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Christian Individualism

Discussion in 'Christian Debate Forum' started by charity, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. charity

    charity Well-Known Member

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    Hello there,
    I found this study paper online, and thought it worth entering here for your consideration and comment.

    CHRISTIAN INDIVIDUALISM
    Otis Sellars
    The God-inspired declaration of the Apostle Paul tells us that all who determine to live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). In most lands today, this persecution will usually take the form of disfellowshipping, ostracism, separation, misrepresentation and misunderstanding of one's high and holy purpose. Along these same lines, I would add that if anyone does determine to live godly in Christ Jesus, he will have to do it as an individual. The one who gives his time searching for some group or company that is living godly in Christ Jesus, and to which he may attach himself, is doomed in advance to failure and disappointment.

    Put it down for a positive fact that the average professing Christian is not interested in living godly in Christ Jesus. He spends most of his time seeking for ways to live worldly in Christ, to make a "fun thing" or a "money thing" of his professed connection with the Lord.

    A most positive aspect of living godly in Christ Jesus is that the one who has so determined has "chosen the way of truth" (Psa. 119:30). He joins the Lord Jesus in saying, "Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17). And once this choice has been made, the only question that can ever be asked concerning any teaching or practice is, "Is it the truth?" If it is, it must be embraced and declared; if not, it must be repudiated.

    It should be understood in advance that the determination to live godly in Christ Jesus, and the choice of "the truth way" rather than "the church way" is not an easy road to travel. It could be a very lonesome road. So, if one cannot decide in advance that, through the help of Jesus Christ, he can accept the isolation, the ostracism, and the misunderstanding that may come from following such a course, he had better not start upon it. He would
    probably be happier if he simply cast his lot with some like-minded group of "food, fun, and fellowship" seekers. If one is going to be miserable living the life of a Christian individualist, he had better find some other way of life.

    If, among those who read these lines, there are those who have had a true encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ; if they have judged themselves as sinners and received Him as their Savior; if they have come face-to-face with the fact of God's Truth versus man's error; if they have chosen the way of Truth, and it has become their determination to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ they will find it necessary to find a way of life in Christ Jesus that will allow them to live out to the limit the relationship which they now bear to God through Him. If Jesus Christ, rather than some sect or denomination, is to be the molder of their lives, I recommend to them Christian Individualism as being the true and best way of life for the active believer in Christ Jesus.

    The believer whose knowledge of the Bible is ever increasing, whose appreciation of the person and work of Jesus Christ is ever-growing, with this resulting in a determination to give Him the preeminence in all things, will find that he quickly becomes persona non grata (an unacceptable person) in any church today. His unwillingness to go along with the popular schemes and make-work activities of today's religions will cause him to be branded as a divisive factor, and any protests he makes will bring the charge that he is a troublemaker.

    The churches want bodies to help swell the attendance; they welcome purses that will help with the finances, but they insist that everything that means so much to the active believer in Christ must be forgotten and left at home. He can play and he can pay but is allowed nothing to say. And if he insists in raising his voice in protest, he can expect a visit from the board of deacons who will insist that he keep quiet and conform or else face a more drastic action. This can be such a frightening prospect to many that they will seek to avoid it at any cost. So, they become amenable and complacent, usually giving as an excuse that they are doing it for the sake of their families.

    However, for many others, such compromises are impossible. The truth as it is in Christ Jesus means more to them than any organization, and they cannot remain silent when grievous errors and practices are promulgated. Thus, the only course open to them is one of Christian individualism. This
    means a commitment to Christ and to His Word while standing apart from any commitment to any religious body.

    It has been my joy to recommend this way of life to many believers in Christ. It is my belief and my experience that it is the privilege of any individual to establish relationship with Jesus Christ in which all that He can ever be to any man in this dispensation, His rich blessings, and fellowship can be enjoyed wholly apart from any institution called a church. Such things as nearness to God, likeness to Christ, devotedness to His Word, and separation from the world can all be attained and maintained by the individual believer in Jesus Christ without his being any part of an organized company. The believer can be attached to Christ, to His Name, to His Word, yes, even to His people, without being any part of any church. I offer my own life as proof of this.

