Here is a blog post I just added to Church Central
I spent a bit of time this week engaging someone on social media. Most of us probably have the major outlets that open opportunities beyond our own circles. This particular person took offense at my message from 1 John 2:1-2 stating the believers can and will sin.
Normally, I would just pass on this type discussion because it always ends ugly. This time however, I went ahead and responded to the comment challenging my understanding of the Gospel. Like most of these conversations, it ended with me being labeled as Biblically ignorant, not born again, trapped in a false understanding of grace, using the wrong translations, etc.
After multiple attempts to address the actual Scriptures instead of their talking points, the opponent, ended with the traditional, “I’m going to wipe my feet as I leave you in your rejection of the truth,” comment. I thanked them and encouraged them to make sure they had a large mat for all the feet wiping they were going to do.
This experience led me to think about this quote from J. C. Ryle:
It was one of the last sayings of a famous divine that there were three things which were essential to healthy Christian teaching—doctrine, experience, and practice. He said that if doctrine alone were brought forward to a people there was a danger lest they should turn out Antinomians; that if experience alone were brought forward to a people there was a danger lest they should turn out enthusiasts and sentimentalists; and that if practice alone were brought forward, there was a danger that they would turn out legalists.
Our lives should be a healthy mixture of the three points mentioned – doctrine, experience, and practice. It seems like the Holy Spirit sometimes may emphasize one of these more than the other, but we certainly need all three to mature properly.
If we are called to teach regularly, shouldn’t we include all three of these aspects into our messages? When I teach homiletics, my challenge to those listening is to make sure you can answer the, “so what?” question in each message. When you are finished sharing what you believe the Lord gave to you, what difference does it make to your listeners?
By including doctrine, experience and practice in every message we will certainly raise the potential to answer that critical question. Our doctrine precedes our actions, which are often refined by our experiences. We learn from our success and failures and we install habits or practices into our daily lives as a result.
If we regularly ignore any of these three in our messages, we will drift towards lawlessness, legalism, or emotionalism, as Ryle shared. By including all three, we will increase the potential that everyone that listens to us is challenged, encouraged, and given practical tools to walk out their daily lives for the glory of God. While there are more goals than this in teaching, there certainly should not be less.