Sunday, December 5, 2010

Precious Truth

**DISCLAIMER: This is very frank and perhaps offensive to some. If you are not interested in hearing a rant about what I believe to be Biblical Truth, this post is NOT for you***

When I was 14 years old and desperate, God introduced Himself to me. He did this by sending someone my way, proclaiming just the right amount of His Word, and then in a Still Small Voice to my heart, telling me that "this was what I was searching for". In later years after learning to recognize His voice speaking to me, I understood this more clearly. Even now it astounds me how clear His voice was then. I remember that moment and still hear His exact words; I still feel the tingling down my spine that I felt back then. Most importantly, I still BELIEVE IT.

And I believe with all of my heart, this is what has kept me from believing a lie throughout the years. This is what has kept me from *changing* what I initially believed. The truth is down deep in my spirit and God has confirmed it over and over and over. I cannot and will not change it. It is NOT my Word to change.

I am disturbed at the confusion about *standards*. I am disturbed at the blatant rebellion against what was once believed. I understand fully, 100 percent, that standards do NOT save us. I understand that my sleeves could be to my wrists and my skirt to the floor and I could have a heart full of hatred, a tongue that gossips, a bitter spirit. And that I WILL be lost if those remain unrepented of.

What I don't understand is the belief that *forsaking those standards* might actually make us CLOSER to God.??? Why forsaking the standards suddenly gives a special insight to what GRACE really means. I understand the potential for self righteousness. I understand that God HATES self righteousness. But I don't believe we forsake separation in order to get a grip on self righteousness. The closer I get to God, the more I understand that my own righteousness is nothing but filth. But I also understand that there are many things that could defile my temple, and it certainly doesn't give me carte blanche to do what I please. It's all about balance.

What I do understand is how people who forsake the *legalism* - bless God it's grace alone after all (completely not understanding that GRACE teaches us, not permits us) - end up losing the revelation of ONE GOD, BAPTISM IN JESUS NAME, THE INFILLING OF THE HOLY GHOST BY THE EVIDENCE OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES. And I ask, do they really forget the times God moved on them in their spirit and they spoke in a language they did not learn? Do they really? If they don't forget that, why do they suddenly believe IT'S NOT NECESSARY?

How can they attend a church that believes God is a Trinity?

All the clothing/hair arguments go up in smoke entirely to me when those same people forsake the very foundation of Truth. The Oneness of God. Baptism in Jesus Name. The infilling of the Holy Ghost. Why can't the foundations be kept once the *standards* are gone? If standards are the issue, why don't they still believe in One God? If they still believe in One God, why do they go to a Trinitarian church?

I have a lot of standards for my children. Likely quite a few of them are unnecessary. Being unsure, however, of exactly what might ensnare them, I keep the standard high. Likewise, being married, I conduct my behavior AND dress in like manner. I do NOT flirt with men, married or single. I do not wear provocative clothing (and wouldn't even if I was svelte).

Why would a Christian wear provocative clothing or dress in any way that could be considered seductive? To some extent this is an individual conviction, but my goodness when someone's individual conviction is to show their cleavage, then I can certainly understand why there is a standard!

I don't feel like I am explaining my heart very well, but I my main point is this: Once upon a time, God gave me a revelation of His Truth. He then proved it by giving me a supernatural experience that was promised from His Word when I received the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. He helped me understand that He took flesh on Himself, came to earth as a man, and that he is not THREE persons. Why on earth would I risk losing ANY of that precious revelation because I feel restricted by *legalistic* standards?

I have yet to see one person retain the knowledge of that Truth once they rebelled against those standards. Not one.

It is that Truth that is precious to me. Not the length of my sleeves per se. However, even if NONE of the guidelines I keep is necessary - and I truly won't know until Glory - history has shown me that it is not worth rebelling against them because of the risk of losing the knowledge of His precious Truth.

The Truth that He spoke to me in that Still Small Voice 29 years ago.


Laura said...

AWESOME!!!!!! Couldn't agree with you more. Very well said.

John Paul said...

