Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. -- 1Timothy 4: 16 (NIV)
Never lose sight that because of divine inspiration, we believe God wrote these words. He tells him to only guard two things - his life and his doctrine. By guarding your life, you save yourself but guarding your doctrine saves your listeners!
Beloved, I can go on and list scripture after scripture because the entire bible is about Christ and His gospel. We are to watch our doctrine because only the gospel has the power of God to save someone. True division in the church comes from those that would preach another gospel and we are to count them as accursed! I find it no coincidence that God uses the example that even if an angel brings another gospel they should be counted accursed when you consider that Mormonism was founded on the premise an angel gave Joseph Smith a new gospel. To this day, Mormons use the Pearl of Great Price and the Book of Mormon OVER the bible. We do this line of ministry because so many will stand before Jesus churched and damned. We do this line of ministry because we know the way is narrow and few find it but when they do there is great rejoicing in heaven. We do this line of ministry out of pure compassion for the lost who think they are found. Those in darkness that have been convinced their darkness is light. Those harassed and helpless by voracious wolves who seek only to devour.
That brings us to the concluding thought and that is one of style. Let's be honest, this is a ministry of criticism. It is a ministry of critique. If someone espouses a minor theological error that is not a cause for tearing the person down but rather loving correction. We are talking about wolves beloved. People with ministries that reach millions, who spend their lives in direct opposition to Christ. The bible says we are either gathering people to Him or scattering them away. There is no third choice. So how do we approach these wolves? I refuse to pet them. I refuse to play with them. John the Baptist seems to agree:
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. - Matthew 3:7-8 (ESV)
Brood of vipers! Jesus was not kinder towards them. He called them whitewashed tombs filled with dead man's bones who turn all who listen to them into twice the sons of hell that they are! That sounds pretty harsh and snarky to me! I understand that following discernment ministries can sound negative and critical, but my focus has always been on the sheep, not the wolves. Being led astray has consequences. Shipwrecking your faith has consequences. We can look across the expanse of the battlefield for the souls of mankind and lament how the wolves are being treated when exposed or we can tend to the bloodied sheep. I choose the latter because I was once them. I am nothing special beloved. I am amazed when God uses me for anything because I know where I came from. I remember the bar God found me in. My flesh wants to sin just as much as Joseph Prince's or Creflo Dollar's. Without the grace of God, I would be nowhere. Without His mercy, I would be nowhere. As my pastor is fond of saying, I am just dirt talking to dirt. I do pray that when you look out over the crowds and see the harassed and helpless, that it sparks a compassion in you. The imagery Jesus chooses is not without reason. The shepherd carries a staff to guide the sheep and a rod to ward off the enemies of the sheep. The gospel, hallelujah is both staff and rod. We should hold neither in contempt.
Reverend Anthony Wade - December 1, 2022