SHOULD WE HATE THE DENOMINATIONAL PEOPLE WHO MISLED US?
by Shawn Brasseaux
As we Pauline dispensationalists, former denominationalists, look back on our prior (?) way of thinking and living, extremely intense emotions surface. We are saddened and discouraged to realize we wasted all that time, money, and energy supporting the traditions of men. We also feel the other extreme—anger and bitterness—because people betrayed our trust, deceived us, and robbed us in the names of “God” and “Jesus Christ.” We hate them, and want to return to “tell them off,” curse them out, and physically fight them! Animosity consumes us as we boil and fume with rage! (You have never been there before, dear friend, huh?) How do we address and correct such attitudes using Scripture?
A CLEAR GOSPEL OF GRACE
Being born into a “Christian” family does not make one a Christian. Joining a local church and attending weekly (or even daily!) services does not make one a Christian. Walking an aisle and getting water baptized does not make one a Christian. Reading the Bible and reciting prayers does not make one a Christian. All these activities and appeals obscure a pure Gospel of Grace. These works push aside the work of Christ on Calvary. Often, everything but faith in the cross of Christ is stressed at “invitation time.” Instead of urge people to trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour, preachers stress everything else—cessation of bad habits, weeping and wailing at the “altar” over self-wretchedness, confession of bygone transgressions, “deals” with and promises to God to start living correctly, and so on. The Lord Jesus Christ’s atonement is buried little by little, and the poor lost soul is more confused… and (tragically) just as lost as before!
Thankfully, Father God does not justify us—or make us right in His sight—on the basis of whether or not we can pass theological tests. Neither does He give us righteousness and eternal life because we performed a certain way in religion (rules, regulations, rites, ceremonies, prayers, and confessions). All these erroneous ideas clutter minds and hearts, making it ever so difficult—yea, impossible—to grasp enough Gospel truth upon which faith can rest. This hiding of the Gospel of Grace using religion is just what Satan desires (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)!
God is looking first and foremost for faith, as Hebrews 11:6 says: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Faith is simply believing what God says to you. Notice the definition of Abraham’s faith as per Romans chapter 4: “ He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;  And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” Abraham was “fully persuaded” that “[God] was able also to perform” “what he had promised.” God had promised him a “seed”—a son, and a nation—and Abraham believed that God could and would bring it to pass. Simple!
What is God’s Gospel message to us today on this side of the cross? What is God’s Good News in this the Dispensation of Grace? It is the redemption from and forgiveness of sins found through His Son, Jesus Christ, and His death, burial, and resurrection. God is looking for people who will recognize their sin problem and trust exclusively the remedy of Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary. First Corinthians 15:3-4 could not be clearer: “ For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;  And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….”
Certainly, soul salvation unto eternal life is predicated upon faith in this, the Gospel of the Grace of God. With that said, only a fraction of denominational “Christians” are saved. Various misconceptions have caused them to greatly misunderstand Bible-believing Christianity. Make no mistake. Denominational “Christians” are not necessarily saved but there are some saved people in “Christian” churches. They trusted a pure Gospel message but then got entangled with some group in which they were defiled by false doctrine. Although deceived, they are still on their way to Heaven (remember, Heaven is for those who have Christ’s righteousness credited to their account, and such righteousness is found in faith in Christ rather than the believer’s theological mix-ups and hang-ups). Then, you have many people in most groups who were never saved at all because they never trusted Christ as their personal Saviour at all. They are still trying to establish their own righteousness with their own works (Romans 10:1-3)—Christ’s finished crosswork not being enough in their eyes.
A CLEAR OUTLOOK OF GRACE
When babes in Christ—not simply new converts to Christ, but also Christians saved for decades and who have not been grounded in Pauline truth—begin to see glimpses of the spiritual light that dispensational Bible study brings, they get excited (and rightly so). Burdens about the Bible text are lifted. The Scriptures are better understood and enjoyed. They see the dispensational distinctions—the layout of the Bible timeline and the various contrasting teachings, hopes, entities, realms, programs, charges, and so on. Still, the danger is that it can become mere mental gymnastics, information to equip one to engage in intellectual speculations, doctrine used to “beat people up” and make them feel like idiots, knowledge used to puff up and exalt oneself. They must understand that doctrine is meant to profit others rather than fight with them.
