Archive: neo-bereanism


We were in the Amazon jungle in 1984 and met a tribal group that called themselves “Yanomami” (THE People) who were firmly convinced there were no other peoples on earth except themselves. Of course that proud, pagan idea even extended to the other Yanomami villages. When someone in one village died of infection, or was attacked by a jaguar, it had to be because someone in another village had cast an evil curse against them. The only answer was retaliation. Many missionaries have found themselves ducking the long 8′ curare tipped arrows flying from the bows of neighbor Yanomami villagers.

Preparing us for one of these attacks, a friend who was with us on this trip, related a lesson he had learned earlier.
During one of these attacks at a Yanomami mission station years before, he told us of his surprise when the veteran missionary, standing up in the open, yelled: “Stand up and let them see you! Otherwise, you may be accidentally hit by an arrow!” Our friend had found out the Yanomami wanted to kill each other, not the “white ghosts of Yanomami ancestors”.

Of course, when first seeing pale, white missionaries with the fantastic tools of deity such as flashlights, sticks of fire (matches), clothing not made of leaves, and coats that send water away, these beings made the Yanomami rethink their “only us and no more” position. A combined “theological/anthropological” committee met, and the consensus was spread throughout the villages: there was no mistake on their part, Yanomami are indeed the only people on earth. Did not the strangers come from the sky in a bird? Don’t they speak our language? They have white leaves that say the same words today the leaves said yesterday. They are the spirits of our ancestors, come back to visit us!

Failing to see the forest because of a few trees is not only found in the jungle; proud, exclusive club attitudes also thrive in USA churches, Bible study groups, and among individual Christians. It matters not that you claim Jesus Christ is God, it matters not that you have accepted Him as your Savior, it matters not that you believe He saves by His grace and there is nothing you can do to get it or keep it, it matters not that you believed ON Him and His work for your eternal salvation: “IF YOU DON’T AGREE IN TOTAL WITH OUR SYSTEM, WE CAN HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP WITH YOU.” This proud, know-it-all attitude implies that perhaps other Christians are not even saved since they are continually sinning against God by disobeying THIS EXCLUSIVE HYPER position.

The issue is not that every doctrine Hyper-Neo-Dispensationalists believe is wrong; I do not question their salvation or sincerity. In fact, my fellowship with them, as members of the body of Christ, is not affected by their foolish and popish edicts. I know Whom I have believed and His words are pure and sure. Like my friend who is now in glory, Dr. Herb Noe, whispered to me as we sat in a preachers’ meeting, upon hearing a preacher issue forth some silly demand: “All the popes are not in Rome.”

Many of the Hyper doctrines are sound and that is why their conclusions are so easily swallowed by gullible Christians. They believe in the Deity of Christ, salvation by grace, etc., and all of what men would call “fundamentals of the faith.” The error of Hyper-Dispensationalism lies in exaltation of a private interpretation that excludes much biblical truth; one verse here is combative to another verse there. Analogy of scripture is secondary to a divisive chopping apart passages and even books, so that the complimentary whole of the Bible is destroyed. Some small attempt is made to avoid this accusation by their critics, but the practical results and outcome of their system belies any real effect. Law and Grace are absolute opposites in their scheme. The Hyper view cannot realize the dual concept that a Christian is not under the Law but yet, in Christ, fulfills the Law, and thereby validates the unity between Law and Grace that proceeds from God, Who is Righteous, Just, Merciful, and Gracious. Baptism by the Spirit cannot co-exist with a water baptism of any kind for any purpose. Hypers cannot comprehend the many non-essential and non-effectual specks in their own eyes, for the bloated, ponderous beam they have crammed into their practice of theology. Absolute truth it is that man does not live by bread alone–but just try to live 6 months without any! Jesus’ never condemned non-essentials, His condemnation was reserved for those who put temporal matters above eternal values.

