Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Responding to an Infection in the Local Church
What should you do if your church becomes infected with spiritual poison, or even defects to the other side. My advice to Christian leaders is: Do not allow any spiritual battle to rob you of God's joy and peace and your sleep. When you do, the enemy is winning the battle. Instead, use prayer, a mighty weapon and the encouragement of dialogue with other leaders who can offer good counsel and a godly response. Remember, a godly response means correction of error, but done with gentleness and in love. Dwight, the senior pastor of a conservative charismatic church, used that strategy after a group of men from his church returned from some special downtown meetings with renewed enthusiasm, but also false doctrine. They began to teach that there is only one manifestation of the Godhead-the person of Jesus Christ. Sometimes He might take the form of the Father or the form of the Spirit, they said, but there is only Jesus Christ. They argued that the Trinity was an evil doctrine. Their teaching touched a significant number of people in his church, and Dwight knew he was on the verge of a firestorm. He brought the other leaders of the church together, and they began to hold prayer meetings three times a week, crying out to God to change the hearts of those who had strayed from truth. In the sovereignty of God, the lies were exposed and all but three members of the group were brought back to an orthodox position about the Trinity. God also exposed the extreme excesses of the original group and showed that His power would never be demonstrated in people who were not correct in their doctrine. By gentleness and love, what could have been a fierce, divisive controversy simply resulted in the loss of three members. That was fortunate, although, sad too say, it rarely happens that way. Satan always wants to scare a pastor and make the church leaders shudder at what's happening in their church body in a way that makes them fearful of taking action. But when you cling to the Lord and cry out to God, God often gives victory in ways none could anticipate. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.