    The primary value of Christian individualism is that it permits a faithful presentation of Jesus Christ to others. It permits one's eye to be single when he seeks to win men to Christ. There is no demand upon him to bring men to Christ and also into some church.

    He is able to plead God's cause and feels no need of pleading the cause of any church or denomination.

    Christian individualism lifts a man to a position of sublime independence of all the religions of this world. The Christian individualist knows that a man can be joined to God through Jesus Christ, and that he does not need to face or become involved in all the divergent issues created by religious organisations. He knows the satisfying value of having gone directly to God, knowing no intermediary but Jesus Christ, His Son, and no other authority save the written Word of God. He smilingly refuses the officious cries of churchmen who declare that he cannot have Christ as his Savior until he has first acknowledged and received them.

    The Christian faith was from the very first the personal faith of individuals. This is clearly seen in the declaration of Paul who tells us that after God's dealings with him on the Damascus road, he did not confer with any human being. Neither did he go up to Jerusalem to them that were apostles before him; but he went into Arabia, then later came back to Damascus (see Gal. 1:15-19).

    The believers of the Acts period were not always scattered; and wherever possible, they moved and acted as a fellowship of individuals. But when one of them found himself cut off from all others, he stood alone, finding his all in Christ.

    Before determining to live godly in Christ Jesus, before choosing the way of truth, before starting out on the path of Christian individualism, the believer had better make sure that he can "go it alone" spiritually. It may be necessary for him to do this. Let him be determined in advance that he is able to say with godly Asaph of old: "Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee" (Psalm 73:25).

    Christian individualism is a way of life, not a way of escape. It consists of that which an active believer in Christ does, not what he does not do. Therefore, let no careless, loveless, prayerless, antisocial individual take refuge in it. Let no sports enthusiast, Sunday morning golfer, fisherman, or television addict adopt it in order to free himself for the pursuit of his pleasures. Let not the stingy use it as a way to stop all giving. Let no one take this high and holy position unless his life, from that day on, is to be lived for the glory of Jesus Christ.

    Quite a few believers who have considered Christian individualism as a way of life have asked about fellowship with other believers. And to this there is only one answer - fellowship with others to the very limit. Christian individualism is not an anti-social way of life. Do not hesitate to go anywhere, where you can find and be of help to other believers. However, if you find that such associations are causing you to compromise or keep quiet in regard to things you know to be the truth, better withdraw from them at once.

    Remember, "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. . . . If we say we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:3-7).

    So, after all has been said, and all arguments pro and con have been exhausted, there is only one method of dealing with God in this dispensation; and that method is personally and individually. This is the way
    we must start, and. this is the way we should continue. In this way of life, we can best fulfil our position as believers in an unbelieving world, as godly men in an immoral world, as students of God's Word in a world that is Biblically illiterate.
     
  2. Deborah_

    Deborah_ Well-Known Member

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    I find this rather sad - and needless to say, strongly disagree.
    That hasn't been my experience. Wherever I've lived (in the UK) I've been able to find a church in which most members are living godly lives in Christ Jesus. Usually, I've had a choice!
    And what makes me the arbiter of "godliness" anyway? There are many ethical issues (as well as doctrinal ones) on which godly Christians disagree. Let's not forget Romans 14!
    Fellowship isn't an optional extra. We need each other! The gifts that the Spirit gives us are for - guess what - building up the church! We need other believers to love us, to model Christian behaviour, to pray for us... and they need us!
    This is a strange interpretation of Galatians 1. Paul is talking about his understanding of the Gospel, and saying that he didn't get his theology 'second-hand' from Peter or any other apostle, but came to it independently. He doesn't mean that he didn't have any Christian fellowship or teaching or involvement with a church during that time! What about Ananias? Not to mention I Corinthians 15, in which Paul states that he 'received' certain traditions from other Christians.

    In our society, individualism is the 'zeitgeist', the spirit of the age. It's destroying Christian fellowship. Let's not give it any assistance!
     
