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Followers of Jesus Christ Mionistries/ UP WAY PUBLICATIONS    P.O. Box 1015 . Kailua, Hawaii 96734 . (808) 230-8683

VOL.5    No. 11                                                                                  November 15, 2003

If You Love the Lord Jesus Christ

Note for Apostolic Internet Seminary Students in MIN102-: Please click on the link to go to your Lesson Credit Quiz questions for this lesson.


 

Dealing With ZEALOUS Cults

The world at large seeks the energetic, zealous and aggressive salesman or business tycoon and value their time and talents highly. There is a powerful reason for this. The person who displays energy and zeal in aggressively pursuing his or her goals is far more likely to succeed in whatever it may be that they direct their energies toward. 

We see that God also chooses and greatly uses those who will stand strongly, energetically, zealously and aggressively. Take the Apostle Paul, for one example. Here was a man who was not content to sit around with the other Jewish Pharisees and Sanhedrin leaders and discuss the law and the prophets, as many of them did. Nor was he one who felt depressed and defeated by the Roman occupation of his homeland and sat complaining about the unfairness of some parts of the Roman law that were being imposed on the Jews.  He wasn't wringing his hands over that bunch of followers of that phony messiah person, Jesus of Nazareth, whom so many believed to be the Messiah, the Promised One, even the very Son of God. Rather, he saw them in much the same light as the more aggressive Athiests, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons see the followers of the modern equivalent of the first New Testament Church  of the Lord Jesus Christ. He saw them as a bunch of blasphemers and heretical teachers who must be stamped out for the sake of maintaining the purity of teaching the Law and the Prophets. He was not the murderer many preach that he was, but a fanatical religious zealot who stood strongly on what he believed and would energetically, zealously and even aggresively pursue and eradicate this bunch of the followers of Jesus Christ. 

We see how aggressive he was as he participated in the stoning of the early church Deacon Stephen in Acts 7:53-8:4 and the persecution of other followers of Jesus Christ in the Jerusalem area. He believed with all his heart that those people were pursuing a false god or some god other than Jehovah or Yahweh and he saw this as a real danger to the Jewish nation and religion, much as especially Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons and some Baptists see the true biblical followers of Jesus Christ today.
So he set out to do all he could to eradicate and eliminate Christians. Not content with the death of Stephen, he pursued and prosecuted as many believers as he could find in Jerusalem and when he heard that this bunch of Jewish blasphemers, as he believed them to be, were spreading to Damascus, he went to the Sanhedrin and got a letter of authority from them to go to Damascus and bring back every Christian he could find to Jerusalem to be tried for blasphemy and presumably meet the same fate as Stephen, since Rome's soldiers and governor had not stepped in to stop the persecution when Stephen was executed by the Jewish religous leaders without prior approval of the Roman authorities.

But God saw that Saul was sincere. Sincerely wrong but sincere and very strong in his beliefs, very zealous, energetic and aggressive to defend them and to attack those who would dare to teach and preach another doctrine.  He knew that here was a man who, when he was converted, would be one of the greatest missionaries and writers possible for His cause. It was but a very small thing for God to shine the spotlight on the Damascus road and to blind Saul. It was certainly no problem for Him to speak from heaven  so that Saul could hear Him. "Saul, Saul. Why are you so bent on persecuting Me and My followers?" Of course God knew exactly why and just as many of the questions He asks us today are not to find out why we say or do what we do, because He already knows, but rather to cause US to have to think about the reason we are acting, thinking or speaking in the way we are. It may be that Saul had in fact stood at the edge of a crowd of Jesus' followers and heard Him speak, so he recognized the voice from the heavens, but wanted confirmation. 

"Who art Thou, Lord?"

"I am Jesus, whom you, Saul, persecute!" 

Today, the church which really does preach the message of salvation that the original apostles preached is often lacking in the energy, the zeal and the aggressiveness to promote the true message of salvation that brings the genuine new creature in Christ Jesus into being.  But the Jehovah's Witnesses, to whom Jesus Christ is "The Greatest  MAN in the World," but NOT God in the flesh and not divine and the Mormons who actually believe that Satan and Jesus are brothers are very skilled and dedicated at first thoroughly indoctrinating their followers into the various errors they teach and then motivating them to go out and really fulfill the Great Commission with a message foreign to the real Bible message. 

How many times have you had training sessions at which attendance was as strongly promoted as possible and that really explained why we believe what we believe? If you send out your members in pairs, as do the JW's and Mormons, will they be able to counter the errors of the Baptist and other denominations' Only Believe doctrine or the cleverly devised fables of the Mormons or JW's? How about the person who says there is no god at all; that we are all becoming godlike? And more importantly, are they motivated and energetic in going out soul-winning? Will they fulfill the full time scheduled for visitation or will they get discouraged after a few doors are slammed in their faces or a few non-believers ridicule them for even believing in God, or they meet someone who wants to argue doctrine and actually knows more about their doctrinal position than your people? 

Some today question whether or not it is worth the effort to attempt to reach a Jehovah's Witness, Mormon or really dedicated Baptist with the original Bible message. True, it will be difficult and much prayer will be needed. Bear in mind that it was not, at least as far as the Bible says, the witnessing of Christians to Paul which brought him to an about-face and repentance, but a Holy Spirit spectacular event in his life.  But can you believe that there were not a great many prayers going up that God would somehow at the least disarm Saul?  There is an old saying that says that a person "...convinced against his will is of the same persuasion still." If the Apostle Peter had met with saul of Tarsus and tried to convince Saul of the real deity of Jesus, even with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to remind Peter of the prophetic scriptures proving Jesus was the Messiah might not have caused any real change in the belief of Saul that the man was an imposter. But when a brilliand light not only blinded Saul but knocked him off his horse that got his attention - really fast!! Hearing the voice of the Risen Savior, possibly remembering it from having heard Jesus before His crucifixion, he was forced into the admission that there was something happening that only God could do. 

Doubtless, the testimony of the Damascus brother, Ananias, as to how God sent him almost unwillingly to pray for Saul, Saul's own vision of Ananias coming to pray for him  which Ananias confirmed and the healing in response to Ananias' prayer were proof enough to Saul that he was seeing the miracle working power of Almighty God in response to the name Jesus. We see that like other examples of new converts in the book of Acts, he was immediately baptized. No waiting for a convenient time nor for others to want to be baptized at the same time.  Like the Ethiopian eunuch, the household of Cornelius, the household of Lydia and the Philippian jailer, plus the believers in Ephesus, Saul, who became Paul, was baptized immediately and both logic and limited church history indicate that it was done in the Name of Jesus Christ. 
 
 

--  S. M. S.
 
  Acts 17:11
Genesis 3:1-6
  Acts 9:1-22 
Acts 9:17
  John 14:16-17,  John 14:18, 20  John 14:26 John 14:18
Acts 17:11, 2 Timothy 2:15
Yours for Jesus' sake,

Bro. Sam


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