Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Closed Christian 4: Denominations

I have mentioned several kinds of closed Christians. Some of them are hard to recognize because they have been around so long we think they are normal. This kind is in denominations. Even if we accept differences we can still be closed. The differences may be

in church government
in systematic theology
in holiness
in eschatology
in baptism
in form of worship
in ethnicity
in language
in communion
and any combination of the above.

Even if the differences are okay, the way we hold to our distinctives is not ok! The way we hold on to them makes us closed Christians. Read and meditate on all of Romans 14 and I Corinthians 1:10-12, I Corinthians 3:1-4, and I Corinthians 11:18-19. The last three are posted below.

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, 'I follow Paul'; another, 'I follow Apollos'; another, 'I follow Cephas'; still another, 'I follow Christ.'” (I Corinthians 1:10-12)

“Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,' are you not mere human beings?” (I Corinthians 3:1-4)

“In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval.” (I Corinthians 11:18-19)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Closed Christian 3: Men Followers

This group can be small churches or mega churches. Because of this they do not seem to be closed. Their superiority is not in doctrine but in personality. They are Christians who follow one man. He may be right in his teaching. The followers may also hold to the truth, not because Jesus is the Truth but because the teacher said it was the truth. This is very dangerous. The teacher could add something false and the followers would buy it because he said it.

Many years ago I was visiting a new Presbyterian Church in Omaha. The congregation, not big, was sitting on folding chairs. The pastor, a young man, had previously been a campus pastor in Iowa. His text, I think, was Matthew 18:6, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

He was liberal in his theology so I wondered what he was going to say about the text. He preached for a while and finally got around to his text. He said, “Millstones are to teach you to swim underwater.” I was caught off guard. I started to laugh. This was the point of his message. The pastor said it, therefore it was true. We are not to be men followers unless they are imitating Jesus.

“…just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (I Corinthians 10:33-11:1)

Otherwise there are quarrels among you.

“Now I say this, that each of you says, 'I am of Paul,' or 'I am of Apollos,' or 'I am of Cephas,' or 'I am of Christ.' (I Corinthians 1:12)

“And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, 'I am of Paul,' and another, ‘I am of Apollos,’ are you not carnal?” (I Corinthians 3:1-4)

Christians who are men-followers are not spiritual, but worldly, even if the teachers are good teachers like Paul or Apollos. They are closed Christians.
In the Lord Jesus Christ,

Jim Wilson

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Christian 2: Small Groups

Small groups can be a wonderful means of fellowship. They can be a great means of building each other up in the faith, increasing unity. They can be a better means of studying and understanding the scriptures. They can be one with other small groups.

However, they can also be a “closed” group of “us four and no more.” They are superior and exclusive. This is sin.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Closed Christian 1: Individual

The extreme “closed” Christian is the one who does not go to church of any kind because the churches are all “wrong.”

The second extreme “closed” Christian does not go to church because most of them are “wrong.”

The third extreme “closed” Christian does not go to church because the people in the church are not Godly. They are gossips, etc.

The fourth does not go to church because it is judgmental.

The fifth does not go to church because it is held on Sunday Morning.

All of these Christians are, in themselves, extremely judgmental and proud. They are isolated Christians. They are part of the body but acting like they are not part of the body. They are unbiblical.

“A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1 NKJV)

The isolated Christian is an anomaly.

“Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?  But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.  If they were all one part, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” (I Corinthians 12:14-31)

In the Lord Jesus Christ,
Jim Wilson