Membership #3 – Our Approach to Scripture and Doctrine

Sunday, January 27th, 2013
Sermon Series: Membership

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Our Approach to Scripture and Doctrine
Membership #3–What’s FBC’s Stand on Scripture and Doctrine

 

Today we want to go back to the basics.  The late football strategist, Vince Lombardi, was a fanatic about fundamentals.  Those who played under his leadership often spoke of his intensity, his drive, his endless enthusiasm for the guts of the game.  Time and again he would come back to the basic techniques of blocking and tackling.

On one occasion, the Packers lost to an inferior squad.  It was bad enough to lose–but to lose to that team was inexcusable.  Coach Lombardi called a practice the very next morning.  The men sat silently, looking more like whipped puppies than a team of champions.  They‘d no idea what to expect from the man they feared the most.  Gritting his teeth, and staring holes through each team member Lombardi began, “Okay, we go back to the basics this morning.”

Holding a football high enough for all to see, he continued to yell, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”  WOW!  He’s got guys sitting there who’ve been playing football for 20 years.  They know plays better than they know their kids’ names–and he introduces them to a football!  That’s like saying, “Maestro, this is a baton.”  Or, “Librarian, this is a book.”  Or, “Marine, this is a rifle.”  Or Rod Shack, this is a Starbucks–talk about obvious!

Why in the world would a seasoned coach talk to professional athletes like that?  Apparently it worked, for no one else ever led his team to three consecutive world championships–but how?  Lombardi operated on a simple philosophy.  He believed excellence could be best achieved by perfecting the basics of the sport.  Crowd-pleasing, risk-taking plays will fill a stadium (for a while), and even win some games (occasionally), but in the final analysis the consistent winners would be the teams that played smart, heads-up, hard-nose football.  His strategy–know your position.  Learn how to do it right–then do it with all your might!  That simple plan put Green Bay on the map.

God believes in the basics as well.  So much so that if He were physically present, I believe He would say to you, “Christian, this is a Bible!”  The Bible, that book in your lap, is the window you look through to see the face of Christ and know your God.  This Book is the Christian’s food, comfort, light, instruction, only path to wisdom, only way to remain stable.  Yet sadly, it’s often ignored, dismissed or misused!  My heart breaks, and my anger boils at how the Bible continues to be treated today, even by some who would claim to love it.

How is the Bible abused?  Throughout history and today, there are those who elevate external rituals over the Bible, so they baptize babies, even though it is not found in Scripture.  There are rationalists who believe their own thinking is better than the Bible, so they affirm evolution, over a six-day creation.  There are the orthodox who affirm the truth of God’s Word, but don’t live it.  The ecumenists who claim if you are truly loving, then you will embrace everyone who acknowledges Christ, whether they are Catholics, Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses.

There are the experientialists who believe whatever they feel about something is the measure of truth–so if it feels good to have sex with your girlfriend, then God must be pleased.  Like that, the subjective crowd tells us to look within ourselves to discover truth, so they embrace all secular psychology, even though its basic suppositions work against God’s clear Word.  Today we’re battling the personalists who believe what you think or feel truth is matters more than what God reveals.  These are the people who continually state their opinion on biblical issues without actually studying the Bible over that issue.  They believe in speaking in tongues, not because they practice it or have studied it in the Bible, but because others embrace it.

Plus today we face the uncertainty types–they believe because there are so many varying views, no one can really know what the Bible says with any certainty.  All dogmatism must be pride, so let’s merely teach general truths, view all controversy as uncertain, and esteem each other no matter what we believe.  We even face self-righteous purists today–those who say, “Let’s unite around Jesus and the Gospel and not make issues.”  But friends, which Jesus and what Gospel?  It is the Bible alone that describes the true Christ, and defines the true Gospel.  We have to know what the Bible says.

Men and women of FBC, a Bible–propositional, object, written truth, God’s very words, God-breathed, recorded by His prophets and apostles.  Don’t say, “I wonder what Jesus would say about this?”  You have His living and active words–the Bible.  The Bible is what Jesus would say–it’s what He’s saying!

We are now in our third week of our membership series.  To be a part of any church, you must know the Gospel they preach, and you must embrace the way they approach the Bible.  Last week, we exposed the Gospel we preach.  And today we’ll show you how we come under the authority of the Bible.  To be a member at FBC, you must embrace how we view the Bible.  We’re not like some of the churches you know.  F-B-C = Bible is our middle name, and we take God’s Word very seriously.