This is an Awesome post! You are right their are many Christians today that are letting go of foundational core beliefs. I appreciate your passion on this subject.

Here is what I have come to observe. For so long ministers have preached about standards and such and so people listen and obey. They say in their hearts "The Pastor Said it so I will do it". People never get it in their hearts nor do they seek it out in the word of God so that what the pastor has set up as life guide lines it takes root in their hearts.

so when the Pastor leaves so does the standards in many peoples lives because they did it to please the Pastor and not to please God. You will see allot of this nonsense in the Blog "Stuff apostolics Like". I had to stop going there it was just stirring up anger hehe.

again Thank you for sharing your passion for the things of God.

Darla said...

John Paul:

**For so long ministers have preached about standards and such and so people listen and obey. They say in their hearts "The Pastor Said it so I will do it". People never get it in their hearts nor do they seek it out in the word of God so that what the pastor has set up as life guide lines it takes root in their hearts.**

That is exactly the truth, and unfortunately one of the BIGGEST arguments AGAINGST preaching standards. It is said: "but how will people EVER develop a conviction if they are told what to do?" The truth is, however, humanity in general DOES NOT develop a conviction FIRST. They just don't. We are but weak flesh. Whereas, I have seen more times than not OBEDIENCE to a teaching, with a sincere heart, will eventually create a true conviction.

People also don't realize how necessary it is to OBEY, even without understanding first. God calls on us continually to OBEY, and TRUST without knowing why and true obedience would not be that if we understood WHY for everything.

Nope....wouldn't trade this for anything. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

Cherylg said...

My dear sister, inward holiness IS part of salvation and WILL manifest itself on the outside by how we dress and portray ourselves. Perhaps, that is why people give up salvation. They don't want to do all that God requires. We are supposed to be lights from afar off. How can we be lights if we don't allow the holiness in our hearts to radiate itself to others? How can Gods spirit show if we LOOK like the world and act like the world??? Does not the word say that without HOLINESS no man shall see God?? God is a HOLY God and he wants us to be seperated from this world's lifestyle and spirit.



Darla said...

Sis. Cheryl: I agree that ultimately holiness is inward and will reflect outwardly. However, I was trying to come from a standpoint of difference of opinion that others use as to "what exactly is holy in this day and age". That's all. Some standards are "just" standards and not directly scriptural. Don't get me wrong, I totally agree with the necessity of preaching standards, but alone they have nothing to do with our salvation.

I feel frustrated actually and unable to adequately express this, (and I have to run out the door) so I hope the intent of my post is more clear.

Thanks for reading, Sis. Cheryl.

Mrs. Wizzle said...

Whoaaaa baby! I hear ya! AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

April G said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
! V r e n said...

"Grace teaches..." Whoooo imma shout. Crazy but that has been on my heart for a couple of weeks now. You hit it, Darla.

He is a God of SPECIFICS. In the building of the tabernacle He was absolutely specific. That word resonates in my soul.

..."ye are the temple (tabernacle) of the Holy Ghost"

Thanks, Darla!! Love you!

Darla said...

April - Thank you for commenting on my blog so respectfully. It takes a lot of courage to be the lone dissenter. I truly mean that. Most people hide behind anonymity when they do.

I did read your post in full, as well as all of the comments. I have heard your argments many times before. Indeed, they have become common as there are a lot of blogs/resources these days one can read who have brought up the same points. I have asked some myself, especially regarding "consistency of our stands". I will say that I respectfully disagree with most of your points. The church (not meaning UPCI alone either because I am definitely not a UPCI-is-only-saved believer) is human, and all imperfections aside, will never be perfect. (An argument you have heard yourself many times I'm sure).

I have considered addressing each point one by one, but I honestly think it would require another post altogether.

I am curious, however, if you go to a church that believes in One God and Acts 2:38 (since you said you still believe that), or if you don't go at all.... Because that was my main point of the post - why people who disagree with standards throw away the truth of One God/Acts 2:38.

Ultimately: If standards of dress (which are man made I understand) mean nothing, why do people ultimately lose the ENTIRE GOSPEL of One God/Acts 2:38? If you haven't April, then I must say you are the exception and not the rule.

