BlackCalvinist May 20th, 2012
It’s interesting to see people misquote Jesus who claim to be Christian. What’s not interesting is to see the millions of biblically illiterate folks follow along with them without even once opening their bible to see if what was said was:
1. Actually in the Bible
2. Actually said by Jesus
3. Said in the same context as they mean it
4. Means the same thing as they mean.
So, this series is going to start off pretty simple and straightforward. The words of Jesus on particular topics that people say ‘Jesus never said anything about that’. We’re also going to see if the rest of scripture agrees with this or if the apostles introduce something ‘new’ to the mix along the way (for the benefit of our ‘red letter Bible’ friends who think the only things that matter in the NT are the words of Jesus).
So here’s my basic topic list – What Did Jesus Say About (WDJSA):
- Who He is
- Repentance and Faith
- Homosexuality, Marriage, Adultery and Pre-marital Sex
- The Bible
- The Poor
- Election and Predestination
- Church Leadership
- Social Justice
I’m more than willing to expand the list, so feel free to add some possible topics in the comments below or on Facebook.
*edit: Just added a few more to the list.
BlackCalvinist January 25th, 2012
Scripture was written in different genres.
Most people miss this fact when they approach it, which is why some of them have such a hard time trying to understand what scripture is teaching or attempting to communicate at different places.
That is to say, there are some parts that are written as instructional literature (Leviticus, Colossians) where step-by-step directions were given, or direct commands to do one thing and not another. Some were written as narrative (1 & 2 Samuel, Acts, the Gospels) where a story was being told to the reader and events were being related.
There is also prophetic language (Isaiah 40 and forward, Daniel 7, 9-12, Revelation) where images and symbols were used (in some cases) to represent actual things, people and events. Sometimes, the images used were literal; other times, they were/are figurative (i.e. the woman in Rev. 12 who gives birth to the man child that will rule the nations with a rod of iron). Other times (Isaiah 46 for example), simple direct statements on what will happen are given (no illustrations or images necessary).
There is wisdom literature (James, Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes) where the reader is taught truth via illustration, narrative and long-form arguments. A ‘long-form’ argument can be a number of illustrations, stories and logical statements all ‘piled up’ over time to point to one particular point or truth. They require a longer attention span, more reading and/or listening and more attention to detail. For example, Proverbs 1:20-33 takes wisdom (which is defined for us in Proverbs 1:1-7) and personifies it and then explains how wisdom will ‘mock’ when calamity strikes those who choose to ignore its’ counsel. The book of Job is a masterful piece of wisdom literature, as all of Job’s friends, Job himself and God Himself all go into extended long-form arguments and illustrations to make their cases.
Occasionally, we also see poetic literature (Psalms, Job, Song of Solomon). Poetic scripture, like wisdom literature (and in some cases, some books are both) may use illustrations and analogies to teach a particular point, or, like prophetic literature, it may also simply come straight out and say what it means (example, Psalm 150).
Understanding scripture entails that we take the time to understand first and foremost what it is that we are reading.
One blessing of the modern age in western society is that we have any number of biblical resources available to help us realize what it is we’re reading so that no believer has to be left wondering ‘what does scripture mean by this’ ? A responsibility in an age of much is that much is also required of us (Luke 12:48). The responsibility to handle scripture accurately (2 Tim. 2:15) is not just the job of the preacher, but of all believers (just like the qualifications for deacon and elder are applicable to all believers, not just those seeking the office).
So I recommend checking out sites like bible.org, carm.org, biblestudytools.net, reformed.org, graceonlinelibrary.org, ligonier.org, gty.org and others that support and encourage believers to engage in serious study of the scriptures for the purpose of knowing what you believe, why you should believe it, how to live it and what to proclaim to others.
Once we figure out what it is we’re reading, some rules begin to come into play to guide our interpreting.
For example, Acts is not a theological manual. It’s a narrative. Is there theology in Acts ? Definitely. There is theology (and by that word, we simply mean teaching about God, man and salvation that must be believed) in all of scripture. But was Acts written to teach us what is to be considered normative for every believer in every age or is it describing what happened in history (specifically in the early history of the church) ?
