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Peace at any Price?

January 13, 2017

During lunch last Sunday one of the ladies in church asked me about a point I skipped over during the Sunday morning sermon. (This is great. I love it when congregants are paying enough attention to notice truths that could have been included in a message.) Her question was this, If Christians are to be keeping peace within the church what should be done about false teachers that come into the congregation?

The New Testament makes unity a priority among believers. Peace in the church is paramount. “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory.” (Philippians 2:3) “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3) Harmony within the church is imperative.

What are Christians supposed to do with false teachers? Ecumenicism answers this question by emphasizing peace and cooperation over doctrine. “Doctrine divides” is the mantra of many of this persuasion.

Others answer this question by asserting that since Christians love for each other will show the world we are Jesus’ disciples we should set aside squabbles about doctrines and opinions in preference for love.

Do love and peace outweigh doctrine? A full answer to this question requires much more than can be included in this simple article. However, several quick comments can adequately summarize the Biblical principles.

Those fighting for Biblical truth are often portrayed as aggressors and trouble makers. The Bible never presents a different picture of strife. Conflict is never instigated by those obedient to the Word, empowered by the Spirit and committed to sound doctrine. Division is always the result of heretics and false teachers. The troublemakers are the ones bearing false doctrine not the ones defending right doctrine.

Strife comes because of the fleshly minded. “For whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal?” (1 Corinthians 3:3-4) “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1) Fleshly mindedness results in division and discord. Spiritual mindedness fights for peace. The godly saint fighting for righteousness is not the cause of trouble. He is the promoter of peace.

Some things are worth fighting for. “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort that ye should earnestly contend for the the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3) Fellowship within the church is fellowship in Jesus. Those who deny the truth about the person and work of Jesus are not in Him. There can be no true fellowship with those outside Christ. Those who deny the truth about the person and work of Jesus are opposed to Him. There can be no peace with the enemies of God. Jesus’ perfection, power and salvation are worth defending no matter the cost.

Some things are worth excommunicating members over. “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject.” (Titus 3:10) “If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:9) False teachers and troublemakers in the New Testament were turned over to Satan so they would not trouble the church and so would might learn to forsake their sin. Allowing error to continue corrupts the church and comforts the wicked in their iniquity.

Christians should not be looking for a fight, but sometimes the fight is necessary. Though necessary the fight must never be fought by fleshly means. God’s Word tells Christians to oppose apostates, heretics, false teachers and erring brothers. The way to engage each is different. Discernment is always necessary. Great care must be exercised but the battle must be fought. The good of the church and the soul of the erring demand it.

Electioneering, brawling, argumentativeness, anger, unkind words and self-seeking have no place in the church. All must be done in kindness without compromise. Speak always with grace without cowardice. The church must benevolently defend the truth against all error.


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