I think the "church" has come a long way from when I first came. Some of the experiences you mentioned in your post are totally foreign to me and my experience. We have never, ever had a problem questioning the pastor. EVER. Truth will not be intimidated by questions. It is all in the spirit one carries during the questioning.

One last thing: Although I agree with your point on church hierarchy - we should be SERVANTS first and foremost - that HAS to be balanced out with pastoral authority. You completely did not mention Hebrews 13 (as only one chapter) and what it means to submit to those in authority. What is a pastor for then? I 100 percent believe if we can't submit to our Pastor then we not be able to submit to God.

Thank you for your comments April. Take care and God bless.

April G said...

I personally know quite a number of believers who have left the UPCI "standards" but still hold to the doctrine of Acts 2:38 and oneness... My dad, Heather, Brooke, Rebecca, Robin, Pamela, and Mike to name a few right off the top of my head...

Right now we are attending a non-denominational spirit-filled church that is Trinitarian. I have full confidence in what I believe and am secure in my relationship with God, but we have literally agonized over our inability to find a local church that fits our beliefs. We are very careful to nurture our son's understanding of doctrine and his relationship with God by teaching and guiding him at home, because of this discrepancy. We really love watching him blossom as a young Christian.

Hebrews 13:17 speaks of leaders as those who “watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.” This does not mean that the leaders are accountable for the final destiny of those they lead. It means that they are accountable for how conscientiously they do their work as leaders: how carefully they teach, what kind of example they provide. Every Christian leader must walk in the grace God has given for the task and lead with servitude.

The words pastor/bishop/shepherd/elder all mean basically the same thing Biblically - leader. I don't see a single governing person in new testament church organization in scripture. The elders as a team were responsible for spiritually leading congregations, with God as the head of the church.

Often the word "submit" used in scripture is interpreted from a military stand point, "arranged in order under." This is certainly the context I was raised being taught. According to a Messianic Christian leader friend of mine, the word submit in this verse is actually the Greek word that can best be used to express "voluntary servitude" which is the way we're called to live with everyone. As in "submit one to another" with regard to all believers (Ephesians 5).

Leader does not necessarily equal pastor. We've created a "job title" out of one spiritual gift that often encompasses an expectation that they will have several gifts and fill several roles.

The spiritual leaders I have in my life (which includes more than just a pastor, and can be different people in different seasons of my life) guide, direct, teach, preach, exhort, encourage, fellowship... but they aren't dictating man-made rules to follow.

Oh, and for the record, I do believe God cares about our appearance, I never said He didn't... BUT He doesn't want man making up a bajillion rules, like the Pharisees did (he rebuked them frequently for a good reason!), because he wants us to have a personal relationship with Him that isn't defined by man-made laws. As I stated in my blog post it's IMPOSSIBLE to be 100% consistent when you start down that road... we are all individuals and things that might be a stumbling block to me aren't to others, and vice versa.

I've studied and prayed and sought God sincerely for the last 10+ years and am not coming at this from a place of justification as so many like to assume about people that have left "standards". It's actually more challenging serving God without all the man-made rules and if I was looking for an "easy way" and I believed it could save me, I'd just follow the rules. Rules won't save anyone and only provide a facade of safety that can often mask a heart problem... God's grace and a relationship with Him is what ensures salvation.

Darla said...

April: I have a friend (a very close one whom I love) who has used these very same examples to me. Quite simply, I wholeheartedly disagree. I choose "voluntary servitude" to my pastor as the overseer the Good Shepherd has put over me because I am but SHEEP. It has ALWAYS been his goal to espouse the saints he is overseer of to a true, HEART relationship with Jesus. However, as overseer, if he sees a ravening wolf lurking, he will sound the trumpet. If that means that wolf is television, internet (and yes, there are true inconsistencies in that regard......the only reason it has not been ABOLISHED entirely like television is because internet was initially meant to be an information tool....TV an entertainment tool....however, who knows what lies in the future regarding this issue), lust (which includes EVERYTHING), etc., to name a few, he will sound it. Stands must be taken, lines drawn, or else the world wholeheartedly comes into the church. And the church is to be SANCTIFIED. Not a carbon copy of the world. But then April, you have heard all of this before.

