Monday, March 8, 2010

Every Wind Of Doctrine....

I do not think that this apostolic movement is perfect. In fact, there are several areas within the movement that have little resemblance to the life of Jesus Christ. Doctrines. Traditions. Fads.

However......

I love this way of life. I love it because, in general, the men (and women) strive to keep the foundational Biblical truths, having to do this by sifting through every wind of doctrine, trying their best to find and maintain balance. This is no easy task.

One of the pros (or cons) of having the internet is realizing that in the big, wide world of apostolicism, there are a whole lot of very different, some very disturbing doctrines floating around. Ten years ago I could claim ignorance to these. Now I can't. I haven't decided yet if this is good or bad.

One recurring theme I have been finding - on apparent "apostolic" blogs - is the belief that having a strong standard of conduct and/or dress somehow takes away from the grace of God and the understanding of it. I'm amazed at the amount of people who claim "liberating freedom" in learning about God's grace - which, without exception, is accompanied by a letting down in the way they previously dressed and how they previously conducted their lives.

And if I could, I would have to ask:

1) Why does the FIRST sign of the enlightenment of grace always mean you "get" to do things you previously felt restricted to do?

2) Is there a limit to your liberal (for lack of a better word) turn, or will God, with His grace, accept you in WHATEVER you decide to do?

3) If there is a limit.....meaning that you still would choose NOT to do some things, I have to ask, why? If God is full of grace, what gives you insight as to what is acceptable and what is not?

I understand that God's grace cannot be earned. However, that does not absolve me from obeying His Word.

The same people who feel......liberated.........most likely do not believe it is okay to commit adultery. That it's not okay to steal or murder. That it's not okay to lie. However, that same Bible talks very strongly about the necessity of gender distinction and about men and women's hair. And for some reason that is the first thing that people feel liberated from, in the name of grace.

I do not believe I am more holy - truly I do not (in fact, right now I feel quite like schmuck in the eyes of God). I know that God weighs the spirit and looks at the heart of man and that no level of outward "holiness" will make me saved if my heart is not right. But I ask - does the fact that I have a huge amount of things to constantly work on inwardly excuse my dress and conduct outwardly?

I think not.

I understand obedience and the necessity of it. And do not confuse the necessity of obedience with the grace of God.

That, to me, is a very disturbing doctrine.

14 comments:

Laura said...

Very well put. Thank you!

JR said...

Hello;

I don't really know you. I just happen across your blog every now and again. This post intrigued me. It seems as though you, among many other apostolic's (conservative or not), are still stuck in the mind set that "what I do on the outside matters to my Salvation." I challenge you to find one solitary scripture in the Word that indicates directly that What you Do with your outward appearance effects your Salvation. Don't try and take any scriptures out of context... read them for what they are and please respond if you can find one.

Here are my responses to 3 points you made, if I may.

Your quote: "Why does the FIRST sign of the enlightenment of grace always mean you "get" to do things you previously felt restricted to do?”

My response: It’s not a matter of “getting” to do things you didn’t once do. It’s a matter of those THINGS not being what holds you accountable to your supposed walk with Christ anymore. For example, if a woman was forbidden to wear a pair of slacks in the cool of winter, lest she be labeled a backslider... she would no longer have to let that tie her down because let's face it, skirts and pants is not a cut and dry issue in the bible. It's merely manipulated by pastors and the like to fit their personal choices. Enough on that...

Your quote: "Is there a limit to your liberal (for lack of a better word) turn, or will God, with His grace, accept you in WHATEVER you decide to do?”

My response: So long as you stay within the boundaries of His word (Note: Not man’s adaptation of the Word)... God's grace covers it all.

Your quote: "If there is a limit.....meaning that you still would choose NOT to do some things, I have to ask, why? If God is full of grace, what gives you insight as to what is acceptable and what is not?"

My response: No one, I repeat NO ONE (not even your pastor) has the right to decide what is right or wrong for a person to do, if it is something outside of direct order of the Word (without any type of manipulating the Word “to fit”).

