I often write in response to personal encounters. My purpose is not to point fingers at others, but to share what I learn from these encounters. So it is that I write now in response to yet another encounter with a fellow believer. It started when I tried to warn this person that God’s Word does not allow us free reign in this world. He has placed limitations on the things we should and should not do, as well as the types of people with whom we should and should not join ourselves. However, when I offered Scripture to make my point, I was accused attacked, insulted and my faith and salvation were questioned. I was immediately reminded of John telling Herod it was unlawful for him to be married to his brother’s wife, but the Lord quickly corrected me. That was me talking, and I was looking for a way to defend and justify myself. Had I done so, I would have been guilty of the things I was accused. Instead, the Lord took me to another passage. If you’ll let me, I’d like to share what I learned from Ananias and his wife.
We have every reason to believe that Ananias and Sapphira were saved believers — ‘Christians.’ But, when they sinned, God killed them both. Why?
Today’s Church has this false idea that, if you claim to love Jesus, ‘love’ others and do ‘good’ deeds (like give to the church and go to Sunday services), this covers all our sins. What’s more, many believe that, if they meet certain requirements, God is going to make them ‘healthy, wealthy and prosperous.’ But none of this is promised in the Bible: either in the New or Old Testament. In fact, Jesus tells us that, if we truly love Him, we will meet with opposition and persecution.
But God did not stop with Christ’s verbal warnings. To make sure that the disciples of His Son would understand that He says what He means and means what He says, He killed Ananias and Sapphira! He did this to hammer home the point: you are saved by trusting faith, but you are justified by your works, and your works come directly from obedience. This means, if you are not obeying, you will not yield good fruit; and if you do not yield good fruit, you will be cut from the vine and cast into the fire!
Now, the mere fact that I made what so many believers will consider ‘judgmental’ statements will be — in their eyes — proof that I am the one who does not understand Scripture. To them, I am taking Scripture out of context. Many would even tell me that I am being self-righteous and that I do not hear the Holy Spirit. But how could they say this if they knew and understood God’s Word better than I do? If they were actually following the Lord, and obeying His commands, wouldn’t they know where those words come from?
Faith and Works
14 What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can [a]that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, [b]be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is [c]dead, being by itself.
18 But someone [d]may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that [e]God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and [f]as a result of the works, faith was [g]perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.
19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
This is what the Lord used my latest encounter to teach me: not that I should point fingers at others, but that I should take His commands as seriously as He does. The catch here is, one of those commands is to watch over each other and, when we see another brother or sister about to fall into a ditch, to warn them:
Correcting Another Believer
15 “If another believer[a] sins against you,[b] go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. 16 But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. 17 If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.
Scripture also says that, if we do this properly, and with the right heart/motivation, we are doing good:
Doing Good to All
6 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load.
But notice: there in that last passage is part of what the Lord has taught me from my last encounter. If we do not watch ourselves (i.e. look to the planks in our own eyes first), we run the risk of going astray, ourselves.
There is a fine line here, but we are commanded to walk it. If we do not, then we do not have the type of trust/faith in the Lord which leads to obedience, and without obedience, we cannot yield good fruit (deeds). So, for me, I study the Lord’s Word as though my very soul depends on it — because it does! I search it, I beg His help in understanding and — as His word says — I nag Him to reveal Himself to me through it. I know how damaged and depraved I am. Studying the Lord’s Word has made this painfully clear to me. This is why I seek His teaching: so that I may learn to obey, and by obeying, I might be found useful to do His work. Part of doing His work means that, when I find another believer about to fall in a ditch, if I have a Christ-like love for them, I will try to warn them. If I don’t, then I do not love them, and if I do not love them, I do not Love the Lord; and if I do not love the Lord…
Anyway, this is what the Lord has taught me today. What has He taught you?
[NOTE: I no longer think of my voice as anything special. There was a time when I believed I had something important to say, but not so much these days. I write now because I feel driven to do so. Something inside me will not let me rest until I post the pages you just read. I’d just as soon not bother anymore. It all seems like no one is listening and I do more harm than good. So I have come to trust that whatever it is driving me has all this under control. Personally, I believe it is God, but others may not. All I ask is that, if anything I write helps you, or you think it might help others in any way, please, share this page. Re-blog it, share it on FB or send the link to your friends. So long as you feel it will do more good than harm, then please, use this page however you wish. Thank you.]