It is with hand extended to you in love and friendship, that I express some of my deepest concerns (shared by many of my brothers and sisters in Christ) with hopes that you will at least read on until the end of this letter for the sake of so many who honor you and whom you directly influence in matters pertaining to spiritual life and death. The following are suggestions which are not meant to be presented in a mean-spirited manner or meant to offend you.
1. Learn the difference between religion and Christianity. Religion pertains to man’s meager attempts to worship and serve an all-righteous, all-powerful, holy God. Religion is faulty at best and understandably varies from place to place, culture to culture, age to age. On the other hand, Christianity is God’s perfect attempt to be reconciled to his human creation through his Son; it is an eternal plan and does not ever change.
The Truth Fellowship is a religion in the same category as thousands of other religions. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…”. A religion is not co-equal with Jesus. When you refer to your religion as “The Truth” or “The Way”, you are creating confusion (and deception) by taking the glory and holy place of Christ and giving it to yourselves.
2. Christianity is very exclusive in that Jesus said no man can go to the Father except through him. Since no religion is equal to (or is) Christ, then no religion can be itself exclusive (i.e. claim to be the only ‘way’ to God).
3. When people are invited to ‘profess’, they (and you) need to better understand that they are dedicating their lives to Christ and not to a religion.
4. When people are moved to profess, to be baptized, and/or to give testimony of their new life in Christ, it is a reflection of their personal one-to-one relationship with God. They really do not need your approval, lordship, or censorship, for their commitment and service is directly to and for Christ and not to the religion.
5. Asking questions about the beliefs and practices of one’s particular religion is not the same as questioning one’s basic faith in God. Always encourage open discussions and questions (for that is how people learn) and be ready to give biblically correct answers.
6. The gospel (“good news”) of Christ is about the living hope people have because of the death and resurrection of Jesus at Calvary. It is not about where or how to worship or how people should receive the good news (which are issues pertaining to individualized religions). The essential need is for people to hear far more about the ‘real’ gospel!
7. The books of Romans and Galatians esp. make it clear that salvation is given by God only because of His grace and not because of any good works or human efforts. Good works and clean lives are certainly commendable and needful but only have merit if they are a result of God’s work in one’s life and as evidence of one’s faith, …and not as prerequisites for salvation. So why do you continue to put so much emphasis on works (esp. outward appearances) as requirements for salvation?
8. It would behoove you to re-examine the crucial issue concerning the deity of Jesus.
9. A preacher’s place in the body of Christ is unique and important just as every other member of the body has an important and unique function. But the place of a preacher is not greater or more significant than any other member’s place in the body. All are controlled directly by the head (i.e. Christ).
10. The commitments and sacrifices you’ve made in order to preach the gospel are noteworthy. But be advised that those sacrifices are not necessarily any greater than sacrifices made by countless other persons from other religions throughout time who have, or are, preaching the Bible. The only sacrifice really worthy of honor and glory is the sacrifice Jesus made for us all at Calvary.
11. Please understand that when anyone chooses to leave the ‘Truth Fellowship’, they are not necessarily leaving a relationship with God. They may have “lost out” in being a member of your church but it is illogical thinking to assume that they have lost their spiritual faith. And when people choose to leave your church, more often than not they maintain a deep love for those still in the fellowship. Any shunning of ex-members is very wrong.
12. Your sincere labor of love is surely acknowledged by the Lord. But needless to say, you have an awesome responsibility and burden as a preacher of God’s word. Be extremely careful to ensure that you are not adding to, subtracting from, or distorting it in any way. May the Holy Spirit be your continual guide.
By a former Friend who professed for 35 years
August 19, 2010