Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - Symptomatic of a bigger issue
Dear Chuck, you wrote last week about how we are to worship in spirit and truth. The place I attend church has been doing things which make my husband and I very uncomfortable because we do not feel they are scriptural. Why would they do things which aren't right and act like it is OK? We are new Christians and struggle with this a great deal. Thanks, Karen H.
Karen, Let me start out by saying how proud I am of both you and your husband for making the decision to put on Christ in baptism! That can be a very difficult step for adults but I know you have been blessed by your decision.
I wish I had an easy answer for the change you are experiencing in the congregation you attend. I also wish I could tell you that it is limited to just a few places, but I often hear of individuals and/or families that feel obligated to leave the church they attend (some having been there for many years) because they do not want to associate with the liberal path their congregation has chosen to go down.
The Lord's church needs to quit flirting with the sensational and "entertainment" type mentality it has if we are to be pleasing to God. When we approach God in worship, we must do only what He has commanded.
>Matt. 4:10 Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
When Christ says that we are to worship the Lord thy God that does not leave room for anything else.
>John 4:24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
Christ tells us that we are to worship the Lord thy God in “spirit and in truth.”The fact that he tells us to worship in truth means that we can know the truth in regards to how we worship God.
The truth of the matter Karen is we would not be having these problems in the Lord's church if we had men in the pulpit who determined to preach the whole counsel of God and if we had men serving as elders who understood their God given responsibilities to shepherd the flock. Let me give you a few examples that I have seen recently in various congregations:
1) How can a church speak out effectively against apostasy when the pulpit minister serves on the board of directors at one of the largest apostate "Christian" universities in the nation? He is in full fellowship with false teachers in direct violation of many passages (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29; Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 4:1; etc.).
2) How can the Lord's church speak out effectively against false teachers and the sin of denominationalism when their library has a large number of books by Max Lucado, Rubel Shelley, James Dobson, etc. and NOT EVEN ONE SIGN, warning people that they should use caution when they are reading those books. Those books should NOT be in the library of the Lord's church to begin with!
3) How can the Lord's church worship God in "spirit and in truth" when they present "programs" that focus on anything other than worshipping God? Where does the Bible direct us to spend our time in worship on anything other than praising and honoring God??????
4) How can the Lord's church effectively guard our youth against the dangers from within and out of the church when elders close their eyes to events such as Winterfest and other "youth group" happenings that feature such false teachers as Jeff Wallings?
5) How can an eldership hire a man who has been fired from his previous pulpit job for his false teachings when they have been warned and provided the proof?
I could go on with hundreds of other examples, but I believe you begin to see where the problem begins: weak men in the pulpit and weaker men in the eldership of congregations across the world.
I would offer, as many others have before me, these suggestions which members, preachers and elders could all heed and, if applied, could restore the Lord's church to that which is found in the New Testament.
First, elders need to understand that they have the responsibility to watch for your soul as one that must give an account (Heb. 13:17). How can an elder read that passage and then allow such ridiculous "innovations" to take place in the Lord's church that show a complete lack of respect for Jehovah God.
Second, elder's need to give heed unto themselves and ensure that their spiritual development continues to take place. The qualifications of elders are clearly defined to Timothy so that church leaders know how they are to conduct themselves as leaders of the Lord's church. Elders are obligated to themselves, God, and the church to be qualified for their work. Men are to meet the Holy Spirit given qualifications found in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1. They are to remain qualified.The position of elder is not necessarily a lifetime appointment. Appointed men will remain elders so long as they continue to be qualified and willing, and thus continue to be recognized as such by the Holy Spirit.
Third, elders need to lead! They cannot make decisions based on what others want but must make all decisions base on the Holy Scriptures. Elders must lead, not the minister. The minister is but a servant under the direction of the eldership! The elders need to ensure he stays humble and is not allowed to satisfy a personal agenda.
Fourth, elders must ensure that the spiritual diet of the congregation is one that feeds the flock in such a way as to where the congregation's relationship with God is strengthened. This is done by preaching the whole counsel of God! Such sermons are instructive, comprehensive, constructive and corrective. Preachers need to preach the word and quit worrying about "hurting" feelings. Preach the word in love and let others make up their minds whether they will be in subjection to God's will. "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Preachers and elders don't have the authority to avoid any parts of the word of God.
Where did the days of week long Gospel meetings go? Elders will tell you that Gospel meetings "won't work" anymore. With that type of attitude, you are correct. But elders need to quit "dumbing down" the church. Try leading. Try challenging the membership. I'm sick of leaders who act like whatever members want to do is just how it goes. If that is your attitude, resign. Elders today accept that Sunday evening attendance will be half that of Sunday morning. Wednesday night attendance will be even smaller. Is that acceptable? ABSOLUTELY NOT and I can guarantee that eldership's will answer before God almighty about this pathetic ineptness.
Fifth, elders must have the courage and the willingness to meet error head-on. They must not only be able to exhort in sound doctrine, but also to convict the gainsayers (Titus 1:9).God, through His inspired prophet of the Old Testament era, pronounced a “woe” upon shepherds who allow the sheep to become “food to all the beasts of the field” (Ezek. 34:5). The elder’s task of protecting the church is certainly a stressful one.Dealing with false teachers is never pleasant. But, if we may borrow Harry Truman’s expression, those who can’t take the heat had best get out of the kitchen! Also, one is appalled at the number of elderships (and I use the term loosely) in some places that utterly refuse to have anything to do with religious debates. The church grew mightily when she kindly but forcefully met the opposition of the sects from without and hobbyists from within. I honestly believe that much of the church’s aversion to religious debates today is due to the fact that many, which are weak and uninformed, just do not have total confidence in the doctrine we proclaim. They are denominationalists in attitude if not in action. But churches will never be strong in defense of the gospel until leaderships become strong.The times are crucial. Elders must arise to meet the challenges of the day.
Finally, members of the Lord's church who want change in order to satisfy some selfish desire need to grow up. Christ died for you. God allowed him to come to this earth so that we might have the hope of heaven. When we are instructed to be obedient to the word of God, DO IT! Are we really so self centered that everything has to be about us and our satisfaction and entertainment? That attitude will NOT get you into heaven.
Brethren, future generations of the church are depending upon you!