Category Archives: legalism

legalism

A Practical Example of Legalism

It’s Friday the 13th, but I’m not worried about luck – the God I serve goes before me, guides my steps, and  holds my future in his hands.

But instead of writing much for today, I decided to put together a quick video this morning.

I hope you like bright orange 🙂

 

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Barriers to Church Growth. #5 (Honoring Self)

The following was published several years ago, but since my last post was a quote addressing the worship of Self, this is pretty applicable. 


A very revealing study was done, leading to a book detailing how 300 churches went from declining or dying, to growing. In Comeback Churches, written by Ed Stetzer and Mike Dodson, there is a list of 30 different barriers to church growth. Having received permission from the publisher (B&H Publishing Group), I would like to discuss a different barrier each week.

“People do works for their own honor and not the glory of God (Matthew 5:16).”

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16 KJV

Why do we do good works? Why do we feed the poor, shelter the homeless, tend to the elderly, etc. Do we do these things so that our Father will be glorified, or do we do them in order to get glory for ourselves?

To be Seen.

Some people do good works for the sole intention of being seen and considered especially spiritual. Jesus said that “Everything they do is for show” (Mt. 23:5 NLT). Jesus spoke of those who wanted to be seen as pious and holy by wearing boxes containing Scripture on their foreheads or arms. The bigger the box the better. All this was in an attempt to say, “I am keeping the law better than you!” (See Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

Then there are other people who do plenty of good deeds without even acknowledging God. For example,  go to any charity ball held by your local “high society” club. There you will find plenty of people who willingly give thousands to worthy causes, but smile as big as they can when the magazine photographers come around.

They may even be members of local churches and give large offerings to the building fund (as long as it’s named after them); buy the pastor a new car; or pay for a youth mission trip. “And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the [congregation].” – Matthew 23:6 NLT

To be Accepted

Some people do good works in order to be accepted by God. They give away fortunes and spend their lives doing good deeds, but not to be seen of men. They want to be seen by God and thought of as worthy of His love. The only problem is that salvation is “not of works, lest any man should boast.” They work themselves to death in order prove their loyalty, thereby supposedly insuring a place in heaven. But the glory goes not to God, for attached to the works is an expectation of reward based on merit.

Soli Deo gloria

All glory should be to God alone. If our works are done in order to receive praise, then God is not getting the glory. If our works are meant to earn credit with God, then God is not getting the glory. If we work ourselves silly to meet the legalistic requirements placed on us by men, then God is not getting the glory. However, if out of a heart of love we do good works without expectation for reward, recognition, or acceptance, then God will receive the glory.

When all glory, honor, and praise is given to the Lord, He will draw all men unto Himself. Church growth will be unstoppable. Yet, if we expect credit for anything, then what should we expect but further decline? “For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” – Isaiah 48:11 KJV

We want others to see our good works, but not for our own glory. May they “glorify [our] Father which is in heaven.”

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Sunday Sermonette

Sanctification is the opposite of conformity.

There is a danger we face when we turn our backs on legalism: it’s the temptation to to lean on grace so hard that we eventually become indistinguishable from the world in which we live.

Our freedom in Christ should never be used as an excuse to be conformed to the world; it should release us to be different.

“I am not praying that You take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:15-17 (HCSB)

 

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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Maturity, Christianity, grace, legalism

Labor Day, Legalism, etc.

Well, here we go with the holidays. Today is Labor Day , and it won’t be long before every other holiday will be upon us.  Along with all of these special days will come all sorts of arguments for and against their observance.  Some will make more sense than others, but lurking around every corner is the temptation to be legalistic.  How is that possible? Simple…just accuse somebody else of being worldly or less spiritual for celebrating a certain day over another.  They did it in the Bible.

For the record, however, I believe that some holidays are worth debating.

Labor Day, for instance, is a holiday that was founded by the unions, which in turn were founded by those with “collective” and “progressive” ideologies.  From a purely ideological perspective, the whole holiday is one in which the worker is supposed to feel free to flip a relaxed finger in the face of evil, greedy, imperialistic corporations and fat rich people and say, “This is my day! No profit for you!”  Essentially, our Labor Day was designed to be a watered-down version of International Workers Day (the Communist May Day holiday).  So, is there anything wrong with standing up for workers’ rights?  Absolutely not.  Is there room to evaluate the intent of some who would move our nation down the path of socialism? You betcha!

If one wanted to see the similarities, he would have to look no further than the Communist symbol of the “raised fist” and the claim that “the workers” are what made our country great (not freedom, democracy, or capitalism).  

However, my purpose here is not to bash Labor Day; it’s to encourage us not to be legalistic. Just like Labor Day, there are other days approaching (Halloween, for example) which cause many to cringe.  Sour-faced legalists will complain about Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, but a lot of others will use the holidays to be with family, give thanks to God, and celebrate Jesus’ birthday (even if it wasn’t in December).  The legalists should keep in mind Paul’s words to the Romans:

Romans 14:5-6  One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.  He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

I am taking advantage of this holiday, whether I am for the idea behind it or not.  Why?  Well, I can’t exactly go to work today, since everything is closed.  Also, it is because I know that there are a great many Americans who only associate this day with God, freedom, and apple pie (not mention hot dogs, hamburgers, and adult beverages).  Most people in this country are just good people who love America.  So, regardless what the Communists (including BLM and Antifa) may have in mind, I am going to celebrate America and the average guy who worked his rear off to make this country great.

