you hear the unmistakable sounds of a loud sexual encounter going on in the room next to you. When you leave the next morning, you observe your sister's fiance exiting that same room with another woman (or man, you pick). He looks at you winks and says, "C'mon, dog, you know the deal"! Would you tell your sister?

I'm not the "Amazing Kreskin", but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that in each of the scenarios, you would be singing like a canary. So why is that where health, money and romance is concerned we feel duty bound to reveal the truth; but where the more eternally consequential effects of false teaching are concerned, we suddenly clam up? Why are we not concerned about being perceived as judgmental, arrogant and holier-than-thou in those scenarios; but just want to live and let live when a person's walk with Christ is endangered?

I recently received a couple of answers to this sort of question. One person said that they would pray for the person and wait for God to reveal to them that their place of worship was apostate. Then they hoped that the person would see it for themselves and leave. Let's apply this solution to the scenarios that I have just presented. Praying is absolutely necessary and should be the first step; but are you going to tell me that as your mother is being prepped for surgery by Dr. Hamhands, all you are going to do is pray?! Please don't tell your brother that you prayed for him as he cashes in his son's college fund to pay his mortgage because Dewey, Cheatum and Howe landed him in the poor house! And after your sister contracts AIDS from her philandering husband, I'd keep that "I prayed you would find out" stuff on the down-low!

As bad as these results are, the result of failing to speak up to our brothers and sisters who are under the thrall of false teaching and counterfeit christianity is far more detrimental. A false teacher, by definition, teaches falsehood and a house built on the sands of falsehood will surely collapse. And unfortunately, no one who has been ensnared by these lies can point their finger at the teacher on the day of judgment. They failed to study to show themselves approved and they will reap what they have sown. But you said nothing.

It was also suggested that since the person is "saved" it doesn't matter that he is under false teaching because he's going to Heaven anyway. My response to this is always, "are you sure"? I mean you have to be omniscient (God) to rest in this assumption. It was further suggested that, if a person walks down the isle and has the Gospel explained to him and he receives Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior, then he is "saved". My answer to this is, "possibly". It depends on which Jesus he "received". If he received the Jesus of the prosperity gospel, or the Jesus who according to Creflo Dollar was not God is he really "saved"? These are false Jesuses and a false Jesus cannot save, truly. If, however, they somehow trust in the Biblical Jesus Christ (how that is possible in places that barely mention Him is truly a miracle) they are now obliged to forsake false teaching! A "profession" doesn't save anyone. A life of obedience and trust in the person and work of the Biblical Jesus Christ is evidence of our salvation. To paraphrase "Forrest Gump": "saved is as saved does" (see James 2:14-26).

In my humble opinion, there are four main reasons why a person who knows better would remain silent in the face of a loved one's peril.

1. Fear of losing friends/relations.

You might remember the old cliche': "If you love something set it free. If it comes back, then it's yours. If it doesn't come back, then it never was". As mushy as it sounds, I believe that it is true. If you are not allowed to openly express your heart and concerns to someone whom you call "friend", I suspect the term "friend" has been misapplied in this particular arrangement. It is said that "friendship is essential to the soul". Can it be denied that trust is essential to friendship?

The stance I have taken has caused major arguments with members of my family; it has even loosened bonds with those who once pledged that nothing could ever do so. I would like to think that if the situation was reversed they would love me enough to warn me, regardless of my reaction. The Word of God says to do unto others as you would have them do unto you (Matthew 7:12). I can sleep well at night knowing that I have.

If someday I am shown to have been wrong about the deeds I have charged any of these teachers with, I will be the first to repent and apologize. If the future proves me to be correct, my door will always stand open to them.

2. Fear of confrontation.

Going along just to get along. I don't have a lot of sympathy for this situation. Let's just say I'm happy that Martin Luther King didn't suffer with this problem. I'm glad Muhammad Ali didn't have this problem. I'm really glad Jesus didn't have this problem.

Jude urges us to "contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3). Paul instructs us to ". . . rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not devoting themselves to . . . the commands of people who turn away from the truth" (Titus 1:13-14).Peter warns us to ". . .take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose you own stability. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:17-18).

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (II Timothy 1:7). Go grow a backbone!

3. Individualism.

We as the body of Christ have lost our understanding of community, the communion of the saints. An "I've got mine, you better go get yours" mentality pervades. We are saved individually, but we are ingrafted into a shared vine. We are our brother's keeper. Paul vividly illustrated that we all are to function together and if one of us is damaged, we all are damaged (I Corinthians 12:12-26).

4. Lack of love.

Oh, I can hear the jaws tightening already. "Who are you to suggest that I don't love my family/friends"! Hold on there, Tex! Don't get your drawers in a wad! As shown in the previous scenarios, "Love" compels us to act in the best interest of those we love. Love compels us to protect those we love. Love sacrifices it own comfort for the sake of others. Love weathers the misunderstandings and anger directed at it. If your "love" is lacking these qualities, maybe your heavy on emotional love and a little light on volitional love, agape love.

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend,
But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful". Proverbs 27:6


Is this silence sin? Here's the bottom line, the Word of God states that to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17). We really have no excuse for our silence. Are we going to repeat Adam's folly in the Garden of Eden? Are we just going to stand there knowing the commands of God and say nothing while the serpent seduces our friends and family? That's how we all got into this mess in the first place!

"Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand." Ezekiel 33:2-6

Be Like the Bereans, Baby!!!