Do you know this person?
He or she knows everything.
They have it all together.
They are rigid.
They are mean.
They think their way is superior to all others.
"I am astonished that you have so quickly deserted him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel."
Martyn Lloyd-Jones has greatly served me. MLJ, as folks call him for short, was a Welsh pastor in the 20th century. He was gospel-centered before the "gospel-wakefulness" over the past decade. When the Lord was shaking some things up in my life with the gospel, a very wise man encouraged me to spend some time with MLJ. Through MLJ, the Holy Spirit, and the book of Galatians I realized that I was the person mentioned above. By grace, I'm aware of this tendency in my life. In a teaching on Galatians, MLJ taught that the gospel emphasis on grace could be lost. He lined out several ways that gospel-wakefulness or gospel-centrality could be lost within the church! Yes, you read that correctly - MLJ served as a cultural prophet for his time in post-WWII Britain, one that we would do well to pay attention to in our current post-Christian culture in the United States.
Tim Keller, in his book Center Church, explains MLJ's teaching on Galatians and the church that loses the centrality of the gospel like this:
“A Heterodox Church loses its grip on the orthodox tenets of theology that under gird the gospel, tenets such as the triune nature of God, the deity of Christ, the wrath of God and so on. It may turn it's back on the very belief in justification by faith alone and the need for conversion and so move toward a view that being a Christian is simply a matter of church membership or of living a life based on Christ's example. This cuts to the nerve of gospel renewal and revival."
Scary stuff, right?!?
Keller continues explaining MLJ,
"But it is possible to subscribe to every orthodox doctrine and nevertheless fail to communicate the gospel to people's hearts in a way that brings about repentance, joy, and spiritual growth. One way this happens is through dead orthodoxy, in which such pride grows in our doctrinal correctness that sound teaching and right church practice become a kind of works-righteousness. Carefulness in doctrine and life is, of course, critical, but when it is accompanied in a church by self-righteousness, mockery, disdain of everyone else, and a contentious, combative attitude, it shows that, while the doctrine of justification may be believed, a strong spirit of legalism reigns nonetheless. The doctrine has failed to touch hearts."
Bazinga! Bam! Wowza! DEAD ORTHODOXY
Did you see that last phrase – “The doctrine has failed to touch hearts.” Take a look at the picture on this post. The environment looks like it is flourishing. It is lush with doctrine, but when you see the skull, it seems abrupt, out of place. The skull is dead. The Word of God is living and active, we don't have to make it come alive. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God to change the hearts of the people of God. I've had these words in my journal for quite some time. It is something that I’ve been pouring over for four years. In the last four years, I have served as the Director of Precept Training and now the Director of Leadership Development, which includes Precept Training and Transform Student Ministries. Friends, I train Bible study leaders that use a method of Bible study called Inductive Bible Study. The three main components are Observation, Interpretation, and Application. This statement by MLJ and Tim Keller has been used by the Spirit to capture my attention.
As a Precept student, it is possible to be heterodox.
If I, as Precept student only focus on what the text says or what the text means, then the doctrine has failed to touch my heart. If my only form of application, how the meaning of the text applies to my life, focuses on the culture, the nation, or the church but I never allow the Spirit to penetrate MY heart with these truths then the doctrine has failed to touch hearts. The markings, the lists, the At A Glance Chart has failed to touch the heart.
As a Precept Bible Study Leader, it is possible to be heterodox.
If my personal study and group discussion come from a place of self-righteousness, mockery, disdain of everyone else-every other Bible study, church, or ministry leader-and a contentious, combative attitude, it shows that while doctrine may be believed (head knowledge) it has failed to go that six inches to the heart and it will fail to motivate the hands and feet. Bible study should humble us. Inductive Bible study, Precept Leader, should make us more aware of and dependence on grace, mercy, and loving-kindness.
Precept Leader, Pastor, Community Group Leader, Elder or Deacon,
Any knowledge you have is by grace.
Change is by grace.
Humility is by grace.
Grace kills heterodoxy.
Want to know more about Inductive Bible Study? Either comment below or drop us a line, we'll hook you up with a free resource that gets you into this powerful tool for knowing God and changing your heart.