The Legend of

yes you read it correctly, a legend in his own mind

Ladies and gentlemen the story you are about to read is true, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Joking aside, this is not written to be funny, nor to indict or disparage anyone. There are valuable bible lessons here that should become obvious.

UPDATE: I am thrilled to report all these years later, that by all appearance having matured some in the faith; "Zack the Zealot" is not the same man described herein.

Now he appears to be just Zack, the servant of Jesus Christ! 

However, these spiritual lessons are too important to let them go to waste. I hope readers will learn from them. 

"Zack the Zealot"

Years ago a young man began working at a major grocery chain near my home. Let's call him "Zack". I suppose he had worked there since his high school days. I got to know him fairly well over the years watching him grow up. As the years passed, he began to ask me business advice for his little side business. It was in a field for which I had a great deal of knowledge and experience.

Then one day about nine years ago, I walked in and Zack's face was beaming. He looked like he was about to explode. So I took the bait and asked him what was going on. Suddenly, like a storm cloud bursting forth with a downpour of rain, Zack began to tell me how he had gotten saved.

Soon afterward, I affectionately nicknamed him “Zack the Zealot”. Because typical of new believers, he was packed with zeal and void of any wisdom or scriptural knowledge. He was going to change the world; and at last he would be the one to set the church on a right path, after two tousand years of error. Like most young zealots, Zack seemed to be the only one on earth who didn't recognize his multiple lackings.

Zack the Zealot was especially proud of the fact that he attended this mega church. It was apparently en vogue and the place for the "A-List Super Spiritual Elite" to be seen. His pastor was a local celebrity pastor, with followers who believed he was a prophet. I'd heard people say that speaking privately with him was like speaking with the Apostle Paul. WOW! Let me say, while I don't always agree with Zack's pastor, I have a great deal of respect for him on several levels. No one can deny his courage and conviction, nor his commitment to Jesus Christ. That is a most important trilogy in my estimation; and he is everything they claim in that regard. But the Apostle Paul? Obviously, they need to re-read "The Acts of the Apsotles".

Zack the Zealot began talking with me rather freely about the word, which I enjoyed. But the blend of his excessive self assurance, and his excessive scriptural ignorance, often became almost unbearable. A little went a long way. I began to wonder whether Zack had been cloned from another man I knew named; ...well let's call him "John".

Back when John was still being spiritually potty trained, he strutted around town with a bible stuck in his hip pocket like a "banty rooster" as we say in the South. There's nothing wrong with the bible part of that, except John was cocked and ready to set anyone straight who disagreed with him. Please understand, I love Brother John. He is a very special brother to me. But my love for him doesn't delete his history of making dirty diapers. We all have such a history; it's part of growing up to maturity.

John seemed interested in spiritual gifts and manifestations. So I told him about William Branham. I affectionately refer to Brother Branham as BroBran, and proudly call him my spiritual father in the faith. I told John that while BroBran passed away in 1965, I had a library full of his teachings. John asked, so I loaned him a BroBran teaching tape.

When John returned the tape he nodded his approval, and then he said the teaching was pretty good. But then he said, "...if I could talk to that man I could set him straight on a couple of things...." John was 18-months old in the Lord; and he was going to set BroBran straight?

Anyone slightly familiar with BroBran would blush at that statement. I have had the good fortune of knowing not a little Greek. I have owned and used Big Kittle since 1979. Anyone familiar with Big Kittle knows what I mean by that. For nearly four decades I've used A.T. Robertson, Edersheim, Scroggie, Brown-Driver-Briggs, Ante Nicene Fathers, the Colonel, and other exhaustive and invaluable sources. Yet I have as great, or greater reverence for BroBran's unique understanding of the Word as any of those scholars. 

A NOTE ABOUT BROBRAN: In my teachings you may find I refer to BroBran freely. I refer to him as my spiritual father in the faith. I do not preach William Branham, I preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified! Nor do I put my brain on a shelf for anyone! I do not accept any teaching that does not match scripture, as best as I understand it! But anyone who understands what BroBran meant by what he said, and is familiar with his communication, and how he taught; they would find that his teachings agree more often than not with all the aforementioned scholars. I refuse to sever my sacred bond with him because a few foolishly deified him, or held his teachings as infallible, or baptized one another in his name, or twisted his words to say things BroBran neither said or meant. Many twisted Jesus' teachings, made Paul their idol, even baptized in Paul's name. None of that changes how I feel about Jesus or Paul; nor does any of it change my feelings for BroBran. 

But I digress.

As John spoke so arrogantly and self assured, all I could think about was how many critics had tried that with BroBran. Usually, when they came into proximity, they would feel the presence of the Angel of the Lord. He always stood next to BroBran in those meetings. By that time, they would come to their senses and chicken out.

But, some came with such arrogance, such self assurance, and so determined to trick BroBran, it was like when the Pharisees often tried to trick Jesus. So by the time some critics sensed the angel's presence, they had already gone too far, they had crossed that dead line. Then they would typically fall on their faces, grab the cuffs of BroBran's trousers, and beg for mercy. Usually, it was too late. Most were hauled out of the meetings, often crippled for life. Sometimes, years later BroBran would get letters from them begging for mercy. But it wasn't BroBran who they had challenged, who they had insulted, or who struck them.

John was under-qualified to do what he averred. If he'd had such an opportunity and tried to set BroBran "straight", he could have easily ended up in a "straight-jacket" in some mental institution; pun intended!

So for John's arrogant sake, I'm glad he was not able to “set that man straight” to use his words. Thankfully, by all appearance John has outgrown much of that arrogance and pride, as well as the residual baggage that came with it.

As previously stated, there were times when Zack the Zealot seemed like he was genetically cloned from John. It was that same spirit of arrogance, and desiring the preeminence, wanting to be first.

Within a few weeks, I was checking out my groceries and Zack found out I was a preacher. He asked where we were going to church. I told him we were still looking. For years, we were unable to attend church because we had been severely poisoned. Our immune systems had been so ravaged by the poisoning that we were left with environmental sensitivities and allergies. And my wife was bedridden for over four years. He said, "why didn't YOU go?" I tried to explain how she couldn't be left alone back then, and that our situation was just really complicated. Exposures to perfumes can sometimes be devastating; it's just too complicated to describe in two or three minutes in a check out line. Plus, I didn't want everyone standing around us hearing so much of our private health information. 

Suddenly, it was like I was being cross examined by Zack the Zealot, in front of the other customers. I was trying to avoid being misjudged again. But it didn't work.

Zack the Zealot looked at me with such contempt, like I was anathema for missing a single Sunday service. Now he was going to set me straight.

He tried firing scripture at me, but apparently was a bad shot because missed every time. 

But the next time I came in to shop, he had his big bible with him. This thing was bigger than a telephone directory; and almost the size of my big 50-year old green Strong's Concordance. It was one with notes in the margin. It was as out of place as if he'd brought  a big bore elephant gun to a squirrel hunt.

But again, he failed to win his debate on scripture. So he fell back to position with his bible's commentary. He pointed out one of the commentary notes from Acts 3:46. When that failed even worse, he then cited his celebrated pastor.

As his voice pitched higher, his anxiety grew more palpable. Then he said , "...I go to XYZ Church, and John Doe is my pastor, and he is a prophet, and I know he's right, and I'm standing with Pastor John Doe...." But Zack the Zealot was green, he was wrong, and he had a wrong spirit.

Honestly, I could have shredded Zack the Zealot like oatmeal in front of everyone that day; with the word, with early church history, with general history, and with our several pounds of medical records; but I didn't. What would have been the point? I'd rather he look like an immature jerk, than for me look like a "Bible Bully".

Others standing by shook their heads in disbelief at his immaturity. Had I been his pastor and found out about it, he would have been in my office before he was allowed back into my congregation.

But I was publicly subjected to his immaturity when all I was trying to do was buy groceries. The reason? Because he didn't understand the war I had been fighting; and because I refused to agree with him when I knew he was wrong about our unique circumstances; and because he was simply too immature in every way, and on every level to realize he didn't know everything. In fact, he didn't realize how little he actually did know, and therefore was under-qualified to sit as my judge, or anyone else's.

Years later, I was speaking with another employee there. When I mentioned how I had a disagreement with someone there over a doctrinal issue, they busted out laughing. Then they blurted out, “...oh, that musta' been Zack....” Zack the Zealot has a reputation that precedes him. I'm not sure the Lord is going around bragging to satan, the angels, and the principalities, "Have you considerd my servant Zack?"

I doubt Zack the Zealot has spoken 20 words to me in the 8-10 years since that incident. I go there a few times each week, and he generally avoids me. That's a lot of silence, It's a lot of avoidance. It's a lot of immaturity!

What happened in the case with Zack the Zealot? 

First, he showed me and everyone present he was void of maturity, spiritual or otherwise!

Second, he showed he was unteachable; as he didn't listen to anything I said. 

Third, he was not walking in love; and its doubtful he even knew then what "agape" is, or means.

Fourth, he was not filled with the Holy Spirit; regardless of whether or not he spoke in tongues.

Fifth, he knew he was wrong, otherwise he would not have been wroth, and his countenance would not have fallen, just like his mentor Cain.

Folks, don't go around telling people you serve Jesus Christ, and then without any provocation, publicly act like Zack the Zealot did that day! 

If I had been an unbeliever and witnessed that kind of unprovoked conduct, I would never want to listen to Zack the Zealot share the gospel, nor would I ever want to go to his church!

And never argue over scripture. BroBran taught and practiced this philosophy saying, "...if the Holy Spirit can't change their heart, who do I think I am that I can...." It was an issue important enough for the Apostle Paul to warn Titus and Timothy. He ordered them to, "...avoid foolish questions...and debates...." Actually, from the Greek text one could accurately paraphrase it this way, "...never take questions from or debate with a moron...."

Debate is not our weapon of choice. That is not how Spirit Filled warriors deal with critics. Critics and other opponents are better left for God to deal with. God may have you challenge them to a Mount Carmel meeting, like spiritual dueling. But God is the One who responds and brings about the results, not us.

BroBran taught us another good life maxim, "...if two brothers can't talk about the bible all day long and disagree, yet still love each other as much as if they agreed, then somebody's a lyin' about bein' a Christian..."

So if you cannot agree with someone, first examine yourself to see if you may be the one who is wrong. If you find you are correct, then pray for your adversary. And most of all, no matter how they act toward you, love them. God can bring them to their knees and make them come to you. He can even make them beg you to share the truth with them one more time. I know whereof I speak.

Don't make the mistakes John and Zack the Zealot made. Dirty diapers stink! In Romans 12:3, the Apostle Paul commanded "...every man...not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly...." He is telling every one of us to make a sober evaluation of who we are, our level of knowledge and maturity, how we must walk in that level, and how we must progress up to the next level. After eleven chapters of theology, Paul changes gears in chapter twelve. Now he begins giving it to us straight, plain old practical Christianity. Actually, in those first few verses he covers body, soul, and spirit; and carefully lays a foundation for how to know and operate in functional gifts.

But I digress.

So after making that "sober evaluation", if you should reach the conclusion that you think you are spiritually and scripturally mature, then act like it!

Don't act publicly the way Zack the Zealot did that day! It dishonors the Lord.


- GERRY PHILLIPS - 1955-2015