In these end times when so many are being blown about by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14) and where we see teachers of the Word of God going beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6) we need to be able to achieve a balance in all that has been written for us within the Holy Scriptures.
With so many things the middle ground seems to offer the safest position where the balance can be maintained with one opinion or another on the right and the left hand side.
It is our intention to show three of the New Testament letters written by Paul that show us a Charismatic Church, a Cessationist Church and a Conservative Church this being the middle letter of the three showing the middle position and the one for us to emulate.
Our first Church is the one at Corinth. This was indeed a Charismatic Church where Paul writes of how they were very eager to have the gifts and to excel in them (1 Cor 14:12). However, he then goes on to show us within chapter 14 how they were too eager and that things had to calm down and order was to be restored and seen in their meetings.
Let us note verse 16 which tells us a lot. Paul is asking how someone else can say amen to what we are saying in tongues. In other words it is apparent that then and now we have saints talking away in tongues in a corporate way, whereas we are instructed that only two or three should give an utterance and then each in turn (verse 27) and not all together as verse 23 instructs us. Paul warns us within this same verse that anyone coming into the Church and hearing a number of us speaking in tongues ecstatically will think we are all mad!
This then is the classic mistake of charismatic churches worldwide, where any number of believers are seen and heard all speaking together in tongues ecstatically. Never mind anyone from the outside coming in and thinking these believers have gone mad but internally within the Church as a whole this practice has caused consternation, debate and sadly division.
Paul asks that there be no schism within the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:25) but rather understanding, love and patience. Believers need to become disciples and they can only do that by being correctly instructed in God’s Word. It takes time to make disciples. Truly a wise person once said, “Church making can be heart breaking and Church mending is never ending.”
Our second Church is the one at Ephesus and is the model Conservative Church. It was sound in its doctrine and life style. Indeed, where our doctrine is correct this will lead to a correct walk in God as we follow His commandments and precepts (moral instructions). Paul was proud of them and made mention of them to all that he knew for their love and commitment to the message. Here Jew and Gentile were one in the Faith.
Judaisers and boasting Gentiles were conspicuous by their absence. This was a conservative fellowship of believers moving in the Spirit and rightly dividing the Word of Truth. (2 Tim 2:15).
It was from this great city that Paul went forth with others to establish many of the other churches in the area. However, within thirty years we should recognise, remember and reflect upon that our Lord Jesus wrote to this Church through the pen of John in the Book of Revelation chapter 2 verse 4 telling them that they had “left their first love!” This is a salutary lesson for all of us, it is far too easy for some to love the world and its ways more than they love their Lord. Steadfastness and loyalty are called for! We are to finish the race in which we are in. Eternity awaits those who endeavour and count the cost.
Our third Church is the one at Thessalonica. Here is our Cessationist Church already believing that the Lord’s return was at hand and that they
had missed the rapture (1 Thess 4:13 -5:9) due to false teaching circulating internally. Paul instructs them not to believe this false doctrine in his second letter to them (2 Thess 2:1-3) and also not to quench the Spirit (1 Thess 5:19) and then not to despise prophesyings within the assembly (verse 20). They obviously had a number of would be scholars or teachers that did not like the moving of the Spirit in prophecy and tongues. Indeed Paul also warns the Corinthians not to forbid tongues (see 1 Cor 14:39) as in any assembly we shall find believers of different persuasions. Far better then that we come to know and then fully understand the ‘whole counsel of God’ – Acts 20:27. This takes time for we all look through the glass dimly. (see 1 Cor 13:12).
Date : 30/11/-0001