Winning the Argument, but Losing the Soul!

I have recently run into a group of Apologetics/Heresy hunters online. I felt that many of the larger African American ministries were targeted a little too frequently. I then submitted a post that made these individuals very upset. I suggested that maybe they should consider the potential harm to all of the individuals that follow the men that their websites target. I have been known in the past as a preacher that preaches a hard text. Yet as I grow older and wiser, I have realized that it is not in the best interest of the Body of Christ for us to send every preacher and believer that we don’t agree with to hell.

There will always be differences in doctrine in our churches. Some say that people from other churches will go to hell for not going to church on the right day, for being baptized the wrong way, or for the length of one’s hemline. One of Bishop G. E. Patterson’s most popular sermons ever was, “Salvation is an Inside Job”. In this message he tackled the various arguments over doctrine that are waged in the Body of Christ. Saints, I am also proclaiming that Salvation is an Inside Job. The late Charles Spurgeon once said that, Morality can keep one out of prison, but only the blood of Jesus can keep one out of hell. Salvation is a gift from God that doesn’t come from a list of external dos and don’ts.

One has to learn to know God for himself. I have been challenged to answer a list of questions by one of these “online barometers of ministry effectiveness”. I have also been asked why I support men like the Bishop Noel Jones, who is a oneness preacher or as they were called back in the day a “Jesus Only” preacher. I am not his best friend, yet I have enjoyed his preaching throughout the years. I don’t have to defend Bishop Noel Jones, who is one of America’s greater pulpiteers. I have heard him on many occasions and not once has he tried to assert his beliefs on a Trinitarian audience. I am one that definitely espouses Trinitarian beliefs. However; websites like Pulpit Pimps don’t have a heaven or a hell to put Bishop Jones in.

I did not feel like defending my photo with Bishop Jones would be a productive use of my time. I will always remember a comment from a muslim minster in my days of being in the world. This particular muslim minister admonished his followers to witness to Christians from the Bible, because most Christians can’t defend their faith.I resolved from that day forward to be an individual that was able to defend his faith. My decision to not engage in an online battle over doctrinal issues was not because of my inability to defend my faith.

Who wins the battle when Christians openly battle over doctrine? What benchmarks are achieved by doing this? Christians should stomp out heresy in their midst; however some of us need to reexamine the manner in which we attempt to do this. If we win the debate, what’s the prize that we will get? I submit to you the prize that we receive from our battles over doctrine, end up being pyrrhic victories, which are victories that are achieved at too great a cost. Are we winning the argument, but losing the souls? Will anyone stick around to view our battles over doctrinal issues? Do we grasp that there are potential souls of unbelievers that are ready to be won to the kingdom?

Will these souls be won by Christians who are fighting more that those in the mean streets that they came from? I considered all of these factors before I engaged this group any further. Was this my chance to show how well read I am, or was this a chance to show the sheer compassion and the boundless love that God must have in just forgiving me of my shortcomings? We serve a compassionate God who has mercies that are new every morning. Let’s not win all of the Christian arguments at the price of losing souls! Are some of us adopting the attitudes of the scribes and pharisees? Should we attempt to rid the kingdom of those who preach heresy? Yes we should, yet not at the cost of never promoting a positive message of the love of God to unbelievers!

How can we expect God to forgive our “the sin”, and not expect God to forgive the sins of others? The patriarchs of old attacked sin with a reckless abandon, but they didn’t sit back like the scribes and pharisees and just pass judgement on others. One of the surprises in heaven will be that people that some of us didn’t think would make it will make it. Yes, there will also be many individuals that we thought had heaven made, who will receive eternal damnation. A televangelist in heaven, yes heresy hunters it is very possible despite what you write about them. A heresy hunter in hell, that is also possible if one submits to the spirit of pride and feels like he or she is God’s only moral compass for the world.

There’s a Heaven to gain and a hell to shun. Let’s get ourselves right, and not be so caught up winning arguments and in the process losing souls! Contending for the faith does not mean bashing others all day long and never delivering that same faith to others!

Matthew Chapter 23 verse 23Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. 25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.St. Matthew 6:14-15-14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

St. Matthew 18:21-35 21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.