A Voice in the Wilderness - Observations and Excursions of a Christian Zealot

Terry Walker's Weblog --- Occasional articles on the Christian Ethic

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Of Argots and Idioms and Denominational Divisions – It’s A Human Thing!

My wonderful Christian sister, both biologically and spiritually, recently enlightened me to a particular problem that we should all consider and address in our own lives. The problem is the use of "argots." An "argot" is a specialized vocabulary or set of idioms used by a particular group or culture. (My sister, unlike me, is quite a gifted intellectual.) She correctly believes that the use of such jargon obstructs evangelism and hinders those that might come to know Christ, if it were not for Christians being guilty of throwing around their theological slang. She says, “Argot hinders, yet Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, . . .”” (Matthew 19:14)

My response is thus: How right you are, your understanding is truly insightful. We as humans, especially Christians, seem to love nothing more than to analyze, categorize and on and on until we have lost the fact that it is the heart that matters, not the title, it is the heart that matters, not the semblance of obedience, it is the heart that matters, not the religion. For out of the heart arises your belief, your motive and your manner of life. Why must we complicate things with the use of terms that merely confuse the masses, both laymen Christians and the unsaved alike? With all the ‘ism’s and the ‘ist’s I hear on a weakly basis, I could spend more time in the dictionary than in the Word. I wonder, is there really a need for a true Christian to concern himself with obtaining knowledge of these seemingly endless terms?

When God was asked who He is, He did not recite a litany of Christian theological gobbledygook, (how’s that for argot) He simply said, "I Am". And just before Jesus Christ breathed His last while hanging on the cross, He summed up His entire purpose for His life on earth, the fact that He had perfectly achieved every purpose that His Father had sent Him to accomplish, in a single word, when He said "It" is finished.

Oh yes, Christians are guilty; we are no better, in the slightest, than the unsaved heathens that surround us. We, without Christ are incapable of anything good, are hearts are desperately evil. It is only grace that God chose to give us, which separates us and makes us any different than those on the wide path that leads to destruction and hell. Furthermore, we as Christians have yet to be glorified through Christ, so even though we are dead to sin while yet alive, we yet sin because our flesh is yet sinful by nature. Pride is a main downfall, pride is why some of us use fancy terminology, pride puffs up, and wisdom begets pride. Some Christians use these meaningless terms because, the use of them makes them feel good about themselves and superior to others. These Christians do not have a heart for dying to their own flesh, they have not yet understood that they are nothing without God, that grace alone, is the only reason they are set apart, if they in fact are saved at all. Yes, absolutely, useless argot hinders.

As with most everything, words, even seemingly innocent words, can become sin when used inappropriately, and anyone who uses them indiscriminately all the time, obviously is not following Ephesians 4:29-31. The new covenant gives Christians both a true freedom (from the law), and great amounts of Christian liberties, as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 10:17 “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” But Paul clearly let us know in Romans that we should be very careful with our Christian liberty. If it causes a person to stumble, as in the example of the child (Matthew 19:14), then we are to refrain. He used the example of eating meat in Romans 14:20-23. Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, there is nothing wrong with these things in themselves. But it is wrong to eat anything if it makes another person stumble. Don’t eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another Christian to stumble. You may have the faith to believe that there is nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who do not condemn themselves by doing something they know is all right. But if people have doubts about whether they should eat something, they shouldn’t eat it. They would be condemned for not acting in faith before God. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.

Paul said that if by eating meat, he caused a person to stumble then he would never eat meat again (1 Corinthians 8:9-13). For instance, drinking or gambling, when done with limitation, is not a sin, Christians are free to indulge, and in the case of drinking, even instructed to do so on occasion (1 Timothy 5:23).

Yet the act of drinking causes many weak Christians and Pagans alike to look upon a Christian drinker as a hypocrite. This diminishes the power of the Christian drinker’s testimony, tearing apart the work of God, so a mature Christian learns this and simply forgoes his liberty, for the glory of God.

But let us take this even further and to a much larger issue, the division caused by denomination. There will be no Lutherans, no Baptists, no Catholics not even a single Presbyterian in Heaven. In addition there will be no family units or no marriage in Heaven. The only division that God will use to divide the human race is the division of the elect from the non-elect, the divisional judgment of the saved and the unsaved. In reality, we are all one body of Christ, one bride of Christ. All true Christians serve the same God. It is out of human pride and ignorance that we choose to separate ourselves into denominations based on religious preference and not the principles and will of God. It is not the Word of God that creates the denominational divisions, but human interpretational error and arrogance. While false religions (based on anything but the will and Word of God) are out there, it is not of those that I speak, but the Bible believing religions that choose to take out of the Bible only what they feel is appropriate for them. We will all be judged by the whole of the Bible, not what we felt was appropriate for us. Yes, absolutely, useless argot hinders, but denominational division hinders much more, pitting Christian against Christian, usually in aspects of the Bible that God Himself saw no need to clearly define, preferring to leave those issues to faith rather than knowledge. The Bible says it is sufficient, not for omniscience, but every God intended aspect of human existence.

