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Monday, August 09, 2010

Doctrinal Pride Is Dividing the Church More Than Ever Before!!

     The Internet is probably the greatest invention since television, which has transformed the communications industry as never before. Traditional forms of transmitting and obtaining news and information, such as newspapers, books (and even television) are experiencing a major impact (both negative and positive) on these once powerful institutions. The rapidity of the rise of the Internet’s power and influence has impacted all areas of social, political and economic concerns.
     Many in the church community praise the Internet for providing them not only access to information it could only obtain at their local Christian bookstore, they feel it now also provides them with pulpit power that was heretofore limited to their local home churches on Sunday mornings and maybe Wednesday night Bible study services. It most definitely has many positive attributes if used wisely.
     What many in the church do not realize is that the easily accessible progeny to the once dominate electronic church podium, has given rise to rampant doctrinal assaults by a myriad of ersatz prophets, who are preaching a different Gospel than the one the Apostle Paul spoke about in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1. Many church folks do not realize that their ecclesiastic future could very well suffer an irretrievable state of existence it was once proud of, because the Internet pulpit has actually become both the assassin and the victim of varying doctrinal assaults. A myriad of web sites and Internet media channels are literally flooding the web like locust on an African desert. Sadly, the messages coming from many of these venues are eating the souls of the church rather than feeding it with the true word of God.
     Many of these folks actually believe their message is from God, especially those who preach the Zionism Gospel, if it could even be called such. Without going deeply into that debate, many conservative Christians, especially, believe that God has an unfulfilled agenda for the State of Israel, claiming that its salvation has already been granted regardless of its unbelief (Romans11:23, NIV), and that it will be blessed with a geopolitical Kingdom, headquartered right there in Old Jerusalem, when Jesus Christ returns. Suffice it to say, that politically created ideology is driving a wedge between the predominately conservative wing of evangelical Christianity and the true Disciples of Christ. The Apostle Paul spoke directly and quite adamantly about this division in the Church:

     10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas[a]"; still another, "I follow Christ."
     13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
     18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
     "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
     20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. (1 Corinthians 1:10-25)
     The main nuance of this group of scripture is that in essence, Paul got right down to the main cause of the strife and contentions, Pride! Matthew Henry ever so eloquently comments:
     "He (Paul) hints at the origin of these contentions. Pride lay at the bottom, and this made them factious. Only of pride cometh contention, Prov. 13:10. They quarreled about their ministers. Paul and Apollos were both faithful ministers of Jesus Christ, and helpers of their faith and joy: but those who were disposed to be contentious broke into parties, and set their ministers at the head of their several factions: some cried up Paul, perhaps as the most sublime and spiritual teacher; others cried up Apollos, perhaps as the most eloquent speaker; some Cephas, or Peter, perhaps for the authority of his age, or because he was the apostle of the circumcision; and some were for none of them, but Christ only. So liable are the best things in the world to be corrupted, and the gospel and its institutions, which are at perfect harmony with themselves and one another, to be made the engines of variance, discord, and contention. This is no reproach to our religion, but a very melancholy evidence of the corruption and depravity of human nature. Note, how far will pride carry Christians in opposition to one another! Even so far as to set Christ and his own apostles at variance, and make them rivals and competitors."
     Matthew Henry tells us that Paul was not about about baptizing or administering other church duties. His mission was to preach the Gospel of Christ, which its basic foundation is, THE CROSS!
    "He left it to other ministers to baptize, while he set himself to more useful work, and filled up his time with preaching the gospel. This, he thought, was more his business, because the more important business of the two. He had assistants that could baptize, when none could discharge the other part of his office so well as himself. In this sense he says, Christ sent him not to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not so much to baptize as to preach. Note, ministers should consider themselves sent and set apart more especially to that service in which Christ will be most honored and the salvation of souls promoted, and for which they are best fitted, though no part of their duty is to be neglected. The principal business Paul did among them was to preach the gospel (v. 17), the cross (v. 18), Christ crucified, v. 23. Ministers are the soldiers of Christ, and are to erect and display the banner of the cross. He did not preach his own fancy, but the gospel-the glad tidings of peace, and reconciliation to God, through the mediation of a crucified Redeemer. This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our joys. By his death we live. This is what Paul preached, what all ministers should preach, and what all the saints live upon." (Matthew Henry Commentary on 1 Corinthians, Chapter 1)
     I guess I could be accused of failing to preach the cross as well, because my books focus more so on refuting the Pre-Tribulation Rapture theory. I have been chided for this on many occasions by people who say the timing of the Rapture and of Christ’s return does not matter, which is truth to a certain degree. But more than the timing of Christ’s return, my polemic is aimed at those who are being duped to believe that God has a future (and different) plan of salvation for Jews, and who promote the myth that the state of Israel is God’s timepiece for ushering Armageddon. While those who believe in this premillennial, dispensational doctrine claim that all Christians have to support the State of Israel (regardless of its un-Christian like behavior), or else they will be punished by God, there is no geopolitical kingdom in store for the state of Israel, nor any esoteric salvation plan in store for its citizens, nor for any other nation other than the cross! There is no Jew nor any Israelite from any of the 12 tribes who currently possess a "Get Out of Jail Free" card they can redeem after Christ returns. It's either you believe now, or suffer the same consequences all non believers will experience. To believe (and promote) this predominating political ideology, is to go against anything and everything God’s word has revealed to us from the inception of salvation. Once again, Matthew Henry comments on this:

