Ask Norm!

By Norman S. Edwards

From SVM – Summer 2017

The following heartfelt letter was received in regard to the What Is Your Ministry Model? article in the Fall/Winter 2014 SVM. It has been condensed with the author’s permission. To recap the five ministry models, think about how a person in any particular ministry or church would answer these questions:

  1. Is your ministry the only one that God is presently using?
  2. Is your ministry the only one in your locality that God is using?
  3. Is your ministry the best one that God is using?
  4. Does your ministry provide services that no other provides?
  5. Does your ministry provide services where they are needed and utilized?

Dear Norman:

You   have some good observations and I would even expand your concept of “ministry” a bit if it can be tolerated by the readership.

I know the different models you presented. I have seen and at times attended a group that used each one of them. To be fair to those “narrow-minded” and often self-righteous Believers, there is a “true church”, but it is not in one place and it is not ever a physical or humanly-structured “church”.

The true church is the people of Yah [God]. Thanks to the Ruach [Holy Spirit], all people can become part of His family, regardless of what humanly devised names anyone uses.

You are right about ministry models 1 & 2. I personally suffered the ill effects of them. I once reached out to a girl whose parents attended a “we are the true church” organization. Then they left that one to attend a ‘truer church” group. I wrote her to establish relations in the hopes to eventually court her. I had entered the Messianic movement at that time, and it did not bother me which group she would attend. I knew she was a faithful commandment keeper and felt that if we were at least ¾ in agreement we would be compatible.

But after exchanging a few letters, she made it clear that I would have to be a member of her specific church before she could consider marriage. I would have attended with her, but I could not become a “member” because I knew too much about what the Scriptures really teach. The last I heard, she was 28 and still unmarried; her brother was36 and the same. They were so shackled by their group’s paradigms that they were suffering from depression.

On the other hand, Jewish and Messianic   models   of   ministry include an even broader base than what you described in your article. Long ago I read a good book from a rabbi about careers and faith. Our Father is to come first in every Believer’s life, but not everyone is called to “church” ministries. This rabbi explained how one can have a worldly vocation and be a minister (the Greek meaning is “servant”) of the Eternal at the same time. He included many biblical examples.

Many people will disagree with me, but I do not see a difference between religion and politics. Both are concerned with what is right and wrong, and how people should treat each other. I have seen more Christians “practicing politics” in church than I have in the world! Some are constantly trying to “get in” with the leadership and make sure they are perceived as righteous by the leaders and their fellow believers.

I have been involved with third parties (neither Republican nor Democrat) for   decades   and am becoming fully engaged in politics this year. To me, it will be as much of a ministry as   it will be a vocation. In many ways, evangelizing the world is much like a political campaign! The concept of “separation of Church and State” is an American one, not a Messianic or Jewish one. When my eyes were finally opened, I felt liberated and have been prospering in all kinds of ways. I will give a caveat: not all non-religious pursuits are “ministries” (such as my real estate work), but they can be. In other words, jobs and hobbies can be pursued specifically for the glory of our Father, or they can be pursued simply to earn money or have fun. On the other hand, many things we call ministry today are not really pursued for our Father’s purposes, but largely to make money and have fun. It is my belief that the Renaissance occurred in Europe because the Catholic Church had lost true leadership. There has been much rejection of Christianity before this modern day—that is why Europe is so secular now. It is why communism and socialism are so strong there; Christian ministries are not doing His work!


John Qavah

Dear John,

Thank you for your thought provoking letter. It is sad to hear your story about people who were mistreated by “church government”. I know quite a few people who married, did not marry or divorced based upon particular church groups they attended. In hindsight, it looked foolish to make such an important life decision on this basis because the church groups later broke up, merged, changed their rules or completely ended. In some cases, the church groups’ governance   was   almost as bad as the civil government’s governance which they say to avoid.

I think most people would be a little scared when hearing there is “little difference between religion and politics.” They see the purpose of religion to turn people to God and the purpose of politics to help people to work together to provide for their common physical needs and defense. But if we look at the Old Testament, there is integration between church and state. Kings were required to write their own copy of the biblical law and read from it every day (Deuteronomy 17:18-19). The priests and prophets taught the law to the people, but the civil government carried out its benefits and its penalties. There are hundreds of statements requiring civil leaders to follow the laws of God. The civil government was required to prosecute people for religious crimes: heresy, blasphemy, sorcery, and Sabbath-breaking (Deuteronomy 13; Leviticus 24:16; Exodus 22:18; 31:14-15).