From this, we can deduce that taking a passage or event in Acts and saying ‘this happens to every believer in every age and was not just a one-time event’ is an error. Examples of this error can be readily found in the pentecostal movements’ use of Acts 2 as ‘normative’ (every believer must speak in tongues as a sign of the Holy Spirit indwelling them). Even in the book of Acts, every believer didn’t speak in tongues at conversion (Acts 16 for example).
On the other hand, books like 1 Thessalonians were written as direct instructions to believers. Is there theology here ? You better believe it. Is there narrative here ? Some. Paul makes references in both letters to the church at Thessalonica to when he and Timothy came and spent time among them, how the word of their Christian love has spread throughout other churches and more. But the primary focus of both letters (1 and 2 Thessalonians) is instruction, not narrative. Questions on the return of Christ and the coming final judgement are answered (1 Thess. 4, 5) , how to conduct ourselves in relation to other believers (1 Thess. 4:3-8), how to conduct ourselves in the church (1 Thess. 5:18 and forward) and more.
In the next installments, I’ll write for a bit on how to deal with some of the other genres of scripture and a bit more detail on what to ‘expect’ when you approach scripture and what you should expect so that your expectations don’t lead you to false conclusions regarding scripture.
pastorway December 1st, 2011
Verse of the Day - John 10:3b
…and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
Jesus not only talks to us as our shepherd – He also calls us by name! Can you remember a time when you ran into someone you knew that you knew but had trouble recalling their name. You know, you smile and talk kindly to them because you know you know them and you try so hard to remember who they are! Hopefully they remember you or else you have a nice conversation and neither of you knows who the other really is.
Thankfully, even though Jesus rules the universe, He always recalls our name. He knows who we are and He will never (He cannot ever) forget who we are. The Book of Isaiah even tells us that our names are carved into the palms of God’s hands (Isa 49:16). He can’t drop us, shake us off, wash us away, or lose His grip on us. He cares so much about us and loves us so much that He does call us by name.
This is also significant of a special, intimate relationship. He knows us and calls us. He talks with us. He cares about us and our lives. No matter how small we seem or our needs seem in the scheme of things – God calls out to us by name.
Do you ever feel forgotten? Alone? Like no ones cares or even cares to care? Like you are a nobody, worthless and abandoned? Well, no matter how you feel you must understand that He knows you, He never leaves you, and He calls you by name. Sure you can’t see Him, that is why salvation requires faith, but you can know without a single doubt that He is there. At times we just need to inform our feelings of the truth.
And not only does He care and call us by name, He also leads us out. We will look later at what happened when the sheep leave the fold but for now it is important to notice that the shepherd leads the sheep. The shepherd is not a cowboy. He doesn’t drive the sheep like a herd of cattle. He doesn’t use a whip and loud noises to direct his flock. The shepherd simply and gently leads the way.
The sheep trust the shepherd. They know Him. He calls to them by name, they hear His voice and want to be where He is, so they follow. He leads, they follow. That is the Christian life summed up. He doesn’t whip, drive, beat, herd, or yell – He just simply leads the way. And if we know Him and hear His voice we follow wherever He goes. Wherever that may be we are safe because He is there with us, before us, leading us. We are safe, secure, protected, provided for, encouraged, motivated, and fed. We are loved.
Notice that in order to follow, we, the sheep, must know where the shepherd is, we must listen for His voice, and when we hear it we must follow wherever He leads. It is a matter of faith. Every day we must believe, trust, obey, and follow our shepherd. That is the only way to please Him, to get fed and watered and find rest with Him.
Today listen once again for His voice. When you hear it, be willing to follow wherever He leads. He expects you to follow today – will you? No Fear. No Worry. Just Faith. Just Jesus! Follow Him as He calls you personally by name today. Bask in His amazing love for you. (If you are not in the Word, you won’t hear His voice!)
Bible Reading For Further Study
Recommended Songs for Family Worship
click here to find more daily devotionals on The Good Shepherd by Pastor Way
BlackCalvinist November 6th, 2011
So this scan of an excommunication letter has been making its’ way around the internet for the past few days (literally – gone viral in 24-48 hours).
