By Reinaldo T. De Almeida
Would there be a protestant church today if someone as courageous as Martin Luther had not rightly rebuked the erroneous ways of the Catholic Church? Definitely not! Praise be to God whose Spirit acts on those who search him with all their hearts and minds.
Today, to talk about judging has become an offense to many people. “Everyone must be included” is the new fad. But the Bible tells us to “not sit with mockers”! “Everyone is included” is actually not what the Bible has ever taught, but that there would be a ‘narrow door’ (Matt. 7:13) , and many false teachers (Matt. 24:5). That is a guarantee. Instead, many look at judging others as completely forbidden by scripture. They quickly point out perhaps the most widely misused scripture: Matthew 7:1 “Judge not, that you be not judged.” They never understand the context of this passage in full. They forget that Jesus goes on to say, take the plank out of your eye FIRST, before you judge the other person. Furthermore, Jesus says later on in verse 15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
Can anyone explain to me, how can I ever beware of false prophets, UNLESS I am able to judge? Can this be any clearer? It is impossible not to judge, and then be able to know who is a false prophet! Nevertheless, we are admonished to judge with righteous judgment. (John 7:24 “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”)
Acts 20:28-31 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!
I believe this warning Paul gave applies so well to what is happening in our denomination today. I am so disappointed when I hear Nazarenes giving examples of so many ‘humble people’ who are not even evangelicals or Nazarenes. Can’t we find enough examples within the Nazarene denomination? Perhaps not, if today’s preachers and missionaries are following the teachings of others who are not even close to the true message of the cross.
I always heard my father preach of those Nazarene missionaries who walked up mountains and traveled miles to preach the gospel. That is how the Nazarene church became a big organization. Today, unfortunately, some disciples and preachers frequently mention pagans and others who pray the rosary, who use labyrinths and other methods to get close to God, and who worship idols and the Virgin Mary as symbols of humility and Christendom. What a shame and embarrassment to see where this organization of 100 years is going and leading its flock. One particular thing about the Nazarenes is that in its formation it did not follow the majority, it was a union of churches that had something in common, a search for true holiness. Can others teach a Nazarene to be holy? Perhaps, but can the Catholics or emergents, with their aberrant and heretical doctrines?
Praise God for Martin Luther’s attitude. Because of him we are what we are. He had the guts to preach the right thing. That’s why many churches are dying today; many preachers refuse to talk about clothes, about holiness, about modesty, about judging with righteousness, about false teachers, or anything else, because all these topics offend people. They perceive us as foolish if we talk about such things as dressing modestly and not conforming and compromising with the world. Too bad!
1 Cor. 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Unfortunately many people who are not Nazarenes are the ones teaching the Nazarenes what they should believe and how they should behave according to their own philosophies or points of view, which most of the time, viewed in the light of scripture, are dangerous. We are reminded in the scriptures not to get caught in the trap of man’s wisdom.
Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
Others, who should know that the Nazarene church was founded on some imperative biblical principals, insist on working for such an organization, but not wholeheartedly, as it used to be with former Nazarene employees.
Martin Luther left his organization for specific reasons, for the right reasons. Unfortunately we have some who will not repent, who will not leave the organization, but who will unfortunately stay in it to follow the teachings of their non-Nazarene mentors.
Is your pastor a Nazarene in the Wesleyan-holiness tradition? More directly, is he a pastor who puts his full confidence and faith in the infallible, inerrant word of God? Or is he a double-minded professional?
To get an honest answer for such a question might take months and lives away from churches. That is ‘too personal’!
May God help us