Friday, April 3, 2009

Focus


One of the commonalities of those who are leaving religious cults is that they ask, “where then is the one true church?” To answer this question is to try and get the person to quit thinking along the lines of “cult-think.”

For those within false religious groups, and those coming out of them, their focus tends to be on physical things as well as doctrines. The “true church” they seek is the one that has “the most truth” and this “truth” is subjective, based upon the individual’s beliefs, and not necessarily any eternal, universal truth.

What’s wrong with this picture then? Frankly, everything.

Matthew 7:16: Ye shall know them by their fruits.

Nowhere do you find a declaration in Scripture that says you will know true Christians and the true Church based upon their doctrinal beliefs. Ironically, these same people who insist the one true church is the one teaching the truth will in turn declare that no one, and no organization, has all truth. Yet many who read this will claim that true Christians are those who keep the sabbath; that the sabbath is the sign of a true Christian.

Talk about cognitive dissonance! If you believe this, then let me ask you a pertinent question: Can a false Christian keep the sabbath? If so, then how can you claim that true Christians keep the sabbath because it is the sign of a true Christian? If this were indeed true, then a a false Christian who keeps the sabbath, automatically, as a result of his keeping the sabbath, becomes a true Christian!

Allow me therefore to re-direct your focus for a moment to what Jesus said in the passage cited above; you shall know them by their fruits. Is belief in a doctrine fruit? Let’s do a review regarding fruit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. — Galatians 5:22-25

I could ask how it is one walks in the Spirit by observing physical things such as the sabbath, but this is not the point I am trying to make. The point I am trying to make is that, if we see someone demonstrating these spiritual traits, can we conclude or consider them to be Christ’s?

Again, as a point of focus:

And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. — Luke 10:25-28

Jesus called these the “Two Great Commandments” on which all the law hangs. Yet I do not recall HWA ever citing this passage as an example of what one must do in order to be saved. HWA was fond of quoting from Matthew 19, citing part of the narrative out of context.

What’s the focus here? Did Jesus say anything about doctrine? Did He emphasize what we believe, or what people are to do?

What results when people argue and disagree over doctrines? Does this demonstrate love for one another; esteeming others greater than yourself? Indeed, doctrine can be important, but all too often doctrinal disputes demonstrate a lack of love for others.

So here’s the rub, for those of you who still believe you have to keep the sabbath. If a person demonstrates the fruit of the spirit, but does not keep the sabbath, are they likely a true Christian, or is their faith in Christ counted as nothing to you if they do not keep the sabbath? Conversely, if one keeps the sabbath, but does not demonstrate or produce this fruit of the spirit, can you honestly say this sabbath keeper is a true Christian, because of the sabbath?

If one has left the WCG or any of the splinters, having rejected the letter of the law teachings of HWA, one learns very quickly that with the majority of those within the group they were in based their friendship and love conditionally, based upon their beliefs; their doctrines. Leave the belief system, and you are shunned like a leper. Jesus’ words about having love for even an enemy are foreign to their ears.

Truth for a true Christian revolves around faith and love; not doctrine. If doctrine and doctrinal issues arise and create conflict, one cannot help but conclude there is a violation of faith and love, regardless of the veracity of the doctrine under debate.

Indeed, by their fruits you will know them, and the wielding of doctrinal issues and debates can and will expose the fruits.

Bill Hohmann


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It is important that you understand; Everything on this blog is based on the current understanding of each author. Never take anyone's word for it, always prove it for yourself, it is your responsibility. You cannot ride someone else's coattail into the Kingdom.

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3 comments:

xHWA said...

"One of the commonalities of those who are leaving religious cults is that they ask, 'where then is the one true church?'"

I think that is also one of the commonalities of those entering cults, too.

"Matthew 7:16: Ye shall know them by their fruits."

I totally agree. That's why I personally feel the Body of Christ is in many Christian churches, and disregards boundaries.

"if we see someone demonstrating these spiritual traits, can we conclude or consider them to be Christ’s?"

I believe we can.

"If one has left the WCG or any of the splinters, having rejected the letter of the law teachings of HWA, one learns very quickly that with the majority of those within the group they were in based their friendship and love conditionally, based upon their beliefs; their doctrines. Leave the belief system, and you are shunned like a leper."

I am a personal witness to the truth of this statement.

Seeker Of Truth said...

"One of the commonalities of those who are leaving religious cults is that they ask, “where then is the one true church?” To answer this question is to try and get the person to quit thinking along the lines of “cult-think.”"


Here's some great advise for those asking that question:

Jn. 14:26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Jn. 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.

1Jn.2:26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.
27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

1 co. 2:12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

Mt. 18:20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

Luc said...

Hi Bill
While reading your post I was reminded of a friend of mine in WCG who was fuming as he left a members house where he was visiting another member who also lived there. My friend saw the one whose house it was reading in the living room and thought he’d pop in and say hello; when my friend spoke to him, he looked up angrily and said, “Do you mind not bothering me! …… I’m trying to study Mr. Armstrong’s article about how to love my brother.”