What’s interesting is the responses I’ve read to it. Having been close to most of my pastors in my life, this letter isn’t a big shock to me – but apparently, even to some professing Christian folks, this letter is (supposedly) rude, shocking and unexpected.
I’ve commented a few times: the only people whining and complaining about the letter are people whose churches don’t practice church discipline and/or they haven’t read their bibles. I have no idea on what has happened on ‘both sides’ of this particular issue, nor am I writing to address that….just to comment on the content of the letter and whether or not it is biblical or not.
It is. Plain and simple.
American individualism and charismatic spirituality have made church-hopping and a low view of church membership commonplace. Don’t like church A ? Disagree with the pastor ? Don’t like the music, advertising, marketing of your church and think they could do more ? Leave and find one that fits you. After all, church should affirm you and all that you believe. The church growth movement (purpose driven church, becoming a contagious Christian, etc….) have only reinforced this mentality into the minds of the culture, even among Christians who appear to be biblically solid in every other area of their polity.
A few questions came up on one message board related to this letter.
1. Usually, when people walk away from Christianity, some people cite 1 John 2:19 and say the person was never really saved to begin with. If this person was never “saved” in the first place and has forsaken the fellowship together with other believers, how can Pastor Shade in his letter, exhort this person to “…turn away from your self-destructive path and turn back to Christ as your Lord and Savior.”
Because that’s what the Pastor’s job is – to call people to repentance (Acts 17:30-31). The gospel is not just for the unsaved, but for believers as well and a good pastor constantly points his sheep to follow and serve Christ and turn from sin. A question like this usually treats the gospel as a message only for believers and repentance as a one-time event. Scripture doesn’t.
2. In your two posts (see 121 and 135) you seemed to intimate that there were three groups of people – the non-elect outside of the church, the unsaved in the church (who might or might not be elect) pretending to be saved and the elect. Would you say this person to whom this letter is addressed to is “elect”, “almost elect” or “might be elect”? I would think that you’d say this person is definitely not elect since the elect can’t/won’t turn from fellowship with Christ.
I would say it to someone who once associated themselves with the covenant community and made vows before many witnesses and God that they would do all the things contained in the covenant. This isn’t an ‘election’ issue. A pastor is not called to ‘preach the gospel to the elect’. Further, there is no ‘almost elect’.
As for you saying the person isn’t elect…well….they’re not dead yet, so no one can say this with certainty – hence the call to repent and the invitation and opportunity to return. I’ll go into detail on this in another answer below.
BTW – this isn’t a ‘reformed’ issue. One of my old churches (which is dispensational and moderately Arminian) and my old pastor would’ve handled this issue the exact same way with virtually the same language. It’s a biblical issue, not a reformed issue. The problem is that the reddit reader who originally posted it don’t understand church membership or church discipline.
3. If he’s not elect, how can he be restored to Christ’s body? Are you saying that Christ has parts of his body that are NOT elect?
In the second link provided above (135) I talk a bit about what happens when a believer hears the warning passages in scripture versus an unbeliever. An unbeliever hears the warning passages and ignores them, refuses to repent and walks further away from Christ. A believer hears them, is convicted by the Spirit of God and turns (repents). It may not happen on the first time they hear a call to repentance or the second, but it will happen. 1 John 3:9-10 is a guarantee of this.
4. Pastor Shade said, “By this excommunication, we are declaring that you are no longer part of the company of the saved”
This would hold to what you and Ricky describe as people being a part of the “visible church” but not a part of the “invisible church”? Or do I have that backwards? But then this would again mean that this person is not “saved ” or “elect” in the first place, but only in the “company of the saved” but not “actually saved”, right?
Church has that right (Matt. 16:19, 1 Cor. 5:1-11) given by God. If they repent, great and praise God. But read closely – you are no longer part of the company of the saved (the visible church). Is it possible he’s saved and going through a period of rebellion ? Yep. But scripture only knows of Christians who are part of a visible local body.
Ever seen an arm by itself ? Ever seen a toe live on its’ own ?
So declaring dude to not be a part of the company of the saved is saying “you’re cut off from the body. There is no life outside of the body. Come back, or die.”
