No need for the Ordinary Means of Grace?

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Puritan Board Freshman
A Pastor friend of mine has been exhibiting a few alarming trends. One of which is an insistence that the health of his Christian walk is not dependent on the Ordinary Means of Grace.(Bible reading, Prayer, Fellowship, Sacrament) Today at a men's bible study he kept speaking of our responsibility as Christians to produce obedience and good works. To the degree that I started feeling uncomfortable. I'm a firm believer of God's regenerating power but the way he was expressing himself it sounded so absent of the power of God. There was no emphasis on the Lordship of Christ or the power of the Spirit. He was basically telling the group that he just pulls himself up by his proverbial bootstraps with the occasional "God enables you" terminology stapled on the end. He even went so far as to say, " If I went the rest of my life without cracking open the Bible I would be perfectly fine." He says that at this point in his life most of the edification/devotion he is experiencing is coming from a few novels that he is reading involving people who have survived dire circumstances. He has been saying all kinds of unsettling things from behind the pulpit." It's not about bible reading and prayer. We have the ability to grow and be obedient." What should I say to him?


Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Seems like cause for concern to me. Admittedly, this scenario is sketchy and a long ways away, so all I have to go on is your description. But I would be deeply in prayer for your friend, if I were in your shoes.

When we are looking and finding our source of spiritual nourishment in places other than Scripture, this habit bears strong correlation with avoidance of the convicting power of the law.

Or, perhaps the gospel no longer captivates our soul, so replacement is sought for it instead of returning to the wells of salvation (Is.12:3). If the gospel was only of real importance some time ago (when I was saved?), then interest in it naturally fades. I need to remember my first love.

Just a guess, but I'd say your friend does not recognize that the weekly nourishment on the Word in sermons (besides daily investment), and sacrament when available, is the only way to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior; and hence in new obedience.

But as this issue is also expressing itself, you say, in "unsettling things" spoken from the pulpit--which sounds like false doctrine concern to me--the problem may be further gone than a cooling of devotion looked upon as historic and not present.

I cannot judge a situation I only know about second-hand. But looked at simply as a vague test-scenario, I would be on the lookout for evident violations of the moral law. On the one hand, it is good that such desertion of the Bible would come out into the open; because it points to the possibility of ongoing conviction and a not wholly deadened conscience.



Puritan Board Sophomore
Brother, have the humility and charity to see this as a possible anomaly. Pray for him. Meanwhile, do as you have been doing and jot down specific phrases and teachings that seem at odds with God's Word. Don't talk to anyone who knows him until you question him on these specific teachings.

With humility and respect, show him what he has said and give him the chance to clarify or provide additional context. If his explanations don't square with the Scriptures, point out where they differ and be ready to explain it using the church's standards, as well. Remind him of his ordination vows. Urge him to repent and return to teaching God's Word faithfully. If he will not listen to you, it may be time to involve the elders.

Sadly, a man who says he is most edified not by the Word of God, but by the word of man seems quite calloused.

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19
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Puritan Board Junior
"No man can have any evidences of their being elected of God without an active study of holiness in all manner of living. No man has any reason to expect eternal happiness, but in the way of diligent attendance on, and improvement of, the ordinances of the gospel, public, private and secret according to his capacity and opportunity- and of earnest persevering endeavours to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord." (John Brown)
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