It is the ultimate question. Do we ever ask it? The things we emphasize, the way we act, the things that have come to define us– here we should ask it. To Independent Baptists or any group within Christianity it is the necessary, but overlooked, question. Would Jesus like it?
His name is thrown around carelessly, even among contradictory opinions. We are not at the loss here that some feel because He came and lived among us and we have four Gospel records telling us how He acted in a multitude of situations. Great caution is needed. Our dogmatism may be suspect in light of what Jesus has actually said and done. The most religious of that day, the Pharisees, often found themselves on the wrong side of the issue when the dust settled and God the Son went on record. Are many of us in our actions doing the same thing? Does our spirituality suffer the same fate when subjected to the only real test–would Jesus like it?
Let’s put the question to the areas where it is seldom asked:
1. Would Jesus Like Our Emphasis On Standards And Preferences?
Was it ever His emphasis? Read the Gospels again and in the area of personal sin He greatly favored discussing sins of the spirit. Pride, hatred, a lack of love– these ever were discussed by Him. That is not to say He didn’t discuss the sins of the flesh. To a lesser degree He did. But how often did He discuss standards and preferences? Read and read and read and you just won’t find it. (Before you ask, you will fare little better in the Epistles either).
As you read you will find that it was actually the Pharisees that pushed standards and preferences. They had different ones then. Hand washing rituals, Sabbath standards, rules for who you could eat with–they had the highest standards imaginable. And guess what? Jesus made it clear He did not like it. Why would we think it would be different today?
2. Would Jesus Like It When We Shun Others
Let’s be clear–He never practiced it! I challenge you to find one case where He did. Everyone else shunned a woman at a well who finally just gave up and went to draw water when no one else was there. Then Jesus came by. Before you argue that He only took witnessing opportunities, find me one case where He shunned an erring believer. Not only did He never shun Judas who He always knew was a devil, but He never shunned Peter after his denial and complete backsliding. Jesus sought him out and then found him naked. Did any of that stop Him? Did He refuse to eat with Him? Who was that actually prepared breakfast? I think you know.
3. Would Jesus Like It When We Take His Word Out Of Context To Prove Our Point?
Jesus would often retort with “you do err not knowing the Scriptures.” You see it was not that they didn’t quote Scripture. The Pharisees quoted plenty of it in defense of their positions. The problem was that Jesus did not like how they misused it. He showed that He insists that we take His Word only in the context He has given it.
4. Would Jesus Like It When We Sacrifice Soul Liberty On The Altar Of Following The Party Line?
Like we see too often in our day, the Pharisees held complete conformance to their convoluted positions as essential. Jesus didn’t even pass their test! Actually from a whole different perspective, the Sadducees did too. Jesus constantly ignored their cries. He openly ignored them too. Jesus was perfectly transparent. If it was wrong He did not do it. If it was not wrong, He never spent one moment worrying about how the Pharisees would take it. I imagine if Jesus had a Facebook account He would gladly have shared pictures of eating with ceremonial unwashed hands, or sharing a meal with an unrepentant person. (I do not make that statement to slam anyone, just to encourage you to be free).
We could say more, but I pray you get the point. Have we so lost our way that we have forgotten the only One whose opinion counts? So let’s start asking: Would Jesus like it?
Find all Articles in the series here.
27 thoughts on “Would Jesus Like It? (IBTR #32)”
I think a big problem for most against whom this article is written, is they would actually answer your questions with a resounding “YES – Jesus would like the things ti believe/do.” And then they would go off and systematically expound their case with several passages taken out of context, but they don’t realize they are saying the bible means something it doesn’t mean. For many, they think the passages mean those things because 1. That’s what they’ve been taught all their lives and they haven’t found any reason to believe otherwise, 2. They don’t really know how to interpret scripture, and they can’t even spell discernment, or 3. They have a completely messed up biblical worldview.