An example of denominational division: A short time ago I was witnessing to a group of people, they were very excited, feasting on the word as I presented it in truth; they asked what my denomination was. I told them I was Baptist and immediately some turned away. Whether I attend a particular denomination does not affect the truth of the Bible, or my understanding of it. Truth is truth regardless of whether the teacher is a preacher, pastor, minister, priest, reverend or just a plain pew-warming layman. The fact is, the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to think of anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Who is sufficient as ministers of the new covenant? All Christians are. Where does our adequacy come from; ourselves; our denomination, our church? NO, NO, NO. Our adequacy is entirely from God. The fact is that while people may be affected by useless “Christianese”, they are far more affected by their own errant preconceived misunderstanding of the beliefs of other individuals, based solely on the other individual’s denomination. In other words, Christians judge others to be of a certain set of preconceived beliefs or actions just because they belong to a differing denomination, even though the teaching of the other person’s individual church may stand in contrast to those preconceived beliefs. It is so easy to do, it’s almost natural, but it is devastating to the body of Christ.

After much thought, I believe that I do not associate myself with any denomination, but rather I am strictly a Jesus loving, Bible doer. If anything, I should be categorized as an anti-humanist. I am sure that ‘ist exists. But to me it means that I believe in the absolute total depravity and uselessness of man outside of God, and should God choose to save us, then it is only by grace that we are capable of amounting to anything whatsoever.

To me, denomination is the most worthless part of religion, as if anyone really knows what their denomination’s “confession of faith” really is, much less any other faith’s. The fact is that if you study most confessions of faith of the mainstream religions, there are some principle differences, but every one I have ever read, even the “1689 Baptist Confession of Faith” had human errors. But these confessions of faith have little meaning anymore, anyway, as all the faiths have turned from the truth, preferring to satisfy the masses rather than to judge within. They must, because this is predicted in the Bible in numerous places such as 2 Timothy 3:1-5 You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.

You can go to 10 different churches and hear 5 different theologies and none of them follow their own confession of faith. As we read, this will get worse and worse as time goes by until the day of the Lord. The reason for this is that we are losing touch with God’s intended purpose for us. Today we seem to prefer having our ears tickled rather than our souls pierced. That is why you can find a spirit filled church next to a completely dead one. Because we have lost focus on the truth, that we were created for the sole purpose of loving God and loving each other. But how are we to get back to loving God. 1 John 2:3-6 says it all, Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

It’s all there, if you want to love God and to love others in accordance with the will of God, simply live as Christ lived and keep His Father’s commandments. Sound tough? Remember agape love is not a love of feelings, but rather it is primarily a love of the will. So simply change your will. Still not enough? Do you still not understand that it is not in your power that you accomplish anything, but God’s? Your sufficiency comes from God, not you! If you know God, then you are in Him. Is not God strong enough to make you what He says He wants you to be? All you have to do is get out of His way, die to your self, and hold on for the ride. Still not enough? Perhaps you feel weak and alone. But wait, the Bible says you are not alone, God is always there with you, you in Him and He in you. But that is not all! As a saved Christian you are now part of the body of Christ. You are part of the betrothed bride of Christ, of which Jesus does not add unwanted parts only to cast them off later. Even the weaker parts are necessary! This should be your assurance, the power behind your will.

Romans 12:4-6 says
For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,
And 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 says
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

Do you now see? All Christians are the body of Christ, now, while we are yet living, regardless of denomination, regardless of our giftedness, regardless of our Christian maturity or level of sanctification. We are in folks! It’s a done deal! God composed the body. Do you think it improperly composed? It is exactly what He meant it to be and if you are saved, you are part of it. That is assurance of faith! Assurance is why Stephen could forgive as he was stoned to death, why Shadrach and the others could defy the King, and why Abraham’s faith grew stronger while his body was dead. It is how you can have a peace beyond your own understanding, and do the will of God while loving those who do not deserve love. Assurance of faith is what empowers pathetic humans to “walk as He walked” while we are yet encumbered by our evil filled flesh. God has commanded us to walk, God has made us sufficient to walk, God has made us into one unified singular body to walk, and God has empowered us to walk. So by God, let’s walk!

Brother Terry Walker
Providence Baptist Church
Greer, South Carolina