Turn with me to Titus 1:9, and follow along with your outline as I exegete one verse to show you our unique approach to doctrine.  You and I desperately need to embrace an approach to the Bible that would please Jesus Christ.  What does that look like?  By way of introduction, I believe Jesus would want each of you to . . .

First  Seek to Grow, as well as be grounded

At FBC we have two Statements of Faith:

One is our Essentials Statement, which defines what it means to be a Christian.  It tells us who we can FELLOWSHIP with.  It describes truths we hold in common with all true Christians.  If you can’t embrace this short statement of key truths like, Christ is God, then we’re not the church for you.  Our second statement is . . .

Two is our What We Teach, which is the teaching position of the elders of FBC.  This is our document of UNITY that all members of FBC uphold.  The second half of What We Teach seeks to simply explain our position on many difficult contemporary issues of our day to assist in your growth toward Christlikeness.  In order for our church to be of one heart one mind, in unity, these are the doctrinal positions we follow.

Though an individual can be a member at Faith Bible and disagree with portions of What we Teach, they may not teach any other position to a believer in our body for the sake of unity and accountability.  You can disagree, but you can’t teach or mentor or foster other positions to others in our church body, for the sake of unity.  We want all of God’s people to study the Scriptures, and the leadership of FBC invites questions to be studied and discussed with the leaders of our church, just not taught to others in our church.

As a church, we want to be a place where people can minister while holding different positions on biblical issues.  So to please Christ, we are trying to cultivate an environment where people can grow, while we sustain unity and prevent division.

Second  Seek to Live under the Authority of God’s Word

The purpose of the Bible’s truth (theology) is to enjoy an intimate relationship with Christ.  It’s not a wall to study, but a window to look through into the face of Christ.  All biblical truth is God-centered.  Biblical truth honors God, not man.  The Bible is more authoritative than creeds.  The Bible is first over every system of theology– first over every seminary position and every modern or ancient scholar.  The Bible is higher than Luther, Calvin or Owen, and has more authority than Piper, Sproul or MacArthur, and is more important than Bridges, Ryle, Dodson or Pleasnick.

The goal of any true church is to be in harmony with the whole of Scripture, instead of a packaged system of theology or creed.  As a result, we continue to strive to be biblical by continually testing our own beliefs against the Bible taught correctly.  Only by checking everything by the Bible can we know we are in God’s will and experience God’s power.  And when we learn what the Bible says, we believe in holding convictions about biblical truth.

Every Bible text has only one true interpretation, but many applications.  And we seek to discover each passage’s meaning by taking each text literally, studying its context, history, culture and original language.  As a result, we treat the Word of God as our authority.  To please Christ, we believe the Bible’s truth is right, correct and moral, and any belief, idea or practice that contradicts the Bible is wrong, incorrect and immoral.

And our focus with the Bible’s truth is positive.  Though the Bible is designed to expose error, convict of sin and correct behavior, the goal of our instruction is love, building lives and proclaiming with our lips the good news of Jesus Christ.  To please Christ, we . . .

Third  Seek to Focus on Biblical Priorities

There are some basic truths we will die for:  that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Bible is God’s Word, that the Gospel is God’s message of salvation, Jesus will physically return one day, Heaven is real, this world will end and the Church is Christ’s family.  There is truth we all have convictions about–one of the results of maturity is knowing what to give your priority and time to.

We glorify God by pursuing the great commandment to love God and others, the great commission to make disciples, live by the Gospel, and live for the proclamation of the Gospel–these are the highest priorities and the way in which we truly bring God glory.  Study the Word yes, learn all the Word deeply yes, but don’t focus all your time trying to figure out the baptism for the dead.  Seek to focus on those things worth dying for.  To please Christ . . .

Fourth  Seek to Balance Truth and Grace

At FBC, we have a lot of pre-millers, some a-millers and a few pan-millers–those who think it will all pan out in the end.  We have non-drinkers and some who drink wine, some who hate the entertainment industry but love baseball, some who hate sports and love a good movie.  We have a strong commitment to the doctrines of grace yet, some here who’re still undecided about them–every one of us is uniquely different.  How can we all get along?  Be like Christ.

In John 1:14, John says something we can easily overlook, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  Jesus Christ was full of grace and full of truth–100% grace and 100% truth, fully grace and fully truth.

