The following mission statement is the apologia for our Bible-based sermon group, from which group the analyses originate.
Mission: To effect necessary change in
ministries and churches by promoting discernment.
Why: For more glory to God, the salvation of souls, the sanctification of, and greater unity among, true saints, and the general public good that would result from solid, earnest preaching that discerning saints demand.
What justification there is for this work: The Bible commands Christians to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5.21.) Therefore, it is a good thing to be like the noble Bereans, being willing to receive the word with all readiness of mind, but by searching the Scriptures first to find out if what is preached is so or not (Acts 17.11.) Spirits are to be tried (1 John 4.1) and then treated according to the commandments of God, and so, either rejected (2 John 10) or accepted (3 John 1.)
How the work is done: By analyzing local sermons in which we keep to the criticism of the main and plain things of Scripture and whatever might help or hinder the proclamation of God’s truth.
How we may know that we are right in our analyses: God has given to all Christians their measure of grace (Ephesians 4.7.) By humbly reminding our good Father of this, we have an assurance that he will bless us with a recognition of what is true and what is false in regard to the treatment of those realities that our salvation hinges on and those doctrines that are paramount. And Jesus has given teachers to his Church to learn from (Ephesians 4.11.) By this grace the Lord has given us, then, we may discover who the safest, truest teachers are and have been, and so learn from them and use them as our helpers to interpret our present local teachers. And there are some common sense ways of discovering whether teachers are worthy or not: by their use or abuse of logic; by their reverence for God or not; by their level of holiness; by their level of temperance in all things; by their administration of discipline or not; and by their sectarian or catholic tendency.
False teachers, as pointed out by Thomas Brooks (1608-1680), may be known by the following characteristics: They may be man-pleasers (Isaiah 30.10; Jeremiah 5.30, 31; 23.16, 17; Galatians 1.10; 1 Thessalonians 2.1-4) or slanderers (Numbers 16.3; 1 Kings 22.24; Matthew 27.63; 2 Corinthians 10.10) or teachers of novelties (Jeremiah 14.14; 23.16) or teachers of minor things (Matthew 23.23; 1 Timothy 1.5-7) or stylists (Matthew 7.15; 16.6, 11, 12; Romans 16.17, 18; 2 Corinthians 11.13-15; Galatians 6.12) or sectarians (Matthew 24.17); or merchandisers (Jeremiah 6.13; 2 Peter 2.1-3; Revelation 18.13.) These are all characteristics to watch out for, then, in the midst of the great confusion in our churches today. Any teacher fitting any one of these molds must be avoided. Conversely, any teacher we may learn from and to whom we may extend the right hand of fellowship must be honorable to God, resolute, fair, serious, gospel-centered, catholic, and temperate.
Knowledge of the present state of our local pulpit and church might cause us more grief and sorrow than joy and hope (Ecclesiastes 1.18.) But it is better to know and be grieved than to be blind and happy (Proverbs 4.7; Ecclesiastes 7.1-5.) And we take heart from the following beatitude, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5.4.) We must labor to get understanding while we can. “The night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9.4.)
Note: The word ‘catholic’ is used to signify the extension of fellowship to all of God’s faithful followers, regardless of denomination, some of whom, we admit, may even be Roman Catholic adherents who have yet to shun that system of idolatry and wickedness they are part of, which wise Reformers of old have called antichristian.