God Bless America!

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Filed under America, Christian Living, General Observations, legalism, World View

When you hear the sound of the trumpet…

Nearly seven years ago (Oct. 28, 2010) I wrote the following post. Now that a new school year is upon us – and now that I’m actually pastoring in Soddy Daisy, TN, it seems appropriate to be reminded of some some things that are as true today as they were back then.


Last night (10/28/2010) I had the honor to participate in an event of community prayer.  I was invited to speak by a student at Soddy Daisy High School.  If you don’t know what happened, a whole bunch of people gathered together in the park to celebrate our right and freedom to pray, even though it was recently mandated that prayer be stopped before football games.  This meeting was organized by students who decided enough was enough.

In my closing remarks (I spoke for 7 1/2 minutes) I brought up the story of Nehemiah, specifically a part in chapter 4, verse 20. Nehemiah, in response to threats from enemies intent on stopping them from rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, set people on the wall as lookouts.   Being that the wall was big and spread out, and being that there were few people, Nehemiah came up with a plan.  He said :

“The work is great and extensive, and we are separated far from one another on the wall.  Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there.  Our God will fight for us.” Nehemiah 4:19-20 NKJV

To me, and I am just little ol’ me, there should have been a lot more people present last night.  Why?  A trumpet was sounded for the body of Christ to come to the aid of not only Soddy Daisy, but for all of Hamilton County.  An attack on our freedoms, as both Christians and Americans, has come to our soil.  Why is it that our schedules and programs and our own sections of the wall are more important than stopping the enemy somewhere else?

Last night was your typical “Wednesday night prayer meeting” night.  Besides the fact that prayer is rarely the object of attention at a lot of these meetings, what would have been wrong with jumping in the church bus and heading to where the trumpet was sounding?  Where there may have been 500+ at this event last night, there should have been 1-2000.  Why were they not there? Because it was more important for local congregations to remain safe and snug in their own little sections of  “the wall.”  

Here was a prime example of LEGALISM in action, for many did not want to participate in an event that featured speakers who weren’t part of a particular denomination.  

Here was a prime example of LAZINESS, for it may have been difficult to get people together to go somewhere on a weeknight, especially if it wasn’t to Ryan’s (the local steak house) or the bowling alley.  

Here was a prime example of DENIAL, PRIDE, and APATHY, for there were others who did not attend because they either didn’t think there’s a problem, it wasn’t their idea, or they just really didn’t care.  Folks, what has been “typical” needs to be trashed.

This past Sunday I told my congregation that I would be in Soddy Daisy on Wednesday night because a trumpet had been sounded.  I went to stand in the gap with my brothers and sisters who cared enough to make a public stand against the tyranny of a few over the wishes of the people.  

In the future, when other trumpets sound,  I pray that the churches of our county and our country will rally together in defense of the few walls we have left in this nation… a nation that, for now, claims to be “under God.”

May our God truly fight for us, for we don’t seem to want to fight for ourselves.

…Remember the Lord, great and awesome, and fight for your brethren, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your houses. – Nehemiah 4:14

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Filed under baptist, Christian Living, Christian Unity, General Observations, Independent Baptist, legalism, Southern Baptist, World View


Guest-Post Gamble

As most of you know, I have been making use of guest posts for the last several weeks in order to free up some time during preparation for a move. For the most part, all of the posts submitted by guest authors have been well-written pieces with acceptable content (content that doesn’t conflict with my personal beliefs).

However, just the other day I received a guest post from a blogger friend who has a different take on a particular teaching. His view is that the gift of speaking in tongues (languages unknown to the speaker), as mentioned in the books of Acts and 1 Corinthians, is still applicable and important for verifying the validity of one’s personal faith.

But here’s the thing: I don’t believe that. Shocker?

So, I had a discussion with the contributor of the post and stated that if I published his work without any clarification, there might be some confusion and unwanted repercussions.  Essentially, to publish his post without a caveat would be a big gamble on my part.

Therefore, I have decided to try something… a guest post open discussion on the topic of speaking in tongues.

Loose Your Tongues

Let us have a discussion on the topic of glossalalia (i.e., “speaking in tongues”) within the church. If you have a particular view, why not share it? The only thing I will not permit is attacking each other.

The first post on the topic is going to be the one submitted by David Fuller: “Tongues and the Church Today.” David is not a cessasionist (cessationist = one who believes the gift of tongues has ceased), consequently he will be arguing that the gift of tongues is still alive and well, even under-used.

The next post will come from me, and that post will be a treatment of 1 Corinthians 14:4, the verse where Paul talks about self-edification. That post will be argued from the perspective of a near cessasionist (nearly 100%, but not quite…more like 98%). I’ve yet to write it, but it will be done soon.