I am not here for an argument by any means, and if you choose to delete my response because it does not line up with your beliefs, I am more than understanding. However, I think it is important for every Christian, regardless of your denomination or religion to examine WHAT you do and WHY you do it. Are you doing it for traditions sake? Pastoral acceptance? Fear? Family acceptance? Ignorance? Misunderstanding of the word?

Every one must come to grips with every aspect of their Faith on their own, so it's obviously not my intent to try and persuade you to believe like I do.

On a final note: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from youselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do " (Eph. 2:8,9).

I can tell you there is no greater life living for the Lord than living for the Lord in an UNDERSTANDING of Grace. Not abusing His grace, but understanding and accepting it. After all, He died so we MIGHT HAVE GRACE! Why do we try and reject it by doing all these little things that make us just holy enough that we don't quite need all that grace?

QuicklyHome said...

I'm not Darla but id like to respond to

JR, he said... I challenge you to find one solitary scripture in the Word that indicates directly that What you Do with your outward appearance effects your Salvation.

Matt5:28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

Notice the words *with* her in this scripture, when a woman outwardly dresses immodestly she tempts a man to commit adultery *with* her. She is not guiltless.

I totally agree that our standards are not to save us or make us holy rather they are to *save* others and make others *holy*. Every standard should come from a heart that is bowed before God.

I agree that there are some who hang pretty fruit on trees that are rotten on the inside, but that doesn't justify throwing out all standards.

and then...


1 Timothy 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;

Darla said...

JR: Thank you for taking the time to respond. I do plan on addressing what you have said a little later (I need more time than I have right now). I would never delete a comment just because I didn't agree with it. I would only delete vulgarity or unnecessary rudeness, which you did not in any way display. In fact, I appreciate the spirit you brought forth in the points you made.

'Til later....

Rachel Peterson said...

But, in understanding His grace, we must also understand His judgment. Every bit of this lifestyle we live makes a statement about who we are. The Bible also says to "Avoid all appearance of evil" which covers a lot of ground. Its the understanding that as children of God, are we, as the Bible says, separate from the world? Distinct? A city set on a hill? Oh you can do whatever you want, but I for one, would have a hard time justifying to people who are looking for something more, why I am acting like they do...when I claim to have the truth. So, JR, in a nutshell, I am proud of the stand I have taken for truth, holiness, righteousness, and modesty. Why push the boundaries of holiness? Are things a heaven/hell issue? Some are not, but it also goes, where does it lead? Its being wise as serpents and harmless as doves. It is much easier to go along with the flow of the world than to take a stand.
God bless

Darla said...

JR: Okay, to begin with on your first point:

"I challenge you to find one solitary scripture in the Word that indicates directly What you Do with your outward appearance effects your Salvation."

If you are asking for scripture that says, "thou shalt not wear pants if you are a woman......" then obviously there is not a scripture as such, and this discussion might prove to be fruitless.

I am assuming you are apostolic - since you seem to understand the general apostolic doctrine. On that assumption, I have to believe that you understand what God really thinks about gender distinction. I say that because that issue alone is a whole long bible study, so for the sake of time I am going to assume you understand that. And that is VERY scriptural.

If we are going to take into account the old, common Deut. 22:5 (as the most concise scripture on apparel, using the word abomination), and put into effect today Titus 2:12, then it is imperative that we understand what distinguishes women from men in OUR day.

You may think that pants on women is not the distinguishing apparel between the genders, especially because there are "women's pants" these days. Obviously we will disagree on that, because there is no other way that we have today that so distinguishes the genders than that. Now that men's skirts are becoming fashionable, who knows what will distinguish the genders in the future. For now, however, there is no doubt that the universal consensus to distinguish the genders (in Western society) is unquestionably pants on men/skirts on ladies.

I don't know about you, but I think that what God considers an "abomination" better be well sought out and understood, because those who commit abominations will NOT inherit the kingdom of God. I am thankful for pastors who do define it and draw a line in the sand because it's not something I want to take a chance on.

You cannot deny that God does mandate HOW we should live. That we are to live SEPARATELY from the world. How do you propose this can be done when lines are so blurred?

Can you deny that obedience is a requirement, not a choice?

