Somewhere between 1999 and 2001, I hosted a few online voice chats using a program called Firetalk (which was later taken over by PalTalk). Connected to the Internet via dial-up at the time produced some very interesting situations, such as having the connection terminated without realizing it until who-knows-how-long. :) Anyhow, Stephen contacted me when reading something about a previous Firetalk event.
Stephen, I have been very encouraged by your email, I love hearing the testimony from others of the work of God in causing their whole being to be unsettled when they are sensing the absence of Christ in many teachings.
I have spoken on Firetalk for a few months now and I have attracted a few very contentious people who have made it their "ministry" to heckle me as I speak. It can be very irritating and I have wondered as it was going on how it was affecting the others. For the most part, I hate chat groups because it is mostly just an excuse for people to anonymously express themselves. I've been denounced, been called "heretic", "deceived", "of the devil". Currently, I've been the object of the Firetalk religious rumor-mill where I'm told many are claiming that I don't believe the Bible.
My point in all of this is simple. The ones who come in to attack me think they are doing God's will. They rebuke and demand for me to recant of my lies and deception while warning others of me. But the whole time they WILL NOT SPEAK OF CHRIST. This past Friday night, the "well-respected well-known, ordained minister" who demanded to hear me "explain" my belief concerning the authority of the Bible blindly ignored all I said and then when I asked him what he thought of Christ being "the word made flesh" ... he would not say ANYTHING about it. Some of the others were simply blown away by the obvious absence of Christ in everything the "preacher" said.
I have come to see that this is a very healthy thing for believers to witness. After my first brutal encounter by this particular man and another, who I refer to as "Heckle and Jeckle", I finished the evening feeling rather beat up and discouraged by my fears that the other believers would be swayed by them. One of the listeners sent me an instant message letting me know how much his respect for me had grown! Wow! What a needed encouragement at that time. It didn't bother him that I didn't answer most of the hecklers' questions ... he was encouraged by witnessing my determination not to be pulled off speaking of Christ.
Stephen, what I'm saying to you is that YOU have been that witness to MANY, MANY people around you right at the time and place where you thought you had failed! Remember Jesus before Pilate. Paul called it the "good confession". But this "confession" has been considered a failure on the part of Jesus because he wouldn't say anything on his own behalf. We know what it is to suffer with him in this ... most of us just don't realize at the time that this is what is occurring because we are viewing from the world's perception. Weakness is a good confession. Stand firm when it is being demanded of you to answer according to the flesh ... for you have but one appeal ... Christ, and Christ alone.