A gauge for doctrinal faithfulness in preaching

The Bible is our standard for faith and practice, and provides the doctrinal content for our preaching.  Because all human beings are essentially the same, if the doctrines of the Bible are accurately preached, the responses will be predictable.  In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul voices and answers some common objections to key doctrines.

On justification by imputed righteousness: Romans 6:1 NKJV What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 

If justification is accurately preached, you will commonly meet with the objection that this doctrine encourages licentiousness.  Of course it is not the case, as we see from Paul’s rebuttal in Romans 6.  Paul explains that being counted righteous in God’s sight comes with a change of orientation, so that the justified sinner desires to please God with a thankful heart in response to His free grace in Christ.  But one way to know if you are preaching justification correctly is to see whether it meets the same objection that Paul anticipates.  If your preaching on justification does not meet with this objection, that it may lead to more sinning, you might be teaching the error of works-righteousness.

On election: Romans 9:14 NKJV What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?  

The sinful nature would rather be in control of his own destiny.  Once he realizes that it is entirely up to God’s sovereign election, he begins to cry out, “That’s not fair of God!”, as if God did not have the right to have mercy on some and not others, according to His will.  If your teaching on God’s sovereign election is meeting this type of objection, you must be doing it right.  If you are not getting the objection, “that’s not fair”, you might be teaching decisionism.

On double predestination and God’s justice in judging sinners: Romans 9:19 NKJV Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?

On hearing that man dead in sin is unable to improve his situation, predestined to eternal destruction, and under God’s judgment for his sin, the natural man objects.  He thinks that it is not possible for man to both be responsible for his sin and unable not to sin, more than that, predetermined by God to continue in sin to destruction.  The apostle’s answer is simple.  God has a right to do as He pleases with His own creatures.  If your preaching on predestination and the judgment to come meets with this objection, it’s a good sign that you are accurately handling the doctrine of Scripture.  Otherwise, you may be engaging in theodicy, putting the Judge of Judges on trial in the court of man.

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