A Case of Love and Fellowship/The Serious Matter of Self-Examination

Glen Berry

I WANT TO RELATE two or three real live experiences to make a special point about Christians loving one another.

I am well aware—and am burdened—that so many professing Christian are deceived with a false Gospel.  This is  sadly true even to the extent that today a majority of those professing Christ do not possess Him, and have been deceived as to their eternal state. That should be a matter of  deep and serious concern!

I am also aware that RIGHT NOW the pulpits and airwaves are filled with deceived saints,  goats and perhaps wolves filling the pulpits, leading sheep astray, and deceiving goats with an entertaining, flesh-exalting, false gospel, declaring “another Jesus” with another gospel. Even “wolves in sheep’s clothing” are influenced by Satan who transforms himself “into an angel of light.”

Not with any pretended accuracy, but yet with estimates that may not be far off, we could well believe that during times of persecution like the early church went through, possibly 5% of the professed converts may have been false. Maybe not even that many. When professing Christ could mean imprisonment and even death the next day or seek, you will not find many professing Him without truly experiencing Him in true  faith. But in this day, it is an entirely different picture, except for what Christians in Muslim countries have to face. If they have Christ Jesus supernaturally revealed to them, they know they may literally lose their head the next day! And that is in this century in which we are now living.

But here in America, at the present time, that is not the case. The churches are filled with false professions. In fact, I just heard that one very highly respected Christian leader said just a few years ago, that he felt only 5% of America’s church member were born again. If this be anywhere close to true, you can see the figures mentioned here have reversed themselves. From 5% in the church that may be false, to 95%, and only 5% perhaps  true! The percentages may be questioned but the trend is there. Jesus asked the question which He knew the answer to—When He returns will He find faith on earth? So we know that goats, wolves and false teachers fill the “Christian” scene.

I also know some of the seeds of denominationalism are found in 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul exhorts Christians not  to take the attitude that we have no need for other members who are not just like us, or who  are not gifted just like us, but we are all members of one body if we have been born again and are bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit, though our measures of gifts may differ. But we all, together should be searching for God’s truth, not DENYING IT!

Perhaps the greatest false church in  the world is the Roman Catholic church, recognized as such through history. Yet, even here, it must be that God has some of His elect trapped there, for He says in Revelation, “Come out of her My people.”  But is it not true, that “His people” should come out of any church that preaches a misleading, deceptive false gospel, a church that preaches an imagined, fantasized Jesus who does not resemble the sovereign Christ of Scripture. Such a church is exalting the ability of natural man, withholding glory to God.

I  also know that we ALL but see “through a glass darkly,” “ and none of  us are totally free from error.

I also know that many of God’s elect are mixed up in their head even if their heart is right. And that as they study and grow in the Lord, having the divine Teacher within them who takes the things of Jesus and shows them to their spirits, that revelation of truth, for them, is progressive—gradual, even as natural growth.  Generally speaking, this is true. We GROW in the knowledge and grace of Christ. So if we seem to have more knowledge than some others, we need to patiently LOVE them, labor with them and try to help them, even when they are “doctrinally” very sick! Good doctors and nurses have to associate with their sick. You must know that.  They hate the disease but they are there to help and SERVE.

That brings me to some true-to-life stories, for they actually happened. Two stories that were recounted from the life of Richard Wurmbrand who was imprisoned by the communists for 14 long years. After his release, when he visited the United States, my wife and I, with my parents were able to meet him and his  wife. His  wife had also been imprisoned.

One story he told was about his witness of Christ to fellow prisoners, some of whom were political prisoners though communists and atheists.  On one occasion, one of the prisoners, upon hearing of Jesus, asked Richard Wurmbrand, “This Jesus you speak of, I have never seen Him. What does he look like.”

Richard Wurmbrand knew he himself was to be a living epistle to be seen and read before men. He knew that this prisoner had not been taught the gospel, being reared in atheism.  So how could he know anything about how the Lord Jesus looked unless he saw it in His people? But in prison, who was there that looked like Jesus? Richard knew at that time he was a lone witness there for this prisoner. So, with all humility, he answered the prisoner by saying, “Jesus looks like me.”  To which the prisoner, as I imagine his being somewhat taken aback, replied back, “Then if He looks like YOU, then I want Him.” I can never relate this story without tears.

Now I ask you, if Richard Wurmbrand had not been so conformed to the image of Christ that he radiated His love for others, do you imagine that the prisoner would have ever been led to say, “If He looks like you then I want Him?”  Some professing Christians are so harsh and unloving that the reaction from hearts of unbelievers might rather be, “If He looks anything like you then I DON’T want Him.”  And they would be more inclined  to run even further away.  That is why we must want to be “living epistles,” “read of all  men.”

