Summary: How can we as Christians decide when to discuss or not discuss what we believe with a fellow believer, especially one who differs with us?
CHOOSING YOUR BATTLES WISELY
[HTTP formatted version of this sermon is located at:
PREPARATION THRU REBOUND
Jesus Himself tells us in John 8:31-32:
31 "... If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine;
32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. " NAS
In John 15:7, He also tells us:
7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. NAS
Let’s take a moment to quietly confess our sins to God, so that we are in fellowship with Him and led by the Holy Spirit when we study God’s word. 1 John 1:9 promises us, that if we name our known sins to God, He always forgives us and cleanses us from all unrighteousness, even from the unknown sins we forgot or didn’t even realize we committed. Let’s pray.
Thank you, Father, for always restoring your children when we admit our sins to you. May your Holy Spirit teach us your word as we study it now. We ask these things in Jesus Name. Amen
I was riding home from work on the bus one afternoon, and sat next to a guy who immediately greeted me and asked me how I was doing. I answered him politely, and because most strangers on the bus don’t give you a friendly greeting, I started to wonder if that was going to be the end, or just the beginning, of our conversation. Was the guy just trying to be nice, or was he some kind of "weirdo?"
Now if you’re reading or hearing this message, and you suddenly realize, "Hey, I met Frank on the bus, and we had a conversation just like the one to follow," please don’t be so sure it was YOU nor take offense. I’ve been riding a bus to and from work for 30 years. I’ve had plenty of time to have such discussions with a number of people.
As the bus proceeded, I noticed that he started to read a Bible. He was paging through it, back and forth, and I decided to allow him his privacy rather than to say something. However, after a few minutes, he took out some gum and asked me if I wanted a piece (to which I said "no," because I think it’s a disgusting habit!).
Since this was the second time he spoke to me, I sensed that he was trying to strike up a conversation, so I asked him what Bible version he was reading. I then detected some pride and defensiveness in his response, "It’s a King James Bible!," suspecting that he might be one of those "King James only" people, but I let that go. Maybe he isn’t, I thought.
We talked about a lot of things, like the gospel, the importance of Bible study, and that too many believers neglect God’s word. He told me that his name is "Brother Jim" and that he’s from a fundamental Baptist church. I told him my name is Frank, mentioned that I occasionally preach, and that I have an Internet teaching ministry.
We also agreed that too many Christians argue about the Bible, especially about things that aren’t critical to salvation or spiritual growth. Our discussion was going very well, and I was starting to think that the so-called "other shoe" that eventually drops when I meet other Christians, wasn’t going to fall on this occasion.
Then as we talked about the importance of sharing the gospel and teaching God’s word, it hit! The "other shoe" fell as it usually does! He started saying that nowadays, Satan has "all these other Bible versions out there that ’water-down’ the King James Version, like the New International Version (NIV) and the New American Standard (NAS)." I started to think, "Lord, can’t I meet just one believer who doesn’t need to consider the advantages of intensive counseling or Valium?"
Since I became a believer in 1979, I have NEVER met a Christian in a casual chance encounter, who doesn’t have some kind of doctrinal error and excess. I’ve been told on such occasions that:
- I’m not saved because I’ve never spoken in tongues;
- I need to ask God for a "second blessing" if I want to be an "alive, Spirit-filled" believer;
- I need to make Jesus my Lord, not just trust Him as Savior, or I’m not "really saved";
- I shouldn’t spend "so much time" studying the Bible, or I’ll become "stagnant";
- And now, I need to read only the King James Bible.
Well, I made a quick decision not to say a word about his comments. If I had, I knew it would have been an argument, and ironically, an argument between two believers who had just agreed that Christians argue too much over things that aren’t important. You may ask, "How do I know it would have been an argument?" Mostly I know from experience. My senses pick up on certain signs which I’ll try to describe in a moment.