Monday, April 23, 2012

Respecting Persons

So a couple of weeks ago, we found a church to go to after a long search. It has been a challenge to find a King James Bible reading and believing church. And even this one has some errors.  Yes, I know...there is no "perfect church".  But we aren't looking for perfect.  Just a truly Bible believing group of saved people walking in holiness. But so far, this church is the best we've found yet. And we've been looking for a long time.

Our (my husbands and mine) personal misgivings are titles, traditions of men and tampering with Scripture.  To explain:
    2. Titles: these are the names people like to call themselves and mostly, to be called. Preachers want to be called "Pastor".  Do you think Jesus is going to call them "Pastor John" in heaven? Titles mean an awful lot to men. It's a pride issue I believe.  The positions people have in the church, be it preacher, teacher, bishop, elder or usher, doesn't warrant a precursor title to their name. I think titles should describe their position. Like, "this is John, he is the pastor."  And "this is Paul, an apostle of God".  But in Scripture God opposes having respect of persons:
Romans 2:10-11 ...For there is no respect of persons with God.                                                                                     
Psalms 138:6 Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.                            
Ephesians 6:9 ...neither is there respect of persons with him.
Respect of persons means to respect someone's person - who they are because of their position.  This is not to be confused with giving honor due to those due it. (Rom 13:7) But when someone treats one person with higher esteem than another due to their title or fame, that is respecting persons. 
Some titles reference belief systems.  In our family, we call ourselves Bible Believers or followers of Jesus Christ. Or simply, Christians. But because their are so many 'systems' or doctrines of men, people feel compelled to add titles to their beliefs in order to distinguish themselves by which man they follow.  
Many people at the church we're attending call themselves "Baptists".  But unless their main activity consists of taking people down to the river and baptizing them, there is only one person in history who deserved that title and that was John the Baptist. Some friends of ours call themselves "Reformists", some Presbyterians, and on and on it goes.  
2. Traditions of men.  Doing certain things at certain times in certain ways. Traditions of men. This is offensive to God.  One example: the habit some preachers have of yelling while they preach.  I know they must think this makes their earnestness more apparent, but to me it is the opposite.  I am not deaf.  
Other traditions include certain church protocols. I particularly cringe at the "every head bowed, every eye closed" routine.  Why on earth do some church leaders call for this?  Is humbling yourself before Christ something to be ashamed of? 
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.                                           
 Matthew 10:32-33 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

There simply is no call for people to act or do things any different in a church setting than they would in any other setting. The Lord is with us all the time and our behaviour should be the same no matter where we go or who we're with. If it's done for show, it's insincere.

3. Tampering with the Word of God. There are particular doctrines of men which are simply not in the word of God, such as "once saved always saved". We cannot play "cut and paste" with the Word of God.  Either we believe it as its written or reject it as its written.  But let's not tamper with it. 
Another common but false doctrine of men is the "sin nature".  This is the preaching of having two natures and two men (old and new). This is an anti-scriptural doctrine as well. The Bible contains many scriptures that teach the opposite. 
Colossians 3:9-10 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.
So anyway, we found this church, it happened to be Easter weekend and I was concerned about the stigma attached with people who show up at a church for the first time on Easter, you know?  It's the one time people with guilty consciences attend church in the whole year.  Well, this is not the case with us, but my husband said we wouldn't worry about it, so we went anyway, stigma and all! :)

This is a somewhat newly planted Baptist church (2 yrs old in June) and it's very small, which we actually prefer. I think I counted about 20 adults in the congregation. Yup you heard it right - twenty. :) It could be because the preacher is earnest about preaching the Word of God, and the Word of God is narrow.  And in society today people don't like narrow, they like liberal.  But God said "Narrow is the way that leadeth to life" so we know that narrow, if it is biblical, is actually GOOD.  :)  

So yesterday during the get acquainted time, I enjoyed getting to know some of the people.  One conversation I had with a lady yesterday was particularly interesting. She shared the same name as me only with a different spelling and her first day attending was the same as ours - Easter. So we shared some laughs about the stigma attached to being a first time visitor on Easter.  We shared how we each found this little church and she mentioned Peter Ruckman's college referred her.  She actually called herself a "Ruckmanite" because she agrees so heartily with his teachings. While I understand apprecitate someone's contributions and character, I would never call myself an anything-ite.   

Why is there such unquenchable desire in people to associate themselves with someone they like to the point of becoming a follower, a fan (fanatic), or an "-ite"?  The Apostle Paul noticed this same odd pursuasion and rebuked it:
1 Corinthians 1:12-13 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

I told her that my family and I were not Baptists and she gave me a look of intrigue mixed with surprise. lol. :)  I also shared that I don't call or consider myself a "Ruckmanite" but a Bible believer.  I hope I gave her some food for thought; she looked as if this hadn't occured to her before - to just be a believer and follower of Christ and him alone. 

Sometimes the church today reminds me of the mentality public high schools with all its cliques, groups, clubs and popular kids.  Everyone wants to be associated with the popular kids.  The same thing goes with celebrities. How many people kick themselves because they once knew someone who is now very famous. But they're no longer in contact with that person or perhaps they didn't appreciate them at the time.  But they'd give their eye teeth to know them now.  Why?  Respect of persons

Another example of this was in the tv show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  Didn't the builders who volunteered their skill, time, effort and resources do it for the fame, glory and honor?

Psalms 8:5  For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.

Men love glory and honor. How many of these same individuals would do those same things for some poor soul if ABC and Ty Pennington weren't involved?  If you or I were to organize a humble little building project for someone local, could we get that kind of support for free?  See?  Respecting of persons. 

Jesus said he will have none of it.  And neither should we. 

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