Speaker: Mark Dever

Text: 1 Timothy 4:16

Title: False Conversions: The Suicide of the Church

This was more a talk than an exegetical message. I have to confess that I didn’t stay for the whole of this message (give me a break – I stayed for an hour!) but I will record what I heard. Mark is a great guy but the control he exercises over the timing of every part of his services, he doesn’t actually model himself (I suppose he doesn’t have to – being in charge and all!). Anyway, my observations.

There were three main points:

1. The Plan. God’s purpose is to get glory for himself through a people (Ps. 86:ff). This plan for his glory comes, ultimately, through the Lord Jesus and the gospel. This people are now the church of Christ.

2. The Problem. God’s people in the Old Testament were continually unfaithful (Ps. 106). They worshipped idols (Ro. 2v24). We read of how God exiles Israel for bringing shame to his name. They forgot just how important the honour of his name is to the Lord. Their holiness was directly attached to His reputation and glory. Similarly, our good deeds (in NT terms) reflect on God and His character (1 Pt. 2v12).

3. The Source of the problem. Why do we suffer with so many unbelievers and false converts in our congregations?

  • Teachers. Are we faithful to the truth?
  • Doctrine. Wrong teaching is disastrous! False teaching only produces false converts. We will be judged by God for this (2 Pt. 3). We SHOULD be judged for God for slackness in this area. We must feel our own helplessness and we should throw ourselves on His mercy. Our only hope is in Christ (1 Jn.). When we get this right we both attract and offend people.

His stand out quote is as follows:

We don’t see the fullness of our salvation in this life. Our basic posture as believers is “waiting” for our Lord’s return (1Cor. 15v18ff).

Application

This is a timely and prophetic reminder to us to watch our lives and doctrine closely, thereby saving our hearers. The temptation in housing scheme ministry is to denigrate doctrine as being somehow unnecessary and yet nothing could be further from the truth. We must be faithful to teach our people the “whole counsel of God” no matter the difficulty we find in doing that.

Even more fundamentally, we must be clear in our evangelism. People need to hear the full message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The danger in the face of indifference and hostility is to water it down or to make excuses for people who have come from difficult backgrounds. But, all are sinners and fall short of God’s glory and God calls all people everywhere to repent of their sins and trust in the saving work of Jesus.

As believers we serve people, love them and seek to do good deeds as a sign of our love for Christ, the honour of God’s name and the love of all people around us.

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