L E T T E R S
Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
It is so very obvious to me that Jesus would liken Terry and Sheri, Barry and Carrie, Gerry, Perry and Jerry to the foolish man “who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them”. But that can change.
Please understand that though the names are fanciful, their stories are definitely representational. Each typifies many. Writing a letter to them is writing to those they represent. Most, be they attached to a traditional or evangelical church, could, upon serious and honest reflection, find similarity to at least one of the mentioned characters.
TERRY AND SHERI
Dear Terry and Sheri,
I greet you both in the precious, in the holy, in the mighty name of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said repeatedly, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” I have a word for you. Do you have “ears to hear”?
The end of the charismatic cycle does not have to be the end. The Lord of the harvest is also the Lord of a second chance (and third, and fourth, and…. ).
The enemy of your souls, after enticing you to build on the sand of traditions, after gleefully witnessing the wreckage of your ‘house’, would now brutalize you with condemnation.
Please hear me. My word to you, though straightforward, is not condemning but hopeful.
There has to be the ingredient of humility in your inner lives in order to regain that joyful place at rebirth. Humility will get you what you want to have and desperately need. Without it you will continue to decline. Just look at its antithesis – pride. Pride got the devil in a real mess, and subsequently all of us. Humility will reverse the curse of pride. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” You need grace. You need humility. Humility is a choice. “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you.” Humble yourselves, that’s the key.
You must acknowledge your betrayal to Christ. You transgressed. Don’t blame Barry and Carrie, Gerry, Harry or Jerry. “My grace is sufficient for you.” The Holy Spirit is God’s gift to His church, and He was always willing to lead you into all truth. But you chose to put your trust in another. “Cursed is the man who trusts in man, and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord.”
Humility leads to repentance. True, deep repentance before Christ will bring you back to dependence on the words of Christ, the Bible. You built on sand and your house fell. Now you must build again. This time you will be the “wise man who built his house upon the rock”.
There is a time to run. Repeat: There is a time to run. Flee catholicism. Simply leave. Turn your back on the Revisers and Barterers and Appeasers, all those who have turned back to Egypt. Fear God, not man. Don’t ask permission, don’t seek advice, don’t explain. Just get out of there. Like now.
Hopefully you won’t make my mistake and rush into evangelicalism. The Lord Jesus Christ is your refuge and high tower and shield and strength and comfort – not evangelicalism. Fundamentalist denominations are rife with trappings, though their traditions not so malignant as those of catholicism. Within their fold are an abundance of Adders and Subtracters, many in leadership positions.
The hard truth is, evangelicals compromise. They also build, largely, on sand of traditions. Jesus is not Lord there, not the decision-maker. Man is.
You must know, my brother and sister in Christ, that the Holy Spirit is to be your governor, your decision-maker. He is God and God’s gift to you. Submitting to His lordship is obeying Christ. Only He will lead into all truth.
What church or group should we attach ourselves to? James: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” Should we teach our children the ways of the Lord or introduce them to sunday school? “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.” Should we seek out a house church? Start our own? “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God.”
Inquire of the Lord, inquire of the Lord, inquire of the Lord. That’s wisdom and that’s loyalty.
Let your determination and passion be pursuing Christ. No matter where you are at spiritually, there is always more. More of Jesus, more of His Spirit, a finer relationship with the Father.
Prosperous, meaningful, fruitful christianity is a christianity of pursuit. Of relationally obtaining more of the Son of God, and still being unsatisfied. It is a life of hunger. It is choosing Him above all, certainly more than each other.
Be forewarned: Choosing Christ is choosing the hard way (think of the martyred apostles), choosing Christ means being ignored by the less passionate (your very presence will convict them), choosing Christ necessitates persecution (“all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution”). Christ’s obedience cost Him serious abuse. It was a rich relationship with the Father that brought Him to Calvary. And life for His followers will be hard. Do not seek a life of bliss. Bliss is in heaven. This is a war zone.
You must know that Jesus Himself is the pearl of great price. Knowing Him is worth far more than our all. Should He visit you, even for a moment, you would melt in His love-glory. He, Himself, is more than enough.
Terry and Sheri, I sincerely wish you a good life in Christ.
See you up there.
Dear Barry and Carrie,
Greetings, my brother and sister, in the matchless name of Jesus, the name above all names.
I am writing to tell you that your friends, Terry and Sheri, have passed through what I call the charismatic cycle, and they are now in trouble. As you know, they have decided to stay within catholicism in the hopes of being a light in the darkness of that religion. Before they were lukewarm in their religion; today they are fervent. They need help, and that is the purpose of this letter.