All men are dispensationalists, whether they call the grand division of any Bible translation “Old Covenant-New Covenant” or by the correct “Old Testament-New Testament”. Covenant and Testament do not carry the same definition in English or in Biblical Greek–a critical distinction both Hyper-Dispensationalists and Covenant Theologians have missed.

“Dispensation” is not strictly a period of time; the word by contextual definition is an administration or stewardship. Generally, a “dispenser” may give out soap, towels, candy, etc., at various times to various people. God gave (dispensed) the OT/NT. Anyone who recognizes that division, is in some sense, a “dispensationalist”.

When we read, “If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: (Ephesians 3:2 KJV)” there is no specificity as to a “time boundary”. Some aspect of the eternal grace of God was given to Paul for the purpose of the church’s information. Sound interpretation allows that grace, or the application of it, did not necessarily begin with this revelation to Paul, what had already existed could have been simply revealed through him, then to others. This is important to note, because in a strict sense there are not various periods of time called “dispensations”. However, in a GENERAL sense, Bible teachers for many years have used the term for certain periods of time in which “Innocence” “Conscience” “Law”, etc., were characteristics of an age or time. Therefore, in my study chart we have used in Open Bible College since the 1970’s and painted in 1980 on an 18′ x 4′ canvas in acrylics, I simply designated sections of the KJB, in order as God ordained them, not as “Dispensation of Innocence” “Dispensation of Conscience” etc., but “1” “2” “3”, on through “7”, and indicated by brackets, between each number, the leading person in the previous administration or economy, (“1″[Adam] “2”[Noah] “3”[Abraham], etc. The chart is merely a teaching tool, and never have I claimed it to be infallible, or the only way to study the word of God, or “the doctrinal basis for salvation and fellowship.”

But what makes a Christian become a HYPER or a NEO dispensationalist or Berean? Hyper-anything in Bible teaching takes a Bible truth and twists, magnifies a portion, or exaggerates it into a false doctrine that is non-biblical in both spirit and letter. That main group which claims of the title “Berean” today are a far cry from the Bereans in Acts 17:11. Instead of “rightly dividing” the Bible with the result being edification and increased unity among Christians, the HYPER chops the Bible here and there, constructing a man made system that actually separates scripture from scripture, and Christians from other Christians. Here is an example of a current “Hyper-Dispensation” demand:
“We believe that Eph. 4:1-6 sets forth the doctrinal basis necessary for fellowship in the dispensation of grace.”
Listen to this man’s teaching and his private interpretation of Ephesians 4:1-6 and you will find exactly what he states and means in this preamble and disclaimer to his “Statement of Faith”. I do not give his name because I believe he is a saved man. Although wrong in some of his interpretation and applications, enough naming and attacking individuals has gone on among Christians. The world, flesh, and the devil has enough ammunition to harm the testimony of Christ; I will not give more. Instead, I will show the errors of the system and leave the man alone to answer to his Savior—and Judge. He already knows what I believe and I know very well what he believes. His teacher (now with the Lord) and I spent hours on the same subject, one-on-one, years ago.

What he does not say in his “detailed” Statement of Faith is his one main bone of contention. After you bite the various pieces of seemingly harmless bait, he sets his quantitative hook of Ephesians 4:1-6. The Hyper claims the usage of “one” in Ephesians MUST BE QUANTITATIVE, OR DEALING WITH THE NUMBER OF, RELATED TO EXISTENCE . HE INSISTS IT CAN NOT BE DEALING WITH EFFECTUAL OR ESSENTIAL QUALITY. According to Hyper interpretation, it is not One omniscient Lord among many lesser lords; it is not One Faith, the faith of Jesus Christ, essential and effectual beyond the weak or strong faith of man or creeds; it is not One Spirit, the Third Person of the Godhead, who is above all spirit beings; it is not One Body, the body of Christ, essential and above all material bodies, spiritually and physically; and it is not even One baptism that is essential to being a member of the body of Christ, among several other baptisms in the Bible. The man doesn’t recognize or know the rules of his own native (English) language.
The Hyper ASSUMES the only sense of ONE in Ephesians is, “there is only one that CAN EXIST AT THIS TIME” (while, by implication, God approved many Lords, Faiths, Gods, Baptisms, etc., in other periods of time. God only reduced them to One when Paul went to prison!!!!). By his extrapolation, during the so-called time of the dispensation of Grace (of which time or where it began, he has no Bible proof–only his guesswork) there can be no other baptism, of water or Spirit but the Baptism by the Spirit into the body of Christ (of which manner and how that body is formed, he has no scripture except the Acts epistle of 1 Corinthians 12:13. However, since he has previously determined that all Acts epistles were written before Paul really knew what he was doing, the Hyper cannot be sure that this One Baptism of the “Acts body” actually exists!)