Regarding "outward appearance", I honestly don't get it. I have never taken my outward appearance as a justification for a heart matter. Never. To say it makes it "easier", I will agree. It makes it easier for me to focus on the true issues of my spirit when I don't have to worry that my foolish outward appearance may distract someone of the opposite gender. I want ALL of me to focus on the inward - it is something I will have to work on until I die. Believe me, I do not take the inward man lightly. In fact, I personally don't know of anyone (with a strong stand on outward appearance) who does. That, in my opinion, is a total cop-out which gives licence to not worry enough about the outward appearance.

Jesus blasted the pharisees because they dressed up the outside to hide the inside. I agree on that. But never will I agree that it gives us carte blanch to not worry at all about the outside. Even you agree that God does care about outward appearance. How much focus should be given.....I don't know....but I certainly have too much inside of me to worry about whether the outside is acceptable. As you said, the outward appearance is the "easy part". It's matters of the heart that are life long.

On a last note, I know people who had to travel two hours ONE WAY, TWICE A WEEK (for over two years) to go to church because there was no One God, Acts 2:38 church in their area. I'm sorry, but the Trinity is such a sneaky, deceptive doctrine. You yourself said they are "spirit-filled"....What? They don't even understand who Jesus is - who they are worshipping - so how can they be spirit filled? I cannot imagine ever setting down roots in a church that is deceived about the very most FOUNDATIONAL truth. How could I trust them for any of their other teachings?

That last paragraph may offend you, and truly I am sorry if it does. However, that just proved the whole point of my post - FOUNDATIONAL TRUTHS CANNOT BE COMPROMISED. When they are, matters of the heart will eventually be as well.

You may never want to visit my blog again and that's fine, but I do wish you the best April. Honestly.

Darla said...

One more thing (to any who care)....There are those in other churches (that do not believe this doctrine) that convict me. They are better servants. They show kindness and love. I leave their presence knowing I MUST improve, for I know that this is the heartbeat of Jesus.

HOWEVER, to throw away the FOUNDATIONAL TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL(which I believe One God & Acts 2:38 to be) RATHER THAN improve these things WITHIN THIS FOUNDATIONAL TRUTH is just plain silly.

You don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.


April G said...

I'm certainly not offended. LOL I'm far beyond being offended by these beliefs and opinions I've heard my whole life. ;)

You asked some questions, and I feel I am in a position to answer, because it is people like me that you were addressing your post to. You can disagree all you like, but it doesn't change the beautiful relationship I have with God and the confidence I have in my salvation.

I had to laugh a little reading your blog post and your responses, it was so predictable.

Thanks for engaging with me in this discussion. I think it's important that people hear both sides of the story. :)


Darla said...

"And ne'er the twain shall meet...."

Take care.

Rachel Peterson said...

I definitely waited to put my say into this. Interesting comments, to be sure. I agree with Darla wholeheartedly. We must be separated from the world, number one, and I do not particularly understand how it is possible to nurture a Oneness mentality and doctrine in a child who is raised in a Trinitarian church. I dont see the point of going to a church that does not preach the truth. Unfortunately, for some, handling the truth is not possible.
On the subject of pastoral is spiritual. There are so many blessings that come along with obedience. For example, seeing as a specific Apostolic church was mentioned, one that I am very familiar with, I will say that holiness standards breed respect from 95% of people. If you write them on the tables of your heart and not only dress modestly, but act modestly, you will gain the respect of the majority of people you are with.
I will be very blunt and say it was quite tacky of April to mention specifically which church and which pastor she was under. Anything said after that will be discredited because of the lack of respect shown. As mentioned before, I know the church mentioned, and our pastor is quite close to that pastor, and it is absolutely ridiculous to blame him and that church for not believing the truth and surrounding yourself with the people of God.
I feel very strongly about this, as it is a danger to people when there is a snarky attitude towards anyone in the Apostolic ministry. I dont care what you believe.

