A Voice in the
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November 19, 2001

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Q/A Topics:
Skimming the Solder Pot (re: Walk-thru: Jeremiah ch6)

READER QUESTION:
I'd like you to elaborate if you could on how or at what point we are to do the skimming. I have not been able to figure out if you meet them at the door with, "Are you saved or not?", or after they have been coming long enough for you to find out they are not Christians, then asked them not to return. i know there's a better way, I just wanted to carry through a little.

VW ANSWER:
The first place I'd recommend reading is at the website:

"Unbelievers in the Assembly"

Also be sure to check out the links at the bottom of that article to a couple of Q/As:

Let's remember Paul's warnings that there would be unbelievers rising up within the body. (Acts20:29-30) and Jesus' words how the weeds would be coexisting along with the wheat, and the servants were told NOT TO go weeding (Mt13:24-30), lest while weeding, real wheat got pulled out, too, in the process. But that the separation would take place at the Judgment.

However, weeding (skimming) DOES take place. Back before my unequal yoke departed (before I realized that she -was- an unequal yoke), we had occasion to visit a small family-style home church; and they specifically (nicely/politely) uninvited us from future meetings.

But typically, what happens usually is that the weeds either weed themselves out, or they kick the wheat out. That is, when the wheat are growing healthy. There will typically be one of two scenarios that occur:

1) If the pastor is faithfully preaching/teaching God's Word in a congregation that is mostly unregenerate, what often happens is that various factions within the congregation begin stirring things up, get the caldron of 'politics' whipped up into a frenzy. The pastor is persecuted in various ways. Typically, they will get him ousted, and/or, there will be enough Bible believers in the group that will leave with the pastor as they begin their own smaller group.

If the pastor and congregation are unregenerate, and there is a lone (or handful of) Believer/s who is sticking to God's Word, the Believer is usually discerned by the group as being different. If they are not successful in getting him watered down in either his doctrine or practice, they will typically politic him out...or persecute him until he does leave.

2) If the pastor is faithfully preaching/teaching God's Word in a congregation that is mostly Believers, but there are also factions within the congregation that are unregenerate... if the unregenerates are not able to stir things up sufficiently to water down the pastor's teaching, or cause the Believers to become wishy-washy, then they typically agitate... and eventually 'they' leave. Or, if their agitation becomes severe enough, and the pastor and congregation are 'strong' enough in the Word and Faith, they will convene some sort of council ("two or three" etc -Mt18:15-20) to remove them from membership, etc. as the situation warrants.

This does not necessarily become a situation where the Believers are continually going around, checking everybody else out with the thoughts, "Are you a Believer?" If the pastor and congregation are firmly established on God's Word, the unbelievers will manifest themselves for what/who they are. Remember, Jesus said that they would be known "by their fruits". (Mt7:16,20) Some time back we used to speak of "changelings". A Star Trek (DS-9) alien "species" who had the ability to appear and act like anything. But periodically they needed to regenerate in their indigenous gelatinous state. They could "hold their shape" only so-long, and eventually, if a person could observe them continuously (if they were prevented from sneaking off in private), their true identity would be known, because they HAD TO have this regeneration cycle. The same with pretend christians. They can pretend only so-long, and eventually, their true natures come out.

What is the time-frame for this pretending? It might take several years before the unbeliever's true identity is known for sure... or to where the separation comes. (For my marriage it was 15 years!) But I know of a pastor who moved to a congregation. There were some initial politics due to a former pastor that some of the people worshipped. But once those issues were squared away it seemed like things were moving along fairly smoothly. But then, periodically, 'this' individual got stirred up and left. Then, 'that' individual stirred things up and a council would be convened to remove them. And these things took a couple/three years to get to the point where these people were no longer part of the assembly. But the pastor is one who sticks to the Scriptures...and he apparently has a core of devoted Believers. And, while the group is smaller now because of those who are gone, apparently there is now a richer fellowship in the Holy Spirit within the group that remains.

Each group is unique. But when the "two or three" gather to deal with their own unique situation, the Holy Spirit will guide them. When decisions are made, the wisdom comes from above. It is in the context of what is often called "church discipline" that Jesus said, "Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be, having been bound in Heaven; and whatever you loose on earth will be, having been loosed in Heaven." (Mt18:18)

As for your question, "do you meet them at the door and query them?" I don't have an answer for that. I don't know if there is a Scriptural precedent on the matter. It does sound like unbelievers would come into the meetings. (1Cor14:23) But, perhaps, just as there was a "place set apart for the unlearned" (1Cor14:16), a new person coming in would be ushered to a special place for "newbies"? Just thinking out loud...

