Today’s post is by Andrew Hall. Andrew is the Lead Pastor of Community Bible Church in Ilderton, Ontario (a small community just outside of London). He and his wife, Melanie, have been married for over 13 years and have four kids. Andrew studied at Providence College University in Otterburne, MB and received my M.Div from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, and blogs at cruciformity.com.
Therefore, brothers,be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in uthe truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention has to a lamp shining in a dark place, until ithe day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Pet. 1:10-21)
His children were being threatened, and he held nothing back. He told his children to watch out for these accursed children, creatures of instinct, blights, having eyes full of adultery, ravenous for sin, hearts trained for greed. These enslaved people would have been better off if they had never known the truth because they are like dogs returning to their vomit.
These are not the words of some angry lowbrow peasant. These are the inspired words of Scripture. So why does Peter speak this way (2 Peter 2:10b-21)? To our modern Western ears, this sounds offensive. But what do you do when someone is preying on the weak, enticing the immature by sensuality, enslaving unsteady souls? If someone is going after your child with perversion, wouldn’t you be justifiably angry?
In order to protect the flock from wolves, there are times where a severe mercy is necessary. Sometimes shocking language and vivid imagery get the point across in ways that gentle answers can’t.
We worship a Master who was murdered for his preaching. He pronounced woes upon the Pharisees, repeatedly calling them “hypocrites” (Matt 23) and “a brood of vipers” – a group of poisonous snakes, just like their father the devil (John 8:44). Likewise, Paul names names: they abandoned the faith, harmed the cause of the gospel, and hurt his apostolic ministry. “Don’t read their books, listen to their preaching, or go to their conferences!” he told Timothy (1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim 2:17; 4:14).
And when the gospel was at stake, Paul warned the Galatian churches that following the false teachers’ doctrine of “Jesus +” is damnable (Gal 1:8). Those who want to promote circumcision – Paul wishes they would go and cut it all off (Gal. 5:12)!
We need to know when to feed sheep, rebuke swine, and shoot the wolves. There is a time and a place when the most loving, kind, and merciful thing to do is say the hard things. So we dare not allow our “Canadian politeness” define what love is and then judge God and the Scriptures by our Canadian prudishness. There is great power in our words. Knowing how and when to be gentle or being severely merciful requires wisdom and can mean the difference between a repentant brother or an annihilated congregation.
The responsibility as elders/pastors is to lead, feed, and protect the flock. If you’re looking for a church, make sure you find one that will never put someone knowingly in front of the congregation to teach or preach who is unbelieving or teaching falsehood. There is power in words, and the leaders of Christ’s church should love you so much so as to NOT leave you to the wolves. It’s to be their joy to watch over your souls for your joy and God’s glory (Heb. 13:17).
Niceness won’t cut it. Gentle and bold leaders will. Make it your aim to become the kind of leader who knows the difference of the times when you should encourage, correct, rebuke, and train with your words (cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17).