Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | November 9, 2008

Cutting Off My Ipod

I must admit, as I look back over my entire Christian walk, and maybe my life, I’ve always had a somewhat critical disposition. It wasn’t that I wanted to put other people down and exalt myself. (That’s especially true now that I’m born again.) At least that wasn’t my primary motivation. It was really that I wanted to understand why people thought the way they did. I wanted to know if even they understood why they thought the way they did. I wanted to know why they seemed to have glaring contradictions between what they said they believed and how it affected the way they thought things through. 

As I learned more about any number of subjects, I began to developed a habit of being especially critical of those whom I held in high regard. I began to ask, myself, questions about the things I noticed. Why did my dad stay in the COGIC given all the bible that he knew? Why wasn’t my mom able to take the same advice about handling life’s many challenges that I watched her give to anyone who asked? Why wasn’t anybody besides my dad, my brother Samuel and myself more biblically driven (at least as far as I thought we were, turns out I was wrong) than emotionally?

Well the habit of criticizing those whom I admire has continued up until now. Which brings us to the point and subject matter of this post. Currently on my Ipod are some of the people that those of us, who are more”conservative” theologically, esteem pretty highly. Men such as: Matt Slick, Bob DeWaay, John Piper, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, Ravi Zacharias, Greg Koukl, James White, J. Vernon McGee, Alistair Begg, and the gentlemen from the White Horse Inn program.

Normally, I really enjoy listening to all of these programs, especially when I first started. But admittedly, the more I study the scriptures (and talkto Bro. Lionel Woods, yep it’s all your fault dude! LOL!!!)  the more I find myself wanting to pull my hair out. Sometimes I find myself wondering if I’m reading the same bible as these guys. Sometimes I question their motivations for saying what they’re saying. Sometimes I wonder if they are saved! And this is where I need to pump my brakes!Here it is, the guy who wrote the article “RoboChristianity” where I challenge the “everybody should think like me” mentality, and I’m wondering about guys eternal state based on a few disagreements. And none of them in the area that we would consider the “Essentials”. Lord help me!

So it seems that I have a real dilemna. As much as I desire for these gentlemen to govern their teachings (mainly their applications) by scripture, it is crucial that I’m just as taxing on my own behavior. So here’s my catch 22. I have really been challenged lately by two passages of scripture. I believe both are related to my current issue. Matthew 5:29-30 and Titus 3:2-7.

The Matthew text reads, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for the whole body to go into hell.” Now of course this scripture is dealing more with being willing to give up anything for the sake of eternal life. But if Jesus applies this principle to something as important as that, then surely it can be applied to living out my Christian life and avoiding ill will and judgmental thoughts towards other brothers. 

The Titus text reads, “to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing EVERY CONSIDERATION for ALL men. For WE also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, DECEIVED,….”.

I stop there because it is so important to remember where I was and still am in some areas. Deceived! Blind! Obstinate! Since I grew up in Church and in a Christian home, the Word of God was right there in my face all the time and I chose to ignore it. I am truly one who is without excuse. Continuing….

“…enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, HE SAVED US, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”

In other words, a person’s salvation is not dependant upon them, nor does it rest in what level of knowledge that they can claim they have. It rest solely on the grace of God. Does that grace produce evidence? Yes! Am I always able to perfectly assess that evidence? No way! So getting to a point where I wonder if these guys are saved is, in my opinion, crossing a dangerous line.

So, do I keep listening to these brothers, take the good with the bad and extend them the grace of God that I desire for myself? Do I accept the challenge of Titus? Or, do I accept that I’m so weak in this area that it is best to just discontinue listening to them until I mature more? (I’ve already applied this method to a certain website that shall remain nameless) In other words, do I apply the principle of the Matthew text? Or would this just be an attempt to excape being tested? If I just stop listening, then how can I be challenged to apply the Titus text? Is there a way to apply both scriptures? Maybe it’s not the Ipod or these men that are the problem. Maybe it’s me and the fact is I need them so that I can learn to both cut off my own ungraciousness and to extend grace. 

