Matthew R. Perry

Libertarian Mindset in the Church, Introduction

In Church Life, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Politics, Preaching, Sermons on October 30, 2007 at 12:01 pm

(If you would like to listen to this sermon in its entirety, click here. This was preached on Sunday, October 28, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY.)

Since I moved to Lexington, I have become a fan on the Cincinnati Bengals, a professional football team. The Bengals have some very talented players and have a very excited style of play. What impresses me the most is their fan base: regardless of how well or how poorly the Bengals are playing (currently, they are 2-5 on what is turning out to be a very disappointing season), the fans always sell out the home games and continue to support the Bengals every step of the way.

Yet, the Bengals currently have issues. Over the past year, nine of the players had trouble with the police. More recently at the end of one game against a very strong New England Patriots team, one could see a lot of bickering on the sidelines. Receivers were bickering with coaches, teammates were bickering with one another, and the result was a divided effort that resulted in defeat. After the game, those in the corridor outside the Bengals’ locker room could hear Marvin Lewis screaming at his players one thought repeatedly: selfishness. In other words, the Bengals’ alleged problem in their locker room stems from a resistance to, and even a denial of, authority. Instead of allowing the coaches to lead, the players think they should lead and be the authority on the team.

Sadly, we should continually drive home this lesson: the greatest enemy to any organization (the church of Jesus Christ included) is not persecution from the outside of that organization, but division from the inside. History has continually borne this lesson out. Holy Scripture contains this lesson. Turn with me if you will to the tiny letter of Jude as we read Jude 5-16:

Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage (Jude 5-16, ESV).

May God add his blessing to the reading of his holy Word — may we not only read it but also heed it as the Spirit applies this Word to our hearts.

The theme of the entire book of Jude is found in Jude 3: “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3, ESV). Warren Wiersbe rightly says, “Jude had started to write a quiet devotional letter about salvation, but the Spirit led him to put down his harp and sound the trumpet! The Epistle of Jude is a call to arms.”

Why would Jude issue this “call to arms”? Apostate false teachers had crept into the assembly. Jude, who identifies himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude 1a, ESV), warns of those who creep in among God’s people with a designation for condemnation, ungodliness and (by their actions) “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4b, ESV). These false teachers reject authority, take what God has given, and use this to gratify their own fleshly desires. These men are the ones Paul railed against in his letter to the Romans when he said, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it” (Romans 6:1-2, ESV)? This libertarian mindset is poison to the church.

(Tomorrow: Part I — Remember: Move Toward the Right Master)

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  1. […] October 28, 2007, at the Boone’s Creek Baptist Church, Lexington, KY. You may also read the Introduction , Part I  and Part II to this blog […]

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