I love the saying by William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army:
“I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”
That is one of the most prophetic statements I have ever read. I wonder what William Booth saw in his day that make him think the future would even be worse? I have always asked myself this question, “Do I change the Biblical narrative in any way to reflect my thinking?” A few years ago, I reviewed my theology and found that there were things I believed that was not exactly what the Bible taught. In fact, I discovered that a lot of theology doesn't represent what is written in the Scriptures at all. One such piece of theology is that you spoke in tongues as a sign of the infilling of the Holy Spirit. It is true that there was evidence of tongues present when the Holy Spirit was present, but it never says that specifically tongues would be a sign of an infilling. The Bible says that tongues would be a sign to unbelievers:
1 Corinthians 14:22 So, you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers.
I am sure my early mentors believed this, so naturally, I did too. Another doctrine that has plagued the church is the idea that various gifts of the Holy Spirit, primarily the gift of the Prophet and the Apostle, are no longer needed since we now have the canon of the Bible. The problem with this is that the text does not give us this teaching, and one would have to insert this idea into the text. The text tells us that these gifts will be in operation until we come to the unity of the faith. I am quite sure that we are not there, and may never be there until Jesus returns:
Ephesians 4 12to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
This is an ongoing process and God would not eliminate two gifts that are so needed in these last days of the Church. Besides, Solomon said that everything God does is eternal, and nothing can be added and nothing can be subtracted:
Ecclesiastes 3:14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
I have written about this before, but it still seems to be a question that comes up time and time again. The Christ in our hearts should not be a Christ of doctrine in the sense that He must be held to something theologians have surmised. The kind of doctrine that is not spelled out in Scripture such as salvation, heaven, hell, the Holy Spirit, baptism, and the infallibility of God’s Word, must be subject to God’s Word and not to some doctrinal statement. I realize that doctrine is important, but only if it is spelled out in Scripture. As Christians, we argue about silly things such as the timing of the rapture, are the gifts meant for us today, and has the Church replaced Israel in the plan of God. (All of which are answered in God’s Word.) Some Christians have made God progressive, where He allows things today that He didn’t before. That is so wrong … the Bible clearly says, God does not change, ever. What God has identified as sinful is still sinful in the 21st Century, and the only thing that has changed is people's desire to make sin acceptable.
What kind of Christ lives in your heart? Jeremiah tells us that God writes His laws in our minds and in our hearts:
Jeremiah 31:33 This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts I will be their God, and they will be my people.
What does this Christ write in your mind and in your heart? Is it doctrine? Is it a statement of faith? Is it the latest Christian trend? Of course not. He writes in our minds and in our hearts the truth of His Word. The Holy Spirit, who is in our lives, is teaching us His Word, not the concoctions of a religious sect or denomination. We blast the Jews for having 613 laws to abide by, yet the Church has as many rules, doctrines, and teachings to counter that number.
The Christ in our hearts is the truth of the Scriptures and is not weighed down with provisions of the theologian, but by the simplicity of faith and belief that Jesus Christ is Lord. Be careful how you interpret the Christ of the Bible. We accept what we want to hear more often than we want to admit, and when you really investigate with an open heart and mind you might discover, as I did, some beliefs are inaccurate when aligned with God's Word.
It might be time to clean your belief closet.
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I decided that while I was with you, I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified.
Challenging the Culture with Truth … Larry Kutzler
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