Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Don't overreact

Brothers, sisters we must will all our strength beware of overreaction. There have been countless precious truths and realities overlooked because of overreaction, and I wouldn't try to list them, but i want to briefly touch a few.
Above all we must realize with the Apostle Paul "by the grace of God i am what i am..." "what do you have that you have not received, and if you received it why do you boast?"
These statements should humble you to be very cautious in how you approach people and the truths of scripture. There are some truths that many have come into that are very difficult to grasp early on, especially in the majority of churches.
As Paul Washer speaks of when someone becomes a Calvinist (that they should lock that person away for a year so he doesn't hurt anyone). Why does he say that, it's not the truths coming from what is sometimes called Calvinism, but how many people react when they start to grasp these truths. They act like they NEVER were taught it, or never struggled to grasp it and that if you don't have a grasp on it then you can't be saved. One overreaction is to completely disregard every and anything you've ever benefited from any non-Calvinists.
Most often overreactions produce scorn of others, a prideful attitude (a despising) in teaching, and ultimately overreactions usually becomes an idol.
THe greatest danger to the glory of God in overreaction is that we take something that is good and give people a bitter taste of it because we strip it of it's heart, it's grace, it's beauty. On the other hand in many overreactions like to the extremes of Charismatic Churches we ignore the ministry of the Holy Spirit, we ignore the emotional aspects of Christianity.
Beware then saints of God, not to ignore truth because you've seen it abused. Be careful not to despise your brothers and sisters because they don't understand, help them.
TEST: When you meet another person who says they are a Christian or a minister or a seminary student WHAT first comes to MIND?????? Do you wonder first if they are a Calvinist, or wonder if they are Reformed, Paedo Baptist, Dispensational, Charismatic? If that's often the first thing that comes to mind, i would say you are overreacting then, you are focusing on minors. The first thing that should some to mind in light of the Scriptures, in light of Christ, in light of the centrality of the gospel, in light of the fact all believers will fellowship together in heaven, the FIRST question that should rule your first impression is I WONDER IF THIS IS REALLY A CHILD OF GOD, is this person a true believer, are they my family, do they grasp the gospel? That should be our greatest and primary concern. Then as opportunity arises you might be able to address errors, but address them with sympathy and humility.
To some extent I've been blessed not to overreact to things i've been exposed to. As for the doctrines of Grace, i've come to cherish and love these truths because i wrestled for years over certain scriptures (before ever hearing it taught correctly) that i just couldn't fit into what i thought was true.
As to my exposure of Charismania, I've been in some of the wildest churches you could imagine and have seen a tremendous amount of hype and hysteria. Yet by God's grace I've also been exposed to a couple of these fanatics that have left a lifetime impression upon me. Not every Pentecostal or Charismatic is void of the scriptures, (Wayne Grudem is Charismatic as well as C.J. Mahaney!) not everyone is emotion driven and there are countless differences on signs and wonders among them. I was blessed before my salvation, to be exposed to a Pentecostal church in England, a Church led by a very young pastor (mid twenties), a church that was very diverse, a church that evangelized on the streets every weekend. This church wasn't predominately women, it wasn't led or influenced either from any mystical women (been there). At the time we were only in England for 15mths, i was about 11 and would often spend time with the older men of the church. There was an incredible amt of fellowship, it was unthinkable NOT to go to church (not as some RULE) but because you just wanted to be around that family. If you were sick as a pentecostal you just believed it better to just go (and perhaps God will heal you there (NOT BECAUSE YOU GO) ) If you did miss, someone would call maybe a couple of people (not a designated person, but concerned church family people).
It was quite amazing to be around young guys that really loved Jesus, that loved to speak of God, i remember often going to the Pastors house and he'd be in his study. I remember going to the 'before work' prayer meetings at different people's houses, with whole living rooms filled with people on their knees crying out to God for salvations and the like. Again this wasn't the extreme 'who can shout the loudest and the most' type of charismatic prayer meetings.
Despite some of the falls; i can say even today I'm challenged by what i saw in many lives there. I so wanted to be like these guys, even though i didn't know Christ then, they were in my 11yr old eyes so cool, i was attracted by their passion. After we left England (that time) things drastically turned for me, I revolted against everything Christian, I pursued my own lusts with great force, I in my High School days fought hard against anything of God because I had IMPRINTED on my mind what a surrendered life LOOKED like and I DID NOT want to submit (despite my lack of doctrine, my un-enlightened depraved heart: I KNEW to be a CHRISTIAN was a DRASTIC CHANGE). I practically erased the thought of that church and those friends from my mind, UNTIL i truly was saved and in my dissatisfaction with the American Church that i was exposed to, I started to remember these saints, and the seeds they planted 10yrs before that started to birth and bless me with a passion for MORE. Not to see miracles, not for a type of experience per se, but I longed TO find PREACHERS who were ENAMORED by God, who were FIRST in love with JESUS. It's so funny that i really thought that was absolutely hopeless in America. I really felt like some Elijah and all i wanted to do was to move back to England (yet God had other plans among exposing me to a great multitude of faithful and passionate believers in America).
WHEW! Ok so all that to say we must be careful, especially in putting 'types' into boxes, especially if they are believers.
Legalism is another, it seems within the reformed camps that so many have so rejected legalism that they have begun to turn good counsel, biblical principles, and searching rebukes into legalism. As long as you are vague or just harp on something you already know everyone doesn't accept then you'll be popular, but start hitting home and you're a legalist. I'm surprised how individualistic some reformed brothers can be in their lives, many totally unconcerned with what image they give of Christ to the world. The only thing that seems to matter is that they have doctrine correct and to not feel condemned ("Jesus accepts me, I'm saved by grace, I have liberty and if i give you mixed signals then that's YOUR problem).
There are so many subjects that have been abused, that need to be reexamined and MORE churches NEED TO TAKE A STAND on, that are being called 'choices' and on the other hand there are other things that have been so elevated that should have more freedom.
May the Lord help us to pursue biblical balance in all things.
Let it always be clear, that i don't promote TOLERANCE or doctrinal stupidity; We MUST contend for the faith, yet let's not kill other saints in the process. Let us speak the truth in love, and let us not be deterred from all that God has provided and commanded becuase of the extremes of others; Our banner our camp must be JESUS CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED!!!

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