In John 2, you see both–turning water to wine is a gracious act.  Cleaning out the temple is an action of truth.  Here is the incarnation of truth, the living Word of God–no one spoke the truth like Jesus.  He was and is Truth–yet no one was more gracious than Christ.  Jesus was so gracious the most sinful and despised loved being around Him.  Doesn’t it amaze you that tax gatherers, harlots and children all loved to be with Him, yet no one spoke truth more than Christ.  Christ never compromised truth, never rationalized sin, yet sinners loved to be around Him.  That is our target–to be full of grace and truth.

What does this mean?  Listen carefully, bro and sis—this is key.  Don’t be argumentative–the Lord’s bondservant is not.  Don’t seek to control people with truth.  Allow people to grow, meaning go through a process of learning that sometimes takes years.  Don’t feel you always have to be correct, or correct others–trust the Spirit of God to reveal truth and expose error over time.  And when you do share truth, do it in the most gracious way you can so others see a clearer picture of Christ, who was full of grace and truth.

My favorite illustration of grace and truth is from Randy Alcorn.  Alcorn’s church was protested by a local lesbian group because of the church’s commitment to teach the truth of the Bible on that sin.  So what did the church members do?  They grabbed a bunch of umbrellas (since it was raining), bought some donuts and cooked up some coffee.  Then they went out just off their property where they were, gave them umbrellas, coffee and donuts, as they graciously and firmly shared the truth of the Gospel with them, without compromise–full of grace and truth.  Become men and women who never, ever compromise truth, but men and women who are also super gracious with that truth.  To please Christ . . .

Fifth  Seek to Build into your Lifestyle the Study of the Word

Ezra 7:10 says, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”

Second Timothy 2:15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.”

Many of the issues today that are controversial are difficult because of poor Bible study, weak interpretation, theological bias, personal bias, and because the enemy wants Christians confused as to what God’s will is.  Most of the hot issues today are not controversial because the Bible is unclear–it’s because people don’t want to submit to God or change their lifestyle or worse, won’t take the time to study.

Even great theologians sometimes fail to study.  I was with one when he was asked way he didn’t support a six-day Creation and he said, “Well, I have some friends that are not creationists.”  And my other friend said, “Hey, I have friends that don’t believe Jesus is God, that doesn’t mean I am going to embrace their beliefs.”  A healthy church will not shy away from difficult issues because those issues often make a big difference in the growth of a Christian in becoming like Christ.

At FBC, we will teach on abortion, divorce, homosexuality, discipling, spanking, tongues, demon possession, government, taxes, schooling, parenting, marriage, the unique roles of men and women, Lordship salvation, the doctrines of grace, drunkenness, pornography, purity, romance, sexual intimacy, immorality, and a hundred other topics you will never hear from a typical pulpit—why?  Because the Bible teaches them–therefore FBC will teach them.  Finally, to please Christ . . .

Sixth  Seek to Enjoy Intimacy with Christ through His Word

God has given us His Word so we might know Him more intimately.  We are to learn its truths, interpret it correctly, follow its teaching, but most of all the Bible is for you to know Christ.  We must avoid the heart of a Pharisee whom Jesus rebuked when He said in John 5:39 and 40, “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life.”  We can study, be accurate, stand on truth, but if we don’t come to Christ so we can have eternal life, new life, abundant life, and know Christ personally, then knowing the Bible is a waste of time.  Let this book be His love letter to you, so you will first come to Him intimately, then second as His child obey, follow, learn, marvel, study, and most wonderfully commune with Him through the Bible!

That was all introduction–and now with that attitude of humility, let me remind you about what book is laying in your lap today.  The Bible is made up of 66 books, written over 1,500 years, with 40 different human authors, yet without any errors because it is the revelation from God.  God revealed Himself through creation through His Son Jesus, but He spelled out who He was and what He is doing in the Bible.

The Bible does not contain the Word of God–it is God’s Words.  The Bible is inspired, God-breathed, meaning the very words of the Bible are from God.  Second Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is inspired by God.”  How did God inspire the Bible, since it was written by prophets and apostles?  Second Peter 1:20 to 21 says, “No prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

The Bible is the result of all God and all of each man writing God’s Words without error in the original manuscripts.  It is so accurate in the original that inspiration includes not only the words of Scripture, but the very grammar and letters of Scripture.  In Matthew 5:18 Jesus says, “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished.”  The jot and tittle are the smallest Hebrew grammar devices.

