I was thinking today, of how easy it is for us to cut people out of our lives, because of a point of disagreement.
We like such and such a teacher until we hear him talk about infant baptism. We read someone's book and listen to their sermons until we hear that they believe that the spiritual gifts are for today. Then we chuck everything out about the person we formerly admired.
What is wrong with this picture? It shows us that we believe a person who is credible has to be perfect (or at least agree with everything we believe in) before we will believe anything he or she says. It's just another example of 'throwing the baby out with the bath water'. We do this all the time without realizing it. We think that by having a different opinion on something makes the other person's beliefs and giftings invalid. But is that true?
When a person comes to Christ, they are totally justified and cleansed from their sins. They are made perfect in God's sight, not because of anything they have done, but because of what Jesus has done for them. But the process that follows conversion (called sanctification) is a long process that will follow the person the rest of his or her life.
No one will ever have the corner market on 100% theology accuracy, but every believer can be 'growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ'. We are continually changing. Our ways of thinking change, as we go through the process of sanctification. As we walk and grow in sanctification, we will begin to see sin more clearly, and we will let go of those things that are wrong, which we are presently practicing, as we grow in the Lord. We will see more clearly, as time goes on.
Judging between a growing believer in Jesus Christ, and a false convert can be difficult, yet there are some telltale signs. One main sign to look for is love. Jesus has a lot to say about the disciples loving one another and other people in our lives. As believers grow in their love for God, their love for other believers will grow. You will not see that in a false convert, unless it is put on.
Looking back through the History of the church fathers, each one of them had ideas of things that we would consider wrong, yet, each one of them got the Gospel right. There were some who believed in transubstantiation. Many believed in infant baptism. Should we throw away all of their writings since there will be some point of difference between what we believe in and what they believed in?
So, the point is, it is important for us to not dismiss other believers whom we have learned from and who have ministered to us to aid us in our growth, just because we find out that they believe in something that we see entirely different. It's ok to disagree. We must disagree in love though.
If we find out those people never believed the Gospel to begin with, then pray for them. See them as lost people and have mercy on them. Why should we become enemies with people because of our disagreements, or because they are not truly believers yet?
One last thing. A.W. Pink spent the last part of his life looking for the 'perfect' church, which he never found. He spent his last years, with his wife, isolated on some island off the coast of Scotland, I believe. If we look for the perfect in people in the church, we will be disappointed. If we are looking for a place where we agree with everything that is taught, and everything that the pastor believes in, 100% of the way, we will probably end up like A.W. Pink, isolated somewhere on planet earth.