What a “little” view of God we had

This morning I had a conversation with Sherlene about broadening our definition of Christianity.  We had people in such a little box in the meetings; folks were either one of us or they weren’t.  There are some now that still attend meetings that no longer hold to the belief that only meeting folks go to heaven.  That is HUGE for them.  I have experienced Christians with so many varied beliefs that it can be quite confusing and disturbing.  This week I read Beth Moore’s writings on her blog about this very issue and it is very helpful and insightful. Here is what she wrote:

Unity is not about lining up on 100 points of doctrine.  It’s about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the holy Son of God, born of a virgin, crucified for our sins, raised from the dead, and returning to take His Throne.  If that’s what you believe, you’re blood to me.  I think sometimes the stuff of unity is all the sweeter to Christ – not when we already see eye-to-eye on all our doctrine but —when we don’t.  Sometimes just agreeing that Jesus Christ is Lord is bond enough.  When we only agree to love people and walk with people who are just like us, that’s tantamount to making our goal to become more like ourselves. Ick.  Somebody else can have that.  I’m trying to figure out how to forget myself, not make a mirror out of every woman of God I see.  I want people to sharpen me, to cheer me onward when I’m discouraged or harassed, to make me think, and to keep me growing.  A mirror can only make me more like me.  Give this girl a seat by the window and let her capture the features of Christ gathered from the faces of many.

I love that for so many reasons.  It’s worth reading and re-reading.  Jesus said the Way was narrow but He never said it was shallow.  The way I once believed in the meetings did just that; made His Way shallow.  We all had to think alike and dress alike and if you didn’t, you weren’t one of “us”.  It’s called exclusitivity.  That very doctrine produced judgmental and critical people, me definitely included.  It also made me very fearful of anyone different.  It is taking me so long to get over that; to quit doing that; and being that.

It brings to mind the time the disciples came back to Jesus with a similar dilemma.

Luke 9:49-50 (KJV)
49 And John answered and said, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbad him, because he followeth not with us.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.

Whoa! Did Jesus actually include someone not of their group?  YES!  He said they weren’t against what He was doing or who He was, so in essence they were for Him!

Jesus never created cookie cutter disciples.  He encouraged us to ask, knock and seek and He didn’t say when to stop doing that. Over and over again I’m being shown that God is much bigger than I ever knew and what matters to Him is often far from what matters to me.

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12 thoughts on “What a “little” view of God we had

  1. The Deity of Christ is a huge issue. It is non-negotiable. I spent 35 years going to meeting before I ever heard (on Christian radio) the term, and I didn’t know what it meant. When I encounter someone who truly believes in the Deity of Christ, fellowship just seems to flow between us, because we have a common point of reference for EVERYTHING. When Christ is all in all, only his words matter, not anyone else’s . It is so wonderful!

    Jesus said that people MUST believe on his NAME to be saved, and that includes all of his names, so clearly stated in scripture. Unbelief is made manifest when one denies even one of those names.

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    • Love your response, Donna. Thanks so much!

      Do you think that when people acknowledge Jesus as the “Son of God” that they are ALSO acknowledging Jesus as “God the Son”?

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      • No, for even the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Catholics acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, albeit in a twisted way, but they do not believe in God the Son. For myself, I always believed that Jesus was the Son of God, as all the F&W’s will say also, but it was a superficial belief, blinded by ignorance to the real person of Christ. The “Jesus came to establish the ministry” doctrine effectively perpetuates that ignorance, keeping the focus on the workers and keeping Jesus a man. If the workers started preaching Jesus as God the Son, and all that that entails (including believing ALL of scripture) “the truth” as we know it would crumble.

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        • I too was a meeting-goer for 35 years and never heard Jesus’ deity preached by the workers nor the term “God the Son” used. And, like you, became educated via listening to Christian radio.

          Isn’t it rather puzzling though that when one acknowledges Jesus as the ONLY begotten “Son of God” that the inference is not made that He would naturally have the same divine nature as the Father? …Scripture makes that so clear! Christ often mentioned that He and the Father were one. He was even crucified for claiming to be who He was/is! But Satan loves to blind the minds of people so that they cannot see all that the name “Son of God” means or implies! People readily call Jesus “Lord”, and “Saviour” and “Son of God”. …But not “God the Son”.

          I well remember the day that Jesus’ deity was truly made real to me. It was (and still is!) a life-changing revelation. To think that God Himself would come down to this earth to rescue even me was the most humbling & emotional event of my life. It’s made ALL the difference!

