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
The Antidote to Change - Humility, Repentance, Fear of God’s Wrath
Matthew 5:3 “BLESSED are THE POOR IN SPIRIT: FOR THEIRS IS THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.”
Matthew 5:5 “BLESSED are THE MEEK: FOR THEY SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH.”
The church of or Lord can still find her way out of this mess of confusion created by the constant and continuing clamor for change but it is going to take some serious self analysis and soul searching by a lot of our brethren. Both those who have sown this confusion and those who have embraced it will have to display the crucial biblical qualities of shame, penitence, sorrow and humility. Those who have been a part of the apostasy will need to pursue holiness; for the Hebrew writer tells us:
Hebrews “FOLLOW PEACE WITH ALL men, AND HOLINESS, WITHOUT WHICH NO MAN SHALL SEE THE LORD.”
Like Moses nephews (Nadab and Abihu; Leviticus 10:1-3), those that are destroying churches by leading them into this mass of confusion have insulted God and earned His displeasure by engaging in disrespectful conduct that fails to honor his commandments; fails to hold his word as holy.
In contrast Christ wants His followers to be meek and poor in spirit as noted in the beginning scriptures. Still necked arrogance has no place in God’s Kingdom even when we’re right! Paul also wrote:
Philippians 2:3-4 (Confraternity.) “DO NOTHING OUT OF CONTENTIOUSNESS OR OUT OF VAINGLORY, BUT IN HUMILITY LET EACH ONE REGARD THE OTHERS AS HIS SUPERIORS, EACH ONE LOOKING NOT TO HIS OWN INTERESTS BUT THOSE OF OTHERS.”
Every action undertaken, every practical decision made, every effort promoted within the church ought to be approached in the absence of strife, i.e., without the intention of creating contention or hurt feelings among other Christians. He who goes ahead with his agenda of change with the attitude that those who disagree can “lump it,” is guilty of unmitigated pride and is condemned on that basis.
How can contention or strife due to pride be avoided? The believer must possess “lowliness of mind.” Paul, again, gives us examples:
Romans 12:3 “FOR I SAY, THROUGH THE GRACE GIVEN UNTO ME, TO EVERY MAN THAT IS AMONG YOU, NOT TO THINK of himself MORE HIGHLY THAN HE OUGHT TO THINK; BUT TO THINK SOBERLY, ACCORDING AS GOD HATH DEALT TO EVERY MAN THE MEASURE OF FAITH.”
Romans “be OF THE SAME MIND ONE TOWARD ANOTHER. MIND NOT HIGH THINGS, BUT CONDESCEND TO MEN OF LOW ESTATE. BE NOT WISE IN YOUR OWN CONCEITS.”
The Christian must be in possession of a sober, accurate assessment of his own person. He must not be puffed up with an inappropriate sense of self-worth. Believers must “ESTEEM OTHERS BETTER THAN THEMSELVES.” The believer must perceive others favorably in relation to himself. He must possess healthy respect and love for his fellow man as Jesus instructs us:
Matthew “AND THE SECOND is LIKE UNTO IT, THOU SHALT LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF.”
We need a massive dose of humility. Arrogance abounds in our day in the form of men who will do what they want in spite of what God’s direction may be; Men who are determined to deviate from the old paths. Men who claim to be intellectual and with their smug, self-righteous attitudes claim to correct what they call the ignorance of our forefathers and the mis-directions of the past. When churches are confronted today by faithful men who are working to warn, inform, and turn those churches from the error of their way, they encounter precisely what Hezekiah’s messengers faced:
II Chronicles 30:10 “SO THE POST PASSED FROM CITY TO CITY THROUGH THE COUNTRY OF EPHRAIM AND MANESSEH EVEN UNTO ZEBULUN: BUT THEY LAUGHED THEM TO SCORN, AND MOCKED THEM.”
Or they are looked upon as being unloving, divisive and destructive. If we cannot humble ourselves to accept “thus saith the Lord”, listen to God, and be willing to conform to his words, we have no hope as James tells us.