Upon this conjectural and shifting sand of interpretation, the Hyper condemns the dreaded, carnal and even evil practice of water baptism-no matter the mode, no matter the meaning, no matter that Jesus was baptized, no matter that Jesus sent his disciples to baptize in His Name, no matter that Peter baptized, no matter that Philip baptized, no matter that Paul baptized, no matter that Paul never said “Don’t baptize”, no matter that Paul never repented of baptizing his converts after he got the “full revelation of when the dispensation of grace occurred and how it is applied” (according to the Hyper-Neo), no matter anything.

By forcing the “ones” of Ephesians 4 to be quantitative or number that exists, instead of quality or essentiality, he has excised himself from sane exegesis. There are right now as well as in the first century:
Many bodies (physical, heavenly, etc.), although essentially, “There is one body”: many spirits (angels, etc.) although there is essentially “one Spirit”: many lords (Lord Byron, Lord Nelson, etc.) although there is essentially “One Lord”: many different faiths (faith of a man, weak, strong, faith without works- dead faith, statement of faith, i.e., body of doctrine) but there is “ONE FAITH”, and only one, that guarantees your justification-THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST, your faith and mine is weak one moment and stronger the next, but always imperfect, THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST, HIS FAITHFULNESS, IS THE ONE FAITH THAT IS ESSENTIAL FOR JUSTIFICATION (Romans 3:22 KJB). There are several kinds of baptisms in the Bible, unto Moses, with water, in water, no water, for a future remission of sins, and many outside the Bible, but there is ONLY ONE BAPTISM THAT IS ESSENTIAL AND EFFECTUAL, THE BAPTISM BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST (1 Corinthians 12:13 KJB. That is only found in an Acts epistle): “There is One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” but there are many other “gods”(Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods…”John 10:34, 35 KJV)and there are many other “fathers” (“Father Abraham..” “all our fathers were baptized unto Moses…”, physical fathers, etc.) but there is ONLY ONE WE ADDRESS, “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” (Ephesians 4:4-6 KJB)
Now this phobia of anti-water baptism is magnified by the Hype-Neo even though his own selection of scripture as “the doctrinal basis of fellowship” warns him before he arrives at the “Ones” in verses 4-6:

“1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3 KJV)

Somehow throwing your brother in Christ out of your fellowship because he does some non-essential practice that both of you agree does not save or make a man more spiritual, does not fit with Paul’s descriptive: “with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…” Especially when you do non-essential religious traditions yourself…such as, How about Sunday morning 11AM services? Want to try and justify your Wednesday prayer meeting in a prison epistle? We’ll even let you use an Acts epistle–go ahead. Shall we mention “church furniture”, design, and decor? Paul never built a “steeple house” (John Wesley) and even in Acts, Paul said that God “does not dwell in buildings made with hands”. Paul addressed churches “in thy house”. How about your modern advertising methods? Must we list other Hyper-Dispensational “traditionalism” such as church marriage ceremonies? Why, in the name of all that’s whatever, should a man stop half way on a path to total Hyperism??? Go all the way, man! God hates lukewarm, half in, half out, professions. Of course, “I speak as a fool” but sometimes in order to show…well, I think everybody but the Hyper will get the picture.