I suspect we also disagree on the role of the pastor in our lives by your statement, "No one, I repeat NO ONE (not even your pastor) has the right to decide what is right or wrong for a person to do, if it is something outside of direct order of the Word (without any type of manipulating the Word “to fit”). I do believe the pastor has a God-given right to preach and warn, even those things that are "open for interpretation", for the sake of his own soul. If Heb. 13:7&17 was NOT speaking about your pastor, who was it speaking about?

I know this is lengthy, but it comes down to this for me:

1) There is a departure of apostolics from submitting to the authority of the ministry, and a strong desire to "be their own priest". I am fearful that this is the drive behind such doctrines as what this post was about. I was warned in a message 25 years ago that this was the times we were living in, and because of that I will be ever more diligent to make sure that "I don't have to be my own priest". I believe very strongly on pastoral authority.

2) I am also very amazed by the people who have bought into the "grace" issue, who - for the sake of their "enlightenment" have forsaken even the most FOUNDATIONAL doctrines of the apostolic movement. Such as the Oneness of God and Acts 2:38. They will forsake churches that preach these foundations for churches that preach "grace". I cannot EVER understand that.

...to be continued as my word limit has been exceeded....

Darla said...

JR: (Con't from previous response..)

I leave you with this...

Titus 2:11-12.."For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;"

You said: "not abusing His grace....". What does that mean? When His grace is supposed to teach us, but we choose to live ungodly and unrighteously - which is open to a WHOLE lot of interpretation - we had better make sure our actions, dress, deeds and thoughts are not ungodly or unrighteous, lest we abuse the meaning of GRACE.

That's all for now....

Cherylg said...

Dito Darla. Well said!!!!

JR said...

I appreciate the level-headed responses. However, I still fail to understand which scripture(s) directly correlates our appearance with our SALVATION.

I don't participate with any discussions that include "where it might lead" or "abstain from appearances of evil", because let's face it - appearances of evil has NOTHING to do with a woman wearing pants or anything of the like - it has to do with EVIL... I think you may have a watered down idea of what true EVIL is in God's eye. And as far as "where it might lead" - if you have a true and honest relationship with Jesus Christ, you won't have to base your salvation on the fear of where "things will lead". You just LIVE as a Christian. Regardless of what's going on around you. Period.

Again, I fail to find scriptures that indicate our Salvation is a direct result of what our appearance is. From what I see, the scriptures that you and some of the other commentators have used are all up for large amounts of interpretation. Obviously we both know there are a lot of grey areas in the bible and it is up to each and every one of us (with the help of our pastors) to figure out what it means for our lives individually.

I suppose where my real issue comes in is that I feel apostolics (in general) give massive "blanket" standards that have unclear or zero biblical backing (women's clothing, men's facial hair, etc) I am with you 100% on gender distinction. I think women should look womanly and men should look manly. However, I don't think that gender roles exclusively limit women to skirts and dresses, and men to hair-off-the-ears, etc. "Appropriate" appearances are all relative based on culture, location and tradition. Outward appearance is one of those issues that I don't think should be MADE by pastors. Let's face it: Who wants to live in a world where we're all cookie-cutter look-alikes. *shudder* God created us with individuality, personal taste, different personalities, etc. If is was in His divine plan for us all to look the same, I really think He would have made it clearer in the scriptures. (that's, personal opinion...) :-)

On the pastoral note:

I love, trust and admire my pastor as my shepherd, and I follow his leading to the best of my ability. However, there is a very fine line between good pastoring/shepherding and dictatorship as is used in cults. (no I'm not calling apostolic's cultish, but they are borderline in many areas, if you study it all out... too much for a blog post)

The judgement of God falls very heavy on pastors and I fear for some who have put themselves in place of God by creating non-biblical "rules" as heaven/hell standards for their church to follow, just because they have the "power".

I think it's important for me to say I have no ill-will or bad feelings towards apostolic people in general. However, I am saddened by the confusion I have seen in so many of their lives because they are being told to do all these things but are never told why except for "Because I told you so!" Or, they are given "scriptural" evidence that has been manipulated to fit the pastors liking. (That is something you may not realize until you take a few steps back and study the scriptures without a apostolic preacher yelling in the back of your head) ;-)

If it's your personal conviction to appear a certain way, I say go for it!! All power to you. But don't judge others as sinner who don't share your conviction.

