By Jeannette Haley
But in a great house there are not only vessels
of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth;
and some to honour, and some to dishonour. – 2 Timothy 2:20
As the subject of this article was beginning to form in my mind, the pastor of the church we attend made a comment that confirmed the direction I was leaning towards when he said that a lot of people “take a stab at Christianity” but that’s all they do, and when it doesn’t turn out the way they think it should, they go back to their old way of living. This reminds me of how hard it is to try and chase peas around on your plate with a fork. You can make a game out of it and see how many peas you can actually stab, but in the end you’ll probably either switch to a spoon or figure it’s a waste of time and give up.
To approach the Christian life with a “pea stabbing” mentality will never work, yet how many people use the “stab approach?” We have met more of them than we care to count; people who are disappointed, disgusted, defeated and depressed because they “tried Christianity” to see if it would do anything for them depending on where they were and what they wanted at the time. The Bible records how multitudes of people followed Jesus for a while because of what He could do for them physically such as provide food and healing for their bodies. They also followed Him to see the miracles which He did, and to listen to His teachings because “Never man spake like this man,” John 7:46.
It was a mixed crowd then, just as it is today—a mixture of entertainment seekers, signs and “spiritual” experiences seekers, personal benefits seekers, and those whose hearts truly hunger and thirst for the One True God as did the Greeks who said to Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus” John 12:21b. Oh that people would desire to see Jesus today in His Church instead of seeking for entertainment, ear-tickling psychobabble or motivational sermons, social activities, wild and woolly “worship,” unbiblical “signs and wonders,” “spiritual encounters from the fourth dimension,” or classes on contemplative meditation techniques so you can end up with your very own demon.
Years ago Rayola and I confronted a pastor’s wife of a certain church in a small community because she was advertising classes on A Course in Miracles for Christians. For those of you who aren’t aware of this book, it was dictated by a demon through a woman named Helen Schucman, and it denies sin, elevates self, and promotes many ways to God. When we asked her if she had ever truly received Jesus as her Savior she angrily retorted, “Yes, but He’s not enough!” Obviously this “fork” woman had merely “taken a stab” at Christianity and when God didn’t step outside of Who He is and what His eternal Word declares in order to do her bidding, tickle her ears, and entertain her with signs and wonders, she flung herself into Satan’s realm of the occult.
The question is, if Jesus isn’t “enough” then who is? The answer is nobody! “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” Acts 4:12. A. W. Tozer said, “One thing the young Christian should be taught as quickly as possible after his conversion is that Jesus Christ is all he needs. When he believes effectively on Christ as his Lord and Savior he can humbly declare his independence of everyone and everything outside of Christ. This the New Testament teaches with great emphasis and clarity and with fullness of detail. We need not quote any proof text in support of this statement, but suggest simply that the inquirer read the Scriptures to see for himself, especially John, Ephesians, Colossians and Hebrews. One marked characteristic of modern evangelicalism is its lack of assurance, resulting in a pathetic search for external evidence to corroborate its faith. It sets out bravely to declare its trust in Christ, but is shortly overawed by the counter declarations of science and philosophy and before long it is looking hesitantly about for some collateral evidence to restore its confidence.”
“Fork” people, who take a stab at following Christ, end up betraying the Lord because of unbelief. For example, we read in John 6:64-69, “But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” We may not always “have a good time” or have it easy on our journey on the straight and narrow, but it is the only road to eternal life!
Woe to the pastors who fail to confront those in their flock who are playing religious games and merely taking a “stab” at Christianity while walking in unbelief! The sin of unbelief from pulpit to pew has flung the door wide open to every unclean and profane thing of the world, the flesh and the devil. Unbelief has paved the way to idolatry, and subtlety exalted every insidious affront imaginable against the Lord God Almighty. Every unholy thing that has come into the professing, institutional church has come in because of unbelief, and is working to undermine, belittle, and destroy the purity and power of the true Word of God, the innocence of the children, the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Until the “fork Christians” who maintain that “Jesus just isn’t enough” are dealt with, until there is separation between the holy and the profane, there can be no revival.
Then there are the “spoon Christians.” These are the people who are content to be spoon-fed the milk of the Word (doctrine) all their lives. They choose churches that spoon out baby food week after week to dulled-down adults who have never developed a desire to sink their “teeth” into the solid meat of God’s Word. Spoon-fed Christians have weak testimonies and are of little consequence in either the world, or the Kingdom of God, because they are content to stay in their non-threatening, know-nothing, do-nothing, accountable-for-nothing comfort zones. “Spoon Christians” pose little threat to Satan since they are spiritually anemic and content with the status quo.
“Spoon” Christians are “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” 2 Timothy 3:7 because “these…resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” 2 Timothy 3:9b. Dullness of this sort is dangerous! God says in Revelation 3:15, 16, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” So, if God spits you out, where are you going to end up? Here is another warning for the dull of hearing: “But they know not the thoughts of the LORD, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor” Micah 4:12. Jesus said, “Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not neither do they understand” Matthew 13:13.