Lest some might think the above are trivial and not so serious, in the forthcoming book there is an entire chapter devoted to the doctrines of Paul’s Acts ministry–proven by the Hyper’s “Prison Ministry” to still be in effect. The Hyper-Neo-Dispensationalism system is a house of cards, easily broken down when even the books of Philippians-Colossians are believed. One example:
“Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: (PAST TENSE: LEARNED, RECEIVED, HEARD, SEEN IN ME, in the Acts period, DO (PRESENT TENSE: CONTINUE TO DO NOW) and the God of peace shall be with you.” (Philippians 4:9 KJB, my emphasis. The full book will be available August 1, 2014)

Bible with Bible, who could make Ephesians 4:1-6 (among Christians) the “doctrinal basis necessary for fellowship”? Even Paul, whom the Hyper-Neo claims to follow as the “pattern” never severed fellowship with the “carnal babes” in Corinth. With longsuffering and patience, and with charity (the bond of perfection) Paul carefully outlines and defines in 1 Corinthians all the Corinthian church problems, but he sought, and did continue his fellowship with them. All of us have “social circles” of close and far fellowship (some farther than others) but we do not have the right nor do we have the necessary wisdom to divide what God has joined together: the church, which is His body. This is not a plea for ecumenical sweetness and compromise, but when a man falls out with another brother in Christ over matters that both agree are non-essential for salvation and practical sanctification, somebody is making “mountains out of molehills”. It smacks too much of doctrines and practice like that of Seventh Day Adventists who claim that if you attend Sunday services, you have the mark of the Antichrist.

I have never read that our fellowship is based solely upon the interpretation or application of 6 verses in Ephesians.
I read that our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ:
“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3 KJB)
I also read that God does the calling into fellowship with Jesus Christ and regarding the church at Corinth with all its errors, sin, and carnality, Paul says:
“God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9 KJB)

At least the Yanomami repented and revised their exclusiveness. Evidently, jungle living is more conducive to the Bible truth in 1 Corinthians 8:2 than living in LA, Chicago, or Atlanta:
“And if any man think that he knoweth anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.” (1 Corinthians 8:2)

Here are the sad, nebulous, and deceptive doctrines that characterize the Neo-Berean-Hyper-Dispensationalism. When followed to the logical end of such Bible interpretation, every Hyper must swallow “hook, line, and sinker” some form of the doctrines, or take none of them.

Basic to all of the following is the issue of which “Bible” is the perfect word of God. If it is NOT the King James Bible in your hand, you might as well throw your hands up, and “go drifting with the tide”. Some Hebrew, Greek, modern language translation will not be your sword and shield simply because you believe not ONE BIBLE among them, wholeheartedly. You are a practicing Gnostic, still trying to find out where absolute truth exists. You may squeal and yell about originals, but your infallible anchor line has broken. Here are the tenets of the Hyper-Neo:

