The Church News
What news is there for the church? Does Jesus have anything to say to his church?
“... For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
“But woe to you, teachers ... (Mt 23:3-13)
Jesus is the only teacher! One reason why we have so many doctrines, denominations and different teachings is because we have so many different teachers.
The church news is that we need to return to Jesus the teacher. One instrument for understanding the Words of the Bible is the book of the Proverbs of Solomon, who was given more wisdom than any other person. The news for the church is: why do you consult the teaching volumes of your seminaries, teachers or denominations before you come to Solomon?
A litmus test for detecting the wrong kind of wisdom is this: Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 26:12)
Once I met a preacher who stressed the importance of sound doctrine on the one hand and on the other hand was teaching things that sounded very strange to my ears. I asked him: do you think you are wise? He could not immediately tell me with an innocent look NO.
Pride is one reason why preachers come up with a different doctrine. What are other reasons that preachers choose to preach in a way that departs from the Bible ? An important reason is failure to realize the key to understanding the Word of God in respect to controversial topics. Was the key a human who gave me words by which I think I understand Scripture? Were these words he gave me the principles of Solomon or the principles of one man or denomination or ideology or whatever we can find in this world? If the words of another person were needed for me to understand Scripture why am I so sure what he said is true ? This is especially important to consider if there are other ways which other people use and come up with different interpretations.
Let me add a personal note. I am sick of preachers who think they are so wise, and part of what they do is repeat what someone else told them. They memorized what humans taught them. These humans used Scripture but oftentimes there are other Scriptures as well which were not presented in a reasonable way. Even though humans told them the interpretation they afterwards pretend that Scripture says so. Sometimes I have the impression the ever flowing spring of godly wisdom is flowing into a tank, and then the tank is closed with a lid and labeled with a theological term and then taught to others. How can I express what I think? The temptation is to reduce the unending flow of wisdom to a system that can be fully mastered by a human with very limited understanding. Whenever a teaching makes a name for itself we must watch out for this simplifying of the wisdom of God. One truth must always be considered: "There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord" Proverbs 21:30
This important truth is not liked by proud people because they want to be wise themselves. They want to be in charge of truth and doctrine. And then fancy names are invented for doctrines. But who can tell whether there is an old tank of old water behind this fancy name? Another observation I made is this: there is a good man who seeks God and his will and wisdom. Then he finds out lies and evil in Christianity. He prays and God gives him the truth needed to set Christianity free from these particular problems. However, afterwards monuments are built for this man and the battles he fought are revisited again and again instead of doing what he did. Seek the Lord, his will and wisdom to fight against the current problems of our time. We need fresh wisdom from God and not the wisdom that He used to win the battles of old. Of course the truth that was revealed back then is still valid and it can also be true that this very wisdom is needed again but usually the devil is smart enough to come with new lies and twists.
True wisdom is with the humble. A humble person is not arrogant, pretending that he knows everything and that everything he holds to be true is true for sure. He sees very well that there are difficult topics on which upright Christians disagree. A humble person sees very well that there are Christians who were very much blessed by God with wisdom and who bore the good fruit of being part of building the kingdom. Arrogant people see these Christians differently.
God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Let us be humble in respect to interpretation of Scripture. Let us not be called teachers. Let us study Solomon daily.
Let no one be called teacher or professor or whatever. Let us only call Jesus teacher and professor. There is a lot of self-exaltation out there.
Let us all obey Jesus and humble ourselves by not pretending that sound doctrine will die with us. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches sound doctrine and who watches over sound doctrine and who will make sure sound doctrine will be preserved. Let us acknowledge that we might be wrong and let us be willing to change our doctrine if the Word of God and reason command us to do so.
Unfortunately, I must add another evil that is out there in Christianity. It is to pretend that an issue is controversial although it is very simple. The zeitgeist or prevalent ideology of the world might not be against sexual immorality. Then the temptation is to be unable to understand clear commands. There are certain sins which are clearly forbidden, but then these commandments are abolished by rhetorical tricks. There are very talented people out there who first of all know very well what the godless world likes and hates and then they twist Scripture and pretend that commandments that forbid a certain sin must be understood differently. They are unwilling to stand up against a sinful world and stand on the righteousness of God. In this respect I must also point out that the law is only righteous if it is complete. If you point out one sin you cannot overlook the other sin.
In the USA Christians point out that homosexual acts are against the law of God. This is true but it is also true that premarital sex is against God's law and adultery is an even bigger threat to society. The law of God must be followed all the way by all people at all times including the governments.
I am convinced that we can heal the rifts and cracks and splits in the Kingdom of God by practicing humility, turning first of all to Solomon and the fear of God.
My dear fellow brothers and sisters, the Kingdom of God has walls that have been knocked down. A wall is there to protect. The fear of the Lord and the wisdom of Jesus promise to protect. We must all join hands in building this wall. Please seek wisdom daily. Seek the fear of God. Study the Proverbs of Solomon each day, if possible, and we will heal if we cry out to God to give us wisdom.
We can heal if we all seek wisdom from God and if we seek and understand the fear of the Lord. Let us rebuild the knocked down walls of the Kingdom of God.
So far I have touched on the issue of doctrine.
Now I will come to culture and tradition which is held by the church. "Do not steal" is a commandment. The time of Sunday worship service is not a commandment. Whether you start at 9:00 or at 10:00 is not regulated in Scripture. The way you sing or the way you preach is also influenced by tradition and culture. If you visit a worship service in Scotland or in Congo tradition and culture will influence how the service is. What does Jesus say about Christianity in respect to tradition and culture within the church?
What do you love more? Your tradition and culture or serving new souls? What is true humility? Do you honor your guests more than yourselves? Let us say an group of African Christians show up. Will you honor them more than your traditions? A humble person places the well being of his neighbor before his own well being. Isn't it against true worship to honor tradition more than your neighbor? In respect to Scotland I must tell you that if you only sing Psalms during the worship service, when new people come and are seeking to enter the Kingdom of God, then your church honors its tradition more than the newcomers. There is nothing wrong with singing Psalms. However, the Bible also teaches us to sing spiritual hymns. And how should you sing hymns? In a way they sang 200 years ago? 200 years ago it was brand new. No way of singing has not been new at some point of time. If you truly want to do what they did 200 years ago you would also sing new hymns in a new way. Please do not understand me in the wrong way. If you were living on an island that is unknown to other humans and no one new would ever come to your church you would be free to not change a good tradition and culture. However, you want people to turn to God and come to your church. You might even want a revival where many new people come to the Lord. If so, you honor them more than your tradition and culture.
Humble yourselves and honor newcomers more than your personal preferences, which you are not commanded to follow in Scripture, but are free to choose.