watchman’s 3 am discourse : So let’s stop condemning each other

no condemnationThe conflicts within churches and between churches usually concern matters that the Lord Jesus has foreseen and adequately prepared Christians to overcome. One thing that causes many conflicts is ‘not knowing’ God enough. The watchman has traveled further and deeper in his spiritual walk and found that this rift between believers is indeed getting wider like pieces of driftwood being tossed apart in a raging ocean.

A common cause of differences is the issues of practicing Biblical truth. Healing is one of the most frequent subjects. The contiuum of belief and practice of divine healing ranges from Christians who allow pastors and other church members to pray for their sicknesses to be healed through the medical doctors’ or hospitals’ treatments, medicines, and surgeries etc to those who believe in actively appropriating/taking divine healing by proclaiming and thereby receiving the word of God – “By Jesus’ stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5) or “By Whose stripes you were healed” (as declared in 1 Peter 2:24).

The extreme end of the belief continuum does not need to take any form of medicine or surgeries. The patients proclaim the words of healing and are healed. There are schools of thoughts that teach that the medical system is evil due to its origins and associations with pagan gods of healing etc. On the other hand, there are those who say that God uses the good doctors to do the healing or treatment by giving them wisdom from above.

The watchman will not go into any argument of any ‘schools’ of thoughts. Based on personal encounter and experience of God, he has concluded that knowing how great God is matters to every believer. Seeing people groups struggle to make a living in the poorest nations of the world, makes him understand what physical differences mean. Often we take education and various amenities and resources  for modern civilized living for granted in our own ‘world’. In reality many people do not know what we are talking about. Some would only believe in a tangible pill like a pain-killer to stop his pain, or stitches to stop his torn flesh from being torn and bleed further, open wounds from being infected etc.  Some treat medicines as if they are poisons. Some take medicines regularly with every meal as if they are food. Some even take food as if they are medicines. All sorts of new theories have come forth claiming the ‘healing’ effects of all sorts of ‘food’. There is no end to any argument on the issues of what ‘heals’ in the natural world. Many make big money by claiming all sorts of ‘healing’ claims.

Does God condemn such ‘weak’ faith when some people seek healing from God through the natural system and provisions? The watchman asked. The answer is NO. God is not like man. We just cannot put God in a box and claim that that is God. We do know God’s will concerning healing. God’s will is to heal. Because He declares to the Israelite that He is The Lord who Heals them. He also declares to the psalmist that He sent His words and healed them. Lastly He speaks through Prophet Isaiah and Apostle Peter that by His (Jesus’) stripes we are (were) healed. God’s purpose is to heal and give abundant life (John 10:10). Abundant life does not include sickness. Sickness is not from God. God gives good and perfect gifts. (James 1:17)

When we (I mean those who want to resolve the conflicts between the believers in the continuum of belief in divine healing) ponder on the differences, we need to know God and His nature. How do we know God? The key is we know God through understanding the Bible as led by the Holy Spirit.

The Bible is all about God’s telling the believers about Him and His plans for those who read His words.

The Holy Spirit teaches the believers all things about God, what Jesus has said, and about the believers’ future. These are the promises given by Jesus to His followers in His last teachings before crucifixion. The teachings about what the Holy Spirit will do are recorded in John 14-16. Apostle John writes to a variety of Christians over the continuum of belief. In 1 John he reminds of them of the nature of God too. He speaks of an important key to know God that every believer has: “But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.” (NKJV 1 John 2:20)

1 John 2:27 New Living Translation (NLT)

27 But you have received the Holy Spirit,[a] and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit[b] teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:27a Greek the anointing from him.
  2. 2:27b Greek the anointing.

Today we read Romans to hear God’s voice. The boldness of some verses are added by this watchman.

Romans 14

 Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.

In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.

10 So why do you condemn another believer[a]? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say,

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bend to me,
    and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.[b]’”

12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.

14 I know and am convinced on the authority of the Lord Jesus that no food, in and of itself, is wrong to eat. But if someone believes it is wrong, then for that person it is wrong. 15 And if another believer is distressed by what you eat, you are not acting in love if you eat it. Don’t let your eating ruin someone for whom Christ died. 16 Then you will not be criticized for doing something you believe is good. 17 For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of what we eat or drink, but of living a life of goodness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 If you serve Christ with this attitude, you will please God, and others will approve of you, too. 19 So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.

20 Don’t tear apart the work of God over what you eat. Remember, all foods are acceptable, but it is wrong to eat something if it makes another person stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything else if it might cause another believer to stumble.[c] 22 You may believe there’s nothing wrong with what you are doing, but keep it between yourself and God. Blessed are those who don’t feel guilty for doing something they have decided is right. 23 But if you have doubts about whether or not you should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning.[d]

Romans 15 

We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves. We should help others do what is right and build them up in the Lord. For even Christ didn’t live to please himself. As the Scriptures say, “The insults of those who insult you, O God, have fallen on me.”[e] Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory. Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews[f] to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them. That is what the psalmist meant when he wrote:

“For this, I will praise you among the Gentiles;
    I will sing praises to your name.”[g]

10 And in another place it is written,

“Rejoice with his people,
    you Gentiles.”[h]

11 And yet again,

“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles.
    Praise him, all you people of the earth.”[i]

12 And in another place Isaiah said,

“The heir to David’s throne[j] will come,
    and he will rule over the Gentiles.
They will place their hope on him.”[k]

13 I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

14 I am fully convinced, my dear brothers and sisters,[l] that you are full of goodness. You know these things so well you can teach each other all about them. 15 Even so, I have been bold enough to write about some of these points, knowing that all you need is this reminder. For by God’s grace, 16 I am a special messenger from Christ Jesus to you Gentiles. I bring you the Good News so that I might present you as an acceptable offering to God, made holy by the Holy Spirit. 17 So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God. 18 Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them. 19 They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit.[m] In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ from Jerusalem all the way to Illyricum.[n]

20 My ambition has always been to preach the Good News where the name of Christ has never been heard, rather than where a church has already been started by someone else. 21 I have been following the plan spoken of in the Scriptures, where it says,

“Those who have never been told about him will see,
    and those who have never heard of him will understand.”[o]

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