Though human instruments are used, the gospel mission is of Christ, none else. The people mentioned in Matthew 7:21-23 would be sincere Christians. But Christ warns that He will declare having not known them. Among Christian communities, this scripture is, either disregarded, or taken as pointing to others, not associated with own doctrinally coded positions.
In gospel preaching, the most difficult thing is penetrating the Christian community. To most Christians, the gospel mission is already accomplished; due to the charisma of the instruments being used. Yet, an instrument should not be considered ahead of what Jesus taught and practiced.
The sacrifice of Jesus implies that all sins of humanity have been forgiven. This includes the worst of all sins, imagined: “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18) (ESV).
However, even with that unprecedented mammoth undertaking, the sinful humanity stubbornly remains ensconced in behaviors that disregard the significance of Calvary’s cross. Those used as instruments take pleasure in judging and condemning other people. They take up the authority of Jesus to themselves, thereby qualifying some, for salvation, where others are condemned.
However, this is the time that invites crescendos to manifest, in advancing the gospel. Nevertheless, commendable work has been done; more so, in distributing the Bibles. The game is lost where the instruments have taken up positions of being gatekeepers, instead of allowing Christ to effectively accomplish His will.
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither entre yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:13-15).
Do we still have the scribes and Pharisees in our time? The answer is a resounding “Yes!” In Jesus’ time, the scribes and Pharisees took it upon themselves, to describe what righteousness and Godliness implied. Using scriptures, they applied their own intellectual understanding, so that, as far as they were concerned, Godly principles were molded according to their own imaginations.
This is exactly the scenario, in our present time. The Christian community is characterized by respective denominational evaluation of what constitutes righteousness and Godliness.
The name of Jesus is dominantly portrayed, but, only a few analyze, line by line, what Jesus taught. Otherwise, we would not have diverse denominations, as known to exist. Christian denominations reveal that Christ is not known, even among Christians. [See “Revealing the Christ in Jesus”].
The story of Cain and Abel shows how sin manifests itself: “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel your brother?’” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” (Genesis 4:9) (ESV). The words of Cain are clearly resonated across the behavior of humanity, as known to exist, even today.
It seems as if our Christian brothers just casually gloss over such scriptures, yet exactly applying principles, as characterized in Cain’s behavior? Those Christians may appear as caring, among their respective denominations. But, they basically apply Cain’s behavior, when degrading rival denominations and other religions. In Christianity, this behavior was born in the era of Protestantism.
Nevertheless, Cain was the first, in practicing this self-centered behavior, which has remained ensconced with humanity, ever since. The purpose of Jesus’ ministry is to reverse such behaviors, just as Jesus’ method of caring for one’s brothers, contrasts Cain’s behavior:
“Greater love has no one than this; that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:13-15) (ESV).
Jesus’ sacrifice was not limited to His Jewish friends only. It encompassed people like me, not even remotely associated with the Jews. The mind of Jesus is diametrically opposite to what this world calls normal. What I advocate cannot be normal to most people.
Many of my friends have openly told me that I advocate things not applicable anywhere in this world. I agree with them. If so, Jesus would not have been killed. However, if what I preach is the opposite of what is commonly known, that then convinces me that Jesus speaks through me.
Christianity ought to be the work of Christ. It should not be the work of scholars or Christian leaders (scribes and Pharisees). It is the work of Christ using human instruments, not necessarily according to designations of rank structures of the Pharisees. Submission to Christ has got nothing to do with the consideration of the Pharisaic structural rankings.
For instance, let me share with you, part of my previous communication with our Church Headquarters, concerning doctrinal issues. Being not part of the leadership, I could not be taken seriously. Supposing this letter portrayed what directly came from Christ? It could still not find room in a system that conforms to the current civilization; not transformed by the renewal of mind, as advocated by Paul in Romans 12.
The conversation included my personal views on the subject of Trinity, appearing as contradicting the leadership stance. However, this challenge is not peculiar to the church I belong to. It cuts across all denominations of the world. For anyone considered as ordinary, confronting the leadership is strange. The following letter can be viewed as bordering on insubordination:
“Thank you for the study material for my personal development in understanding Trinitarian theology. But let me emphasise, once again, that I am not necessarily opposed to Trinity. I simply relegate this to nonessentials, due to the following reasons:
The stable datum of Christian faith is Christ. In Matthew 5, 6 and 7 Jesus provided us with core elements of what Christianity entails. At the end of that lecture, He gave a parable showing foolishness in building a house on sand, as compared to building on rock solid foundation (Matthew 7: 24 – 27). In other words, our salvation is based on what Jesus taught. And Jesus was consistent, as everything He taught elsewhere, throughout His ministry, does not deviate from His Lecture. This, to me, implies that a person having made deep study on Trinity, but applying what Jesus taught, is not condemned, just as the one having not studied Trinity, but applying what Jesus taught, should not be condemned, either.
