Let me take a quick break from my dialogue with my great-great grandfather to say something as briefly and clearly as I know how:

Phrases like “our identity” and “our distinctiveness” have no place in the vocabulary of any Christian who believes that Jesus prayed John 17. They should be cast out as demons were cast out by Jesus and those who followed Him.

You will not find an individual church’s “identity” or “distinctiveness” as a concept in scripture. Heck, you won’t even find those words in scripture.

So who authorized anybody to use them with regard to the church at all, let alone as issues that are paramount?

Those are words used by people who are divisive and contentious, and I think we all know what scripture has to say about such people.

They are words which create division and cause dissension, because wherever there is an “our” or “us,” there must be a “their” and “them.” There is no denying this.

They are scare words, because the people who use them are scared to lose the power that they think they have by using them.

The power in the church belongs to God in Christ Jesus, not anyone else. The only identity that the church has is through Christ Jesus, our Lord. The only distinctiveness we should have is in lives that reflect His, which shone forth the Father’s glory from the moment of His birth to the moment of His death, and then beyond and on and on.

“Our identity” and “Our distinctiveness” are judgmental words, because they cast judgment and condemnation on others who are different, see things differently, have different customs.

They are contra-authorized words, prohibited because scripture advises that we count others better than ourselves and accept each other as we have been accepted in Christ.

They are unholy words, because they do not maintain the Spirit of unity in the bond of peace, but seek to supplant Him with self.

They are arrogant words, because they presume that “us” and “our” is correct and therefore righteous and therefore superior. Scripture says that no one is righteous; no, not one … except through the blood of Jesus Christ. And that through faith, which is not even of ourselves, but is the gift of God.

Only by Jesus’ sacrifice and His judgment will sheep be separated from goats; only by His grace will any be saved; only by His justice will any be excluded … not by any lines that we draw or  judgments we make or by any subscriptural human teachings that we espouse as dearly as if they were God’s own words when God had no intention of saying them. And it should be to no one’s surprise that they do not appear in scripture.

They are words by which their users will be judged, and I am not at all superior to or more righteous than those who use them constantly because I have used them myself, over and over, without even thinking of the connotations of them or the perceptions of others or — most importantly — the way they sound to God’s ears.

May God forgive me.

May God forgive us all.

19 thoughts on “Outwords

  1. I guess that pretty much rules out the use of words like Jew, gentile, Hebrew, Egyptian, saved, lost, holy, , I could go on but there is no need, there are many words in scripture that identify, and are divisive and contentious. If we dropped them all we would be pretty much at a loss in reading scripture. there would be no right and wrong, no matter how hard you try Keith, there will always be a right way, and a wrong way, to do anything. Do you remember another word that divides–“lukewarm”

    • Well said Laymond. This sounds like another attempt by man to be inclusive. May each one remember the “ones” of Eph 4. Christ said, “upon this rock I will build MY church. He didn’t say churches, He said church. He did, and He left us instructions as to what this church should look like, how it should function, what it should believe and teach, and how it was to worship Him. Man over time has grown tired of His church and has sought to change it. How many denominations has man made? All with different beliefs and worship? This is not the unity Christ prayed for, He never intended for man to do what he has done. Christ built only one church, His. If this offends anyone so beit. If this seems devisive, so beit. The saved are added to His church, not some man made organization called a church. The saved and His church cannot be separated. The Lord’s church is exclusive in that only heirs belong. All are called, but few will enter by the straight gate. Anyone can enter by being obedient, here lays the problem, man wants to do things his way, man wants to worship his way, man wants the church to look his way, thus we have thousands of man made “churches” all desiring to be included, but Christ died for only one, HIS.

      • So we are free to withdraw fellowship (which Jesus died to establish) from anyone we want to, anyone we disagree with, anyone who doesn’t do things our way? Even if Jesus accepts them?

        Scriptural authority for this position, Jeff?

        I believe I’ve cited several passages in my post which have led me to believe otherwise.

        C’mon; surely you can show me where the Doctrine of Excluding People Who Disagree With Us comes from. Not from scripture? From man, then?

      • kb, If its just a matter of opinion that we disagree on it would not be a matter of disfellowship. If its a matter of faith and practice then yes. We must unite upon what Christ has taught, not what men think. Galatians 1: 6-8 ” I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you, let him be accursed”. 1 John 2: 3,4 “Now by this we know that we know Him, IF we keep His commandments. He who says I know Him, and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in Him.” 2 John 1:9 ” Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not recieve him into your house nor greet him, for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” kb, does your definition of inclusivness include such people? If God accepts them I must also. If God rejects them, so must I. Titus 1:18 “They profess to know God, but in works (ie, the things they believe and practice) they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” kb, the Kingdom of God is very exclusive. Again all are welcome, IF they are ready to submit to the doctrine of Christ. If they are not, God will reject what ever they offer. Therefore I must also. I am united with my King first, thats where unity begins.

      • Then we agree that scripture outlines what are matters of faith and if the matter is not in scripture, it must be a matter of opinion.

        I consider that progress, Jeff!