James 4:6 “BUT HE GIVETH MORE GRACE. WHEREFORE HE SAITH, GOD RESISTETH THE PROUD, BUT GIVETH GRACE UNTO THE HUMBLE.”
the damage caused by these attitudes and the changes that are sweeping through our
brotherhood today will require the revival of a sense of shame; shame that will
lead to repentance. We have to go back
and capture the frame of mind that the priests and Levites had when Hezekiah lead
his restoration movement and restored proper worship to
II Chronicles 30:15 “THEN THEY KILLED THE PASSOVER ON THE FOURTEETH day OF THE SECOND MONTH: AND THE PRIESTS AND THE LEVITES WERE ASHAMED, AND SANCTIFIED THEMSELVES, AND BROUGHT IN THE BURNT OFFERINGS INTO THE HOUSE OF THE LORD.”
Many people don’t know what shame is any more. The same calluses that keep us from blushing over the moral decay that is taking place around us is keeping people from feeling a remorse because they have broken God’s laws or they have defied God’s commandments. Many people actually think today that feelings of guilt and shame are counterproductive to their self-esteem and contrary to a healthy psychological outlook. We’ve been taught this by those who have soaked themselves in the wisdom of men.
directly opposite of the attitude that we should have as children of God. When we violate God’s will, He wants us to be
ashamed! He wants us to follow the
example of Saul. We have the most
arrogant and self-righteous of the most arrogant and self-righteous sect of Judaism
blinded on the road to
“AND HE TREMBLING AND ASTONISHED SAID, LORD, WHAT WILT THOU HAVE ME TO DO? AND THE LORD said UNTO HIM, ARISE, AND GO INTO THE CITY, AND IT SHALL BE TOLD THEE WHAT THOU MUST DO.” Acts 9:6
Or the jailer in Acts . He wants us to be pricked in our hearts. He wants us to have the attitude of those who heard Peter on Pentecost.
Acts “NOW WHEN THEY HEARD this, THEY WERE PRICKED IN THEIR HEART, AND SAID UNTO PETER AND TO THE REST OF THE APOSTLES, MEN and BRETHREN, WHAT SHALL WE DO?”
He wants us to feel godly sorrow because that is the only thing that will bring us to the point of repentance. That is the only thing that will cause us to make the changes that we really need to make; to return our teaching, our practice and our worship to God’s pattern. We must become as the Corinthians when they received Paul’s first letter:
II Corinthians 7:8-11 “FOR THOUGH I MADE YOU SORRY WITH A LETTER, I DO NOT REPENT, THOUGH I DID REPENT: FOR I PERCIEVE THAT THE SAME EPISTLE HATH MADE YOU SORRY, THOUGH it were BUT FOR A SEASON. NOW I REJOICE, NOT THAT YE WERE MADE SORRY, BUT THAT YE SORROWED TO REPENTANCE: FOR YE WERE MADE SORRY AFTER A GODLY MANNER, THAT YE MIGHT RECEIVE DAMAGE BY US IN NOTHING. FOR GODLY SORROW WORKETH REPENTANCE TO SALVATION NOT TO BE REPENTED OF BUT THE SORROW OF THE WORLD WORKETH DEATH. FOR BEHOLD THIS SELFSAME THING, THAT YE SORROWED AFTER A GODLY SORT, WHAT CAREFULNESS IT WROUGHT IN YOU, YEA, what CLEARING OF YOURSELVES, YEA, what INDIGNATION, YEA, what FEAR, YEA, what VEHEMENT DESIRE, YEA, what ZEAL, YEA, what REVENGE! IN ALL things HE HAVE APPROVED YOURSELVES TO BE CLEAR IN THIS MATTER.”
Fear of God’s Wrath
One of the reasons that many people don’t blush anymore; one of the reasons that many people don’t understand the concept of remorse for something that violates God’s commandments; one of the reasons that too many people don’t understand their need to repent is that too many people don’t understand that our patient, loving God is also a God of wrath. They are like those that Paul described in Romans 3; summarizing his description in verse 18:
Romans “THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD IN THEIR EYES.”