      The body of Christ could not exist until Paul knew something about it. SCRIPTURE VERSE: 0
      Anyone who baptizes converts (by whatever mode, for whatever reason) is disobedient to God. SCRIPTURE VERSE: 0
      The body of Christ (the body mentioned in Ephesians) did not begin or become functional, until Paul received that revelation in prison. SCRIPTURE VERSE: 0. This popish decree fabricates that the body began SOMEWHERE in “Mid Acts”. Mid-Acts theology is a “take your pick’ of Acts 9-?? chapters–except chapter 28”. A surer sign of confused doctrinal guesswork cannot be found anywhere! Mid-Acts Hypers believe Paul did not yet have all the revelation of the “one body”, even in Acts, but the mid-Acts hypothesis is their infallible rule that governs their Christian fellowship.
      Paul baptized, observed the Lord’s Supper, and in fact throughout Acts, along with the books he wrote during that period, he was following the Kingdom program and gradually, piece by piece, learning God’s plan. SCRIPTURE VERSE: 0
      The order of the books in the KJB is incorrect, along with many of the words. SCRIPTURE VERSE: 0
      The “baptism by the Spirit into the body” (1 Cor 12:13) is merely an “anointing” of the Spirit, nobody is actually “put into” anything in 1 Corinthians 12:13. It is like the nation of Israel being “baptized unto Moses”(1 Cor 10:1). SCRIPTURE VERSE: 0
      The body of Christ mentioned in 1Corinthians 12 is NOT the same as the body of Christ in Ephesians. SCRIPTURE VERSE: 0
      Those who follow the “high calling” of Philippians 3:14 will not go with, or after those lower (by Hyper definition) Christians in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to meet the Lord. The Hypers will go BEFORE all others. SCRIPTURE VERSE: 0
      Only those who thoroughly understand and teach these things above, will occupy a select place in the “Super-Heavens” in eternity: the real, genuine, absolutely perfect CHURCHOFTHEONEBODY! (Teaching of Charles H. Welch, great-grandfather of all Hypers and Neos.) SCRIPTURE VERSE: 0

The inevitable result of all this foolish system is to spend almost all the ministry in getting people to accept the above. Evangelism dies and proselytization becomes the priority.

Wow! Aren’t you glad that in eternity you will be recognized as the “super body of Christ”(according to the deceased Hypers, C.H. Welch, E.C. Moore, and others)–far above those spiritual babies like William Tyndale, John Rogers, Martin Luther, John Calvin, all 54 translators of the KJB, John Wesley, Sam Jones, Peter Cartwright, Fanny Crosby, D.L. Moody, C.I. Scofield, Arno Gaebelein, Bob Jones Sr., Lee Roberson, Peter Ruckman, M.R. DeHaan, etc., plus thousands of poor tribal Christians who struggle to learn the few Bible verses in their language, along with millions upon millions of unknown Christians who lived and died, some that sealed with their blood the testimony of Jesus Christ. Sitting up there on your high horse above all those who knew not what you claim to know, all because you practiced the “high calling” matters—you really will be “a trophy of his grace”.

Good advice to all of us is that we cannot put the word of God into our little theological box. God’s word is alive. (Hebrews 4:12) We will have more success in handling a man-eating 850 pound male lion with a fly swatter than try to force the word of God into any puny system of man.

Hyper-Neo-Dispensationalists are hard to corner. Persecuted in one text, they flee to another. Not all Hyper-dispensationalists have come to the “perfection” that Charles H. Welch did (9). Undisputed identification of all Hypers are numbers 1-5 above. Every teacher on his way to being a Hyper teaches that water baptism is disobedience to God.

All dispensational Bible teachers are not Hyper-Dispensationalists. Hypers DEMAND a denial of water baptism.
To those who have begun to whine over my comments, I offer this one illustrative advice: Dr. Robert G. Lee stood at the door of the church after delivering his sermon, “I Love Jesus Because…”. As the morning crowd exited, one woman said, “I didn’t like your sermon today, Dr. Lee”. Dr. Lee, ever the quick wit, replied, “The devil didn’t either, Sister. Classify yourself and come back next Sunday”.

So, if my above remarks make your eyes water or blood pressure rise, all I can say is, “if the shoe fits, wear it. If not, I wasn’t talking about you.”

We should obey the first principle of “rightly dividing” the word of truth: Study to shew THYSELF APPROVED UNTO GOD” instead of showing everybody else what they must do. Far better to follow the “prison epistle” order to “work out YOUR OWN salvation, with FEAR and TREMBLING.” (2 Timothy 2:15; Philippians 2:12)

(Excerpts from “The Danger and Deception of Hyper-Dispensationalism” by Dave Reese available August 1, 2014)


“10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.

