Sunday, September 5, 2010

Humble Orthodoxy

Before coming to the Reformed faith, I lived my Christian life pretty much like I suppose a lot of Christians do. I went to church on Sunday, listened to my CCM radio station & CDs, & read my Daily Guideposts . . . well . . . daily. I loved God & longed to worship Him. Even to this day, death seems so joyful to me, because when that moment comes, I will see my Savior face-to-face. . .& that is a glorious thought! Since I was 15, I've had a true faith in Him, but it was seriously lacking in true knowledge of Him.

Enter Reformed theology. The first sermon from a Reformed pastor that I listened to was on expiation entitled "Jesus Died to Cleanse Our Filth" by Mark Driscoll. I remember cleaning my house while listening to it & having to sit down several times to just listen & cry. The second sermon was "15 Words of Hope" by John MacArthur. I listened to it on the way to AL to meet Michael's family, as well as on the way back. That sermon was my first exposure to expositional preaching, & it felt like breathing for the first time. I'd never heard anything so magnetic in all my life! I had no idea that sermons could bring about such deep understanding of Scripture. In that moment, I realized that the sermons I'd been hearing all my life had only scratched the surface of God's Word. For a few years, I had felt like something was missing in my church's worship service as well as in my own walk with God. I knew instantly that this was it. In short, I'd been drinking milk while unknowingly craving meat. And, boy, did John MacArthur serve up some steak! There was no going back for me.

I wholeheartedly believe Reformed theology to be true to Scripture. I've searched out God's Word & have found all of the Reformed doctrines to be biblical doctrines. But a problem soon arose in my zeal. I became brash & abrasive in defending Reformed theology & correcting erroneous beliefs. Michael has said that those who are new to the Reformed faith need to be locked up for a couple of years until their zeal mellows. This was SO me! It didn't matter who it was, if they espoused a belief that I knew to be unbiblical, I set them straight right fast! Now, there's nothing wrong with correcting error - in fact, it's wrong not to - but it does matter how you do it. And the only word for my manner of correction was harsh. Completely unloving.

It's been more than 3 years now since coming to the Reformed faith. I'm glad to say that God did convict me of my unloving attitudes. I realize now that I don't have to nitpick what people say, & if they are in error that loving correction is godly correction. I also came to the understanding that there are true believers in unreformed churches. None of us have it all figured out, & when we die & join our fellow believers before the throne of God, we'll see just how much we got wrong in this life.  We'll also see the one thing we all got right, by the grace of God:  trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone as our atonement for sin.

So, here are my three main admonitions to my fellow believers:

     1.) Search out the Scriptures & place yourself under men of God who dedicate their lives to presenting God's Word to the flock truly & accurately. (At the top of my list of well-known pastors are John Piper, John MacArthur, & David Platt.)  Commit to holding Scripture, not your personal opinions or feelings, as your measuring stick.

     2.) Be humble. Sometimes, the most loving thing you can do for someone is to show them their error. But, if you do have to correct someone who is in error, do so gently & lovingly, remembering that God is gentle & loving with you & such a spirit honors & glorifies Him. In this same vein, evaluate your own beliefs in light of Scripture, being humble enough to admit when you're wrong & change accordingly.

     3.) Remember that it's okay to disagree as long as both parties support their views with an accurate interpretation & application of Scripture. Just because someone doesn't believe something just exactly as you do doesn't mean they aren't true believers.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. . . . Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. ~ 1 Cor. 13:1; 4-5a

P.S. For anyone not familiar with Reformed theology or the Doctrines of Grace, I will be writing posts on this topic sometime in the near (hopefully) future.  Feel free to ask any questions you may have, though.


Elizabeth Davis said...

Well said. Thank you for sharing. I, like you, came to belive in the doctrines of grace about 3 + years ago and it has changed my life knowing, believing and living my life in light of God being absolutely sovereign and good. I liked your humility - and zeal - and hope to diligently be humble myself for God's glory. Thanks again!

The Boyds said...

Thanks for the compliment, Elizabeth. It is so wonderfully life-changing, isn't it? I have the same prayer for myself, because I by no means have humility down pat. But, at least I'm not debating pastors 3 states away anymore! ;-)