ften, we find that some, especially those new to the Faith, expect to find a perfect Assembly when they begin to meet with us. But, much to their dismay, they soon discover that we are still human, too. We are, as one Elder says, “we, too, are a work in progress.” We are all still learning, and will not be perfected until Yahshua returns and those of us who have overcome are changed into Spirit beings. We, like them, are still learning, and that is how we are to grow in grace and knowledge (2Peter 3:18). It is a life-long process. Elders should never stop studying, meditating, and praying for understanding.
What should we do when we hear messages in our local Assemblies or in other Assemblies, that do not square with your own understanding of Scripture? Understand that this does happen from time to time, but it does not mean that the speaker is a false prophet, and should not to be listened to? Some have suggested that we should we stop associating with that group. It depends. If their messages are consistently fraught from week to week with provable error, then maybe you are in the wrong place, particularly if the “leader” or chief spokesperson is one of the culprits. But if someone who rarely or only occasionally speaks, or is a visiting speaker, then a mistake or two can be excused. But we should be sure that it is THEY who are mistaken and not WE. Last year at the FOT a visiting sermonette speaker did not make himself clear in his opening remarks, and a couple walked out, thinking he was teaching heresy. This caused them to miss the next speaker’s sermon, which turned out to be, in my opinion, one of the best talks given during the entire Feast. In my opening message the first night, I had specified that we should not be too quick to judge, and said the following while giving some points for good listening:
A closed mind is an empty mind. Unless
we listen only to people who agree with us, we are bound to hear things with
which we disagree. You can't learn
like that. Don't judge until you hear all the facts.
“…Another way do not
jump to a hasty conclusion, to prematurely reject a speaker's message as boring
or misguided… it sounds dull, or wrong, so you tune the speaker out.
Well, you might only be cheating yourself if you prejudge and choose not
In relation to this last point, if it sounds wrong to you, make some
notes, and then after services, quiz the speaker who gave the talk; and above
all, do as the Bereans did about Paul’s teachings in Acts 17:11: 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.
Note that what the Bereans were hearing was strange indeed to their ears, the Evangel of Yahshua the Messiah, yet they listened, then checked his sayings out in Scripture. That is what we should be doing – with all the messages that we hear.
Are our shortcomings, outright failures, and possible misunderstandings of Scripture, unique to this generation? Or are they rather things that have plagued the Assemblies down through the ages?
The Renewed Covenant writings (New Testament) reveal that there were many problems in those early Assemblies, both doctrinally and otherwise. Let’s examine some of them:
In the Evangels, before there were any assemblies, some of Yahshua’s own disciples exhibited signs of pride and vanity (Mat. 18:1-6; Mat. 20:20-28). When the other 10 heard about it, they were angry. So Yahshua had to teach them a lesson in humility. The foot-washing ceremony was for this purpose (John 3:1-14). Paul encountered much heresy and false teaching in the Assemblies, and had to address it several times in his letters and sermons. A few examples are to be found in 1Cor. 1:10-11; 3:3; 5:1; 11:18; Rom. 16:17; Phil. 1: 15-17; 1Thes. 2; and Titus 3:9-11. So, did the other writers of the New Testament recommend withdrawing from the Body? No, in fact we are warned against that kind of response.
After, having said that, why do we not all teach the same things? How should members of the Body of the Messiah handle doctrinal differences between themselves and other members or elders of the Assembly? Should they forsake assembling with the Body of the Messiah? No, this is a step in the wrong direction and we are warned in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
When people, even well-meaning people, strike out on their own, ignoring those whom Yahweh is using in a given area, and begin to depend upon their own understanding, they often soon depart from “rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” and begin to be blown about by every wind of doctrine. Yahshua said that the Spirit would lead us into all truth. But we have to let it happen. We have to stop resisting right instruction and learn to embrace Truth. I personally believe that He allows us to have different understandings among ourselves for now, to keep us on our toes; to keep us studying His Word, the Scriptures, which are the Source of all Truth.
To sum up what we have just said, we must learn to study together with brethren who have different opinions than our own, without letting personalities become involved. If you cannot resolve your differences, then bring some others into the discussion, such as an elder or elders who have been around for awhile. If this fails, learn to accept him or her as-is, and strive for peace. When the time comes, Yahshua will open his or your eyes to the Truth. Remember that, while both of you cannot be right, it is possible that both of you may be wrong.In 1 Pet 5:8 (KJV) we read, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Yes, Satan is roaring about like a lion, devouring the unwary, trying to discourage the Saints. He loves to drive a wedge between you and your brother/sister. He also loves to see doctrinal fights and disagreements within the Assemblies and he never sleeps nor gives up – until you learn to resist. We are told in James 4:7 (KJV) "Submit yourselves therefore to Yahweh. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." So resist, and stay strong in Yahshua! ~