Here are five little warning passages from the Bible. How do you instinctively characterize the bad guys in the following:
Those who walk away from Christ’s ‘hard words’ in John 6
They’re headed for lawlessness right? We imagine they can’t handle Christ’s heavy discipleship programme, that’s the problem, right?
The wolves of Matthew 7:15-19.
They’re liberal bishops right? (This is probably the association that Anglican evangelicals make most readily!)
The wolves Paul warns of in Acts 20:29-32
They’ll ‘devour the flock’ by preaching licentious living, right?
‘The doctrine of demons’ as outlined in 1 Timothy 4
Orgies and heathen idolatry, surely!?
The dangerous “drift” of Hebrews 2:1-3
This must be a drift away from the law. Mustn’t it?
Come on, admit it. Your gut reactions cast the bad guys as lawless liberals right?
But no. The hardness of Christ’s teaching in John 6 is his relentless call away from the “works that God requires”. What they find so hard is Christ’s insistence on faith alone in His (flesh and) blood alone. The false prophets of Matthew 7 and Acts 20 are, in the context, the legalists. The doctrine of demons is asceticism. The dangerous drift of Hebrews is towards the law.
So, by all means, be warned. But be warned in the right way. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Teach sound doctrine. Correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. Do it because the freedom of the gospel is at stake. And we dare not enslave ourselves again.