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Here Fishy! Here Fishy! (re: Walk-thru: Jeremiah ch6)

READER QUESTION:
I would have thought that meetings for the exposition of scripture (as opposed to church meetings which should be for born again members only) would be fully acceptable. Otherwise how will the unsaved hear the gospel unless by radio or reading the scriptures.

Perhaps because you have not given details of your conversation, I am not following your point?

VW ANSWER:

You ask:
Otherwise how will the unsaved hear the gospel unless by radio or reading the scriptures.

Answer:
By making "house calls" ... understood in the context of that Portion.

When Jesus invited, "Come unto Me...I will give you rest" (Mt11:28) He was not inviting, "Come to church..." How were the servants told to fill the banquet? "Go into the hiways...and invite them" (Mt22:9) The "great commission" does not say, Set up a meeting place and advertise and when (and only when) they come into your building, then (and only then) give them the gospel. This doctrine that says they must come to a meeting, in order that they can "go forward" at the "altar call" is nothing more or less than Catholicism under other labels. Jesus commissioned, "You shall be witnesses TO ME both in Jerusalem...and to the ends of the earth." (Acts1:8) That means GOING to where they are. Why should an unbeliever EVEN WANT TO "go to" a building some place, unless he is a "new creation" (2Cor5:17) and WANTS TO be with other Believers?

Today what is called "soul winning" attempts to increase numbers within a building and on registration rolls. Jesus' invitation was TO "Himself". Our commission is to be witnesses "to Jesus". When people see us, they need to see that we are "with Jesus". (Acts4:13b) If the Believer is being faithful, they will see "Christ -in- you" (Col1:27)

Jesus said that He was calling His servants to be "fishers of men" (Mt4:19). Well, I have yet to hear of anybody who set up their meal table, set out the plate with fork and knife and the seasonings and called out, "Here fishy, here fishy...come along now and jump up onto my plate" The fish's nature is to remain in the water where his natural habitat is. If you want to catch fish, you go -to- the water where the fish reside, and catch them.

Yes, I know, this was a stupid, crude illustration. But, do you get the point?

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What? No "Local" Church?

READER QUESTION:
My friend quoted the scriptures of Mark 9:38-41 and Luke 9:49-50 to support the local church that requires membership instead of meeting together in Christ's name. He and the baptist churches believe in the "local church" by the membership which I do not to agree with... I see is that there is one church made up of believers in the eyes of Lord but meet together in various places over the world without membership which the clubs or lodges requires to have... I am not sure those quoted scriptures from my friend really means.

VW ANSWER:
Huh? That's the first I've heard of those passages 'supporting' church membership. Typically, they spout out verses like (Acts2:41, 5:14, and others) that speak of "adding to" the group. Oh yes, and... "bring the tithe into the storehouse" (Mal3:10) The "storehouse", of course, is (to them) the "local church". That way, the pastor's salary is continually assured, and he doesn't have to worry about being fed by ravens and widows (1Ki17:4,6, 9~) and living by faith. Oh, sorry...my cynicism is showing.

What we tend to see in the NT, other than the Believing Jews who met in synagogues, until the hierarchy would become jealous of their large followings and persecute them out, was little home groups all over the place. It was the group "that is in their house" (Rom16:5 1Cor16:19 Col4:15)

But as for the passages in question... (Dear subscriber, please look them up) To summarize: the disciples see somebody else casting out demons in Jesus' name, and the disciples rebuked them because they were not following in Jesus' immediate presence along with them. ("with us" Mk9:38) And Jesus responds, "Do not forbid him, for no one who does a work of power in My name will soon afterward be able to speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our behalf." (vs39-40)

Well...doesn't the reading actually teach the -opposite- of "local" church, as your friend is saying? Were not the disciples condemning "those others" -over-there- for not being -here-..."with us"? And Jesus countermands that idea? Is the work of God a matter of "location", or of it being "in Jesus' name"? Jesus said in Jn10:16 "And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must lead, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one Shepherd." That was speaking, of course, of Gentiles. But one who believes into Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, Israeli, American or Chinese... wherever they are... if they are "in Christ" they are "new creations" (2Cor5:17); whether in Jerusalem, Samaria, or the "ends of the earth". (Acts1:8)

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