Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What is a Profession?


I Tim.6: 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

Heb.3: Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

Heb.4: 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

Heb.10: 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

Three times in these verses I provided the Spirit uses the word “profession” in reference to us, the believers. The Greek word for profession indicates a public declaration which includes an open praise that substantiates and authenticates the profession. And in verse 24 of Hebrews chapter 10 love and good works are also directly associated with our profession. You see, a profession without works is no profession at all. In the ecclesiastical parlance of today, if a sinner “makes a profession of faith” in Christ, it is only authenticated by that sinner’s changed life.

No certificates of church memberships, no baptisms, no tithing, and no amount of local church activities qualify as authentication for a person’s profession of faith. But in today’s quick fix atmosphere that is almost exclusively what qualifies as substantiating a person’s profession of faith. In fact, in some circles just repeating a few words in a prayer is recognized instantaneously as a bone fide salvation experience. That is how shallow and self serving the church has become. We are far more interested in numbers than we are true discipleship.

But just what is a true profession? To be sure sinners come to Christ in all kinds of circumstances and in a variety of ways. Many times people are truly converted through the ministry of the Spirit in churches and in situations in which we would strongly disagree. I know personally people that were born again in a prosperity church and later came out of the cult. I know some people who were saved while in the Roman Catholic Church who later came out. That is the exception but still it shows us that the Spirit is not bound.

But a sinner must recognize who Jesus is by the illumination of the Spirit. No man comes to Jesus but that the Spirit draws him. And the Spirit desires to draw all men to Christ. Yes, I said all men. The notion that Jesus only died for a veritable handful and did not die for the entire human race is a falsehood and in fact blasphemous since it presents a gargantuan devaluing of the sacrifice at Calvary. But when the Spirit opens a person’s heart and reveals to him who Jesus is and what He has done as well as that person’s dire need, then that sinner must make a choice.

But that is not just some check the box choice. It is a profession of faith in the Lord Jesus that requires everything. Of course as we walk out our faith we learn just how much it will cost but we also learn more and more about just how much it cost our Redeemer. But this idea that a person can mumble a prayer and then go about his business is not only unbiblical, it is detrimental to the faith and has deceived millions. But the local church has now been designed to swiftly pronounce people saved and get them into attending and supporting that particular local church. And it has been very efficient in doing so.

But these shallow professions have no roots and they soon reveal just how ineffectual they were. But let me reveal something even more sinister that the local church practices. While these quick fix professions of faith are taking place, the church practices a continuing system of affirmation and assurance. That means that the local church and its pastor continually assures its members that they are saved and have no need to worry. So not only does the church have a system whereby sinners can make a costless and rapid profession of faith, but they aggressively assure those who make such professions that their profession need not be questioned. And now you have a religious system and not the true church of Jesus Christ.

That is not to say that no one ever comes to Christ in an American evangelical church because they do. That is because of the grace of God and the ministry of the Spirit. However many are deceived into believing they are saved because they have been whisked through an organized process and have been quickly affirmed. Let me unpack it a little further. Many times a trained “soul winner” leads a person in the “sinner’s prayer”. Now that sinner knows almost nothing, and many times the soul winner is well versed in his part of this process. Sometimes the soul winner has an aggressive personality and that becomes part of the equation as well. But no sooner has the sinner said “Amen” after the sinner’s prayer, the soul winner is trained to lavish upon him assurance of his salvation.

Did you understand that? Right after the sinner repeats a prayer, the trained soul winner asks him a question somewhere along these lines: “NOW if you died where would you go?” And the sinner sometimes sheepishly says “Heaven?” The trainer says “Yes!!” The discussion varies but the desired results are the same. There is little room for the Spirit to work because the system is streamlined to bring about the desired results. Let me also admit something here. The overwhelming majority of churches that practice such things believe that Christ died for the entire human race and that God has given man a free will. Yes, those that believe as do I are the culprits. Most reformed believers would never practice such a thing.

So I ask again, what is a profession of faith. When a sinner comes to understand who Jesus is and what He has done, and when that sinner believes on the Lord Jesus, he is born again. Now as he walks out his profession he will begin to do things he never did before and he will give up things he did with regularity before. He has become a new creation in Christ Jesus and the Spirit that led him to Jesus now begins a process we call sanctification. That means that our lives begin to change in order to more clearly reflect the profession we have made. It does not mean we will never stumble or that we will always be as aggressive in following Jesus as we should. However it does mean we will exhibit fruit that can only be defined as coming from a follower of Jesus.

