Friday, April 29

In the Wake of Universalism . . .

Some have wryly commented in the wake of the firestorm from Rob Bell's book Love Wins that at least one positive thing has issued from all the publicity, it has caused many to examine what they believe. That is true enough. All error or theological disagreement seems to tend toward this. And the church, generally speaking, can be guilty of resting on it's own laurels, especially when she's painfully ignorant of the battle that has been raging all around her. So, she could use a good 'shaking up'. It's not that there have not been many fighting the good fight of faith, but perhaps we could say unequivocally that not enough have "taken up the cudgels" as the Brits would put it, and stepped into the battle where all true men of God ought to be. 

Should Christians resist false teaching, exposing it? Many voices say it is intolerant to do so. But Scripture demonstrates that the answer is a clear and resounding "Yes!" My wife lists on her blog (Confessions of a Pastor's Wife) no less than twenty references which expose false teaching and/or call for the church to fight against error. The oddity about this is that it used to be thought a thing of virtue when a leader exercised his God-given responsibility to defend the flock from (as we so familiarly quote) "wolves in sheep's clothing" (Mt. 7:15). In truth, it seems we are more familiar with Matthew 7:15 than we are with the charge it elicits. In an address he gave in 1952, Martyn Lloyd-Jones spoke prophetically to our day:
We are not to accept everything which even those who call themselves Christians may say. The church is warned to look for the true 'fruit of the Spirit'. In particular, those who claim to be God's spokesmen must be quite clear concerning the true nature of the person of Christ; the fact of His resurrection, the substitutionary character of His death, the way of salvation, and how the Christian life is to be lived. Anyone who is equivocal or misleading on such matter is to be avoided. The true Christian must not be misled by them [emphasis mine].
And against those who would charge any defender of the faith with wrongdoing, Lloyd-Jones warns:
There are not wanting today men in teaching and preaching positions who are advising us to walk in the 'broad way'; but our Lord and His apostles constantly affirmed that this is the opposite of God's will for us. We must not mind being thought 'narrow'. We must not be afraid of the charge that 'You think that you alone are right!' Yes, we do think that we are right; but we are not alone. The great stream of evangelical witness runs down through the centuries of church history. The gates of hell have not prevailed and will not finally prevail against it. We believe as our evangelical forefathers did, and we must be prepared for the reproaches of 'intolerance' and 'bigotry' which they also bore. St. Paul is in no doubt about the matter. He says: 'Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let hm be accursed' (Gal. 1:8). 
Then he draws a conclusion that it seems we have heard far too infrequently. 
This charge of intolerance is a compliment. For, surely, if our position is that in which God has ordained His elect should stand, we must necessarily be intolerant of all that would divert us from it. We believe and hold to it. We must be prepared to sacrifice everything for it. We must be like Martin Luther when he stood alone against the authority of the Roman Church, which had arrogated to itself such dictatorial power for so many long centuries. We must be like the Puritans, who were prepared to forsake their emoluments [income] rather than to compromise on such principles. We must be humbly aggressive in propagating the true faith, and patiently adamant in the true gospel's defense, if need be, to the utmost degrees of sacrifice [emphasis mine].
This is where we ought to be these days, not backing down in the face of a few false accusations. We must always be asking "What does the Bible teach?" Not, "What do I think?" Or, "What would I want the Bible to teach?" Rather, we are to "fight the good fight of faith" (1 Tim. 6:12).

(From Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Knowing the Times. The Banner of Truth Trust, 2001. p. 43) 

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