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Right and Wrong Judging, Tolerance, and Grace
The Apostle Paul said,
9 And this I pray,
that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment;
10 that you may distinguish between things that differ,
that you may be sincere and without offense until the Day of Jesus Christ,
11 being filled with the fruits of righteousness through Jesus Christ,
to the glory and praise of God.
Note: The following starts negative, but it ends with a lot of positive.
To Accept or Reject?
Should true Christians be tolerant of the following? Note: The ones I have italicized are very common in most churches that I have been in.
1. Matthew 5:17-30-- self-righteousness, selfish motives, spiritual hypocrisy, anger, ridicule, and character assassination
2. Matthew 11:23 & Romans 1:17-32-- homosexuality, hindering of truth, unthankfulness to God, futile living, vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, stupid speculating, boasting, hero and animal worshipping, lusts for sexual impurity, body dishonoring, unrighteousness, iniquity, covetousness, greed, malice, envy, jealousy, murder, strife, deceit, treachery, ill will, cruel ways, secret backbiters and gossipers, slanderers, hate, insolence, arrogance, boasting, inventors of new forms of evil, disobedience to parents, unfaithfulness, and those who condone the above behaviors.
3. Galatians 5:15-21-- partisan strife, selfish cravings, immorality, impurity, indecency, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, divisions (dissension), party spirit (factions, sects with peculiar opinions, heresies), envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like.
4. 2 Timothy 3:1-5-- stress, troubles, self-love (self-centerness), loving of money, desiring for wealth, pride, arrogance, contemptuous boasting, abuse, blasphemy, scoffing, disobedience of parents, ungratefulness, unholiness, profanity, unnatural (callous) affection, promise breaking, slander (false accusing and trouble making), intemperance, uncontrolled brashness, hating of those who do good, betraying, self-conceit, loving of sensual pleasure and vain amusements more than and rather than loving God, doing piety religion, denying the power of God for righteousness.
What God hates in our churches:
R -- ritual
E -- earnestness for superficiality
L -- legalistic
I -- ignorant of a lot of what is God-pleasing
G -- going on with tradition
I -- “I” problem especially in pride and selfishness
O -- obnoxious
N -- nasty, hypocritical, and condemnatory like the Pharisees of old
Also in many churches there is lack of compassion. Examples: There is frequent interrupting when two are talking to each other. Individuals without cars are looked down on and not helped. There are cliques and new comers are not welcome. And there is a lot of condemnatory talk against other Christian denominations and individuals. Modern day Phariseeism or wrong expectations-- selfish legalism-- has increased.
Good and Bad Judging
The Apostle Paul wrote a lot of verses that indicated Holy Spirit urged discerning/warning judging. And check what 1 Corinthians 6:1-11 says. I look for the good in others and in churches, but the Holy Spirit helps me to realize wrongs and sins for me to at least do intercessory prayer about. But sometimes I have to exhort or even rebuke. Some have responded with a rebuke against me accusing me of condemn judging. I have never done the just mentioned. Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” has been misused so much by individuals who don't want to repent towards Christ-likeness righteousness and some of the famous Christian leaders have threatened those who oppose their teaching and life styles. Constructive criticism is not a judging sin. If one looks at the context of Matthew 7:1, he or she will discover that it does not apply to what is said above about judging and to the following statements. True Christians will not condemn judge, but they will discern right and wrong judge so they can do proper intercessory prayer as you indicated in your blog or/and to do Holy Spirit urged exhortation or rebuke as Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, and many Christian leaders have done in the past. For the much needed church discipline to take place the discerning judging needs to be done. Also the Bible is full of warnings about unrighteous actions and teaching being done and such require discerning judging. There is too much tolerance of wrongs in the Christian churches and in society. But extreme carefulness must be done in the indicated exhorting and warning ministries. A pastor cannot even do such without making judgments about what Scripture to teach and how to teach it.
So what can true Christians tolerate about what is happening in churches, home groups, marriages, politics, entertainment (TV, movies, sports, jokes, funny stories, etc.), and other places one goes to? How could living Proverbs 3:5-8, Romans 12:1-3, and Philippians 4:4-8 help you make a good list of criteria to help know what is tolerable?