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  3. charity

    charity Well-Known Member

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  4. Pisteuo

    Pisteuo Well-Known Member

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    Not everyone can walk the streets and minister to those in need. But to resort to only setting in pews with those that already know God and claim that is your calling is missing it, to me. We were not called by God for ourselves. And that seems to be a nugget lost in today’s churches. When it becomes about His purpose instead of ours we realize that just going to church to receive a blessing is our thinking..not His. Assembling ourselves together has more purpose than I think most have made it to mean. Building each other up for the work in the fields, provoking one another unto love and good works.
     
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  5. Taken

    Taken Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing Charity.
    Mr Sellars and I ARE on the same page. I concluded the same, long ago, and enjoyed the eloquence of how Mr. Sellars set the words to print.

    Inanutshell; the final Consequence rests on the individual exercising his own freewill, to determine his own God, and a Forever state to be WITH or Without his God.

    Glory to the Lord God Almighty,
    Taken
     
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  6. Deborah_

    Deborah_ Well-Known Member

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    "Sitting in pews" is not anyone's calling - being part of the dynamic, active, outgoing Body of Christ is the calling of every believer.

    We could have a long discussion about the errors in our thinking about "church". There was a time when many people thought that the "church" was the building, and that God never did anything outside its walls! But I don't think that's so common now. The main error these days seems to be to regard church as "entertainment" (it's got to have good music, a short and lively sermon and nice coffee, otherwise, we won't bother going).

    "just going to church to receive a blessing is our thinking..not His. Assembling ourselves together has more purpose than I think most have made it to mean. Building each other up for the work in the fields, provoking one another unto love and good works."
    I agree. We belong to a church not primarily to receive (although we will be blessed), but to give.
     
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  7. Taken

    Taken Well-Known Member

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    When you JOIN a church, you are an individual claiming to Agree with the Entirety of that churches doctrine.

    Of course you may not agree with every member or person sitting in the congregation.
    The POINT is Even You may not agree with everything that church teaches as its doctrine....even though the JOINING, is your word that you Will Agree.

    You can hear all day long people, JOINED with a church's doctrine, yet having disagreement with "parts" of its doctrine.

    That is the Same premise that plaqued the Hebrews. BY their word, they said they Would DO what God Said... then many didn't.
    Their word became a lie, untrustworthy.

    It's the Same concept regarding Catholics.
    Joining a Catholic Church requires one to put complete trust in Catholic Doctrine, or face consequences of Labeling or booted out.

    An individual IN Christ, becomes a Member of Christ's Spiritual Church. It is Not a Building, that men Dictate the Doctrine or that men decide Whose IN or Whose OUT.

    The Entrance into Christ's Spiritual Church IS also by a mans word and declaration he Heartfully believes Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

    Once a man HAS JOINED, Christ's Spiritual Church...it iS forever. There is NO Possibility of that man to become UNJOINED or booted out...Because that man, is not KEPT Joined...
    BY other men's Doctrines, or by the individual's own power...such a man IS KEPT enjoined for ever...expressly by the POWER of God Himself.

    Such An individual...24-7, any time, any place, has Direct Communication available to him; to praise, worship, thank, Bless and communicate with his Lord God...
    (No set hours, phone calls, waiting until the church doors open!)

    And such an individual is at Liberty, any time, any place to Fellowship with any other person who is Also, Joined in Christ's Spiritual Church.

    Regarding Understanding, and Where Gods Understanding of His Word comes From...
    It comes FROM the Source; which IS God Himself.

    Personally, I enjoy and Trust the Source; the Creator Himself, with a direct communication available TO me, over and above, any second, third and so forth hand of the CREATED.

    Personally, I find Gods Gift of being GIVEN His Understanding ... from Him directly...to BE one of His Greatest Gifts, He offers and Gives to individuals.

    Glory to God,
    Taken
     
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  8. Enoch111

    Enoch111 Well-Known Member

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    All Christians and Christian churches need to be modeled along the lines of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 2).
     
  9. mjrhealth

    mjrhealth Well-Known Member

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    Christs church has no model it is just those who love Him, has no name and only one Head, Jesus Christ.
     
  10. mjrhealth

    mjrhealth Well-Known Member

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    @charity Thanks that was a delight to read. Moses was 40 years in the desert before God used Him, even Jesus went onto the desert 40 days before He was ready, What was it Jesus said.

