Things Are A Bit Chaotic
There is something I have been noticing, and I am willing to say that it is quite possible you have observed it as well. This world that we live in is rather chaotic at times isn’t it? I don’t mean chaotic in the sense that everything is going at 10,000 mph all the time, although that can be true for some. What I mean is that there is an ever-increasing diversity of viewpoints on virtually every subject, and sifting through all of that can be rather difficult. We see liberalism impacting many areas of the world. Individuals are unstable in their viewpoints and often change frequently. The culture at large is growing increasingly non-Christian, and it takes a great amount of maturity and level-headedness to know how to conduct oneself during this period.
Now, let me narrow my focus in a little bit. In the above sentences, I was using the word “world” to refer really to humanity as a whole. However, I am going to use it from this point out to reference lost people. You see, those who are lost, who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ in a saving way, they are desperately confused. I expect that, I don’t expect lost people to have the knowledge that comes with knowing God. Lost people will look like and act like lost people. What shocks me, perhaps at times even in a horrifying way is when I see the church beginning to act in the same manner, with confusion and lack of clarity.
How Do We Stand Strong?
Lest you think this is going to be the typical “doom and gloom the church is dying” post that you might read on the internet, it is not. Let me assure you, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ will be built, and the gates of hell will not be able to prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). What I want to think through is the idea, how do we stand strong? I look at pastors and ministers that are much older than I am, and I see them falling in ways that I would not expect. Some of these are men from afar whose names you would know, some of them are men locally that I know whom none of you would be acquainted with at all. And still, I see other men who have stood faithful for decades and are continuing to do so even now. They are faithful ministers of the Gospel, and the Lord is using them mightily. I want to ask the question, what is the difference? What is the distinction between those who remain steadfast and others who compromise at certain points?
Faithfulness To Scripture
I want to start by saying that to remain strong, you must have a deep commitment to the Scripture. Do you believe that the Bible is inerrant, infallible, inspired, and sufficient? If you do, then you are well on your way to stability, if you do not, then you will surely fall. However, simply believing is not enough, I have to ask, do you actually live like the Bible is inerrant, infallible, inspired, and sufficient? Because you know these things are true about the Word of God, do you saturate yourself in Scripture? Whenever you have a spiritual question, do you run to the Bible, or do you go to the newest methods of philosophy and psychology in the world today? Do you base your life on the truths of the Scripture? We must all ask ourselves these questions, remember what we are told in James, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves (James 1:22).”
Another area to examine is the realization that most of us have theological frameworks and ideas we hold to with a tight grip. Now, can you find them in the Scripture? It is easy for us to obtain thought processes from the culture (and even the church sometimes) that are not Biblical. We must be ready to throw these down and submit to the Word of God. On a similar note, let me ask you, is your theological system newly founded? Are you in a movement that has just found “the brand new truth that the whole rest of the church has missed for 2,000 years?” If so, let me encourage you to leave that movement, for it is almost certainly unbiblical. The Lord has had Godly men from the Apostles through to the present day and will continue to have them. Men who have taught the Word faithfully throughout the centuries. Instead of trying to come up with a “new discovery,” it is much wiser to spend time learning by reading the Word and interacting with faithful pastors who can help give you guidance. I am reminded of what one man who has influenced me greatly once said, “new truth is old heresy (Steve Lawson).” If you are a part of a group that is reinventing new “doctrines,” then likely your reinvention is nothing more than renewal of an old heresy that was dealt with by those who stood for the truth throughout the history of the church.
If you are going to stand against the tides of liberalism and unfaithfulness, then you are going to need clarity as well. This concept is really key, and it has been tremendously useful for those men who have stood for the truth when they have been involved in battles for it, men like Spurgeon, Luther, Calvin, MacArthur, and others. They have historically been able to see issues with transparent vision. They are able to see a false position which others have embraced, where that position will lead the individual astray, and comprehend how to deal with the situation. Undoubtedly, this clarity means that individuals who do take bold stands will be involved in great battles. It takes courage to stand for Biblical truth when all others are against you. Luther put it well, “Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.” We must be prepared not just to fight for the truth, but to do it at the most vital points and where the fiercest battles are taking place. This takes great clarity.
The Grace of God
In this case, I think I intentionally saved the best for last. What is the key aspect that makes one able to stand when others fall prey to false theology and ideas? It is the grace of God! Ultimately if there is anything good in us it is of Him. Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me (1 Corinthians 15:10).” Yes, we work, but ultimately everything we are is due to the grace of God. This also means that we can speak boldly, and yet compassionately to those who disagree with us. We know that we also have had to be corrected in the past. Therefore, when we observe those who are in error, we must be courageous, but also humble.
It is imperative that we remember what Paul told young Timothy, “correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2:25-26).” We know God can show people their error, and we may have the privilege of being the means through which the Scripture is communicated to them, and reconciliation is found. Therefore, we do engage in correcting others, but we do so with gentleness knowing that our God is able to give them “repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.”
So, how about you? Are there any other aspects that you would add to this list of being able to stand firm? I am sure there are, post them in the comments and let me know what they are as I would love to hear your thoughts! I pray you are blessed by this post and that it spurs you on to think even more biblically and to live faithfully for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ!