Sep30MonMy church is cluless, should I warn them? September 30, 2019 J. Brad Bailey, Ph. D.
Objection: I agree with the contents of the New Testament Baptist Confession, but my church is clueless that these things are taking place and I don’t want to upset them with these issues.
This objection is very mild, but it is an obstacle that has to be overcome nonetheless. I suppose that this is the most common objection that I have heard. The objection does not oppose the New Testament Baptist Confession, but it seeks to remain somewhat neutral to prevent congregations from exposure to some of the controversies that exist among Independent Fundamental Baptists. In most cases, pastors I have spoken to with this objection have been closet supporters of the confession.
I would like to offer the rebuttal that, as pastors, we are the under-shepherds of God’s flock. The sheep look to us for leadership. Psalm 23:2 says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” The green pastures and the still waters that sheep enjoy are made available to them without hazard because their shepherd has gone before them and scouted out their pastureland to make sure that it is free from dangerous perils.
The shepherd not only knows where the cool sweet waters, and the green grass are, but he also knows where the wolf dens are. He knows where the lions roam and the predators prowl. In ancient shepherding practices, if a sheep was lost to a predator by an under-shepherd, there was a high cost to pay for possible negligence. Amos 3:12 says, “Thus saith the LORD; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch.” If an under-shepherd lost one of his sheep to a lion, he was responsible for retrieving a portion of that sheep from the lion’s mouth as evidence that it was indeed snatched away viciously by the predator. However, the conversation did not end there. The chief-shepherd would certainly ask why the sheep was allowed to wander so close to the predator’s den.
This is why noninterference is not recommended for New Testament Baptist pastors. One day we will give account to the Chief-Shepherd for the loss of even one of His sheep. This is why Jesus asked in Matthew 18:12, “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?” The under-shepherd must pursue the wandering sheep even if it risks his own safety and comfort.
The under-shepherd’s first line of defense is scouting the territory ahead of time to provide a safe environment, but when the predators are prowling, he has to get down-right aggressive. Otherwise, he will be counted a hireling and lose any future opportunities to serve the chief-shepherd.
As a shepherd, I began scouting the terrain seeking appropriate pasture for my sheep and I discovered that the fields of the Independent Baptist world were full of briars, and toxic springs, and wolves, and pitfalls. Regardless of how oblivious my sheep were to these hazards, I knew they were there and that was all that mattered. I could not remain neutral.
Another method employed by ancient shepherds was the use of the sling and stone. You might remember that young David had become quite skilled with this tool; so much so that he was able to kill Goliath with the help of the Lord. The shepherd’s sling was used to fling a stone just ahead of a wandering sheep. When the stone landed just beyond the sheep, the animal was startled and would lift its head. The sheep would then realize how far he had wandered and make his way back to the fold. The sling was an incredibly important tool for the shepherd. Without it, sheep could be lost forever.
Sometimes as pastors we have to send out a warning to our sheep to let them know that danger lies ahead. Ignoring that danger and allowing our sheep to wander into it is negligent and foolhardy.
We could also borrow the Old Testament illustration of the watchman on the wall. Ezekiel 33:6 says, “But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand.” The watchman is again, a type of a faithful pastor who wars his people of approaching danger.
The New Testament Baptist Confession employs both the care of a shepherd and the voice of a watchman. The shepherd kept his master’s sheep from danger. The watchman made the citizens of his city aware of approaching danger. As pastors we must do both. If we sit by idle, we will suffer great loss for not taking action.
Edmund Burke said, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Much of the damage done by radical Independent Fundamental Baptists is explained by Burke’s quote. Time and again those who professed to be right seem to clearly outnumber those who were wrong, yet those who were wrong seemed to prevail far more often. Seldom was it the numbers that determined the outcome, but whether those who claimed to be right were willing to stand up and fight for what they knew to be right. There are numerous examples of this sad and awful scenario being played out over and over again in the Independent Baptist world.
When good men do nothing, they get nothing good done. To be good, one must do good. The Lord commands His people to do good (Luke 6:35; Eph. 2:10). Titus 2:14 says, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
It could be argued that the Church of Philadelphia became the Church of Laodicea because good men ceased to do what was needed to preserve the church. I encourage you not to be a spectator regarding the New Testament Baptist Confession – do something! Do not allow false teaching to triumph. Stand up and be counted, speak up against bad doctrine and speak out against evil men and their sinful deeds.So, in conclusion, the responsibility of pastors and elders is to be proactive in the war against false teaching and bad doctrine. If we know there is danger and we do not sound the alarm, we will give an account at the Judgment Seat of Christ for our passive silence.