Throughout the middle ages, church and states have horribly misused these powers, and brought much suffering and death to many people unjustly. I agree with you; the European reaction was largely to dismiss the organized church—and today only some small percentage of people there attends a church. Even so, churches that remain are generally the larger denominations, now much weaker.

Whereas in the USA, the First Amendment clearly requires our governments not to support any particular “establishment of religion” (“ministry”, as used in this article), nor to restrict the free exercise of any religious establishment. Freedom was granted to people who simply worshipped God independently, as they best understood. Our constitution was dated “in the year of our Lord”— not with a new secular dating system as the French sought to use after the French Revolution. History shows that nearly all of our founding fathers believed in the God of the Bible— they quoted from the Bible more than any other book. And hence, the Bible was taught in our schools until the mid-1900s. I believe this is what made the USA the great nation that it was. The Old Testament tells all the people to choose just leaders for themselves (Deuteronomy 16:18- 20; 17:14-20). After 50 years with very little public Bible teaching, our nation has chosen many lying and corrupt leaders and we are in decline.

John the Baptist was put in prison because he corrected the civil leaders of his day from the Bible (Matthew 14:3-4). Yet I have heard Christians say, “That is why the church should not be involved in politics.” But I have heard Christ say, “…among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28). I once wondered why Jesus made these statements together. Now it is clear. John was great because he carried out his mission to prepare the way for Jesus, and endured at the cost of his life. He will reign in the Kingdom of God with other believers yet to come. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us (2 Timothy 2:11-12).

All believers should look forward to reigning with Christ. The 12 apostles, the foundation of our faith, were promised the reward of judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28). All believers will become kings and priests (Revelation 5:10). So if governance is our destiny, why does the New Testament say so little about   participating   in civil governments? Because the unrighteous leaders and Israelites of Jesus’ day had lost the right to govern themselves—and were   governed by their enemies—because of their disobedience to God (Leviticus 26:17, 36-38; Deuteronomy 28:25, 31-33, 48; 2 Kings 21:14; Nehemiah 9:7-37; Psalm   106:40;   Jeremiah 40:6).

The purpose of God and the work of His Church are accomplished in spite of civil governments. Jesus and his disciples were at times helped and at times harmed by Roman leaders, Jewish leaders, business people, synagogue attendees, “believers” and even the common people of the day. Romans chapter 13 leaves no doubt that God has left authority in civil governments. No verses declare the end of human governments until Christ returns. Rather, there is much evaluation of civil government in the New Testament—whether it is good or bad. Jesus went as far as telling the Roman governor, Pilate, that his sin was less than the sin of the Jewish leaders who betrayed Him (John 19:11).

However, the apostle Paul tells believers to bypass civil governments and handle our own legal cases among ourselves when possible, since we will be judging the angels in the future (1Corinthains 6:1-6). Also, Christians were instructed to choose their leaders to serve their widows, choose a man to deliver valuable charity and assemble together to remove a flagrant sinner from the Church (Acts 6:1-4; 1 Corinthians16:3; 5:1).

There is no New Testament command to overthrow the civil governments that God has put in power, nor is there any command to resign from them if one is a part of them. None of the dozen people with civil government positions in the New Testament are told to leave. The actions of two men show the right and wrong way to deal with a civil government that was trying to do something awful—kill Jesus Christ:

Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?” (John 18:10-11).

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and righteous man—he had not voted for their plan and action—from the Jewish town of Arimathea; and he was waiting for the kingdom of God (Luke 23:50- 51, ISV).

Peter’s efforts to fight the civil government were rebuked by Jesus: “Put your sword back in its sheath.” Joseph of Arimathea’s efforts to work through the civil government to save Jesus were praised: “a good and righteous man.” We also must remember, most of the other believers ran and hid—or just did nothing— probably still the most common course of action today when trials come upon believers. Sure, neither man was successful in saving Jesus because it was God’s plan for Jesus to die at the hands of corrupt human leaders. But we have Joseph’s good example of the right way to deal with civil government—to work through it for good, to whatever extent possible. So, John, I think you will find yourself in a situation similar to Joseph’s.

