What Cannot Remain

I was struck by something the other morning as I looked at the beginning of Luke 9.

“Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where” (Luke 9:1–6).

The thing that struck me was that Judas was right in the middle of this mix. Judas was casting out devils — the one who would be possessed by the Devil himself. Judas was a healer. He was a preacher. He was one of those who preached the gospel, and who went around “healing everywhere.”

When fruit goes bad . . .
When fruit goes bad . . .

Now Jesus also taught us to judge ministries by their fruit, and so this raises a question. Was Judas the fruit of Christ’s labors over the course of three years? Did the betrayal of Jesus by Judas tell us something about the ministry of Jesus? Or about the ministry of Judas?

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matt. 7:15–20).

When Jesus warns us about bad fruit from the false prophets, He is talking about the false teacher’s own life. Inwardly, He says, they are ravening wolves. Internal corruption will at some point be externally expressed. Hypocrites in leadership usually cannot keep that a secret for any length of time. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Be sure your sin will find you out.

The Lord was not teaching us to evaluate a school by the caliber of those who flunked out of it. If we were to make that mistake, we might condemn a very fine school because more people flunk out of it than do from a school with lower standards.

Ministries must be evaluated by the fruit. But this is not the same thing as evaluating it by the discontents or hypocrites who fall away. Paul’s ministry was not discredited by the fact that Demas fell in love with the world (2 Tim. 4:10). It would have been more of an indictment if Demas had fallen in love with the present world, and had been able stay in Paul’s inner circle despite that. Paul’s entourage was the kind of place where a man could apostatize — but he couldn’t apostatize and stay.

Any church, any ministry, any movement, will have people attracted to it who do not have the root of the matter in them. This out-of-place bad fruit will become apparent over time. In a healthy church, there will be formal discipline (suspension or excommunication) or there will also be informal discipline. Informal discipline occurs, for example, when someone realizes that he is thoroughly out of step with the life of the community, moves to another city, and then three years later runs up the flag of his discontents. Formal discipline has not occurred, but certainly a spiritual form of it has occurred.

So it is right and proper to evaluate a ministry by the fruit. But if the bad fruit was rejected, and is sitting in bins out behind the sorting factory, that provides no indictment of the factory at all. There would be a problem with the factory if the bins were empty. A ministry certainly can be judged as bearing bad fruit, but it cannot honestly be accused of that problem by the bad fruit itself.

50
Leave a Reply

avatar
 
15 Comment threads
35 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
24 Comment authors
"A" dadSpike PittardMike Bullinvisiblegardenerkatecho Recent comment authors

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Rob Steele
Guest
Rob Steele

The point seems good but it also seems self-serving and provocative to say it (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) What fraction of your detractors here are rejected or self-ejected Kirkers? Are you trying to flush them out into the open?

Laura
Guest
Laura

Yeah, it’s pretty obvious that bad folks who leave don’t show that the church is bad – they may only show that the church won’t tolerate their badness. But the fact that a person left a particular church doesn’t mean that they’re bad fruit. They may be good fruit, and it’s the church itself that is at fault.

Rob Steele
Guest
Rob Steele

Or of course there might be no fault involved. People move. I got the impression that DW attracted some pretty wacky characters over the years. There’s me, for instance. I’ve never actually been to Idaho but you know what I mean.

Katecho
Member

I didn’t see that. Wilson’s phrasing doesn’t address, or even imply, any particular situation outside the text, but rather exegetes and applies a general principle. Those who have a beef with Wilson may find it provocative, but that would be self-serving and opportunistic on their part.

Kelly M. Haggar
Guest
Kelly M. Haggar

I played Judas in this year’s Living Last Supper. (Type cast again) Peter did the wrong thing for the right reason, while Judas did the right thing for the wrong reason.

adad0
Member

Not to mention Isiah and Jeremiah we’re dealing with a nation full of false prophets, not just a church full.????

Dave
Guest
Dave

“. . .a nation full of false prophets. . .” Just like America — yesterday, today and tomorrow.

adad0
Member

Oh, and “honesty” is no obstacle for thistlefigs.
No obstacle for thorngrapes either.

rungeeric
Member
rungeeric

I can predict the comments-Doug is shielding himself from any criticism at the outset by defining anybody who would criticize him as bad fruit. The bitter irony is that only bad fruit would be tempted to spin it this way. The spirit of accusation will let nobody escape it’s clutches.

timothy
Guest
timothy

Or, Wilson continues to preach the Word, focusing on his ministry in Christ Jesus instead of the attacks by the enemy. As a mature Christian Wilson knows that the devil spawns confusion and accusation and Wilson acts every Christian should–proclaiming Christ.

