I recently was talking with a dear brother about some current cultural issues. Inevitably, the conversation lead to us talking about the state of the church. He said, "I just don't get why God would allow false teachers into this church to wreak havoc among His people." Great question. Why does God allow Judas' among His people? Why does He allow men to lead churches who are in it for the money and the notoriety? If He is sovereign and in control of everything, why doesn't He just stop it?
Allowance Is Not Endorsement
God allowing things to happen is not God placing his seal of endorsement on what He is allowing. God allows Adam and Eve to fall in the Garden of Eden, but yet Psalm 5:4 says He takes no pleasure in wickedness. God allowing corrupt teachers and leaders in the church today does not mean God is in anyway approving of their behavior. It is evident God is against discord and false doctrine (Matt. 7:15, 2 John 1:10-11, Col. 2:8, 2 John 1:7). So why then, does He allow it?
"The scariest place to be is at a comfortable church. A church that is too driven to be dependent, too comfortable to find need, too busy to pray, and too strong to be weak."
What Was Meant For Evil, Turns Out For Our Good
As I've said before, God works through means. He establishes the ends, but He gets to those ends through means. If you are in Christ, your end is Christlikeness (Rom. 8:28-29, 1 John 3:2). Everything that God allows into our lives is a means meant to make us into His image. This means that even the seemingly bad things work out for good (Gen. 50:20). So God allows confusion, chaos, and discord in the church for this purpose: to make us more like Christ. Here is what Calvin said: "God gives Satan free reign to sow confusion in his church. At the same time his aim is to keep us humble, and to prompt us to pray for deliverance from all that would cause us to stumble or would lead the world to ruin. We would soon drift into indifference if we thought the world was getting better and better: we would cease to value prayer or look to God for aid." What is Calvin saying? That God allows confusion and chaos to drive us to our knees and dependency on God. What this tells me is that the scariest place to be is at a comfortable church. A church that is too driven to be dependent, too comfortable to find need, too busy to pray, and too strong to be weak. Friends, when we find error in the church, we should cling to our Father and pray that we would walk in the Gospel light (Ps. 119:1-2). Or as Calvin says, "Our attitude should be: 'Alas! The same could have happened to us, except that God wonderfully preserved us by His grace!'" May the confusion and chaos God allows drive us to treasure Him and His grace more than ever before.
I am a Husband to Clarissa, Pastor at Liberty Baptist Church, reader of many books, and tweeter at @brad_merchant.