Barry Amundsen (30 March 2011)
"Steve W would you leave that child behind?"
When I was 17 years old, back in 1977, (I’m 51 now), I was at a concert
by the late Keith Green (remember him?) During the show Keith gave the
audience a time of silence to ask God to reveal to you if there was
anything in your life that was coming between you and God. And he
warned us not to participate if we would not be willing to make a
change in our life because if God does reveal something and you are not
willing to do something about it you would be better off not knowing
about it at all. I prayed and God did reveal something and I was
devastated, just as Keith warned I would be, if there was something and
I was unwilling to do something about it. Keith said you would feel so
small you would feel like you could fit through the crack under the
door and I did.
Though it took me a year and a half of struggle and much prayer and
anguish over it, I finally did give God the thing He asked of me. It
basically embodied my whole life and the plans I had made for myself
and my future and I was appalled that God would ask so much of me.
However, true to His word, after I had done this I found that I began
having a relationship with God that was not possible prior to my
obedience. And I began to learn things directly from God such as I had
never before been able to in spite of growing up in church because now
I was spending time with Him and was hungry to learn which I had not
been before this. This act of obedience was similar for me to what God
asked of Abram to leave his family and go to an unknown land etc. I was
giving up what I knew for whatever God had for me. But I began to learn
from God amazing things and this learning relationship and intimacy
with God has continued to this day.
Unfortunately, I also discovered in my growing experience that I was
becoming a mystery to other Christians and even, perhaps especially, to
Christian leaders. I began to be looked at with suspicion and would
eventually be asked to stay away from different churches and groups
because they thought I was bad for their people or something. (At one
church for example, group of young guys I was hanging around and
playing music with told me that they learn more from me about God in a
half hour of talking with me than in all the Bible lessons at their
church put together. This sort of thing made the leaders feel
threatened and very unhappy with me.) I experienced things that
helped me understand what Jesus meant about being hated without a cause
and accused of being of the devil etc. One of the chief reasons given
by one leader who has since then become senior pastor of this large and
prominent church in the town I was in, same one with the guys who liked
me above, was he said I was dangerous because I claim that “God talks
to me”. (I guess I didn’t yet even know the scripture where Jesus says
“My sheep hear my voice..,” or else I might have used it then in my
defense.) They are sort of Baptist in background if not in actual name
but that is what that church is identical to though they claim to be a
nondenominational “community church” by title. Anyway, they teach osas
just like Baptists and they teach that the additional baptism of the
Holy Spirit and the gifts that are more supernatural in nature were for
the original apostles and not active today. John Mac Arthur teaches
like this and he was high on their list of favorite teachers etc.
I had been raised Lutheran and was with my Lutheran group at that
concert but after my obedience to God in this thing, I began seeking
and learning beyond my own church and learned much about things of God
not taught in these first couple churches, including how God moves in
the gifts of the spirit – all of them…
What I have learned from this is that many who think they are following
Jesus are in fact not. They persecute those who are. They make up their
own belief system and teach it to others with authority yet it is not
what Jesus taught.
I would ask you to consider this situation and then I have a question:
6. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7. Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.
Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
There is yet much in our lives that Jesus could say verse 7 about. We
must trust Him whether we understand His motives or not because He is
Lord and we will understand “hereafter”.
So, the question is, what is so important with this incident that it
could make Jesus say that Peter would have no part with Him if he
doesn’t let Him wash his feet? Was not Peter a believer? Here is what I
believe this means: Jesus is Lord, and we must have a relationship of
trust with Him. That means whatever He wants to do we should be willing
to let Him do. If we refuse to let Him do something we at that moment
are placing our self above Jesus and rejecting His lordship over us.
This is because we do not trust Him but think that we know what is
right for us and can call the shots. Jesus says that to do this is to
break ties with Him to the point that you have no part with Him if you
insist on crossing that line.
Many Christians never have even enough of a relationship with Jesus to
even hear His voice enough to decide whether to trust Him in something
He says or not. They think Jesus is a character in a book whom we pray
to but never hear back from. “My sheep hear My voice…” is just a
metaphor for reading the Bible or going to church to hear sermons about
Him and try to behave according to what they learn etc.
