PROPHECY: Disputable Matters vs. Heretical Teaching
March 19, 2001

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Ever since our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead, there have been disputable matters in the church. On the tenth day after his ascension, or the 50th day following the resurrection, came the infilling of the Holy Spirit, and just look at look how many disputable matters have been added to the church over disagreements over just exactly what constitutes that filling.

Look at that ascension on the 40th day. The angels said that Jesus would return, on the clouds, in like manner to his departure, but look how many disputable matters surround the return of Christ.

During the time of my Christian walk, these two broad subjects have encompassed most of the disagreements that I have had with believers: disagreements concerning the rapture and disagreements concerning the Holy Spirit. Nowhere does the scripture make these salvation issues, but some people argue them like they are. They are simply disputable. I believe the Lord purposely left them that way to test us, to see if we would walk in love and tolerance toward those who hold views different from our own.

Last Saturday night, after I had spent the day in reflection over events in another egroup, I was meditating on and considering what the scripture has to say regarding Sabbath days and Torah observance: in a word, Judaizing. I was also seeking the Lord about pagan holidays as well, like Easter and Valentines Day and Halloween.

The Lord spoke to me and let me know that he has clearly dealt with all of these things in His word. He showed me the principal that is illustrated in 1 Corinthians 8, with respect to food sacrificed to idols, is the proper one to apply to the pagan holiday issue.

You see, food sacrificed to idols was the very first disputable matter. It was not a sin to eat food sacrificed to an idol so long as you were not aware that the food had been a sacrifice. But once you obtained knowledge, you were forbidden to eat the meat because it might cause your brother to stumble.

This is the parallel case with Halloween and Easter, as well as Valentines Day. There are many Christians who have no knowledge of the occultic connections these holidays carry with them. They do not sin by partaking. But when knowledge comes to them, it seems right to me to advise them to abstain.

There is one element in which a comparison of the two is not parallel. In the case of food sacrificed to an idol, every heathen person was aware that the sacrifice was to a pagan god. In the case of our pagan holidays today, very few of the heathen are aware of the connections of those days to the worship of other pagan gods.

It seems right to me to say that knowledge is one of the controlling factors. The other factor is love and care for our brother. More and more people are becoming aware, particularly with Halloween, that Satan is worshipped on that day. More and more, this is becoming a very analagous situation with the food sacrificed to idols example.

What then of the practice of calling one day holy, such as a sabbath day? Romans 14 clearly tells us that it is permissable to do this. It is also permissable to regard each day as holy. The principle taught here, regarding these disputable matters, is that each one should do what seems right to him, as it is written that:

"Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? To his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks."

So, scripture is clear that we have some of these things, in practice in the church, where one group does one thing, another does something else, and all do rightly so long as they do what they do unto the Lord, by faith, for it is written:

"Hast thou faith: Have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."

Where then, is the line? When are matters disputable, and when are they heresies? Clearly, according to the word of God, many men today say that certain behavior will land one in hell or will result in apostasy from the faith and the taking of the mark of the beast. These behaviours that they warn us of are clearly revealed to us as disputable under the word of God. We may do as we deem best so long as we do what we do in faith. They are not permitted to judge us, and yet they seem driven to do just that.

There are some dangerous heresies that are discussed in the word of God. These types of heresies, if followed, will subject a man to the whole law and place him in danger of hell fire. These are what I call the JesusPlus heresies. The Judaizers are in that class.

The first heresy discussed is found in Acts 15:1

"And certain men which came down from Judea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcized after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved."

The second expansion of this heresy is found in verse 5

"But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."

And so, history records that Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians after this Acts 15 counsel was held. Agreement was obtained among the brethren who were leaders. It was decided that "we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God.....For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day."

Paul was very strong in Galatians, making the statement in the most forceful tone imaginable, that "I testify again to every man that is circumcized, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen grace."

I cannot imagine a more forceful or direct tone or style. This matter of keeping the law and circumcision is not a disputable matter. This is very dangerous.

The current day Judaizers come to us in the form of non Jewish Christians. They tell us that they have discovered a great mystery. You see, they claim that they are of the tribe of Ephraim, a "lost" tribe, and that they are being reunited with the tribe of Judah, which represents the law of Moses. They are preaching that we have reached a fork in the road.

They say that we cannot continue to walk with Jesus only, but that we must join in walking with those who practice the Jewish law. They tell us that we must keep the literal sabbath day. They warn us.

Now, they deftly skirt around the issues here. They say that they have not made these things laws. They say that they are keeping the feasts and the sabbath out of worship to God, and if that were as far as it went, I would have no problem.

But, here is the rub, and the heresy! They warn us that if we refuse to keep the sabbath and the Jewish festivals and the law, we are on the fork of the road that leads to apostasy from the faith. They tell us that we will take the mark of the beast. They tell us that we will wind up in hell. THEY THEREFORE MAKE THEIR LEGAL OBSERVANCE A CONDITION FOR THEIR SALVATION AND THEY DENY SALVATION TO THOSE WHO DO NOT FOLLOW THEIR LAWS FOR OBSERVANCE. This is heresy. This is dangerous. It is a toxic poison that leads to death, and like Paul, I will never fail to have "no small dissension and disputation with them." Acts 15:2

Some things are worth fighting for!

Stephen L. Bening
a servant and prophet of our Lord Jesus Christ

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