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BIBLE PROPHECY
A Beginning of Global Governance - #1 in a series
Prophetic Signs that we are in the End Times
The Earth Charter's Spiritual Agenda - #2 in a Series
The New Age Influence at the United Nations - #3 in a Series
Jesus is the Messiah Prophesied in the Old Testament
Like a Thief in the Night - The Rapture of the Church
The Coming War of Gog and Magog, an Islamic Invasion?
Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Prophecy Comparison
The Millennial Kingdom
There will be False Christs
Is the E.U. the Revived Roman Empire?
Should We Study End-Time Prophecy?
Apostasy and the Laodicean Dilemma
Christian Tracts
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Contender Ministries highly recommends Dr. Gary Frazier's new book "It Could Happen Tomorrow - Future Events That will Shake the World".  This is a must read for every Christian, and will be an invaluable guide to the end-times for anyone interested in Bible prophecy.

 

This book will not only inform you, it will inspire you and challenge you to increased evangelistic consciousness, greater missionary concern, and a desire to live a holy life in an unholy age.
    - Tim Lahaye, co-author of the New York Times Bestselling Series Left Behind

Don't Be A Stumbling Block


    By Ben Rast

    Contender Ministries

    August 13, 2004


 "Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way."

 - Romans 14:13
 

One of the more popular features at Contender Ministries seems to be the mailbag.  Some people who email us have praise, while others spew hate.  Some people make thoughtful criticisms of our beliefs; while others run on so incoherently we simply can’t interpret what is being said.  Among the most troubling emails we receive are those who come from people professing to be Christians.  In their zeal to contend for what they feel is right, some become so militant that their witness is, to say the very least, undermined. 

 

Whether the issue is Bible translations, water baptism, or the rapture, some points of contention are made into swords of division that lay waste to congregations, run roughshod over the faith of new believers, and chase unbelievers in the wrong direction.  Of course we agree that there are doctrinal issues upon which we make a stand, but there’s a line between apologetics and needlessly divisive arguments.  Let me share just a few examples.

 

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

 

 

In response to my first article on the King James Only (KJO) controversy, we received several emails from a man who said, “i'm sure you are familiar with Matthew 24:4 and you just did your little part, for your own sake i hope it WAS just plain pride and ignorance... There is no compromise my friend, and unless you don't care if He ‘spits you out’ you better straighten out with Him while today is still called today.”  It should be noted that Matthew 24:4 warns against being deceived by false christs, so this fellow Christian essentially called us false christs for defending some modern translations (NIV and NASB) against illogical and poorly supported attacks.  Some KJO proponents wrote us emails that were so inflammatory, we responded privately but chose not to post their emails in the mailbag.  It isn’t just the KJO “laity” whose fruits of the Spirit have withered on the branches.  Well known KJO authors epitomize the brashness of the militant KJO.  KJO advocate Texe Marrs called Christian apologist James R. White “a devil” and “a servant of Satan,” because White documented twenty-eight pages of errors in Gail Riplinger’s book, New Age Bible Versions.  KJO activist Peter Ruckman, in The Bible Believer’s Bulletin of August 1994, page 9, made this constructive comment directed toward White, “Blow it out your nose, kid.  Out here in the traffic you’re liable to get run over.  Stick to fairy tales.”  Ruckman engages in even more outrageous vitriol in his attacks on non-KJO Christians, but this article isn’t about KJO militants.  Other issues bring extremists out of the woodwork as well. 

