Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Speaking The Truth In Love

A letter written by a friend to resign membership in a local church (when you leave a church, please, at least tell them why):

To Pastor ________ & leadership,

It is with a sense of sadness that I write this letter requesting you remove our names from the membership role of _________________. First, let me assure you we do not have any hard feelings toward anyone at the church nor do we want to hurt anyone.

It was a great disappointment that we had no alternative than to leave our church family in order to be where the whole counsel of God is proclaimed to the glory of God and our savior Jesus Christ. While we felt we were a part of a wonderful body of people, our eyes were opened to the reality that the apostolic doctrines were largely ignored in favor of a more “relevant” focus of ministry. We now believe that sound doctrine is the most relevant discipline to the Christian life and, incorporated with love, the most necessary guide to the local church.

No doctrine is more essential to get right than the gospel itself. This is a matter of eternal life and death. When the gospel is relegated to a mere human decision and the call of Jesus to repentance and self-denial is ignored, people are left to believe they are on their way to Heaven simply because they said a formulated prayer at the end of a service. I submit that this is nothing more than salvation by works and an evangelical formality that is no different than the works righteousness found in Catholicism. I fear that many are being lead astray only to be one of those who, on the day of wrath, are stunned to hear the words “depart from me, I never knew you!” Missing from the message is Christ crucified for the depraved sinner and the consequence of one dying without being reconciled to God by faith in the death and resurrection of the Messiah. When the depths of our sin and the greatness of Christ’s blood are rarely mentioned, it leads people down a dangerous path of false security and into the mess that the Corinthian church found itself in.

It’s easy to forget that it is the offensive message of the cross that God has ordained to save those who will believe (1 Corinthians 1:21, 1 Corinthians 2:2). God has not ordained men to be saved hearing funny stories, how to manage finances or have a better marriage, or any other theme that tickles the ears of sinful humanity. The gospel, unadulterated and untainted with man-centered motives, is the power of God to salvation. It should be at the center of everything we do as churches and individuals.

After approaching leadership at _______________ with some of these concerns, it was evident there was little harmony in our views on these matters and it did not seem that our concerns were taken seriously. It is noteworthy that Paul warns us to avoid those who have gone away from sound doctrine in 2 Timothy 4:3 and in Romans 16:17 he even says it is those with flattering speech that are the ones who cause division not those who oppose them. My humble plea is for _______________ to return to their first love and proclaim the pure word of God without compromise, personal agendas, or numerical success as the measuring stick.

The words of the prince of preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon, ring true for all of us today:
Ho, ho, sir surgeon, you are too delicate to tell the man that he is ill! You hope to heal the sick without their knowing it. You therefore flatter them; and what happens? They laugh at you; they dance upon their own graves. At last they die! Your delicacy is cruelty; your flatteries are poisons; you are a murderer. Shall we keep men in a fool's paradise? Shall we lull them into soft slumbers from which they will awake in hell? Are we to become helpers of their damnation by our smooth speeches? In the name of God we will not. It becomes every true minister of Christ to cry aloud and spare not, for God hath set a day in which he will "judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel." As surely as Paul's gospel was true the judgment will come.

Please be assured that we love and care for all of you. Sometimes truth can seem harsh, but we cannot truly be loving without it. I do not write this capriciously, for I know that if it were not for the grace of God, I would still be dead in my sins.

If you would like to discuss any of these matters with me, please feel free to contact me at ____________. You will continue to be in our prayers.


Clif Cummings said...

Wow - I know way too many churches where this letter would apply. Unfortunately the majority of the members (and even those in leadership) wouldn't understand the seriousness of the issues raised by such a letter.
(p.s. - is it anyone I know?)

justin said...

Clif, you make a good point. The reason I posted this is because it applies to a lot of people.
I am growing increasingly aware of my accountability before God. I will be held accountable for the ministry I support with my presence and with my funds.

No, It is no one you know.

Anonymous said...

Who wrote this letter?