Demas deserted Paul, “since he loved the present age” 2 Tim 4.10. In his commentary, Wm. Barclay engages in much speculation about what might have happened to Demas. Love for the present age or world comes in many forms. It is opposed to love of the God who rules for all the ages, who is eternal. He who loves the present age hates the age to come. Living in the present age prevents one from living for the next. Whatever form that love of the present age takes, it sucks out of the room all the oxygen of eternal ambition, it crowds out the search for things above, it dampens enthusiasm for spiritual things. Love for the present age puts man in the center and removes God from the throne. The flesh reigns, the spirit dies, and hope in the redemption of Christ becomes but a faint memory.
WHEN WILL WE LISTEN TO GOD?
Someone has observed that what affects the larger religious world sooner or later adversely affects the churches of Christ. Sadly, that seems to be the case. The denial of the historical accuracy of certain portions of the Bible, a denial of baptism as a condition of salvation from sin, the notion that the church is just another denomination among denominations, the acceptance of instrumental music in worship in some congregations, the push for women preachers, the denial of eternal punishment in hell, and, in some cases, classical liberal theology (“the Bible is wrong about many things,” to quote one theologically liberal preacher who went to the Disciples of Christ denomination a number of years ago) are but a few of the things from the denominational world that have invaded some churches of Christ. Continue reading
I’m sure it happens to congregations with memberships under 100, but for congregations with a membership of 300+ it sure seems to happen quite often: the “numbers” dip, the “panic” sets in, and the search for a more “open-minded” preacher begins – with the “elders” often leading the search from behind the flock.
Soon afterwards, grace becomes a concept instead of a doctrine, and doctrine becomes a dirty-word; the concern for the straight and narrow gives way to new horizons, new wineskins and new fellowships. This is followed by “contemporary” worship practices with women becoming a key part to the public services. Ultimately it becomes fashionable to refer to denominations as tribes, the church of Christ included; and then in one fashion or another, the means of finding salvation in Christ becomes completely foreign to the scriptures.
Such has always been the case, and such will always be the case for those who become more concerned with the hundreds than with the 144,000.
“For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29-30)
Some things just don’t mix and some things have no business mingling. Even the word of God says so (1 Corinthians 15:33, 2 Corinthians 6:17-18).
This thought came to mind last night when I saw a story on a local News station about one of the videos that has been nominated for the “Christian Music” award named after a particular bird. The video actually featured and praised a prominent homosexual for their example of overcoming a physical illness – not their sin!
That’s cheap religion. That’s a promotion void of godliness. That’s an emotional plea that casts the necessity of repentance to the side. And that’s why the majority of religious people are walking the broad way that leads to Hell (Matthew 7:13-14).
God’s grace, our faith and the salvation that’s meant to follow is not about us living the way our flesh decides and then going to Heaven when life is over. It’s about a determinate decision to respond to the grace of God which teaches us, through faith, that we should be “denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:12-13).
Experience has shown me that the vast majority of what’s called “Christian Music” is a label that’s woefully deceptive. It promotes false doctrine. It appeals to the masses as cutting edge. And, as this “nominated video” has plainly revealed, it’s a tool of the Devil that’s used to bring glory to the message of entertainers and entertainment instead of glory to God and the gospel message of sin, repentance, restoration, righteousness, service and salvation.
“ For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:8-12)
Jim Dearman (of Good News Today) was our guest speaker for our gospel meeting this past week, and last night he delivered an excellent sermon on “Putting the Cart Before the Horse”.
One of the things that he talked about was the negative influence of worldliness in the church and I jotted down a couple of things that he said, and I wanted to pass along one of them this morning.
In relation to Colossians 3:1-3 he said:
A lot of members of the Lord’s church are sick of the world, but they’re not dead to it.
I suppose this a truth that effects of all us from teenagers to retirees in our own way. Nevertheless it’s something that we must all be aware of, and it’s something that we must overcome, or at least stay away from, lest it finds a home within our hearts and overcome us.
“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness…Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 12-13)
We in the church don’t realize how Catholic we are. Recently, a friend quoted a teacher of his in training school to that effect. By that the professor apparently meant that we still suffer much influence from the Roman church in the way we act and speak. Whether or not he is talking mainly of the Brazilian church or included the American servants and congregations he knows, I can’t say.
I also don’t know if he was referring to non-essentials or to teachings and practices he considers essential. Without a context, it’s hard to know what he meant by it. But in some significant and disturbing way, apparently, the teacher thinks we need to get away from such influence. Otherwise, he probably would let it slide and not disturb the students’ peace of mind. Continue reading
A young family moved in recently near my office. At times, I can hear them yelling, even screaming, at each other and at the two small children, to whom especially my heart goes out. It reminds me that without the Lord, people have little idea how to act in wisdom for happiness, though they search frantically for it. Those who do have some measure of happiness are often influenced by Christian principles, whether they admit it or not.
• The world is a sad and sorry place, without God. People may wax eloquent about how wonderful the world is and how great life is, but usually beneath the praise hide a malaise, a frustration, and, yes, a desperation to possess the dream. Christians must never forget that their neighbors and coworkers aren’t usually the happy folk they pretend to be.
• Down in southern Brazil, some 245 people were killed, most by smoke inhalation, in a nightclub fire, at a special celebration for university graduates in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Horrible tragedy, as was the ACU student killed and the five injured on their way Friday night to a dance hall in Abilene.
Although such as these make headlines, I regularly see news of people shot or dead from drugs at such places. This is the world’s idea of fun. Sadly, some Christians have bought into it. I don’t intend to heap insults on the dead, but the world’s version of happiness is too often a dangerous thing.
• One reason we can’t evangelize the world is because we’ve not yet gotten out of it.
• When you want to change your actions, where do you start? In the mind, of course. And to change the mind, the only true power is God’s, to give us, as Paul said, the mind of Christ, 1Co 2.16. When you have that, you can be sure your life will be like his as well.
• Scripture is laced with excuses of those who failed to do God’s will: Adam and Eve, Cain, Moses, how many others? In Moses’ case, excuses on top of excuses riled the holy ire, because he was weaseling out of the divine call. Our powers of self-justification are among the most finely honed skills.
The Jews attempted to justify themselves by works of merit. Today, such “legalism” isn’t so much the problem as our attempt to justify ourselves by exculpatory words.
• Are there not times, and perhaps they often dog our steps, when spiritual drought sets in and little enough results appear, compared to the effort put forth? Such times require repeated readings of such verses as 1Co 15.58: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (NLT). Such truths as these must ring in our ears: Continue reading
The apostle John warns, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him, because all that is in the world (the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the arrogance produced by material possessions) is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever” (1 John 2:15-17).
This teaching concentrates on the need for believers to separate themselves from the world. What practical tips would you offer someone who is seeking to live out this message?
News from the churches?
My article today continues my study of the Trail of Tears and how we can learn from the experiences of the Cherokees. My main point today is that the Cherokees became just like the White settlers and were still driven out of their lands. Why do we think that Satan will be any different when we pursue worldliness, hoping that the world will finally be “nice” to us? Read more on the Trail of Tears (2)