    • But let us all remember that kb is always looking for an exact quote. Like thou shalt not use instruments of music in the worship of the church. May we remember that scripture also teaches by example and neccesary inference. Like we are to sing and sing from the heart. This would be a direct command not an opinion. An opinion would be that we also can use instruments of music, because there is no direct command not to. But we can infer that they are not allowed because we are told what to do, sing. The Christians in the first century left us an example to follow, when we are informed that they met on the first day of the week to observe the Lord’s supper. So let us be very careful, when deciding what is a matter of faith and practice and what is just our opinion.

      • Ah, but if your necessary inferences are different from my necessary inferences, we’re right back into the realm of opinion … and those inferences are necessary in name only.

        For instance — since you brought it up — many infer that since God encouraged instrumental worship in the Old Testament and said nothing forbidding or discouraging about it in the New, it must still be commanded and acceptable … unlike many other aspects of O.T. worship whose purposes have been described as fulfilled through Christ in the N.T.

  2. so kb, from what you have said, I guess God’s word is worthless, it can never be understood by man. I believe an honest heart can and will find truth if truth is what he is seeking. You continue to try to find what you can get away with. Searching scripture for what it doesn’t say. First of all it really doesn’t matter how they worshiped under the old law, it applied to the children of Israel only. There were trumpets OUTSIDE of the temple. But to say God encouraged the use of instruments is a streach. Amos 6:5 would lead me to believe that God was not all that thrilled with the instrument. ” stringed instruments that they invented for themslves.” Doesn’t sound like they were God ordained. But I just infer that.

    • My goodness, Jeff, you always seem to be quick to accuse: “You continue to try to find what you can get away with.”

      And as for your perception that “to say God encouraged the use of instruments is a stre[t]ch” … have you read Psalm 150 recently? Psalm 33:2? 71:22? 149:3? 2 Chronicles 5:13? 29:25?

      Did He strike anyone dead at these celebrations of praise? Did He not command that these instruments be used?

      What would lead you to believe that? An opinion outside of scripture?

      There were trumpets outside of the temple. Much of the temple worship took place outside the temple/tabernacle building: ceremonial washing, sacrifice, prayer in the courts of women and of Gentiles …..

  3. kb, if your going to go back to the old law for instruction in New Covenant practice then yes, your trying to find ways around New Testament teachings. I came to my conclusion based on Amos 5: 23 which reads, and the Lord said, “take away from Me the noise of your songs, for I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments.” and Amos 6:5 “who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David.” I infer that God had become very disatisfied with those of Israel. Maybe this is why instruments are not included in New Testament worship. Remember kb, there was a time when God winked at mans foolishness but that time has passed.

    • I want to congratulate you, Jeff, on recognizing that you are drawing a conclusion from scripture; it’s called interpretation (as you well know) and we all do it.

      I draw the conclusion from the entire sermon of Amos that God detested Israel’s injustice, greed, unrighteousness, and complacency. And that their worship (of which the sound of harps would have been characteristic) was just noise to Him. And that their pride in having wealth and leisure time to create musical instruments, drink too much, feast, recline, ply themselves with cosmetics and yet find no time to mourn the moral plight of Israel was also detestable to Him.

      I don’t think people would have walked away from Amos’ sermon, worried that the main point was that they shouldn’t worship with instruments of music any more.

      So, you see, we’re back to the realm of opinion here.

      And while you’re welcome to hold opinions like the Old Covenant instructions having no value under the New, but Jesus disagreed. He felt there were two greatest commandments, and He based His own instructions on them. So far as I know, the Shema was not repealed, but affirmed. The ten commandments were not rescinded, but finally fulfilled in His obedience. He was specific about the ones which would no longer in effect: Sabbath and kosher — and He said nothing in His human life nor through His Spirit to gospel and epistle writers about instruments of music, one way or another. Nothing.

  4. Your right again kb, Jesus never said anything about instruments of music in the new testament church. Therefore they would not be commanded. We are to live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. David wrote and did many things, as did the Priest, some of which were never authorized by God. Makes one wonder why in Amos, God stated that He would no longer hear the noise of their songs and their stringed instrumnets, that David invented? Were they just bad musicians? or did they go above and beyond what was authorized? According to Gal 3:13 man is free from the law, ie the old law of Moses, free from the law of sin and death, ie the old law of Moses. Yet you continue to justify what you do in faith and practice by an old law that was never meant for you in the first place. kb you are a new testament christian to be guided by the new covenant. Jesus was faithful to the old law while He was here, because that was the law in which the Jews were under at the time. Christ died to make a better way. Putting an end to the old and ushering in the new. We need to rightly divide the word of God so that we can be a worker who needs not be ashamed.

    • So we are no longer commanded to the love the Lord our God with heart, mind, soul, and strength? or to love our neighbor as ourselves?

      Because that would certainly make it easier to concentrate on finding ways to exclude our neighbor from fellowship — as opposed to bearing the burden of trying to reach and draw others closer to God through Christ.

      • kb, I believe the fact that we are to love our lord with…. has been restated in the new covenant, thus becoming a part of the new command. In fact nine of the ten commandments have been, do we know which one wasn’t? And kb, if our neighbor refuses to be obedient to the will of God, please explain how he would fit into our fellowhip.

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