I Beg to Differ: Part I

Pardon My Folly

My friends who have known me for the past thirty-three years that I have been in the ministry would readily acknowledge that I am a controversialist when it comes to many traditional scriptural concepts.

I am convinced that although everyone has the freedom to interpret scripture, not everyone is qualified to do so; for truth is absolute and will lose its effectiveness when tainted by human misconceptions. Because it is possible for even the wisest of Bible scholars to misinterpret the word of God, it becomes necessary for each one of us to examine truth for ourselves. We should bear in mind that the proper interpretation of scripture is not exclusive to scholastic expertise, but as Biblical history portrays, it has often pleased God to hide truth from the “wise and prudent”, and reveal it unto “babes”. (Mt. 11:25). Like the men of Berea, we too must search the scriptures to determine the soundness of every element of truth presented to us. (Acts 17:10-11).

Constructive criticism has enabled me to isolate many aspects of truth from traditionalism as result, the possibility of being branded a heretic by those who dogmatically uphold traditional doctrine does not quench my desire to promote the convictions of my heart. Being aware that my opinions are lacking the academic and theological flair used by our religious society to validate truth, I humbly solicit the forbearance of our readers and sincerely welcome all scripturally based criticism to my seemingly foolish opinions.

In his second epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul, confronted with a similar situation, asked that the Church would bear with him in his “folly”. (2 Cor. 11:1). It is my opinion that it was not Paul who was foolish, but rather the Church, which was being swayed from the foundation it was built upon. Satan, being transformed into an angel of light, and his ‘ministers’, as apostles of righteousness, were using a religious front to deceive the saints. The Corinthian Church had not only moved away from its original foundation, but rejected the very apostle who founded it. “False apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ” had achieved greater influence among the people than true men of God. (2 Cor. 11:13). It was no wonder that Paul’s letters were described as “weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence weak, and his speech contemptible.” (2 Cor. 10:10).

The Apostle Paul’s letters to Corinth were corrective, and this might have led to him being rejected. Truth that exposes the current flaws in the lives of a backsliding people is classified as present truth, and is hardly ever appreciated.

Present Truth, Present Ministry

Biblical history has revealed a consistent rejection of every true prophet and apostle by the majority of people they ministered to. On the other hand it was easier for a backsliding church to accept apostate religious leaders. In my opinion, the main reason for rejection was two-fold. First, the message being proclaimed, though true, was not in line with traditional doctrine. The second reason was that the message was specifically directed against existing sin and rebellion in the lives of God’s people. This two-fold gospel may be referred to as present truth.

In 2 Peter 1:12, the Apostle Peter declares, “Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.”

In our analysis of the concept of present truth, it is imperative that we do not disassociate the writings of the prophets and apostles from the timeframe of their own era. Also, it is important to consider the uniqueness and purpose of their messages and ministries. With the exception of prophecies, most of the messages of these men of God addressed the spiritual state of the people as it existed in their time. Each were commissioned with a prescribed message appropriately meeting the needs of those they ministered to. It was only those who were not sent of God that stole the message they proclaimed and often changed its gravity.

Scripture states, “Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophecy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.” (Jer. 23:30-32).

In John 8:30-32, our Lord incited strong antagonism among a crowd of believers by declaring the need for present truth. To continue in the words of Jesus was to continue in present truth and be set free from the bondage of traditionalism and sin. Of course, the rest of John 8 describes a bitter conflict between Christ and those so-called believers.

Steeped in hundreds of years of religious tradition, the Jewish believers were convinced that they already had truth. And to a degree they were built on a foundation of truth as it was presented to past generations. The word of God proclaimed by Noah, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah and all the other prophets was present truth. However, what God’s people back then failed to recognize was that every generation needed fresh truth to address evil and hypocrisy as it existed in their own time. Present truth not only exposes present evil but offers a present way of escape for God’s people. It is impossible for any generation to be saved without present truth.

I do not believe that God will judge us based on the lifestyle of past generations, but on our response to evil as it exists in our day. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for us to also recognize evil in our own time.

In Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus highlighted many examples of truth as it was presented in the past, but then He modified the same to address a more subtle approach of evil in His day. The commandments given to God’s people in the past were good for that era but what Jesus offered was present truth.

In Matthew 5:27-28, the Lord showed how adultery had evolved into a more subtle state than what it originally was. He said, “You have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, that whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart.”

The Need

Because evil has progressed so rapidly over the past two thousand years, we today need more than what was declared at the commencement of the Early Church. The question is, are we stealing and presenting many outdated messages of the past in anticipation of solving the current evils in our churches today?

Can we expect to win today’s battles by utilizing yesterday’s weapons?

Are we trying to build New Testament Churches on the few epistles of the New Testament, even though they were basically written to salvage dying assemblies?

Has God stopped speaking, or is it that no one is listening?

Has God really closed the canon of Holy Scripture, or is this the mere conclusion of carnal man?

We are indeed living in an age filled with many questions, and it appears that, with the exception of just a few, our generation has lost its ability to think for itself. We have simply become too gullible, tossed to and fro with the same fads and whims that affect the ungodly society.

With an understanding of the prophetic language of scripture stating that “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Tim. 3:13), it behoves us to take a more defensive posture in our acceptance of the many religious concepts of our day. On the other hand, we are to be more aggressive in our promotion of that which we view as truth.

Because evil will triumph when good remains passive, it becomes necessary for me to express my opinions on the following controversial issues. And although I may differ from many regarding our traditional interpretations of scripture, I am open for scriptural correction from any of my peers. My boldness is only as a result of my appreciation for truth and my sincere concern for the future of our fellowship. May we never lose our focus as to the true purpose of the Church — the Body of Christ.