This is my final post on this blog “View from Pleasant Hill”. My current situation makes it necessary for me to rid myself of any past baggage and begin anew. I will be starting my new blog very soon. Thank you to all of those who read these diatribes. Some will be moved over to the new blog as needed.
September 12, 2010 is the day I have made my stand for what I believe is right. This morning, I preached on “The Good Seed” from Matthew 13. It was a lesson on horticulture, church history, restoration history, and the truth. The following is part of my conclusion. It is a watershed point in a decade-long struggle with the truth of the Word of God.
I have been, for the most part, self-taught. I am not influenced by some school, paper, or denominational hierarchy; I can study and think for myself. I have fought these issues in my head and in my heart for a long time. I have prayed about it. I have talked with those who, like me, have gone through this process. Here I must make my stand. The error, from where I sit, is on those who sought to incorporate what is not authorized in scripture. It is those, and not you and me, who have placed us where we are. It is those who came before us, who made the decisions to place us here. Yet, we are individually accountable for what we do. I cannot stay in that place. I must preach the convictions of my head and heart. It is my earnest prayer that you will grant me the privilege to do so, and to join me in standing for the Truth……..
You may hear things that you haven’t heard for a long time, or never before. I encourage you – check your Bible. If it doesn’t match up, tell me and we’ll talk. If it does, then we have a choice – obey and please God, or disregard it, and take our chances. Do you want to do that with your eternal soul. I can’t any longer.
The Independent Christian Church, with its slippery slope path toward liberalism and its headlong slide into denominationalism, cannot be saved. Today I am taking my stand with those who respect Bible authority and the respect of Bible silence. I can do no other (as I once heard of someone saying). I have chosen to “stand and fight”. to try to lead the flock that I am privileged to feed to the knowledge of the truth. I will be talking more about this in the time ahead. Please pray for me and us as we go down this road.
Last week, the husband of my cousin was tragically killed in a truck accident just outside of Nashville. He had been laid off form his job the day before, and when my cousin called about his life insurance benefit, they said that he had been terminated just before his death.
A few days alter, one of my coworkers was on his way home form work, sitting at a traffic light, minding his own business, when a garbage truck struck him from behind, sending him though a guardrail, killing him instantly.
These incidents – as most deaths that hit close to home do – stir my thoughts toward evangelism. Both of these me left behind wives and children and family and friends who loved them. Yet, in both cases, I am left with something else – a question: did we do enough to insure their eternal life? Was there something we could have said or done to make sure that the first thing they see on that side of eternity is NOT weeping and gnashing of teeth, but of bliss, rest, and joy?
We see the value of life insurance every day. And, while I am no insurance salesman’s shill, I know it is one of the most selfless things one can do for their family. Yet, we overlook what happens on the other side of death. We are assured that all of us will face death, and after that, we face the judgment. That is a certainty. And, while salvation should never be looked at as a fire escape from hell, it should be looked at as an assurance, a promise, an earnest from God that He will keep us and deliver us into His eternal rest, if we are faithful. The promises Jesus made to the churches in the book of Revelation are contingent on faithfulness.
We can be “insurance poor” (like I am – lots of insurance, and the bills to prove it!) but can be in the worse state of spiritual bankruptcy: For what does it profit if a man gains the whole word, but loses his soul?
I don’t think it is unhealthy for us to occasionally take stock of our efforts to save souls. Where we ahve failed, we need to repent, and seek to do better. If there are methods and tools we need to use, or we need to stop using, we need to do so. And, if we haven’t been doing, we need to repent and do. One only succeeds greatly if they are willing to fail greatly. Yet, we are promised that faithfulness will reap in due season.
Paul told Timothy to “Preach the word. Be instant – in season and out of season…” (2 Timothy 4:1- 2) Last I checked, its either in or out of season. So, we need to be ready to give an account at any time ( 1 Pete r 3:15). We need to study and prepare to be able, when needed, to make our presentation of, not life insurance, but “eternal life assurance”.
My Facebook post said it all: “ I went to a cookout, and a high school graduation broke out!”
Attending the commencement program for my niece and nephew, I was absolutely shocked at what the audience deemed as appropriate attire. Grown men were wearing shorts, grown women were wearing shorter than short shorts, so you can imagine what the younger crowd was wearing. In an air-conditioned gymnasium, nonetheless. I thought to myself, “What kind of message is this sending to these graduates? ‘You graduated…big whoopee’?”