Once we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, He will open our mind to understand God’s truth, but we must also be committed to dig that truth out through diligent study.  Do you cherish this book?  This is what God calls elders to do in Titus 1:9.  In the midst of a book challenging believers to live the truth by manifesting good deeds, and in the chapter describing the kind of men elders are required to be, Titus 1:9 says, “Holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.”  This verse contains five commitments FBC seeks to uphold on the Bible.  This verse describes our approach to Scripture and doctrine.  Let’s look at each of them.

#1  We won’t compromise the truth, even under pressure

Paul tells Titus mature Christians must be those who are, verse 9, “holding fast to the faithful word.”  The Greek verb “holding fast” pictures hanging on even though there is constant pressure to let go–it is a manly verb.  Like hanging on to the lip of a waterfall when there is lots of pressure to let go–picture someone hanging on as if they were in a life or death situation.  Paul is calling true elders to never knowingly compromise God’s Word.  Therefore, at FBC we are passionate about this.  What do I mean compromise?  Let me give you some examples.

Giving into a fantasy interpretation–when you hear the Bible taught and you say, “Wow, I never saw that in the text before,” more often than not, the reason you don’t see it in the text is because it isn’t there.  It was made up in the teacher’s mind or added to (isogesis) the text from someone’s imagination, and not drawn out (exegesis) of the Bible alone.

At FBC, we believe in exegesis–drawing the truth out of the text.  What’s a bad example?  Let me show you from Acts 27:29–it reads, “Fearing that we might run aground somewhere on the rocks, they cast four anchors from the stern and wished for daybreak.”  Bad exegesis would say, “What did they do?  They cast the anchor of hope–desiring the land, the anchor of prayer–depending on God, the anchor of strength–relying upon another, and another anchor of mercy.  Sound good?  It is evil.  It wasn’t an anchor of hope–it was an anchor of iron, stone, rope period.

When you teach like that, you can use anything to teach–you don’t need the Bible.  Jack and Jill–up to God, look up.  Life is a hill, it’s difficult.  But if you seek—what?  A pail of water–refreshing through God’s Spirit.  Holding fast means allowing the Bible to say what it means, one interpretation for every passage, then living it, many applications.  Compromising truth (letting go, not holding on), is being the ear tickler.  So instead of telling someone the true Gospel, saying, “You are so dead, only God can rescue you from your helplessness and only Christ and His righteousness will make you able to stand before God now and in the future.”  Instead, a compromiser (those not holding on) will say, “Pray this prayer and accept Jesus.  God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

Listen friends, which Gospel and which Jesus are you sharing?  If it’s the one defined by the Bible, then we need to rightly divide the Word of God, and differentiate between what is true and what is error.   If we are going to follow a Jesus not defined by truth, then it’s a manmade Jesus, an idol, a false God, and we will find ourselves far from true Christianity.

Some let go of the truth by elevating experience over truth.  “I know I love him, so we slept together.”  “I saw an angel over that Porshe Boxster, so I bought it.”  “The cashier gave me too much change back, because God wanted me to have that money.”  The crazy guys on TV do this all the time–I remember the doctor who went to Heaven, describing things like the twelve nerves in Christ’s brain representing the twelve tribes of Israel.  Anytime he wanted to remember what it was like, he would smell the tie he was wearing on his trip to Heaven to remind him.  I don’t have a tie that smells like Heaven, but I have some socks that . . .

Titus 1:9 says our approach to the Word of God must be to hold fast to the Word, otherwise we will be deceived.  Second Corinthians 4:2 warns us there are those who are walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God.  Second Peter 3:16 says, “The untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”  Be warned–false teachers don’t announce that they are heretics.

So what does it take to hang on to truth?  Holding fast requires endurance.  “Holding fast” is a present tense continual action.  It is a way of life, all the time, no matter what.  Paul says we must be committed to the Bible when it’s popular and when it is not–when everyone loves it, and when everyone rejects it–when people like it, and when people hate it–when it’s easy to teach, and when it costs you your job to teach it.

