This Writing is from our Publication, "The Disciples' Beacon", published via email monthly.
Greetings in Jesus name!
In our last edition, we explored the concept of sonship and how it must come before discipleship. We discussed how we become sons and daughters, and also how impossible it is to earn sonship. Being adopted into Sonship by the redemptive work of Jesus on Calvary is the foundation of our Christian life, everything we build upon that foundation will only be as sound or secure as this initial concept. That is why we emphasize it, prioritize it, and vigorously promote it. Sonship has been ignored, diminished, and misrepresented in much of the Anabaptist world in favor of a works based, doctrine oriented, and law centered cultural framework, and it has imperiled the entire Anabaptist superstructure. I can't emphasize enough how much generational damage can occur when the foundation is undermined in favor of the promotion of a heritage, rather than a life! Our Anabaptist heritage has incredible value, but IT IS NOT THE FOUNDATION! It is the superstructure and framework for building our lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ. This MUST be clearly understood and accepted, before it is of any value for the kingdom of God.
So, in this edition of Disciples' Beacon, we will once again dig deep into the foundation, but instead of assessing whether we are sons, servants or orphans, we will rather go another step back to determine if you are a born again, adopted child of God or just a religious person; pious, but still unsaved. As with the previous discussion, what we will write here may come across as abrasive, even offensive, but we're not seeking to cause trouble, and we're not bashing the Anabaptists or Hutterites. We only seek to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ and speak the truth in love. Being a Hutterite Anabaptist myself, I have a deep appreciation for our culture and heritage, but also a thorough understanding of our weaknesses and failures. To gloss over or hush up the pitfalls in our heritage is, in my opinion, dishonest. When we read the Bible, or even the Hutterite Chronicles, they make no attempt to hide the shortcomings and failures of even their best, even so must we do the same. It is more authentic, so please bear with me. I pray for understanding minds, because we can't afford to remain quiet any longer on this issue. We must speak, but will do so with love and deep care for our people.
Your brother in Christ, Reuben A Walter
Have You Been Saved, or are you Religious?
Assessing our position as God's children.
Greetings in the Name of Jesus,
This months writing is based on the following passages from Scripture: Mark 10:45; John 1:29; Acts 13:39; 1Cor 15:3; 2Cor. 5:21; Gal 1:4; Gal. 3:13; Titus 2:14; 1Pet. 2:24; 1John 2:2; 1John 3:5; One needs to read them to appreciate what the context of this writing is about.
We began this publication and series with the assumption that those who will read them are born again Christians, but the Spirit has prompted me to not take this for granted. Even though our primary focus is discipleship; the development and growth of God's children, we must NOT skip over the most essential part. Some who read these messages may believe they are Christians, but in reality they have never known Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord, or experienced new birth, adoption, and sonship. So instead of assessing the 3 kinds of children of God, we will instead focus on the Biblical new birth and how one becomes a child of God.
Having said that, God has been pressing upon my heart that we need to not only highlight the necessity of the biblical new birth, we need to establish TWO separate salvation plans, as far-out as this sounds. But after much meditation, I am now fully convinced --- for two very important reasons! The first is the new birth has been cheapened down to verbal consent to a belief by much (not all) of western Christianity; and the second is the new birth is sadly misrepresented in much (not all) of the conservative Anabaptist world. We basically have two kinds of people in the world (apart from true Christians); they are the Jews (religious), and the gentiles (non-religious). One kind lives without God and though they may even acknowledge Him, they basically run their lives apart from Him and His authority. These are the gentiles. The other kind are the people who acknowledge the God of the Bible, believe in eternal life and eternal punishment, and live by a system of beliefs, laws and religious ceremonies to try and please God, thus making them eligible for eternal life. These are the Jews. Their modern counterparts include the Anabaptists, Roman Catholics, and numerous others. The Primary reason we need TWO separate salvation plans is BECAUSE one group needs to be saved from their UNRIGHTEOUSNESS and wickedness, while the other group needs to be saved from their OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS and false security. This calls for two different approaches to the same universal problem! Man's sin and his total and complete inability to save himself. My own experience taught me that my faith in God and His redemption plan was misunderstood and taken for granted for many years of my Christian life, thus it affected my view of sonship for nearly 14 years.
