Sunday, June 17, 2012

Coming to the Aid of those who teach Heresy

Coming to the Aid of those who teach Heresy

The silence of many tells a frightening story that says that if we cannot and will not speak up on even the basic issue of what to do to be saved, the church is ripe for a mass apostasy.  If “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 4) means to keep silent because one must never engage “much dispute”(Acts 15), then we are not even the same church as the church that Stephen stood and died for engaging in debate with the Synagogue of the Freedmen and others (Acts 6-7).  If we cannot engage “much dispute” as the apostles and elders did in Acts 15, we have received a different set of morals and principles than they received and we stand to be taken over by “every wind of doctrine” that blows in (Eph.4:11-16).

If you do not have the courage of conviction to oppose and challenge brethren bringing in a wind of doctrine contrary to the New Testament our Lord died for, then please let me encourage you not to stand in the way or discourage those who are trying to take a clear stand for the truth.  If you suspect that someone who challenges another is being unkind and has not prayed fervently and tried to appeal to those brethren behind the scenes,  at least ask them before you make that rash judgment. We need to make sure we are not aiming our displeasure in the wrong direction.  If you think, without even investigating, that brethren have “‘handled this all wrong”, and you have not demonstrated how it SHOULD be handled by actually getting involved with the teacher of error to try, in whatever way you imagine he should be confronted, to move him/her to correct their error, then don’t discourage those who are trying, in their best judgment,  to do what you should have already handled yourself. This spirit of aiming your displeasure, not at the teachers of error, but at the defenders of truth, really plays well into Satan’s hands. There is nothing he would like better than for brethren to either say nothing or to come to the aid of those who teach heresy.  We really need to think about this. – Terry W. Benton

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Promoting Misunderstandings about Legalism

Promoting Misunderstandings about Legalism

In it I called for brethren to examine how they are joining the misguided denominationalists in calling brethren in Christ “legalists” without giving a fair and scriptural definition of what exactly this SIN of legalism actually is.  To date I have seen several brethren continue to make the charge but continue to evade and avoid giving a proper definition. I’m convinced that some of these brethren are not being honest, and that they are simply parroting the word for prejudicial reasons only. It is also a bit self-righteous on their part, as they seem to pretend that they have reached some greater level of spirituality that allows them to think that they have escaped this malady of “legalism”.

I would love to get someone to man up and participate in an orderly discussion of this issue. Perhaps it can be stated in some propositional form. But, what will these brethren affirm and deny?  Here are some possible examples of propositions:

1.       It is wrong to seek to obey the commandments of the Lord for this would be the sin of legalism.

2.       It is wrong to insist that people do something to be saved for this would be the sin of legalism.

3.       It is wrong to teach that we are justified by works and not by faith only for this would be the sin of legalism.

4.       It is wrong to withdraw from members because of violations of law because insisting that people not violate God’s moral law would be the sin of legalism.

5.       It is wrong to insist that people be sure that they were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins because it is the sin of legalism to question a persons’ understanding in the conversion process.

I would think that brethren who charge other brethren with the sin of legalism would be too careful not to actually engage such propositions because it would clearly backfire and they would lose the debate. So, what could be the purpose of using this word against brethren and refusing to give it proper definition and discussion?  It seems to be used in vagueness because they merely want to prejudice brethren by pontificating and posing as if they have reached a more meaningful level of spirituality that is not attached to keeping the Lords commandments. Forget that Jesus said “if you love Me keep My commandments”, and forget all that John said about this in 1 John.  Prejudice and trying to use the word “legalist” or “legalism” to prejudice minds is a form of carnality and unreasonableness.

Brethren, we have every right to know the sin of “legalism” and how exactly it is a sin.  We do not need to throw this unbiblical term around without sufficient definition.  As far as I have been able to determine the only legitimate definition for this term that meets criteria of scripture as a sinful thing is “insisting on law without mercy”.  Now, I really do not know any brethren (perhaps there are some I don’t know about, but I doubt it) who teach and insist on law without mercy.  I need all the mercy I can get, and I try to teach people how mercy is offered and obtained because we all need it.

Next time you hear a brother throw that term out there, politely request a definition that fits the Bible criteria for such a term.  If it is insisting on keeping God’s law, then Jesus and His apostles were legalists.  If it is something other than “insisting on law without mercy”, then get these brethren to define it and show from the scriptures that it is a sin, or quit throwing the term around so loosely.

We do not need any more wedges to divide us. We need clear minds and good, honest hearts, and willingness to study and test all things.  We do not need to promote prejudice with empty words that mean various things to various people. That does not promote understanding and unity, and we do not need more misunderstanding. So, let us communicate and try not to talk past one another. Let us be willing to define our terms and use them correctly so that misunderstanding can be reduced.  Every idle word will be brought into judgment. Let us not forget that.    
 Terry W. Benton