Archive for the ‘Matters of the Sheepfold’ Category

THE PRESENCE MORE IMPORTANT

“Whether it be a communion service, morning worship, evangelistic meeting, prayer meeting, or any other kind of true Christian gathering, the center of attention will always be Christ.” A. W. Tozer, The Root of the Righteous

IN PRAISE OF DISBELIEF

In our constant struggle to believe we are likely to overlook the simple fad that a bit of healthy disbelief is sometimes as needful as faith to the welfare of our souls.

I would go further and say that we would do well to cultivate a reverent skepticism. It will keep us out of a thousand bogs and quagmires where others who lack it sometimes find themselves. It is no sin to doubt some things, but it may be fatal to believe everything.

Faith is at the root of all true worship, and without faith it is impossible to please God. Through unbelief Israel failed to inherit the promises. “By grace are ye saved through faith” … “The just shall live by faith.” Such verses as these come trooping to our memories, and we wince lust a little at the suggestion that unbelief may also be a good and useful thing. It sounds like a bold cancellation of the doctrine of faith as taught in the Scriptures and disposes us to write off the brazen advocate of disbelief as a Modernist.

Let’s look at the matter a bit more closely. Faith never means gullibility. The man who believes everything is as far from God as the man who refuses to believe anything. Faith engages the Person and promises of God and rests upon them with perfect assurance. Whatever has behind it the character and word of the living God is accepted by faith as the last and final truth from which there must never be any appeal. Faith never asks questions when it has been established that God has spoken. “Yea, let God he true, but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4). Thus faith honors God by counting Him righteous and accepts His testimony against the very evidence of its own senses. That is faith, and of such we can never have too much.

Credulity, on the other hand, never honors God, for it shows as great a readiness to believe anybody as to believe God Himself. The credulous person will accept anything as long as it is unusual, and the more unusual it is the more ardently he will believe. Any testimony will be swa1lowed with a straight face if it only has about it some element of the eerie, the preternatural, the unearthly. The gullible mentality is like the ostrich that will gulp down anything that looks interesting… an orange, a tennis ball, a pocketknife opened or closed, a paper weight or a ripe apple. That he survives at all is a testimony not to his intelligence but to his tough constitution.

I have met Christians with no more discrimination than the ostrich. Because they must believe certain things, they feel that they must believe everything. Because they are called upon to accept the invisible they go right on to accept the incredible. God can and does work miracles; ergo, everything that passes for a miracle must be of God. God has spoken to men; therefore every ‘man’ who claims to have had a revelation from God must be accepted as a prophet. Whatever is unearthly must be heavenly; whatever cannot be explained must be received as divine; the prophets were rejected, therefore everyone who is rejected is a prophet; the saints were misunderstood, so everyone who is misunderstood is a saint. This is the dangerous logic of the gullible Christian. And it can be as injurious as unbelief itself.

 The healthy soul, like the healthy blood stream, has its proper proportion of white and red cells. The red corpuscles are like faith: they carry the life-giving oxygen to every part of the body. The white cells are like disbelief: they pounce upon dead and toxic matter and carry it out to the drain. Thus the two kinds of cells working together keep the tissues in good condition. In the healthy heart there must be provision for keeping dead and poisonous matter out of the life stream. This the credulous person never suspects. He is all for faith. He accents the affirmative and cultivates religious optimism to a point where he can no longer tell when he is being imposed upon.

 Along with our faith in God must go a healthy disbelief of everything occult and esoteric. Numerology, astrology, spiritism, and everything weird and strange that passes for religion must be rejected. All this is toxic matter and has no place in the life of a true Christian. He will reject the whole business without compunction or fear. He has Christ, and He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. What more does the Christian need?

 from The Root of the Righteous by A. W. Tozer

“IF WE LEAVE HIM IN THE TOMB…”

“If we leave him [Jesus] in the tomb we can systematize his teaching and sanitize his actions. We can  manage the church and keep things in order. If we leave him in the tomb, then Christianity belongs to us to make of it what we will, to reform it in our image and sell it to the highest bidder. If we leave him in the tomb, the implications for the church are explosive to say the least. If he is truly with us in a way not so dissimilar to  how he was with his disciples, then nothing will ever be the same again.” Andrew Cottingham (blogs at http://andycottingham.com), quoted in Raised with Christ by Adrian Warnock.

