One of the prominent local churches sponsors a radio advertisement promoting its services. The pastor of the church addresses the listeners with the following words (verbatim as closely as I can recall): “Do you have doubts and questions about faith? I do too. I’m thankful for a church that allows for doubts and questions.” Then he encourages those listening to attend the services at his church.
It is certainly possible to put a positive spin on those words. It is reasonable to expect an unbeliever to be filled with “doubts and questions” about faith. It is equally true that few genuine believers manage to navigate their entire lives without a single question or doubt about some aspect of faith or doctrine: honest questions arise from our ignorance and doubts arise because we still have the flesh. It is also true that churches should welcome people with questions and doubts because the Word of God alone offers inspired answers to questions about life and death, and it dissolves doubt in those who hear and obey it.
But I’m not certain that the speaker had those things in mind. Our secular culture has accepted the notion that searching for truth is an evidence of sophistication and that questioning anything that smacks of God and the supernatural is profound. Truth has ceased to be recognized as something objective and immutable, but rather as something that must be developed or discovered from within and something that has no more validity than the credence given it by the person who holds it to be his truth. That being the case, there may be no intersection between your “truth” and mine, no common morality or ethic binding us together or making demands upon us, and certainly, no external authority to whom we must answer. Sadly, much of Christendom has embraced those general ideals, while still giving lip-service to the idea of a more-or-less omnipotent, more-or-less sovereign god. And they have done so at the behest of false shepherds.
A recurring theme among the pre-exilic prophets was the treachery perpetrated by false shepherds, whose unfaithfulness to God’s Word contributed greatly to the apostasy that resulted in God’s judgment on His nation via Babylonian captivity.
His watchmen are blind, all of them know nothing. All of them are mute dogs unable to bark, dreamers lying down, who love to slumber; and the dogs are greedy, they are not satisfied. And they are shepherds who have no understanding; they have all turned to their own way, each one to his unjust gain, to the last one (Isa. 56:10 & 11).
My people have become lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray. They have made them turn aside on the mountains; they have gone along from mountain to hill and have forgotten their resting place. All who came upon them have devoured them; and their adversaries have said, “We are not guilty, inasmuch as they have sinned against the Lord who is the habitation of righteousness, even the Lord, the hope of their fathers” (Jer. 50:6, 7).
Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! . . . Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them” (Ezek. 34:2b, 10a).
Do you follow a shepherd who toys with the Word of God? Flee! Do you have a shepherd, a pastor, who is adamant and steadfast in proclaiming the Word of God? Honor him; obey him (see Heb. 13:17). Of course, because he is human he may have had his own doubts and questions, but he knows that the Word of God is the answer to every question and the antidote to every doubt and that God provides “everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him” (II Pet. 1:3b) who is revealed in the pages of that book.
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