Ch. 1. Is Christ Truly God: The Doctrines That Divide By Erwin Lutzer (NASB)
October 3, 2018
1st Timothy 1:15 “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.”
1st Timothy 6: 13 “I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, 14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”
You might recall an ad that ran in many newspapers back in 1982 saying, “CHRIST IS NOW HERE”. Our Lord Maitreya, the long awaited world ruler, had arrived.” These are quotes from the first and second paragraphs of “The Doctrines That Divide. He goes on to say, “Buried in the fine print was that this man was known by Christians as The Christ; Jews called him The Messiah; Buddhist called him the fifth Buddha; Muslims called him Imam Madhi; and Hindus called him Krishna. Then came the punch line: These are all names for the same person.”
Now I want to ask you who are Christians, believers in Jesus Christ. How does that make you feel deep down in your spirit? Does it make you feel uneasy, or a sense of discomfort? Maybe you were just a little angry or appalled. To be perfectly honest with you, I felt all of those things. Did you come up in a Church environment that taught according to Acts 20:27? The Apostle said, “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God”.
I want to take a brief moment to share with you the Greek definition of the word ‘shrink’ in this verse. I do this because many Christians do not have the resources, time, or even the desire to dig below the surface of God’s Word.
It is the Greek word ‘hupostellō’ meaning:
1) to draw back, let down, lower
1a) to withdraw: of a timid person
2) to withdraw one’s self, i.e. to be timid, to cover, shrink
2a) of those who from timidity hesitate to avow what they believe
2b) to be unwilling to utter from fear
2c) to shrink from declaring, to conceal, dissemble
The quote from that 1982 newspaper threw many Christians off balance. You might wonder how I would know such a thing. Because back in 1980 I became a disciple of The LORD Jesus Christ, however, the Bible was not the first book I studied. I was without a church home or a Pastor, nevertheless, my hunger for knowledge about God was real. Therefore, of all people, I wanted to read books, which had never happened before. The only problem was, without supervision I stumbled upon a book on astrology, and a companion book called “Survival Into The 21st Century”. That book was New Age to the core. You see, I was a Born Again Believer in Christ because I knew that He made Himself real to me. Unfortunately, I had yet to receive The Baptism of The Holy Spirit. After reading about the stars and learning how to create what they call a Birth Chart. I gained an understanding of the planets and how they affect each sun signs. Then, after about six months of that nonsense, The LORD led me to my first Spirit-filled church, and my first Pastor, James P. Norman. This man did not shrink in the least from declaring to his congregation the entire Council of God. For example, did you know that there are two great commissions in the Gospels?
Many of our modern day churches preach Matt. 28:16-20, while others will also blend Mark 16: 16 that says, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” This account speaks to the supernatural power (dunamis) of The Holy Spirit. On the other hand, the former addresses salvation and making disciples of all men:
Matt. 28: 16 “But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority (exousia) has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
One denomination of Jesus’ day believed in angels, miracles and the supernatural power of God to raise the dead, their better known as the Pharisees. While the Sadducees did not believe in angels, the resurrection of the dead nor miracles. We still have that divided way of thinking today. Preaching the message of salvation is for the unsaved, not the saved. While still, you might be attending a church that will not move on from what the Book of Hebrews calls elementary:
Heb. 5: 12 “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. (Heb. 6: 6) “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do, if God permits.”
So for many, the question remains, is it the will of God for me to grow? Maybe because verse 3 of Heb. 6 says “And this we will do, if God permits”. Of course it is. Our Father God wants us to grow from babes in Christ into the fullness of the stature of The LORD Jesus Christ. Even in the natural, a baby must go through the stage of teething, for if he or she does not, they will never be able to eat solid food. Doctrines that divide keep the Body of Christ at the stage of infancy. The truth is, over the centuries the Church has diminished in power because of this. We cannot seem to rise above the following:
(NKJV) Prov. 6: “16 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”
Proverbs 28:25 (KJV)
Believe it or not, I am not trying to stir up strife…I am trying to end it. The above ingredients bake the cake of Doctrines That Divide in the Body of Christ. Therefore, we must not blame The Father for the division in churches today and do not get mad at me for pointing these things out. And For those who want to play dumb, you’re busted…God knows your heart. I am just doing my job. I am first a Teacher, and secondly a Prophet. If you have read the O.T., you will pick up on this one thing about Prophets, they tend to say things to the leaders of God’s people that piss them off, and they do not want to hear it. Jesus said they killed His Prophets, why. Because they spoke as Oracles of God, through them Yahweh would express His displeasure. We must come to the realization that we are no better than Israel or Judah. We have a Better Covenant, but we can still be full of ourselves. We have fallen into the same pit that the Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, and Essences fell into, division, and those seven deadly sins. To be continued…