By Irven Lee
It is amazing how many hours some parents of young children give to the world promoted by some denominational church that is tied in with the social gospel movement. There are the gatherings on Sunday and midweek, and in addition to them there is choir practice one night, all those arts and crafts for VBS, and then on Saturday night several dozen children of various ages will be by to eat one part of that continuing meal which will be supplemented at several other homes before it is over at bedtime, and those children who play in the church league must be coached, and who will take those classes to Opryland or Six Flags?
Parents may become so involved in such “church work” that they will not have time for Bible study at home or to bring their children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Children need their parents for more things than just to play with them. The family life building or the fellowship hall may interfere much with those duties the Lord assigned. Food, fun, and frolic may take the place of that which edifies.
Some of these denominations may have some zealous members who spend much time visiting in homes to recruit new members. They make special effort to get these people to say they believe in Jesus and then join the church and attend the class parties. These new converts are not taught much before or after they are baptized. Emotionalism, fun, and much socializing may cover the whole plan. All this actually gets people satisfied outside of Christ. It makes them happy with themselves without their obeying the gospel or learning the right way of the Lord.
Repentance, honesty, acceptable worship, modesty, and complete obedience are not the same as emotionalism, excitement, and parties. The Lord loved the church and gave himself up for it. He will not accept a social club as a substitute for it. Zeal without knowledge is not enough to please God (Rom. 10:1-3).
As the social gospel becomes more exciting and more widely accepted there is less and less emphasis on clean speech and moral purity. The social drink which leads to addiction and the social dance, mixed bathing, and vulgar speech, which lead to fornication and divorce, are tolerated. Such churches do much for the “singles.” They plan retreats for them and trips to ski resorts and other vacation spots. America’s moral standards have been lowered as the fellowship hall has become more important. Each one who dies is “preached into heaven” regardless of how he behaved in life.
“One church is as good as another” has become the creed that forms the basis for unity among the denominations. Their preachers can work together in their ministerial associations. Young men who go to the seminaries are taught to believe nothing in particular. The Bible becomes “a book” rather than “the book,” and all are taught to believe that each person has a right to his own opinions, as if Christ has no authority. The one thing that all are expected to combat is the idea that the Bible gives us all things that pertain to live and godliness and that Christ has all authority in his church.
Churches which can join together in their Billy Graham type of religious campaigns, and their give-away programs at Christmas, and in their sunrise services on Easter morning may not search the Scriptures daily for the will of the Lord. Whatever they like must be acceptable to God, and whatever others like must be just as good. Will there ever be another great awakening and movement back to the Bible?
Evolution takes the place of creation in the minds of most of those who are trained in seminaries. The miracles are questioned, hell is denied, and heaven just becomes a beautiful word to use in funeral services. Separation into two groups at a final judgment is ignored. These educated infidels may preach, but they are working for what they regard as rights, better housing, government give-away programs, etc., for a better here and now rather than “pie in the sky by and by.”
There is much talk of rights of the sex perverts – gay rights, etc. – as alternate life styles that should be recognized by all. There are pressures to permit two men to marry, adopt children, and be active in church work. Sodom was destroyed by the Lord for such sins, but there may be American cities with as many sodomites as Sodom had. What is wrong today? Is there such a thing as sin? The humanists, who are very powerful in many religious movements, deny that there is any such thing as sin.
“For to be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace … .. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” These statements from Romans 8 are true as are all the teachings of God. His will is for our good always. (Read Deut. 6:24; Mark 10:28-30; 1 Tim. 4:8.)
There may be few in the narrow way that leads unto life, but they all should contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). The gospel is still God’s power unto salvation. The word is sharp and active. There have been periods of ungodliness and unbelief before followed by zealous returns to righteousness. The cry of the day is for workers who are not ashamed of the gospel and the righteousness it reveals.
Denominationalism is certainly not a picture of a kingdom with law and order. It is confusion without a recognized authority. It is as sheep without a shepherd, or is it goats without a goatsherd? The Lord will not accept fun and frolic as a substitute for worship, nor will he accept zeal in the family life building as a substitute for presenting one’s body as a living sacrifice to God. We should all emphasize the duty to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. There is a time to laugh but not as a church “work.”
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 18, pp. 547-548
September 17, 1987