Another story he told was as follows: Richard Wurmbrand said that what America needs is persecution. He related that when in prison, if they were blessed enough to  come in contact with a professing Christian, the question was NOT, “Of what church do you belong?” or “Of what Christian denomination are you?” But if they  saw any evidence or recognition that the person loved the Lord as a believer, they ran together with open arms to embrace and fellowship one with the other. THAT IS WHAT CHRISTIAN  FELLOWSHIP IS.  Fellowship with the LOVE OF CHRIST.

My own natural brother, now with the Lord, had a like-experience in the Navy while at sea on a large aircraft carrier. He told of how he and some fellow-sailors would meet together on Sunday morning on the ship for worship. They did not ask each other their church affiliation. They just met to worship the Lord. And my brother (whose name also was Richard) said that such  services were the sweetest worship services he had ever been in. And my brother believed thoroughly in free grace doctrine, too, the  sovereign election of God.

Richard Wurmbrand was a Lutheran pastor. I do not know what he believed theologically. I do know that most Lutherans today have departed from the theology that Martin Luther believed and taught. If you wonder at this, read Luther’s book on “The Bondage of the Will.”  Most Christians today do not believe it.

But these stories show us the reality and the preciousness of true Christian love and fellowship. May WE reflect the image of Christ, so that some  elect soul who sees only us, may “want Him” if we “look like Him.”

Love of the Brethren

The next feature in the divine life is love unto all the saints. This grace is inseparably connected with faith. More easily could you eliminate light and warmth from the sun, than love from faith. The grounds of their union are obvious. Faith reverences the Lord’s Word, and renders strict obedience to it. The especial command of Jesus is, “Love one another.” “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love one towards another.” Again—Faith delights in the image of Jesus, wherever that image can be discerned. Every humble believer reflects some rays of the Sun of Righteousness, and this similitude attracts and draws our love. Again—All believers are fellow-members of one body. “You, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Strange would it be for a man not to regard his own flesh; but more so for a saint not to love his brethren. This love is a grand evidence of spiritual being. “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.” — Henry Law (1797-1884)

Striving for the whole counsel of God

I don’t want to leave this section without the mention of another “simple fellowship” story. It is a touching one and I believe it took place in Russia.

It was a bitter cold night and two men were walking down the street. One was whistling a hymn. The other, close by, wondered, “Who could be whistling in this cold weather?” He approached the whistler and asked if he were a Christian, since whistling a hymn. The man, the whistler, could not understand a single word of the question. He knew not the language. So the other man himself started whistling another hymn.  Then the first man, the whistler, pointed toward Heaven, and they rushed into each others’ arms with an embrace of Christian love and fellowship. They did not have to have the same language for love.

All this, as precious and needful as it is, is not THE WHOLE TRUTH. It is not the “whole counsel of God,” that we must be concerned about. The need of the hour is not only love but “the whole counsel of God.”

John the apostle speaks more than anyone on the love of God and loving one another. But he also says in 3 John 4, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”  So let us now move on to the next section and subject as we strive for “the whole counsel of God,” shall we?

The Serious Matter of

Self-Examination

OBSERVE how faithful the apostles of Christ were faithful to declare the TRUE gospel and “the whole counsel of God.”  No apostle more than Paul preached and taught diligently on the sovereignty of God and of Christ, and on the free electing grace of God, showing who God and His Christ is, and giving all the glory of Salvation to our Triune God and none to helpless man. Remember, the Lord Himself told Nicodemus that a man cannot even see the kingdom of heaven without his being born again, or from above, which is the Spirit’s work.

So we could say that the apostle Paul was very  strong on doctrine, on the Sovereignty of God. Yet look at what he says in 1 Corinthians 13. Briefly, he says that if we have all gifts even of speaking in the tongues of men and angels, if we have all knowledge and can understand all mysteries, and though we are so generous that we give away all our goods, yes even if we give our body to be burned as a martyr—all this—and have not LOVE, then we are nothing but tinkling brass and a loud-sounding cymbal, though we have the faith to move mountains.  LOVE is THE essential thing.

BUT BEWARE. Many are deceived. Many think they are on their way  to heaven when they are not. Even the preacher or evangelist has told them they are safe if they were “sincere” when they repeated “the sinner’s prayer.”  Where is the  repentance? Where is the contriteness of spirit? Where is the broken and contrite spirit before the Lord, seeing the need for mercy and the godly sorrow over sin? One must see himself LOST before he can be FOUND. Salvation is NOT doing Jesus a favor by “letting” Him save you!  That is error; that is false teaching; that is “another gospel.”  The lost sinner being humbled before God is NOT thanking God that he is “not like other men” and patting himself on the back because he was keen and wise enough to “let Jesus save him.” No, no, no!