I’m not really making excuses for them. I have been part of these people for my entire life, and I know that for the most part they are not trying to be Pharisaical. Many are really trying to please God. But they are messed up from their very foundations of biblical interpretation. After all, interpretation is where a person perceives everything they read in the Bible. If we are going to do something about it, we really need to make sure those around us really become experts at interpreting this book that we call Holy and the foundation for everything we believe! Because while we may hold it in high regard, that does not mean we understand it rightly! If it is a collection of the most holy and inspired writings known to man, should it not be of utmost importance that we first know HOW to read it, and then focus on the stuff that it says? I do believe that every church should have a class on Biblical Interpretation available to the people. Perhaps it would be something every new believer and new member have to attend, and every so often bring it back out for the rest of the congregation in some way. Not to mention integrating it into your preaching as the pastor as you unfold and rightly divide the Word before them, being deliberate about how we can know that the bible is saying “x.” Because lets face it. People fall back into bad habits quickly without constant accountability. You can’t just teach something once and then think “they got it, we’re good for the next 15 years.” I do think that proper Bible reading is the greatest lost art of the modern church.
Great points! Still, I feel that if we reword the question from “what does the Bible teach on ____” to “where is a case of Jesus ever doing ____”, we are at least giving them pause to think. The results? Who knows. There are more honest people than you think who only need exposure to logic and what the Bible actually says.
“What the bible actually says” is key! And you’re right – there are plenty of honest people out there. I do think that a HUGE part of the problem is people read it like the KJV is written – most KJV bibles have a separate line dedicated to each verse, rather than in a more natural paragraph form. Not saying the KJV is responsible for the problem, it’s just an illustration to the point that people treat each verse as it’s own separate entity, and they fail to realize that the Bible is written in several levels of context. If people would just read contextually, that would solve most of the problems.
David- I agree with everything you said. Except my approach is a bit different. I teach/preach biblical interpretation from the pulpit. I try every week to show the principles and methods behind everything I teach so that they know how I got where I got and why, but also so they can know how they can do it as well. I propose that this should be central to every preacher’s ministry. In other words, not only teach what God’s Word teaches, but how and why it teaches what it teaches. I know people want “practical” preaching these days, but IMO, the most practical thing the preacher can do is teach his church how to interpret the Bible–teach himself out of a job, so to speak. But far too many people these days want to be like the magician who keeps his secrets to himself, and seem amazing in the eyes of his audience. I don’t think pastors do this consciously or intentionally, but it is engrained in the entire system–theologians with their degrees, textual criticism, knowledge of original languages, etc. All of these serve to convince people that they need “experts” to interpret the Bible for them, when this is patently not true. Actually, I preach in a country and language that has few Bible study tools, so the task is even more important, and frequently more challenging, as I have to resort to what few tools are commonly available. It’s a challenge, but fun. 🙂
Certainly we are privileged with one approach in the pulpit, but in the larger arena of ideas, particularly on the internet, we must try to spur thinking in creative ways.
I’m not exactly sure what you mean by the larger arena of ideas… do you mean we should be using this larger arena, or that it can’t be covered from the pulpit?
I mean when we speak as a pastor, of course we can do as you described. On blogs, etc. our options are less.
I agree with you! In my post i said “Not to mention integrating it into your preaching as the pastor as you unfold and rightly divide the Word before them, being deliberate about how we can know that the bible is saying ‘x.'” That would be the consistent accountability – however I do think that, in general (would not necessarily be the case for everyone), churches would profit from a several week long series where the focus is on how we can read and understand our bibles correctly. There is a reason why there are college classes on certain courses – because it’s helpful to pound on one subject for a while so that people can focus on it for a period of time. But it’s pointless if there is nothing to back it up and keep the people practicing it! That’s where the pastor needs to make sure his people understand how he is concluding the things he is concluding as he preaches. 1. it helps the people understand how to interpret the passage and similar passages, and 2. it keeps the preacher in check so he doesn’t get into a habit of misusing Scripture to get his own agenda across. He knows that he has dozens of capable people listening and discerning as well.
I did that very thing and made a 6 week class out of it on Wednesday during my former pastorate.