Some people use right division as nothing more than a platform for petty arguments and fleshly debates. They purpose, not to edify (build up) their audience, but to destroy (tear down) those with whom they disagree. Contrary to grace, they are contentious, ornery, combative, incessantly bickering about this or that issue. Rather than teaching people, they seek to antagonize them. Sadly, not all Pauline dispensationalists are sincere in their ministries. Some use it to harshly criticize others, mock, pick fights, and so on. The Apostle Paul actually had some such belligerent ministry associates. Notice his words in Philippians 1:15-17: “ Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will:  The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds:  But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defence of the gospel.”
Considering the fleshly tendency of those who have a mental assent but not heart faith, those lacking genuine belief in the soul concerning sound Bible study, the Holy Spirit issued the warning of 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “ And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient,  In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;  And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Preaching the right doctrine in the wrong spirit is well… exhibiting wrong doctrine! Brethren, there must be gentleness, meekness (humility), and friendliness; otherwise, hypocrisy arises (preaching grace but not preaching graciously!!).
The reason why the Holy Spirit issued the principles of grace through Paul is made clear in 1 Timothy 1:3-6: “ As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,  Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.  Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned:  From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling;….”
Paul asked Timothy to stay in Ephesus so Timothy would order some of them “that they teach no other doctrine, neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies.” “Fables” (religious stories designed to teach lessons) and “endless genealogies” (attachments to personalities and celebrities) do nothing but “minister questions” (generate inquiries, always asking but never learning anything solid or certain). Our goal in our teaching ministry is charity, seeking others’ highest good, valuing and esteeming them the way God does. It is love in action. That charity will come out of a “pure” (clean) “heart.” It will spring forth from a “good conscience” (right system of standards and norms). It will come out of “faith unfeigned” (genuine, not fake or hypocritical, trust in God’s Word). Those who depart from sound Bible doctrine—or even sound Christian behavior—will engage in “vain jangling” (profitless, worthless information, conduct, thinking, and so on).
Brethren, we must not be arrogant, self-righteous, aggressive, insulting “know-it-alls.” Remember, Titus chapter 3: “ Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,  To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.  For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” Being hateful is the old life we had in Adam, dear friends. Being contentious and foolish is our old identity in Adam. Deception and pride do not belong in our lives now. We are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our attitude and conduct should reflect that new identity. God’s love, not hate, should consume us.
There was a time when we were foolish—yea, we are still foolish to some extent, seeing as to we do not have complete knowledge in the Scriptures as we ought. It makes no sense to get angry with people (rather lost or saved) who are ignorant of the will of God for them. Provided that they are not willfully uninformed or misinformed, we should make every attempt to guide them in the Scriptures. Once they reach the point where they do not want to hear anything, however, we employ 1 Corinthians 14:38: “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”
Countless people have abandoned their denominational churches over the centuries because they have come to understand that the Holy Spirit does not use the traditions of men to guide us in life. Yes, even denominational preachers have forsaken their religious tradition so as to submit to the will of God for today. Perhaps some of those denominational people you know (hate?) may become the former denominational people we were. There is no guarantee, my dear brethren, but please make every attempt possible to reach them with sound Bible doctrine as long as you possibly (and peacefully) can. Someone did it to reach you (yes?)… and now it is your honor to do the same with others. Whether a clear Gospel message to the lost, or a clear Bible study system to the saved, do not be ashamed in proclaiming it!
Why we should not hate the denominational people who misled us:
- First and foremost, we should not hate them because God does not hate them. Remember, God did not hate us when we were denominational. Yes, when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, on our way to an eternal Hell!, God loved us by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die for us (Romans 5:6-8; Titus 3:3-7). We are to be a reflection of God’s love to those denominational people.
- Remember, we too were (and still are) without perfect spiritual knowledge. That is, we continuously read and study the Scriptures every day so we may come to a fuller understanding! As we further allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate the eyes of our understanding, the superfluous and erroneous (denominational) doctrines will be manifested and we can replace them with sound Bible doctrine. We know what it is like to be ignorant… past and present! Now, we reach others as long as we can, that they may be renewed in their thinking too.
- Lastly, one day, those denominational people may very well recover themselves out of the snare of the devil (2 Timothy 2:26). Perhaps… just perhaps… they may even become your most valuable ministry co-workers! Let us be mindful to tell them that, when they finally reach the point of utter frustration and complete defeat in religion, there is an answer (and we found it). If they want that solution, they know they can come to us! (If we had an aggressive, overbearing, rude, loud-mouthed approach with them, they will not bother to come!)
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