11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.” (Acts 17:10-12 KJV)

Bible Bereans are believers from the area of Berea (Acts 17) and bear no resemblance to the contemporary denomination that calls itself “Bereans”.

Dispensationalists, generally, are those who believe normal-literal interpretation of the scripture is a sound method of understanding the various differences, as well as the similarities, of Bible economies. Those who claim to be dispensational in their Bible study are found in various denominations.

Neo-Bereanism and Hyper-Dispensationalism are closely related in that both groups claim the prison epistles of Paul dominate all Biblical doctrine; they deny water baptism by any mode and for any reason. Historically, “Bereans” such as Darby, Bullinger, and Welch did get along with those who differed on some of their doctrine. They were not narrow on fellowship with those who differed. (Bullinger, although not agreeing with some writers, nevertheless placed many of their articles in his seven volume set, “Things To Come”) Neo-Bereanism DEMANDS agreement with their position on baptism, etc., for fellowship. This contemporary crowd are the new breed of “Bereans”. Hypers and Neos disagree among themselves as to where the body of Christ began, observance of the Lord’s Supper, and other doctrines and practice. Those differences among themselves are so important in their view that they have split and splintered into different churches, and severed individual fellowship even with their “Berean” compadres.

I am dispensational in my Bible study but have not wavered from identifying myself first, as a Bible believing Christian and secondarily, a Baptist, for over 50 years. Regardless of theological beliefs, a man denominates himself when he takes any part or whole of a theological position. Like politics, you may be “Independent” “Libertarian” “Democrat” or “Republican” or even differ from all or some of those tenets; you have already denominated yourself, it is the “nature of the beast”. Man may call himself, or be called a “cuddy” “neddy” “dicky” “moke” or “burro”. You may indeed be a member of the family “Equidae” but if you are of the subspecies, “E. a. asinus”, you are a verifiable, real jackass, no matter which moniker is hung around your neck. (Jeremiah 2:22-24)

In 1980 I designed a dispensational chart that illustrated one way to understand some of the different economies or programs found in various periods of Bible history. Following several precedents before me, I named these as “Innocence” “Conscience”, etc., for relevance and general description but indicated the Bible order of references for each period, leaving gaps between each to allow transition periods from one economy to the next. Since the beginning of my college Bible studies, although many confuse it with time, I understood the term “dispensation” did not refer exclusively to a period of time, but better defined by “economy” or “program”. To my knowledge, the unique design of my chart was the Bible references to each period exactly as they are ordered in the Bible. The chart is still available on this website and has been used worldwide in many places to help believers understand the supposed contradictions in the Bible. The Bible has no contradictions; contradictions lie in our attempt to fit the Bible to our thinking instead of simply believing the Bible is right and men are wrong.

Never have I insisted that this chart was the ONLY way to understand the Bible or to “rightly divide” it. It was designed as one tool among many ways to understand the word of God. Only a fool would claim to have discovered what millions of other Christians over centuries have never seen, or that his way was the ONLY way to study the Bible.

When I say “Bible”, the reference is to the King James Bible, commonly known as the Authorized Version of 1611. I differ somewhat (don’t we all) from others in that I believe the translation of the word of God into English was simultaneous with the development of the English language over a period of c. 500 years, reaching the peak in 1611. I do not believe that ONLY the “original manuscripts” were inspired and copies were merely “preserved”. In my understanding, inspiration and preservation are inseparable. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35). Inspiration, if limited to the original manuscripts being God-breathed, then preservation means nothing more than the attempt to preserve dead words. Details of my view on inspiration may be found in my sermons and writings.

I believe normal-literal language communication is the only way we can understand each other, as well as understanding that which God has revealed in His Bible. The Bible does not hide, make difficult, or allow only the intellectuals to know the essential things a man must know about God, or what God wants man to do. God is more interested in your heart than your head. David was a man “after God’s own heart” and not a man after “God’s head”.