5. Can God’s “elect” be turned over to satan for their destruction? I think your answer would be a definite “no” on that one, but I just want to be sure…
That’s what excommunication is. Why would my answer be a no when that’s the very language used in 1 Cor. 5 to describe the man who was kicked out ? The good thing is that in 2 Cor., we find that he has repented and been restored to the body.
To be more specific, excommunication is both an act of love and of discipline – love for the body to keep them from the leaven of professing brothers and sisters who continue to sin openly (1 Cor. 5). A little leaven, leavens the whole lump. Being placed outside of the covenant community, outside of the fellowship and accountability of the saints, it is hopeful that the person excommunicated will, like the prodigal son, find himself eating with the pigs and come to his senses and turn.
All that said, the tone and the content of the letter is both serious and loving. It amazes me (okay, it really doesn’t) that folks are up in arms over the fact that:
1. Dude has been repeatedly called and asked to return to fellowship – both in letter and in word (personally). He has ignored these repeated calls to repent.
2. The session (not the individual pastor) made the decision, not the senior pastor. For the non-reformed – scripture does NOT teach that ONE pastor/elder/bishop is to rule over a church and everyone falls under him. What scripture DOES teach is multiple elders at each church, all equal in power though differing in role (teaching elders and ruling elders). So that means thatmultiple people made a decision – not one person.
3. Matthew 18 seems to have been followed according to the letter. ‘Let him be as a heathen and a tax collector’ means that you do not treat him as a part of the covenant community. You pursue him to repent and turn from sin, but you no longer consider or treat him as a Christian. Look at the passage carefully:
Matthew 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Remember the context – a Jew would understand that a Gentile and a tax collector were NOT to be treated as the people of God. Gentiles were outside of the covenant made by God with His people and tax collectors were people who were considered traitors (specifically if they were Jewish tax collectors – robbing their own people to pay the pagans and make themselves rich). In that aspect, an excommunication ruling (specifically in this case as laid out in the letter) indeed does say ‘based on your actions, we are declaring you not to be a Christian’. What that entails is not a wish for the man to go to hell. Rather, there is an open door and opportunity to repent – an encouragement even.
Only American individualism and biblical ignorance can find problems with this letter. Of course, if someone has a case (a biblical case) against the content of the letter, I am more than willing to both listen and if necessary, retract everything posted here. Otherwise, this stands.
Pray for the elders at CRC, as I’m betting pastor Shade’s e-mail has been overrun with folks blasting him and their church over the letter. American Christianity is way overdue for a biblical primer on biblical church discipline. The fact that so many churches have so many morally failing pastors is due in part to the fact that church discipline is not practiced (under the guise of ‘grace’). This lack of holiness is part and parcel of why the church looks more and more like the world in the US – self-absorbed (and catered to by the Osteens of the church world), self-concerned (and catered to by the Rick Warrens’ of the church world) with little concern for anything else other than making a better ‘me’ and living in ‘prosperity’ (catered to by the Jakes, Myers, Copelands and Hinn’s of the church circuit).
BlackCalvinist November 3rd, 2011
Harold Camping – one stroke, two bad teachings and three failed prophecies later, has apologized for his rapture predictions.
So yeah. I hope to see him come forward and disavow more stuff.
But part of me is still carefully reading that….is it just me or does it seem like he’s left some ‘open forum’ to come back with another prediction later ?
Pray his repentance is genuine and that more good fruit will follow from it (more repentance).
BlackCalvinist October 31st, 2011
I blogged a few days back on my personal blog about the current lack of time I’m dealing with and how it’s made me a bit disappointed in the amount of work I’ve NOT been able to put in on LDM and TCDC.
On Saturday (the day before my birthday), Tim Challies blogged about his consistent blogging streak - 8 years exactly without a day missed. Looking at the blogsphere and how it’s developed over the years, TCDC has been left in the dust quite a bit – I don’t consistently put up new material here like I used to. I have a little bit of envy (in a good way) because that kind of consistency is good and godly. I originally thought I’d be able to spread myself around a bit more with LDM, but the same cares of life seem to have sapped the life out of regular posts here as well (maybe only for a time).
All in all, yesterday (my birthday – thanks to all those on FB and in person who gave me a call, left a message,etc….) I had a little reflection time and started to consider how best I could repurpose my time so I can get these ministry things rolling again. Do I fill ‘every minute of the day’ with something (including writing in time to relax, spend time with my wife, blog, etc….) or do I continue to ‘wing it’ like I’ve been doing ?
