Joseph Herrin (03-15-09)
This series continues the correspondence between myself and Brad Daugherty. I want to point out a matter that is very important to the heart of God. Our Father is greatly concerned for the manner in which His children communicate to one another. Much grief has been present in the heart of our Father as He has observed careless words that are lacking in love.
Brad and I at times have a different understanding of a matter, and I see such occasions as opportunities to fulfill the words of Solomon:
Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
I find that Brad has a sharpening effect upon me. His words evoke in me a response to be a pleasing son to our Father. I find myself desiring to root out any error in my thoughts, and to understand accurately the mind of Christ.
Brad is very gentle in broaching topics in which there is disagreement, always desiring to not offend unnecessarily. This is a mark of the spiritually mature. Although they are zealous for the truth, and always desire to honor God above all things, they are careful to guard love of the brethren.
In instances of disagreement the following admonition from the apostle Paul should always be kept in mind.
II Timothy 2:24-25
And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth...
It is a joy to correspond with those who are spiritually mature for, even when there is a difference of understanding, love is maintained and protected. Yahweh encourages His sons and daughters to learn this meekness by allowing them to experience much disagreement and to be met with many carnal reactions from the spiritually immature. As we observe how unpleasant such communications are, and are aware of the displeasure of our heavenly Father, those who desire spiritual maturity seek to manifest a different spirit.
I Corinthians 4:12-13
When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate...
The spiritually mature will manifest a great carefulness in their speech. They will always keep in mind that we will one day give an account to God for every word that we speak. It is therefore prudent to be slow to speak, and to only utter forth words after patient consideration.
But let everyone be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
Many of the children of God believe that a difference of doctrinal understanding gives them license to be very severe in their communications with another. I have encountered a great deal of reviling and intemperate speech over the years as I have conducted a public teaching ministry. I have at times been appalled at the lack of brotherly love among the saints. There is a quickness manifested by many to cast away all fellowship with a brother over some doctrinal disagreement. There is no greater transgression in the kingdom of God than a failure to walk in love toward God and man, for all the law and the prophets are summed up in a manifestation of love.
I John 4:20-21
If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also.
The apostle Paul declared that if we find a brother who has embraced serious error that we “must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition...”
Recently, I have been the recipient of some very rash actions and words by two sisters in Christ who have Internet ministries and mailing lists. Having a disagreement with a particular doctrine that is taught in one of my writings they proceeded to alert others, and to counsel them to separate themselves from me and all that I teach. One of these sisters said she went back and found every writing of mine she had on her computer and deleted them, considering them to be the writings of a heretic. Both sisters in Christ concluded that I was teaching “another gospel” and that this necessitated the harshest response from them.
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
How easy it is for Christians who are not perfected in love and spiritual maturity to latch onto such a passage from Paul’s writings and use it as an excuse to violate love of the brethren. Little do they realize that they are often guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another. Who is the one who is perfect in understanding? Should we not be ever mindful that by the judgment we judge others, we too will be judged?
One must always seek to rightly divide the word of God and to understand the context and proper application of an apostolic admonition. The book of Galatians was written by the apostle Paul to refute a teaching that was altering the gospel they had received from him. This false teaching was declaring that, in addition to faith in Christ, the believers must also observe the law of Moses in order to be acceptable before God.
But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. But it was because of the false brethren who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Yahshua, in order to bring us into bondage. But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
Circumcision is a sign of the Old Covenant. Those who received circumcision were declaring that they would be subject to the entire Law delivered to Moses at Sinai. The gospel of Christ that Paul preached declared that Christ had fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the law, and then by dying He had brought an end to the jurisdiction of the Law over the people of God. All who were in Christ were accounted righteous by union with Him. When Christ died, they also died to the Old Covenant. Death is the only legitimate means of bringing an end to a covenant.
Or do you not know, brethren (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over a person as long as he lives? For the married woman is bound by law to her husband while he is living; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law concerning the husband. So then if, while her husband is living, she is joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress; but if her husband dies, she is free from the law, so that she is not an adulteress, though she is joined to another man. Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.
People of God, when Paul wrote to the Galatian believers about those who were proclaiming another gospel, one different from that which he delivered to them, he was speaking of those who were making the work of Christ on the cross of no effect by declaring that in order to be considered righteous a man had to continue in subjection to the Law of Moses. This was not Paul’s gospel, for Paul taught that man had been set free from the Law that they might serve Christ in newness of life that comes by being made a partaker of His Spirit. The good news that Paul preached is that all those who are in Christ are to be led and empowered of the Spirit of Christ in all that they do.
