The wind in the sails of the church

Published 11:11 pm Friday, February 7, 2014

I’m a doctrine guy. I get excited about good doctrine the way fat guys like me get excited at a good buffet.

I salivate over well-articulated arguments for the sovereignty of God in salvation. I’m intoxicated by the preaching manuscripts of the Puritans. I love sniffing the pages of centuries-old, leather-backed theological books the way wine connoisseurs love sniffing swirling wine.

That having been said, this statement is surely also true: I’m a rare breed in the church of today. Guys like me are seen as passé and out of touch. I don’t own a pair of ripped jeans, and I surely don’t wear them to preach on Sunday. I’m not knocking ripped jeans.

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They aren’t my thing but, hey, whatever floats your boat.

But I don’t think the boat is floating safely when her captain and crew are far more concerned with her paint than her seaworthiness.

The church needs wind in her sails, but that wind should be that of the Holy Spirit, not whatever hot air is blowing from the latest, greatest leader of the latest, greatest movement to sweep through the church.

The Apostles told us to continue in sound doctrine. Not to reinvent the mast in every generation. “Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.” (Ephesians 4:14 NLT)

The church needs right doctrine. If the church were a ship like the ones in which the Pilgrims came to the New World carrying only hope and right Christian doctrine, she would be listing.

The church today has its sails full of the power of the Holy Spirit, but her rudder has been shattered on the coves of expediency to gain crowds. Her ballast tanks have been drained to make her fast, but she is listing wildly and is dangerously out of balance. Some of our fastest ships are full of passengers, but they are sinking.

The rusty, tried-and-true anchor of doctrine has been jettisoned to the bottom of the sea in the name of appealing to new winds and not being held back by the weight of the past. The church of today is fast but lacks stability.

We don’t have to jettison our anchors to be swift at sea. I study the Pilgrims, but I apply their doctrine as a modern-day pilgrim, living in the spirit of their pilgrimage.

I’m not stuck in the 16th or 17th century. I study the church fathers, but I don’t live in the past. I own many out-of-print books and read the writings of obscure men who died long ago, but I am not an obscurantist.

We need fresh wind in our sails, but we need right doctrine to keep us steady on the journey across the sifting sea.