By Harold Fite
The theme of this special issue of Truth Magazine revolves around Isaiah 30:10. God’s people wanted a change! They informed their seers that they would have to change their way of thinking. They instructed the prophets to cease prophesying “right things,” but “prophesy deceits” — to speak “smooth things.” God’s word was too restrictive and condemning. They substituted their wisdom for God’s wisdom. They were only willing to hear what they wanted to hear. They were probably buoyed by the thought “that a new day is dawning in Israel.”
Today we hear an ill “Wind of Change” blowing across the kingdom of God. “Change Agents” are telling us we are going to have to change our way of thinking about the church or it will die. They have deduced that “the church is not relevant in these modern and changing times.” It is not meeting the needs of the people. We must change its nature and form and work to gain a greater relevance in the world. This “will bring the lost into a church environment that makes sense to them.”
Those who seek change tell us traditional worship must go! According to those who advocate changing the Lord’s church, we must “change our way of worship so that it will be more appealing to the present generation of younger adults,” who want “the freedom to worship in their heart language.” Solos, special singing groups, drama, lifting up holy hands, hand-clapping, testifying, contemporary music are just a part of this heart language. The words of the wise man are appropriate here: “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil” (Eccl. 5:1).
What are these needs the “baby-boomers” are demanding the church satisfy? For the most part they are physical and social. Churches are becoming more frequently involved in all kinds of social programs to satisfy the selfish, carnal demands of the populace. Churches are becoming social institutions, preaching a social gospel, and church buildings are becoming community centers for social activities.
Not one of these programs, or all combined, will save one soul! But those who advocate changing the Lord’s church recognize that social and entertaining programs will draw more people than the pure gospel of Christ. Those who are pushing change are seeking to destroy the uniqueness of the Lord’s church and shape it in the mold of denominationalism. It places them on more of a competitive plane with the denominations. To denominationalize the church of our Lord is to drain it of its strength and destroy its uniqueness.
Is the church relevant to our times? Does it fill the needs of people today? The church in its primitive form is entirely relevant for the spiritual needs of man, but becomes highly irrelevant when placed in an area for which it is not designed. One can know the work of the church if the nature of the church is known.
The church is spiritual in nature (John 18:36). Jesus said, “The kingdom of God comes not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:20, 21).
Its purpose is to give culture to the soul. It exists, not for the entertainment of the masses, to alleviate hunger in the world, or to correct all social inequities and bad environments. The church doesn’t minister to carnal minds. The carnal mind doesn’t demand spiritual food. That is why the church is not relevant to some (cf. John 6:26, 27).
The church was conceived in God’s mind (Eph.1:4-5, 11; 3:11); constructed by God through Christ (Eph.1:19- 20); fulfilled in Christ (Eph.1:22, 23; Gal.1:22; 1 Thess. 2:14), and reigned over by him (1 Tim. 1:17; 6:15). He is the head of the church (Col. 1:18), and exercises all authority in it (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22, 23; Jas. 4:12). Who is man to think he can improve upon that which God has created? How dare man prostitute the worship of God and make it a time of entertainment to satisfy carnal desires. “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). In doing so we will be worshiping “decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
Brethren, “It is an ill wind that blows nobody good.” Be not “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness, after the wiles of error” (Eph. 4:14). “By their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent” (Rom. 6:18).
The church is equipped to do all for which it has been created. The passing from one generation to the next doesn’t change this truth. The church is just as relevant today as it was in the first century. The church in Christ is designed to satisfy all the spiritual needs of man. This is the real need.