TAKING ERROR WITH APOSTOLIC SERIOUSNESS

Martin Downes emphasizes a perennial need in the Church, but perhaps never more important than now simply because the lack of discernment among pastors and laymen alike is pronounced.

Every generation of the church needs to cultivate doctrinal discernment with regard to truth and error. Every generation of church leaders need to practice pastoral vigilance in the nurture and protection of the flock. God’s Word on these matters must be understood and applied.

In this regard there are unchanging positive calls to preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:1-2), to teach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), to hold fast to the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-2), to follow the pattern of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13; 1 Tim. 4:6), to guard the good deposit (2 Tim. 1:14; 1 Tim. 6:20), to appoint faithful men able to teach others also (2 Tim. 2:2), and to teach disciples all that Jesus has commanded them to obey (Matt. 28:19-20).

These imperatives set the tone and direction of Christian ministry. They call for a wholehearted commitment to love the Lord our God, to be faithful stewards of the gospel, and to feed his sheep (Jer. 3:15; 1 Cor. 4:1-2; Titus 1:9; 1 Peter 5:2).

Alongside these positive calls are the unrelenting warnings about the presence of false teachers, and clear instructions about how to deal with them (Rom. 16:17-18; Eph. 4:14; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 2 Tim. 2:16, 22-26; Titus 1:11; 3:9-11; 2 Peter 2:1-3). These warnings are clothed in powerful images. False teachers are wolves, dogs, waterless clouds, fruitless trees, wild waves, wandering stars, and their teaching will eat up like gangrene (Matt. 7:15-20; Acts 20:29; Phil. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:17; Jude 12-13) .

It is required of church leaders that they keep a watch on themselves, their teaching, and the flock entrusted to their care (Acts 20:28, 31; 1 Tim. 4:16). They must have a solid grasp of sound doctrine, held with a clear conscience, and an ability to mix it with false teachers (1 Tim. 1:5, 19; Titus 1:9). Truth must be taught and those in error must be rebuked and their teaching refuted.

Scripture never soft pedals the true nature and effects of heresy. It regards the most virulent forms of error as soul destroying and insidiously evil (Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Cor. 11:1-4, 12-15; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 2:25-26; 1 John 2:22; 4:3; 2 John 7). Harold O. J. Brown underlined the seriousness of rejecting the true gospel and embracing a different one:

 

…just as there are doctrines that are true, and that can bring salvation, there are those that are false, so false that they can spell eternal damnation for those who have the misfortune to be entrapped by them.

 

 

Nevertheless, in God’s providence, these errors have been the occasion of producing greater clarity in the articulation of the essential articles of the Christian faith. They have also provoked some of the most substantial responses to be found in the theological literature of the Church. Alfred North Whitehead, of all people, rightly remarked that “wherever there is a creed, there is a heretic round the corner or in his grave.”

Rather more positively, Martin Luther was right to say that “If heresies and offenses come, Christendom will only profit thereby, for they make Christians to read diligently the Holy Writ and ponder the same with industry…Thus through heretics and offenses we are kept alert and stouthearted and amid wrangles and battles understand God’s word better than before

THE NEED FOR PROPHETIC VISION

 “We need a baptism of clear seeing. We desperately need seers who can see through the mist–Christian leaders with prophetic vision. Unless they come soon it will be too late for this generation. And if they do come we will no doubt crucify a few of them in the name of our worldly orthodoxy.” – A.W. Tozer

HT: 1517

FEEDING SHEEP OR AMUSING GOATS

The mission of amusement fails to effect the end desired.

An evil resides in the professed camp of the Lord so gross in its impudence that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years it has developed at an abnormal rate evil for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” That is clear enough. So it would have been if He has added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.” No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Then again, “He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.” Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the Church to the world? “Ye are the salt,” not sugar candy-something the world will spite out, not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, “Let the dead bury their dead.” He was in awful earnestness!

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into His mission, He would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear Him say, “Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!” Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them. In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of the gospel amusement. Their message is, “Come out, keep out, keep clean out!” Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon. After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, “Lord grant Thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.” If they ceased not for preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They “turned the world upside down.” That is the difference! Lord, clear the Church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to affect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the Church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy-laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God’s link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

C. H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

A Conversation with Paul Washer

Outstanding video in which Paul Washer discusses the true Gospel, the needs in the Church today, the function of pastors, and other things particularly relevant to today.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRQdn5c8tQ0