The charismatic cycle starts at the born-again experience whereby one from a traditional church suddenly comes in contact with our precious Jesus. A few, a very few, respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit and leave. Most, including Terry and Sheri, remain, this in part due to influence of pentecostal television spokesmen. The problem begins when the born-again catholic (or whoever) is confronted with discrepancies between the Bible and their church. This puts them in real turmoil as both Christ and church demand their loyalty. The end of the cycle for most, after months and years of anguish, is a decision to be faithful to their traditional church. Christ is of necessity deposed.
Barry and Carrie, your friends Terry and Sheri need intercessors. They need someone from the outside appealing to their Father for mercy on their behalf. They won’t pray for themselves for they are under a thick fog of deception. As you may know, with sin comes blindness. Terry and Sheri are blind to their need of repentance.
An intercessor can turn things around. Terry and Sheri will reap what they sow and they have sown some very bad seeds. But intercessors can positively and permanently affect the outcome of their lives. You are their friends, I assume your love runs deep, but….
Are you qualified?
We must be qualified to intercede for another. Bitterness, envy, and unforgiveness disqualifies, and I am sure you are not hindered by these. However, since you were instrumental in convincing Terry and Sheri to remain in their faith, this so very contrary to the Word, and therefore steering them away from obedience to Christ, perhaps this invalidates you as intercessors. Unless, of course, you repent.
I do come to you in a spirit of humility. I want you to see something very important, and pray you have “ears to hear”. May I speak to you in a forthright manner? Please don’t confuse straightforward with harsh.
Your advice to Terry and Sheri reveals a serious flaw in your christianity. One who is building his life on the sayings of Christ would never advise another to build on the sand of a substitute word. Said another way, advising another to build on sand is an indication you yourselves are building on sand.
It may surprise and even anger you to be told that just as surely as there is a charismatic cycle, there is likewise an evangelical cycle.
The two cycles have much in common. They both start with the new birth, they both end with Jesus removed from the throne of one’s life, and the between times are infested with compromises as charismatics and evangelicals alike choose the easy path of the majority. In both camps herd mentality, not Jesus, rules.
Don’t believe me?
I have been where you now are, and I know much about you. Regarding your donations, rather than seek the direction of the Holy Spirit you tithe ten percent of your combined income, even though there is not one biblical precedent of a christian tithing or taught to tithe. You could cause thousands (yes, thousands!) to discover Christ by simply investing in evangelism in third world countries, but choose instead to finance a building to house the lukewarm and pay salaries of pastors prostrate before their denominational bosses.
You call ‘the man’ Pastor Whoever for no other reason than everyone calls the man Pastor Whoever. Instead of preaching to each other, as the Bible instructs, you are content to sit under the ministry of a few and accept their limited expectation of what God expects of you as His son and daughter. You have no intention, or even desire, to fulfill the high calling of God on your life. Rarely do you speak the name of Jesus.
Evangelicalism is choked with traditional teachings, and it is on that sandy foundation you have chosen to build. Tell me, Barry and Carrie, are you really prepared for the judgment seat of Christ? Have you been laying up treasures in heaven? Is your relationship with the Lord who saved you deep or shallow?
Don’t misunderstand, I am not suggesting evangelicalism is at par with catholicism. Terry and Sheri would fare much better if attached to your local church. Your people are well aware your salvation is Christ and Christ alone. With Terry and Sheri, salvation is a fusion of Christ plus, plus, plus. I am simply suggesting, for your own betterment, that you examine the foundation on which you are building. Is it rock or sand, the sayings of Jesus the Christ or those of man?
To be effective intercessors for Terry and Sheri, you must acknowledge the folly of pointing them back to a religion you yourselves would never embrace or introduce to your children. Further, I would suggest you confess your mistake to Terry and Sheri, and humbly ask their forgiveness.
Thanks for listening.
Your brother in the Lord Jesus,
Greetings, my brother, in His worthy name.
Barrie and Carrie, a young pentecostal couple, are regular listeners to your morning television program. More than anyone else, it was you who swayed them to suggest to their friends, Terry and Sheri, to remain in their catholic church after their born-again experience. The purpose of this letter is to try to convince you that influencing people to remain in their traditional churches has catastrophic consequences.
I have been where Terry and Sheri now are. I have witnessed dozens pass through what I refer to as the charismatic cycle, whereby a newborn babe in Christ, after being confronted with clashes between his religion and biblical teachings, chooses loyalty to his familiar church rather than the Bible, returning to the yoke of bondage from which Jesus so recently set him free.
I think I understand the temptation to compromise Christ’s admonition to “come out from among them and be separate”: if catholics remain catholics, or at least pretend to, they will be in position to lead other catholics to Christ.
I am telling you it doesn’t work.
Catholics who do come to Christ do so by a supernatural move of an extremely powerful and merciful God, not by a compromising strategy.
