by Mike Ratliff
holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:9 NASB)
In one of our discernment group discussions today the topic came up about Mark Driscoll’s replacement at ACTS29 actually being a promotion as per this article. From that it naturally followed that basically the same thing was going on with John Piper at Bethlehem Baptist. In each case, these men were moving on to positions of more influence and more power. Also, the man who is replacing John Piper taught “Spiritual Formation” at the College level. Who is replacing Mark Driscoll? Isn’t it Matt Chandler? Isn’t he the one who claims to hear commands directly and audibly from God just like Driscoll?
In any case, towards the end of that part of the discussion one of my friends restated Tim Keller’s comment, “God sees everything in community.” My friend then stated, “I don’t even know what that means…” Of course we were brainstorming. My response was, “It means that, he speaking for God, sees all who profess to be Christians as the Church and should be unified—regardless…” Ken Silva then replied to my statement, “Bingo… That’s why they attack those of us who insists on e.g. Titus 1:9. That verse assumes there is such a thing as proper doctrine and that we can know it.” And, from that discussion this post was born. Ken’s last statement in that stream was, “I’ve often said there’d be no need for this kind of ministry if they did what the Bible says.”
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict. 10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. 12 One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” 13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, 14 not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. 15 To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled. 16 They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. (Titus 1:5-16 NASB)
First, God’s standards for all believers are high. His requirement for church leaders is to set that standard and model it. Their qualification to do so is not based within their natural abilities, intelligence, or education. No, it is based with their moral and spiritual character an their ability to teach with skill as the Holy Spirit sovereignly has equipped them. Second, Paul wrote this epistle to Titus in order to instruct him how to correct wrong doctrine and practices in the Cretan churches, which Paul had not had time to complete himself. What does this tell us? There is no room in the True Church for wrong doctrine and wrong practices. Also, from v9 alone we know that right doctrine from God’s Word is knowable and it must be taught and used to rebuke those who teach and practice otherwise.
What does this say about those in the visible church in our day like those mentioned above who are all about unity because “God sees everything in community”? First, I find that nowhere in God’s Word. Sorry… Second, these men are being disobedient to God’s Word and it appears that there is an agenda.
What I did not mention from our discussion above was that we talked about the fact that those men like D.A. Carson, John Piper, et al should be the ones doing the rebuking and setting things right within the visible church in our time, but what is the reality? These very men are joining ranks with those saying ignorant things like Tim Keller’s quote above. Within that discussion it was asked why these men couldn’t or wouldn’t do or say anything about what was going on. It was mentioned that the there was a common thread within those going after the NAR/Dominionism bent, which is the corrupting influence of Contemplative Prayer or Spiritual Formation. Those with Charismatic leanings seemed especially susceptible to it. Then one of my friends said, “I think it’s possible that we are God’s judgment upon them, for not doing what they have been called to do. Think Deborah and Barak.” Here is my reply, “And…along with that judgment as accumulating spiritual blindness. They simply are unable to see the truth and actually believe they are right. They are self-deceived. How tragic!”
Things are happening quickly my brethren.
Soli Deo Gloria!