I graduated on a warm, muggy evening in 1981, in an old gym with no air conditioning, ineffective fans, and horrible acoustics. The janitors had the good sense to leave all the doors open. Even then, the importance of the occasion was not lost on the crowd. Men and women dressed appropriately – not for a wedding or a funeral, mind you, but to show honor and respect to those who were being honored. They knew the gravity of the event.
Our society has become one of casualness toward things that should be serious in nature. I’ve seen it at weddings and funerals, graduations and the like. We seem to be more concerned with what makes us comfortable than the meaning of the event. And you can probably guess where this trend – and article – is going.
Ours is a time when those things that were once considered sacred are no longer thought of as such. Beside the general trend of seeing regular church attendance as unnecessary, those who do go have long before considered what they wear to church as unimportant. It is true that God considered the heart before the outward appearance. And Jesus himself said that we must worship in spirit and in truth, placing the emphasis on the attitude and the authority in worship.
In our rush to become more accommodating to a generation (or generations) that have become less interested in orthodox Christianity, and more interested in worldly things, we have been quick to judge and dismiss those who believe that there is a place for reverence in the worship and service of God. Seemingly lost in this time frame is a truth that the focus should not be on God, but ourselves. Those on the other side of this argument would loudly deny it, and I don’t doubt their sincerity.
I don’t blame them. I blame us – my generation. In a fight with the world for the souls of our children, we have tried to accommodate and lure them back to the faith with “theotainment” ( a term coined by Dr. Al Mohler), casualness, and a general desire to look as much like the world as we can, without becoming part of it. Looks to me like we lost that one. As a result, we sense of what is sacred and what is not…..
This will be continued. In the meantime, consider this. There is nothing sacred about a church building. It is only an expedient, designed to help us focus on the task at hand. What is sacred is not “what”, but “who”. Its not about us; it’s about “you know Who”.
For the first two hundred and twenty three years of our republic, the United States has been a relatively safe have for the practice of Christianity as it is biblically understood. The passage of the First Amendment of the Constitution put to an end the state-sponsored church monopoly that was carried over from Great Britain, and, supposedly, ensured citizens full liberty to practice the faith of their conscience.
Because of theses conditions, persecution of Christians in America was hardly ever heard of. There were the occasional incidents where sects or cults rooted in a “form” of Christianity were attacked, such as the Mountain Meadow massacre involving the Mormons, as well as isolated individual incidents. For the most part, however, the story of America has been one of relative peace for the followers of Jesus Christ. Preachers have been able to proclaim the gospel of Christ with relative safety and protection by law, save for the occasional scoffer of the street corner preacher in your nearby city.
Those days may be coming to an end….and soon.
Two recent stories have alerted us to this fact. First cam the stunning news from our friends in England that a Baptist preacher, Dale McAlpine, was arrested for preaching that homosexuality is a sin, as well as stating the same in a related conversation .
Not long after that came the “disinvitation” of Franklin Graham to participate in a National Day of Prayer event at the Pentagon. The reason: someone in the Pentagon took offense at Graham’s statements concerning Islam.
There is no doubt of the chilling effect of these incidents on the proclamation of the Gospel. Yet, we should not be surprised. Persecution is part of the game. Jesus warned us of such. And the chickens are coming home to roost.
Nobody wants to be disliked, and surely no one desires to be persecuted for their beliefs. But, these incidents should lead all of those who proclaim the Gospel – whether they are a preacher, elder, or teacher – to ask themselves the following: Would I be willing to give up my liberty, and, perhaps, my life, for the sake of the Kingdom?
Not far from where I live is the birthplace of Augustus H.F. Payne. If there was a martyr of the “restoration movement”, Payne was it; he surely was a martyr for the cause of Christ. His desire to preach the Gospel without fear or political favoritism cost him his life in pre-Civil War Missouri. Are we willing to do what Bro. Payne was willing to do? If not, then we need to find something else to do – and sooner rather than later.
….we must understand some of the UN-derlying problems to this malicious spiritual malady.
Obviously, a Christian’s absence from assembling is in itself a direct manifestation of unfaithfulness. Faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17) and God’s word commands Christians to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some” (read Heb. 10:23-27 carefully). When one is willfully absent from services, the problem is unfaithfulness.
In its deepest sense, to forsake is an attitude of the heart. It is not a matter of time or frequency. Just prior to giving us the command not to forsake, the Hebrew writer reminds us, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful” (Heb. 10:23). We need to hold fast our confession and be faithful like our Lord. Regular attendance is one way we do that. On the other hand, immediately following the Hebrew writer’s command, he admonishes, “For if we sin willfully …” (v. 27). This is how we must understand “forsaking the assembling.” It is a willful sin!