“To hold fast” points to a singular commitment.  Matthew 6:24 uses the verb “hold fast” in a unique way—“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  Holding fast to the Bible means the Word can’t be mixed.  The holding fast of Titus 1:9 means to have a sole allegiance–a loyalty with no rivals.  It is not a commitment to the Bible and science, psychology, church, experience, tradition, bylaws, Piper, Mueller or MacArthur.  It’s not the Bible and what works, but the Bible alone.

And holding fast is an intimate term, literally referring to being face-to-face, a close relationship.  To hold fast to the Bible is to hold face-to-face intimacy with Jesus Christ.  As you treat the Bible, so you treat Jesus.  When you hold the Bible, you are holding Jesus.  When you let go of the Bible, you’re letting go of Jesus.  There is such a close relationship between Jesus and the Word of God, when you misinterpret one, you are misunderstanding the other.  When you ignore one, you are ignoring the other, when you distort one, you’re distorting the other, when you don’t obey one, you’re not obeying the other.

“How can you say that. Chris?”  The Bible is called the Word of God, and so is Jesus.  Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, the Bible was given by the Holy Spirit.  Both are perfect, both are without error in the original, both have unique authority, both are rejected by men, both make God known and both Jesus and the Bible are judges of mankind.  Because the Bible is the Word of God, it means if Jesus were present physically, the Bible is what He would say.  Jesus would speak the truths of the Bible.  They are His words, therefore we’d better not mess them up, misinterpret them, ignore them or fail to live them.  FBC—this is a Bible.  A true commitment to the Bible means to hold fast, hang on to the Bible.  And Titus 1:9 tells us it also means . . .

#2  We will trust the Bible completely

Paul says to Titus in verse 9, “holding fast the faithful word.”  Simply, the faithful word points to the sufficiency of the Word of God for everything we need.  You can trust it.  The Bible is not only dependable–but after Jesus has made us new, the Bible becomes sufficient for everything we need as Christians.

Many churches are accepting the idea that the Bible doesn’t have to be our only source of spiritual truth.  Our trust in the Bible is being undermined in very subtle ways today.  Business concepts can give us some common sense, emotional stories can move our hearts, experiences make us feel good, the use of media can be a good illustration, health and diet principles might help us live a little longer, but only the Word of God through the Holy Spirit can internally transform our lives.  Only the Scriptures work supernaturally.

John 17:17, “Sanctify them [change them] in the truth; Thy word is truth.”  Sanctification is our progressive victory over sin and growing to be more like Christ–and our Lord says that can only happen through His Word.  The Bible through the Holy Spirit is God’s change agent.

Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”  God says the Bible is all we need.  Nowhere else do we find the kind of truth that transforms a person.

As a church, we are to give ourselves to teaching you the Bible–not business techniques, fun stories, creative media or good food.  Our goal is not to stir your emotions, but feed you the Word so you can learn the Word of God–then by the Spirit obey the Word of God.

Second Timothy 3:16 to 17 says, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, [what we believe] for reproof, [recognizing sin] for correction, [how to change] for training in righteousness [how to live]; [with what result?] that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  We must trust the Bible completely since Jesus is defined by scriptural truth–spiritual growth is by biblical truth, and salvation is based upon the truth of the Word.  FBC—this is a Bible.

We hold fast to the Word, never compromising its one meaning.  And we trust the Word completely, since it alone is faithful.

#3  We will interpret the Word accurately

Paul said to Titus that elders are to be holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching.  When Paul says to Titus, “which is in accordance with the teaching,” he is telling Titus that those who are true elders will be totally loyal to apostolic teaching–they are going to be committed to determine the apostles’ intended meaning.  And for us today, to be committed to determine what the Bible meant to say by those who wrote it.

The Bible only has one interpretation for every verse–it meant one thing by one author to a specific group of people at a particular place and time.  Theologians call this determining the authorial will–authorial intent.  What did the author intend to say by what he wrote?  Second Peter 1:20 reminds us that “no Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  The Bible teaches, and at FBC we dogmatically believe that it doesn’t matter what you or I think the Bible means.  It only matters what the author intended it to say.  There is one interpretation, then there are many applications.  But how do we know for certain if we’re interpreting the Bible correctly?  Here are some indicators . . .

First  Make sure the teacher gives evidence of diligent study

Second Timothy 2:15 tells teachers to, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of truth.”  Watch out for the preacher who prays his sermons down from heaven on Saturday night.  Today it’s called an internet upload.  Accurate teaching requires exhausting work, (20 to 30 hours) digging treasure out of the text.  It takes diligent, demanding work.  Also look for . . .