In This Edition, We explain why the Jews (religious) are in the same desperate need of redemption as are the gentiles. Rom. 3:9-19
Growing up in Hutterite culture, it was automatically assumed that once a young person was "of age" they should change their lives and get baptized. Baptism was and still is in most Hutterite communities the initiation into the church and once someone was baptized and made a covenant, he or she was a Christian. There was and still is much emphasis on confession of sins to a minister, learning a catechism, memorizing a confession of faith, and making a commitment at baptism, and these were what made one a (Christian). There was and still is much emphasis on improving lives, changing, repenting, etc, which all sounds good and right on the surface, but is still a long ways from Biblical sonship and new birth. Many Anabaptist circles are full of people who went through the above steps, made a covenant with God and the church, but have no idea what it means to be born again, adopted, and given the gift of eternal life. (The evidence of this truth is overwhelming, but we will not elaborate)
Many believe they're a Christian because they repented of their sins, stopped drinking, stealing, swearing and other bad things? One can stop doing all these and still be hopelessly lost! Indeed, we must be sorry for and turn away from our sins, that's biblical and necessary! But it doesn't go far enough. We must turn AWAY from our sin, BUT THEN turn TO Jesus! John 6:37 & v.45 Not to the traditions and rules, not to baptism and church commitment, not to dress codes and memorized confessions, but to Faith in Jesus! He is the ONE who shed His blood for us, He is the ONE who paid for our sins, He is the ONE who ransomed us from eternal damnation, He is the ONE who reconciles us to the Father and saves us, He is the ONE who laid down His life for us! He is the ONE who lived a sinless life to Qualify to BE the LAMB of GOD. Therefore, He alone is door to eternal life; John 10:9 He alone redeems us, justifies us, and translates us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son, Col. 1:13, and there is NO OTHER WAY to be rescued. This is the foundation upon which the rest of our Christian lives are built. It is this foundation that has been sadly misrepresented by thousands of my people, and the results have been tragic. How can the house endure if the foundation is undermined? How can one live a Christian life when they're NOT EVEN A CHRISTIAN? It doesn't make sense, and it can't work! It is like dressing up a pig with a sheepskin and calling it a sheep! The NATURE has not changed. This has resulted in so much condemnation, anxiety, depression, oppression, addictions, divisions, bitterness, fear and devastation in our Anabaptist circles. Many are sincerely trying to live Christian lives, but aren't born again, and are basically trying to reform the old man, the man of sin.
You and I have about as much chance of saving ourselves from hell-fire, judgment, or our sins as we would have floating in the middle of the Pacific ocean! It is IMPOSSIBLE to save or redeem ourselves. Living in a colony, keeping the rules and dress codes, thinking it saves us is a deception. Why? Because it gives people a false sense of security, where one feels justified by following a religious protocol rather than faith in Christ's redemptive work. It was completely pointless for Jesus to come to earth, live among us for 33 years, be mocked, tortured, crucified, and rise again on the third day, if anyone believes they are made right with God by rituals, rules, or religion! Satan uses the same tactic to keep millions of Roman Catholics trapped in a dead religion. He used the same strategy to keep most Jews from believing in Jesus. They didn't believe in or accept Him because they had their religion and laws down pat, and He was breaking their traditions. He was preaching that faith in Him was the only way to get saved! He was telling them man needs a new heart, a renewed mind, and a new beginning to be able to live the Christian life. He needs to be "born of the Spirit." Keeping rules and living under strict traditions may have value in keeping unsaved people in check, BUT will NEVER change a human heart! That needs a divine operation.
Jesus is still a Stumbling Block to Religion
Israel had a remarkable zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. Instead of submitting themselves to the righteousness of God, they went about to establish their own righteousness. Rom. 10:1-4 They observed the Mosaic law, were meticulous with what they ate, careful to walk only a certain amount of steps on the Sabbath, made a big ado about the clothes they wore, observed strict rules of conduct, practiced circumcision and Jewish customs; and they even did mission work, but were ENEMIES of Christ! They HATED Jesus because He brought a shift, a new path that clashed with their established ways. What He offered was so revolutionary, so obnoxious to the Jews, they sought for ways to destroy Him in his very first year of ministry.
Brethren, it is still the same today. Like the Jews of Jesus' day, the good news gospel has no place in many conservative communities because it sets men free! John 8:32; Rom. 8:2 It has no place because it allows the individual to access our heavenly Father directly through Jesus. John 14:6 It has no place because it requires people to admit that all their "own righteousness" is basically filthy rags! Isa. 64:6 It requires them to believe their strict way of life has not saved them. 1Pet. 1:18-19 The good news has no place because it requires people to accept that the church/community is not their salvation. The good news has no place because the gospel of Jesus Christ interferes with tradition, the doctrines and commandments of men whereby thousands are ensnared and enslaved by peer pressure, fear, and intimidation! Mark 7:6-13 That is why Jesus Christ is such a stumbling block, such an offence to religion --- He sets men FREE!