Education in the writings of men (secular and religious) will not necessarily make you closer to God but it may very well drive you away from God. Many “professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…”(Romans 1:20-22).

Above all things, salvation and service to God are personal matters. The salvation of your soul and how you serve Him are One-on-one, between God and you alone: Entre Dios y sólo a ti. No man is to have dominion over another man’s soul or be his Judge. The reason for these things are plain: all men are sinners and in the same boat before the Eternal God. In the course of living everyone must make “judgments” but before we undertake to condemn a man for his religion, we had better do a double-take on our own.

Since all men are liars in one way or another, and put on their pants just like all others do, one leg at a time, we must be very careful before swallowing any man’s words—hook, line and sinker. Absolute Truth resides in one place on this earth: the Bible. When men (liars as we are by nature) tell us what God means in the Bible, this is where it hits the fan. Red flashing lights should go on and “PROCEED WITH CAUTION” signs begin to blink.

“Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:20 KJV)

A simple story about spiritual fruitfulness: Bill and Joe, friends for many years, attended a gospel meeting out of curiosity. The preacher quoted the Bible and made a powerful but clear gospel message. Declaring that all men are sinners and that the wages of sin is death, the preacher said Christ came into the world to pay the penalty of sin, died on the cross, and that “Whosoever” trusted His finished work on the cross for salvation, would have everlasting life. Both men, realizing they had sinned and were sinners under the wrath of God, believed on The Lord Jesus Christ that night.

Bill and Joe began to study the Bible and rejoiced in all the blessings, peace with God, and joy they had. Joe began to study under a system called “dispensationalism” and listened, almost exclusively, to only a small group who referred to themselves as “Bereans” and claimed to “rightly divide” the Bible. Bill also listened to the dispensational views and saw some value in understanding but noticed the studies left a few critical questions unanswered. Their close fellowship began to fade as Joe became more and more involved in what Bill saw as Joe “splitting hairs” and making “mountains out of molehills”.

Joe finally declared that if Bill did not deny water baptism and believe the body of Christ (the Church) began with Paul, he would not have any more fellowship with him. He demanded many other “doctrines” such as: the Bible order of books was wrong, the New Testament was not Matthew through Revelation, water baptism was totally Jewish tradition, the grace of God came with Paul’s revelation, the body of Christ began after Paul got that revelation, those who believed Paul’s doctrines had a “high calling” and would be caught out before the rest of the “low calling” believers, etc.,,etc.

Bill tried to reason with Joe that these matters were not more important than their fellowship as members in the body of Christ. Both of them believed on Christ and salvation by grace, plus nothing and minus nothing. Bill did not believe water baptism saved or had any power to make a person a better Christian; he believed it was a sImple illustration or identification with the gospel message of the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. He reasoned that Christ did not intend that they become virtual enemies over these lesser matters, but all of his pleas went unneeded by Joe.

Joe went on to become a pastor of a dispensational church that had split from another dispensational church across town–not because they baptized converts–both groups denied that. The church split because some believed the Lord’s Supper should be observed, while the splinter members did not. When Joe tore down his church sign and put “Berean Fellowship” removing the old traditional words “Calvary Church”, (because “Calvary” was not found in Paul’s letters) Bill tried again to reason with Joe that many words were not found in Paul’s letters but that did not mean Paul denied them. When Bill mentioned that Paul established many churches and even addressed his letters to them, Joe insisted that the word “church” had been ruined by old traditionalism and was no longer of any value. When Bill asked Joe if he was going to stop meeting in a building, throw out the “pews” “pulpit” and of course change or drop his “Sunday School” “morning Worship service” at 11-12 AM, and begin meeting only in houses, Joe was strangely silent.

The illustration is a real one except the names. Can any saved and reasonable Christian believe that Joe’s fanaticism is pleasing to God? Do you really believe that God sent His Son to the cross, saved Paul and gave His apostleship to bring about such “fruit”?

(to be continued….)

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