Recently Paul Helm and Carl Trueman had a little back and forth debate – Helm defending some mega-church pastors, Trueman taking exception to some of his points, and Helm giving the final response. Both these men are amazing and I would give a great deal to know half as much as either of them. Helm strikes me as the “choose the hill you’re willing to die on” sort, whereas Trueman is more of the “die on every conceivable hill” sort. By nature, I align very much with Trueman in that regard. These are life and death issues and so we have to fight for them, but Helm ended the discussion with a series of passages that punched me in the gut (in a good way):
1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one will receive his commendation from God.
Romans 14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
Philippians 1:18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.
The idea here is that Paul is grateful whenever the gospel is preached and that we aren’t to judge the Lord’s servants if at all possible. From Paul’s letters it is clear that he is willing to judge people when he has to, but the principle is – rejoice that gospel is being preached and don’t judge unless necessary.
As an example, consider my previous post on church government. I’ve been part of some churches that had horrible church government, dangerous to the people of God. I want to fight against that since it hurts people. BUT those churches are also preaching the gospel and leading people to Christ. Imperfectly, yes, but I want to rejoice in the fact that Jesus is being preached, however imperfectly. That’s my new resolve.