The first apostolic Church teachings, as recorded for us in the book of Acts have sufficient scriptural material showing the Supremacy of Christ, as witnessed in the flesh. The persecution, thereafter, had not necessarily been caused by teaching Trinity, but that the apostles expounded on Jesus being the Messiah, or Christ. Scriptures indicate the possibility of Trinity, but nowhere does the Bible show that any person should condemn, or seek to superintend over those struggling to understand Trinity.
Paul clarifies between essentials and none essentials (Romans 14). The strong are not supposed to condemn the weak. Yet the weak are also not supposed to condemn the strong. Paul preaches unity in diversity, which I find to be essential in developing the understanding of principles taught by Jesus in Matthew 5, 6 and 7. I suppose there is safety in precision than randomness.
Still, In Romans 12: 2 – 8, Paul shows exactly how the body of Christ is comprised, in agreement with what is also recorded in 1 Corinthians 12. Specifically, Romans 12: 2 highlights the need to renew our minds, avoiding practices that conform to this world. The Church is made up of members with different gifts. But none is more or less important, because it is Christ who gives different gifts. Notice carefully that such gifts are not necessarily allocated on academic considerations, but by grace. In other words, I may have a gift of teaching, which others may not have. But that does not make me better. Just as other members may be strong in other areas where I would be weak. A person may even have a gift of leadership, but not necessarily equipped with other gifts (Romans 12:8). This is different from a world insisting that everyone should conform to the leader’s understanding, for such people to remain acceptable under his/her leadership. (Once again, Chapter 15 of the attached script of my new book expounds on the simplicity of what Paul was advancing).
You have indicated that no-one fully understands everything about Trinity, even though scriptures show the existence of Trinity. My question remains unanswered; if no-one fully understands Trinity, why should anyone be authoritative about it? I cannot imagine a teacher standing in front of the class, declaring; “I do not understand it fully, and no-one will ever understand it fully, but it is true.”
You have, also, in your own communication, insisted that, as a member in our denomination, I am free to remain in fellowship, as long as I do not cause division, when not teaching Trinity as well as you do. This leaves discomfort in me, which you do not seem to care about, thereby putting conditions on my salvation, which you also appreciate as being a free gift?
You gave what I found to be most senior doctrine. “Salvation is 100% Christ’s and 0% our effort.” Yet I still struggle to understand how you then reconcile this to your insistence that those failing to understand Trinity as well as you do are, basically heretics? To me, this seems as coming from someone oblivious of James 4:12?
I do appreciate your not having time and resources to review my book, to pick on what constitutes my possible failure to understand as well as you do. Though the script is not that big, so that the time we have spent communicating, back and forth, on this topic, is much more than would have been the case, had you taken time to review it. Nevertheless, this communication falls under your responsibility, as our Church Headquarters.
But is it not true that resolutions on such issues remove any cause of friction in our fellowship? To me, nothing can be more important, if we equally understand the responsibility bestowed upon leadership.
I remain yours truly,
My views on the above letter should not be interpreted as advocating for schism, as commonly known of what has characterized Christianity, throughout the ages. Errors are found with human beings, including me. But no error can be found with Jesus Christ. My desire is to see all Christians submitting to Christ more than they submit to human authorities.
My point is that the work of Christ gets easily stifled by the current authoritarian system, which bestows supremacy on human beings, instead of Christ. In what is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus instructs that we should pray thus: “Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
The human will cannot be God’s will. Yet, in most cases, human leaders use their own will, declaring it as God’s will. The most abused passage of scripture is Matthew 18:18. But whatever is bound on earth has to be according to God’s will, based on Christ’s teachings, not leadership opinions?
The call is, therefore, to seek Christ first, even ahead of the human instruments, used at any given time. Most Christian brothers seem to emphasize on consideration of credentials of instruments, more than they should consider the invisible Christ’s will.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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