An Open Letter

June 20, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Posted in False teaching, Grace and Faith | Leave a comment

An open letter to the members of the International Christian Church, and other Church of Christ communities that teach the same things and use the same methods:

I can appreciate a group of people that has great zeal for Jesus and that emphasizes the Bible as God’s Word, and I can appreciate those who want to be all that Jesus said his disciples should be.  But there is a question about you that puzzles me.

You call yourselves “sold-out disciples” of Jesus, and that sounds wonderful, even exciting to me.  But my question, for those of you who can be totally honest, is this “Are you really?”  You like to emphasize what Jesus said his disciples are or should be, and, from my experience in talking with some of you, you claim that your members meet that standard.  Do they?  Do you, really?  I would encourage you to look inside yourselves and see if you can answer that question honestly in a positive way.  Remember that Jesus said a man’s lustful thoughts make him guilty of adultery; he said a man’s anger makes him guilty of murder. (Matt 5:21-22, 27-28)  Be honest with yourselves, only you and God really know and no one else needs to know; have all your efforts to be sold-out disciples changed your inward thoughts from hatred to love and from lust to purity?  All the time?  Anything other than that seems to fall short of the sold-out discipleship you so confidently claim.

Over the years, every time I’ve conversed with one of your members about the necessity of baptism for salvation, and there have been several occasions, I come away feeling uneasy, not because we disagree, but because of how the conversation is handled by your members.

You presume to teach the rest of us the truth.  OK, the Bible tells us we should always be ready to make a defense for the hope in us.  However, those I’ve talked to have never made that defense with gentleness and reverence as the passage says, only with combative and interruptive behavior not fit one who teaches God’s Word.  The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but must gently correct those who oppose him, demonstrating patience when wronged.   Those of your persuasion I’ve talked to over the years could in no way be described as gentle, reverent, or patient; in fact, quarrelsome is a much better description of what I’ve run into through these discussions.  (Gal 6:1; 2 Tim 2:24-25; 1 Pet 3:15)  Do you fit the profile of a disciple here?

I am not asking this question because I am totally pure in these matters.  I am not.  I am asking this question because I know and readily admit that in myself I can never meet the standard of discipleship Jesus demanded.  No matter how sold out I may be, there is a depth of sin in my life that keeps me from living a life of perfect discipleship.  I’m willing to bet, if you’re honest with yourself, you will say the same thing.  Yet you seem to indicate that only those perfect disciples are real disciples.

That puts us honest people in a bind.  We must go on playing the game so we look good to our leaders and church friends, even though we know ourselves to be something different inside, and thus throw our honesty out the window, or there must be another way.  I thank Christ Jesus who gives a righteousness that’s not by law, that’s not a result of my supposed sold-out discipleship.  It is a gift from God.

I’m not a perfect disciple of Jesus, but I have a perfect Savior.  I’m counting on his life to save me, not on my own merit of baptism or discipleship.  When you are able to honestly admit your shortcomings and inner failings, trust Jesus to save you apart from all self efforts.  Then you can respond to Jesus in thanks and love for his great gift.  Then you will discover the really good news called the Gospel.  Then, and only then, will you discover what real discipleship is all about.

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