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I Am Not Ashamed: Contend for the Faith

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The early Church was doctrinally careful.

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Theme: The early Church was doctrinally careful.
Theme: The early Church was doctrinally careful.
Date: 08/13/17 File name: Romans50.wpd ID Number:
Date: 08/13/17 File name: Romans50.wpd ID Number:
“It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie. It is better to stand alone with the truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie. There is only one Gospel.” — Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1996
“It is better to be divided by truth than to be united in error. It is better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts and then kills. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie. It is better to stand alone with the truth, than to be wrong with a multitude. It is better to ultimately succeed with the truth than to temporarily succeed with a lie. There is only one Gospel.” — Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1996
Does doctrine really matter any more? To the Early Church, to these first Christians and their successors who labored over codifying and explaining exactly what they believed — doctrine mattered. Straying from it meant straying from the Gospel. In the opening verses of his letter to the Christians of Galatia, Paul wrote: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” (, NIV).
The passing down of doctrinal truth from one generation of Christians to another was critically important to the early Christians. Unfortunately, in much of the Church today there is a laissez faire attitude about doctrine and theology. The attitude seems to be, “Can’t we all just believe in Jesus and call it a day?” It’s a call for "doctrineless Christianity" but non-doctrinal Christianity is impossible. The real question is not whether Christians will have doctrine but which doctrine or whose doctrine?
Because the Early Church wrestled for it; lived for it and died for it. Because the Christians who spoke and wrote and preached against ideas like Arianism and Gnosticism firmly believed that it mattered. Because our Protestant forebearers thought it important enough to fracture the Church over it in an effort to reclaim biblical Christianity it ought to be important to us, too. The stakes were high because doctrine mattered. The stakes are still high.
Doctrine is, quite literally, the teaching of the church — what the church understands to be the substance of its faith. It is no substitute for personal experience, but it guides us in our faith once we’ve been born from above through faith in the redemptive work of Christ.
As the Apostle brings his letter to a speedy conclusion, he warns the Christians in Rome to be on guard against false teachers who would teach contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught. In this last chapter, the Apostle would have us understand The Early Church Was Doctrinally Careful.

I. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS 1st DEEPLY RELATIONAL

I. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS 1st DEEPLY RELATIONAL
1. we learn from this chapter that the Church is family
a. we are part of a family of faith
1) to be a sister or a brother is not just an honorary title for a fellow believer
2) it is descriptive of the believer’s relationship with fellow Christians
2. one of the characteristics of a healthy congregation is that they live in relationship with each other — there’s a unity and a harmony born out of genuine love for each other
with each other — there’s a unity and a harmony born out of genuine love for each other

II. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS 2nd MINISTRY-MINDED

1. the second characteristic of a healthy congregation is that they are deeply concerned about ministry — extending a loving hand to those in need in the name of the Savior
about ministry — extending a loving hand to those in need in the name of the Savior
2. the ministry of the church is spelled out in what we call the Great Commandment and the Great Commission
the Great Commission
a. 1st, the ministry of the Church can be defined by the Great Commandment —
“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind ... 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (, , NIV)
b. 2nd, the ministry of the Church can be defined by the Great Commission —
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” (, NIV)
c. that’s it ... every ministry of a local New Testament church flows out of those two commandments
commandments

III. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS 3rd DOCTRINALLY CAREFUL

