My Roman Catholic friends often say Protestant churches can’t be of the Lord because there are literally thousands of denominations, all with their differing secondary beliefs and modes of church polity. They say such “confusion” and “disunity” can’t be of the Lord. I would respond that the Lord has done His greatest work amidst this disorganized evangelical patchwork, where He is acknowledged as the Head of the church. The world admires monolithic institutions with authoritarian hierarchies but history has shown that has not been the best channel for the Gospel of salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Protestantism covers a very wide spectrum. At one end are churches that have drifted into liberal modernism and no longer preach the Gospel. At the other end are very conservative, fundamentalist churches where the Gospel of grace sometimes comes in second to a list of rules. There’s always a tension between grace and doctrinal truth. But God’s Word says Jesus was full of grace and truth and we must also strive to find the balance between love and freedom in the Lord and right doctrine.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14
Readers of this blog know how much I admire churches and pastors who uphold sound biblical doctrine. Way too many evangelical churches are downplaying doctrine these days in favor of undiscerning ecumenism and shared emotional experiences. But on the other hand are those churches and people who emphasize doctrine so much that they lose all their appeal. Their arrogance and lack of humility becomes offensive to everyone: to the unsaved and the brethren. They become harsh. They’re so busy erecting walls to defend and preserve the truth as they understand it that they forget about reaching out to the lost and the brethren. Jesus had a perfect way about Him of not compromising His Truth but also of reaching out to sinners in a loving way. He’s our example.
There have been times when writing for this blog when my zeal for the truth was lacking charity and grace. Lord, help me to lean into your grace more. Help me to keep striving for that balance that You show us in your Gospels.
I began writing this post prior to worship service this morning and I had no idea what the sermon was going to be about. As the Lord would have it, the pastor’s message was on the tension between grace and truth for a believer. It’s still amazing to me how the Lord reaches directly into our lives like that.
This was our pastor’s last message. He’ll be moving on to a different ministry about 1000 miles away. My wife and I will miss him a lot. We were a bit disillusioned after leaving our last church a year ago. My wife would have been happy to never attend church again. But I put my trust in the Lord and asked Him to find us a new church home and He came through BIG TIME. My wife and I look forward to the great blessings we receive at every service, every week. We pray the Lord gives us a new pastor with a similar heart for Him.