So my burden is not only that we love one another, especially “the household of faith,” and thank God when we see good fruit in another, but my burden is also that a soul comes to give all the glory of Salvation to God. As one old Christian put it, all he did  for his salvation was to supply the SIN. And, of course, he needed to even thank God for the  eyes to see THAT fact. Otherwise he would never have had the felt need of being found and saved. Dead men know nothing. The natural man cannot receive the things of God, neither can he know them. “They are spiritually discerned.”

But men and  women, boys and girls are being taught and deceived that “it is all up to them.” “Jesus has done all that He can do—oh won’t you let Him save you?”  “God the Father has  cast a vote; God the Son has cast a vote; NOW it is up to you to cast the DECIDING vote.” And some have said, “You can be saved right now—it is as easy as ‘falling off a log.’” I have heard this.

The Arminian doctrine puts eternal salvation in the hands of man, and exalts his flesh by teaching him that it is all up to his “free will”—meaning the natural will he was born with. But that is a lie. That is deception. As Paul would say, If your trust and confidence is in anything but Christ, if it is in something you did, even if it taking credit for a natural “free-will decision,” then “Christ profits you nothing.”

We are not co-saviors with Christ. God is the ONLY Savior. The “flesh profits nothing.” If you want to take part of the credit, then you have yet to be saved because God says He will NOT share His glory with another.  When He brings a soul to LIFE, what credit is that to the soul that is made alive. Had God not done the work, the LIFE would never have been realized and never would have been brought into existence. “Ye must BE born again.” Only after that can you do any spiritual act acceptable to God. So if you want  to  take part of the credit by your merit, you need to “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.” Make sure of your election, or, if you have been deceived,—your DECEPTION!

Could it be that a false teacher somewhere along the way has taught you wrong—or taught your pappy wrong, or taught your grandpappy wrong?  There are many false teachers. I am not saying they all mean to be. Most of them are deceived themselves. If you  don’t believe this, look at Matthew 7 where Jesus says AT THE LAST DAY, as He told us He would say when He was on earth, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied (preached) in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out devils” And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.”

May I suggest to you, that maybe there is no greater iniquity than to deceive a soul, making him think he is safe and saved when there is no evidence that he has been born again?

I know a preacher, a pastor who came into the area to build a new church. He was diligent in visitation  work. But he was so anxious to built his church, that he would try to persuade young people to let him baptize them. I guess he figured that once he got them into his church, he could “get them saved.” That is what you call “putting the cart before the horse.” Besides, getting a person saved was not the work of his hands, anyway. That very kind of thinking is what fills churches with unregenerate, unrepentant members who have not a clue as to what true salvation is all about. They have been preached to about a weak Jesus who is so very dependent on them for His success. (But this Jesus is “another” Jesus and that imagined “Jesus” does not exist except in the mind of the natural man.  Study the Bible and pray the Holy Spirit to teach you of the true God, the  true Jesus who does His will whether man “lets” Him or not. As King Nebuchadnezzar learned by God dealing with him, “He (God) doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say to Him, What doest Thou?”

None can thwart the purpose of God, and God the Father gave a number of the human race, spoken of as being “chosen in Him before the foundation of the world,” for the Lord Jesus to come and save so He could “raise them up at the last day.” And the Lord says He came to die for those sheep and WILL raise them up, and WILL NOT lose a single one. That is gospel!

So can you begin to SEE (he that has ears to hear, let him hear; he that has eyes to see, let him see) that there is a VAST difference between the true God that does all the saving, and an imagined god and an imagined jesus, that allows man to be a co-savior with Him. As mentioned before, the God of the Bible will not share the glory that belongs only to Him!

If you can see this, then you can realize somewhat of the depth and breadth of the deception on the earth, where false teachers have deceived the souls of men and even been deceived themselves. Should we have and show  compassion? Of course. Of course! We don’t know but what God in His great grace and mercy might even have some deceived elect that need deliverance!  He is in the delivering business. He is in the saving business—not in the business of saving goats or turning goats into sheep, but in saving His SHEEP. Jesus says He was giving His life for His SHEEP!

No wonder Paul the apostle said, Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith.” The issue is whether what you have or claim to have is truth or deception.  It takes the new birth, a birth from above for a person to be a real and true  Christian, one that “knows God.” Later the Lord Jesus is returning with a vengeance upon those who “know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

These pictures are meaningful. Study them.

LF1LF2LF3LF4

Sheep are here, but this is catering to the goats!

TODAY WE ASSURE THE CONVERT, THIS WILL ONLY TAKE FIVE MINUTES OF YOUR  TIME.

And then we wonder why the church is in such a state WHEN IT DOESN’T EVEN HAVE THE GOSPEL RIGHT.

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