Thursday, January 18, 2007

Suffering and Salvation

Hey Steve,
It was good to talk to you last night(as always). Would you please expound on what you were saying about how we, as Christians are supposed to suffer.

As I mentioned, the central passage I'm basing this on is Romans 8:17. The context of Romans is how the Gentiles are saved, equal to Jews, and all throughout it, Paul speaks about faith. But he mentions suffering at significant junctures, such as Romans 5:1-5, right in the midst of his discussion about how Jesus died for our sins. Then, in 8:17, in discussing how we know we are children of God through the confirmation of the Spirit within us, he says "we have received the inheritance, IF we have joined in his (Jesus') sufferings" We don't receive salvation if we do not participate in Jesus sufferings.

This agrees with what Jesus himself said. Jesus said that we would be his disciple only if we "take up your cross". He said that we would only obtain eternal life if we lose our lives. He said that we would obtain many blessings with following Jesus, but with them persecutions. The beatitudes are all about the suffering receiving God's blessing, while others who received only comfort in this life would get nothing.

So it seems to me that obtaining salvation is not just about believing the right thing or about acting the right way-- although these things are essential. But an essential ingredient is that we must also suffer for the gospel. According to Peter, it does us no good to suffer for what evil things we've done-- that's just justice. But we must go the extra step of suffering for Jesus and the gospel, and then we will obtain salvation.

What kind of suffering? There's many kinds described in Scripture:
-We could be persecuted for standing with Christ
-We could surrender all our possessions for the kingdom
-We could do what we must in Christ, even if it means our family or friends reject us
-We could preach the gospel in a threatening environment
- We could live a life of sacrifice for others, always giving, always surrendering, always looking for the loving thing to do, even if it is not best for ourselves or for our family
-We could surrender our inheritance so we could receive it in Jesus
-We could support and stand with those who are rejected for Jesus' sake, even if we get tarred with the same brush
We can tear out a part of ourselves to avoid sin

And more and more. The opportunities to suffer abound. But if we live a life avoiding suffering, then we spend our lives avoiding what Jesus could give to us. God doesn't give salvation to anyone who asks for it. They must need it first.

Jesus' Miracles

Calvin wrote:Why, if Jesus could turn water into wine, didn't he do things that were more relevant? If he was the son of God, and he had those powers, you wouldn't perform magic at your friends wedding, you would stop people from starving. Now I know he did that thing on the mountain, with the fish and the loaves of bread, but him organizing that meeting was the least he could do to lay out some catering. I think Jesus would agree with your main point: that the water to wine miracle wasn't relavant. I think that's why he refused to do it at first, but his mother manipulated him into it. As humans, we all get caught in social situations, doing what we don't think is appropriate.Jesus spent most of his time meeting the needs of the people around him, especially those who displayed great faith in God. He was making a point. God will grant deliverance, not for the whole world, but for those who live out their sincere faith in Him-- others need not apply. Jesus worked on a one-on-one basis. He healed the sick, one by one, and so saw each individual and their needs, and met each person at their place of need.As a movement of Jesus, Christians are supposed to do the same. The third century Romans were impressed at how the Christians met so many more needs than the government could, and so they were gathering more followers. If only the church today would meet the heart of the needs of people, through the power of God, rather than arguing about theology and getting involved in politics then the church might go back to how it was originally.Steve K

Discussion on Inclusion, continued

Mr. Kimes,

Well said on most points. Thank you for your response.

I agree with your studied approach to Muslims, by using the Qu'ran to point them to the Bible and from there to Christ. I do, however, disagree with your view that they are believing in the same God. Nowhere, to my knowledge, does the God of Israel (literal or spiritual) refer to Himself as Allah. That was Mohammed's invention. Thus, I can't see any real harmony between the Qu'ran and the Bible once a person has been brought to a true knowledge of the faith. However, if an ex-Muslim were to validate his conversion by confessing Christ as Lord and God truly come in the flesh and resurrected from death to life, I might be persuaded that they "got it".

Regarding dangers in any denomination: how true, since a denomination is a human invention and has no power to save or preserve us. You refer to many dangers, so I'm interested in knowing what particular dangers you are speaking of regarding the Anabaptists. That is, outside of the perfectly natural human tendency toward self-righteousness, separation from the world to the point we are ineffective, and the ever threatening bitter root of rivalry.

What I seek in any fellowship are these principles:

1. Biblical standards that are adhered to, not just mouthed.
2. Authority, leadership, and personal discipline based on the New Testament in whole
3. Gathering together for mutual edification, knowledge and reproof
4. True subservience to God and lack of personal ambition
5. Prayerfulness and irreproachable lifestyles
6. Preaching of God's Word, not man's philosophy

I'm glad to know you don't waste God's time protesting sectarian things of a political or governmental nature. I disagree that Jesus' cleansing of the temple is a proper analogy. It was because his Father's house was being defiled, not a principle being disagreed with.