I have been to many kinds of churches, but I have rarely seen most of the below even though I usually look for things to be thankful for:
C -- Christ-likeness, unselfish concerns, & consideration
O -- observations
M -- mercy & money sharing
P -- perseverance, prayer, & patience
A -- attentiveness
S -- specific needs fulfilling
S -- spiritual reasons
I -- ideas & inspiration
O -- obedience to the Holy Spirit
N -- necessary or needed attitudes, actions, & aspirations
R -- respect for one another and receiving of them
E -- emotions (listening to) and exhorting in a caring/teaching way
S -- Scripture sharing: what does the Bible say about the situation needing restoration?
T -- teaching from a Holy Spirit-led pastor, Biblical counselor, or an appropriate Scripture-filled book
O -- obedience to God's Word and the Holy Spirit encouragement
R -- repentance encouragement: proper changes of thinking and behavior habits
A -- appreciation and adoration (not flattery)
T -- trusting again help
I -- intertwine souls encouragement
O -- outreach encouragement: sharing good news and lessons with others
N -- notify relatives encouragement about the new ways of thinking and behavior
How Much or Big is God's Grace, and How Much is Ours?
(by Bill Stevenson, November 28-29, 2004)
This might be the most important essay in my life. It is common for all human beings to criticize others, which usually shows a lack of grace. Do you? I have done a lot of such even though I never wanted too. I have most always tried to look for the good in others. I have most always tried to be tolerant or/and flexible in relating with others. I hated theological arguments; nothing positive resulted. How have you and do you show grace to others?
Now let us look at God's grace. I know we have heard a lot about God's grace in sermons, especially in relation to Salvation and Sanctification. But, how much grace does God have in relation to others not in your denomination or independent churches? I recently had an unexpected experience which influenced me to be less critical in the just mentioned relating. That doesn't mean that I won't keep warning others of false teachers of Scripture and theology. I have always believed that there can be true Christian converts in all denomination or independent churches, even cults. I do believe that no true Christian convert can not remain very long in a church of much false doctrine and traditions. Some try to stay for family reasons or/and evangelistic reasons. We need to pray a lot for such individuals because usually there is a lot of conflict.
The word “grace” as defined in the 1828 Websters' Dictionary is as follows:
GRACE, n. [L. gratia, which is formed on the Celtic; Eng. agree, congruous, and ready. The primary sense of gratus, is free, ready, quick, willing, prompt, from advancing.]
1. Favor; good will; kindness; disposition to oblige another; as a grant made as an act of grace. Or each, or all, may win a lady's grace.
2. Appropriately, the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him. And if by grace,then it is no more of works. Romans 11.
3. Favorable influence of God; divine influence or the influence of the spirit, in renewing the heart and restraining from sin. My grace is sufficient for thee. 2 Corinthians 12.
4. The application of Christ's righteousness to the sinner. Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. Romans 5.
5. A state of reconciliation to God. Romans 5:2.
6. Virtuous or religious affection or disposition, as a liberal disposition, faith, meekness, humility, patience, and proceeding from divine influence.
7. Spiritual instruction, improvement and edification. Ephesians 4:29.
8. Apostleship, or the qualifications of an apostle. Ephesians 3:8.
9. Eternal life; final salvation. 1 Peter 1:13.
10. Favor; mercy; pardon.
11. Favor conferred.
Sunday night, my wife and I went to a very old church building in which we thought was to be a Christmas time concert. (It turned out we were a night late.) Instead we experienced a very religious orthodox church service. It was very Catholic-like Lutheran or Episcopalian. There was almost complete participation by those in the congregation in responding as they are accustomed to. One was out of tune but sincere. Later Dolo told me that Romans 13 was read which includes how to “put on Christ”. Malachi 4 was read by the pastor before he preached about “the Second Coming of Jesus” in which he exhorted the congregation to get ready to live in Heaven!! And the name of my first group of 60 Bible studies that I e-mailed to many Christian leader throughout the world in 2004-2005 was Preparation for Heavenly Living Christian Correspondence School!! So I am glad that we did not leave as soon as we realized we weren't to hear a Christmas concert.