Most people in politics will not agree with you. They are not trying to apply the Scriptures to politics. You must already have that understanding because you are working with “third parties,” not the two major political parties. I frequently vote for third-parties myself—not because I think the candidates will get elected, but because I strongly disagree with much of the major party candidates’ views. Like Joseph’s minority vote to save Jesus, it is a vote to say, “Better alternatives were available, why did you not use them.” I see why you consider your political activities a ministry. It will be a hard-fought battle and the achievements and rewards may be small. You cannot be doing this for the power or money. But like Joseph of Arimathea, you can be a shining light of the right way to do things in a political world that often ignores the Bible.

You have more help. The book of Daniel shows how righteous men behave with high positions in civil government. John the Baptist gives people of power a little lesson about basic honesty—often a scarce commodity in civil government:

Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:12-14).

I am sometimes amazed at how many religious leaders cherish their religious freedom in the U.S.A., but who also teach Christians not to vote or work for civil governments. How did we get these freedoms? Did God write our constitution, give it to secular leaders, and say, “Here, I have protected my believers?” No! It was the result of largely God-fearing people who were willing to declare independence from a corrupt English government so they could worship God as they understood from the Scripture.

Keep on praying and studying, and make your political work a blessing to others.

To Whom It May Concern:

Today I received a copy of the Winter/Spring 2017 Shepherd’s Voice in the mail, courtesy of Rod Koozmin. Thank you kindly for sending the copy. While I found some of the articles interesting and was provoked to continue the gracious subscription, I have to ask that you discontinue our subscription for the reason below. I was very dismayed by the answer to   the   letter   about Isa. 9:6 (Heb., v. 5). While I appreciated the respondent’s polite demeanor, there was a simple, straightforward answer to the questions raised by the letter, which was never acknowledged or even considered, as far as I could see. Had the respondent known Hebrew or even asked someone who knows Hebrew to write a response, the issue quickly could have been clarified and resolved.

The resolution to the issue rests with the vowel pointing and form of the Hebrew word avi (“father”), which is followed by the maqqeph (short horizontal stroke) in the Hebrew text.

First, avi (with the half vowel khatef patakh and the hireq yod) = the construct of the absolute form of av (“father”), which appears with the long vowel qamets. In many cases, the construct form of av appears with a patakh without the hireq yod, but in several cases it does have the khatef patakh with the hireq yod, as in Isa. 9:6. The vowel change would probably go unnoticed by non-Hebrew readers (as seems to be the case with our respondent and inquirer), but those who read Hebrew can easily identify the issue. Next, the word avi is joined with the maqqeph to the following word ‘ad (“everlasting, etc.”), which also seems to appear in SVM with the initial Hebrew letter tsade rather than an ayin. (BHS [Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia manuscript] has the two words conjoined instead of using the maqqeph.)

While one could argue that the pointing and maqqeph were added later and these two words could be read as the inquirer proposed, I saw nothing in the apparatus of BHS or in the lexicon that would indicate it should be read and interpreted differently (e.g., the word av consistently appeared with the qamets, not the khatef patakh or patakh for the construct forms, when the various singular suffixes, such as “my”, “your singular”, etc., were applied). The conjoined words literally mean “father of perpetuity or ages” (it can be interpreted as “Everlasting Father”). Adding even more credence to my interpretation is the fact that this expression appears in a list consisting of the first word in the construct form/proper name followed by a modifier, such as   a participle, adjective, or noun (RSV: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God … Prince of Peace”). A subject and predicate sandwiched between this series would be strange indeed. This is the reason, plain and simple, that the inquirer cannot find any known translation that supports his dubious proposal.

If the text actually meant “My Father is everlasting” as proposed, then readers could have expected to find avi with a qamets and hireq yod and the words separated (not conjoined or appearing with a maqqeph), either with ‘ad before or following avi due to the poetic nature of this section of Isaiah. Moreover, the SVM author seemed unaware of a variant reading in the Septuagint text (Codex Alexandrinus, ca. 400s AD) that essentially agrees with the Hebrew text. The dominant reading is as cited in the response.

