ISSUES OF MY MIND AROUND ACCEPTABLE DOCTRINES
We find many people questioning many doctrines today and some defending them. I don’t wish to enter the discussion of the truthfulness, reliability or even fruitfulness of any of those doctrines which we can view as acceptable or as unacceptable. The question is not whether they are acceptable or not, but rather what is added unto them subtly in form of thought, or whatever else people are trying to prove through them.
Predestination. Let’s take the doctrine of predestination as our first example. Perhaps, there is no doctrine so wide spread in the word of God as this one. However, there are lots of other things people wish to prove indirectly by proving there is such a thing as predestination. Some wish they shall not get lost even if they sin and they don’t really wish to prove that they are chosen, but rather that they can hold on to sin and still be glorified. They do not wish to prove predestination is there for the sake of predestination itself. They wish only to carry on as always and rely on a doctrine they believe grants them some comforting hopes in sin. The question is not whether that doctrine is true, but, rather what people assume if they can prove it to be truthful or not truthful. In other words, they wish only to prove something to assume something else or to come to some other conclusion or assumption. And then, there come the opposing parties of such doctrines which cannot accept the fact that people can go on sinning for granted, and they oppose the doctrine of predestination because of it. They could oppose sinning only, but no, they believe they must oppose the doctrine. They catch up with the wrong spirit of those who hold on to the doctrine to hope upon a lie. When the doctrine is opposed, in fact, people are opposing something else indirectly, assuming that by opposing it, they oppose what they cannot stand. In other words, they catch up with the subtleness of the devil and enter the discussion standing on wrong assumptions. They oppose predestination because wrong people link it to a license to sin. Because they cannot agree with ongoing sinning – even when they themselves are not completely freed from all sin – they oppose predestination. Why? Because the ones who hold on to such a doctrine assume through it they can go on sinning because they are chosen. There is such a thing as predestination. But, the question rises as to what we are chosen for. Besides, if one can miss one’s calling, could one miss one’s predestination? “Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it”, Heb.4:1. We read this from Scripture: “I have sworn in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest, although their works were finished from the foundation of the world”, Heb.4:3. What are we chosen for? “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love”, Eph.1:4. We have, in fact been chosen and that was accomplished even before the foundation of the world - and even our works. The apostles’ time was an appointed time for the coming of Christ and Peter calls his generation as a chosen one, 1Pet.2:9. Here comes an issue one should pay attention to: “…chosen… to be holy and without blame….” Doesn’t that change our views concerning it all? Are those who fight for the survival of the doctrine of predestination aware what they have been chosen for – if they have, indeed been chosen for anything? Are they holy? And those who oppose the doctrine, don’t they fight back taking a standpoint from the assumption that says people are chosen to go to heaven instead of being chosen to be holy? Are they holy? “…Called to be saints”, 1Cor.1:2. We cannot afford to disapprove or approve something to approve or disapprove another.
Sinful nature. There is a lot I could say about this and even question the truth of it or prove it to be true. Unless we contextualize whatever we read, we may interpret in error. If I take for granted that I was conceived in sin, as David said, I must also accept that I was “intricately woven in the depths of the earth”, Ps.139:15. In other words, I was in the depths of the earth before I got into my dear mother’s womb. However, does it really matter what nature I have if Jesus comes to change it all? If our nature is corrupted or if it is merely in darkness still bearing a dead likeness of God, it amounts to the same thing. Doesn’t God make all things new? Can’t He change a corrupted nature just as He changed the face of the earth in the beginning? Can’t He make children of Abraham from stones? Proving I have a sinful nature is besides the issue, just as it is to prove I still bear the image of God awaiting to be resurrected. Why is it beside the point? The same story is repeated here: people who defend the theory (even if they take their assumption from one single verse of the Bible) do not seem to be mainly interested in proving that we have a corrupted nature since birth. In fact, they wish to prove something else by taking hold of the assumption that we have a corrupted nature since Adam. All they wish to do is to find something which makes them believe that we shall keep that nature for as long as we live. In other words, holiness is impossible because we are born in sin and will remain sinful because of a fallen nature. They do not say we become sinful if we sin after we have been cleansed – they say we remain sinful even if Christ has made us new. In other words, we are a new sort of sinfulness. Isn’t it what they wish to prove? From the other side, again, come the opposing parties: they cannot agree with the assumption that people will go on sinning because Christ makes all things new. Then, because the doctrine that says we are born in sin assumes for granted that we shall carry on sinning for as long as we live because of the sinful nature, they withstand it because they can prove we can become holy beings. Does it really matter how or where we are born? Can’t Christ make clean and turn dark souls into people full of light who are washed to be whiter than snow? Here, again, what the defenders take for granted is that people cannot be made holy by assuming a doctrine which I will not discuss against or in favor. I could, but I won’t because it is a useless discussion. It takes us nowhere because it is brought to life from a wrong standpoint. For people, to prove I have a sinful nature is proving I can, may and will carry on sinning. People who wish to prove it otherwise withstand the doctrine of a sinful nature. Let me put it this way: some say Christ cannot make all things new because we will still hold our sinful nature; the others say we will become holy, not because Christ can make clean, but rather because we do not have a sinful nature. Don’t they have something in common, even if they differ in some points? The starting point is common to both. Both agree that it all depends on the kind of nature we have and not on Christ who saves from anything to make all things new.
