Monday, June 21, 2010 - When the Line of Defense Fails Since creation, Satan has done everything in his power to confront, mislead and nullify those who are faithful to God’s word. Sadly, Satan has made his most effective advance in the church during our era. The church today is only a fragment of what it might have been. How could this have happened? The early 1900 – 1930 showed the church had grown over 150%.
Knowing that the devil would do all he could to destroy the church of the Lord, God gave ample warnings in the New Testament against his devices. But God also placed within the church a front-line defense to guard against such attacks: the eldership. When they fulfill their Divine obligations, the church can withstand any attack, either from without or within. When they fail, much damage is done.
A popular event each summer across the country, in local congregations of the Lord's church, is the practice of bringing in guest speakers (usually preachers) from another congregation to speak. Elderships have to be very careful in their selections or they can fail in their God given responsibility to guard the congregation they shepherd against Satan’s ploy.
For example, the elders at the Waterview church of Christ, in Richardson, Texas, scheduled the "minister" from Highland Oaks; the largest apostate congregation in Dallas. Unfortunately the Waterview elders don't seem to grasp the doctrine of fellowship. Highland Oaks actions, for many years, has been in direct contrast to the Word of God.Some of their actions include:
1)Women in the role of ministers over education, technology and students.Can women serve in the role of minister given the charge in 2 Timothy 4:2 without violating 1 Timothy 2:12-13?Of course they can’t. 2)Women as teachers in the adult classes where both “Christian” men and women are present which is in direct violation of 1 Timothy 2:12-13. 3)Women in leadership roles over certain portions of worship. 4)The use of praise teams to “facilitate” the singing in worship.These praise teams perform on stage and are made up of both men and women. 5)Participation and encouragement to participate with “Promise Keepers” though there are many serious doctrinal errors associated with this denominationally originated group.
I could go on with other examples but it is very obvious the congregation, for which this man preaches and fellowships, is determined to do things their way as opposed to God’s way.This man should NEVER have been invited and once the elders were informed of some of these issues (which they were), the invitation should have been renounced. The Waterview eldership failed in their God given responsibilities to guard the flock and they need to repent. When bringing in outside speakers from various congregations to speak, the charge elders have is to ensure that the men they are bringing in:
> Hold the pattern of sound words (2 Tim. 1:13; Titus 2:7-8). Greatest care should be exercised in stating truth in the language of inspired writers. The teaching of Christ as given by the Holy Spirit must be upheld (John 16:13-15). The truth should be positively unmixed with the philosophies of men. Preachers must seek to please God (Rom. 15:3), not seek the applause of men (Matt. 6:1-6).
> Preach the Word (2 Tim. 4:1-2). This is prefaced by a most solemn charge. The preacher must adhere strictly to apostolic teaching (2 Tim. 2:2). Take care to teach all that the apostles taught and only that which was delivered by the Spirit through them. The Word of God is inexhaustible. Preachers should study and expound the scriptures, not be content with polishing up sermons of sectarian preachers as too many are now doing. If the preacher devotes himself to unfolding the Scriptures he will never lack for sermon material.
> Reprove, rebuke, and exhort (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Too long the trend has been to speak softly and tread lightly. Note the force in the meaning of Paul’s words: 1) Reprove: "convince, refute, confute, convict, bring to light, expose, find fault with, correct, reprehend severely, chide, admonish, to call to account, show one his fault, chasten, punish" (Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon on elegcho). 2) Rebuke: "To tax with fault, rate, chide, reprove, censure severely, admonish or charge sharply" (Thayer on epitimao). 3) Exhort: "To incite by words or advice; to advise or warn earnestly" (Webster). "Admonish" (Thayer on parakaleo). Two-thirds of this command is negative. In Jeremiah 1:10 the prophet was similarly ordered: "to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant."This is not to be abused, yet when strong measures are demanded the preacher should not hesitate. Let there be strong denunciation of error and sin, and strong entreaty for souls to turn from them.
