“Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness…”
In my last post, I said that God has given you your position of authority in the church to use “for the faith of those chosen of God.” The apostle Paul goes further: God has given you your position “for the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness.”
Truth is the bedrock of your calling. You are to preach God’s Word, and His Word is truth (John 17:17). You must accurately handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). You are a father in the household of God, “which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). You are never to walk in craftiness or adulterate the Word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commend yourself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God (2 Corinthians 4:2). You must with gentleness correct those who oppose you, “if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:25).
With the apostle Paul, your duty is to “do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Corinthians 13:8).
Because the truth is according to godliness.
You must get this, pastor: the point of your ministry is not to proclaim the truth as an end in itself. The point of your teaching is not to demonstrate the perfections of your theological understanding. The point is godliness.
And this is the test of your teaching: does it lead to godliness? If not, you are not teaching the truth, no matter how orthodox you think you are.
So look at your life. Look at your people. Does your preaching and teaching mortify their sins or mollify their sins? Does it frighten or flatter? Does it help your people stand against the particular evils of our day or does it make them blind to the particular evils of our day?
This is why your doctrine matters. True doctrine leads to godliness. False doctrine leads to sin.
Our forefathers understood this:
“That truth is in order to goodness; and the great touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holiness; according to our Saviour's rule, ‘by their fruits ye shall know them:’ And that no opinion can be either more pernicious or absurd, than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man's opinions are. On the contrary...there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise, it would be of no consequence either to discover truth, or to embrace it" (Preliminary Principles of the Form of Government for the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., 1788).
This isn’t rocket science, but sadly, so-called biblical, reformed churches and seminaries in America fail to understand it.
Theistic evolution? No big deal. Egalitarianism? No big deal. Hell is just the absence of God’s presence? No big deal. The only duty of Christians is to believe more? No big deal.
But it is a big deal. For every Tullian Tchividjian there are a hundred unknown pastors who have drunk from his poison well. And for every pastor who has drunk from his poison well, there are thousands of Christians who have made shipwreck because of that teaching.
The blood of those fallen saints is on the hands of every teacher whose “truth” is not according to godliness.