Saturday, December 08, 2007

#2 I Stopped Listening To Exclusive Groups

Hello All,

Before I begin this little diddy, I feel compelled to set the table. Virtually all I have known in my Christian experience is Calvary Chapel styled churches. I began attending Calvary Chapel of Redlands back when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. I went to, and graduated from, Calvary Chapel Of Redlands' Junior High and High School...barely, but graduated nonetheless. Then, I interned at Calvary Chapel of Redlands, right before I went to the Calvary Chapel Bible College. Later, I participated in a Calvary Chapel Church plant in Jerez De La Frontera. So, I say all this to say that I "get" C.C. and I owe and am thankful both to my Pastor Ed Rea, and to Pastor Chuck Smith, who I have greatly benefitted from.

But there was a time when I felt like that was all I could listen to. It had to be Calvary Chapel or endorsed by Calvary Chapel. It's all I felt safe with! I would overhear people talk about so-and-so Pastor from another denomination, and inevitably the "oh, well I heard him say this about this" comment that confirmed that this Pastor could not be trusted! Then, I would hear people talk about such and such Pastor, who was quite celebrated, but then the whisper that he was a "somethingist who believed in an alternate ending to the Bible!"

I am sure that nobody intended this to inspire fear or to intone that these men did not love Jesus Christ. I'm pretty sure that nobody wanted me to snub my nose against these other men because they believed differently than I did in the "Non-Essentials," but that's what began to happen. (By Non-Essentials I am referring to worship style, eschatological belief, teaching style, etc.)

But then something happened. I was listening to my 4 Millionth study on Acts chapter 2, from the 4 Millionth Calvary Chapel Pastor, who was speaking about the exact same thing as the last guy on the radio, even using the same exact illustrations, pointing out the same exact Greek word! I just needed something fresh and different. This opened a huge door for me. I thought, I am going to take a chance. I started listening to another Pastor Chuck...Chuck Swindoll! His messages were exceptionally well crafted and practical in nature. His insights were deep and challenging, something I craved. His love for the Word was obvious and I appreciated his experience. In fact, I want to say that it was Swindoll that turned me on to Charles Spurgeon, whose sermon encyclopedia is one of my most treasured collections.

Then, I took a listen to Pastor Alistair Begg. Every time I listened, I was challenged, not just as a Pastor, but in my vocabulary! His method is completely different, but it inspires me just the same and he loves Jesus too! I would recommend his work on expository preaching to anyone

Throw in R.C. Sproul, Pastor John Piper, Pastor Jack Hayford, Pastor David Jeremiah, Pastor John Macarthur and Pastor Tim Keller and you have some of my favorite teachers in the world! Add to these the wonderful Calvary Chapel teachers who I continue to benefit from: Pastor Jack Abeleen, Pastor Damian Kyle, Pastor James MacDonald, Pastor David Guzik Pastor John Duncan and Pastor Chuck Wooley. These men have all enriched my love for the Word of God but they also taught me something else: I will never agree with anyone all of the time!

But is that the point? Is there anyone infallible, beside the writers of scripture? Is there anyone whose authority exceeds Christ? No, a thousand times no! "Chew on the chicken and spit out the bones!" Each of these men have said something that I have not agreed with. SO WHAT! Do I stop listening and attempting to understand? I pray that would never be the case.

What am I endorsing here? Am I saying to throw aside all discernment and listen to everyone without prejudice? Aren't there some people that I should be aware of who are espousing dangerous belief systems, calling themselves Christian, yet propogating a non-Christian position? The answer is no first, because the answer is yes to the second question! There are things to be careful of, from even the best of men. The scripture tells us to beware of wolves in sheep's clothing, and I am wary of any system of "theology" that would by it's own definition of "spirituality," exclude Christ Himself from being a Christian!

My point here is not to throw all caution to the wind, but it is to beware that fear which would easily label another brother and thus miss out on what God might have to say through them to you! Until someone crosses the line and says something directly against the scriptures, specifically the non-essentials such as the atonement, the Trinity, the salvation of man by grace, through faith alone or the deity of Christ, then that person might have something of value to say.

I hope that as you minister, you might find the freedom to enjoy the various flavors of God's people that have been gifted in wonderful ways for particular congregations, and whose experiences and studies are intended of the Lord, to enrich, not enrage us!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

No comments: