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Doctrine in dialogue format
CLEANSING THE TEMPLE
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
In today's episode we find Pastor Leo conversing with Pastor Daniel Palisades. Listen:
"Thanks Leo. I could use a little something to relax me after the day I've had."
"You use coffee to relax? I thought coffee was a stimulant."
"You know what I mean. I just need something to sip on. It's been one of those days."
"One of those days you say. What kind of day do you mean Daniel? I have lots of those days. And I find there are many kinds of those days. What kind did you have?"
"Oh, you know the kind Leo. Those days when people start questioning your doctrine. It's bad enough when it's people outside the church, but when someone in the congregation starts in on me during the sermon, I get unsettled and edgy. It would be ok of they approached me after the service, but not during like they tend to always do."
"Yes, I know what you mean Daniel. I just tell them to talk to me later and go on with my message. They don't like that because their intention is to throw me off balance and disrupt the faith of the others I'm speaking to. What did they confront you with today?"
"Well, I was teaching the congregation about the security of the believer. I was giving them verses that prove that once one has been baptized and saved they can't have that salvation taken from them. This is our peace, knowing that God has us securely in His hand and that no one can snatch us out. That's when a visitor piped in and said he didn't agree with what I was teaching, and said there are things we have to do in order to secure our salvation. I had to stop everything and debate the issue with the man. I hate having to do that."
"Why did you do it then? Why didn't you just let him believe what he wants to believe and move on?"
"I would have Leo, but I could see by the expression on some of the congregation that there were those of my faithful who were giving this man's outlandish and cultish view an ear. I don't want to take the chance of anyone being swayed away from the faith that saves them. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about."
"To tell you the truth Daniel, I don't know what you mean. For one thing, you said these are your faithful. Surely if they're your faithful church attenders, and they've heard your teaching, then they should be well grounded in the truth. I should hope your congregation understands the Word of God through their own relationship with God, and not merely from your words on Sunday morning."
"People are weak Leo. They don't have the firm grasp on truth as do you and I. They go about their daily business and count on us to set them straight. When we falter even a little, then they falter with us. That's why I have to make sure heresy is kept out of the church. I'm sure you understand."
"Again, no, I don't. I should hope that my congregation understands truth, not because I tell them something is true, but because they learned the truth directly from God Himself through His Spirit and their reading of the Bible. If I were to fall flat on my face, and everything I've said is shown to be wrong, then I would like to believe it wouldn't effect their faith and confidence one iota. I'd hate to think their salvation, or the lack of it, hinges on what I say or do. That is a responsibility I would not want to have to answer for when my time at judgement comes."
"You live in an idealistic world Leo. I would like to feel the same way, but that just isn't the reality of life. People need a leader, and for whatever the reason, I have been called to be that leader. If I lead my sheep astray, then I fear I would have to answer for having done so."
"What you just said brings up my second point Daniel. You said your sheep. I think that's where a lot of pastors have stepped off the base and are about to be tagged. These aren't our sheep, there the Lord's sheep. He raises and He guides them. He has given us the responsibility of feeding His sheep and watching over them in His absence. Yet we know the True Shepherd isn't really out of sight. He's within all His sheep instructing them at this very hour. If Jesus is actually doing the teaching, then the sheep will know if what we try to tell them is true or not. If this is not happening, then perhaps they are goats, and not truly part of the Lord's flock."
"You're talking rhetoric Leo. In the first century perhaps what you say was true. But we're two thousand years removed from the time of the Apostles. Things are very different in this day and age."
"Am I hearing you correctly Daniel? Do you feel the Christian is no longer the temple of God? That we do not in fact house the Holy Spirit as Jesus said would be the case?"
"Don't twist my words Leo. You know good and well that's not what I'm saying. I'm just saying that the pastor has a lot of influence on the Christian in his charge. In the early days there were miracles happening, and there was the Apostles and strong believers to follow and to receive instruction from. They're gone now, leaving us to flounder the best we can."
"I have to disagree again Daniel. In the early years they did not have the Word of God, nor of the Apostles as we have it now through the written Word. And besides this, even though the Apostles, or even Jesus for that matter, were performing amazing miracles, there were still a great many unbelievers, and there were those in the Church seeking to undo what the Apostles themselves where trying to establish. Much of Paul's writings were dealing with that very thing."
"That may be so, but I still say it's different today. And because of that difference, I have to struggle to make sure my congregation feels the confidence of their salvation."
"And that's my third point. You feel the great need to assure your people of their security. Yet as I read the Bible, that security is only for those strongly in the process of cleansing the temple in order for the Holy Spirit to dwell in them. If they don't feel that desire, that drive Paul describes himself as having, then I have my doubts that the person actually possesses the salvation in the first place, leastwise anything to hold on too."
"Don't tell me I'm going to have to deal with you too on top of everything else that's happened today. I came to you for a little support and understanding. But instead of getting understanding, I get putdowns. Let's just let the matter drop for the time being, shall we? I'm really not up to arguing with you, especially over something that's so commonly known and so clearly spelled out in the Bible."
"I guess you're right Daniel. I did pick the wrong time to council you. I should have lent you a sympathetic ear. I'm sorry for that. But I would like to conclude my statements with a suggestion that you take a close look at these verses when you feel up to it. Does that sound fair?"
"Sounds fair enough Leo, not that it will do any good. I know what's true, and I know that my doctrines are all in line. But I'll look the verses over when I get the chance."
"Fair enough. Now, what do you think of the ball game last week?"
16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. (1Cor 3:)
43When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (Mat 12:)
4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Heb 6:)
18For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2Peter 2:)
7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Gal 6:)
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