The only downside of the courses is that by far fewer people attend those than who attend on Sunday morning. And the people we are missing in such cases are the very people who most need it! I have found that by integrating everything every Sunday (and yes, I do frequently pause the “content” to explain the process, and frequently toss in asides about little things, and also, I almost always, when teaching, cover the various common conflicting views on controversial passages. Oh, and before I begin a new book, I always do an overview, discussing the details like author, date, purpose of writing, the contrary views of modernists, etc. And I don’t always refute them. I like to see how the folks work it out themselves. And sometimes I’m nasty and while preaching, put out there something controversial and let it float to see how the folks will respond, just to be sure I know they are getting what I’m teaching. It’s not easy to be a passive listener to my sermons. 😉 But I also recognize that for most of them, I’m the very first preacher they’ve ever heard. We minister in a country that has very few Bible believers–most are Catholic–but not unaware of what the Bible teaches, and who are religiously savvy. So, we are covering everything from level zero. I think, however, that were I ever to pastor in the US, I would go the same route. I don’t know how many American church-goers would find it fitting in with what they are used to… Our circumstances here may be unique, but they’ve also changed my attitudes towards many things—I don’t know how well I’d fit in a US church now. 😉 But Pastor Reagan and you are encouraging to me. 🙂
“The only downside of the courses is that by far fewer people attend those than who attend on Sunday morning. And the people we are missing in such cases are the very people who most need it!”
The only problem I have with this, and the reason I’m still a proponent of offering classes IN ADDITION to integration in preaching, as you expounded, is that those who WOULD come are those who WANT it. Those who would not come are those who would not want it (or would not be able. Not all that don’t attend are carnal!). I do find that many good efforts are wasted on those who simply don’t care. But even the lack of care is not reason to not offer. But the class would still bare fruit for those who want to grow deeper, and I would rather provide deeper studies for those people than not, just because there are many who would not come. I remember eating at a restaurant in a downtown area and had some leftovers that I was taking back to the car. I passed a “homeless” man who was asking for “money for food.” Instead, I just gave him my leftovers (there was a lot, and it was still hot and fresh. Not trying to be a cheapskate!). He handed it back and said he didn’t want it. Does that mean I shouldn’t have offered? No. But someone who does want it will eat it up and profit from it. And an added push – those who DO want it probably present you with a group of potential leaders. Those who want to go deeper are the ones who are going to learn as much as they can when opportunities are given to them. And those people are the ones who are going to develop much more quickly as disciples and become more fruitful “commissioners.”
So to summarize, I still think that a class format is a good idea. It’s a lot of work for the pastor, and I completely understand that sometimes that’s just not possible anytime soon. Especially if you already don’t have any leaders who can help carry the burden. But you have to start somewhere with what you do have.
Good post as usual, Pastor Reagan. I agree with you, but I have a question about point #2 – “Would Jesus like it when we shun others?” I don’t think we ought to shun people (how could we witness?) as a general practice. But there have to be exceptions in light of what Jesus said in Matthew 18:15-17.
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
Here’s my question: Is point #2 a general principle with a few exceptions? If so, are the exceptions a matter of church discipline only?
I’m not trying to be critical. I’m just trying to understand more clearly.
I do not believe that church discipline requires one individual to shun another. My understanding of “heathen man and publican” means treat them as if unsaved. That would require witnessing, not shunning.
How do you handle Titus 3:10-11? “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
I do not feel that would require shunning, but not being a part of any of their error, particularly in the church. Oddly enough, I just happen to be reading a book on Titus to review, and the author says this is a companion passage to Matt. 18, which is about church discipline. He says here, as in Matthew, it is about excommunication from the local church. I would agree with that thought process.
I think if you would read the article in this series on shunning, you would find that church discipline and shunning are not the same thing at all–although I’m sure those who shun would love to think that what they are doing is biblical. But they are not the same thing, in much the same way that most of what people call “biblical separation” is not biblical separation (read Rom 14 to better understand that statement). People shun and separate for reasons that have nothing to do with biblical Christianity. I’ll repeat myself. What people call “separation” today is nothing more than segregation, and it leads to ever finder distinctions over which to divide, and there is no end in sight.
I’d still like to know what to do with “have nothing more to do with him” in Titus 3:10-11. I personally agree with you, krakowian, but it’s also illogical to assume that the widespread abuse of a certain principle negates the principle altogether. I just want to know what the Bible commands, and then seek to do it RIGHTLY. Discipline often turns into bitterness, gossip, and really doesn’t serve it’s purpose of ultimate reconciliation and is rarely done out of genuine concern for the person or love for the congregation. It’s easier to just “smash sin!” rather than love sinners and do what is necessary for their good and the good of the congregation. And perhaps “shun” is one of the many modern misused words such as “hate” or “tolerance.” Perhaps the idea is Scriptural but just widely misused so it therefore gets a bad name? I just want to know what to do with Titus 3 and would appreciate it someone would “rightly divide” it.
