Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“Produce your cause, saith the Lord;
bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob.”
“Come now, and let us reason together.”
A few years ago, the saints at my house completed a two-year journey through the Old Testament. At that time, I told everyone here that I would like for us to also go through the New Testament books but that I wanted to wait until I translated the New Testament. You who were a part of that Old Testament class may recall that I mentioned it would be good, when our study of the New Testament was complete, for us to invite ministers from various Christian sects to come here to explain what they taught and to give us the opportunity to ask questions.
To reason with others about the way of God is good. To debate is an evil, fleshly exercise, but to desire to reason with others is to be like God. My suggestion, several years ago now, that Christian ministers be given the opportunity to speak with the saints over whom Jesus has made me a shepherd and a guide, was made by me in hope of benefitting everyone involved, and if done in a right spirit, it would do that.
It is questionable now, since slanderous lawsuits against us have been filed and repugnant lies in newspaper articles have been published, that we could get many local ministers to visit us, and maybe it wasn’t even that great an idea to start with. But what I want to encourage you to do is this: strive to stay willing to reason with anyone concerning the hope that is in you. Stay open to hear different things, and be sincere, ready to give your testimony without fear. In other words, stay in the love of God. After all, doing that is how you came to the knowledge of the truth.
What kind of pastor would consider doing such a thing as inviting men from the outside to come talk to his flock? What could justify such a thing? What kind of thinking would lead a man of God to consider doing that? The answer is that I had great confidence that you, as a body, would profit by it and that you would grow in grace so that after having those conversations with Christian ministers, you would feel more deeply your purpose in life and be better equipped to accomplish the holy work God has given us to do. If I had not seen great potential profit for you, which means a better resurrection for you, I would not have suggested that we do it. But I did see that possibility, and so, I hoped it would take place.
The reason I am alive is to help God’s people, but what help can I give them by myself? I have found out during the past half year that I can’t even tell the truth by myself; my memory isn’t that accurate. That is why Jesus sent you here. We, together, have a very big job to do, even if it is only to carefully store up these great riches we have from God for another generation. No one can do it alone.
It was not that I do not care for your souls, nor was it that I am looking for the truth. I know I have found it. And I really am jealous over you, as Paul said he was over saints in his time, “with a godly jealousy.” At the same time, I am not afraid for you to venture out among Christians and to hear what any of them have to say about anything. I am jealous over you, but I am not afraid of anyone “stealing my sheep”. My sheep know my voice, and the voice of a stranger they will not follow. If the voice (doctrine) of another shepherd appeals to you more than mine does, then you belong with him, not me.
If I were the money-hungry, mind-controlling man that I have been publicly accused of being over the past few months, then I could never have come up with the idea of inviting ministers to come talk to you face-to-face. Nor could I have encouraged all of you over the years to visit God’s people in various places. Nor could I have paid for as many young people as wanted to go, to attend The Call in Nashville, to be together with about 70,000 of God’s people. And if you were the mindless, gullible people that you have been publicly accused of being, none of you would have gone to those meetings, and you would fear to hear anything other than what I say to you.
What Jesus has made us is good. We have learned to be reasonable and generous, and to “hold fast to that which is good.” So, let’s be encouraged and remain who we are. In due time, we will reap from the Lord for the work we have done.