By Earl Robertson
There is nothing inherently or basically wrong with change. In fact, in many instances it is good and healthy. However, in religion no change can be made or engaged in the word or the actions it causes. The means and methods employed in carrying out what the word of God teaches will vary in time, but the word itself remains unchanged. It is the very word of the eternal God! However, we must observe the obvious: as men are strongly determined to act from their own feelings and desires, they see the need to take liberties with and/or change the word so they can, unhesitatingly, move in their own way. Peter says some “wrest” the scriptures from their intended purpose to make them teach what God never intended (2 Pet. 3:16).
Balaam’s inability to attempt anything in opposition to God’s will stemmed from his moral reverence of God and dread of personal punishment, causing him to burst forth in mighty exclamation, “If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of the Lord my God, to do less or more” (Num. 22:18). Balaam had wonderful knowledge of God’s restrictions expressed unto him through His word, but it became completely obscured by his “greed for reward” (Jude 11). Though God had forbidden him to comply with the wish of Balak, he implored Balak’s princes, “I pray you, tarry ye also here this night, that I may know what the Lord will say unto me more” (Num. 22:19). More! What more could Jehovah say? The spirit of change moved into the heart of Balaam. He would now risk everything in his apostate actions.
Others, like Balaam, will walk in the unvarying counsels of God for a time but will undertake the journey of change when the price is right. The spirit exhibited in the Conferences on “Spiritual Renewals,” “Unity Meetings” and efforts for “common” ground, is the spirit of change. As a Christian Church preacher recently wrote of a “Spiritual Renewal” meeting held in a church of Christ in Nashville in January by nearly 100 from “Church of Christ, Christian Church, and Disciple of Christ heritage”. “Under the leadership of Don Finto, the elders of Belmont had announced to the congregation just the Lord’s day before our arrival that they could no longer make the non-use of musical instruments a church law. This was in recognition that God is speaking to the present generation in terms different from the way He spoke to past ones. On Wednesday Truth Magazine evening, just before Bob Yawberg spoke, a group of young adults led the worship with the aid of a guitar” (Harbinger, Too, Vol. 7, No. 2, p. 44).
So, they now think the whole objection to instrumental music in worship was just a matter of “church law.” Since it is just “church law,” they console themselves saying “God is speaking to the present generation in terms different from the way He spoke” to us in the past! The spirit of change!
Truth Magazine XXIV: 49, p. 792
December 11, 1980