“And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day. And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law? And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest? Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.” (Acts 23:1–5, KJV)
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3:14–15, KJV)
How do we reconcile this? How do we reconcile Paul angrily rebuking the High Priest (and an impressive display of sarcasm… “I didn’t know you were the High Priest!”), and what John says?
The tone I use on this blog differs, based upon need. When speaking to heretics, it can be abrupt. When speaking to persons who are deluded by the cult their in, it’s more relaxed – but if they attempt to bring the fight, I’m ready. And the tone changes.
How do I address what seems to be a conflict??
Easy. The Bible tells us to rebuke a heretic one, twice, and then avoid. It’s done. Paul did that to a false High Priest. Who was the legal High Priest according to Jewish Law? Don’t know. Annas and Caiaphas purchased the office from the Romans. And if we postulate that perhaps Annas had the right to it, then it was in effect until he died. So who was Paul addressing? Ananias. In Hebrew, Chanan was the legal High Priest. Chananyah is the current one. Don’t get confused on that. He wasn’t legally the high priest, hence Paul’s sarcasm. It would have amused the Pharisees greatly! Imagine scornful laughter from the Pharisees hearing it, and you’ve got the scene.
But John tells us to LOVE the brethren. Not the Plymouth Brethren, but brothers in Christ.
Yeah, we don’t… do that. It’s one thing Christians are very pathetic at.
There’s a problem with love, as we know it. We assume that ἀγαπῶμεν Agapomen means a warm happy fuzzy feeling for Christians. That’s not quite the case. Agapomen is a verb. It implies action.
In English, love can be a heartfelt pain, it can be a strong feeling of intense affection, it can be fondness, it can be parental affection for children, it can even be a preference for what kind of pasta you like.
In Greek and Hebrew, it’s a verb.
“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Galatians 5:13–14, KJV)
Notice the word By, not in.
If someone comes to your church, and they are homeless, and you sit there thinking warm fuzzies about them, and they leave and are never seen again because they starved to death a couple of days later… did you love one another?
People are hurting out there. And its funny, but at least one or two wealthy families seem to attend every church. And it never occurs to them that perhaps the reason they’re wealthy is that perhaps God entrusted them with that gift, for the express purpose of caring for the people in that church?
If you’ve got barely enough money to get by, then this message is not for you. But people out there need help. routinely in my day jobs I hear people tell me the worst, saddest stories of their lives and how they went wrong. And yeah, a lot of people make bad choices. But once you decide its time to get out of trouble, it’s suddenly very difficult.
Love one another
as I have loved you.
Well, Jesus Christ took care to make sure people were fed. He came with the express purpose of teaching, and redeeming us. But He stopped to feed people, heal people, redeem people. And one of the moments of His greatest condemnation was seeing a widow put her last two coins into the Temple Treasury, in an attempt to purchase eternal life… and then go home to die, because she was already starving to death.
“And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living. And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” (Mark 12:42–13:2, KJV)
Love one another
as I have loved you.
Christians do a miserable job of this. What if your report card in Heaven, that determined your rewards was not how much Bible you read, regular church attendance, tithe… but on this matter? How we treat one another?
“But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:13–14, KJV)
This is love. Not a happy feeling for other Christians. I don’t care if I offended you. Too bad, so sad – I am obligated to preach the entire Bible, and I read a LOT of this in the Bible. Look up “poor” “widow” “orphan”. Look up those words. Poor OR widow OR orphan. Copy that search term, paste it in your Bible software. Search. Read.
Now let’s talk about boldness. Many of the readers of my blog have blogs themselves, and they often take heretics to task in boldness. I do it myself.
Believe it or not, the Bible gives us no choice.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17–18, KJV)
“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” (1 Timothy 5:20, KJV)
“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2 Timothy 4:2, KJV)
Have the fear of God, an essential part of worship. Fear of God leads to reverence, because it is another way of saying “Awe”. Most people misuse that word too. If you saw Jesus Christ sitting on the throne, it’s not some hippie surfer dude who smokes reefer you’re looking at…
It’s the king of kings, and Lord of Lords. He redeemed us… and soon will judge the world in righteousness and wrath. Oh yes. Jesus Christ gets angry. If you don’t think so, you haven’t paid attention to your Bible. He ordered the destruction of the Temple because a widow gave all her money to God, and went home to die.
And that’s incredible love. Jesus Christ loved her enough to condemn a house built to worship Him.
I and my other fellow Fundamentalist apologists have fear of Jesus Christ. Love and reverence as well. Because Jesus Christ gave Himself for me, I serve Him. And thus I am angry with a righteous anger over false teachers, heretics, and those who cause divisions.
“But you cause divisions!”
I’m sorry, I’ve looked at Fundamentalist church websites all across the country, and I’ve yet to see one say, “Philip Dean is causing division in our church!”
Evangelicals left Biblical Christianity quite some time ago. That’s how it looks to Fundamentalists. You all actually cause the divisions, by mocking, persecuting and antagonizing Fundamentalists.
We don’t have a nickname for Evangelicals. But Evangelicals have scornful nicknames for Fundamentalists.
So, we have love. But we also preach with boldness. Read your Bible, and see how boldness looks in the New Testament.
it’s probably someone like Paul or Stephen speaking far more harshly to heretics than I do.