Paul wrote: "No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of 'his life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier" (2 Tim. 2:4). Christians are at war today, as they have ever been. Gospel preachers must fight faithfully against sin and error while upholding truth and righteousness. Elders and others must be constantly found in defense of right and in opposition to wrong. The church must stand everywhere as a great and mighty bulwark to uphold the gospel. Certainly it will be a sad and devastating day when, gospel preachers, bishops and churches, either or all of them, become entangled in such a way as to hinder the fight of faith.
The proclaimers of truth may become so entangled that they are almost forced to surrender principles. Sometimes it is an alliance made with ungodly elders who require that less than the whole truth be preached. Without detracting from the authority rightfully given to elders, let it always be remembered that they do not have the right to determine what is preached. Only the Bible can be the determining factor with the faithful preacher. I have heard men say, "You can't preach it that way and stay here." Then, if it is truth, one must go elsewhere.
Some preachers have become so entangled financially that their hands are tied with regard to their preaching. Some become so involved in debts that they say, "I can't leave here now." That's bad! It is not good when a preacher has to preach in such a way that he is sure he will not be fired. When he cannot afford to move, he may have to surrender truth! It would be pretty hard for a preacher to stand firmly for truth if he suspected that such action would cost him his present source of income, and if in turn it would cause him to lose his car, his house and/or his furniture.
Preachers may be tempted to surrender to pressure. Always there are those who don't want you to mention (lancing, drinking, divorce, etc. Sometimes they may be the most prominent members of the church and their objections take the form of subtractions from the contribution, social isolation, and other such tactics that embarrass the preacher. Sometimes they take the other extreme attitude and become so good to the preacher that it makes it hard for him to oppose those things for which they stand.
In any case there is need for freedom in the pulpit. The devoted preacher will not allow entanglements of any kind to hinder his faithful proclamation of the gospel. Better still he will not allow himself to become so entangled as to provide temptation for compromise.
Overseers of God's flock sometimes allow business entanglements to force them into a truce with Satan. Some "cannot afford" to oppose Catholicism or various other evils because business boycotts may be applied to them. Some such elders become so entangled with people who hold and advocate error that the bishops of the church become blind to evil and error.
Other bishops get under the thumb of some "big" preacher. They feel obligated to ask his opinion before making a serious decision,. Some elders become so entangled with the local preacher that they cannot oppose what he teaches even if they know it is wrong.
Suffice it to say that if the church is to prosper and be kept free from the gainsayers (Titus 1:9), elders must be men of conviction who do not become entangled with people or affairs, either in or out of the church, in any way that would hinder their effective stand for truth.
Sometimes a congregation may become so entangled that it is unable to do an, aggressive work for Christ who is its Head. Today I see a special danger when churches are assuming such terrific debts. This is not to oppose a church assuming proper debts. However, it is a very dangerous thing when a church becomes so deep in debt that it is said "We can't afford trouble", for when that is admitted, then the door is opened to false doctrine and practice.
Unity is almost a hobby with me. I have never been with a church that divided, nor even had serious trouble after I got there, except in one case where some objected to the emphasis gospel preachers usually put on baptism, etc. I have gone to work with three or four churches that were then in serious trouble, and have never left one with real troubles. However, I recognize that there is one thing more important than unity-and that is truth! It would still be much better for any church to be split in half than f or all of it to teach and practice error. But when a church gets too deep in debt, some will say, "We can,'t divide," which is equal to saying, "We can tolerate error. "
This is not to oppose adequate buildings, for I have helped to promote several such. Neither is it to suggest that every church that is deep in debt will compromise. However, it is to emphasize the danger of such entanglement. You will only need to travel short distances to find churches that have become so involved that they are bound or at least tempted, to avoid trouble in the church even if it means withholding some truth or failing to expose some error.
Let's be a free people! It would be better to worship in a humble structure-or even in a cave or the shade of a tree-than to worship in a majestic, imposing cathedral and be so debt-ridden that we are in bondage to those who are able to "pay", whether these latter ones be a wealthy minority or simply a large crowd that is "necessary" to meet the budget!
When a church must have either wealthy people or large numbers, it is not just in danger, it is already in the worst kind of trouble!
Peter and John urged that it was right to hearken to God rather than men (Ac. 4:19,20), for they said, "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." They could make no alliance of any kind with error. Today, churches, elders, preachers, and every Christian must speak only that which is revealed in God's word. To enable us to do this more effectively, let us refrain from any kind of entanglement with the affairs of this life that would minimize our zeal, our fidelity or our fruitfulness.
Truth Magazine I:7, pp. 12-13