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Klamath Falls Seventh-day Adventist ChurchJoin us every Saturday for Sabbath School at 9:30 am Worship Service - 11:00 am
Facing the Winds
The closer we come to the return of our Lord, the more we should expect to see the changing “winds of doctrine” in our churches. Satan and his helpers hate the message of salvation and fear the power of God’s final message of love and warning to our world. They will do everything in their power to twist and pervert the Word of God and will even try to use our own members to do it!
We are facing an onslaught of false teachings and teachers in our churches today. It is now common to encounter some of our own church members who deny fundamental beliefs regarding the Godhead, the deity of Christ and the distinct personhood of the Holy Spirit. Some churches are challenged by people who are insistent that we exclusively use the “sacred names” of God, essentially saying that God is offended if you pronounce His name in any other language than Hebrew. I have even encountered individuals who have told me that God is deeply offended if I refer to our Lord by the name “Jesus”! There are still other doctrinal aberrations we face in our churches that are too numerous to mention here.
In response to these dangers, the apostle Paul pleads "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." – Ephesians 4:14, 15.
Recently, one of our members shared something that they witnessed during a worship service, something that really disturbed them. They observed another member during the sermon, flipping the pages of their Bible and pointing out texts to their neighbors in the pew, saying: "See, he's wrong", referring to the speaker. The person continued this behavior throughout the sermon.
When a person dissects the sermon to others while the message is being preached, at least four negative things are happening:
1) It is a bad example for our children. From an early age, we train our children to be courteous and respectful in God’s house. Shouldn’t they witness a good example from our own adults?
2) It is disrespectful to the person sharing the message. Unfortunately, common courtesy is at times a rare commodity. Even if I heard something in a public presentation that I considered to be completely outrageous, I would not respond by criticizing the speaker to my neighbors. I would show enough restraint and respect to wait until the message was over, then I would prayerfully consider approaching the speaker to ask if he would clarify his remarks. Call me old-fashioned, but I still believe in “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
3) Quite frankly, it is arrogant! When a person picks apart a sermon to his neighbors, he is essentially saying this: "I am much smarter, more savvy, more spiritually in tune with God... than the person sharing the sermon. Listen to me, not the preacher. I will show you the real truth."
4) The critic is not allowing the Holy Spirit to communicate to Him. If I listen to a sermon with the motive of picking it apart, I do not allow any room for the Holy Spirit to speak to me. It has been said that God gave each of us two ears and one mouth for a good reason! James said it this way: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” – James 1:19 (NKJV).
Every church has some well-meaning, yet misguided, members who have “pet doctrines” that they wish to convey to their fellow church members and even guests. It is our responsibility as pastors and church leaders to address this problem, as it effects the spiritual health of the entire church. Paul was always bold in his letters to address this kind of mischief in God’s church. So was our Lord Jesus.
Paul wrote: “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words.” – 2 Timothy 4:14,15 (NKJV). There is still “much harm” being done today by self-willed men and women who are resisting the words of God’s messengers. Yes, we all need to be like the Bereans, searching the Word of God for ourselves. Yet the Bereans were able to study for themselves without being rude or obnoxious to those who held different views than their own.
Jesus faced the exact same challenge in His earthly ministry. The religious leaders, the "scribes and Pharisees", were constantly dogging His heals, trying to take His words and twist them in the worst possible ways.
Until the Lord returns, God's genuine messengers will continue to deal with the damage done by these people, used as tools of the enemy to distract others from the path of God and truth. Almost always, these individuals will seem sincere, well-meaning and zealous for the Lord, yet they are nonetheless doing the work of the enemy. Jesus described them as coming “in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” – Matthew 7:15 (KJV). We all need to have the courage to call these people out from the shadows, where they do their destructive work.
I conclude with this insightful quotation: “There are some who imagine that it is their duty to be church tinkers. It is agreeable to their natural feelings to be seeking spot and stain in others; they watch diligently for something to reprove, and they become narrower and narrower in their ideas, until they are ready to make one an offender for a word. In the Sabbath meetings, when all should be individually engaged in the worship of God, an accusing spirit is allowed to come in, and one bears testimony against another. This spirit is wholly unlike Christ, and leads to dissension and wrangling. God no more accepts such worship than He accepted Cain's offering. There is no more effectual hindrance to growth in grace than this disposition to criticize and condemn others. We have in our experience seen this accusing spirit gradually enter the hearts of church-members until it had leavened nearly the entire church, and the result was that little of real godliness or of the spirit of Christ remained.” (Pastoral Ministry, page 268)
Lord, have mercy!
- Pastor Steve