Evangelists go out and preach the Gospel. They bring the lost to Christ. The same happens with altar calls at church. People come down front and pray with the pastor and give their life to Jesus. Each time this happens heaven rejoices. Hallelujah! However, once this is done, many baby Christians are not taught the first, and one of the most important, things they should know. The church just expects them to know these things.
After we surrender to Jesus and make Him not only our Savior, but Lord over our life, and after we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, and learn how to have a fruitful prayer life and study the Bible, we should be taught a very vital fact. When we first get born-again we are essentially babies in Christ. We are like infants in our relationship with the Lord. Like any infant we must be fed (with the Word of God) and nurtured in order to be raised up and grow properly. Along the way, we will make many mistakes, as babies do. We look to those that are more mature to tell us when we do. As babies in Christ, we do not know we have made a mistake. We need correction, discipline, nurturing, and to be taught. Yet we think, because many of us are at a decent age of understanding, that we have it all under control. The very first doctrine that needs to be explained to a baby Christian is how to accept and respect correction. More mature Christians, that have been where we are right now, will guide and teach us. This will include telling us we are in the wrong from time to time.
So many believers are so full of pride that they believe they know everything and some know good and well that they do not. They may have grown up with a common idea about the Bible or church and what it means to be a Christian. They may have heard some doctrine somewhere that they have clung to. When a mature Christian approaches them to let them know that it isn't what the Bible says or that their lifestyle is not becoming of a Christian and tries to gently and lovingly correct them, they get offended, feel rejected, get depressed, feel hopeless or condemned, or any number of other reactions. They were not taught in the beginning that there is too much to learn in a lifetime on earth. They were not told that God only chastens those that He loves and that brothers and sisters in Christ are to behave in the same manner. They were not taught how to humbly accept being corrected so that they may grow in their walk with the Lord. If they were never given this information, then it stands to reason they certainly weren't informed how to test the spirits of correction, when they feel the Lord is speaking to them, and other things. This leaves many in the body of Christ wide open to major deception, pride, and a suffocated religious life rather than a life of peace and joy with Christ Jesus.
This one very important detail can make someone feel abandoned by the church, rejected by their brethren, and all together unwelcome in the body of Christ. I wonder how many have left a new walk with Christ because of this confusion. I wonder how many have been made to feel unloved and unwanted simply because they were never told that it is the elders job to correct and guide them, that the only reason they do is because they love them and want them to have a fruitful relationship with Jesus rather than to be in error and stuck in a way that leaves them with strife, contention, and division.
The Bible clearly states that we, as more mature Christians should use scripture to teach, exhort, correct, reprove, and rebuke. It says that we should help our brothers and sisters in Christ stay in truth and not fall into traps. Scripture shows us that it is wise to listen to correction and the words of those wise in the Lord. It is written that the younger should submit themselves to the elder and that we should all be subject to one another and clothed in humility. Iron sharpens iron. We hold each other accountable. This is not so that we can exercise authority over one another but so we can edify each other. We help each other to walk more perfectly with Jesus every day. We learn from each other as we each have valuable gifts that are unique to us and revelation that God may have only given a handful of prophets.
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5
For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth. Proverbs 3:12
Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish. Proverbs 12:1
Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die. Proverbs 15:10
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:6-11
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:17
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Galatians 6:1
Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Colossians 1:28
There is a proper way to correct each other. We must do this according to scripture. We must do this with love and gentleness. There will be another article on how we are to do so. So, I implore you my brothers and sisters, do not be angry or offended when someone speaks to you on a matter. Be thankful they love you enough to speak up. Even if ultimately they were the ones in error, it was a labor of love. We must always be willing to be corrected. We must always have a teachable spirit. If we do not, then pride has taken us over and pride comes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall. Whether you are a babe in Christ or have walked with the Lord for 50 years always be willing to be corrected. Also remember elders, out of the mouth of babes.... sometimes the Lord will send a child to correct an elder in a way you would never expect. My 11 year old corrected me the other day. He reminded me that I cannot stay mad at a certain person and that I must forgive them. Sometimes it takes innocence or lack of large amounts of studying to see a simple truth. Young or old always be willing to grow. if you concede that you are not perfect, then there will be plenty of opportunity for you to be corrected. If you do not concede that you are not perfect, then you need to go back to the drawing board and hear the Gospel again till you understand who Jesus is, why He came, and why we need Him. May the Lord bless you all.