This series of 26 lessons was developed for classroom presentation from the book by David Miller that should be required reading for every preacher, elder, and Bible school teacher in the Lord’s church: “Piloting The Strait”.  This book is available from a variety of bookstores, Sain Publications at www.sainpublicans.com as well as from David Miller at www.apologeticspress.org.

 

CHANGES IN THE CHURCH

SOURCES OF CHANGE-POLITICS

 

Jeremiah 6:16  THUS SAITH THE LORD, STAND YE IN THE WAYS, AND SEE, AND ASK FOR THE OLD PATHS, WHERE is THE GOOD WAY, AND WALK THEREIN, AND YE SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.  BUT THEY SAID, WE WILL NOT WALK therein.”

 

Proverbs 16:25  “THERE IS A WAY THAT SEEMETH RIGHT UNTO A MAN, BUT THE END THEREOF are THE WAYS OF DEATH.”

 

            First of all, let me express one personal preference:  I don’t like the terms liberal and conservative when applied to brethren in Christ.  We are either faithful or unfaithful, sound or not sound, obedient children of God or living in rebellion.  God is neither “liberal” nor “conservative”.

            In the first lesson is this series we pointed out a variety of ways that the changes in our culture during the past few years are helping to influence the attitudes of the people that are driving for change in the Lord’s church.  American politics provides us with further proof and many similarities that should help us understand what is happening in the church and why.

            The political arena today has abandoned right and wrong and turned itself to embrace that which is considered “politically correct.”  More often than not this turns out to be the private agenda of any group of people who can make a lot of noise and appear to represent a majority view, whether they do or not.  Even through during the prior administrations in the 1980’s, when there was a momentary backlash, these liberal political theories continue to dominate our country.  In fact our newest former president was probably one of the most immoral we’ve ever had and even actions such as lying were given a more politically correct description.

            Probably the most ironic thing about all this is that the liberal attitudes and viewpoints that are wreaking havoc on the American political scene are the same liberal attitudes and viewpoints that are wreaking havoc in the church.

            The political liberal and the religious liberal share much in common.  They also display a smug, holier than thou air toward those who do not share their views.  They look upon us who do not agree with their thinking as being ignorant, narrow-minded and not capable of understanding their vastly superior opinions.  Opposition and disagreement bring about a mixture of irrational panic and open hostility that will not even allow a fair hearing of an opposing position.  I can promise you that if you raise the corner of the sheepskin the wolf in sheep’s clothing is wearing you’ll generate a snarl and a snap.

            There are a number of parallels that we could draw between the political liberal and the religious liberal; they mirror and complement each other in many ways.  But let’s consider the following for our purposes:

 

1.     Political liberals, in order to replace conservative opponents, call for what they call “change” and “progress.”  Religious liberals likewise are clamoring for “change”, “renewal”, and for us to “adapt” and to listen to every “wind of change.”  They have chosen to ignore the fact that God set in place His law, completed His revelation almost 2000 years ago and nothing has or will change.  They’ve forgotten:

 

            Ephesians 4:14  “THAT WE henceforth BE NO MORE CHILDREN, TOSSED TO AND FRO, AND CARRIED ABOUT WITH EVERY WIND OF DOCTRINE, BY THE SLEIGHT OF MEN, and CUNNING CRAFTINESS, WHEREBY THEY LIE IN WAIT TO DECEIVE;”

 

2.     The feminist movement that emerged from the 1960s and progressed through the ERA legislation in the 1970s has continued; perhaps even increased its political clout in the 1990s and continues into the new century.  More and more of the denominations are ordaining women ministers and those that already had women priests and preachers now are adding more percentage wise every day.  They choose to ignore the authority of God:

 

            I Timothy 2:12-15  BUT I SUFFER NOT A WOMAN TO TEACH, NOR TO USURP AUTHORITY OVER THE MAN, BUT TO BE IN SILENCE.  FOR ADAM WAS FIRST FORMED, THEN EVE.  AND ADAM WAS NOT DECEIVED, BUT THE WOMAN BEING DECEIVED WAS IN THE TRANSGRESSION. NOTHWITHSTANDING SHE SHALL BE SAVED IN CHILDBEARING, IF THEY CONTINUE IN FAITH AND CHARITY AND HOLINESS WITH SOBRIETY.”

 

3.     Political liberals have worked overtime to break down public morality.  The cry in the 1960s was “free love” and the “New Morality.”  Young people “shacked up.”  The prevailing viewpoint in politics is that “you can’t legislate morality,” “don’t impose your own standards upon others.”  Divorce and remarriage for any excuse is commonplace.  Religious liberals have aligned themselves with this sorry state of affairs by ignoring the words of Jesus in Matthew 5 and 19.  They have fashioned themselves multiple opinions on divorce and remarriage, redefined “adultery” and given encouragement to those living in adultery to continue by their “You’re OK, I’m OK’ attitude.  People today think nothing of men and women living together and bringing children into the world without even a semblance of marriage.  As homosexuals continue to push for legal, political and social acceptance they are gathering a lot of political support, primarily by their ability to make a noise far beyond the strength of their actual numbers, and, yes sad to say even in the church there are those who endorse such behavior.  As early as 1979, an organization known as “A Cappella Chorus” was formed in Houston, Texas which claimed to be a “fellowship” of “gay and lesbian” members of the Houston area church of Christ.”  They also claimed that additional “Chorus fellowships” had been begun in Los Angeles, Nashville and Seattle.  In the Dallas Morning News under the date of September 10th, (not sure what year) we find that the preacher for the Richardson East Church of Christ who does a lot of counseling to people with AIDS quoted as follows: “I don’t think we should pursue a pattern of condemnation.  That’s not what Jesus did”  “Many of the people with AIDS who have come to Mr. James have been gay men.  The minister said he does not believe homosexuality is a sin.”  I wonder if this man’s Bible still contains these words:

