Normally, I would respond to someone privately, even if their comments were as public as yours. Scripture teaches us to, if we see sin in a brother or sister that needs to be addressed, go to them in private to share our concerns. Instead, you posted some very public and hateful comments on the YouTube Channel (on a few videos) of Douglas Reformed Church. I might not have noticed the comments at all because YouTube seems to have automatically flagged those comments and hidden them, probably for being against YouTube’s community guidelines. If it weren’t for a friend who screen-shotted them and sent them to me, I wouldn’t have even known your thoughts.
I do not know who you are. I could not search your YouTube channel or send you a message on YouTube. I prayed for a couple days about if and how I should respond. We’ve been learning, as we walk through 1 Corinthians at DRC, that our objective as we act in the world is to eat and drink and do all things to the glory of God–which, for Paul, meant doing things that profit others rather than living moralistic lives. After all, it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person but what comes out (cf. Matthew 15:11).
Since Christians are to be a people concerned about building others up rather than tearing them down, a people of forgiveness rather than faultfinding, I hope to be edifying here. Scripture teaches us that our knowledge puffs us up, but love edifies (1 Corinthians 8:1)–there, Paul speaking about religious knowledge by which we condemn others and concern ourselves about all the things that go into the mouth rather than come out (refer to the video above for an explanation). I am not sure why I should be ashamed for teaching these things. I taught them for two-and-a-half years at The Church at Sunsites (which you mention in your comments). To judge anyone based on what goes into their mouths is contrary to Christ’s and the apostles’ teaching (like Paul in 1 Corinthians).
I want to be clear about my motives at Douglas Reformed Church (and New Covenant, Willcox; for those who are interested). I am working to reform the church here in Cochise County away from the moralistic, or legalistic, sort of religion that Christ condemned. I am looking to see a revival of the doctrines of grace. I am being very intentional about reversing the pharisaical tendency of worldly religion–even worldly religion that calls itself “Christianity,” though it looks nothing like what we see in the Bible. That is why we intentionally have a whiskey bottle visible during Blacktop Pulpit.
While I was at TCATS, the church was led by a body of elders and not one person. If TCATS is given over to legalism and the idea that a single pastor is to rule or refrain from explicitly teaching Scripture, now like your comments seem to indicate, I weep for the body there. Indeed, the last sermon I heard at TCATS from the pulpit explicitly claimed that the Bible could be interpreted in any way a person sees fit–which is a drastic change from the way I preached.
In 1 Corinthians 9:25-27, Paul writes,
“Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”NASB
Paul is both a Pharisee and a Roman citizen. The games he refers to are the Greek games that were adopted by Rome (since Rome was made up of Greeks). At the time, the “games” all revolved around a central event that took place every four years in Olympia–the Olympics. Paul mentions “boxing” explicitly as part of these games. To use this illustration is simply to use the illustration provided by Paul in the text. If it is ignorant and arrogant to simply use what is provided explicitly in the text to teach what the text says, then you are correct in your name-calling. I have been in quite a few places that condemned people for preaching expositorily, lectio continua. I am glad to have your prayers. I need them. In the context of 1 Corinthians, Paul uses the games, including boxing, to illustrate the severity of treating others well and speaking to edify them rather than condemn them. I hope that I do this. Paul makes it a matter of salvation, even claiming explicitly that if someone bears the fruit only of puffed-up knowledge instead of love (which seeks to edify others rather than condemn)–that person disqualifies him or herself from partaking in the Gospel (from eternal life). That means the person who is interested in being accusatory, condemning, gossippy (that’s a technical term), malicious, or the like toward others (especially those outside the church in the context of 1 Corinthians), is not in Christ and does not have eternal life. So, my bottle of Jameson has now afforded me the opportunity to share the Gospel with you like Paul claimed it would in 1 Corinthians. In short, the Gospel is about forgiveness. I am doubtless a wretch. I doubtless still have pride within me. I can be arrogant. I am ignorant about many things. I am much worse than you claim, I am sure. God, by His mercy and grace alone, has elected me and called me into His ministry in Christ alone. Salvation has nothing to do with my works or goodness. In fact, the wages of our sinful works (including moralistic living) is death (cf. Romans 6:23). Eternal life can only be given as a gift (also Romans 6:23). Once we receive the gift of eternal life, we are changed from the inside out such that we also become a graceful people. Those who are forgiven much love much (cf. Luke 7:47). I think that the greatest contradiction in modern-day Christianity is that some claim to have been saved by grace but are entirely ungracious or insincerely gracious. With their lips they honor Christ but their hearts are far from Him (cf. Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8). I do not care to point fingers at you or at anyone else. I know that I have been forgiven of much, so I forgive much (cf. Luke 7:47; Ephesians 4:32). Many people are not Christians inwardly but only outwardly, and it shows when they speak hate. Again, I thank you for your prayers. I will also be praying for you and the brothers and sisters at TCATS. I thank God for His mercy.
I am unsure why you are calling me a hypocrite. Since we are all blind to our own hypocrisy, name-calling without explanation does very little to edify anyone. There may be some hypocrisy within me, but I do not yet recognize it or I would repent and change.
