What would you do if, in the regular, methodical study of God’s Word, you came to see that a long-held belief, precious doctrine, or firmly ingrained tradition were actually not biblical? What if taking a stand to expose the truth of God’s Word meant the loss of dear friends, church family, respect, position, and income? Would you take that stand?
Yesterday, I had the great privilege of attending the ordination service for the new pastor of our home church here in NC. Now, this was no ordinary ordination service, in that this pastor has been ordained before and has served as a missionary to Kenya and the pastor of a thriving church here in NC for a number of years. So why ordain again? Good question.
Pastor Eddy Simmons and his wife Amanda have walked the road I described above. They were forced to leave their Southern Baptist church when, through a long process of thorough Bible study, the Spirit led them to see plainly that salvation is conditional upon continuance in faith until death, and that the doctrine of eternal security–”once saved, always saved”–is not in God’s Word.
God moved their hearts and opened their eyes individually, at the same time, so that Eddy and Amanda have walked this road together as a couple. It has been a painful process, but one which they do not regret. God brought them to us at a time when our church needed a pastor and they needed a church, and the work that He has been doing in the midst of this body is incredibly refreshing. Unity and love and purpose and passion characterize this faith family. Week after week Eddy sets forth the truth plainly, and week after week the hearers set out with hearts primed for obedience and minds and hands prepared for the work of ministry.
Yesterday’s ordination service was a recognition of what God has done in the lives of Eddy and Amanda, an affirmation of Eddy’s qualification as a pastor, and a sober reminder of the great responsibility a man of God carries when he shepherds a flock.
Those of us present could not help but be challenged by Eddy and Amanda’s example. They put everything on the line to follow God in obedience, not knowing what the outcome would be, and it cost them dearly. How many of us do the same? How many pastors really work to methodically expose the whole truth of God’s Word without concern for personal loss?
Do a little searching. Which do you value more: truth, or tradition? If those come into conflict, do you take a stand like Eddy and Amanda, Martin Luther, and countless others changed by the study of scripture? Or do you cling to the traditions of men–even Free Will Baptist ones–more than to God Himself?