The people of God in some regions of the world, Brazil included, are locked in a necessary battle for their identity. Within their midst false teachings have arisen. Such teachings may emanate from newcomers. Often, however, trusted brethren change their message. Where they once proclaimed the truth, now they preach a modified gospel, which is no gospel at all, but a distorted version of it.
Not a few of these brethren are influenced by American developments. They are self-styled progressives, but they have reached back to adopt old denominational doctrines. They speak of freedom, but they oppress those who have found it. They tout diversity, but will not rest until the whole church of God bends to their opinion.
Such people have always disturbed the body of Christ. Soon after that Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, the holy nation of God suffered attacks against sound doctrine. The book of Acts and the New Testament letters register many types of departure. At times, Jews wanted to import the law of Moses. At other times, false teachers brought pagan and idolatrous teachings into the church. False teachings twisted worship, morality, and the identity of God’s people.
Such problems occurred in the Old Testament as well. Many times, even though he was chosen by God and blessed by him to be his people in the midst of the nations, man did not resist the temptation to become like his neighbors, Deut 12.30; Ezek 20.32. Israel was deeply influenced by the nations around her. Even her demand to have a king revealed a desire to be like the pagan nations, 1 Sam 8.20. She had the charge to separate herself from them, to be a holy nation, but she failed in this responsibility, Ezra 9.1. The result was the destruction of the people of Israel, just as the nations were destroyed, Deut 8.20, and finally her rejection as God’s special people, Mt 21.43.
During Jesus’ time, there was resistance to his true teaching, which he brought from the Father. He said to the Jews, “But you want to kill me, because my teaching makes no progress among you” Jn 8.37b. They thought his word hard and unbearable, and many followers abandoned him, Jn 6.60, 66.
It is not surprising, therefore, that people do not accept God’s word, even within the body of Christ. Paul warned the Ephesian overseers that even among themselves “men will arise, teaching perversions of the truth to draw the disciples away after them” Acts 20.30. Paul calls them “fierce wolves” who will not spare the flock, Acts 20.29. He calls them this because of the great harm they will do and the ferocity with which they work in the midst of the Christians, without pity for the lives they destroy.
Today, even missionaries and overseers promote supposed novelties and preach unity, at the same time that they adopt old denominational doctrines and cause division among brethren. Some of the faithful are waking up to these tactics, finally, but how much harm could have been avoided if they had followed the orders of the Lord Jesus to silence the false teachers!?
God’s people need to close ranks, stand together, face the opposition, and unite around the Lordship of Jesus Christ as the rallying call for which they are willing, in this life, to suffer and, if need be, to perish.
¶ The Christian does not do good just to be doing good. He does it in the name of Christ. He does it in hopes that a smaller good will lead to the greatest good of all, the salvation of a soul. In the world many call themselves doers of good. Only in Christ may a man change another’s eternal destiny.
¶ Facing the prospect of doing away with the great majority of my library and my files, a sense of loss and grief set upon me. With yet another loss of support, our office must be closed down. Very few of the materials gathered over the years can fit in a home office.
¶ From a beloved Brazilian brother I bought a number of reference works, years ago, which have his signature in them. He has since passed away. He was an important part of the great history of God’s people here. His example should not be forgotten. His works and influence, however, will continue on, if not as many of his books.
¶ Psalm 22 is considered to be a Messianic psalm. It is hard to read without having the Lord Jesus in mind. The abandonment of God that the psalmist felt Jesus actually experienced. The ending, in a sense of victory, is also fitting for the cry of the Lord on the cross, “It is finished” Jn 19.30.
“Let all the people of the earth acknowledge the Lord and turn to him! Let all the nations worship you!” Psa 22.27.