- W. Tozer summed it up well back in 1948 when he said, “There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy. I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton’s terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: ‘The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.’ It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table. The truth of Wesley’s words is established before our eyes: ‘Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is a proof of this.’”
While the “fork Christians” conclude that Jesus “just isn’t enough,” the “spoon Christians” believe that beyond their basic doctrines there is “nothing more.” At least nothing more that they need to concern themselves with. Yet, Hebrews 5:12-6:2 clearly states, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” [Underlining added.]
Therefore, shame on the pastors who fail to feed themselves the meat of the Word as the Holy Spirit teaches them, revealing the deep things of God, so they in turn can cease from spoon-feeding milk, or at best a spoonful of watery soup, to the sheep! Weak pastors, preaching from weak Bible translations to weak sheep, end up with a weak church that offers a weak witness to the world! Where is the power in the “Laodicean” churches of today?
Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me…” Acts 1:8a. The Holy Spirit enables men and women to speak with authority: “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all” Acts 4:33. Smith Wigglesworth said: “God wants to purify our minds until we can bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things. God dwells in you, but you cannot have this divine power until you live and walk in the Holy Ghost, until the power of the new life is greater than the old life.” And, “Wherever the Holy Ghost has right of way, the gifts of the Spirit will be in manifestation; and where these gifts are never in manifestation, I question whether He is present.”
Finally we come to the “knife Christians.” This type of “silverware Christian” is adept at slicing and dicing. They profess to love Jesus, but the question is, do they love the Jesus of the Bible who is revealed from Genesis to Revelation, or is it a Jesus of their own making? This type of Christian either slices whole sections out of the Word that he or she doesn’t agree with and conveniently disposes of them, or chooses instead to dice them up into convenient, out-of-context “bite-size” pieces that take on a whole new flavor (meaning, intent or spirit) from the original. Thus God’s Word loses its original intent and power as it is conveniently carved up to fit the personal taste of whatever ungodly, but socially acceptable and popular philosophy, belief, or agenda is on one’s daily “spiritual” menu.
The Bible strongly warns against “adding to” or “cutting out” any of God’s Word. In Deuteronomy 4:2 we read, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4. The written Word is the revelation of the Living Word. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” John 1:1. Therefore, if someone comes along with their handy dandy little knife and begins to “carve out” certain Scriptures, or whole sections of the Bible, and tells you that they are not applicable to us, or are not relevant for today, or that obedience is optional, or that the truth of the Word which God’s people have maintained for the past 2,000 years is wrong, then remember Titus 3:10, 11 which says, “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth being condemned of himself.”
If “knife people” could literally cut out of the Bible any reference or allusion to sin, its far-reaching effects, and the judgment on sin, hell, death, tribulation, suffering, self-denial, cross bearing, overcoming, crucifying the flesh and its lusts, loving God above all else, and obedience to Jesus’ commandments, then how many pages would be left? Maybe a few pages of genealogies? Nope. Think again. Even the genealogies tell us of these things when you look up the meanings of names.
“Knife Christians” fall into different categories depending on their personal agendas or conclusions to a matter, but the one, in our experience, that seems to surface the most concerns the subject of fornication. Old Testament examples, such as Jacob or King David are “cut out” and held up as “proof” that it’s okay for a man to have more than one wife, or at least it’s okay to have a mistress, or two, or three. After all, argue the “knife Christians”, David was a “man after God’s own heart”. Then to further prop up their argument with the strength of a wet noodle, they tell you that the nowhere in the Bible does it say that a man and his female lover “have to get married.” Now, consider this, in the King James Version the word “fornication” appears 44 times (http://www.brandplucked.webs.com/fornicationimmoral.htm), so the “knifers” have had to “cut out” (blatantly ignore) the word “fornication,” pretending it doesn’t exist, or call God a liar to their own destruction.
Every cult, false religion, aberrant belief, and doctrine of demons has, to a greater or lesser degree, cut out whole portions of the Holy Bible and twisted, redefined, or adulterated it to fit their false narrative, or rebellious lifestyle. Satanists, Freemasons, New Agers, and mystery religions do it, and you see Hollywood doing it all the time. Sadly, even some whole Christian denominations do it by simply ignoring (mentally cutting out) whole portions of Scripture. For example, many notable yet powerless, dead denominations and churches of today avoid “like the plague” any true Bible study, teaching, preaching, or acknowledgment of the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, along with the gifts of the Spirit.
Therefore, when you consider why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit after His ascension, you quickly come to the conclusion that without the Spirit the body is dead. Charles Spurgeon said, “A church in the land without the Spirit is rather a curse than a blessing. If you have not the Spirit of God, Christian worker, remember that you stand in somebody else’s way; you are a fruitless tree standing where a fruitful tree might grow.” A. W. Tozer said, “The Spirit-filled life is not a special, deluxe edition of Christianity. It is part and parcel of the total plan of God for His people.”
The words of Jude are as timely today as they were in AD 66: “But, beloved, remember, ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life,” Jude 17-21.
Therefore, may we, as we examine the “table setting” of our own lives discern if we are an instrument of silverware, or “a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” 2 Timothy 2:21.