Some people teach that all that is necessary is that we “believe” in
Jesus and we are saved. This passive word for “believe” was not used in
the Bible but rather an action word where mere mental ascent was not
enough. Many of the Pharisees “believed” in Jesus but they would not
“confess” (act upon it) Him because they did not want to be put out of
the synagogue. Do you expect to see those kinds of Pharisees in the
rapture or in heaven? I sure don’t. Neither do I expect to see anyone
today who says they “believe” in Jesus but they also will not confess
Him, that is allow Him to actually call the shots in their lives
because they also don’t want to lose their current station in life that
would be jeopardized by actually letting Jesus be Lord over them. They
may not believe that such a relationship is possible or if it is
possible then at least it is not necessary but may be for those who
want extra credit.
I learned later that when I did that thing that God asked of me at the
concert, I was doing what is called in 2 Peter “add to your faith
VIRTUE”. I already had faith but had to add to my faith the thing that
God asked me for that night. It was faith that enabled me to do the
virtue. I could just as easily have said NO to God about that thing and
thereby not added the virtue and then that faith would have been like
what James described as faith without the action which is dead being
alone. But I did the virtue and obeyed God and once I had added virtue
to my faith, then to that virtue I began to be able to add knowledge. I
began to learn truths from the Holy Spirit that I did not learn from
men but it was meat directly from God. To that knowledge I was then
able to add self control and to the self control I was able to add
endurance and on down the list. Peter says IF these things be in you
and abound you are truly saved and will have the knowledge that he says
salvation is through; through the knowledge of Him and this makes you
ready for the rapture, (my paraphrase) but if you lack these things
then you are blind (a characteristic of the Laodicean church).
The Pharisees knew that Jesus rose from the grave or else they would
have gone to the grave and produced the dead body and ended
Christianity right then once and for all. They paid money with
instructions to lie about the resurrection that they knew was a fact.
That belief did not save them. Even demons believe and tremble and
their belief does not make them a “believer” in the saved sense. To
trust Jesus involves your whole life daily (I die daily) and a
continued commitment to the end in the same confidence that should have
been present in you the first day you trusted Jesus. To trust Him up to
a point but no further, I believe is to break ties with Him completely
just as Peter was in danger of doing when he refused to let Jesus wash
his feet. Notice I am not even talking here about our “good deeds” or
lack thereof in the usual sense. I’m not talking about drinking beer or
looking at women or any of that.
So you see, this is not about would you leave one of your children
behind if you were moving to a new house because that child misbehaves.
Rather it is about Jesus being the shepherd and His sheep hear His
voice and they follow Him. Another false shepherd they will not follow.
Who are we following? For your analogy of the rebellious child to be
more complete, you would have to introduce an adversary who lies to the
child telling him that you are a bad parent and that you have ill will
toward him and that he should go instead to live with this adversary.
If the child believes this and chooses to go, by an act of his will
with the adversary, will you by force, take him against his will to
safety, or allow his choice to have its consequences? Love, I believe
must leave the person their freedom to choose even if his choice breaks
your heart. To use the prodigal son example, the father did not go find
the son and force him back home but was rejoicing when the son repented
and came back of his own free will. Had the son stayed with the pigs he
would have stayed dead. He would still be a son but he was a dead son.
Some people think and teach that once you are a son of God you cannot
lose your salvation because you cannot undo your sonship or unbirth
your new birth. They fail to heed the warning of the fallen angels
which are also called Sons of God and though still called sons yet they
are fallen. The warning is that you can be a son and still fall. The
other example is of a branch that was broken off. It was once in the
vine but was then broken off.
If I had decided not to give God what He was asking of me would I have
still been classified by God as one of His saints (set apart,
sanctified, holy for God’s use as He sees fit)? I don’t think so. I
would have by my own choice removed myself from that category, don’t
you agree? Would I have been classified by God as a believer in Jesus
when my actions are saying I don’t believe that He has good intentions
toward me but He will ruin my life if I trust Him with it? Abraham
trusted God and it was counted to him for righteousness. God gives
righteousness to those who trust Him but promises destruction to all
who will not trust Him. In this entire test we have an adversary who is
constantly lying to us and feeding us false teaching to make us feel
safe about our choice when in fact we may be in serious danger.
I suggest that we learn to hear the shepherd Jesus and do not trust
mere men and their analogies that may not be scripturally relevant.
I believe time to be very short and soon we all will know what was true about these things.