 

It’s quite common for us to hear from those who feel that baptism is absolutely required for salvation, a position we simply don’t find biblical.  Rarely do we find someone arguing – not that water baptism is simply unnecessary for salvation – but that it’s actually evil.  However, this quote comes from one such email, “Religious teachers who defend or perform water baptisms are the liars and deceivers that Jesus, His prophets and His apostles warned about over and over again… John called all water baptizers ‘antichrist’ and anyone who wants to be saved must first run from these people… Wake up or you too will perish in the lies and slander against the Sovereignty and Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Eschatology (the study of end-times prophecy) is a field in which a variety of different opinions can find some support in Scripture.  Concerning the rapture of believers, we’ve made no secret of the fact that we find the most biblical support for a pre-tribulation rapture.  Others believe in a mid-tribulation (pre-wrath) rapture, and others a post-tribulation rapture.  The timing of the rapture is not a doctrine on which a person’s salvation hangs.  As long as we follow Jesus’ admonitions to be prepared for the last days and guarded against the deception of Antichrist, then it’s not terribly important which rapture view you find most convincing.  Our feelings are that we should all be prepared to be taken to heaven without notice, yet be strong enough to endure tribulation without letting our faith falter.  Yet we recently received an email from a woman who told us that we are in danger of being condemned to hell for espousing a pre-tribulation view of the rapture!

 

The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:23, NIV).  Titus 3:9 says, “But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless.”  Are all arguments “foolish and stupid”?  No, not all.  We must all take a stand on key doctrines of faith, especially where salvation is concerned.  However, we must never forsake the witness we present.  Those in the cults to whom we are trying to present the gospel are watching us.  Many of these cults have strict dogma from which there is no diversion.  A strictly unified dogma among Bible-believing Christians is not likely to occur, so we must focus instead on how we handle the disagreements on doctrine.  Is the disagreement a matter of a key doctrine of salvation?  If so, then firmly, but lovingly present your arguments.  Is the debate over doctrines that don’t relate to the nature of God and salvation?  Then it’s probably best to agree to disagree, and acknowledge each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.  If we handle our disagreements with love and respect, the unbelievers will notice this. 

 

A new Christian wrote to us in distress.  A KJO friend had told him that his NIV Bible is a “perversion,” and not a real Bible.  That NIV Bible had been instrumental in this young man’s life as he came to Christ.  Hearing that Bible impugned in such a way made this young man question his salvation.  After spending some time emailing back and forth, it was clear that this wonderful new believer was indeed a new brother in Christ, and I was able to get him to accept his NIV as an accurate rendering of the Word of God.  A Christian from Southeast Asia emailed us and told us how his church had been torn apart by a couple of KJO proponents who chased off the pastor and divided the congregation.  It is only because of the destructive results of the KJO militants that our ministry engages in this debate.  This should be an issue on which Christians can lovingly agree to disagree. 

 

How we live our lives is as important a witness as the gospel we share.  How we treat one another is just as important as how we treat the unbeliever.  We share a gospel of a Savior who changes lives – a Savior who left us with the Holy Spirit to guide us and counsel us on how to live.  We are to bear the fruits of the Spirit.  When we don’t, then the message we share is hollow and without meaning. 

 

Some Christians judge others by the Bible translation they use.  Some judge congregations based on whether the ladies wear pants or dresses.  Some Christians love a strict liturgy, and look down condescendingly on those who raise their hands toward heaven in church.  Baptism required for salvation?  Women wearing makeup?  King James or NIV?  Electric guitars or pipe organs?  Pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture?  There are a variety of positions taken on these issues, all by born again Christians.  Sometimes the embers of disagreement are fanned into the flames of division, and we must stop to ask ourselves, “Is this argument central to the issue of salvation, or is this a foolish and needlessly divisive controversy?”  We need to ask this question before we become militant in our approach to the issue.  Irrespective of the answer, we must never forsake the greatest commandment: to love God first and to love one another as ourselves. 

 

In Ephesians 4:15 we are told to speak the truth in love.  Is that your motivation?  What is the motivation for spreading the gospel if not out of love?  Is your love evident in your actions and your words?  John said, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7).  We must never shy away from the truth, but we must always share with love in our hearts.  When we treat everyone (including each other) with love and respect, this provides the best external testimonial evidence to the truth of the gospel we share.

 

 

 


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