Hebrews 11:1 --faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.Faith creates concreteness in things we KNOW for SURE and firms our hopes. There are essentials of the Faith that we all agree with or we miss God.
I Know for SURE:
- That Jesus Loves me this I know...for the Bible tells me so
- That my Redeemer lives
- That He paid the FULL price for my sins, I can do nothing in myself to atone for my sin
- That He will come again in glory
- That He ever lives to do me good for HIS name's sake
- That Sin Distances me from GOD but doesn't condemn me to hell as a Christian
- That God is a Spirit, and Jesus is God in Flesh and that Holy Spirit is His presence in me
- That He is ever faithful, never turns His back on me, never rejects me, always calls to me
- That nothing can ever separate me from Him, not height, depth nor any thing
- That I will dwell with Him in eternity when my time ends
What I DON'T know for sure.....(and neither does anyone else). These non essentials of the faith are those that cause great division. Tools of the devil:
- IF there is a rapture or not
- IF we go directly to heaven or hell when we die, or sleep, or face a judgment first
- IF we know what heaven or hell is really like, we have clues, that's all
- IF we will go thru the tribulation
- IF there even is going to be a tribulation
- IF the mark of the beast is an actual mark or something else (like our flesh)
- IF the Anti Christ is a spirit, a man, many men, many women or what he or she is or isn't
- IF Jesus showed up in 70AD at the fall of Jerusalem. I wasn't there and neither were you.
- IF the Beast is the pope, or Islam, or something not yet known
- IF Mary is special or not, or just another lost sinner needing a savior
- IF Jesus really is manifested in communion or not
- IF Jesus will come with an army of saints on a white horse
- IF The Kingdom of GOD is now, soon, never or eventually
- IF the news of our day reveals a soon coming Lord, or if we just have more news
- IF the signs of the times are indicators or if they always were
- IF everyone should speak in tongues. Or IF tongues even are for today
There are many more non essentials. Yet books are written, ministries are built and divisions created over such foolishness. This has been going on since the first century. Paul had young Timothy placed over the Church in Ephesus. The problem was, there were lots of people who had absolute certitude about all kinds of myths, mysteries, old wives tales, speculations and just foolishness. Read how often Paul warned against this spirit.
1 Timothy: 3-5
-----command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer 4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6 Some have departed from these and have turned to meaningless talk (argumentation). 7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about that they so confidently affirm (certitude).
I Timothy 4:1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
1 Timothy 6:4-5 They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions 5 and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
We are little different today. The divisions are still there. Some ministers make their mark by capitalizing on these divisions. Paul advised people to avoid them, mark them well and not to listen to them.
Romans 16:17 --watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
1 Timothy 4:7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales
2 Timothy 2:16 Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. 17 Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.
2 Timothy 2:23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
The difficulty in dealing with the things hoped for, the things about which we are not certain is I can make an opposite case of whatever you believe using Bible Bullets to beat you over the head. And so can you. Our discourse will descend to scholarly pedantry.
2 Timothy 4:3 the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
ONE THING I know with absolute certitude. People are dying without Jesus, on this side of the veil and the other. The world must know. It isn't helped when we manifest division.
2 Timothy 4:5 keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
No matter how much you think you know today, when you add 30 or 40 years to that, you will know less than you do now. You will regret the certitude you may have today. You will repent of it. Keep the main thing the main thing.
After almost 4 decades of serving God, I know Far Less than I did when I was 30 years old.
So will you.