As structured as I can be as a band director, I dislike schedules, walls, and limits. Budgets too. But maybe these are things I need to work myself personally into as a regular habit of doing. I think about things that are video worthy and blog worthy – and there are many – but I sometimes think that I may waste time in not actively pursuing and getting them done in a timely fashion.
So maybe over the next 365 days, I’ll spend some time trying to see how consistent I can be with new entries, new videos, etc….
So keep TCDC and LDM in prayer. And me. Let’s see what happens (my guess: I’ll do well for a week of consistent blogging, then more work will pile up and I’ll forget I made this blog post for 3 months….lol).
BlackCalvinist July 18th, 2011
From The Apologist:
Grace & Peace family, my name is Will (the apologist of Christcentric) and we were asked by a Christian pro choice coalition to record a song exposing the evils of late term abortion. We are making this song available as a free download, we are writing to you because we need your help to raise awareness by making this song available on your site as a free download. Hope to hear back from you. Grace & Peace
William Mendoza The Apologist of Christcentric
Download it from here
pastorway July 3rd, 2011
Proverbs 27:17 – As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
An examination of this verse shows us that the foundations of a friendship, when based on mutual unconditional love, give us the ability to aid one another in the pursuit of holiness. It is speaking about working with each other and teaching each other so that we are becoming more and more like Christ, by the power of the Spirit through the application of the Word of God to our daily lives. It is, in short, a snapshot of what it means to be making disciples.
Discipleship is often misunderstand and even more often neglected in the Evangelical church today. So much that the church does is so far from the Biblical blueprint for ministry that the church seems to be losing its way. People pick a church as a consumer picks a restaurant. Do they serve my favorite foods? Is the service good? Do I leave feeling satisfied? Is the price paid a fair value for goods received? The corporate meeting of the local church has become more and more about what the congregation wants and less and less about what God commands!
Instead of coming to focus on God and give Him the glory and honor and praise due His name, people come to church to feel better about themselves and how God supposedly views them. They come to get, not give. They come with felt needs, seeking a solution to their problems, wanting encouragement that it will all turn out okay. In fact, people are very good at going to church but very bad at being the church. Why is this?
It is the evidence of a failure within the leadership of the church to uphold the Word of God. The simple, straightforward, foolish to the natural man Word of God. And the greatest area of neglect appears to be the area of disciple making. How can we make disciples when we are wanting to come and get instead of give? The process and the relationship of making disciples is very much a two way street. It is not just coming to get from the professional Christians whose job it is to teach us the Word of God and encourage us in living what we hear. Discipleship occurs inside and outside the meeting of the church. It occurs when two Christians work hard at building one another up. It is indeed Body Building. The work of service to each other in the Body of Christ for the purpose of edifying the whole church.
The leadership, our elders and pastors, are given by Christ to the church for the specific task of equipping us to build each other up. It is how Christ builds His church. Pastor-teachers work at “equipping the saints for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the Body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12). That means that we are to be taught how to make disciples. So if we are failing to make disciples we must start where we see the root of the problem. And that root is the failure of those in leadership within the church to do things God’s way!
If it is true that many Christians are not being discipled or making disciples, then the church is not growing. No matter how many people are attending services, no matter how many members are on the roll, no matter how much money is given, no matter how large the building, and no matter how dedicated the congregation – if we are not making disciples we are failing to obey one of the primary and essential commands given by Christ to His Church.
Perhaps the truth is that we have not been taught how to disiple others. Perhaps we have had a wrong view of discipleship all along. Or maybe we are not being held accountable to actually go and make disciples. Whatever the case and wherever the problem, we need to see discipleship for what it is and that will help us to determine whether or not we are being equipped for service to one another in the body.
Disciple making is not about a teacher/student relationship. There is a false belief prevelant in much of the church today that it is the job only of those who are mature or who are assigned the role of teacher in the church to disciple those who are younger and perhaps weaker in the faith. While there is responsibility for the older (more mature) to teach the younger (babes in Christ), it is also at the same time true that within the body we are commanded, not expected, but commanded to esteem all others as better than ourself (Phil. 2:3). So when we work at making disciples, once people have been brought to saving faith in Christ by the work of the Spirit and the Word, we are now to teach them and be taught by them about the Lord we love and serve.
