Message 4 – Jeff Noblit – “Striving to Avoid Extra-Biblical Excess”
Looking at what we don’t do well and where we are not properly balanced.
1. Watch for clarifying terms – rules, convictions, and viewpoints which are not commanded in scripture are extra-biblical. Individuals have them. Churches have them. They can be healthy as long as they are not viewed as adding to our righteousness. Our efforts do not improve our standing before God or make us superior to others. Can we still fellowship with those who don’t have our convictions? Extra-biblical excess is when these things become a pillar of the church when they are not commanded by the scripture, when they become the identity of the church. A lot of this shows in what descriptive term we put in front of the word “church” – contemporary, emerging, family-integrated, etc. The gospel must draw them or we must fail. We should not depend on the additive descriptive to be the draw. These things should not be the draw for someone to join the church.
2. Watch for worldly externalisms. See Colossians 2:8, 18, and 20-23. The world wants to impose externals on you instead of Jesus Christ. Also see Galatians 4:3. This is works religion. The highest form of worldliness is legalistic religion. Much self-abasement is actually flaunting religion and self-indulgence. We turn to our own self-restraint to combat sin, but Paul tells us that these external rules do not stop the indulgence of the flesh.
3. Watch for pendulum swings. See Matthew 23:15 – from one excess to another excess. We swing as we leave a weak, unhealthy church and land in a legalistic church, a whole new set of extra-biblical excess and error. We must strive to maintain a biblical balance. Structure and organization are not bad. New external forms do not transform the heart.
4. Watch for silly women. See 2 Timothy 3:6-7. False teachers find a foothold among weak (or silly) women. Women that are burdened by sin. Women that are led by their passions. These lead to the abandoning of sound doctrine. These lead to never being able to be grounded on the truth.
5. Remember that a sovereign God is behind all. See 1 Corinthians 11:18-19. There may be divisions in the church, but verse 19 says that we should expect this. And why should we expect factions within the church? Because that is how God reveals what is genuine. Factions are used to purify and purge the church.
6. The irrevocable reference point – total abandonment to the gospel. Our reference point must be on the power of gospel message to change lives. We will build on the foundation of the gospel or we will fail (see Romans 1:16, 16:25).