Saturday, September 23, 2006

They Say They Are Believers, But They Don't Get It

If you have been like me, you have wondered why there seem to be so many versions of Christianity and yet only one Bible. If we have a Bible, one of them, it came from God, and it is perspicuous (plain), then it would seem that everyone would believe the same thing. If all these professing Christians have the Holy Spirit Who is teaching them, then how could they believe differently than one another? I have recently had dealings with alleged believers who I think are very much wrong on some important doctrines, and yet they say that I'm the wrong one. When I have tried to show them, they don't seem to listen, and they give very weak arguments that actually sound like dodging the truth. I think that many of these are truly born again, are converted, are truly saved from sin and Hell (some are not). That means they have the Holy Spirit, yet are wrong on what the Bible teaches about the church, preservation of Scripture, separation personally and ecclesiastically, divorce and remarriage, and more.

How does the situation described in the first paragraph occur? I don't think I could have given it a good explanation or any at all until I looked very closely at the words of Jesus in Mark 4:23-25. Let's let Him explain it for us:

23 If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 24 And he said unto them, Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you: and unto you that hear shall more be given. 25 For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.

What Jesus had told the multitudes (v. 9) He now repeated specifically for His disciples—they could hear, so they needed to use that ability by paying attention to what Jesus had just said (v. 23). He expands on the "ears to hear" theme with them. The degree to which they gave heed to what He said would be the degree to which they would profit from it (v. 24). God would graciously bless attentive disciples with even greater benefit than the effort they expended in heeding His words; their blessing would be disproportionately large. The spiritual results which the disciples realized were to be based upon the amount of effort they put forth; they would reap as they had sown. The one who has learned spiritual truth and applied it diligently will receive even more truth to faithfully apply.

If a person works hard to obtain something good, he or she normally receives other good things in addition (v. 25). If a disciple pays attention to and assimilates the revelation God has given, God will increase his or her capacity to understand and appropriate more revelation. However this principle works the other way too. The person who does not use his or her ability to understand and respond to God's revelation appropriately loses that ability.

These verses say that even His disciples will not receive some of His truth. They're either taught wrong and are not using discernment, they refuse to listen when told, or they won't start practicing or proclaiming what they now do know. Many of these sadly are pastors who have a loyalty to a non-Scriptural institution or a group of friends above God and His Word. Instead of submitting to Scripture, they stick with private interpretation, sometimes buoyed by an author that will footnote their position. They hold on to the teachings of men instead of God. Pragmatism is often the influence. Whatever may be the cause, as a result, they remain deficient in Biblical understanding. They range from evangelicals to fundamentalists and everywhere in between. They say they are believers, but they don't get it.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Kent, for a good answer here. This comes up so much when debating doctrine: ie. how can you declare this other person is wrong (even though it was just proven by taking the verses in context), when they are saved too, they also have the Holy Spirit? - Maybe He just guided them differently...

This is one Biblical principle that many seem to forget when they state things along these lines. When dealing with someone who NEVER applies the principles of separation in their life (or if they do, it is based on their personal preferences, rather than Biblical conviction - ie. "I don't like that author, so I will stay away from him" - though the reason they stand against that one author, and seem to be for ALL others, is that one author teaches separation...), and then they cry that they have a different view on this passage or this issue - and who am I to say they are wrong - yet, they would have more discernment if they were more faithful to apply what they had been learning, rather than sitting on the fence.

It gets quite tiresome - thanks for the reminder of the Biblical principle for some of these differences! (Not saying I am right on all things - and they are wrong on all things - but a lot of the difference comes because of this very thing - "Oh, that's not applicable today, that's Old Testament, that's legalism, that's taking the passage too literally, it doesn't really matter, God never gave a commandment on that so who is to say I am right or wrong?" - yada, yada...)

I hope you don't mind me posting this on Online Baptist. (I did link to this post, so they know where it came from.)

Kent Brandenburg said...


Thanks and feel free to post it wherever.

Throwback 13 said...

* 1) Whenever two disagree on a point of doctrine, they can't both be right.
* 2) The man who never admits to being in error is most often in error.
* 3) Pride is at the root of all contention (Proverbs 13:10).
* 4) An arrogant man is not only hated by God (Proverbs 8:13), but will never learn. This makes his teaching worthless.
* 5) Even if a man were to teach the Bible truth perfectly, his students, would not hear it correctly. And their students will believe blatant error unless a vigorous and lengthy study of Scripture at the feet of the Holy Spirit weeds out the errors.
* 6) A man will vigoursly defend his pocket book, or as it has been said many times, follow the money.
* Thinking through my hat.
* ... Joel

Michael McNeilly said...

Great post! I honestly think that most people do not want to know or they will believe something that someone says in order to keep the world in their lives. It is a way out of service.

Anonymous said...

The truth of Mark 4:23-25 has been evidenced in my own life. How is it that I can attend church and listen to a Holy Spirit filled Pastor's sermon, and leave without making any application to my own life? Based on Mark 4 it is because of a lack of obedience on my part to the "hearing" a truth, actually paying attention to the still small voice. The alarming part is when I think I am listening and leave without realizing I didn't hear a thing. Thank you for the post.

Anonymous said...

Good article. I think what you said about them not willing to practice what they do know is the real problem for many. Believers today simply are not applying the Scriptures they know and therefore have their understanding darkened.