1. when we look at the first two points, there’s something we can miss about church life if we’re not careful
we’re not careful
a. yes, church life is relational — i.e. we’re family
b. yes, church life is ministry-minded — i.e. we’re to do good works
2. but if that’s all that church is about, than we are no different than many civic groups or a fun charitable organization
a fun charitable organization
a. and unfortunately, that is what many, many churches have become because they’ve forgotten points three and four
forgotten points three and four
1) The Early Church Was Doctrinally Careful
2) The Early Church Was Gospel-Centered
b. yes, the church is relational, and yes the church is about doing good works, but these two points are predicated on the fact that the church has a message that is doctrinally true that we are bringing to the world
these two points are predicated on the fact that the church has a message that is doctrinally true that we are bringing to the world
3. what’s missing in so many churches in America today is the Gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ — that men are unrighteous, but God, in Christ, can justify us, and in justifying us the righteousness of God is revealed in us, and in all those who come to him by faith
Christ — that men are unrighteous, but God, in Christ, can justify us, and in justifying us the righteousness of God is revealed in us, and in all those who come to him by faith
a. if you’re in a Church and there is no preaching of the Gospel; no teaching of the Apostle’s doctrine, you’re not in a Church regardless of how friendly they are or how civic-minded they are ... you’re in a social club
Apostle’s doctrine, you’re not in a Church regardless of how friendly they are or how civic-minded they are ... you’re in a social club
ILLUS. If you remember, we spent a lot of time looking at where the Apostle dealt with disputable matters. But here, in verses 17-20 the Apostle is dealing with indisputable matters. There are some core-doctrines of the church which are simply not open to debate — to deny them or alter them is to lose the gospel.
Apostle dealt with disputable matters. But here, in verses 17-20 the Apostle is dealing with indisputable matters. There are some core-doctrines of the church which are simply not open to debate — to deny them or alter them is to lose the gospel.
4. the third characteristic of a healthy congregation is that they take seriously the preservation of the truth — we will be doctrinally careful
preservation of the truth — we will be doctrinally careful
a. well this begs the question: What doctrines are we to protect and be careful about?
b. in the Book of Acts we have a description of the early church
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” (, NIV)
c. the first descriptor of the early church is that they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching
apostles’ teaching
1) to the apostles was given a very important and monumental task: to teach the 'instruction' of Jesus Christ to the New Testament church and spread it unto all nations
'instruction' of Jesus Christ to the New Testament church and spread it unto all nations
2) according to our Lord’s Great Commission the apostles’ teaching includes teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you
teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you
3) everything Jesus taught to the apostles, the apostles are to teach to other disciples, and then those disciples teach it to even more disciples
disciples, and then those disciples teach it to even more disciples
d. within this command we observe a continual cycle of teaching and baptizing
1) until the world ends, until all nations are taught, this is the commandment of Jesus unto the New Testament church — to teach everything that Jesus taught the Apostles, and which they taught the early church
Jesus unto the New Testament church — to teach everything that Jesus taught the Apostles, and which they taught the early church
5. the Apostles’ teachings are found in the New Testament
5. the Apostles’ teachings are found in the New Testament
a. we have left to us a cannon of scripture, which has been preserved for us by God
1) fourteen of the books of the New Testament were written by the apostle Paul, five by the apostle John, two by the apostle Peter, and one by the apostle Matthew
five by the apostle John, two by the apostle Peter, and one by the apostle Matthew
2) the other books of the New Testament were written by men who were either closely associated with the apostles themselves or with Jesus
closely associated with the apostles themselves or with Jesus
b. in other word, we have a corpus of books that we can fully trust contain the apostles’ teaching
apostles’ teaching
1) you want to know what Jesus taught the Apostles?
2) read what the Apostles teach us!
c. thus, to continue in the Apostles’ teaching is to continue in scripture
d. in Paul speaks to three issues
1) the danger of false teachers
2) the method of false teachers
3) our response to false teachers

A. PAUL SPEAKS OF THE DANGER OF FALSE TEACHERS

A. PAUL SPEAKS OF THE DANGER OF FALSE TEACHERS
1. Paul knows false teachers are inevitable and warns the Romans to be on their guard
a. they “cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine” (v.17)
b. Paul is not talking about hair splitting over minor interpretations, or disputable matters where the Scriptures do no clearly speak
matters where the Scriptures do no clearly speak
c. here the issue is over clear biblical truth being denied or deformed by those who are purposely out to deceive
purposely out to deceive
d. the Apostle literally tells the believers at Rome, keep your eye on such people
1) the word watch in vs. 17 derives from the word that we get the word scope as in telescope and microscope
telescope and microscope
2) it means more than simply to look at, but to examine and scrutinize carefully
2. the danger of false teachers and false teachings arose very early in the life of the Church, and much of the New Testament was written to correct the errors
Church, and much of the New Testament was written to correct the errors
a. false teachers still pose a clear and present danger to the church
3. we can never relax our theological radar
a. there will always be those who attack the faith, by attacking the Scriptures, or denying the Scriptures, or adding to the Scriptures, and subtracting from the Scriptures
denying the Scriptures, or adding to the Scriptures, and subtracting from the Scriptures
b. God’s people must stand uncompromisingly for the inspiration, inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of God’s holy word
and sufficiency of God’s holy word
1) yet, in contending for the faith, we must always speak and act as a Christian