And those that have made true professions will also believe and teach a true confession of God’s Word. That means that true believers will not change who Jesus is and how a sinner can be saved. There is also a possibility that a true believer can be deceived, however that is a dangerous path. But those who profess Jesus must follow Jesus in word and in deed. The assembly line type of professions is counter to the gospel and has led to a massive ecclesiastical practice that is no more remarkable than the Shriner’s club. In short, what the modern church calls a profession of faith is detached from what the Word of God teaches.

II Cor.13: 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?


Anonymous said...

What I've observed in my limited life experience is that all professed christians miss the mark somewhere. I now see strengths and weaknesses in every kind of church. Traditional churches, priests, ministers, steered members towards reading the gospel, and towards an independent search for themselves. They'd preach a sermon, meet them at the door and shake hands, and be off to do whatever they did. Of course, that had it's problems. Rarely did families go to a priest(unless the confessional), or a minister to discuss personal matters. Family men and women, of those times, maintained a fake pious walk, never exposing their personal sin to any minister. And ministers preferred it that way as well. Everything seemed to be in order if no one "talked" about personal sin and just hid it somewhere.

But today, in the fundamentalist explosion, and in that new prophetic explosion, christians are encouraged to tell it like it is. They love to talk about themselves, give their testimonies, talk about their grievous sins, sometimes write books about it; everyone's encourage to expose their feelings and wear their heart on their sleeves now. It's almost TOO much. I think christians get caught up in the "narcissistic-everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame" thing, and TV evangelists and others encourage everyone to open up, and opening up isn't necessarily a good witness, because some people still need to learn manners and tact and not go overboard. This seems to have created these attention-seeking christians to seek fame rather than seek their true profession.

And another thing I've observed; today's fundamentalist church members are encouraged to trust and place their faith in the 'pastor'. Of course, they teach that God is the true Apostle and High Priest, but they subtly coerce members into believing they are the spiritual mediator between them and Jesus. Sometimes they are unaware they do this, but their need to control and have members submit to them and confess to them their marriage problems, financial problems, sin problems, and personal problems makes the pastor/member relationship an unbiblical unhealthy relationship. One example is where couples have to ask permission to travel from their pastor or ask permission to do anything major in their lives. like moving away; They are encouraged to pray with him, to make the right decision. His opinion, which is to stay and support him, always wins the day, but, nevertheless, there's this iron-fisted shepherd who loves to control the sheep. So it's not about edifying the flock and keeping them maturing in a relationship with Jesus, it's about them controlling every member to support their ministry.

And then, I notice people are running to and fro, leaving one church, joining another, like GoldiLocks, trying to find the right porridge, chair, and bed to fit her needs. No one wants to submit,or they submit to the wrong people, yet pastors are never held accountable, and the sheep are stretched out all over the place. Confusion and multitudes in the valley of decision.
I believe we are now seeing a call to submit only to God by His Spirit, and be accountable only to Him, and bear our relationship with Him only, and bring our burdens to Him.

It would be wonderful to have the Church around more frequently to encourage and edify, but the Church is too busy with their own problems. And, they are so caught up in the world, that they can't function the way they're supposed to. So, we go to the true Source, and I think people are starting to do just that. Maybe the Lord is sending a strong message that the Church is out of commission. His Bride is getting ready, but as She waits for the Bridegroom.

Chris Baumgart said...

Well said Rick, I remember many years into my walk with Christ I revisited a tract sent to me by Last Days Ministries called, "Breaking Up Your Fallowed Ground", by Charles Finney - which made me revisit the past years since I had become a believer. I saw my repentance as rather a bit brief moment of taking care of areas of unbelief which of course bore much unrighteousness fruit that I was eternally sorry for and now clung to the feet of Jesus for forgiveness, love and mercy. I whole heartily received it in faith and then His Spirit world opened to me... Though the truth was I had not gone far enough in my self examination because a deeper stronghold had yet to be uncovered but only walking and being taught of Gods love would be the answer to vanquishing the sin of pride which would lead me to a wonderful state of personal spiritual revival. Here I, and the Holy Spirit, revisited people face to face that I had held earlier bitterness towards and some I had stolen from. I made restitution while with others I asked for forgiveness and received it. They were all shocked, but God was glorified by Jesus' example through me and without Him I could have never done it. It seems that the cleansing of our wicked hearts is a process that only continues when we allow it. The question is, are we willing to sit and learn with humble hearts from teachers with "hard words" - and with contrite spirits that God sometimes answers prayer with the word, No, and if it is a Yes, is it a path we can truly learn to die from self on?