The answer to the larger question of the interpretation and theology of the passage rests with a knowledge of and the expression’s application in its historical context (Isa. 9:1-7). A Bible software program cannot do justice to this question, only knowing Hebrew and exegesis well enough to avoid needless speculation. I am saddened that our ministers know very little Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, to actually “do the best” that they are called upon. If you would like to discuss possible solutions to this dilemma, I would be happy to talk further.Regards,

Gary A. Staszak, M.A., C.A.S., Director

Sowers of the Seed

P.O. Box 1846

Manassas, VA 20108-1846

Tel: 703-396-7493

E-mail: info@sowersoftheseed. org Web: www.sowersoftheseed. org FB: @sowersoftheseed


Gary A. Staszak

Dear Gary,

Thank you very much for your letter and detailed Hebrew explanation. It is wonderful that you have so much detailed knowledge of the original languages manuscripts. I appreciate you helping our readers understand the true meaning of this verse— much better than I was able to do. As I mentioned, my Bible search program showed that there was no other place where that exact form occurred, so I had nothing that my language-limited ability allowed me to compare with. Your way is best. If I had known you beforehand, I would have gladly sent you the letter and asked you to explain it as you had time. Yes, I would like to discuss possible solutions to answering Bible Questions depending on original language translation.

As it is, I use the less-adequate computer programs and pray that I do not mislead myself or anyone else. Even though I did not have your resources to explain the matter precisely, God saw to it that I did not lead our readers astray.

That being said, I hope that you will also understand that there are many spiritual and educational gifts and that we are not all gifted alike. So there is a lot of room for people to minister who do not understand original languages. Certainly, many SVM readers will do some research from your letter and learn even more about Hebrew from it. I would think most have read the Bible through and are eager to learn something new about it. On the other hand, I have read that most professing Christians have never read the Bible all the way through in any translation. These people would benefit greatly from almost any truthful Bible teaching, even if the teacher knew almost nothing of Hebrew, Aramaic or Greek.

At the opposite extreme, I presently run a ministry to homeless people in Port Austin, Michigan. Some of the guests we serve cannot read, others cannot understand many of the complexities that we are covering here. Most would be doing well to learn that God loves them, He gave 10 commandments, He decides what sin is, He sent Jesus to die for their sins, they must repent and they must surrender their life to God. Some of the people who are most effective in teaching them have not read the Bible through either—but they pray, have faith and have love for others. I would never consider their efforts in these circumstances as insufficient as to disregard, discredit or discontinue working with them.

I will refrain from going into a discussion of the many spiritual gifts and why we need all of them, but I will honor you for your knowledge of languages and seek to spread it to other brethren who may be interested. We are continuing your subscription so that you may see the publication of this answer. I looked at your website and like your “non-denominational, non-sectarian” approach of an education ministry at which you are perhaps skilled—yet willing to work with a diversity of Believers.. The costs look affordable and the college credit options helpful to many people. I wish you well in your efforts. May God bless your efforts.

Dear Norm:

I would like to share some of my thoughts and a question about Jim Patterson’s article, The Independent Ministries of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist, SVM, Winter-Spring 2017.

Church organizational structure is one thing, but when accompanied by exclusivism, effecting the denial of legitimacy of any and all other organizations, whether organized or ‘independent’, a seriously detrimental condition operates. Carrying the matter further,   exclusivism   includes the idea that to ‘leave’ that sole organization amounts to forfeiting ones’ salvation. Such a concept reveals a misconception as to what salvation really is. It is also detrimental to the growth potential of the Body overall, limiting all evangelical operations to just a selected ‘approved’ echelon of ‘elders’.

While a particular ‘independent’ individual or group may be ‘independent’ of them, they are not necessarily independent of the True Master, as is the commonly presented allegation. We all too often consider the momentary structural situation, not taking into account the overall perspective of history. Many religious efforts and entities have come and gone over the centuries, not affiliated with each other, necessarily, but one with the True Master.