Discipleship is “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:20). But it is also being taught! There is nothing worse in the church than an un-teachable teacher. Like it was stated already, discipleship is often misunderstood because we believe that it is a one way street. Either we believe that the leadership in the church is responsible to disciple us and therefore we bear none of the responsibility for disciple making. Or we believe that once we have arrived at a mature understanding of the Word of God then we are to teach others, looking down on them in their ignorance and need for instruction.
A shepherd does not look down on his sheep because they are hungry and need to be fed. He does not consider them dumb animals and despise them because he must be sure that they are provided for and fed nourishing meals. If he does, he should not be a shepherd. Jesus as our example, as the Good Shepherd, shows us the love and tenderness that a Shepherd has for His sheep (John 10:11-15).
So we need to approach discipleship from the point that we have something to give and to get from one another in the body. Our testimonies will be different, our growth at a different pace, our maturity at a different level. But we are all to be learning from one another. And there is the root of much that is leading to a lack of disciple making in the church, a wrong view of others members in the body.
What then can be done to make sure that we are being equipped to serve one another within the body of Christ?
Testing a Ministry and a Minister
It is not my intention to delve into a study of the role and duties of elders, nor to give specific details about the ministry of the Word from those who teach us. But it is my intention to show that we must be testing a ministry and a minister by the Word of God. As we know, to disciple someone and be discpled by them we must be interacting in a relationship built on trust and unconditional love. And here is the key for evaluating a ministry or a minister in their effectiveness at making disciples.
Are we being taught and led by example, or does the leadership have a “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality? What are we being taught about disciple making? Are we being effectively equipped to humbly and lovingly serve one another as members of the same body?
A glaring fact that cannot be ignored is that those who teach us and model for us Christian behavior must be held to the standard of the Word of God. They must love those in their care unconditionally. They must be humble. They must be holy. They must be men of God!
I do not expect pastors to be perfect. I am a pastor and I assure you, I am far from perfect. But if a pastor is not being conformed into the image of Christ, if he is not modeling the Christian life for those in his care, then he needs to step aside. As an elder in the church, as one appointed by Christ to equip the saints for the building of the body, he must serve willingly, not by compulsion. He must be eager in his work, and not in it for what he can get for himself or for dishonest gain (gain in finances, reputation, etc). He must not lord it over those in his care but is commanded to be an example to them in his service to Christ (1 Peter 5:1-4). Only then can he expect to hear “Well done” when he stands before Christ, the Head of the Church. Only then will he receive a “crown of glory that does not fade away.”
And what is the purpose of this crown of glory? It is the mark of a faithful minister that will be thrown at the feet of Jesus in worship and adoration of the One who gave Himself for us and Who we were blessed to be serving as we cared for His body.
But today, the truth is that many who claim to be teachers, many who hold with a tight grip to the offices of the church, many who are responsible to be an example to the flock are setting a bad example! “How?”, you ask.
Love for Christ vs. Love for Self
The failure to understand and apply disciple making principles within the church stems from misdirected love within those who should be leading us by example. Those pastors and elders who know what unconditional love is but lavish it upon themselves instead of on Christ and those they shepherd!
Instead of fulfilling the mandate of 1 Peter 5:1-4, and serving willingly, they serve from compulsion. It is irresistable to them to be in a postion of power, authority, prestige, and leadership. They are drawn to the praise of men, the adoration of those who look up to them for their abilities to preach or teach or explain hard truths. They are in it for dishonest gain. Instead of seeking to build up Christ’s church they are seeking to build up their ministry. As a result they lord it over those in their care. Those who would trust them and follow their example are neglected and abused and trampled under this stampede towards self-magnification.
Instead of a self-sacrificing love for Christ and His people, these shepherds love themselves and their comfort and their ego. They know what unconditional love is, and it is how they think about themselves, pampering their flesh, praising their accomplishments, parading their abilities and talents, and failing to realise that it is all a gift from God. It is mis-directed love.
