In recent posts and comments on this blog, it is evident that many Reformed Baptists are seeing the need to look for what is best in our brethren who differ from us on certain secondary issues. In our attempts to avoid an unkind judgmental attitude and an ecclesiastical pride, we must nonetheless hold fast to truth and judge righteous judgment. I would argue that the fundamental issue of being truly faithful is not the doctrines of grace, and that the primary token of God’s favor and blessing is not outward success.
There are a growing number of men who embrace the doctrines of grace and who are successful (in terms of growing churches and indeed conversions) who nonetheless convey these precious truths in ways that are disturbing in their content and tone. When these preachers and teachers invoke sexually crude and worldly humor into their sermons, we cannot bring ourselves to be horrified, because after all, they preach the doctrines of grace and have a lot of people going to their churches (more than you do, pal!). I have heard this type of ministry defended by using the analogy of Martin Luther hammering the 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg. Luther, it is said, held the theses with his left hand and hammered with his right-we ought to be more concerned with the left hand of truth, than with the right hand which drives it.
My question for us to ponder, my friends, is this: Is the right hand which drives truth truly a matter of indifference or at least of lesser importance than the truth which is declared? A careful study of the ministry of the Apostle Paul will show that it was his manner of life and his manner of delivering truth, as much as the truth itself that was of great importance. He writes to the Thessalonians, 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord…”
He could say to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:10 “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance.” In urging Titus to have a faithful ministry in regard to content, he also exhorted him to back it up with his manner of life, Titus 2:7-8 , “In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.”
Brothers, let us rejoice when Christ is preached, when sinners are converted, and when truth is propagated, but let us also drive in that truth with reverent hands and the hammer of a life integrity!