Monday, February 2, 2015
Hold firm to the trustworthy Word
There is no substitute for this qualification in church leadership. An elder or a pastor may have a great marriage, solid kids, and good character in the community. He may be known far and wide for his kind words and good deeds. He may be well respected by other ministers for his pedigree and his grasp of biblical languages. But if his teaching undermines the authority of God’s Word, he is the blind leading the blind. If what he holds firm to is the popular notion that all religions are valid and true, or that only part of the Bible can be trusted and he will determine that for his congregation, or that biblical truth must bow to culture, he is standing on shaky ground and will lead others to do the same.
The Dakota Indian tribe was known for its common sense wisdom. They said for example that if you discover you are riding a dead horse, dismount. Here’s how this basic wisdom has been re-worked for church life in America; think of the dead horse as unbiblical thinking and unbiblical preaching. Some churches do nothing about the dead horse, and simply change riders, or pastors. Others say, “This is the way we’ve always ridden dead horses.” Some churches form a committee to study the horse in order to see how dead it really is. Other churches reject the notion that unbiblical thinking is a dead horse at all. They merely re-classify the dead horse as “living impaired.” No, the only way to address the dead horse of unbiblical thinking or unbiblical teaching is to hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught. That’s what pastors and elders must do.
We just had the pleasure of a visit from a family that lives on the island of Jersey, which is a bailiwick of the United Kingdom. It is off the coast of Normandy, France, and my new friend is an Anglican pastor there. He and his family stayed in our home for five days, and much of our discussion centered on the church all around the world as it drifts from its moorings. His prayer is the same as mine: that God would bring those who stand in pulpits everywhere back to the trustworthy Word.