Peter is clear in his second epistle that we can tell a false teacher by the way he lives. 2 Peter 2 speaks about the depravity of false teachers. They have eyes are full of adultery and cannot cease from sin. They are never full of self or sin. They may appear holy on the outside, but what is in their hearts will eventually come out of their mouths (Matt 15:18-19), and what they truly believe will eventually be made manifest in their behavior.
The chief example I want to deal with in this article though is a matter of manners. These false teachers, these who neglect the Word and cannot teach others to make disciples, are often identified by their manners or the lack thereof. The shocking truth about the making of disciples is that too many teachers have abandoned the pathway of being a loving, consistent, self sacrificing example and have instead settled into the very bad habit of trying to shock people with their teaching.
We are seeing a rise in those in and out of reformed circles, usually noticed as those embroiled in the latest controversies and fads, who are just plain rude in their behavior. There are actually debates on Christian internet forums as to whether a Christian can use profanity in every day life, or how far we can go into sounding like the world while remaining distinct from it. Leaders in the Federal Vision movement and the Emergent/Emerging Church movement (just to name 2 current examples) thrive on controversy and on being crude.
It is a deliberate effort by “ministers of the gospel” who think that to engage the culture is to shock the culture and that to motivate the church to obedience is to harass her into action. They are not shepherds lovingly and sacrificially leading their flocks. They are brash cowboys who are driving mindless herds of people according to their own agenda. And a benchmark, a signal of the validity of their message and their ministry is seen in whether or not they are courteous and well mannered.
To be sure, a man’s message can sound right, but if his life and his attitudes are wrong he is still a false teacher and will mislead the church. That is why the qualifications for an elder in the church and a deacon in the church are based on his character, his relationships, and his personal holiness (1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-16)! Notice, there is not a doctrinal summary or confession of faith listed in Scripture that a teacher must adhere to in order to be a teacher. But there is a list of character qualities that he must meet. Why is that? Because what you believe is manifest in how you behave, and sound doctrine always leads to sound living.
Here we see why a man can sound right but be wrong. If he is truly holding to sound doctrine, then what he teaches will lead to right living in his own life and in the lives of those who hear him. Sound doctrine is doctrine that leads to godliness.
This latest fad of shock jock preachers is nothing more than an abdication of the purest motive for ministry, unconditional love for Christ and His body. Because discipleship is based on love we need to know what love looks like. Sure, 1 Corinthians 13 is a common and well know passage, the definitive passage on love. But perhaps we have forgotten how love is defined. Let’s look there and see how a minister of the gospel is to behave as an evidence of his love for Christ and the church.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
A ministry and a minister motivated by love will suffer long. There is patience and a willingness to set self aside and even allow self to be abused for the sake of those we lead and teach. There will be kindness, acting and speaking with gentleness. There will not be envy of the work, ministry, or success of others, trusting that as the Word is consistently sown God will give the increase. There will not be a a parade of self for others to see, seeking opportunities to increase ministry or influence by building a reputation. There will not be a puffing up. A man who is puffed up is a man who has knowledge without love (1 Cor. 13:1-3). There will never be rude behavior! There is no crudeness, no hard exterior that is rough and gruff, there is no desire to shock or appall people with the latest new theology. There are manners and common courtesy. There is not a motive do it for what one can get. It isn’t for show or for self. There is not a easy provocation into arguments where one is known to live to fight and argue, as if the fun were in the battle and wounding sheep was sport. There is not a thought toward evil. The term evil means “that which harms.” There is never an intention or motive toward harming someone else. There is not rejoicing in iniquity – iniquity is using Christian liberty as an occasion for the flesh, it is a sin of the self will, so that even good things can be iniquity if they are done for the wrong reason. There is however rejoicing in the truth. There is a desire for the truth to be taught clearly and embraced willingly. And when one is motivated by love for Christ and His church, there is a willingness to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things, because godly self sacrificing love never fails.
We need ministries and ministers who are motivated by love for Christ, not self. We need men who are humble in carrying out their duty and who are loving toward those they lead and serve. We need men who shock people by the depth of the sacrifice instead of by their choice of words or their unseemly behavior. We need shepherds who look like Christ!