The title of this essay came to my mind near the beginning of the church service and kept on in my mind throughout. This experience made be realize that I should not assume that those going to Heaven is a very small number of individuals. What are God's minimum requirements for Heaven indicated in the first verses of the Roman 1 passage that I quoted and implied in why God gave up on the others? Couldn't many members in other churches qualify even though they might differ with you about certain beliefs about and manifestations of worship style, prophecy, and spiritual gifts?
I have been a member of churches in which a good percentage of the leaders and attendees condemned the mainline churches including the Roman Catholic churches to Hell. Most of those judgmental Christians also condemned leaders and member of other Christian denominations because of the day of the main church service, type of worship music, Last Days prophecies beliefs, and spiritual gifts doctrine. But look at Romans 1:16-25 in relation to grace and for God's possible minimum requirements in being tolerant--
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ,
for it is the power of God unto Salvation
to everyone who believes,
to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed
from faith to faith,
as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."
For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven
against all unGodliness and unrighteousness of men,
who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
because the thing which may be known of God
is clearly revealed within them,
for God revealed it to them.
For the unseen things of Him from the creation of the world
are clearly seen, being realized by the things that are made,
even His eternal power and Godhead,
for them to be without excuse.
Because, knowing God,
they did not glorify Him as God,
neither were thankful.
But they became vain in their imaginations, and
their foolish heart was darkened.
Professing to be wise, they became fools
and changed the glory of the incorruptible God
into an image made like corruptible man,
and birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things.
Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness
through the lusts of their hearts,
to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.
they changed the truth of God into a lie, and
they worshiped and served the created thing more than the Creator,
who is blessed forever. Amen.
Please reread the above and try to determine the reasons why I bolded above.
I did not see any evidence of the above bolded verses in that church service, nor in what Dolo told me that was said and sung all in German. Instead, I saw and heard more focus on Jesus Christ than in all of the churches I have been in. Besides the cross in the front, there were many crosses in tile in the front and the sides of the church. I challenge you to go visit some of the mainline churches and experience for yourself. Also, I believe that the divorce percentage is much much lower in such churches than in the Charismatic, Baptist, and Bible churches. Why would that be? Could it be that their spiritual focus is better than that which is in the just mentioned churches?
Due to the just mentioned experience, from now on, I will be doing intercessory prayer differently in relation to the mainline churches. When I hear about any mainline church in the news, I will just pray that its leaders and members are truly getting ready to live in Heaven and on the New Earth as the church I recently visited seemed to be. I will challenge (at least via intercessory prayer in relation to such in a sermon) any judgmental statements made by others. Usually members of the other Protestant churches make a wrong assumption that such churches are just doing religion and not relating as Biblical Christianity indicates. I believe that many Christians will be surprised by who is in Heaven and who isn't. From now on, I will be much more careful in my statements about other churches.
What will you do in relation to what you have read in this essay? Please don't assume things about others just based on what you have heard in dogmatic sermons in which mainline or non-mainline denominations are mentioned. I am sick and tired of so much condemnation by “Christians” against other “Christians”. Only God really knows who His adopted children are. Instead, do as I usually do by looking for and encouraging the fruit of the Spirit in individuals no matter what church they go to. Avoid making statements against complete denominations. Leaders and members of such might be manifesting the fruit of the Spirit more than you are. What I have implied in these last two paragraphs is God-pleasing grace and ministry. Such is required for the second half of the Great Commission which the first page of my website emphasizes.
In a computer search in King James Version Bible software, 159 verses with “grace” were found. I did not use any possible controversial or inappropriate verses. Try to determine why each verse is in the group I put it in. Also, see if any verse justifies tolerance of sin or intolerance.