> Expose sin without partiality (Titus 1:13-16; 1 Tim. 5:20-21). God is no respecter of persons (Rom. 2:11). The preacher must be as impartial in his dealings. The church should be purged of evil. The truth must always be obeyed! We cannot honor God and wink at evil. The rich should be warned as well as the poor (1 Tim. 6:16-19).
> Warn against apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1-6). To be a good minister of Christ, the preacher will warn against digression and apostasy. It is presently urgent that all faithful preachers wield the sword of the Spirit against the encroachments of liberalism that now seek to permeate the church of the Lord. Satan is alert to every opportunity to turn souls from truth. We serve Satan's cause when we fail to warn against error.
There are other characteristics that men who fill the pulpit should have, but the firm understanding is these are to be men of faith, not given to false teaching and are to “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph.5:11).
My friends, the issue we are discussing is one of fellowship.It is not one that is discussed much in the pulpit because it requires calling on Christians to give up relationships that God tells them, through the scriptures, that they need to.It requires men to understand and put into practice what the Bible has to say about the subject of fellowship and not just wink it off as so many do.
We must understand what the basis for fellowship is according to God, not what men say that it is.Consider the following verses:
1.2 John 9-11 - Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God: he that abideth in the teaching, the same hath both the Father and the Son.If any one cometh unto you, and bringeth not this teaching, receive him not into [your] house, and give him no greeting: for he that giveth him greeting partaketh in his evil works. 1.1.Those who do not abide in the teachings of Christ do not have authority for what they are doing. 1.2.Receiving such a one means you are a partaker in those evil tasks. 1.2.1.Application – once this preacher went to work for and fully fellowshipped this apostate church, he became a partaker of their evil deeds.Once the elders at said congregation extended the hand of fellowship to him, they became partakers of their evil deeds also for they failed to identify error, mark them and avoid them. 1.3.Our break in fellowship must come at the point where one’s convictions must be compromised in order for the fellowship to be maintained. 1.4.Sin is darkness.We are to walk in the light (the truth of God’s word).Darkness and light CANNOT abide together! 1.5.We cannot extend the “right hand of fellowship” to a disciple when his beliefs and/or practices force one to join in matters which are opposed to scriptural teaching. 2.God’s law of Inclusion and Exclusion 2.1.Christian fellowship (God’s inclusion) should be extended to every penitent believer who obeys the baptism of the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-5) and who walks in the light of God’s word as a child of God. 2.2.We cannot fellowship those (God’s law of exclusion) those who do NOT walk in the light (1 John 1:7) but walk disorderly (2 Thes. 3:6-15) and/or are involved in the unfruitful works of darkness (Eph. 5:11) and/or does not abide in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9-11). 2.3.While God desires unity, he is not pleased with all that man calls unity.
These are two very basic points why this man should not be allowed in the pulpit of a congregation that has a desire to be faithful to God.
So the question must be raised: why would any eldership, if they knew it, invite such a one who has thus compromised and fellowshipped such, into the congregation for a meeting or any other activity? Sometimes the answer to that question is that the eldership is ignorant of the danger, or of the participation of someone in such things, or both! The reason for such ignorance is usually because the elders have not kept themselves informed of such matters! That was not the case in this matter for the elders were fully warned of the situation.
Brethren, what a congregation is now, and especially what it will be ten, fifteen, or twenty years from now is being decided RIGHT NOW in the leadership of its elders. In the apostasy of the previous century, we lost eighty-five percent of our congregations to the digression. It was virtually because of the same problem. How many of our congregations will be lost to the current digression that is assailing our brotherhood?
Elders, will you be responsible for saving or losing your congregation? How many souls will perish if you fail to take a firm stand and "fight the good fight of faith?" When elders fail to guard the flock in the manner we have discussed in this article, they need to repent to God for their failure in this matter and also to apologize to the congregation they oversee for their actions.
The Waterview church of Christ elders need to repent.
This is not my opinion. It is God's Word that says so.