Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Dry-eyed Polemics. (Considerations from Philippians 3)

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on July 5, 2008 at 2:55 pm

But Paul realizes that many professed believers have yet much to learn about gaining Christ and attaining to the resurrection from the dead. With such disparity in our respective points of understanding and maturity, we’ll inevitably encounter believers whose perspectives differ from ours. Some we will recognize as “younger” than us in the faith. Others, if we are indeed mature enough to have even a modicum of humility, we’ll recognize are “older” than us, more godly, wiser and Christlike.

To those of us who may be relatively more mature and who occasionally encounter others of a less developed faith, Paul enjoins: Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained. (v15,16) How thankful I am to have known more mature Christians who did not dismiss my misguided yet developing grasp of Scripture and my immature even incorrect practical applications of the Word as I’ve grown in Christ. Many things I once believed about doctrine and the Christian life, I no longer hold. I benefited from more mature brethren (some who are chronologically younger than me) who kept living by the standard to which they had matured while allowing me to be further taught by God in areas of my relative immaturity. I’m humbled to realize, having been a believer for several decades and a pastor for more than a quarter century, that I yet have not already obtained it or have become perfect – so I press on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

By God’s grace, I am sufficiently discerning enough, by and large, to identify many of those despised evil working dogs who threaten God’s people with false teaching. I pray for maturation in discernment as Satan’s lies come repackaged in new deceptive and enticing garb. I’m thankful that I can learn from others more discerning than I. Like Paul, I too despise false teachers. Paul describes them: they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. It is easy for my ire to rise even as I type their Scriptural profile, but as I sense my righteous indignation surge, my conscience gives my anger a speeding ticket, for I have raced past a Pauline standard which he attained and in which I am, sadly, yet quite immature. I raced past the words, for many walk, of whom I often told you and now tell you even weeping. Paul could not consider false teachers and those deceived by them, without weeping for them. He sees them on the threshold of the impending return of our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ who is about to execute judgment and transform the body of our humble state into the body of His glory by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.

Paul could not engage in dry-eyed polemics. The dogs and false circumcision who so abused him, discredited his ministry and threatened the church were indeed enemies of the cross of Christ. But Christ had taught Paul to love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27,28). Here is a standard attained by Paul which measures me as being yet quite immature. I’m still waiting to grow up in my knowledge of Christ to where I can genuinely, consistently weep for the enemies of the cross.

How’s that for a polemic? What response would we get were those who despise Christ to see us weeping for them as we perceive them standing on the brink of Judgment, under the wrath of God? Are they wrong? Yes. Are they a threat from which the church needs protection? Yes. Can we engage them in polemics without weeping for them? Sadly… Yes. So, I press on…

Alan Dunn, Pastor
Grace Covenant Baptist Church
Flemington, NJ
  1. Thank you, Pastor Dunn, for exhorting us to more heartfelt ministry! Our perpetually-dry eyes are shameful witnesses to the coldness of our hearts. Oh, for more love of God and souls! Dispassionate, clinical theology grieves me, especially when I recall that I have done too much of it myself. Oh Lord, come down, and revive us again!

    –D. Scott Meadows, Pastor
    Calvary Baptist Church (Reformed)
    Exeter, New Hampshire

  2. I agree with D. Scott Meadows!


  3. Excellent post, Alan. Good preparation for the Lord’s Day tomorrow!

  4. Pastor Dunn, thank you for bringing the whole counsel of God. This is one of the main ways in how we are brought to maturity. I would agree with Pastor Meadows post as well. How much we have yet to learn! Thank you for your teaching on this subject which is being used by God to mature me more in the faith.

    R Morrison

  5. Dear Alan,
    Thank you again for cutting a straight course in the Scriptures. It seems that it is often the little phrases that capture some important truth and pull me up short. They can be so easily missed and yet are so vital. I’m glad to see you putting things into print, even if the “printed” page is a bunch of electrons in cyberspace. Press on!

  6. […] Can you engage in dry-eyed polemics?  Or do you weep over the enemies of Christ even as you resist them with all your might?  If you – like me – are not yet mature enough to love your enemies and do good to those who hate you, read what Alan Dunn has to say here. […]

  7. Pastor Dunn,

    Thank you for challenging us in your article to a more serious ministry and longing for souls.
    Where are the men of our day,(like Griffin and Whitefield) that would weep for souls, even in the pulpit.
    I appreciate your obvious humility in regard to these things.

    Curt Arend

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