Thursday, January 19, 2006

Why We Must Battle for the Truth.


“Controversy is never a very happy element for the child of God: he would far rather be in communion with his Lord than be engaged in defending the faith, or in attacking error. But the soldier of Christ knows no choice in his Master's commands. He may feel it to be better for him to lie upon the bed of rest than to stand covered with the sweat and dust of battle; but, as a soldier, he has learned to obey, and the rule of his obedience is not his personal comfort, but his Lord's absolute command. The servant of God must endeavour to maintain all the truth which his Master has revealed to him, because, as a Christian soldier, this is part of his duty. But while he does so, he accords to others the liberty which he himself enjoys.”

—C. H. Spurgeon, in address at the Tabernacle, 1861.

In a recent post at Fide-O, Jason wrote about Mark Driscoll and how he distanced himself from the emergent movement due to their divergence from sound doctrine. I highly commend Mark for distancing himself from the extreme in the emerging movement and appreciate the fact that he had the courage to do so. You may want to check out Mark’s new blog where he explains his journey away from much of the emerging movement. His stand is certainly refreshing given the rising tide of those who are blindly following men like Brian McLaren to spiritual slaughter. I am not saying that there are not some things about his ministry that may concern me, but I appreciate his stand on doctrine. However, I am a little wary of his philosophy of polemics.

I discovered a post on another blog quoting Mark Driscoll on the subject of battling for the truth. Mark in addressing other churches in his Acts29 church planting ministry, warns about the danger he sees of becoming too polemic. Mark describes Spurgeon’s philosophy of only battling when someone gets in the way of the work. Spurgeon based this on the scene in Nehemiah 4:17-18 and is what inspired the title of his magazine, "The Sword and the Trowel". Mark seems to be attempting to make the point of not becoming engrossed in every controversy since this may occupy too much of our time and take away from the church’s mission to reach the lost.

While he does make a valid point and I somewhat agree with him, I would also argue that Spurgeon, if he were alive today, would have stood vehemently against the heresy being promulgated by men in much of the emerging church movement. He most certainly would have been quite outspoken. When men like McLaren and others spew their heresy and persuade others to follow, it does get in the way of the mission of the church.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon became embroiled in the midst of turmoil as he found it necessary to battle against the new theology of his day. He knew the importance of sound doctrine and understood the damaging effects of false teaching on the church. We too, must realize the serious ill effects of false doctrine and strive to fight against its influx into the church. Battling for the truth is not the most pleasant endeavor, but it is certainly necessary if we are to be true to Christ and His Word. This is a Scriptural command.

Paul warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:17-31 that there would be “savage wolves” that would devastate the flock of God. Paul went on to say that many of these false teachers would arise from their own ranks. These false teachers would draw away some of the disciples to follow them. The admonition was to be on the alert and do everything that they could to watch over and “shepherd” the flock of God. The biblical imagery of shepherding implies watching over, protecting from danger and making sure that the sheep have access to adequate nourishment. In fact, this is only one of many passages in the New Testament that deal with the need for confronting error and warning the people of God concerning false teaching.

This is why it is imperative to teach solid doctrine and instruct others on how to rightly handle the Word of God. When Paul addressed the elders in Ephesus, he could say with confidence that he did not withhold any truth that would be profitable (‘full counsel’, NKJV), thus making him innocent of the blood of any man. The charge of being guilty of the blood of men is described back in the Old Testament where the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel 3:17-21; 33:1-9) was commanded by God to act as a watchman and warn the people according to the Word given to him by God. If Ezekiel failed to warn the people, and they were destroyed as a result, God would hold Ezekiel responsible and he would be held guilty because of their fate. If Ezekiel faithfully proclaimed God’s truth and the people failed to heed the warning, Ezekiel was not responsible because he was faithful in proclaiming the warning. Paul was faithful in not holding back any truth. This is why it is wrong for the church to avoid teaching and preaching on any topics they think would be offensive to the people. Paul admonished Timothy to “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2-4), meaning whether the people were receptive or not.

Let’s pray that Mark Driscoll continues on the path of solid doctrine and surrounds himself with men who consistently uphold biblical truth. I also hope that he will take more opportunity to publicly refute the doctrinal error in the emerging church movement. Since he once followed the movement and has realized the error, I would think it would have a profound impact on those who hear his warning.

1 comment:

Call Me Ishmael said...

Thank you for these timely reminders.