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
In these words we can observe what it is that Paul is referring to when he speaks of some who are proclaiming “another gospel.” Yet many, who are not perfected in love or spiritual maturity, would broaden greatly the definition of what “another gospel” actually is. They would say that if a man disagrees with them on any point of doctrine that he is preaching another gospel. If this were so then it would make Paul’s words to Timothy insensible.
There are many differences of understanding among the people of God, and Christians are to avoid a quarrelsome spirit. With gentleness they are to correct those who stand in opposition to the truth, even when such ones are being held captive by Satan to do his will, spreading error among the body of Christ.
II Timothy 2:24-26
And the Lord's bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
It is very easy for the immature to violate love of the brethren. Pride and offense leads men and women to quickly reject one that does not share their understanding. But the mature will manifest patience in their relationships with others.
I Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient, love is kind...
As we discover the great depths of God’s love for us, perceiving that He has been immensely patient when we were stubborn, willful and filled with much ignorance and many wrong ideas, we will begin to walk in humility and will manifest the same patience toward others. Retribution and an absence of forgiveness; offense and an unmerciful spirit, are found often among the disciples of Christ.
And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village.
Many want to characterize their actions as being a manifestation of the zeal of Elijah, but in truth they are walking in a spirit that is quite different. Let us not be too quick to cast flames upon the head of another. God is very patient, and only as a last recourse does He pour forth judgment upon those who stand in opposition to Him. Yahweh bears long with men and women, and although we live in an hour when the wrath of God will be poured forth upon the rebellious, God takes no pleasure in their judgment.
"Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares Yahweh God. "Therefore, repent and live."
God has borne long with a rebellious people who continue to go astray, and He has given them MANY opportunities to repent. He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone. When His people harden their hearts and refuse to repent then His judgment is loosed, but we need to ask ourselves if we have been as patient as He has been.
“And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.”
Prophets and priests have often been surprised at the great patience of God. Jeremiah expected the judgments God placed in his mouth to be carried out swiftly. When God delayed for decades to fulfill His word, Jeremiah felt that God had deceived him. I too have often anticipated that some judgment that God has declared would manifest much sooner than God intended. Yahweh is patient, desiring that men should repent.
II Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness , but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
In an hour when the Spirit is indicating that ruling authority and the powers of the age to come must be bestowed upon some select vessels, it should be kept in mind that God will only place such things upon men and women who share His character and are exceedingly humble. He cannot entrust power and authority to those who would use it as James and John would have that day when they asked the Lord if He would have them call down fire out of heaven on those who had treated the Lord with prejudice.
Brothers and sisters who are quick to violate love of the brethren will prove themselves to be unfit to receive ruling authority and power. They must prove their meekness by embracing the cross; by speaking a blessing to those who curse and revile them; by seeking to conciliate when they are slandered; and by exercising patience and gentleness when they find others who have embraced false doctrine and wrong understanding.
Does any Christian really think God is more concerned for doctrinal correctness than He is with conformity to His character? If a person acts in an ungodly manner in seeking to refute error, how can they assume their actions are pleasing to their Father in heaven? A man or woman who says they love God and are zealous for truth, while manifesting hatred for their brother, are liars and the truth is not in them. Christ is truth.
As I have corresponded with my brother Brad Daugherty, I have observed a very meek spirit when there is disagreement. There is a gentleness and patience that encourages me to excel in the same attributes. Truly God is concerned about the inner life of a man, for the kingdom of God is not external, but is established in the heart of a man.
Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you."
We must keep in mind in all the distresses and trials that are coming upon the earth, that our greatest victory will be revealed as we still the storms within our soul. When we walk in peace when others are full of fear and panic; when we are patient when others are acting in haste; when we are gentle when others are angry and violent; when we lay down our lives when others are taking up guns to defend theirs, then we will see the kingdom of God present in our midst.
Our conformity to Christ is revealed in many ways. You can get an indication of how a man will act in coming days of great conflict by observing something as ordinary as how he responds to conflict in his conversations today. How are you doing in such things? Are you easily provoked? Love is not. Are you quick to respond with angry words, or does your communication exhibit gentleness and patience?
Many of the people of God who have not been paying attention to such common matters in a day of peace will find that it is exceedingly difficult to walk in the character of Christ in a day of distress. For those who have endured much hostility from others, and have borne such things with patience and meekness, consider yourself blessed. You have been being prepared for the days which are at hand.
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