Northwestern University School of Education survey of five hundred ministers
from various denominational groups yielded the following results: When asked the question, “Is there a heaven?”
only 59 percent said yes. (We wonder why
they claim to worship God.) But when asked
the questions, “Is there a Hell?” only 31 percent said yes. When asked, “Should we teach there is a
Hell?” only 20 percent said yes. Less
than a third believe in Hell and only one fifth say that we should teach that
Hell exists. A recent
In order for us to bring about repentance among our wayward and apostate brethren one of the first things we are going to have to do is to rekindle an awareness of the wrath of God. Mine and your Bibles still teach that a place is being prepared by Jesus Christ for those who fail to obey that is called “HELL”! The Bible describes in considerable detail a Judgment Day that is coming, at which time all human beings who have ever lived will be judged and consigned for all eternity to one of two realms: Heaven or Hell. Coming to grips with the reality of Hell can help to jolt those who need the attitude adjustment that will bring them back into a right relationship with God.
Our English term “Hell” is from the Greek term “gehenna” and is used in the New Testament to refer to the place of final punishment. Jesus used the term eleven times and James used the term one time in James 3:6 Consider the following from Jesus himself:
Matthew 25:31-32 “WHEN THE SON OF MAN SHALL COME IN HIS GLORY, AND ALL THE HOLY ANGELS WITH HIM, THEN SHALL HE SIT UPON THE THRONE OF HIS GLORY: AND BEFORE HIM SHALL BE GATHERED ALL NATIONS: AND HE SHALL SEPARATE THEM ONE FROM ANOTHER, AS A SHEPHEARD DIVIDETH his SHEEP FROM THE GOATS:”
Matthew 25:41 “THEN SHALL HE SAY ALSO UNTO THEM ON THE LEFT HAND, DEPART FROM ME, YE CURSED, INTO EVERLASTING FIRE, PREPARED FOR THE DEVIL AND ANGELS:”
Matthew 25:46 “AND THESE SHALL GO AWAY INTO EVERLASTING PUNISHMENT: BUT THE RIGHTEOUS INTO LIFE ETERNAL.”
“But does the Bible teach that Hell is a place of continuing, eternally conscious pain?” Even within churches of Christ, some are saying, “No.” These people are contributing to the weakening of doctrinal conviction and commitment to obedience that characterizes the current landslide of change. But the Bible is explicit and precise in its insistence that Hell is a place of perpetual consignment characterized by unending punishment.
Let us examine some of the phrases used in the New Testament to describe the nature of Hell. In Matthew ; ; 24:51; 25:30 and Luke we find the phrase “THERE WILL BE WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH” – obviously signifying pain and suffering. In Matthew 13:42, 50 we find the phrase “FURNACE OF FIRE,” stressing further the fact that the pain will be severe. In Matthew 22:13 and 25:30 we find reference to “OUTER DARKNESS.” Notice that all of these phrases “WEEPING AND GNASHING OF TEETH,” “FURNACE OF FIRE,” AND “OUTER DARKNESS,” emphasize the fact that Hell will be a place where the wicked and disobedient will be permanently and forever consigned to a place of agony and the isolation of total darkness.
Does Hell exist? Absolutely! The Bible teaches the existence of Hell as clearly as it teaches the existence of Heaven, God and Christ. If we believe the Bible, if we believe Jesus Christ, if we believe God, we must believe in Hell.
The fear of Hell is not the most mature motivation for obeying God and living faithfully to Him because our obedience to God should be motivated by love and God tells us that in:
I John “THERE IS NO FEAR IN LOVE; BUT PERFECT LOVE CASTETH OUT FEAR: BECAUSE FEAR HATH TORMENT. HE THAT FEARETH IS NOT MADE PERFECT IN LOVE.”
But it certainly is a scriptural motive for causing a person to consider how he’s living in this life in order that he might be prepared to leave this life in good graces with God. In fact, the failure to give full recognition to the reality of Hell and eternal punishment has created a climate that is conducive to softened doctrinal convictions and opened the way for unscriptural change.
We need a renewed awareness of God’s anger. Our generation has so mis-emphasized and distorted the love, grace and compassion of God that we no longer have a healthy respect for the wrath of God. Statements like, “it is A FEARFUL THING TO FALL INTO THE HANDS OF THE LIVING GOD.” (Hebrews ) and “OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE “(Hebrews ) and “KNOWING, THEREFORE, THE TERROR OF THE LORD,” (II Corinthians ) have no meaning to many people today – even in the church.
way out of our dilemma, the only solution to the chaos that has been generated
by those who would change the