To Protect The Flock

 

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Volume II, Issue 1
Spring 1994
To Protect The Flock
Jefferis Kent Peterson

O Theophilus is the Quarterly Journal of The Center For Biblical Literacy

 


To Protect The Flock

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.

Ephesians 4:13-14, KJV

One of the great dangers of this generation is that we live in a world of relativity, where truth has no standard and where orthodoxy is relegated to irrelevance. Our culture has no respect for the Truth nor for any truth, for that matter, except the swaying of our sympathies through sentiment. Because of this emotionally hypersensitive age, this generation is easily led (and misled) by compassionate sounding words issued forth from celebrated political figures. Rather than holding our leaders accountable for their actions and their choices, we excuse their inability and overlook their immorality.

Because we have grown up in this environment, we in the Church bear the marks of this culture’s defects of personality and character. For example, we are often afraid to confront this world’s evil with God’s absolute standard of righteousness because it might hurt somebody’s feelings or cause us to be rejected and misunderstood (and that might hurt us!).

Even worse than sanctioning corrupt political practices, we are often times on the verge of excusing heresy in the church for the sake of wanting to appear tolerant. When homosexual practice and abortion in the church are exalted under the banner of individual rights, we must know inside ourselves that somewhere, somehow as the Church, we have lost our moorings.

We, in the conservative evangelical Church, often decry the terrible mishandling of the Word of God by those who twist it to justify their indiscretion and immoral doctrines, but we too are often just as guilty of that same offense, and so bring disrespect to the Word of God and to the offices of Christ’s government. We do not know how to rightly divide the Word.

Let me remind you of how easily we can be led astray from the simple purity of God’s Word by the changingwind of our emotional make up. The pentecostal lust for the “experience” of God can often end in a disregard for the plain meaning of the scripture’s text. At best, preachers can have correct doctrine and use the scripture out of context to “prove” their point of view; at worst, the scripture can be misused to exalt suspect doctrines and outright error.

It is absolutely imperative, therefore, that the people of God be grounded in the Word of God so that they are not misled by those wolves in sheep’s clothing who will secretly enter the flock and cause people to look to their emotions as confirmation of the truth instead of to Jesus and the Word. Faithful preachers and students of the Word must know how to use scripture appropriately.

To protect the people from the changing wind of men’s doctrines, there are a few simple tools that will help:

 

  • A working knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, or at the very least, the disciplined use of Strong’s Concordance.
  • Training in exegesis, which is learning how to let the scripture speak for itself, vs. eisogesis, which is reading into the scripture whatever you want it to say.
  • Understanding the historical context in which the message was written so that when the author is writing about events of his day, we are careful not to create a prophecy out of it and apply it willy-nilly to today! If we know what he was saying to his generation, we will be able to apply it more faithfully to ours today .

These are just a few of the tools that a student of the Word should be able to use to stabilize himself against the winds of manipulation that blow throughout the Church. At SC, we endeavor to equip the saints for this very purpose.

 


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