It's time to be honest and admit "the emperor he has no clothes on."
There are ministers in the communities who are afraid to speak about Jesus! Many forbid their people to talk about Him or do personal Bible study to get to know Him! How can one get to know the Author of Salvation and eternal LIFE if he/she doesn't read and study the Bible? Thousands upon thousands falsely believe that if they stay in the church, (ark) obey the rules and dress right, they are secure and will go to heaven. They are held in bondage to a commitment they made at baptism, that if they leave the church, they are lost! This teaching is holding captive thousands, while deceiving thousands more. My people, it is time to be gripped by the gravity of this and turn to the Bishop of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord.
We must say the same about the false belief that one has to take his/her sins to the preacher in order to be prayed over and forgiven. NO, NO, NO! Confessing sins is a Biblical concept and necessary, but in no way does confession take away our sins, nor the intercession of a minister. The Bible says, there is ONE GOD, and ONE MEDIATOR between God and men, the MAN, CHRIST JESUS. 1Tim. 2:5. Confessing sins may give a temporary relief, but does not take away the shame and guilt, nor does it reconcile us to God, only Jesus does that. For there is NO other name given among men by whom we must be saved! Acts 4:12 Jesus said, I come to set you FREE! John 8:36. Free from what? He sets us free from our guilt, our shame, our rebellion, our condemnation, our addictions, and the penalty of our sins. He erases them and washes them away by His own blood. Dear young person, have you been washed by the Blood of the Lamb? Dear Anabaptist elder, brother, sister, are you trapped by depression? Bitterness? Anger? Unforgiveness? Are you anxious and fearful of death? Are you broken inside and miserable? Is the load of your sins too heavy for you? Are you hurting and wounded from oppression and dead religion? COME to JESUS! Mat. 11:28-30 He will never let you down. HE is the only one who can save us! HE is the ONLY one who shed His blood for us! Don't wait, don't delay!
The Solution According to the Scriptures
Open the word of God! Call upon the name of the LORD! Rom. 10:13 He will give you a new heart, a new mind. He will take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Eze 36:35-37; He will make you into a new creation; 2Cor 5:17. He will restore those wasted years; Joel 2:25, and will cause you to walk in His ways. He will bring you peace and give you rest; Mat. 11:29,30. He will heal your mind and deliver you from your addictions; Luke 4:18 He will set you free from the law of sin and death; Rom. 8:2He will give you eternal life; John 10:28; John 17:2.He will forgive you and blot out all your sins; Acts 26:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14. He will adopt you and receive you as His very own child; Rom. 8:14-16; Gal. 4:5-7 He will take away your guilt and condemnation; Rom. 8:1. He will give you hope and a future; He will give you the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide and empower you; John 14:16-18 He will clear your conscience from dead works to help you serve the living God; Heb. 9:14. He will give you abundant life, John 10:10, and out of your belly shall flow rivers of living water; John 7:48; All this and more is promised to all religious people who are bound under the law, and come to the saving grace and faith of Jesus Christ our Lord. Gal. 4:5, You will then be no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God. Eph.2:19
When that happens, we are then able to start living for Jesus in a love relationship. We then choose to follow Him into discipleship knowing we are His adopted and begotten children. We then pursue the kingdom of God, baptism, church commitment, and fellowship with the saints of God..., because we have been given a new beginning, a new life, and an unfailing hope.
If anyone finds this message offensive, we urge you to at least open the Bible, look up the references we highlighted, and ask God to open up His life giving word to you. You will see that what we write is true. It will be life changing. How would you feel if your doctor diagnosed you with cancer, then lied to you that everything was fine, just stop drinking and eat healthier? His job is to diagnose and tell you the truth of the diagnosis, then offer a solution. What we are offering here is THE solution to man's inherent problem, SIN! His name is JESUS! He IS the treatment for our cancer! He is the Surgeon who performs the heart surgery and restores us. Every adopted child of God who reads this writing will bear witness that this is so, amen.
Please share this message with your friends and loved ones, eternity is at stake.
Reuben A Walter.