Anonymous said...

Agree with this.

"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses" of 1Tim.6: 12 - this and the next verses as well as Hebrews that says, "And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works".

I read a few days ago that Bryan Fischer from his "Focal Point" program was told by a caller that she appreciated that he prayed daily for President Obama. His answer to her was that yes, he did pray and why, and that was because Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies; he said he prayed for President Obama by name. He also said that Barack Obama is not our friend, but is our enemy, giving some example about the President taking away christians liberties in certain things.

When I heard that, I wondered at how a child of ours who was living an unbiblical life would feel if we told him/her that we prayed for him/her because he was our "enemy". What if a person in a hospital bed who was dying of AIDS asked a christian in the next bed if he would pray for him? - and the christian told him, "Yes, I'll pray for you, my enemy", because Jesus told me to pray for my enemies."

How does identifying those unbelievers, or those lukewarm christians, or those who live by Jesus social gospel, yet haven't had a true conversion experience were all told they were enemies of the gospel, before they were prayed for? Even though, in essence, it is true, that anyone who doesn't profess Jesus is an enemy of the cross, and yet, maybe those leaders who have no conviction on certain biblical standards are considered an "enemy" of God's commands, but do we remind them that they are our enemies everytime we pray for them? How can we expect them to repent if we make such claims? Did Jesus tell sinners he spoke to they were all his "enemies", like, the woman at the well, or Mary Magdalene? And Jesus had the authority and the title and the power to claim that. Yet he didn't, though he could have. So, why do these supposed men of God publicly say they pray for (place name her) their enemy every day.

It's a terrible witness, it shows lack of mercy. It shows a lack of that good profession before many witnesses. All it does is hurt, offend those who are prayed for and distances them from wanting to ever have anything to do with a christian again.

There are truths, and yes, we are enemies of the cross everytime we sin. But, to call out one specific person as a personal enemy, is self-righteous to the core. It's like the two men who prayed, one in the back in humility, and the other on the street corners praying how thankful he was that he was more righteous than others.

I cannot believe we've come this far and men who've been forgiven for their sins act this way towards others.

Cherie c. said...

Utterly confused and now dismayed by the last two posts Pastor.

There are times when a blog post here leaves me speechless, and then there are times like the last two posts that I just don't understand so I cannot say anything. I have so many questions. And there seems to be no answers. Just when I think I have gotten the answer, something comes along and I doubt.

Never going to get it right. I don't know now if I can even end this comment as I usually do because I don't know. Why doesn't anyone want to answer my questions, or is it a sign that I am not saved because I do not understand everything.

your sister in Christ Jesus (I think)

Cherie c.

Rick Frueh said...

It is a healthy thing to examine our own profession of faith, but sometimes it can immobilize us as well. The unsaved do not have any concern over their spiritual state. All of us have at times have allowed the Spirit to do some uncomfortable inventory.
Any deeper walk with Jesus Christ is often painful and always costly, but when accompanied by relentlessness and patience it bears the fruit of His glory.

Cherie c. said...

I appreciate that Pastor, and I understand that too, buy why does it seem like the joy is gone or that we shouldn't have joy? Almost like constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yes, I have noticed it is more painful than before, and the test to my patience happens more often. Feel disconnected too. I guess some days are just harder than others. Thank you and God Bless.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Lorena said...

Cherie c.,
Maybe you are going through 'growing pains', if I may put it like that. Growing in the Lord but often that can be painful. And, we can really notice our shortcomings. And sometimes I think we can feel disconnected.
I have at times felt so alone, and it's not the nicest feeling that's for sure, but I have to think and remember that Christ reigns, and He saved me and that is where I think the joy is. Knowing that you actually have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Creator of all that is, in this vast universe that stretches to who knows how far! We are brothers and sisters in Christ all to His glory. It's wonderful and knowing that and knowing Him as much as is possible, well therein is where I think the joy is. My life isn't really a happy one...happiness, seems fleeting at best but the joy comes from the Spirit, joy in the Lord! Hopefully I've said what I wanted to properly.
Your sister in Christ,

Cherie c. said...

Dear Lorena,

Thank you sweet sister for your edifying words. Yes, I usually feel bad after feeling lonely, but I am stuck in this flesh as you know.

The next time I feel lonely, I will think of you and think about our life with the Lord to come.

May God bless you and keep you close to Him. Love you dear sister with the Love of Jesus.

your sister in Christ Jesus
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post Rick and I was very blessed by reading everyone's comments. Thank you, Norl