By Andy Alexander
There are issues which children of God are faced with in every age and our age is no different. The sins remain the same, but the particular ones that must be dealt with more specifically vary from time to time. It is good to analyze the specific issues of our time so that we can be on the alert and defend the truth against any attack (1 Pet. 5:8).
The preaching of Jesus and the apostles sounded an alarm. They tried to alert people to the dangers about them. Jesus warned his listeners of false teachers in the Sermon on the Mount and Paul warned the elders at Ephesus about corruption from within the eldership and attacks from without (Matt. 7:15-20; Acts 20:28-32). Thus, one of the works a gospel preacher should be engaged in is the work of warning the brethren of dangers. This brings us to an issue we face in the church today. There seems to be less and less warning coming from preachers today and when some do sound a clear warning signal, they are derided for being alarmists and divisive.
Sermons that call the names of false teachers and their heresies are not wanted in many churches today. They are considered out of place in our refined society. That may be one reason why some churches have problems, because the problems seep in and fester for a few years and then finally erupt. Had adequate warning been given, the problems may have been recognized much earlier and taken care of before much damage could be done.
Soft, compromising preaching is an issue that faces us today in the church of our Lord. Preaching that would make a member of a denominational church comfortable at our services may be truth, but not the truth that is needed. Some preachers avoid sermons that specifically deal with the works of the flesh. They are aware that members are present who are involved in those sins and are afraid that direct preaching from the pulpit on such might scare them off. This lack of strength is conditioned by fear of losing one’s source of income, which may result in a cramped lifestyle. Gospel preachers must always remember that we are accountable to God and not to man for the message we preach (1 Thess. 2:4).
Another issue facing the church today is worldliness. Christians who blend in with the world are not friends with God (Jas. 4:4). More and more we hear sins of worldliness being defended by Christians. Mixed swimming, attending the high school prom, drinking of intoxicants, the wearing of shorts and other scanty attire, and watching filthy entertainment on television or at the movies are some of the activities that are being practiced and defended by some Christians today. The influence of Christians is disintegrating as they condone more and more of these sins. Many churches have members in them who participate in one or more of these sins and other members who would oppose these sins sit silently by and slowly deteriorate. They have not the faith in God or his word to firmly stand against the error among the members of the local congregation.
Worldliness is an ever-present danger and we must be reminded about its deceptiveness and taught about its various forms. Elders who chaperone dances and preachers who defend their right to do so are examples of how far into worldliness some have gone. The frog that slowly boils to death a degree at a time is just as dead as if he had been run over by a car. Many Christians are slowly but surely headed down the road of spiritual death.
The cares of this world is another danger in the church today. Jesus warned about this in Luke 8:14 when he said, “And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are chocked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring o fruit to perfection.” Sometimes our wants turn into our needs and we spend countless hours working for that which will perish one day (Jn 6:27). During those hours of working for the perishable, our spiritual side diminishes until it finally dies altogether. A life that at one time was filled with zeal for the Lord gradually smothers to death. What a horrible and tragic waste. Rarely does one go down this road without taking some with him; the wife, the children, or others in the Lords body.
Another issue we face today is the issue of fellowship. We are being encouraged, by once faithful gospel preachers, to fellowship false teachers. These false teachers are defended because they only teach a “little” bit of error. How much error does one have to teach or practices before he displeases God?
Rat poison is 98% grain and only 2% poison. Does the fact that a rat only eats a small amount of poison in relation to the amount of good grain change the rend result? He is just as dead as if he had eaten 100% poison. Those teaching error on marriage, divorce, and remarriage, the deity of Christ, or any other soul-damning heresy are to be marked and avoided (Rom 16:17). Those advocating that faithful Christians fellowship them should also be marked and avoided as they, too, have stepped outside the doctrine of Christ (2 Jn 9-11; Eph. 5:11). This is a growing problem among churches today and brethren need to be taught Gods truth on these matters.
These are some of the issues we face today. They have faced brethren before and some have stood and others have fallen. Le us be like the Bereans who “received that word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). And then, after receiving that word, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (I Cor. 16:13).
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: No 19, p. 15
October 7, 1993