T H E S I S # 36
Evangelicalism would bear much more good fruit if it discarded traditions contrary to the Bible. There are many such traditions.
Traditions can be expensive, and are often financed by funds the Lord Jesus intended for The Great Commission.
Evangelicalism suggests evangelicals can do more for God’s kingdom en masse than individually. This is a costly miscalculation.
Before His return our Lord Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit who “would guide you into all truth”. The book of Acts is the shortened term for Acts of the Apostles, but some suggest it should be called Acts of the Holy Spirit because of the involvement of the Holy Spirit during those significant times. For example….
Chapter ten tells us while Peter was contemplating his vision (“heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners descended to him and….”) “the Spirit said to him, ‘Behold, three men are seeking you. Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.’” The Holy Spirit had sent men from Caesarea to Peter, and also told Peter the men were coming to get him. Further, while Peter was preaching to the brethren at Caesarea “the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.”
Chapter sixteen reveals the Holy Spirit giving direction to Paul and Silas. They intended to “preach the word in Asia”, but “they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach” there. Later Paul received a vision: “A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us.’” Paul complied with the vision.
The difference between these apostles and us, generally speaking, is a lack of sensitivity and submission to the Holy Spirit. That explains our comparatively skimpy results.
And why is the evangelical so lacking of sensitivity toward the Holy Spirit? Blame evangelicalism. Evangelicalism has replaced the Holy Spirit with itself as the guiding force of Christ’s people. The evangelical has lost his ability to hear what the Spirit is saying because he is overly concerned with what evangelicalism is saying.
How different is the Acts of the Apostles from the acts of evangelicalism!
Evangelicalism has, over the centuries, built a cumbersome (and expensive) hierarchy controlling millions of believers throughout its many denominations. Denominational officers in local churches are instructed to bring its membership and adherents into submission to denominational beliefs and decrees, and affect a dependence on them for guidance (regarding public ministry).
To justify this hierarchy, it seems their (convenient) understanding of Christ’s words, “He will guide you into all truth” is: “The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth by revealing truth to us who in turn will convey those truths to you through our endorsed and faithful local officers.”
This is harmful policy. They would have all rely on those credited by themselves for direction instead of seeking direction directly from the Holy Spirit. What could be more damaging to the Spirit-believer relationship? And since it is actually our Christ relating to us through the Holy Spirit (“the Spirit of Jesus Christ”), looking to another for direction is actually looking away from Jesus.
They certainly agree and teach there is “one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus”, but seem to assume they are God-ordained mediators between men and the Holy Spirit (and thus men and Christ).
It would be hard to contrive a concept more damaging to The Great Commission. When our Lord said, “without Me you can do nothing” He was speaking of relationship. A weakened relationship equals a weakened branch, and a weakened branch equals paltry fruit.
Denominational headquarters decrees: We can do together what we can’t do by ourselves; unity is our strength. And yet….
And yet John the Baptist was a loner. Lord Jesus sent out the twelve and the seventy two by two. Paul sometimes travelled his missionary trips alone, sometimes with one other. He accomplished much when alone as a prisoner. John was by himself when he received the great Revelation that still impacts Christ’s church. Peter was alone “on the housetop” when he received instructions to preach the Holy Spirit to gentiles.
Young John told Jesus, “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” This “someone”, this “him”, this “he” was a singular person. Jesus’ correction to John (“Do not forbid him….”) is also a correction to today’s religious establishment that suggests we must have the blessing of a church to do ministry.
The woman “who was a sinner” did not ask anyone’s permission when she “brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil” to wash her Christ’s feet. It is easy to imagine she was inspired and emboldened by the Holy Spirit.
Phillip (not the apostle) was alone when sent by “an angel of the Lord” to the Ethiopian, “a eunuch of great authority”. “The Spirit said to Phillip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’” Notice, “the Spirit said” to Phillip. The Holy Spirit still speaks to individuals who have “ears to hear”.
Potentially we are each a Paul, a Peter, a John. Who would stop us from continually gaining Christ until we had a relationship equal to theirs? Again, who would stop us? Certainly not our Lord Jesus. Certainly not our Father. Certainly not our Holy Spirit.
If a congregation of believers busied itself supporting one another in their individual calling and giftings instead of organizing themselves into goosestep togetherness, instead of investing time and energy creating an inefficient contingent, God’s kingdom would be better extended and maintained.
God’s specific will for each of His own is a holy thing. Respecting that holy thing is respecting God.
Galatians 6:2: Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Our biggest burden should be to accomplish the specific will of God, to complete our assignment. True friends will support us in our endeavor. A friend “in Christ” will point us to Christ by preaching Christ. With Christ we can; without Christ we can’t. One person finishing “the race” would result in many (yes, many!) being saved from you-know-where.
Manipulating a brother or sister to fit into a program or to support an alternative to God’s way is serious callousness. Evangelicalism is not interested in the individual’s commission, but rather collective ministry. The army they have built is clumsy and inefficient and expensive, and largely detrimental to The Great Commission. Sad.