Second  Following the biblical rules of interpretation:  Hermeneutics

The Bible is . . .

Literal, or normative–it means what it says, normally

Contextual–each portion of the Bible is connected to other thoughts, the verses around it, chapters on each side and the entire purpose of the book where it’s found–this is the biggest violation

Historical–the Bible meant one thing to one people in another culture with a different geography in a point of time in the past

Grammatical–the Bible was written in basically Greek and Hebrew, and is best interpreted by understanding those languages, and

Synthetic–the Bible was written by one author

Therefore, all the parts of the Bible will agree with all the other books/verses, and never contradict each other. Clear passages always help us understand unclear or difficult.  Finally . . .

Third  Make sure you hear the whole counsel of God

Paul reminded us in Acts 20:27, “For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.”  Accurate teaching seeks to find the author’s intention, but also seeks to explain what the rest of the Scripture says about the subject as well.  This is why we use hundreds of cross references all the time, since FBC—this is a Bible.

One crucial reason for a strong commitment to the Word is for each of us and all of us to become more like Christ.  That is why Paul adds in verse 9 of Titus 1, “to exhort in sound doctrine.”

#4  We exclusively use the Word to build Christians to live like Christ

When so-called Christians say, “We don’t want doctrine,” they are devastating the church, because apart from sound doctrine there can be no spiritual health in the church.  Without sound equipping from the Bible, we will never grow up spiritually.  Ephesians 4:14 says, “We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.”

At FBC we are committed to exhorting you in sound doctrine.  Sound is the Greek word from where we get our English word for “hygiene”—(what I say to my wife every morning, “Hi, Jean!”).  And it is used several places in Scripture to mean a type of doctrine that results in Christ-like living.  We’re committed to not merely fill your heads full of truth so you can be smarter sinners–we are committed to have you respond to sound doctrine so you will become like Christ in every way.  In a true Bible-teaching church, you will not always feel good, you will not always be happy–but we are committed to you being fed so you will grow up and become like Christ in every way.  FBC—this is a Bible!  There’ll be times you’ll become uncomfortable here at FBC–why?  Because we’re also committed to . . .

#5  We will correct error with the Word

Paul wraps up his expectation for elders concerning the Word with this phrase in verse 9, “and to refute those who contradict.”  In order for Christians not to be tossed to and fro, we each need to be committed to exposing error.  Like a mechanic does when he checks your car, he discovers the areas that need to be fixed so you can have a healthy car and drive safely.  To refute is what all godly Christians do for their brothers and sisters–they point out the errant areas and call for correction.  But elders must do this toward those who contradict.

You say, “Jesus would never do that.”  Really? Didn’t we just see him clean out the temple and preach against the external, religiously moral Pharisees in Matthew 23?  “Okay,” you say, “Paul wouldn’t do that.”  Really?  Don’t you remember him confronting the apostle Peter with his violation of the Gospel, when Peter chose to hang only with the Jews and avoid the Gentiles altogether in Galatians 2?  Today some would scream, “How judgmental, Paul–after all, Peter was just eating with his friends who happen to be Jewish.”  But Paul’s point was this–what’s the use of unity, when pure doctrine is gone?  The truth that salvation can come to all men was in danger, so Paul spoke up.

Listen carefully–the goal of our instruction is love here at FBC.  And because of love, there’ll be times when we’ll point out error, and like the rest of Titus teaches, possibly silence empty talkers in Titus 1:10, and reject errant teachers in Titus 3:10.  Not when they disagree with me or our elders, but when they clearly disagree with God’s Word interpreted correctly.

So our five commitments to the Bible . . .

1 holding fast–means we won’t knowingly compromise the Word

2 the faithful Word–means we will trust the Word as totally sufficient

3 which is in accordance with the teaching–means we will interpret the Word correctly, while submitting to apostolic truth

4 exhort in sound doctrine–means we’ll teach healthy, Christ-like truth

5 refute those who contradict–means we will seek to correct error

Now what I just described is not simple or easy.  Why?  Because a healthy church will have mature and immature Christians, some from solid doctrinal backgrounds and others from cults, some who are working through biblical issues and others who have already come to conviction.  But what do we all desperately need?  FBC, this—is—a–Bible!  Let’s pray.

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ABOUT THIS PREACHER

Chris is the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church - Murrieta.
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