The first step in addressing sin in the church is a principle I heard explained in a service I attended last Sunday night. It is the ‘Grace-Truth’ principle. We see Christ applying this with the woman caught in adultery in John 8.
As the woman was brought to Him, he didn’t apply ‘black & white’ truth right away. He came first with grace. After writing in the sand, He said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” As her accusers leave one by one, He then brings truth. He asks her where her accusers are and challenges her to “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
The problem we see in the Church today is too many pastors feel this need to defend truth, so they beat “sinners” over the head with it. Truth doesn’t need a defense. It is a constant. Our goal as pastors is not to defend truth, but rather to help individuals apply truth. In understanding that, truth is applied best as a person willingly opens the door of their life to it. Coming first with grace allows a person to see you’re actually concerned with their well-being. It causes them to willingly open that door and allow you to bring truth.
This is an approach of compassion rather than religion. If you desire to be a ‘religious leader’, always lead with truth. Make it loud, obnoxious and blunt. But if you desire to show Christ’s love and compassion to people. If you long to be a ‘Christ-follower’, leading others to the same transformational life you’ve experienced. Lead with grace.
I am enjoying your thoughts. I say give them all the hammer so that we can be an elitest club with only the best of the best. Just kidding. We all need to look more closely at how Jesus did everything that He did when He was ministering. There would be great changes that would come to our lives if we did.
You can defend the truth in love. You can present the truth with grace. You are drawing a line in the sand that does not exist in the Bible. You are describing the white washed, spineless Christianity that is being widely propagated in this country today. It is not Biblical.
As for people willingly accepting truth . . . that has nothing to do with presenting/defending the truth in love. The true pastor’s responsibility is to always present/defend the truth in love regardless of a person’s willingness to accept it. Them accepting it is a result of the conviction of the Holy Spirit not because of the words of a pastor or their own willingness apart from God.
We are commanded to defend the truth – it is our responsibility as pastors. To say different is to say that Paul, Peter, John, James, Augustin, John Owen, CS Lewis, and John Piper were/are all wrong. That is 2000 years of Christianity.
Pastors who don’t defend the truth usually aren’t capable of doing so because they usually don’t know the Bible. They use the Bible as a reference to make their points instead of taking their points out of the Bible.
Those are some valuable points Wayne, but I would really have to disagree with you on this one. I know you’ve sited a number of individuals (not scripture), but I do not recall Jesus ever having to defend truth. He lived truth, but he never defended it. Now that doesn’t disvalue the importance of defending truth at times. I know there are moments in history when truth had to be defended (Martin Luther among others), but trying to defend truth as a means for showing forgiveness (especially to a non-believer) is not effective or Christ-like. How do you explain Jesus showing grace to the woman caught in adultery before presenting truth (John 8:3-11); or Jesus healing the man in the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:2-15); or Jesus showing grace to the criminal hanging on the cross next to Him before He brought truth (‘today you will be with me in paradise”-Luke 23:43)?
Truth is definitely important. Scripture says we worship God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). I don’t discount truth – I am dealing with how truth is presented. Being a dogmatic, ‘Bible-thumper’ is not the Christ I read about nor the Christian scripture teaches us to be (Acts 11:23) We are called to show the grace and mercy that was shown us. As we do that, we then have opportunity to present truth. That opportunity, however, is often-times earned.
great blogs Nick! You are very “well spoken” & I agree with you completely.