Saturday, January 11, 2014

The Journey To Orthodoxy


Jam.2: 14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

Question: “Are you orthodox, Rick?”

Answer: “I am on that Journey.”

Look closely at what the Holy Spirit is teaching in these verses from the Book of James. The word orthodox is a term which means in ecclesiastical vernacular to be Scriptural sound in your doctrine. And therein is a colossal deception. No one can be orthodox by a written set of doctrines alone. No one. The Spirit makes it clear that without obedience those doctrines are worthless. And so doctrines along with spiritual works are symbiotic in their relationship. One without the other is useless.

This is a serious issue about which the humanitarian works wing of evangelicalism as well as the written doctrinal wing of evangelicalism both do battle to win the argument that they alone are orthodox or Scripturally sound. Paper doctrines have no life without flesh and blood actions. They are dead. And yet there is a segment of the evangelical community which embraces their doctrines as proof that they love and follow Jesus because their systematic theologies can be proven exegetically. And there is the opposite segment which suggest that good works toward our fellow man makes written doctrines secondary and subordinate.

But let us peel away all the man made terms and measures and structures. This “orthodox” moniker has become very self serving and even self righteous. And in the midst of important truth debates we seem to have almost ignored the debate which the Spirit makes clear in James. I do believe that the wicked spirits love Scriptural compromise and error, and they seek to lead people away from truth. But somewhere along the line we have forgotten a vital aspect of truth. Obedience. Just saying “Amen” to a set of doctrines means nothing without a life which is just as passionate to live as Jesus lived. I hope we all can see what has happened here.

Christianty: To believe on Jesus, understand what He taught, and do what He did. So how did it get so complex and convoluted? And how did we come up with terms which validate us based solely upon what we say we believe? Think about that. Would the early believers be thrown to the lions just because they wrote their beliefs upon a scroll? What was it about their lives which so irritated the Romans that they killed them? And considering just how cozy the orthodox camp is with America what could possibly put our lives in jeopardy? Half the unsaved country loves fiscal and moral conservatives and seem not offended in the least with the name of Jesus lightly sprinkled among all the earthly battles.

And so just who is orthodox? Is it not those who believe Scriptural truth and live out the teachings of Jesus? Like a row boat with one oar going around in circles, so is the church which either ignores doctrinal truth or ignores obedience to the teachings of Jesus. It is not enough to do the things that Jesus taught without sharing and believing the gospel. And it is not enough to believe the written teachings of Jesus are inspired without doing them. So the path to orthodoxy is a journey which includes faith in the Scriptures and revealing Jesus from the heart and through your life. “Orthodoxy” is a journey and a pursuit. Go ahead and present your written doc trines on gilded leaves of papyrus but that does not make you orthodox.

Following Jesus with all your heart, mind, body, and soul makes a person orthodox. But since that is not a Scriptural term, let us use the term which the Bible uses.



Anonymous said...

While driving today, my mind was wandering and I was trying to figure out what's gone wrong. Where are true Christian followers? I want to see examples, role models. I know many would say, it first starts with us. We have the Word, and that's being equipped enough. However, I believe that faith without works is dead. Sometimes the bible is a bit contradictory on what 'works' mean, because we're taught that we can add nothing to our salvation.

There's a word I used to hear in a holiness pentecostal church and it was "dedication". They erroneously taught legalistic things, and described that as 'dedication, but then, there was some nugget of truth in one being so in love with Jesus, that they would dedicate themselves to Him, and nothing was a burden. I knew a few who would have stood on their head for the Lord, if He asked. I saw some people who were willing to go the extra mile and the yearning they had to serve Him was a nice thing to witness. I had some of that years ago.

Then, I exposed myself to non-Holiness denominations, where prosperity had hit the roof and the role models were TBN preachers and mega-style ministers. And now these self-serving teachings trickled down to small churches. It's discouraging to think that hardly a pastor has seen the error. No wonder we don't know what works mean anymore. If works today mean fighting for gun rights,freedoms, fighting against those who would tread on us, fighting against homosexuals, abortion rights, fighting against a liberal politician's will to keep food stamps for the poor, fighting against the unemployed from getting extra benefits, fighting a 'war' on Christmas, fighting against anything and everything that might threaten these christians' quality of life, then gospel preachers have gone to the other side.

There are few true shepherds. Any man who believes he is an Ambassador of Christ who becomes a leader of a congregation the way we play church today, in our excess nations has compromised. The works they do are all self-serving.

I always thought when I was first saved that "works" reflect what Jesus would do. He wouldn't get involved in politics, or try to influence Hollywood and education, by imposing creationism; He would ask us to pray for those in charge. He would be about His Father's business. The Church wouldn't put a stop to their governments from helping the weaker and the poor and the jobless and elderly. And, if the government requires being taxed more, a true christian would rejoice that he could be of help, any help, to relieve those with less. He wouldn't be nasty and complain and demonstrate unthankfulness and accuse those in charge. He wouldn't worry about losing his advantage. He'd have faith and trust in God only. If welfare recipients were in bondage to dependence on government, a true christian wouldn't heckle and judge him on national TV and blogs, they'd pray for him. I really believe that some christians feel they are CALLED to hurt unbelievers and call them names. Who taught them that? How have they gone so wrong? Satan has penetrated the church and is spellbinding in a way that no first day apostle could believe to happen.


Steve said...

One thought from meditation about how I could be more a disciple.

That "disciple" comes (in language and in life) from "discipline." That discipline is a mindset of deliberate intentionality.

In Jesus, Steve