Prosperity, Tongues and Pentecostlism. Here again, things are discussed to deviate from true issues that really matter. Can we prosper? Of course we can, just as Salomon or David prospered under their circumstances. Can we be afflicted with poverty and sickness as Job and still belong to God and be holy under trials? Of course we can. However, the discussion for and against these doctrines center themselves on whether they are wrong or right. The same issue is neglected by both parties, since holiness and total, abnegated and complete surrender to the Lord for the sake of us being turned into holy beings to shine as beautiful stars in a dark universe is beside the question. The pattern of entangling the mind far from the issue of holiness unto God using useless discussions stands out here as well.
Only God is Holy. Here is another questionable issue. Would angels be in heaven were they not Holy? Can we go into heaven if sin has taken over our lives and the Bridegroom finds us unprepared? Here, again, the issue is around holiness unto the Lord. Let’s see. People believe we will compete with God for His glory if we are holy. They take the assumption only God can or may be holy and no one else. No one may attempt to take that glory from Him. They make it look as if it is a great sin to be holy and that God is all the more glorified if we maintain the claim that we are unholy or sinful. If, by being sinful, people would be able to glorify God, they would never be condemned for sin. Shall we be condemned for bringing glory to God? We know that the salary of sin is death, whoever the person is who sins. Therefore, no one may ever consider himself happy with the idea of being a sinner as if by being sinful heaven will open up for him for the sake of mercy. Many wish to carry on sinning to find mercy, forgetting mercy takes away and saves from sin. Mercy is an active power. They believe they rob God of His glory by being holy as if holy people were in direct competition with God for what belongs to Him only. People misunderstand the verse which says "No one is holy, but God". This verse is describing a very sad fact and not what it should be. Truth cries out that way, expressing facts with such statements. It is a cry of sadness and not praise. It means it could be otherwise. The truth is that it is sin that competes directly with God for His glory and not holiness. Holiness glorifies the Lord extremely. It is not demanding that only God be holy, as some may assume. Holy people have nothing to compete for among themselves - much less with God! They compete for God. But, as soon as you step into sin, you start competing with God for His glory in you. You are exchanging Him for something else having been created by Him. The holier people are, the less they compete with God. The more sinful, the more they compete with God for His glory. We have been created according to His image. To sin is to move away from that image. What is so wrong with being as holy as He is then? Our ultimate goal is to bring glory to God. If saying we are sinners exalts God, then, we cannot be condemned for it. "For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory, why would I still be judged as a sinner?", Rom.3:7. Justice does not condemn anyone who brings glory to God. Stop believing you need to be sinful to grant God His rightful glory. "You have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet you say, 'In what have we wearied Him?' When you say, 'Every evildoer is good in the eyes of the Lord, and He delights in them; or, Where is the God of justice?'", Mal.2:17.
Baptism with the Holy Spirit. Here is another corner where people like to turn off and away from truth. What matters is that the Holy Spirit is Holy. Isn’t it? So, if we are immerged in Him and if He fills us to the brim, what shall our main feature be? Won’t it be holiness because He is the Holy Spirit? Are there tongues, are there prophecies if we are baptized in Him? That is beside the question. Are those holy, are those gifts holy unto God, and is there unconcerned obedience which does not brag or show off? Can we recognize people by their gifts or by the fruit their gifts bring about?
I could go on and on discussing baptism, miracles and many other doctrines to find the same pattern over and over again: surrender unto the Lord to be His and, consequently, as Holy as He is, is what is neglected or put aside by entering any discussion against or for certain doctrines. I found out there is a certain pattern and a certain aim in that, and it is to deviate people’s mind and attention from issues that really matter to God. If that is true, holiness must be a great issue and of greater importance than we can imagine. The devil works hard against it using issues and discussions around issues of secondary importance. He hates to talk about God. He would rather have people not talk or discuss about Him or even mention His name to each other. However, he uses such discussions to cause people to make a turn off from an important issue – an issue very dear to God – such as continual and steadfast holiness unto Him. Then, holiness must be very important to the Lord indeed. Amen.
José Mateus (2 of June 2013)