Friday, January 16, 2009

Get what you can, listening to good or bad preaching

Examine yourself first, get the plank out of your own eye, BEFORE you go to your brother!
I have had the odd experience of being in very wide spectrum of churches, some of which i could not call a church. I've been within the prosperity, name it and claim it churches; I've been in churches that focused primarily on 'deliverance' casting out every imaginable (and i mean IMAGINED) demon you could think of; I've been within very sound (hard to believe but in case you didn't know some of them will be in heaven as well) pentecostal churches, i've been in very compromised churches, i've been in very comfortable churches, i've been in dead and cold churches.
All that to say, i've had my share of exposure despite the fact that it's been within a short span of time. Yet when i did come to saving faith, and was convinced that I am to be conformed to the image of Christ, and that i couldn't blame my shortcomings on the imperfections around me. I have tried to develop the art of taking what good i can, trying to hold onto whatever gem i could. Say if i had to sit under a preacher who really lacked gifting, perhaps lacked solid consistent doctrine; rather than fall into the depressing habit of critiquing every sermon, i've sought to take what good i could and apply what truth i could.
In other words, if we are part of a church that has teachers we may disagree with, then with every teaching and every sermon we MUST make the best of it, don't go expecting to be disappointed, with a closed ears attitude. Rather, recognize that their still be much truth that you need to hear and regardless of the faults, when it comes to yourself (as a hearer) don't you DARE try to slide by conviction because you can point something wrong out.
There are men that you can learn from their example only, there are men who you can learn from some of their teaching as well, there are men who you can ONLY learn from their teaching, and there are men that you can learn from in word and deed. Without a doubt it is best, and should be the goal of every Christian to be examples in word and deed, in teaching and living. Yet don't be too quick to disregard those holy saints who are weak in doctrine but shame most Christians in life. This sometimes seems to be a contradiction, but it's true nonetheless.
I really like what Paul Washer says (why quote him so much? i easily remember what he says because of repetition and most of the time his quotes aren't his) "It's better to have it and NOT know what to call it, then to know what to call it and NOT have it" The person who grows up in church is often this way, they can give all the correct answers, yet it's their life that makes you doubt their salvation.
There are without a doubt men i will quote and have, like A.W. Tozer and Leonard Ravenhill that are NOT always easy to read and that because i can find many places where i disagree, but there are other places where i KNOW they have something i do NOT, where they are speaking truth that should convict us all. Are you a searcher of truth? Do you seek to be convicted? Then listen to godly men, listen to the truth of their words or listen to the truth of their lives.
I'm not saying be gullible or be tolerant, but be careful not to ignore something the Lord may be saying to you. In other words, I've heard of many stories about Ravenhill where people wrote him, where people went to his house and he invited them in (even many baptist students and ministers) and they where left with great impressions upon their souls of God. There are men who you could pick their brain and fire away questions and leave thinking 'wow that guy is smart', but there are some people of God, some leaders that you could be around for a short time and just WATCH and you leave thinking 'now that's what it means to walk with the Lord' or 'Finally I'm convinced that such men exist who have a hear after God'. Without a doubt i have met men and thought 'know that's how a husband or father should be' or 'that's what i call preaching' etc...
Follow Christ in men, emulate those things that you see Christ in; whether that be in doctrine or in life.
Confront false doctrine, confront bad teaching, confront heresy, confront wrong views and methods but do this while at the same time not be too quick to write off men who are clearly men of God. You may have to call them out by name, you may have to warn others not to listen to them, but as for each individual we must not be closed to receive convicting truth from those we don't agree with.

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