Personal Mission Field
The Lord chose him so that he might teach the barbarian nations, so that he might fish with the nets of doctrine; so that he might draw believers out of the world to grace, and they might follow the Lord to a heavenly seat.
- Sechnall, Audite Omnes Amantes (Irish, 5th century)
[The elder] must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
- Titus 1.9
How shall we reach the lost in our generation? Somehow we have come to believe that if, in our churches, we could simply make ourselves a little more like them in the way we present the faith; if we could just eliminate all language that might offend or confuse; if we didn't make too big a deal about them, you know, "leaving it all behind for Jesus" - at least not right away; and if we just made things a little less serious and a lot more fun, that should do it.
Well, it isn't. The churches that do this best are filling up with people who love the snappy hymns, dramatic worship services, and on-campus coffee bars, but who seem to have little interest in discipleship. And doctrine! Oh my goodness, don't even talk to me about doctrine. Who wants to hear that stodgy old stuff?
Let's remember that Patrick came among a barbaric and violent people, illiterate, immersed in all manner of grisly and licentious cults and practices, a people who would as soon enslave or eviscerate you as listen to what you have to say. To these people Patrick came proclaiming the Kingdom of God with sound doctrine.
He taught Christian doctrine. He proclaimed Biblical teaching and sound doctrine. He shattered centuries of pagan myth and undid all manner of detestable practices by teaching sound doctrine. He laid the foundation for a spiritual and cultural revolution such as the world had not seen for four centuries by proclaiming and teaching sound doctrine.
Sound doctrine was the bait, and rank pagans snapped it up with relish. Sound doctrine was Paul's counsel to the church leaders of his day, too, concerning how they should rescue their churches from the slippery slopes of philosophical and theological confusion and set them on solid footing for good works to God's glory.
But we're so much beyond that - beyond Paul and Patrick. We know that doctrine is a thing more harmful than helpful, to be avoided at all costs in favor of what is merely personal or sentimental. We know that preachers who preach doctrine won't satisfy us, and we make sure to let them know it. We need only enough doctrine to get us into the gates of the Kingdom, but after that, well, keep your doctrine to yourself.
And that's why the Church today is unpersuasive, powerless, and incapable of transforming our culture in the direction of righteousness. We're taking the wrong food into our souls and putting the wrong bait on the hooks. We're not growing, and they're not biting.
So why don't we try it Patrick's way and Paul's? How's your own diet of sound doctrine these days?
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
ReVision - Once again, you'll think I expect too much of our Christian President. Well, OK.
In the Gates - Did you know that the Law of God is indispensable to the full working of the Holy Spirit?
God's Prayer Program - Want a better prayer life? Learn to pray the psalms.
Mentoring - Pastor, this spring could be the time you get a boost for your preaching, learn how to lead your church in evangelism, or just get your spiritual life on a more solid footing. Contact us for more information today.