     "We have the different effects of this preaching: To those who perish it is foolishness, but to those who are saved it is the power of God, v. 18. It is to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but unto those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, v. 23, 24. 1. Christ crucified is a stumbling-block to the Jews. They could not get over it. They had a conceit that their expected Messiah was to be a great temporal prince, and therefore would never own one who made so mean an appearance in life, and died so accursed a death, for their deliverer and king. They despised him, and looked upon him as execrable, because he was hanged on a tree, and because he did not gratify them with a sign to their mind, though his divine power shone out in innumerable miracles.

     The Jews require a sign, v. 22. See Mt. 12:38. 2. He was to the Greeks foolishness. They laughed at the story of a crucified Saviour, and despised the apostles’ way of telling it. They sought for wisdom. They were men of wit and reading, men that had cultivated arts and sciences, and had, for some ages, been in a manner the very mint of knowledge and learning. There was nothing in the plain doctrine of the cross to suit their taste, nor humour their vanity, nor gratify a curious and wrangling temper: they entertained it therefore with scorn and contempt. What, hope to be saved by one that could not save himself! And trust in one who was condemned and crucified as a malefactor, a man of mean birth and poor condition in life, and cut off by so vile and opprobrious a death!
     This was what the pride of human reason and learning could not relish. The Greeks thought it little better than stupidity to receive such a doctrine, and pay this high regard to such a person: and thus were they justly left to perish in their pride and obstinacy. Note, it is just with God to leave those to themselves who pour such proud contempt on divine wisdom and grace. 3. To those who are called and saved he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Those who are called and sanctified, who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, discern more glorious discoveries of God’s wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified than in all his other works. Note, those who are saved are reconciled to the doctrine of the cross, and led into an experimental acquaintance with the mysteries of Christ crucified." (Matthew Henry Commentary, 1 Corinthians, Chapter 1)
     No! My purpose for writing my two books was not to make money, nor gain any sort of fame in the Christian community as being some brilliant Bible expositor, but to reach those disciples of Christ who are convinced that citizens of present-day Israel are God’s Holy people, and that they are destined to get a free pass on salvation. There is nothing holy about any nation in the whole world (regardless of its perceived status of being God’s chosen people) who do not believe in nor accept Jesus Christ as the savior of the world. That is the Bible preaching Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians, chapter 1, the cross and nothing but the cross!
     I will be chided by many among the Christian Zionism camp for believing that God views no nation as being special in Hs eyes; not the state of Israel, not the United States, nor Mexico, Japan, Britain, Iraq, Iran nor is any governing body in the entire world any more special than the other.

     At the beginning of my books, in an effort to establish great unity among my writing peers, I state emphatically that the books should not be viewed as the last word on the eschatological debate that has been raging among Christians for over 180 years. I also emphatically state that my search for truth did not end when my books were finished. Our search for God’s truth and His will for us is a never-ending quest. For us to stand upon our own perspective doctrinal precepts, as being truth and nothing but the truth is sheer folly, motivated (as Paul infers in 1 Corinthians) more so by pride rather than seeking unity among the church.


     We (Christian writers, bloggers, communicators, teachers, and pundits) like all disciples of Christ, need to continue seeking greater illumination of God’s word and never rest on the assumption that a perceived doctrine we have been taught in our Christian journey can pass canonical muster, other than Jesus, at the cross, and Him crucified. We must all continue our studies into these matters, constantly searching in Berean-like fashion any scriptural evidence that substantiates other scripture that confirms God’s truth.

     More importantly, as newer evidence concerning God’s overall redemption plan unfolds, we must all remember that gaining (and or teaching) this knowledge is nothing we can take credit for, as if it comes from our own cleverness and intellectual understanding. If anything, we should bow down before the throne of grace and give praise to the author of wisdom that He would even consider saving our wretched souls (like mine), and much less for using us in a communications ministry.

Hopefully, some day soon we will have unity among the brethren, because we know that no one will be saved unless they believe in the cross, and the cross alone. If you do not believe in Jesus Christ now, nothing else will save you, especially not a politically created philosphy that has no Bible support, whatsoever!
     It would be great to soon see a single-minded sense of unity among the Christian community, but frankly, I’m not holding my breath!

For more information about this blog and the author’s two books,
The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, please click on Joe Ortiz
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