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The Persecuted Church

 

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God Dream or Tenneys Dream pt.2

Tenney even says “God does not need people to fight for Him; He needs people who will be servants. The principles of His kingdom will fight for themselves. The spirit of a servant is what will create unity. A servant does not care who is in control.”(p.64) Of course God tells us to stand up for him, numerous Scriptures like “contend earnestly for the faith” are overlooked. Did not Paul fight for the truth, openly debate inside and outside the church and was still a servant. Of course a servant cares who is in control. No servant wants to willingly serve under a cruel and abusive master, these things matter. Was Paul divisive when he openly challenged people to abandon their falsehood to follow Christ? Or when he mentioned people’s names that distorted the doctrines he and the apostles taught.

Tenney says,“ servants can create unity. It is the searching and striving for preeminence among us that creates division.”(p.69) This is true, however many cults have caused division with the church when they left and are in unity with themselves. A good example of this is the UPC that he belongs to: they caused a huge division in 1916. Some of the most serving people can be found in cults. Does this mean they are not sincere or are purposely divisive? No, but it is clear that we can be united in the wrong thing.

“According to Philippians 2:7, He made Himself a servant. He made an active choice: He forced Himself to be a servant.” (p.71) The choice was to do the Fathers will, there was no force involved, it was a sweet surrender. It actually says He became a servant by humbling himself making himself of no reputation when he took on humanity, there was no struggle in this.

Tenney goes as far as he can in unity being the answer by demonizing people who do not go along with it. Using the encounter of two mothers claiming the baby as their own with Solomon’s answer to cut the baby in two. “Anyone among us who is not willing to forego pride, selfwill and inflated ego-anyone who would rather divide the Body of Christ than give up these things-is not a part of the Bride of Christ. They are wolves and interlopers in sheep's clothing. Their false claim to the Bridegroom is openly exposed by their easy acceptance of the pain, desolation and even death, caused by dividing “the baby”-the Seed of God, the Church. The spirit of a mother and the spirit of the true Bride will always preserve young life at the expense of their own happiness and recognition.”

From this statement I’m sure those who question what he writes are going to be called the divisive ones. Despite this many will speak out on what he claims is biblical unity, and especially how to accomplish it. What of those who have a false unity, that brings division by removing people from Christ’s teachings? What if those he and others label as making disunity are actually holding to the teachings of Christ!

“Fearsome enemies of unity struggle unceasingly to both divide and keep us divided. Perhaps this is because we have never really learned to “discern the body.”' I am not sure we even understand that term from a biblical perspective. “Discern” means “understand.” Do we really “understand” the completeness of His Body? If we don't, it will cause sickness among us” (p.103). Here Tenney changes the meaning of discern by using the secular meaning to fit into his model of church unity. The Bibles definition means to divide, to cut, the word “judge” is used in 1 Cor. 2:14-15 meaning that one is to use discernment to see a thing's true value or to examine something (Gr. Anakrino). In Mt. 7:1, the word “judge” means to determine or call into question (Greek Krino). Lk.12:56 dokimazo means to test (literally or figuratively); by implication, to approve: (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.)

Other words used are Dakrisis and diakrino which means to separate thoroughly, i.e. (literally and reflexively) to withdraw from, or (by implication) oppose; figuratively, to discriminate, doubt, judge, to be partial disputation. In the Old Testament it meant to scrutinize, i.e. look intently at; hence (with recognition implied), to acknowledge, be acquainted with, care for, respect, revere, or (with suspicion implied), to disregard, ignore, be strange toward, reject, resign, dissimulate (as if ignorant or disowning): I Kings 3:9 Solomon asked “Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. “ in the Heb. biyn; a primitive root; to separate mentally (or distinguish), i.e.(generally) understand. But this understanding comes from the dividing to know what is right and wrong. This discernment is what Tenney is not in favor of for unity.

“I have a mandate to call the Church to return to simple things-the basics. It doesn't matter who comes or who does not. This is not the time for lofty lectures on the science of hermeneutics on Sunday mornings (as preposterous as that might seem to some)” (p.107) Is Tenney doing his mandate? What does Tenney think the basics are? Heb.6 tells us some of the basics are doctrines, the foundation of Christianity. This is what we need to have understanding in, to have “true” unity. The milk and the meat are all the Word and the doctrines.