    Joh 6:25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
    Joh 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
    Joh 6:27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
     
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  11. Enoch111

    Enoch111 Well-Known Member

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    You know that that is simply a nonsensical statement.
     
  12. mjrhealth

    mjrhealth Well-Known Member

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    What church does HE belong too. Morman, JW, SDA, catholic is Christ divided. His church/bride isnt
     
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  13. charity

    charity Well-Known Member

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    @mjrhealth
    @Enoch111
    @Taken
    @Deborah_
    @Pisteuo
    @marks

    * Thank you for your interesting responses.

    This is a complex issue for me, personally, and talking about it raises so many conflicting thoughts.

    In my thirties I found myself in a position where it was necessary for me to come out of the denominations and stand alone. In retrospect I believe it was God's hand at work then, although I am reluctant to say, 'God brought me out', for the circumstances did not make that abundantly clear at the time. What I do know without a doubt is that He has used my isolation to bring me closer to Himself, for I have had to come to His Word and feed on Him. He has also provided fellowship on a one to one basis with others over the years, so that I have never been entirely alone.

    I can see Deborah's point very well though, for there is nothing more warming and comforting than the fellowship of kindred minds: and the structure of an organisation which is a living and outward looking. An evangelical gospel witness, with teaching which is truly Bible based is invaluable.

    Towards the end of Paul's life and ministry, his message became more and more for the individual, rather than the congregation en-mass to whom He wrote. His later epistles, written from prison, following the revelation of God, given to Him concerning the church which is Christ's body, so vital for the church emerging from the chaos caused by the departure of Israel into the blindness of unbelief, and the persecution of Christians following, were largely ignored. In fact so many left him towards the end, so that he said to Timothy:-

    'Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me,
    in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
    That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.
    This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me;
    of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
    The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus;
    for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
    But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me.'

    (2 Timothy 1:13-17)
    * We are called upon to be faithful, and to endure to the end, and if we cannot be faithful to the truth we have received within a Christian community because of doctrinal issues, then there seems no other course of action, but to leave and walk alone with the Lord.

    In Christ Jesus
    Chris
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
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  14. Pisteuo

    Pisteuo Well-Known Member

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    Amen, very good.
    I prefer the company (assembly) of other Christians. Yet God is in control and I will do and go where He chooses. Paul taught in churches, on the street, in the woods, prison, and in his home.

    Act 28:30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him,

    Act 28:31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

    To me, there is no “model” set forth that every Christian can follow to go to church regularly. But we definitely have a model of how to Be Church. And as long as you are following Jesus’s example wherever you are, you are “having” church.
     
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  15. Preacher4Truth

    Preacher4Truth Well-Known Member

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    Yes, there are many problems with this entire thing. It lends itself as being presented as self justification for 1 John 2:19. This appears to be the overall assertion: "There really aren't any (or many) godly people in church, so since I am, I left. All the truly godly people don't go to church." Um. Then 2 Timothy 4:10 is turned on its head. Demas is the one who left, or more accurately apostatized, Paul was still faithful to the church, albeit imprisoned. That is part of keeping the faith. But the whole text has been twisted and the roles reversed.

    Well, apostasy is certainly all the rage these days.

    I am happy to hear @Deborah_ that you've been keeping the faith and enjoy fellowship with godly people. Very refreshing!
     
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  16. SovereignGrace

    SovereignGrace Certified Flunky

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    Paul was not endorsing ppl to stay home and not enjoy the fellowship of the Brethern. Timothy is a pastoral epistle directed to Timothy, just like it was a pastoral epistle written to Titus was well. But Paul would have never endorsed ppl staying home and not attending the local assembly.
     
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  17. SovereignGrace

    SovereignGrace Certified Flunky

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    Well stated as well as a well balanced post. This needs multiple likes. May God bless you.
     
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  18. SovereignGrace

    SovereignGrace Certified Flunky

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    Another well thought post that deserves 2.5 likes. ;) :D

    @Preacher4Truth i upped it to deserving 2.5 likes. Does this get a like from you now? o_O
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
  19. mjrhealth

    mjrhealth Well-Known Member

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    HE wasnt talking about church,
     
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