It is true that any collective effort must be organized in some manner. People working together can accomplish a lot more than individuals or small groups can. Diversity of Gifts is a clear Biblical situation, and no individual is endowed with all useful Gifts or Talents. It is expected that people pool their Talents and work together. The very idea of evangelists going out ‘two by two’ demonstrates the benefits of mutual counsel and the resulting enhanced effectiveness that that particular ‘ministerial effort’ can achieve.

While no organizational form seems to be recognized in the NT, what there is   seems   to be obscured or dismissed by those who advocate the typical organizational structure, which is most often closed, unaccountable and ‘top down’. Some will claim rulership by ‘elders’ or a ‘council’. The overriding thing to consider here is when such a ‘council’ is staffed by resigned “yes men” who have no capacity or opportunity for ‘independent’ thought or a real say in anything. To endorse the dictates and decisions of the Chief Leader (ship) or be ‘fired’ is the unfortunate situation that we have seen. Anyone appearing to be a ‘scholar’ is often intimidated, discredited or expelled if they had not been ‘appointed’ to the task. Scholars were expected to confirm the leadership’s teachings, not embark on a genuine quest for full understanding.

The Biblical examples reflect the chief honor toward the local servant (minister), not so much the ‘chief overseer’ as is usual. It is the local servant who knows each individual in his congregation, (the remote corporate leader does not) thus bearing a greater responsibility   for   their spiritual welfare, and worthy of the credit for their degree of proficiency. Further, the membership is charged with the oversight of their congregational affairs, including the assessment of their Servant’s effectiveness, or lack thereof. It isn’t just the Overseer (Bishop) who has a responsibility to oversee; the congregation does as well, overseeing the performance of their entire ministry. “Know them by their fruits” expresses this mandate.

We must always make a clear distinction between the Church and the Work of a particular church organization. Organization has its benefits, but it is not the Church. Any group of individuals who collaborate to do a Work   will   need   to   operate   with a degree of organization. However, this group/work is not the Church. (That is where ‘exclusivism’ injects a serious misconception.) Such an organized Work can do well or poorly, depending on the God-given Talents and the application thereof. Human personalities can be detrimental. Coveting of Power over accomplishment can pose another detriment. It’s when we look at the organization as the Church, rather than any particular sub- organization being a part of the Church that we leave ourselves handicapped. We are, have always been and always will be a Body, with differing parts throughout the ages. No “Work” organization has any exclusive claim to being “the Church” in its entirety. Such a concept all too often leaves Talents folded up in a napkin. Talents that could and should be developed. This is where a certain degree of ‘independence’ from the typical mental model is essential.

Any corporation – within itself– has the right to make the decisions appropriate to its own Mission, but that should not carry over to the exclusion of or the discreditation of other parallel “Works’. A “right hand of Fellowship” should exist among and between all who have God’s Spirit. This is where the admission of such situation can be confounding to some “organizations” who present themselves as the “Only True Church” when the best that could be said of them is that they might be a part of the one True Church. If they were honest, they should be able to admit that the promotional push is not so much to honor God and expound His Truth, but toward self-preservation and leadership esteem.

Mr. Patterson’s reference to Jesus’ work as an ‘independent ministry’ throws a certain light on the definition of ‘independent’. He was not independent of His Father. He was not obligated to conform to any earthly authority structure. Those who truly serve God are similarly ‘authorized’, so long as they work under His inspiration. Such people would not be contemptuous of parallel “Works” who are oriented to service toward those being called. (Mk.9:38-41)

The issue at this point, once we understand the function and value of a degree of ‘independence’ (that meaning being subject first to the same LORD, and to any organization only as it benefits the True Mission of a person or group), then under what arrangement can we collaborate to the betterment of all involved?—Richard Traver


Richard Traver

Dear Richard,

I agree with your letter. I feel new insight from the concept of Jesus as an independent minister. He clearly did not join any of the many religious or political factions of his day. He did not try to point out the best one or the worst one. He did not try to get people to quit groups, change groups or even start his own synagogues or churches. He taught people the truth, wherever they were: in the temple, synagogues or just outdoors. They witnessed his love, healing and teaching—and they kept coming. Why should we expect Jesus to work any differently in us, today? The New Testament church began to meet separately as they were cast out of synagogues, but there was no recorded plan to build buildings or to pay regular salaries. There are just promises God would take care of us as we are doing His work.