Think about this with me. Maybe you can identify with my struggle. What would you suggest I do?

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Responses

  1. I am thinking about this with you. Matter of fact I am praying for this one with my friend. I do encourage you to continue searching the scriptures man. The application of them is an important part, so I pray with you in figuring out how to apply Matthew 5:29-30 and Titus 3:2-7.

    Shannnon said to me the other day how she feels about MacArthur’s teaching. As much as she enjoys it, she feels that it doesn’t focus on the intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, taking a walk through the park and talking with Christ, and Christ speaking back. I told her “babe, that’s all in the scripture like when Jesus Christ departed to pray or look at the Psalms!” I think the struggle comes to is we don’t get to see how these brothers live. I know having good Christian friends helps me apply the love in scripture to my life for others.

    I met a guy from my church named Danny. He said he used to be real hard on the scriptures with people and had to learn how to love people. He did and as he applied the word of God, God gave him more wisdom in talking with and loving people. He would go jails and speak with hard core criminals and learned how to apply the scriptures in love.

    I am basically saying, both scriptures can be applied. You may have to cut off the IPOD, but don’t speak evil of these men at the same time. I hope what I said may bring a little insight my friend. May the Lord extend His grace to you. Love you bro;

    Karsten Miller

  2. In the words of Shaggy “It wasn’t me”! But seriously look at what KM said:

    “Shannnon said to me the other day how she feels about MacArthur’s teaching. As much as she enjoys it, she feels that it doesn’t focus on the intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. For example, taking a walk through the park and talking with Christ, and Christ speaking back. I told her “babe, that’s all in the scripture like when Jesus Christ departed to pray or look at the Psalms!” I think the struggle comes to is we don’t get to see how these brothers live. I know having good Christian friends helps me apply the love in scripture to my life for others. ”

    I believe Shannon is right. Where are those sermons that tell us that God is a personal God who speaks with us not only in the scriptures but also in our hearts. A God that meets our needs, that know that we are naked but covers us. Where is that God that Paul talks about having this intimate fellowship with, one of losing himself in Christ, the fellowship (Koinania) of His sufferings. The scriptures that talk about God calling us His “beloved”. Nah, that is too soft right? KM, Shannon is right bro.

    I still believe these men have some really good insight but I think it need to be balanced with somebody else a bit more “softer”.

  3. BLD,

    I guess it can be a catch because I have not have the opportunity to hear such teachings growing up in Pentecostal churches in the south. Though I may not agree with everything that is said I find that it challenges me to get in my word a lot more to get understanding. The downside is that if not careful a bit of pride can rise up.

    I just learned the concepts of the reform thought about 2 years ago and still trying to clear some of the word of faith garbage from my mind. It has been a long process as well as a lonely walk when everyone around you is still focused on God as the spiritual Santa Claus and you see him as truly God but you are the odd ball. But I think we have to be careful not to read into the text with our presuppositions that at times can be difficult.

    I think that is why it is important to have brother such as yourself and Lionel who challenge the mainstream of the faith. I read a book review that Lionel wrote a while ago that made a lot of sense. I think was Anthony Carter book and he made a statement about the book being good theologically but really talked over the head of the people he was writing to. This sums up a tension of sorts to me of making sure I do not ostracize those who I am really trying to reach because I am trying to get to the meat of the scripture that at times is not on the surface.

  4. Bro. Karsten,

    You definitely brought some insight! I have to work on the “not speaking evil” part. Because I don’t stop at disagreeing. I actually go on to questioning their motives, which is sin!

    Thanks bro!

  5. Bro. Lionel,

    I do find it “balancing” to have brothers like J. Vernon McGee to go along with Paul Washer. You are right, their insight must be treasured even if it causes us to come to the conclusion that they are wrong. At least it made us think!

  6. Bro. Brian,

    The fact that the “red flags” that go off when we hear certain things from our “favorite” preachers is indeed a blessing when it causes us to get into the Word for ourselves. I didn’t realize how often this happens. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction and giving me something positive to focus on!


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