B. PAUL SPEAKS OF THE METHOD OF FALSE TEACHERS

B. PAUL SPEAKS OF THE METHOD OF FALSE TEACHERS
1. the Apostle Paul says they look like servants of Christ, but they really serve their appetites (v.18), that they prey on the naive by smooth talk and flattery
appetites (v.18), that they prey on the naive by smooth talk and flattery
a. in other words these people are the tares among the wheat, and the wolves in sheep’ clothing, and false shepherds who come in to scatter the sheep
sheep’ clothing, and false shepherds who come in to scatter the sheep
b. the author of the Book of Jude wrote ...
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (, NIV)
2. in this passage, Jude gives the characteristics of such deceivers
a. 1st, They Will Deceive the Saints
1) Jude says, “Certain man have crept in unnoticed ... “
2) Paul writes “ ... By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” (, NIV)
people.” (, NIV)
a) the Apostle is talking about those who claim to be Christians, but who are not Christians
Christians
b) the greatest danger to the church is not from without by those who would kill us, but from those within — certain men who have crept in unnoticed — and who would seek to convince us the Bible isn’t true
us, but from those within — certain men who have crept in unnoticed — and who would seek to convince us the Bible isn’t true
c) such people are like spiritual crocodiles who line the banks, waiting to devour believers, colleges, and denominations, all of which were built by the blood of Bible-believing Christians
believers, colleges, and denominations, all of which were built by the blood of Bible-believing Christians
ILLUS. Some of you are familiar with a group called “The Jesus Seminar.” First convened by liberal theologian Robert Funk in 1985, the group quietly disbanded in 2006, shortly after the death of its founder. The Jesus Seminar was a yearly rotating cadre of mostly liberal scholars who sought to discover the “real historical Jesus” of the Gospels. They wrote position papers defending or denying a certain passage, and then voted on the authenticity of the sayings of Jesus using colored marbles.
convened by liberal theologian Robert Funk in 1985, the group quietly disbanded in 2006, shortly after the death of its founder. The Jesus Seminar was a yearly rotating cadre of mostly liberal scholars who sought to discover the “real historical Jesus” of the Gospels. They wrote position papers defending or denying a certain passage, and then voted on the authenticity of the sayings of Jesus using colored marbles.
1. Red beads – indicated the voter believed Jesus did say the passage quoted, or something very much like the passage. (3 Points)
2. Pink beads – indicated the voter believed Jesus probably said something like the passage. (2 Points)
3. Grey beads – indicated the voter believed Jesus did not say the passage, but it contains Jesus' ideas. (1 Point)
4. Black beads – indicated the voter believed Jesus did not say the passage—it comes from later admirers or a different tradition. (0 Points)
These academics determined that 84% of the Gospels are simply not true. Among other things, they maintain that the Virgin birth never happened, that the miracles ascribed to Jesus never took place, and that the resurrection is nothing more but a myth. The body of Jesus, they say, was most likely tossed upon the town garbage dump where it was devoured by wild dogs and decomposed.
2) the good news is that the Jesus Seminar represents an extremely small number of radical-fringe scholars who are on the far, far left wing of New Testament thinking
of radical-fringe scholars who are on the far, far left wing of New Testament thinking
3) the bad new is that such scholarship finds its way into mainstream Christian pulpits and seminary class rooms, and community colleges where it deceives and discourages the saints
pulpits and seminary class rooms, and community colleges where it deceives and discourages the saints
b. 2nd, They Will Deny and Distort the Scriptures
1) Jude says that they will “ . . . deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”
2) Paul says “For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. ... .” (, NIV)
appetites. ... .” (, NIV)
a) such men preach a heaven without hell, love without wrath, and forgiveness without substitutionary atonement
without substitutionary atonement
3) Jude reminds us that our faith is a definite faith
a) he refers to the faith
b) the phrase the faith refers to the body of Christian beliefs as taught by the Apostles
Apostles
c) the Book of Acts tells us that the Apostles were continually teaching and preaching about Jesus and that the early believers devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and to fellowship
preaching about Jesus and that the early believers devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and to fellowship
ILLUS. An old gospel hymn reminds us that there is an “Old Time Religion” — based on Scriptures — that was tried in the fiery furnace ... and it was tried in the lions den ... it's a faith that was tried by giants. It's an old-time religion that was good for Paul and Silas. It's a faith that is good enough for you and me.
based on Scriptures — that was tried in the fiery furnace ... and it was tried in the lions den ... it's a faith that was tried by giants. It's an old-time religion that was good for Paul and Silas. It's a faith that is good enough for you and me.
4) for the early believers, there were certain fundamentals of the faith that were non-negotiable and which were not up for discussion
non-negotiable and which were not up for discussion
a) there remain certain fundamentals of the faith that ought to be non-negotiable and which are not up for debate in the Christian faith
and which are not up for debate in the Christian faith
ILLUS. The turn of the 20th century was a time when biblical faith was under increasing attack by liberal scholars. To counteract that influence, some of the best Evangelical scholars of their day countered that theological liberalism with a series of pamphlets that, collectively, became known as The Fundamentals. The essays defended some of the non-negotiable truths of the bible: They included...
increasing attack by liberal scholars. To counteract that influence, some of the best Evangelical scholars of their day countered that theological liberalism with a series of pamphlets that, collectively, became known as The Fundamentals. The essays defended some of the non-negotiable truths of the bible: They included...
The Trinity
• The Trinity
The inerrancy and sufficiency of the Scriptures
• The inerrancy and sufficiency of the Scriptures
The deity of Jesus Christ
• The deity of Jesus Christ
The Virgin Birth and miracles of Jesus
• The Virgin Birth and miracles of Jesus
The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for sinners
• The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ for sinners
Justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone
• Justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone
The visible Second Coming of Jesus Christ to earth to establish His kingdom
• The visible Second Coming of Jesus Christ to earth to establish His kingdom
b) ours is a definite faith and there are some doctrines of the faith that are non-negotiables by Bible-believing Christians
negotiables by Bible-believing Christians
c. 3rd, They Will Deny the Savior
1) Jude speaks of those who “ ... deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Christ.”
a) such men will teach that Jesus is a dynamic character but not the divine Christ
b) they will deny our Lord’s own claim that he alone is the way, the truth and the life
life
ILLUS. In 2002, Charles Kimball, who is chairman of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University, wrote a book entitled, When Religion Becomes Evil. During an interview promoting his book, Kimball — who used to be a Southern Baptist, but now refers to himself as ‘a Baptist from the South’ — said, "I believe that God is the God of all creation and that God's ways far exceed my ways and my experience. In fact, I write quite extensively in my book ... that indeed there are many paths and we would do well to be the best Christians, to be the best Jews, to be the very best Muslims we can be ..."
2) I can assure you that Charles Kimball’s views are thoroughly politically correct and represent the common consensus of many American Christians
and represent the common consensus of many American Christians
a) I can also assure you, that his views are thoroughly heretical and repudiate the clear teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ and 2,000 years of church teachings
the clear teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ and 2,000 years of church teachings
3) the integrity of the Christian gospel requires every Christian to answer this question: When Jesus Christ said that "no man comes to the Father but through Me" — did He really mean what He said or was he just blowing smoke?
question: When Jesus Christ said that "no man comes to the Father but through Me" — did He really mean what He said or was he just blowing smoke?

