I hope this is a convenient time to have a chat, to have a conversation that matters. I have earnestly followed the discussion on social media and watched your excitement about the ‘Men of God’ in town. I understand. I too have some people whose teachings excite me. After all, we were created for praise and made for worship.
But I must confess, your excitement has raised concern for me. Maybe not your enthusiasm as such, but its cause. And before you brush me off as being ‘judgmental’ please hear me out.
The great chats I often have with you tend to rotate around the ‘Man of God’ and not the God of man. Are you sure your heart is in the right place? Don’t get me wrong; I am not against respecting and appreciating the Lord’s servants. But I think it’s time we had an edifying and respectful discussion about who a servant of God is, and how we know.
Most of your friends tend to think the ‘servant of God’ is anyone who can charismatically quote many verses in a single sentence, punctuated by some Greek terms that leave many in the stadium ‘dumb-founded.’ I do not get that, not at all.
And surprisingly, I notice that many of those I have listened to (and I mean this respectfully) have no clue even about the Greek Alphabet. I say this because I have tried engaging some of them with my little Greek and they cannot tell ‘psi’ from ‘phi’ and find it hard to differentiate between homologia and homologomen even when insisting that 1 John 1:9 does not apply to us as believers. Of course, this comes after they assure me how they have a distinction in the Greek language!
This reminds me of a one Charles Taze Russell the founder of the Watch Tower Magazine and the modern-day Jehovah’s Witnesses.
He tried convincing many that he knew the Greek language. Then they showed him the Greek alphabet, and he could not identify a letter! You may wonder why a ‘servant of God’ would feign the knowledge of a language about which he has no single clue. It amuses me as well.
And I am not suggesting that your ‘man of God’ in particular is in the same category. Probably not. But I hope you understand my suspicion and concern when someone proudly quotes a Greek word without knowing whether it is a noun or verb, whether its tense is imperfect or aorist, and whether it is of a punctiliar or undefined aspect. Wondering what this is? My point precisely. Why wear people out with Greek if they do not know it, to begin with, unless you seek to impress them like Mr. Taze Russell?
My Greek professor remarkably told us to ‘always wear your Greek like underwear, always aware, but not showing.’ I intend to carry that wisdom nugget along with me. I think, one of the marks of an authentic Christian and servant of God is the simplicity with which they live and teach.
Let us get back to my question though. Is it true that everyone who quotes many verses is a Christian? Could it be that you can sound ‘deep’ and be (and forgive my crudeness), deeply devilish? I mean, almost throughout the temptation of Jesus, Satan tried to excite Him with how much he knew Scripture. And yet you notice two things about him, don’t you?
The first thing is that Satan misquoted the text and ignored its context! He should not have just quoted Psalm 91:11 without understanding that the text does not apply to the error of presumption. Satan thought Jesus would confuse faith with conjecture, and misquoted God’s word to lead Him to disobedience. But is this not characteristic of the many that you consider as ‘servants’ of God? If you were honest, would you not agree that more often than not they ignore the setting of the verse they are quoting, sometimes quoting it half way?
Indeed, I also notice that when you tell them, ‘hey, that verse has a textual, historical and cultural context to it’ they, of course, would call you a ‘Pharisee’ who follows ‘the dead letter’ and ‘miss the Spirit.’ But surely, as Dr. D. A. Carson says, ‘a text without a context is a pretext for a prooftext.’
If we ignore the context, we can use any text to mean whatever we want it to say regardless of what it in fact says. Is that not so? And if any verse can be used to teach just about anything, then that text truthfully means nothing. Are you not concerned that God’s word is treated like a hollow Can without the meaning of its own except what the ‘man of God’ ‘pours into it’? Do you not weep when scripture is manipulated to fit our sinful desires?
The second thing about Satan’s ‘clever’ use of scripture is that he always used it in a self-centered way. He suggests that Jesus should turn the wilderness into His restaurant. Had God not provided manna in the wilderness to the Jews? Shouldn’t He do it again, for you His Son to prove that He loves you? When this does not work, Satan tells Jesus that He has the ‘right’ to claim and own the whole world. Weren’t Adam and Eve given dominion over all things? Wouldn’t Jesus be taking what is ‘rightfully His’ after all? But when Jesus does not fall for this, Satan in effect tells Jesus to ‘claim God’s promises,’ for, after all, ‘isn’t God faithful? Just throw yourself down and see if He doesn’t send His angels to serve you. Or do you doubt Him?’
If you see all the three temptations, they are all about ‘self.’ And do you see a connection with what you learn from those weekly ‘fellowships’ you tell me about? When the ‘man of God’ arranges a ‘Men’s fellowship’ that needs a parading of exquisite vehicles, it does say much, not so?
And what was the purpose again? Claiming the world ‘we rightly deserve,’ or something along those lines, right? Quite painfully misleading, I think.
I think you and I have to ask ourselves serious questions, like, what is authentic orthodox Christianity? What is that which has been believed in every generation, from the Apostles till now? Is it possible that we have lost it? Could it even be that we never had it from the beginning?
Do you and I believe a lie? Have we been misled by men intent on self-gratification and self-worship? Did those who lose their life for the gospel, from Stephen to Paul to Perpetua and Felicitas and Justyn Martyr die to have posh cars lined up and claimed (or perhaps posh camels or something equivalent) and land titles?
Are we far too easily pleased as C. S. Lewis bemoans? Have we exchanged the authentic Gospel for a morsel of bread like Esau?
Have our ears grown dull of hearing the truth that we love lies and hate the very Gospel? Dear ‘Deep Christian,’ please ponder on these things. I ask myself these questions too. What is the Gospel, and to what does it call us? Are we called to a life of self-denial or self-gratification? Are we invited to self-sacrifice or self-satisfaction?
Are you killing sin in you, including the sin of denying the sin in you? Are you washed by the blood of the lamb or have you just taught your conscience to ignore the stains on your soul until they are as extremely red as crimson, subtly leading you to your judgment? Has the love for obedience to His law captured your heart or are you in bed with licentiousness? Have you gone, sold all that you have and followed Christ, or are you slowly walking away from Him sorrowfully, while convincing yourself that He could not have told you to obey ‘such a painful and harsh’ command?
Is God’s word a sword that has cut deep into your soul and brought discomfort to your lifestyle, or are you living just the old life under a new label of a ‘Deep Christian’?
This letter is not meant to highlight every point of concern, for they are as many ‘as the sand of the sea.’ But it is intended to begin a conversation, hopefully. As I thank you for your time, let us keep the Apostle’s words ringing in our ears, as he told that
‘…the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables’ (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
May that not be you and I. May we prefer ‘to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire’ (Mt. 18:8).
I am always glad to hear from readers. Write me at email@example.com