 

Romans 1:25-27  WHO CHANGED THE TRUTH OF GOD INTO A LIE, AND WORSHIPPED AND SERVED THE CREATURE MORE THAN THE CREATOR, WHO IS BLESSED FOR EVER. AMEN.  FOR THIS CAUSE GOD GAVE THEM UP UNTO VILE AFFECTIONS FOR EVEN THEIR WOMEN DID CHANGE THE NATURAL USE INTO THAT WHICH IS AGAINST NATURE: AND LIKEWISE ALSO THE MEN, LEAVING THE NATURAL USE OF THE WOMAN, BURNED IN THEIR LUST ONE TOWARD ANOTHER, MEN WITH MEN WORKING THAT WHICH IS UNSEEMLY, AND RECEIVING IN THEMSELVES THAT RECOMPENSE OF THEIR ERROR WHICH WAS MEET.”

 

As I said I wonder if this so-called preacher’s Bible still has these verses in it or whether he’s taken his penknife like Jehoiakim, king of Judah, did the scroll with the words of God written by Jeremiah:

 

Jeremiah 36:23  “AND IT CAME TO PASS, that WHEN JEHUDI HAD READ THREE OR FOUR LEAVES, HE CUT IT WITH THE PENKNIFE, AND CAST it INTO THE FIRE THAT was ON THE HEARTH, UNTIL ALL THE ROLL WAS CONSUMED IN THE FIRE THAT was ON THE HEARTH.”

 

4.     Political liberals represent themselves as being truly caring and compassionate.  Because political conservatives insist on moral right and wrong, they are painted as intolerant, harsh, cold and uncaring, unconcerned about the poor and the elderly.  Just listen for a little while to the political rhetoric and this fact should be obvious.  The liberal in the church makes the same claim for himself and levels the same charge against the religious conservative, or those like us who consider and teach that the New Testament is Christ’s law, and a pattern for our conduct; calling us “legalistic,” “mean-spirited,” “unloving,” and “the radical right.”  Oh, we have a radical right, binding where God has not bound, but they are just as far out of God’s bounds as the rank liberal.

 

5.  The liberal politician demonstrates a lust for big government, more and more expensive programs and more and more intrusion into people’s private lives taking more and more control.  In the church, religious liberals are behind the mushrooming staffs of salaried “ministers” with a “senior minister” who possesses tremendous power over the congregation and its programs.  Many times usurping the role of elders and becoming “Pastors” as in the denominations.  Liberals theorize that progress and growth is generated by the means of artificial programs, “methodology” and systems management.  They have abandoned the idea expressed by the Holy Spirit through Paul:

 

I Corinthians 3:5-7  WHO THEN IS PAUL, AND WHO is APOLLOS, BUT MINISTERS BY WHOM YE BELIEVED, EVEN AS THE LORD GAVE TO EVERY MAN? I HAVE PLANTED, APOLLOS WATERED; BUT GOD GAVE THE INCREASE.  SO THEN NEITHER IS HE THAT PLANTETH ANY THING, NEITHER HE THAT WATERETH, BUT GOD THAT GIVETH THE INCREASE.”

 

6.     The political liberal feels that his agenda is just and he is therefore justified in doing whatever it takes to achieve his objectives.  The end justifies the means whether we can afford it or not.  The religious liberal follows the same practice.

 

7.     The American welfare state is rooted in the liberal, even Marxist, idea that everyone, without regard to their own effort, deserves to receive free handouts from their government.  Much of what they support in terms of legislation is directed at redistributing our country’s wealth, an idea rooted in Marxism.  Liberals think that the purpose of government is to support its citizens and that citizens have a right to have their physical needs met by the government.  God’s instruction recorded by Paul is ignored:

 

II Thessalonians 3:10-11 “FOR EVEN WHEN WE WERE WITH YOU, THIS WE COMMANDED YOU, THAT IF ANY WOULD NOT WORK, NEITHER SHOULD HE EAT.  FOR WE HEAR THAT THERE ARE SOME WHICH WALK AMONG YOU DISORDERLY, WORKING NOT AT ALL, BUT ARE BUSYBODIES.”

 

8.  The political liberal questions the existence of objective truth and human ability to know what that truth is.  Objective standards, measures and rules are undermined or eliminated.  Making “righteous judgments” or discerning between right and wrong is frowned upon and even condemned.  The religious liberal follows the same pattern.  It is considered to be more sophisticated, smart and mature to see a large gray area and less and less black and white.  Taking a strong stand for anything is seen as “dogmatic.”  They pride themselves in their lack of conviction and consider themselves wise if they pretend to see and agree with all sides of an issue.  Those who would change the church follow the same example.  In fact the only objective “truth” that they see that deserves any real consideration is that which opposes “us old hidebound conservatives,” “five steppers,” “legalists,” who insist upon “speaking where the Bible speaks” and being “silent where the Bible is silent” and taking the Word of God as our only rule of faith.

            But there is a body of absolute, objective truth and we can know what that truth is:

 

John 1:1  IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD, AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD.”

 

John 17:16-17  THEY ARE NOT OF THE WORLD, EVEN AS I AM NOT OF THE WORLD.  SANCTIFY THEM THROUGH THY TRUTH: THY WORD IS TRUTH.”

 

John 8:31-32  THEN SAID JESUS TO THOSE JEWS WHICH BELIEVED ON HIM, IF YE CONTINUE IN MY WORD, then ARE YE MY DISCIPLES INDEED; AND YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.”