Spike Pittard
Guest
Spike Pittard

I’m fascinated to know the story behind this post. Is someone accusing the church of wrongdoing? Whatever the case, the final line–“A ministry certainly can be judged as bearing bad fruit, but it cannot honestly be accused of that problem by the bad fruit itself”–seems to imply that someone that has been kicked out of a church can not be trusted to accuse the church of wrongdoing. This is a beautiful bit of self-defense. It basically labels anyone that is critical of the church as “bad fruit” and therefore irrelevant. It is one thing to talk about Jesus as not… Read more »

BP
Guest
BP

I have heard many, many times pastor Wilson (and the elders of CC, and the church members) bless a family (or an individual) when they decide to leave the church and join a totally different one for all varied reasons -including disagreement-.

Evan
Guest
Evan

Why do I have the feeling your comment will be completely ignored?

rungeeric
Member
rungeeric

Please see my comment above.

Spike Pittard
Guest
Spike Pittard

Okay. So what’s the issue?

adad0
Member

I think the church you are talking about is called “Christ Church” not “Doug Church”.
So who’s Church is it?
A. Christ’s?
B. Doug’s?
?

Spike Pittard
Guest
Spike Pittard

Not sure I understand you. But I’m talking about churches. Churches are made by men and run by men. Doug’s post is about churches, run by men and made by men, kicking out people that are “bad fruit”. Doug seems to be implying that “bad fruit” that have been kicked out can not criticize the church they have been kicked out of. It seems to me that this argument is only necessary if a church (i.e. Doug’s church), is facing attacks from such excommunicated bad fruit. He is arguing that such bad fruit has no business pointing fingers at the… Read more »

adad0
Member

Ephesians 122 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Spikey, according to the Word, God made the world, the same as God made the Church. Nothing but fallen creatures in either of them. There is only one Church, and Jesus is Lord over it. Men don’t make the Church, God does. Below is how Jesus tells people to evaluate His real followers. As for the “floods” if they can be called that, that… Read more »

Spike Pittard
Guest
Spike Pittard

“There is only one Church, and Jesus is Lord over it. Men don’t make the Church, God does.”

In an ideal sense, yes. But when a guy starts meeting in homes with people and then starts a church, or when a mainline denomination opens a church, this is man-made business. It is a huge mistake to equate all pastors of all churches, and all churches around the world as being one and the same as the universal Church.

adad0
Member

To Wilson’s point, Judas was in the “universal church”.
Jesus is Lord over the good and the bad. He is Lord of His plan, even the negatives you mention.
He is Lord over you and me. How “good” are we?

Spike Pittard
Guest
Spike Pittard

I agree with all that.

adad0
Member

Great! It’s almost like unity! : – )

Michelle
Guest
Michelle

At least partly, I hear DW answering the arguments in the comments of the last post, that because Hitler was Catholic and never left the church, we can rightly attribute his atrocities to his assumed Catholic beliefs. DW here argues that the fruit of Hitler’s life manifestly indicates that he did not believe the historic teachings of the Catholic church at all. Stalin’s atheism on the other hand is perfectly consistent with the fruit of his life, perfectly consistent with his idolatrous object of worship.

bethyada
Member

Hilter a Catholic? Not likely. Religiously a pagan at most. The man fought against the church.

timothy
Guest
timothy

seems to imply that someone that has been kicked out of a church can not be trusted to accuse the church of wrongdoing.

Pittard prefers eisegesis to exegesis; he disregards the plain reading and meaning of the words and refuses to take them at face value; he paints Wilson in greys where others see only bright colors then attempts to convince us that bright cobalt blue is really dreary grey.

There is no sun, nor Son apparent in Pittard’s dark motives.

Spike Pittard
Guest
Spike Pittard

Dark motives. Well, we all see the world through our own set of lenses, I suppose. There is nothing as dark to me as the fact that some would see Doug as working only in “bright colors”.

Jack Bradley
Guest
Jack Bradley

“the fact that a person left a particular church doesn’t mean that they’re bad fruit.”

I must agree with Laura on this. And I believe that Doug would also.

Conserbatives_conserve_little
Guest
Conserbatives_conserve_little

Hypocrites in leadership usually cannot keep that a secret for any length of time.

“” Yeah. Sometimes they can keep their secrets. They can keep them for years before they come out. Scripture teaches that they will come out eventually. Sometimes not till jugment day, especially sexual sins.