As an infant will be emaciated without proper nourishment, so the spiritually newborn. Your logic, and that of many international and local spokespersons, is contrary to Peter’s admonition, “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” I am sure you realize the catholic word to the infant christian is not “the word” Peter was referring to. The catholic word is not pure, but rather a mixture of the Bible and traditional doctrine, the latter the larger component. Adherents are not encouraged to embrace Calvary as payment for their salvation, but instead the wafer the priest somehow turns into the (supposedly) actual Jesus during the mass; the emphasis is the sacrifice of the mass, not the sacrifice of Calvary. Another big one, forgiveness of sins comes via a priest. I am sure you know many of the etceteras.
Your admiral passion to see the lost saved does not negate your responsibility to obey The Book in the slightest. When the Lord said, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father”, He was talking to you as certain as any christian. This is a simple command. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me.” Your influence is enormous. Your compromise before millions of viewers – for example, calling your guests Father – opened the floodgates, giving charismatic christians permission to add and subtract at whim. You have eased the pain of their disloyalty.
Terry and Sheri have placed their young twin children in catechism and they now know how to pray the rosary and the benefit of asking the “mother of God” to intercede for them “now and at the hour of our death”. Why, one might ask, would believers such as Terry and Sheri send their little ones to a catholic to be taught spiritual matters? Please hear (“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”) my answer:
It is no more absurd for Terry and Sheri to send their children to an unregenerate teacher than it is for mature elders in the body of Christ to persuade their newborn brothers and sisters to return to their world of traditionalism to be taught by unregenerate priests. A parallel to this would be trained soldiers sending inexperienced adolescents to fight a deadly enemy in the enemy’s homeland.
Terry and Sheri are under the same pressure to conform to the group as their evangelical counterparts. Peer pressure in both camps is huge. Terry and Sheri, like Barry and Carrie, want to fit in, be accepted, and the going price is cooperation. So they do what is expected and send their kids to catechism.
It is folly to think God plants His children incognito among unbelievers to radically transform the catholic system or to lead others out of the entrapment of tradition or for any other reason. The devil plants tares in wheat, but God does not plant wheat in tares. If you could see into the loyalty and intention of charismatic christians who have gone back you would realize, to your horror I am sure, they are now more fervent in their catholic faith than before their recent conversion to Christ.
It is true many have a sincere desire to win others to Christ, but as they themselves become entangled in tradition the fervor for soul-winning diminishes, and rapidly so. And the Bible’s concept of salvation becomes seriously blurred. Is salvation through Calvary’s sacrifice of two thousand years ago or the receiving of the wafer at mass? What may start out as playacting at the beginning of the charismatic cycle – pretending to be catholic for the purpose of credibility – often ends in the new believer being converted, again, to the catholic way. Will the baby evangelists, in time, need again to be evangelized?
True, these born-again catholics are, at least in the beginning, a light for Christ, but equally true, they are a ‘light’ for catholicism. By their participation they publicly identify with the catholic system. Can you not see their involvement is their endorsement? They often are seduced into becoming their church’s ‘evangelists’, preaching the sacraments as God’s ‘second truth’ or ‘different way’, a path unenlightened fundamentalists would never appreciate.
Your television ‘pulpit’ magnifies you immensely. You are probably more aware than anyone that the person you are has little semblance to the person you appear to be, even if you are, as I assume you to be, far above average. You influence multitudes significantly. Your interviews with catholic priests leaves an impression you must know to be false. Calling the man Father is teaching catholics he is indeed a spiritual father to be respected, even though he may be a recent convert to Christ. And since this man is a ‘father’ because his catholic lords made him a ‘father’, the lords up the ecclesiastical ladder must be likewise honored as Christ’s spokesmen.
Surely you can see that siding with the rock of Christ’s words instead of the sand of religion would be most encouraging to the babe in Christ who will soon be forced to make a choice between the two. I think I know your argument to my logic: How can traditionalists be won for Christ if everyone abandons their traditional church after they are saved?
I think it fair to say that that is God’s concern, not yours. We must never forget that Christ is present. We are never called to make decisions for Him. He rules through us via His Word and His Spirit. The King instructs us to call no man father, so we call no man father. Simple. “To obey is better than sacrifice.” We need not understand His battle plan. Our responsibility begins and ends with obedience. His army on earth is strengthened by obedience, truth and integrity. It is weakened by disobedience and compromise.
Who are we to change God’s battle plan, to give direction from our limited perspective, or for that matter, even draw conclusions or give suggestions? We fight the dark kingdom with God’s chosen weapon, the sword of the Spirit, not man’s carnal arsenal of negotiation and pacification and compromise. Our personal effectiveness is relative to our loyalty to the sword, the rock of His Word.