You give Roman Catholics much more latitude in their religious practice than the Bible does. I believe that the Catholic church is as corrupt, paganistic and worldly as any man made religion could be. As long as a person prays to Mary, confesses to a priest (believing they alone give absolution), worships idols in the form of saints, prays repetitious prayers (rosary beads) and believes the pope is a valid substitute for Christ on earth they are damned (Rev 21:8) and we, as Christians are not to associate with such (1 Cor 5:11).

Again, I am not trying to be contentious with you. I agree with most of what you do, but I draw the line when it comes to opening my arms for anyone who bears a resemblance to a Christian. They either believe solely in Christ for salvation and live a life that reflects that.....or they don't.

Thanks again for your response. It's much appreciated. I believe you are absolutely correct that many will be disappointed in "that day" when Christ tells them he doesn't know them because they simply neglected His other commandments. I sincerely believe we must lose our lives in order to find them, as Christ said. I just don't want to lose my salvation as well by not being vigilant against the snares we are warned about.

In Christ, blessing and truth be with you.


Thank you again for your reply.

As far as the issue with Allah, linguistic research has determined that "Allah" is just the Arabic form of the Hebrew word "Eloyah", one of the common names for Yahweh used in the Hebrew Bible. Certainly, "Allah" was used long before Muhammad. And also, we need to look at not just the root of a word, but how it is used. For the majority of Muslims in the world, "Allah" means a personal being who is spirit, omnipotent, omniscient, compassionate and who takes action in our world. Since this is our definition of God as well, then there should be no argument that "Allah" is the same God, even if we disagree about the root of the word.

The main disagreement we have with the Muslims is not who God is, but how he is known to us and how we can be right before Him. We should stick to the main subject, instead of getting off on tangents-- the souls of Muslims depend on it.

As far as Catholics go, many of their practices are Biblical, such as confession to a priest-- John 20:23 and James 5. They believe that a believer, even when dead, are still in fellowship with the believers on earth, and "praying" to them is nothing more than asking another believer to pray for them. I would agree that worship of Mary and statues is idolatry, but most Catholics would say that there is no worship going on there. And, in fact, the "Hail Mary" prayer is made up of passages from Scripture about Mary.

It says no where in Scripture that discussing things with false teachers is a sin before God. So there is nothing wrong with having discussions with them and understanding their point of view. However, it does say that those who judge with a wrong judgment-- that not based on God's word-- will be judged. We are supposed to reproof believers, as you say, but if we are judging based on a misunderstanding of someone else's perspective, or judging based on principles that are not found in Scripture, then we are the ones in danger of going to hell.

The danger to the Anabaptists are twofold, in accordance with the two groups that the Anabaptists have divided into. The first is what I mentioned above-- that of judging other groups as going to hell because they do not agree with their personal interpretation of Scripture, when the other groups are just as sincere in following Jesus as they, just in a different way. Many conservative Anabaptist groups go this way, and I pray that the Lord would deliver many of them from false judging, for I do not want to see my brothers and sisters going to hell for separating themselves from their fellow believers.

The danger to the other main Anabaptist group is the opposite one: welcoming in their midst those who teach false doctrine, especially the doctrine of plurality. The church is supposed to have a basic code of ethics and discipline and reproof, as you mentioned. We cannot accept as a part of the church anyone who says the right words. While we cannot discipline without clear knowledge of wrong-doing, we also cannot ignore the sins done, as if they were not sins at all. Many Anabaptists are accepting homosexuals and others in sexual sin as members of the church. And this is corrupting the church.

Now, I accept everyone in my church. But I do not call them all members or believers. I have homosexuals and drunkards and drug users and profane people in my church. They all come. But they are not ready to be a member because they do not live in accordance with following Jesus. I am working, as an evangelist and discipler, to bring them to that place. And many of them have worked with the Spirit of God to become a true follower of Jesus. But I recognize that this is a process, not always an instant transformation, and I am patient enough to wait and see that transformation happen.

My main point was not that the Anabaptists are going to hell. Rather, it is that most fellowships have those within them who are following Jesus within that context. And they all have those who follow the letter of their cultural paradigm, but do not have the truth of the power of the Spirit and the gospel. The Anabaptist are no different. There is NO "pure" church on earth, because the flesh enters into every human organization. And the longer a spirit-filled organization lasts, the less spirit and the more flesh invades that organization. But we can still see the Spirit in the most flesh-filled church organization-- God always seems to leave a witness. So I refuse to write off anyone, but hope and expect the Spirit to work in some.

May the Lord bless you with grace and peace.