Whenever one consciously and willfully chooses to do something other than assemble with the saints, he is forsaking the assemblies…..
In Matthew 25, we find the Lord declaring some as “good and faithful” servants (v. 21). Can this be said of us when we forsake the assembling of ourselves together? Faithful here means, “faithful, to be trusted, reliable” (Vine’s, 223). Christians should be reliable in every realm of their life. Would our boss think us reliable if we missed two out of every five days of work? Would our family think us reliable if we stayed away from home for days at a time? What happens when we cannot be relied upon in the church?
Not only do some forsake two out of every three assemblies, when they do attend, they are UN-prepared for Bible study, UN-fit to lead in worship, and UN-able to contribute to the edification process. The Bible says our stewardship depends upon our reliability (1 Cor. 4:2). If one is unreliable in the kingdom, as it exists on earth, will God grant him entrance into the kingdom, as it exists in heaven?
Christianity, these days, seems to be less a matter of commitment and more a matter of convenience. We tend to seek things that are easy and convenient. This might be fine for carnal matters, but it wreaks havoc in our spiritual lives. For many, attending each assembly of the church is inconvenient. They feel strapped by the obligation. Rather than anticipate, they come to dread such sweet fellowship (cf. Ps. 122:1). Such horrible words and attitudes should not accompany the assembling of the saints.
When one becomes a Christian, he makes a commitment to God. He is “yoked together” with him (Matt. 11:28-30). When one forsakes the assembling, he is manifesting his unfaithfulness to that commitment. Unlike Felix, who sought what was convenient, but did not commit, many have committed and then call for convenience (cf. Acts 24:24-25). It is like the illustration of a young man who was “desperately in love.” He wrote the pearl of his life and said he would be “willing to endure frigid cold, cross burning sands, climb the highest of mountains, or swim the ocean just to be in her charming presence.” He then closed that letter saying, “And I will see you Wednesday night if it does not rain.”
Are we like the nine lepers who were healed, but did not return to give thanks to God (Luke 17:12-19)? Or are we like the one Samaritan leper who did?
Beneath every case of forsaking the assembly is an ungrateful heart. There is a soul who has sought out the Lord’s healing, and having obtained it, cannot take time out of his busy life to glorify God. Indeed, such a condition is deplorable, even by the world’s standards.
What if God manifested the same attitude towards us that we do towards his saints? What if God met our needs the way we give him our lives? What if God took away each blessing we do not manifest true thanksgiving for? Are we grateful for the blessing of our assemblies, his fellowship, and his kingdom?
In many places, the word of God is likened unto a seed that is planted in our hearts. God intends for that seed to grow, mature, and produce fruit in our lives (Gal. 5:22-25; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; Matt. 13:18-23). One underlying problem with forsaking the assembling is like that of the fig tree (Luke 13:6-9).
Many become children of God, but never reach maturity in Christ. Brethren, elders, and gospel preachers fertilize and water this tree, yet it produces no fruit. Jesus revealed the fateful doom of such a one, when he said, “Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this tree and find none, Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?” (Luke 13:7). He also taught, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away . . . By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:2, 8). When the Lord seeks fruit in your life, will he find any?
If none of the aforementioned applies, perhaps one is simply unconcerned. Many who profess Christianity are unconcerned about spiritual matters: the brethren, the church, the Lord, fulfilling the commands of the Lord, and believe it or not, heaven. One might say he is concerned about these things, but what do his actions say when he forsakes assemblies?
The title should tell you all you heed to know to understand this diatribe. Enjoy!
10. People who say they love God, but won’t surrender to Him or worship Him on the terms He prescribes.
9. Jimmie Johnson.
8. The fact that you can’t find a decent bookstore with a good selection of RM materials within 120 miles. Why is it, in the middle of RM country that you have to go to Louisville or Bowling Green to find a good bookstore?
7. The label “anti”. I guess I’m anti-anything I can’t find in the Bible. Guess that makes me a mean old “anti”.
6. Along the same lines, those who would take the Bible’s silence on anything as license. For all of Calvin’s faults, he did get the “regulative principle” right
5. Fred Phelps. When you shake it like a bulldog….
4. Why isn’t Coke Zero the number one beverage in all humanity?
3. People who spend a lifetime training in gymnastics, just to try to gyrate around Acts 2:38 and 22:16. For eternity’s sake, take it as it is, and start mall walking!
2. Liberals. Political or conservative.
1. People, or nations, who claim to be “Christian”, but sure don’t consistently act like it.
Anything I missed?