Why Sound Doctrine & Teaching Is a Matter of Life and Death

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October 10, 2019

Acts 20:25-31 (NIV)

“Now I know that none of you among whom I have gone about preaching the kingdom will ever see me again. Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you. For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.

CONSIDER THIS

Doctrine matters. We live in an age where people seem to want it to matter less and less.

One of the things I love about Paul is the way he sees sound teaching as a matter of life and death. Check it out: Therefore, I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of any of you.  And then this: For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God.  Yesterday he reminded us he had taught publicly and from house to house.

Paul’s greatest fear for the young church was not that people would lose their faith and leave the community. He knew that false teachers and bad doctrine were far more dangerous to the life of the church than the lukewarm commitment of its members. He called them “Savage Wolves.” For Paul, false teaching did not present itself or “appear” like a pack of savage wolves terrorizing a flock of sheep. This was the aftermath. He warned them so fiercely, because he knew they would not see it coming. And he knew it would leave nothing but carnage in its wake. 

It brings me no pleasure to say this, but we face a similar moment today as we are rapidly moving into an era of false teaching across the church. It centers largely around our theology (or lack thereof) of the human body, gender and sexuality, all of which proceed from our understanding of the will of God as revealed through Scripture. Like Paul, we must not hesitate to proclaim the whole will of God. Just as it was with these early Christians, so it is with us—a matter of life and death.

Let me offer a final warning from today’s text. It exposes what is largely missing in today’s conflicted battleground over these matters.

Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 

For Paul, sound doctrine and teaching were not mere matters of right and wrong but of life and death; not about winning or losing but the real lives of real people. Hear the profound depth of compassion in his words again:

Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 

Could it be that the Word of God needs less defense and more offense— more clear articulation and compassionate application? What if we spent the next three years warning people night and day with tears? Maybe I am naive. I had to ask.

THE PRAYER

COME HOLY SPIRIT!

THE QUESTION

What about those last two questions: Could it be that the Word of God needs less defense and more offense—more clear articulation and compassionate application? What if we spent the next three years warning people night and day with tears?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for your post. My son went to a preschool that is affiliated with one of the churches in the attached article. Think about that. How many children in that school, which is still operating, are affected by that kind of teaching? Terrifying.

  2. The UMC is in the mess it is now because the teaching of basic orthodox Christianity–which is NOT modern fundamentalism–has not had a strong presence for a very long time. My own experience is that the gospel is the best kept secret of the UMC. It is no wonder people are talking past each other; they each have a different perspective as to what Christianity is about–they are talking apples and oranges at each other. Finally getting a grasp of who God is and who I am and the lengths to which he has gone to heal the breach between us–the breach we created–has totally changed my perspective on the homosexuality argument: it is the result of once again, in the age old story of rebellion and redemption, humanity has done what it does best, wandered off and muffed the message of the existence of a triune God of holy love who is most definitely way more verb than noun; an unfathomable God of mystery who loves each of us more than we could ever think about loving ourselves; and we are a rebellious lot; incurable control freaks who do not understand that there is a Savior, and it is most definitely not me. I am still waiting to hear that truth proclaimed on Sunday morning.

  3. Five sisters raised together. One is living a homosexual lifestyle. We love her so much. So why don’t I be honest with her. She is now married to the woman here in Tennessee. Never thought it would happen in my lifetime. It would devastate her to know the truth of how out of God’s will she is. She chooses not to believe in the God who has a will. And now I’m afraid to shatter our close relationship by talking about it. The gospel would be offensive to her. That is the culture we are living in. And some of us are too meek to address it.

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