A Pastoral Response to the Flowing Oil Controversy

Matt Evans

Posted February 17, 2020
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This past week, a story broke in the news concerning the legitimacy of the Bible in Dalton that reportedly flows with oil and the ministry associated with it.

Additionally, because this ministry held a weekly prayer meeting in the Wink Theatre, some have questions about Rock Bridge’s involvement.

I know numerous people are hurt, confused, angry, and disappointed. Others testify positively to how God used this ministry in their lives and are struggling to understand the reports they are reading.

Personally, I see a great opportunity to thank God for grace and to remind ourselves that the greatest miracle of all is that sinners like us can even be saved at all.

I see an opportunity to affirm the value and importance of organized and biblical church leadership. I see an opportunity to remind ourselves of God’s sovereignty and our complete dependence on Him. Finally, when our public discourse and interactions lack civility and are marked by divisiveness, I see an opportunity to put on the virtues of “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” (Colossians 3:12).

When Rock Bridge purchased the Wink Theatre, we believed we should continue to make this historic building available to various community groups and local events. Schools, faith-based organizations, various non-profit groups, local businesses, and other entities use the theatre on a regular basis. We have sought to be gracious, generous and hospitable without necessarily endorsing or promoting these various groups.

Our relationship to “Flowing Oil” ministry was similar in many ways. To answer a question several are asking, “Flowing Oil” was not a ministry of Rock Bridge. Before “Flowing Oil” was officially formed, there was a very organic and informal group of people gathering downtown for prayer and fellowship in a local store. When this store ran out of space, the prayer group requested to use our facility. This practice continued until the group recently decided to cease meeting. Then the news story broke …

In this news, I believe we have several opportunities worth pursuing.

First, we must affirm God’s grace—both our need for it and God’s provision of it in Jesus. When a person makes a mistake—especially a very public one—it is easy to get upset, give way to cynicism and bitterness, and perhaps even let a seed of self-righteousness take root. While hurt and bothered by all of this, I do not want to become a Pharisee. I am reminded that Paul called himself the “worst” of sinners (I Timothy 1:15).

So let’s not stand on a pedestal but kneel at the Cross and thank God for grace. God saves sinners and then uses them in His Kingdom work (Ephesians 2:5-10).

Yes, there are risks in using sinners, and yes, there will be failures and mistakes but grace always wins—it’s God’s way … and all of us can thank Him for that.

However, we are also called to be discerning and to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The ministry has acknowledged mistakes were made. I do believe they should be more forthright and forthcoming concerning those mistakes–alleged or otherwise.

Personally, I am not in a position to comment on exactly what those mistakes were nor to their extent. The leaders of Flowing Oil ministry were not operating under the leadership of our Elders at Rock Bridge. In saying this, I do not condone any action that is potentially misleading, deceptive, or fails to align with the whole counsel of God as revealed in the Scriptures. Perhaps the wisest position for us to adopt at this time is one of caution, not cynicism; and prayer, not pessimism.

I do see an opportunity to affirm the value and importance of having biblical leadership structures in place and for all Christ-followers to see the value of such leadership (Hebrews 13:17).  Rock Bridge believes that this leadership includes at a minimum a plurality of biblically qualified elders (Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5-9) whose responsibility is to shepherd, discern, teach, and oversee a local body of believers. Within a church body, these leaders are called upon as needed to test and discern various prophecies and teachings as well as reports of the miraculous, and then lead the church forward in wisdom as it is collectively discerned.

Finally, we have an opportunity to realize that God’s Kingdom and His redemptive purposes are never dependent on one person, one church, one ministry, or one denomination. God is God. He works by grace and His Spirit for His glory. His Kingdom is both here and coming; it is both now and not yet.

Today, we are reminded that all is “not yet” as it should be, but let’s not allow that to cause us to think that God can be stopped or His word be bound.

Rather, we affirm that His triumph is inevitable and that His purposes will prevail … and often in spite of us!

May this truth re-kindle our zeal for His glory, our burden for those who do not know of Jesus’ gospel love, and our commitment to share this gospel with as many as we can—all by His grace all the time!

Matt Evans