C. PAUL SPEAKS OF OUR RESPONSE TO FALSE TEACHERS

C. PAUL SPEAKS OF OUR RESPONSE TO FALSE TEACHERS
1 “Avoid them” (v.17) — meaning do not listen to them, or allow others to do so
2. the Apostle writes in vs. 19 “For the report of your obedience has reached everyone, so that I rejoice over you …”
so that I rejoice over you …”
a. it’s their obedience to “the Apostles’ teaching” that is being talked about in the churches
churches
b. in other words, these believers are living by the Word of God
3. to be familiar with the Scriptures enables us “to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil”
innocent about what is evil”
a. how does the Christian know what is good vs. what is bad? ... what is righteous vs. what is unrighteous? what is moral vs. what is immoral?
what is unrighteous? what is moral vs. what is immoral?
b. it’s because the Apostles passed down to the Church what the Savior passed down to them
to them
1) we have an objective standard for right living
4. and, in one of the most amazing verses in the New Testament, Paul reminds believers, that “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (v.20)
believers, that “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (v.20)
a. through His Church God will fulfil the promise of
b. He will crush the Devil under your feet
1) those who are co-heirs with Christ () are also co-conquerors, and co-crushers with Christ, and will participate in God’s victory over Satan
co-crushers with Christ, and will participate in God’s victory over Satan
Why is it important for us to be doctrinally careful? Because biblical truth matters. Because if we’re not doctrinally careful, there is the possibility that, in time, we loose the Gospel.
Why is it important for us to be doctrinally careful? Because biblical truth matters. Because if we’re not doctrinally careful, there is the possibility that, in time, we loose the Gospel.
Forty years ago, the Southern Baptist Convention was at a pivotal point in church history. By the mid-1960's virtually every American mainline denomination had jettisoned a belief in the inerrancy and infallibility of the Scriptures. The result was a quick-time march toward theological liberalism and social irrelevancy. Southern Baptists were not far behind. Our seminary had become citadels of theological liberalism. Lifeway, then the Baptist Sunday School Board, was publishing Sunday School quarterlies that expressly questioned the truthfulness of Genesis, and the miracles of Jesus. The Churches had to make a decision, “Will we go the way of other denominations or will we take back our convention?” The grass-roots people in the pew said “No.” The decision was made, — Baptists would continue to be a people of the Book. In 1979 what Church History calls The Conservative Resurgence of the SBC began. The battle for the bible would take twenty years. It was sometimes a hard and acrimonious fight, but theological conservatives took back the convention — the first in modern history. Southern Baptist stood firm in the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people. And because we did, we’re not fighting some of the battles that are dividing other denominations.
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