Hosea the prophet warned, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Our closed-eye mentality and our apparent commitment to an ostrich-like existence with our heads buried in the sand could prove to be deadly. Our lack of knowledge and wisdom could well cause us-and the seeds of revival we carry in the womb of the heart-to perish” (p.107) If one reads on in Hosea says the knowledge rejected is because they abandoned the word, specifically the law of God. This is the very thing that Tenney seems to lack in his approach to solving the apparent disunity situation in the Church.

“When God takes all of us as individuals and molds and melds us together to create something that could not have been without Him-His Dream Team-the Church is birthed and the world will be shaken by its presence” (p.121) The Bible teaches the Church has already been birthed, 2,000 years ago. Is there no church without a dream team? The world is not to be shaken by the Churches presence. Tenney continues to take the position that God can barely accomplish a thing without the church doing it.

“If God can get seven people to walk in absolute unity and abandon their personal agendas to pursue His agenda, then that band of seven can generate enough power to put more than one billion demonic forces to flight! What is happening here? Are you beginning to see the effect of unity? If God could ever find seven-seven people in a city-or seven people in a church-who will band together, the amount of power He would release to them to dispel demonic powers would be in direct proportion to the amount of unity they achieve.” (p.122) He even qualifies this by saying, “The anointing on any one of us is not as powerful as the anointing on all of us.”

Is God obligated to give us more power if more are in unity? Does the Bible teach the amount of power from God becomes proportionate to the unity achieved? Was not the early Church in unity? God said they were. Did all the disciples walk in agreement all the time? No they did not. Paul and Barnabas split up into different directions and God certainly used Paul and I suspect Barnabas as well. Neither is the anointing limited to numbers; He is God and is not quantitative. However this is Tenneys theology as he stated in his God Chasers book, “People don't sense God's presence at our gatherings because it is just not there sufficiently to register on our gauges… The problem was that God was there all right, but not enough of Him. There was no experience of meeting Him at the Damascus road. There was no undeniable, overwhelming sense of His manifested presence.” (The God Chasers p. 21)

Tenney suggests that there has never been true unity in the entire history of the church, but even more specifically not between even seven people, if we could get this small amount of unity we could demolish Satans hold. Previously Tenney said, “We have been so bad at this that not even 6 people have been in unity” (p.122). Now he gives a certain number (not found in the word) needed to define how we can have success in unity. There were 12 apostles in unity and the whole world did not believe, but it does say they turned the world upside down.

“History tells us that approximately 500 heard His historic instructions to go and “tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” But when the power came, there were only 120 present. What happened to the 380? I would not want to have been one of those who left the Upper Room the day before the Day of Pentecost. Can you imagine how they must have felt the rest of their lives?” (p.128)

First: Where in history does it say this? It never says there were 500 hearing his instructions to go to the upper room in the Bible, but only 11, possibly a few others (I refer you to the Bibles record in Lk.24:33-51;Mk.16:14-19). The Bible says it was the disciples gathered with him and they were watching him ascend to heaven. Acts 1:9-15 “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day's journey. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room where they were staying: Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty). Others joined them later as they were meeting in the upper room.

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Lets look carefully at what the Holy Spirit has already said has occurred. Rom. 12:3-6: “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” 1 Cor. 6:17: “he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” 1 Cor. 10:16-17: “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.”

To be one body with Christ, he being the head means we have already come into unity.

1 Cor. 12:12-14 “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.” Again Paul says we are one, united.

Eph. 2:14-18 “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, … For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” If there was ever any disunity it was between the Jews and the Gentiles. God has brought both parties into unity by being one body, the body of Christ. This unity is impossible for us to accomplish by any human effort.

Eph. 4:3-6 “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Notice the consistent word used, one. Paul is saying that we have the unity by the Spirit for He is the same one in all of us. Now we are to continue to keep, to maintain what He has already given us; this spiritual unity may not always be perceived with the eyes but is there by the Spirit. These Scriptures all point to Jesus’ prayer being answered, we are one in Him and we are one just as He and the Father are one because of the Spirits work in us.

There is nothing biblically presented by Tenney that proves Jesus’ prayer was not answered in 2,000 years. Tenney’s concept of a “dream team” is dreamed up, and while it may motivate people to strive for a type of unity we need to ask what kind of unity is he speaking about. This book is not going to foster true unity but will cause division, by proposing that those who do not agree with his concept of unity are divisive.

If the church agrees on the basic teachings and mission to fulfill the preaching of the Gospel then we are in unity. If we act on it then we are servants. God sees us in unity because of His Sons work, despite how flawed we are. In the same way he has forgiven our sins, despite that we still sin. I find no justification for what Tenney writes that God has been waiting on us 2,000 years to accomplish this unity.

 

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