Burk Parsons – Consider Yourself

Controversy exists because God’s truth exists in a world of lies. Controversy is the plight of sinners in a fallen world, who were originally created by God to know the truth, love the truth, and proclaim the truth. We cannot escape controversy this side of heaven, nor should we seek to. As Christians, God has rescued us out of darkness and has made us able to stand in His marvelous light. He has called us to go into the darkness and shine as a light to the world, reflecting the glorious light of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And when light shines in darkness, controversy is inevitable.

If we are in Christ, the truth has set us free, and we are, thus, called to discern truth from error and truth from half-truth. Although it’s not always easy to stand for truth amid the darkness of this world, we are aided by the Holy Spirit to distinguish light from darkness as we walk in the light of His Word. The difficulty comes when we try to discern truth from error in the church of Christ. Moreover, when we believe that we have discerned truth from error in the church, how do we go about exposing the error and proclaiming the truth within the body of Christ? This is particularly challenging considering that God calls us on the one hand to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3), and He calls us on the other hand to strive eagerly “to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

So then, how do we contend for the one, true faith while striving for peace and unity in the church? At first glance, some might think these two commands are mutually exclusive. However, God’s call to contend for purity and God’s call to strive for peace and unity are fundamentally intertwined. If we are to understand how we should engage in controversy, we must first understand that these are not at odds with each other but, by necessity, complement each other.

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Burk Parsons – Delighting in Our Duty

When we think of the law of God, the first thing that should come to mind is love—God’s love for us as fallen sinners, directing us to love Him, enjoy Him, and glorify Him. God’s law is a gracious gift to us, and it has three primary uses. First, the law functions as a teacher by showing us God’s perfect righteousness and our unrighteousness and sin, and it shows our danger of God’s judgment, leading us, by God’s grace, in repentance and faith to Jesus Christ who fulfilled all the righteous demands of God’s law (Rom. 3:20; 4:15; Gal. 3:19–24). Second, the law functions to restrain evil in all realms of society, preserving humanity and, thus, serving God’s overall plan of redemption for His covenant people (Deut. 19:16–21; 1 Tim. 1:8–11). Third, the law functions as a guide to righteous living for all men, and it directs us as God’s beloved children by teaching us what pleases our heavenly Father and fulfills the law of Christ (1 Cor. 9:21; 1 Thess. 4:1–8).

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). Jesus Christ fulfilled the law, and in fulfilling it, He set us free to love the law, to delight in keeping the law, and to repent for our lawbreaking as we live by faith in Christ for the Glory of God in all that we do (Rom. 3:31; Titus 2:11–14; 1 John 2:3–4). Even in the Great Commission, Christ commanded that we make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe (“to keep” or “to obey”) all that He commanded. And to His disciples Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), promising to send the Holy Spirit to indwell us, help us, comfort us, and sustain us.

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