Steve K

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Evolution in Public Schools

In my opinion, evolution must be taught as truth in the classroom. The public school system is there to teach, not the truth, but the sigificant cultural aspects that assists one to live and function in our society. If we send our children to public school, we are saying that it is a priority that they fit in and be adjusted to our society.Evolution is an essential part of the worldview accepted by our society. It would be wrong for the public school system to teach it as anything less than the truth, because it is the culturally accepted truth, and a major foundational truth by which our culture understands the world around it.As Christians, we have a minority viewpoint. We may take an alternative viewpoint on the origin of creation and humanity. We may take an alternative viewpoint on ethics. We may take an alternative viewpoint on metaphysics. But we must recognize and teach our children that it is an alternative viewpoint. We must be able to defend our viewpoint, and maintain our dissent despite the majority viewpoint. If we do not want our children to learn the majority viewpoint, then we have to choice to not send them to public school. We can send them to private school, or homeschool, in order to teach our worldview. And if we want our children to maintain our alternative worldview, then my opinion is that we must do so outside the public school system. Then we can teach evolution from our viewpoint. But if we refuse to do so, let's not expect the public school system to teach a minority viewpoint.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Studying The Bible

There are so many different studys, What works for some of you, I would really like to understand all aspects of the bible Melinda

The most important thing is that you don't stop.
The Bible has 66 books that were written more than two thousand years ago and there is two thousand five hundred years of interpretation of it. It was written in the context of a culture and religion that is different than anything we know of today, although there are some similarities.
To understand the Bible is one of the most complex tasks anyone could ask of a normal follower of Jesus. Yet it is still our responsibility.
The most important thing I have found in Bible study is to read and listen to people who not only share their points of view, but others as well. In this way, you have a better chance of having a more balanced point of view on Scripture, and a better opportunity to allow the Spirit to tell you the truth of what you are reading.
The task of understanding Scripture is so complex that it takes a lifetime to do it. So don't ever be satisfied that you "know" the word. Always be studying, always be working on it, and you will always be amazed at God's truth.
Steve K.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Questions About Inclusion

In a message dated 1/4/2007 2:04:40 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, writes:
Dear Mr. Kimes,

I stumbled onto your website while investigating the Mennonite faith, which resulted from my discontent with most churches I have visited in this area (Portland, OR). I am a returned prodigal after many years and am in agreement with your philosophy and theological understanding regarding what should be most important in our lives. I also find the Mennonite confession to be very much in tune with what I expect and hope to find in a fellowship of believers.

However, your website ( raises some perplexing concerns for me.

First, I agree that the Muslim people are literally hated by most professing Christians (which means they aren't). However, I would not go so far as to call any Muslim a brother or to even insinuate that they are in an acceptable religion, which is what your Apology to Muslims seems to do. I'm curious if you are aware of this implication and, if so, how you justify it.

Second, you seem very ecumenical in your willingness to fellowship with Roman Catholics, a religion of idolatry and many other falsehoods. I believe Catholics, Mormons, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and even most "churched" Protestants need real salvation as much as any unpreached heathen in the deepest jungles or deserts.

Third, and last, I sense an active affiliation with anti-war protests and movements, which, for me, are a distraction to be avoided as are politics.

So, in conclusion, I confess I was inspired and inclined toward your take on a Christian's duties to Christ, until these anomalies surfaced. They simply run counter to all your other stated beliefs, in my understanding of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.

I'm afraid this happens far too frequently for me; I get excited about finding a kindred person or group and then I run across a held belief that conflicts with other things they purport to believe in. Or I discover a practice that is unbiblical or patently false. In your case, perhaps you are misunderstood from my perspective. if so, I'd appreciate a thoughtful response.

May God bless your efforts, keep you from idols and from going astray.

Respectfully yours in Christ,
Steve Foltz

Thanks for your considered response to our website.

Allow me to explain certain things:

A. As far as Muslims go, I firmly believe that they believe in the same God that Christians do, however they do not know the correct approach to God. The only way to God is through following Jesus, which the vast majority of them do not do. A few, very few, actually do commit themselves to Jesus, and when Jesus and Muhammad disagree, they remain with Jesus. These Muslims make the statement, "Allah is our God and Jesus is the Messiah". They remain in mosques as a witness to other Muslims. Even so, my letter is primarily evangelistic in nature. I have worked with Muslims in the past and a direct call for them to believe in Jesus just doesn't work. But helping them understand that we are not in opposition to them, but fellow seekers of God, and then speaking to them about how the Qu'ran actually affirms the Messiahship of Jesus is a positive way of approaching them. I placed this letter on my website to show that Christians who participate in persecuting anyone are not real Christians.

B. While there is much that is dangerous in every denomination-- including the Mennonites-- there is also the possibility of following Jesus. This is clearly shown in the Catholic church which has many faithful believers of Jesus in it. There are many protestant groups that I consider dangerous, but I have met faithful believers in those churches as well. My point is not to speak against every minor difference of doctrine, but to coax people into a biblical understanding of following Jesus. And to do this, I will associate with Catholics, pentecostals-- whoever-- as long as they are following Jesus in as much as they can.

C. I personally do not participate in protests, although I see nothing wrong with that. Jesus' casting out of the moneychangers was basically a protest against the idolatrous leadership of the priests of the temple. There is a time for this. However, I believe that as followers of Jesus, our main issue is to win over others who claim Jesus, but are not following Him. This is my primary job. And it will not be accomplished through argument or bitter speech-- I have tried that route, and I gained no success. But after letting people know I am on their side, and then speaking the word of the gospel to them-- that works quite well.

The goal is to have communities of Jesus that actually represent Jesus. And I am hoping that my ministry is one step toward reaching that goal.

Thanks again,
Steve K