If you use the more common translation of “reject”, you could much easier see the church discipline context. I would personally believe that to be the case.
This whole issue of church discipline and excommunication (if we can call it that), IMO, I suspect, really can’t be applied today as it once was. There are many reasons for this, but two big ones are that 1. we live in a very individualistic society. Community is in second place, if it has any bearing on the lives of individuals. 2. There is no one community church, like there was in Bible times, where if a person was under discipline from the church, he had nowhere else to go. So, if a church attempts church discipline, that person can just start going to a different church. In fact, a church doesn’t even need to attempt to initiate any kind of proceedings. With just a sense that he is no longer quite so welcome, a trouble maker can leave. Or, barring that split a church wide open. In any case, all the cards are in his hands, not the church’s, especially considering how hard churches seem to have to work to attract people in the first place! So, where does that leave the local church that wishes to be obedient in church discipline? I’m not really sure… But I have my suspicions that maybe something else is in order…
Great points. Local churches should work together, but people do just run to a new church and are accepted without question. That is not a problem with church discipline, but with obedience.
Would not “reject” be similar to the idea of “shun”? That’s what shunning is. It’s rejecting someone from your company. The passage is not talking about rejecting their way of life. It’s rejecting that person, so that their way of life does not corrupt others. There are a few different charges in Titus where Paul deals with the issue of quarreling and other forms of divisive behavior, and how it has no place in the church, but it is rather a quality of their previous corrupt lifestyle as Cretans. Contextually, it does seem to be that this person is rejected from their company after being warned.
Krakowian, I do see your point, however, discipline is not just for that person. It is also for the health and well-being of the local church that that person is influencing. “Purge the leaven” enhances this idea. So while we may not be able to save that person by disciplining them, you still save countless others in your congregation by saving them from the corruption that would result from keeping company with the sinning person. Something else may surely be in order in regards to communication with that person after he’s been rejection from the congregation, and perhaps that’s what Paul means by “have nothing more to do with him, he is self-condemned.” perhaps he’s getting across a congregational idea, not associating him with that congregation rather than breaking ties altogether, treating him like an unbeliever who still needs to be witnessed to. Still seek that person to come to Jesus, but at the same time not allowing him to believe that he’s part of the local Body of Christ. Thoughts?
I would agree with rejected from the fellowship, which now means no longer a member. But to not kindly speak to them if you crossed paths, I would not personally agree. That would be a full blown shunning and I would not agree. If we were to meet at a function I would have no problem eating with them either.
I agree with what you said, and I did not mean to get across if I did that you don’t speak kindly with them. Just verses before, Paul said to Titus “speak evil of no man.” More just the idea of treating them not like a member, but rather as an unsaved person. You don’t mistreat unsaved people. Rather, we should probably treat them with all the more kindness because they are yet to be reached with “the goodness and loving kindness of God.” Paul already took up that conversation with the Corinthians: ” I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. ‘Purge the evil person from among you.'”
It does seem here that Paul prescribes a harsher judgment on those who would seek to be named among the brethren. “Associate” is certainly of importance. It’s not the idea of shun, but rather the idea of “don’t call him brother or do anything that would make him think that he was your brother.” That does not mean you mistreat him or never talk to him again. Just means that your interactions with him are as those with unbelievers.
But we must not misrepresent the command of purging the evil from among us! The local church is a real living breathing body that can be corrupted by even a single person. Reconciliation is certainly the goal. But at some point, it becomes necessary to “not associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty….”
David- You make a very good and valid point about protecting the church. I have had to ask people to either not come back or keep their views to themselves, but I haven’t considered that to be anything like church discipline because these people were not members, just people who come on occasion. So far, we have been fortunate in our ministry here, that we haven’t had people from among us “go bad” so to speak. 🙂 Thanks for that reminder. 🙂
Great discussion. Our Supply Pastor is going through Romans 14 on Wednesday nights with the church. He is really attempting to nail down Christian Liberty and how we tend to separate over things that are not even in the Bible. It is so refreshing trying to learn that we don’t have to condemn someone because they do not agree with us over things that are not even covered in the Bible.
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