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February 12, 1997

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Changelings/Pretend Christians - "Do Not Lay Hands Hastily"

Hello Everyone...

I woke up the other morning with thoughts on my heart about someone who has been writing me frequently recently. He had made some queries about various things in the past; but recently the offering "5 Wise-5 Foolish" really got him riled up...particularly, since I was not accepting his views. And furthermore, he was practically insisting that I should recant some of my statements publicly to all of you, because I had now heard the "truth" [from him]. When I expressed that I would never recant the proclamation of God's Truth, well...to make a long story short, at his request he is no longer on the VW mailing list. (And...in case you're wondering. No. None of his comments appeared in that Q/A)

Now, the point of this note is not to talk about this individual. But his performance provides us with a prime "object lesson" for something Paul wrote. Something we need to be alert to. Some of you write to me, expressing that you may be leaving your "church" to begin a home fellowship. Others of you fellowship in "small" churches where the workers are few, and if someone comes along who looks like a "worker" you would like to get them involved in the ministry.

Paul wrote, "Do not lay hands on anyone hastily... (1 Tim 5:22) What is Paul saying? "Laying on of hands" was a Jewish custom which the early Church (made up of Jews) practised when dedicating someone for a specific service. (Acts6:6,13:3)

The person mentioned above, when he first came on board, "appeared" to be a Christian. He even had a pseudonym that gave the impression that he was well-versed in Scriptures. But in the end, his true colors became apparent. John writes, that they leave because they were never "of us" in the first place. (1Jn2:19)

When a person shows up at your fellowship and sounds like a Christian, the temptation is going to be to use him for service, because you are desperately short-handed. But Paul advises to "wait." "Do not lay hands...hastily."

Why does he say this? Well, these "pretend christians" are like "Changelings" (for you "Deep Space-9" fans) Their natural state is liquid, but they can hold certain shapes. However, they can only hold those shapes for so many hours, before they must revert to their liquid state for rejuvenation. If you watch a Changeling long enough, he will eventually show his true state. So, too, with a "stranger" coming in; "time" will tell.

Paul says again, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test [prove] yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?; unless indeed you are disqualified." (2 Cor 13:5) And, "Test all things; hold fast what is good. (1 Th 5:21) And again John writes, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1)

Why would John, the Apostle of "Love" instruct thusly? Satan is THE "master changeling." "Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light." And so, we can expect his servants to appear as "christians" too. "Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness..." And you notice their outcome..."whose end will be according to their works." (2Cor11:14-15)

Paul described "how" the changelings would come. "..savage wolves will come IN AMONG YOU, not sparing the flock." Not only will they come in and "join in" with the flock, but "...also from AMONG YOURSELVES men will rise up, speaking perverse things..." (Acts 20:29-30) They will actually be what appear to be "christians" being an integral part of the "church" having gone through all the rituals expected of them to become members in good standing, and whatever else people tend to look at.

Sorry! Those of you who are in the habit of opening your arms "wide" to accept everybody in and put them to work. That's not a wise policy! It sometimes takes "time" to sort out who is and who isn't a True Christian. Lest you be concerned about driving people away, be assured of this; if the person is "worth" having around, they will understand a certain "trial-wait" period. If, on the other hand, they get readily upset or offended...well, right there you may have a "red flag" that tells you something. And, if you get the wrong person in there, and later realize they need to be removed...don't be surprised when the church splits in the process.

This concept applies to "baby Christians" too. Paul writes, "not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil." (1 Tim 3:6)

Far too often a "celebrity" claims to become a "christian" and everybody immediately flocks to them to hear their wisdom. Wrong plan! It doesn't matter how old physically they may be, nor how well-known they may be. They need time to "grow up" (Eph 4:15) and to "Know Christ" (Phil3:10). That does not happen overnight.

When Saul/Paul was first converted, he astounded people with "his" wisdom. He "disputed" with the Hellenists. He was a learned Pharisee (Acts22:3) and was relying on his own wisdom. But when he was sent away for a while to Tarsus, it says the church had "peace." (Acts9:29-31) And once he had been in the wilderness for three years, learning from the Lord (Gal1:17-18), he was then prepared for ministry.

Does everybody need to go to Bible School? No. But "TIME" is needed to get to know Christ. And "TIME" is needed for a fellowship of Believers to know the true colors of a new member.

God's Grace and Peace to you all!
Paul


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