I will spend the rest of my space trying to answer your final, very good question. I have thought about it for years. The answer lies in a particular aspect of the ministry of Jesus. Jesus was perfect and righteous, yet he taught, associated with and even ate with all manner of people—even known “sinners.” He was among them, but he never let their sin cause him to sin.

In a similar manner, Christians who understand the truth of working by the power of the Holy Spirit, should form the right kinds of congregations and ministries, but not be afraid to work with groups who do not yet understand these things. For many Christians, all they know is a church denomination or organization. They have often seen many people come to God there, the Bible taught, healings, praise music written and performed, etc. Their missions and ministries, which are frequently good, are often performed by the single organization that is also the central, doctrinally controlling, church organization. Convincing them that this is not the biblical way to organize may take decades—or a bad experience within a church organization. Can you recall the numerous places in the New Testament where true believers had to be convinced that Gentiles could be saved without following the ceremonial Old Testament law? That took decades to depart.

Bible Believing Christians should:
  1. Know our salvation is dependent upon what Jesus has done for us, then our repentance and faith in God. It is not dependent upon any human group.
  2. Want to assemble with other believers to edify one another. We should find a place where we can both learn and receive help—and also be a help to others. Local congregations should be formed with whatever amount of structure is needed to be effective.
  3. Form ministries to do Christian work: preach the gospel, help the poor, heal the sick, encourage the suffering, etc. The ministry purposes should come first, and then the structure is built around it. If a group collects money to do a ministry in the future, it will collect people who mostly want money.
  4. Abandon fears of giving to small groups with minimal structure. It is important to give to a group or person whom you know and in whom you have seen real spiritual fruit.
  5. Avoid forming organizations that do these things: a) claim to be the exclusive or best church, b) require a profession of allegiance to the organization, c) define a specific set of doctrines that are “essential for salvation” or d) exert top-down control over many local congregations.
Bible Believing Christians should be willing to work with other believers:
  1. who are willing to work with you. This is sometimes amazing, as God apparently blinds some very diverse  Christians to their “differences” and they are able to accomplish much together.
  2. who do not cause you to stray from what you understand to be true and right.
  3. who have some doctrines or practices you consider in error— but who may learn from you by being in contact with you.
  4. who have spiritual gifts or right doctrines or practices that you do not—you may be able to learn from them after seeing real fruit from these things.

We must always remember Jesus’ admonition: “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you” (Matthew 7:2). If we judge   somebody   to be an unbeliever because of their deficiency—or for a spiritual gift or right doctrine that they understand and we do not—can we expect to be judged as an unbeliever as well?

Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand (Romans 14:4).

We need to make a distinction between these four different kinds of professing Christians:

  1. People who claim to be Christians, but who hold to doctrines and practices that clearly disqualify them. For example, people who do not really believe that Jesus Christ came in the flesh (1 John 4:2-3). Polytheist groups are also in this category—those who see the God of the Bible as just one of many gods.
  2. People who might be Christians, but with whom we cannot effectively work together. Exclusivist Christian groups are often in this category. If we were to evangelize with them, they would want to teach all new believers that one must join their organization—which would be taking them away from God. Even so, sometimes individual brethren in these groups will work with us contrary to their organizations teaching. As another example, some groups are so tolerant of fornication and adultery that they are a danger to those wanting to follow the Scripture.
  3. Other Christians with whom we can work. We may have small or even large differences on doctrine and practices, but still agree on a central ministry to perform together. The emphasis is to bring people to God, not to make Christians “just like us”. We should not offend them by frequently pointing out our differences. If our doctrines and practices are needed by these other believers, God will draw them to us and they will want to know.
  4. Christians with similar beliefs to ours. These are the brethren with whom we should associate with most closely and allow “iron to sharpen iron”. But we should never make the mistake of thinking we are “God’s favorite” or “better than other Christians”.

I think these general principles are very helpful, but deciding who we will work with, and when, is something we simply need to seek Christ for on a case by case basis. He is able to lead His Church. We simply need faith that He will and accept the work that He does.

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