Mark Hanson
Guest
Mark Hanson

I thing Doug’s basic point is sound – judge a ministry by those who remain involved with it, not by those that are outside, because you can’t generally determine with any accuracy why they are gone. If a ministry is bearing bad fruit, it will be evident in the lives of those who are most deeply at the heart of its workings. Does the pastor’s wife constantly talk down her husband? Do the women of the church bicker and gossip? Do they insult their husbands? Do the men stay away? Are their children unrestrained? Are the elders and deacons prickly… Read more »

Susan Gail
Member
Susan Gail

A pastoral post, framed quite well. Amen

bethyada
Member

Some commenters here seem to be reversing Doug’s argument. The fact someone left a church does not prove that person is bad fruit. What he is saying is that if someone exhibits bad fruit it does not (necessarily) speak poorly about the church, especially if the church has removed the person. And Jesus did just this thing at the last supper. Judas is there sharing a meal with Jesus while plotting against him (most non-Western cultures would recognise the grave evil that this is). Jesus mentions one there would betray him and the whole group are horrified. Not me Jesus?!… Read more »

A
Guest
A

So what about the God fearing Jesus loving Christians who have left CREC churches across the country because they have been gravely concerned about what is happening with in these churches? Are they bad fruit? Many have tried from the inside to raise awareness and talk about the problems. This articles timing is odd with so many Christians who love the LORD begging and pleading for the CREC to reevaluate what is happening within their denomination.

Katecho
Member

I didn’t know that so much innuendo or insinuation could be packed into one paragraph: “across the country”, “gravely concerned”, “Many have tried”, “raise awareness”, “the problems”, “begging and pleading”, “what is happening”. Piling on with such vague hand-wringing and concern-mongering is not constructive at all. If this is the approach that the alleged former CREC members are using, it’s no wonder they didn’t find satisfaction. If someone has an accusation against their church leadership, they need to have specifics, and they need to have witnesses, not innuendo. This is a biblical requirement to even be received for a hearing.… Read more »

A
Guest
A

Actually we have done all of this. And many of us have connected as the journey has brought us together.

Katecho
Member

This is a common narrative these days. A journey brings “many” together. A fellowship of grievance is formed. And now takes on a nebulous and anonymous life of its own on the internet blogosphere. Trial by internet. Trial by shaming and head wagging.

This just doesn’t align with biblical means of resolving complaints and offenses. Instead it reads like the tactic of the perpetually disgruntled, who may have used up their available recourses, but ultimately were not found persuasive, so they have taken the show on the road.

adad0
Member

Katecho both you and A are actually right here. As A says: “Actually we have done all of this. And many of us have connected as the journey has brought us together.” They do connect, on Rachel Miller’s site and at the “A Cry for justice” site below. http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2015/11/13/a-gauntlet-down-challenge-to-focus-on-the-family-and-other-christian-ministries-of-fame/ If you search this site for “Doug Wilson”, “John Piper”, “James Dobson” and “Focus on the family”, you will find that these “God fearing Jesus loving Christians” have connected to level accusations against more visible Christians, most of the time, without speaking to them personally first, as the Word directs. Next,… Read more »

timothy
Guest
timothy

Excellent work “A”. Thanks.

adad0
Member

James 3 Two Kinds of Wisdom 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. 17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,… Read more »

Katecho
Member

The link to envy is the key to understanding the perpetually disgruntled. James knew what he spoke of. As did Pilate, whose native language was envy:

So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over. — Matthew 27:17-18

adad0
Member

“Yeah! Why can’t we know everything just like God?!?
I think I will eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,
and find out!”
Hmmmm, same “serpent”, same temptation, same motivation, same damnation!
I do think it is quite important to let the direct link between these “abuse expert” critics and the cult teaching they love, be widely known. Please make it known when you may.
A common knowledge of this hard truth will benefit all. (Except darkness of course!)

David Henry
Guest
David Henry

Pastor Wilson, you once made this point to me in a discussion, and I disagreed with you. Here you deal with it more fully, and I like the way you put it. I think I’d agree with you now on this principle.

BP
Guest
BP

It really amazes me how those who disagree with DW and keep insisting
that he is trying hard to hide things, have an open forum to “yell at
his face” in a place that he himself pays to keep running.

It
is true that DW is also known for his welcoming heart among his people,
his friends, and the members of his church. So I guess we can all say
that he is a man of integrity -even in matters like this.

mikebull1
Member

The events of the last supper track Israel’s annual festal calendar. Judas is sent from the table in correspondence with the goat sent into the wilderness to die on the Day of Coverings. But the first century history follows exactly the same pattern, and now all of Judaism became Judas. The apostles were murdered (first goat) and Jerusalem was destroyed (second goat). This correspondence might give us some idea of what was going on in Judas’ heart. The Mosaic Covenant was a good ministry, and at its end it expelled those who claimed to continue its legacy.

Matt Bell
Member

Spell it out for me – what was going on Judas’ heart?

I always appreciate your contributions to my understanding of Biblical symbolism.

mikebull1
Member

I think it was the same sin that can be traced right back to Genesis 3, and again in Genesis 4 – putting kingdom before priesthood, or seizing dominion on earth without prior submission to heaven. Once again, Israel desired a king like the nations before God’s time and ended up with the Herods. Like Cain and Pharaoh and Saul, they relied on statecraft and force rather than on God. Solomon in his early days was the opposite. He asked for wisdom (submission to heaven) and God gave him the glory as a gift (dominion on earth). The tree of… Read more »