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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Haughty Spirit ( Proverbs 16:18 )

About six years ago, I knew a man in Christ, who, having been fairly well convinced in his own mind of the verity of the principles of 'preterism', married a woman of a slightly different religious persuasion. After several years of rather stubborn and almost vehement 'persuasion'; he realized that he was not doing the Kingdom of Christ any good, and, in fact, was seemingly harming his ministry!

I have written in previous articles, of building up, or edifying, in the the new heavens and new earth. As my reader may have guessed; a better way to say this would be, 'building ( up ) the new heavens and new earth', for, as I pointed out in that previous article, WE ARE THAT NEW HEAVENS AND NEW EARTH! We are the Kingdom that Scripture speaks of.

When Jesus, in Luke 17:21, told the Pharisees that the kingdom of heaven was 'within' them, I believe that He was saying, not that they themselves were a part of God's kingdom; but that the kingdom of God, or heaven, was not something that could be seen, or even touched, but was rather a 'change' that God worked and works within the human spirit. As I've quoted many times; Ezekiel 36 :27 tells us that God gives us 'a new heart' and puts a 'new spirit' within us. Paul, in I Corinthians 15:50-54, revealed to the 1st century church, reiterating Jesus' words above, that 'flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God' and that we must first receive this change that Ezekiel, among others, talked about.

I am reminded, thinking of this man's situation; of the parable that Jesus gave in Luke 18: 9-14, in which the Pharisee thought himself better than a tax-collector, just because he thought he had the Truth, whereas the tax-collector did not, or so he thought! I think that many people, not just preterists or Reformed people, have made the same mistake, thinking that since we have discovered, or realized, the further truth of God's revealed Word; we somehow are in a better situation before God and are of better service in His Kingdom. I think, as Ezekiel points out above, that we as humans, tend to take for granted too often what Christ has done for us, and that God must do the work of 'change' in our hearts before we can discover any Truth that we may have! We must also realize; and I have often forgotten this in my dealings with those of differing beliefs, but like 'faith', that we, like they, are a 'work in progress' and that, as long as they still draw breath; God will, if they are one of His, work a 'change' in their heart, and even for those who have become in Christ, though they differ slightly in belief from us in the area of eschatology or even 'means' of salvation, that this 'change' is progressive, ever 'onward and upward'!

This man, I believe, is slowly coming to the realization that he must spend less time on trying to convince his family, and others, of the truths of the preterist principles, and more on convincing those around him that he is the Christian servant that he claims to be. I think that many of us can empathize with this man, and with the situation in which God has placed him! I think that many of us are familiar with the 'walls' that are immediately, if unconsciously, thrown up by family and friends alike, when we mention that we believe that Christ has returned, that we now inhabit the new heavens and new earth, or even that the physical earth is quite a bit older than six thousand years, and that the flood in Noah's day did not cover the entire globe, or kill every human being on planet earth except for Noah and his family. Try telling a fellow Christian, even some preterists, that Adam and Eve were not the first humans ever, and that they were not created with the appearance of age, and 'watch the fur fly'!

I guess that the point I am trying to make here is that we, as Christians, who think we have 'furthered' ourselves, or been furthered, in our Christological ( concerning Christ ) doctrine or in our eschatology and other assorted doctrines or beliefs, have only reached this current 'plateau' or step, as the case may be, through the continuous grace of God, and cannot, or should not, look at anyone, be he 'sinner or saint', and say, like the Pharisee above, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men'! When we become haughty and think of ourselves as better equipped for God's service because we have a better, or more perfect knowledge of that Kingdom; we have become dangerously close to saying just that, and are become almost Gnostic.

My final point, and one that my friend has painful realized; is that a life lived is a far better testimony, and more convincing than a discourse, no matter how eloquently given or vehemently argued! As Paul said, concerning the use of 'tongues', in I Corinthian 14:18 & 19; 'in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.' Prior to this statement; Paul reveals to us his reasoning: 'For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.' I know that this may seem to be taking Paul's statements out of context; but I believe that the same principle applies here. Most, if not all, Christians will agree that this 'furtherance' or 'more perfect knowledge', and 'understanding' comes from God above, through His holy Spirit; and that this 'knowledge' is a good thing, in it's proper place and time ( as Solomon says, ' To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven' ); but the main thing is 'edification', and if our hearers aren't edified ( for whatever reason ), then maybe we need to realize that it's not the right time for it.

Before I reach that point; I'm going to end here, for now, and hope, along with my friend, that I can 'take a lesson' from this and begin to live that 'fulfilled life' before others, rather than preaching one way and acting another.

In the faith of Christ,
and in His service,
Charles Shank

ps. I must say, in passing, that although most of the Christians that I have reprimanded above ( including myself ) do not purposely become haughty in their Christian 'walk', but we so often appear that way, that I think that we inadvertently do 'more harm than good'!

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