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  2. Darla, your question to Stan is one that has long been on my mind and I would be interested in your opinion(s) about that issue.

    As Stan mentioned, Christianity is based on certain core (or ‘essential’) doctrines, one of which is the deity of Christ. It seems that people can still have edifying & unifying spiritual fellowship while differing on many ‘nonessential’ doctrines, but unless they are unified in accepting the essential doctrines of Christianity, then the fellowship becomes strained and true unity becomes impossible. That doesn’t mean, of course, that spiritual fellowship with others, regardless of their personal beliefs, shouldn’t be attempted and can’t be enjoyed.

    But if belief in the deity of Christ is an essential doctrine of Christianity, then my question is this: …essential for what? …Essential for being considered a ‘true’ Christian? ..And/or essential for salvation itself?

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  3. Right-on Darla. There are those close-fisted beliefs that are not debatable – such as the Deity of Jesus – the Trinity – the Gospel of Grace…but a whole lot of the “rules” in the meeting system were open-handed and not all that important to the following of Christ. However, those “rules” became legalistic to the point of heresy (in my opinion). Chris and I now see different churches as just having different styles and we sure don’t want to judge them if they have the core beliefs down and Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are truly worshiped in faith. It is those churches that treat Jesus and God’s Grace is strange ways that can and should be judged as completely off-base. This certainly includes Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, prosperity theology based and, yes, meeting. Thanks for your thoughts….Stan

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    • I agree, Stan. The non-debatable issues are just that. I had a “stranger” attend one gospel meeting of ours once and he was really upset after the meeting because he had picked up that we did not believe Jesus was God and he called us heretics. Of course, we tried to justify ourselves but now I know he was right in that area. It is a big deal. Let me ask you this Stan (and you can answer this privately if you wish)…do you believe that a person must acknowledge the Deity of Jesus in order to have salvation? I had one of the friends ask me this a few months ago.

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      • I absolutely believe that the Bible is very clear in many ways that Jesus is God. Emmanuel means God amongst us. God in the flesh. I don’t know about the salvation of those that won’t or can’t see this – the judge in those matters is Christ alone. Jesus is clear in Acts 4:12 – “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Jesus says clearly that “I am the Way – I am the truth – I am the life – I AM is another way of saying He is God. He say exactly “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” Personally, I would not feel I had salvation if I did not believe Jesus was God. Again, I don’t determine this. God knows our hearts.

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        • I see this as a salvation issue because if Jesus is anyone other than God in the flesh, he is being diminished and “downsized” and other earthly things are given preeminence over Him (ministry without a home, anyone?) and that is intentional idolatry. Lets pretend for a minute that the cults are correct and that Jesus isn’t God and is a created being. I have been told by a worker and other 2×2’s that we:

          Are to worship God THROUGH Jesus:

          (for sake of time I have copied/pasted points made in this article: http://www.preterist.org/articles/Deity_of_Christ/toc.asp)

          Worship God through Jesus:

          This puts God in the position of sharing His glory with a created being. God has clearly said He will not give His glory to another (Isa. 42:8) which contradicts what God says about himself in the OT.He says to worship Him only (directly and exclusively – Deut. 5:6-9; 6:13-15). We would expect to find many scriptural references showing God worshiped through Jesus (where are they?) and NO scripture that shows Jesus worshiped independently from the Father. In fact there is the opposite. Scripture (Heb. 1:6 and others) actually commands all God’s angels to worship Jesus, not just God through Jesus. And Scripture shows Jesus Himself being worshiped (Matt. 14:33; 28:9,17; John 9:38; Rom. 14:18; Col. 3:24; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:11-14), and not just God through Jesus. In fact, Jesus Himself says such worship can only be done to God Himself. (Matt. 4:10) God doesn’t tell His creatures to worship Him through anyone else! In fact, He says just the opposite. And we see both people and angels worshiping Jesus, and Jesus accepting their worship without ever once saying, “Now be sure you don’t worship me, but worship the Father through me. And furthermore, you must not worship God at all unless you go through me to do it.” (cf. John 14:6) Can you imagine any created being (angel or man) bold enough to tell us to worship God through them? Such would be blasphemy of the highest sort unless they are also God. It would be exalting oneself to a position of not only being equal with God, but actually being over God and controlling our worship of Him. So even if someone only claims to be worshiping God through Jesus, they have put Jesus in a position that no being outside of God should be in (equal to or greater than God). If Jesus is not God, then worshiping God through Him would violate the intent of the commandments regarding idolatry. God said so clearly that we should have no other gods between us and Him. God alone is to be worshiped, and not through anyone or anything else.

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