Just my thoughts on the matter. "Faith without works is dead." Prove your faith by obedience, according to the Bible.

Rachel Goff said...

What a thought provoking post, Darla! You commended April for her courage; now I commend you on yours. You wrote this with the knowledge that people would wholeheartedly disagree. Yet you wrote it anyway, and with great respect. I've actually been thinking on and praying about this post for a while before commenting. It deserves thought and I just have to throw my two cents in...

I believe the answer to your query lies in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11. I really can think of no other explanation for people who have heard, accepted and lived this precious truth for any amount of time to backslide and still believe they are alright with God. It's totally mind blowing, and makes me quite angry, honestly. But, because they wholeheartedly believe they are saved, one can't tell them otherwise. Obviously there are others (and I know them personally) in this category, not just April (she just happened to be the only one that commented), so this is not directed at any one person.

Standards are an outward reflection of an inward state of the heart. I realize the lines are man-made; hence the difference from church to church, but I believe them to be God given. And (kudos, Rachel! You hit the nail here!!), the Bible clearly states to "come out from among them and be ye separate" (2 Corinthians 6:17). Finish the verse- we must be separate in order for Him to even receive us and be our Father. I fail to see how separation exists if we look like the world. I believe standards are a Heaven or hell issue, but I also think people take them to the extreme. (Hence, the need for balance...) We tend to judge on the outward appearance- "they don't look just like I do- they're going to hell!!!" I have learned this the hard way in my travels (and, trust me, as an evangelist's daughter, I've been to many, many churches!). There will be slight variations of standards, but if the FUNDAMENTAL DOCTRINE is the same, then look past the outward and see the heart. After all, isn't that what God does?

*Disclaimer: I am by no means putting down the high standard I was taught by my first pastor, Pastor Johnny King, the high standards upheld by my second pastor, Pastor Todd Nance, or the standards (which remain the same) held by my current pastor, my husband. I'm just saying that people need to allow for some differences without condemning those that don't look just like "me" to hell.

God demands for us to be holy, for He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). Mr. Noah Webster said that holy means 1. Set apart to the service or worship of God; hallowed; sacred; reserved from profane or common use; holy vessels; a holy priesthood. 2. Spiritually whole or sound; of unimpaired innocence and virtue; free from sinful affections; pure in heart; godly; pious; irreproachable; guiltless; acceptable to God. He also said that holiness is the quality or state of being holy.

I do agree with you wholeheartedly, though (back to the main point of your post); when people put down the standards, the fundamentals are lost. I put forth the proposal then: Are standards more of a fundamental than we realize or want to admit? We tend to see them as "extras", just rules and regulations. But as history shows, apparently not...

Darla said...

"I put forth the proposal then: Are standards more of a fundamental than we realize or want to admit? We tend to see them as "extras", just rules and regulations. But as history shows, apparently not..."

Okay Rachel you have me thinking! Now I have more to pray about than before....

Laura said...

I've been thinking about this post and the comments. I think I would like to add my two cents, (for what it is worth). (:

Can't help but think of David when I think of this topic of the apostolic ministry. As we all know David was annointed King while Saul still ruled and sat on the throne. Saul hated David and chased him for about 40 years. Do you supposed in that time if anyone had a reason to be angry, bitter, and the absolute justification to hate or vindicate himself, it would be David? After all, he knew he was to be Saul'successor to the throne.

In that time, David honored the man God put on the throne and the one time he thought about killing him and could have, he repented of it and it NEVER happened again. He never "dissed" Saul, but rather faught for him, alongside his son Jonathon, and gave him and his nation his best, and found him self hiding in caves like and animal.

I don't believe we will ever have an excuse to be crossed up with the Pastor God has put in your city/my city. There was a reason why God had the story of Saul/David penned in the Bible.

Don't know about you but I've never had my Pastor try and run me down to kill me....nope not even once. I think we are without excuse.

Darla said...

Yay Laura! Totally agree....