We are each like a valve or a tap. The degree the Holy Spirit can flow in power through our lives depends on the openness of that valve. Disobedience causes the valve to be turned, somewhat, toward the off position, as does compromise, fear, unbelief and pride. Obedience, faith, humility, truth, and faithfulness cause the valve to open. All of us are somewhere between fully open and fully closed. Our individual usefulness depends entirely upon the lives we choose to live.
Sadly, christians have a tendency to go the “way that seems right to a man”, to lean upon his own understanding. But God’s ways are far above our ways. God’s ways do not always “seem right to a man” – but they work. To live you must die, the last shall be first, give and you will receive – these trespass human logic. God’s way of truth and integrity surpass man’s methods of compromise and accommodation.
Surely you can see the church, throughout its history, has been seriously weakened because of christians’ better ideas. It was a mighty army of Compromisers and Appeasers that seduced the early church to abandon the Word and attach itself to the sand of alternative sayings, thus ushering in the dark ages.
Having watched your program, I believe I hear what you do not say: I have faith God will protect His own once they are adopted into His family. The Lord is sovereign and can do all things. This seems to be the underlying reasoning for advocating youngsters in the Lord to remain in their traditional churches.
It must be said, God cannot do all things. Every christian can do what God cannot, and we do it regularly. God cannot break a promise; we can. God cannot compromise; we can. While we have a choice to either keep or break a commitment, God has no choice. Because He is who He is, He keeps His promises. Unlike us, He has no prerogative. He cannot violate His Word, His integrity, His holiness to accommodate our ‘faith’. In short, the Lord Jesus Christ is not an Accommodater who accommodates Accommodaters.
Faith must be understood and differentiated from presumption. Faith is trust, trust that God is who He says He is, trust that He knows what He is doing, trust He will do what He says He will do. We are to root ourselves in His changelessness, His purity, His intelligence, His supremacy, His Word.
Foolishness is believing God could disregard His own nature. Foolishness is believing God to be a changing God, that He would change His ways to accommodate varying situations. Foolishness is believing the Lord will safeguard the christian who practices the forbidden.
God is true. Truth is God. And truth is power. Truth, then, is a weapon, a spiritual weapon. God is all-powerful and He is all-true. Were He not all-true, He would not be all-powerful.
The church lacks power when it does not function in truth. If it never veered from truth, it too would be most powerful – in Christ. The Lord, being Himself all-true, would not and could not instruct a spokesman to speak or insinuate an untruth. Not for the sake of conviviality, or kindness, or tolerance, or love, or compassion, or to maintain one’s credibility, or to pry open a door of opportunity.
Gerry, you know God hates lies. He punishes liars. Lies grind against His holy Self. Lies and deception belong in the camp of the enemy, not in the church. Christ never pretended or gave false impressions. He never compromised. For He is God.
Jesus Christ would never have been crucified had He been a conciliator. The world does not crucify, or even persecute, the conciliator for such they themselves are. Jesus was murdered because He refused to bend, to accommodate. Now let’s talk about….
Love. It seems so apparent that love to the Compromiser is more than correct behavior toward others; it is also a doctrine to be used to substitute other doctrines when discretion is called for. There is no biblical precedent for calling a man Father or Pastor Whoever, but it would be considered unloving and divisive not to do so. Excellent time to insert the love doctrine: “Good day, Father Whoever.”
But, you reason, every denomination has its failures, its traditions, its ‘hail Marys’. Who are we to cast judgment upon traditional religions?
Yes, many so-called fundamental churches reek of tradition. Affiliates live in denial, somehow convincing themselves they are building on the rock. The obvious they cannot see. The Lord never intended a denomination to be the christian’s standard. The Book is His standard. Only teachings derived from the Bible are valid. To consider oneself a denominational person is not only detrimental, limiting oneself to the understanding of that denomination, but an offense to the “head of the church”.
However there is a vast difference between the church that strays from The Book and one refusing to accept the Bible as God’s final authority, and instead claims itself to be that authority.
I am not suggesting you enter the subject of catholicism on your program. It may be wisdom to avoid that subject and simply preach the gospel message. I can understand that, in fairness, you must allow your guests to express opinions contrary to your own. So that you are not misunderstood, why not begin and end your program with a statement such as :
We realize our viewing audience is comprised of most, if not all, religions and denominations. We state categorically it is not our intent to favor or condone any particular religion or denomination. We believe in the infallible teachings of the Bible and encourage people of all backgrounds to build their lives upon the words of the Bible as the Spirit of God enlightens. Faithfulness to the Bible, as one understands it, is faithfulness to Christ. Any content of this program that might indicate otherwise is unintentional.
Gerry, please read and study again the words of Jesus as recorded in Mathew 18:6 and 7: Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin….
Your brother in Him,