Grace from God in the Old Testament:
Genesis 6:8; Exodus 33:12-13 &16-17; Exodus 34:9; Judges 6:17; Ezra 9:4-9; Psalms 84:11; Proverbs 3:33-34; Jeremiah 31:2; Zechariah 12:10
Grace from God the Father in Jesus Christ:
Luke 2:40; John 1:14-17; Hebrews 2:9
Grace of God in the lives of the Apostles:
Romans 1:5; Galatians 1:15-16; Galatians 2:19-21; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Acts 14:3 & 26, Acts 15:11; Galatians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Ephesians 3:1-2 & 7-8; Acts 15:40; 1 Corinthians 3:10; Romans 12:3 & 6; 1 Corinthians 10:30; Acts 20:24; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Romans 15:15; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Acts 20:32; Philippians 1:7
Grace for New Testament believers:
Acts 18:27-28; Romans 3:23-24; Romans 4:15-16; Romans 5:1-2 & 15-20; Romans 6:14-15; Romans 11:5-6; 1 Peter 1:10-13; 2 Corinthians 4:14-15; 2 Corinthians 8:9; 2 Corinthians 9:6-8; Ephesians 2:4-10; Ephesians 4:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:14-17; 2 Timothy 1:8-9; Titus 2:11-14; Titus 3:4-7; James 4:5-8; 1 Peter 5:5; 1 Peter 5:10-12
Away from divine grace:
2 Corinthians 6:1; Galatians 1:6; Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 10:28-31; Hebrews 12:15-17; James 1:10-11; Jude 1:3-4--
Grace from human beings:
Genesis 32:5; Genesis 33:8- 15; Genesis 34:11; Genesis 39:4; Genesis 47:25-29; Genesis 50:4, Numbers 32:5; Ruth 2:2 & 10; 1 Samuel 1:18; 1 Samuel 20:3; 1 Samuel 27:5; 2 Samuel 14:22; 2 Samuel 16:4; Esther 2:17
Grace in written Apostle greetings and salutations:
Ephesians 1:1-7; Romans 1:7; Romans 16:20-24; 1 Corinthians 1:3-4; 1 Corinthians 16:23; 2 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 8:1; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Galatians 1:3; Galatians 6:18; Ephesians 6:24; Philippians 1:2; Philippians 4:23; Colossians 1:2; Colossians 4:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:28; 2 Thessalonians 1:2 & 12; 2 Thessalonians 3:18; 1 Timothy 1:2; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; 2 Timothy 1:2;
2 Timothy 2:1; 2 Timothy 4:22; Titus 1:4; Titus 3:15; Philemon 1:3 & 25; Hebrews 13:25; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2 Peter 1:1-2; 2 Peter 3:18; 2 John 1:1-3; Revelation 1:4; Revelation 22:21
Grace from learning:
Proverbs 1:8-9; Proverbs 3:21-22; Proverbs 4:7-9; Acts 4:33-35; Colossians 1:5-6
Observed grace of human beings:
Psalms 45:2; Proverbs 22:11; Acts 11:22-23; 2 Corinthians 8:6-7; 2 Corinthians 8:17-19; 2 Corinthians 9:14; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6 & 3:16
Exhortations related to God’s grace:
Acts 13:43; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 12:28-29; Hebrews 13:8-9; 1 Peter 3:7-9; 1 Peter 4:10
Interesting Spiritual Acronyms
(compiled by Bill Stevenson)
Ones I saw:
(which should be done chronologically of course)
Ones I was given by the Holy Spirit:
F -- fear not
A -- assurance from God's Word
I -- in God's love
T -- trust in God and the Bible
H -- holiness with Holy Spirit and Bible help
P -- power from Heaven
R -- ruled/guided by the agapè love of God and His Word
A -- attentive to the Holy Spirit
Y -- yearning for knowing Jesus
E -- earnest to be righteous and compassionate
R -- ready for the return of Jesus
G -- God
R -- redeemer
A -- acts of God
T -- teaching by the Bible and the Holy Spirit
I -- intimacy with Jesus Christ
T -- toleration by the God of grace
U -- understanding by God and others
D -- divine love-- agapè
E -- eternity in the future
C -- Christ, confession
H -- Holy Spirit help
A -- attitudes and actions
N -- needs
G -- good works (Ephesians 2:10)
E -- everywhere for eternity
C -- commitment to God's truth
O -- obedience to the Holy Spirit
U -- understanding God's desires
R -- revival spiritually
A -- attentiveness for opportunities to minister
G -- gratefulness to God, especially for His protection
E -- enduring in faith of our Lord Jesus