Pastoral Concerns, part 2
We live in a wicked, immoral culture in which perversion and moral corruption are normal. The majority of people no longer uphold Christian traditions and values. It is increasingly rare for people to follow the biblical pattern for godly living. Many people today live together without the benefit of marriage, and those who do marry often have had several relationships prior to marriage. Today, it’s rare for a father to present his daughter as a “chaste virgin” to her fiancé on her wedding day.
Last week we began looking at this passage in which Paul uses the imagery of a wedding ceremony to describe the relationship of the church to Christ. Verse 2 – Paul has “betrothed” the church “to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Paul’s hope is to retain the purity of the church until it is presented to Christ at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
However, something at the church was causing Paul much concern—notice verse 3a – “for I fear.” He was concerned about the spiritual status of the church. False teachers had crept in and were deceiving the people. These false teachers were corrupting the minds of the people, turning them away from the Gospel into error. That is a major problem, and that’s what Paul is concerned about.
Just like Paul is concerned about false teachers in the church at Corinth, many pastors are concerned about false teachers that may be influencing their churches. A church needs to be discerning enough to prevent false teachers from gaining access and authority with it.
The issue here is toleration—vs. 1 “bear with me,” vs. 4 “you may well put up with it.” The question is, whom do we put up with? Whom do we allow to have an influence in the church? We should allow only those who stand for and teach the biblical Gospel. We should not tolerate or bear with those who teach error and falsehood—especially error regarding Jesus and the Gospel. We should have no tolerance for error on these subjects.
The text reveals several common pastoral concerns. These are serious, grave fears that plague many pastors. Pastors have good reason to be concerned about these issues. The availability and spread of false teaching is exceedingly common these days. With the power of the Internet at their disposal, and with biblical literacy and loyalty to the Bible at a very low level in many churches, false teachers are successfully spreading their errors throughout the world. And many people are being taken in by their subtle, crafty arguments. So this is still a major concern today.
Further, as we look at these concerns, we must make sure that we are not contributing to any of these pastoral fears. We don’t want to be the ones the pastor is concerned about.