Know Your Bible
Followers of Christ are to "speak the same thing...have no divisions among you...be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment," I Corinthians 1:10. Also, Jesus prayed for unity in John 17:21.
In my opinion, their pleas have mostly gone unanswered. Look at the inconsistent preaching of denominationalism. Witness the mass confusion in the religious world.
Imagine that an evangelist comes to conduct a meeting at the local church. His first sermon text is that salvation is by faith only. In the next one, he preaches that it is by faith exercised in obedience to the gospel rather than by faith alone. At his third service he declares that either sprinkling, pouring, or immersion is baptism. Then the next night he plainly shows that immersion only is scriptural baptism. At the fifth service he tells the people that they ought to baptize their babies, but at the sixth he says that penitent believers are the only scriptural subjects for baptism. His next lesson is on "once saved, always saved," but in the eighth he tells the people that they can be lost through unbelief after they have been saved.
Wait, enough already! Get that man out of the pulpit and back into Bible study! Can you imagine the confusion his hearers experienced? No thoughtful Bible student would continue to listen to a preacher like that. But, do you know that the majority of people are perfectly willing for ten preachers to preach these conflicting doctrines? That is called denominationalism.
Most agree that if one man preached that way he would contradict himself and be inconsistent, but somehow it is all right for different preachers to preach that way. Friend, do you honestly think God endorses all these conflicting doctrines? Does God send out preachers to preach to them? He does not! God is not the author of such confusion.
It does make a difference what we believe and preach! We must endeavor to "keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," Ephesians 4:1-6. We must be consistent and preach only the word of the Lord.
Catering To The Community
Maybe you've never stopped to think about it, but churches get junk mail too. We get these cellophane wrapped packages of 3x5 cards hawking everything from candy canes to diplomas. As I write this there is a card sitting on my desk that offers me answers about our community. It claims to be much more than demographics. It implies that not only will their company tell me what kinds of people live here, but what they want in a church! The company offering this is in California, but they're going to tell us in Illinois who we are, what we believe and what we want. Is this possible? Unfortunately, it might be.
Certainly it is sensible that business owners in the wholesale and retail markets who have products to sell would want to cater to the needs and wants of the majority. This will result in more sales and profits. Polling the masses will go a long way toward accomplishing this goal.
Many have assumed that using these successful marketing strategies for churches is the way to accomplish growth. If church growth is measured by the physical numbers of people filling a building, then no doubt some of these carnal methods will work.
The mega-church approach is to put a finger to the wind to determine what people want in a church and then provide it in a "Christianized" format This is nothing new. The idolatrous knew how to appeal to the masses, throw a party and call it worship. Under the banner of the cross, crusades were justified and pagans were "invited" to convert. This conversion process was facilitated by taking the pagan holy days and giving their traditions and rituals "Christian" meanings. Today, everything from aerobics to zwiebacks need only have "ministry" tacked on the end of them and some church will justify using them "to reach out to the ' un-churched' and lost."
I know. I sound like a party-pooper, but in a culture that needs to repent but demands to be entertained the last thing churches ought to be providing is entertainment. The Christians that we read about in the scriptures were not busy polling the Roman Empire to see what everybody wanted. Truth was the only thing being offered, and it wasn't liked any better than it is today. Is the gospel still God's power to save (Rom. 1:16), or does it need to be spiced up with just a sprinkle of carnality? Paul wrote, "I...did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Cor. 2:1,2).
Our culture has come to shun serious study of God's word. Many join churches like they join clubs, and their loyalty is to their social affiliation and not Christ. In truth, many are lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power (2 Tim. 3:4,5). Yes, many are eager to identify themselves with a church, but how many could give any scriptural basis for their choice? The doctrine in scripture is too important to place it behind things like personal tastes, traditions and denominational loyalties.
How does a company in California know what we want in our churches? It will ask people like you and me questions such as, "What kind of music do you prefer?" "What kinds of ministries, services and programs would you like to see offered?" As if the opinions and tastes of the majority have any relationship to what is right, good and acceptable to God, we custom design churches to "meet the needs of the community."
The real question we need to be asking is, "What does God want in a church?" It is then the obligation of the community to conform to the will of God. We have spent enough of this lifetime catering to the will of the community. Lets get back to doing God's work in God's way.
We'd Like To Know...
How Acts 2:38 would read if it had been written by the Baptists.
How Col. 2:12 would sound if it had been written by the Methodists.
How I Cor. 14:34 might go if it had been written by the Pentecostals.
How Acts 20:7 would look if it had been written by the Seventh-Day Adventists.
How Matt. 23:9 would read if it had been written by the Catholics.
How Matt 10:28 would appear if it had been written by the Jehovah's Witnesses.
How I Cor. 15:22-24 would be worded if it had been written by Premillennialists.
How James 2:24 would go if it had been written by the Lutherans.
How Heb. 10:25 would look if written by some of my brethren.
Interesting Facts About The Bible
The Bible contains 3,566,480 letters, 773,746 words, 31,102 verses, 1,189 chapters, and 66 books. The Old Testament contains 39 books; the New Testament, 27 books. The average length of a word contains fewer than five letters. What a lesson for the fellow who has a mania for big words!
The word "and" occurs 46,277 times, and the word "reverend" but once (Psa. 111:9). The middle chapter and the
shortest is Psa. 117. It contains only two verses. The middle verse in the Bible is Psa. 118:8. The middle book of the Old
Testament is Proverbs. The middle chapter of the Old Testament is Job 29. The middle verse of the Old Testament is 2 Chron. 20:13. The shortest verse in the Old Testament is 1 Chron. 1:25; the longest, Esther 8:9. The middle book of the New Testament is 2 Thess. The middle chapter in the New Testament is between Rom. 13,14. The middle verse in the New Testament is Acts 17:17. The shortest verse in the New Testament is Jno. 11:35. The longest verse in the Bible is Esther 8:9; it contains ninety words. The longest word in the Bible is found in Isa. 8:1. All the letters of the alphabet, except j, are in Ezra 7:21. The nineteenth chapter of 2 Kings and the thirty-seventh chapter of Isa. are nearly identical.
---compiled by B.C. Goodpasture
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