Let God be God. He sacrificed so much for us. Just love Him and let it naturally take course in the rest of your life. I truly believe that God wants our love for Him to flow naturally and our outward expression of love for Him (appearance, worship) to be genuine and from the heart. Not because we were told so. Yes, we are to be obedient. But, according to my bible, we are to obey guidance based on the word. Not based on another person's opinion.

God bless.

Darla said...

The bottom line, JR, is this: I believe, from your statements, that you place too much TRUST on man's ability to make good judgements. I have had this discussion several times with other people and it always comes down to this. I DO NOT have faith in mankind. I believe (in general) it takes years of learning and walking and praying and SUBMITTING to the pastor BEFORE we are in a place to make rational decisions and build our own personal convictions. I have lived for God for 28 years. In the first ten years, at least, I absolutely needed the guidance of my pastor because I was unable to make sound decisions. In the last 15 I would say that I am very well able to carry on as a mature Christian, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. If it looks cookie cutter, then I guess it does. I just think that I've been able to see the wisdom of the approach the ministry has taken on "standards" and such, simply because newborn babes would have fallen by the wayside without them.

God calls Pastors because they have reached a certain level of maturity in the Word and can be trusted to lead those WHO ARE UNABLE TO MAKE THOSE DECISIONS yet. Obviously they make mistakes, but by in large, they do a job very few can do and can be trusted to do.

I know some pastors are dictators. I do not argue that. It takes pastors years to find the right balance themselves, between rigid enforcement and letting go for saints to learn.

Bottom line: My children are 7 and 5. They follow RIGID rules and will until such a time as they are mature enough to make sound decisions. Hopefully they will keep the same values I have taught them. I've seen this process work over and over (even with rigidity), and work more than fail. So should it be with the church.

One more thing......if you think that the Word has to dictate EXACTLY everything before you will do it, then that is exactly what I am talking about and the error that this kind of thinking falls into. Obviously common sense dictates that ABOMINATION is akin to EVIL in God's eyes. Men and women cannot be ABSOLUTELY separate when they both wear pants and both wear their hair at all lengths.

That is just plain common sense.

All the best.

P.S.: I'm thinking that your first name might be Joel and you are the main contributor of a certain blog.....??? Just wondering.

Rachel Peterson said...

No, participating in discussions of "where it will lead" is contrary to our current philosophies. I am posting a link to an Apostolic preacher's blog who discusses this very thing.

http://kennethbow.com/2010/03/10/will-our-apostolic-way-of-life-survive-the-talmud/

JR said...

I'm not Joel and I'm not altogether sure who you're referring too. ?? Sorry for that confusion. I try not to put my full name out on the world wide web for privacy reasons.

And in case you were wondering, I am not apostolic by religion but I was (obviously) in the past, long ago.

Obviously we share different points of view and I am happy to know (for your sake) that you are not one of the many who follow blindly to the apostolic ways without any direction. Personal conviction is important in any one's walk with God.

You have a good point about people needing to "mature" spiritually. As a Christian of 20+ years myself, I do know that people need time to "season", so to speak. That being said, God does not save us just to let us go to waste. He is our protector and guide. My faith in Him is solid and unwavering. And because of that, I know He will keep me regardless of how many times I may fall. With Him all things are possible...and that includes protecting even His youngest of "sheep".

Like I said originally, I'm not here to try and change any one's beliefs. Just an interesting topic that I was compelled to leave my 2-cents on.

I am sure I'll be back to your blog. You have a unique way with blogging. :-)

All the best.

Darla said...

Thanks to everyone for your points. I do appreciate being able to have discussions without anyone getting twisted out of shape because of differences of opinion.

All the best to you, too JR.

david said...

Let me say this. If you dont think your pastor should set rules how do you explain God telling moses to set a boundary around the mountain? Where does a mountain start and wherd does it end? It was left up to the pastor of that time to make that decision.