You also seem to be very caught up on the drinking of alcohol. Perhaps you don’t know what it means to be enslaved by it. I do. My biological father was an angry drunk. Yet, I have never been drunk. I once condemned others for having a drink because of my own experiences rather than Scripture. Then, I discovered that God actually commands us to enjoy the produce of His earth. To reject what God has created good is insulting to Him. In 1 Corinthians, Paul refers to those who judge others or hold to such a form of religiosity as having weak consciences because they do not know the freedom they have in Christ–who owns all things. Those who understand Christ, and He came eating and drinking (cf. Matthew 11:19; with reference to wine and strong drink in the Nazarite vow, Numbers 6:3), understand that “the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains” (1 Corinthians 10:26; cf. 1 Timothy 4:4). There is a reason God instructed the Israelites to take an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem and “may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household” (Deuteronomy 14:26).
God instructs His people to enjoy the good things He gives to His glory alone. We sin when we drink for effect or use the good things God has given to our own glory. That includes the selfish and self-exalting misuse of religion, sex, food, commerce, justice, coffee, work, rest, YouTube comments, or anything else.
Once again, there is no explanation for your accusation–calling me a fraud. I am unsure how you believe I am a fraud, unless it is fraudulent to sincerely try to teach what the Scriptures teach–which is what I have been condemned for and for which I have even had my life threatened throughout my ministry.
I am glad that The Church at Sunsites is praying for me. I am sad that some there are still focused on me instead of Christ–so much in fact that comments like this are merited.
I do try to live a repentant life. I do not wish to speak ill of anyone at TCATS or of the congregation there. I love them very much, even the ones who have chosen to make me their enemy (which is not everyone). If the reason TCATS has for not wanting me to preach is the sort of religion that condemns people based on what goes into their mouths rather than comes out, I’d simply like to point out that I have had drinks with quite a few in the congregation there. I preached against such works-based religion the entire time I was there.
Hypocrisy is, by definition, preaching one thing but doing the opposite. Hypocrisy carries with it a holier than thou sort of attitude, breeds gossip, unrighteous condemnation of others, and places religious burdens on others without lifting a finger to help (cf. Matthew 23:4). I have certainly been guilty of hypocrisy. I’m certain we all have. Thank God for His great mercy. Please understand, every Jew that obeyed God’s Law, Jesus, Paul, and quite a few in The Church at Sunsites stand condemned if your judgments here are righteous. I am certainly glad Christ is the only one with authority to condemn or justify.
I would rather agree with Jesus. It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out (Matthew 15:11). By Christ’s standard, we can all be forgiven of our hypocrisy and rest secure in Christ alone who transforms us through the renewing of our minds by His Spirit. I pray for such transformation for everyone. May the Father’s will be done and kingdom come on earth as it is in Heaven.
I’ll be glad to have another whiskey to the glory of God. Thanks for the offer. I’ve never had Tito’s (which is a brand Vodka). Like Charles Spurgeon, who made a statement about smoking cigars to the glory of God, I am sad that such a small matter gains so much prominence and veils the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. When we major on minors (or non-issues for that matter), the Gospel is absent. I hope that it is not absent at TCATS. Such is a symptom of legalistic or moralistic religion (as opposed to Christian religion). We like to focus on the things that go into the mouth because those things can be weighed and controlled. If we do well controlling ourselves according to a certain set of rules, we can believe that we have done well or are pious. It is prideful to think that we can live up to God’s glory like this. All have sinned and fall short of His glory (Romans 3:23). We cannot achieve His glory by any manner of abstinence or doing or prayer or confession or tithing or baptism or whatever. Only He can save us. He has done so that we cannot boast in any or our works (cf. Ephesians 2:8-9). God alone is to receive all glory. Which is why Paul wrote to the Colossians:
If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” (which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.Colossians 2:20-23
The entire Bible speaks against the type of religion you are promoting and calling “Christian.” Or, do you think God’s ways are like the world’s? I prayed that my voluntary departure from TCATS would cause some there to turn to Christ instead of placing their “pastor” on some type of pedestal to be either celebrated or condemned based on his performance. One week the congregation there was praising me for being the best pastor they could ask for, and the next week I was the worst sinner on Earth according to those who praised me from the pulpit the week before. I prayed for an end to the flattery, gossip, maliciousness, and slander (which is a prosecutable offense even by worldly standards). I am grieved that the hatefulness continues even while the congregation searches for another pastor who will likely receive the same treatment–flattery until some feel convicted by the words of Scripture. I hope he reads this. More importantly, I hope that Christ becomes the focus of those in the congregation who do not have Him as their focus. It has been a while. Why still be focused on me? I am not that important or influential. I beg you to turn to Christ.
I have written these things not only for your edification, but for the edification of the congregation at The Church at Sunsites and for those in Cochise County and for anyone who will read around the world. I hope that you are edified.
To those who are interested in the type of local church that pursues accurate biblical teaching, not only the teaching but the application of the doctrines of grace, and non-works based religion, I invite you to one of the two churches I am currently planting (with others, of course). Douglas Reformed Church is located in Douglas, AZ. New Covenant Church is located in Willcox, AZ.
I look forward to the day when I will see and dine with many of those who have made me their enemies on this earth. Then, we will truly be able to say, “Cheers!” in Christ forever and partake of the eucharistic wine together. May Christ reign. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria. Our sins they are many, His mercy is more (The Gettys; His Mercy is More).
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