After that, I would love to publish more posts from other bloggers willing to enter the discussion. All I ask is that you focus on good scholarship to support your understanding, not attacks on those with different beliefs. The posts will publish as regularly as you submit them.

How This Fits My Blog

You might be wondering, “Why do this?” I mean, why bring up a topic with so much potential for hurting feelings or exposing differences and inconsistencies within the Church? Well, the answer is pretty simple.

  • We don’t all have to agree on secondary issues to be family
  • Open and honest dialogue helps to clear up confusion, not create it.
  • Atheists use our differences to bolster their argument against Christianity; therefore, it benefits the Church and the Gospel to demonstrate how followers of Christ can differ on certain non-essential doctrines and still remain connected by the fundamental and primary doctrines of the faith.
  • An open discussion of this topic will help to combat the legalistic tendencies we all have to lessen the spirituality of others as we judge them through the lenses of our own particular beliefs.

A Challenging Challenge

So, before I publish the first post in this open-ended series, let me issue a challenge to you all (or y’all, if you’re here in the South). When you submit your views on the subject/doctrine of speaking in tongues, remember to exhibit grace.

For example, if you don’t believe the gift of tongues is still in effect, that’s fine, but try to find a way to say something positive about those with whom you disagree. The goal of this series of posts is not to offend, but to build up and encourage each other as we seek to better understand Scripture.

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. – Philippians 2:1-2

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Filed under Bible Study, blogging, Christian Unity, Guest Posts, legalism, Theology

Christian Tyranny

The following is a guest post by David Robert Fuller. David blogs at Christian Consciousness, so go check out his stuff…but only after you read this and share your thoughts in the comment section. There’s a lot worth discussing in this post, the least of which is his use of periods and quotation marks 😉 First let’s talk Christian tyranny, then we can see who’s a grammar Nazi.


Now this matter arose because of the false brothers with false pretenses who slipped in unnoticed to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves. But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. – Galatians 2:4,5

I am concerned about one of my Christian brothers. He is a prominent member of my church, well known to everyone in the congregation. He says that he loves the Lord and is devoted to the Faith, yet he seems to experience some profound struggles in his Christian walk. It is not his struggles which most concern me, however, nor is it the fact that despite all the special consideration given him by his fellow Christians, no one seems to have a desire to see him grow beyond his spiritually immature state. What concerns me most is that I have the distinct impression that he doesn’t want to grow. He seems content to maintain a state of affairs in which he can play the role of a kind of Christian tyrant.

If there is a sin, this man struggles with it. Lust, drunkenness, immorality, drugs, gambling, smoking, swearing, and even occult practices are among the things that littered the former life of this dear brother. And he is apparently having an extremely hard time excluding these things from his life as a Christian, since everything he sees or hears reminds him of one or more of these things. He just can’t get away from it all. What’s worse, when he’s reminded of his former life, instead of being filled with the joy of his deliverance, he is rather filled with a desire to return to the very things he supposedly hates!

This unfortunate state of affairs has caused him to create a situation for himself similar to the famous “boy in the bubble”, who, due to the weakness of his immune system, was forced to spend every moment of his life within the confines of an artificial environment. In much the same way, this brother has devised a system for filtering out “impurities” and allowing only that which is “pure”.

For instance, all “secular” media is harmful to him. He can only be exposed to “Christian” music, television, magazines, books, and the like. He frequents only those events which are spiritually “edifying” (church functions mostly), and limits his business dealings to Christian merchants whenever possible. He cultivates friendships with Christians exclusively, since “bad company corrupts good character”. Even some “Christian” elements are filtered out, because they have the “appearance of evil”. He is very careful, because he knows that “…a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”.

The upshot of all this is that special procedures must be observed by all those around him to avoid unintentionally short-circuiting his filtering system, which is so elaborate that it cannot be maintained by himself alone. This is where the tyranny starts.

I call it tyranny for three reasons.

First, tyrants manipulate facts to support their own cause. This is done by forcing others to conform to his standards by repeatedly quoting a couple of verses in the New Testament, which he conveniently takes out of context. He tells them that Romans 14:21 forbids them to do anything which he finds “offensive”, and 1 Thess. 5:22 prohibits anything that even “appears” to be evil, ignoring the fact that “…to the pure, all things are pure…” (Titus 1;15), or that Jesus Himself commands us not to judge by mere appearances (John 7:24).

Second, tyrants typically impose fear on other people. This is accomplished by saying it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck, than to make him stumble; in effect, threatening their eternal life if they don’t do what he wants,when he knows that “…each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12).

Third, tyrants are self-serving. While they usually claim to serve some nebulous “greater good”, in this case “the things which make for peace”, it is really only an excuse they use to bully others into bowing to their own personal self-interests, however good and right they may believe those self-interests to be.

While I repeat my concern for this brother, let me hasten to add that I have serious reservations about passing judgment on someone whom I don’t personally know. I have never personally met this man, although he has been a church member for as long as I can remember. In fact, I don’t even know his name, because no one ever uses it when referring to him; maybe it’s because they don’t know his name either. Usually, everyone refers to him as, “the Weaker Brother”.

 

© 2017 David Robert Fuller

 

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