Bible Preaching And The Modern Trends
The Bible presents a correlation of facts through the ages. Its promises are wonderful, to be enjoyed by the obedient. Most of its prophecies are precious, reaching their fulfillment in Christ. The truths revealed and inspired in the Bible are profound, far-reaching and deeply felt. The obedient, faithful servant is praised throughout the history of God and man. The disobedient are blisteringly, scathingly rebuked, God's vials of wrath are emptied out upon individuals that presume authority, and the ones who assume Pharisaical importance, pretense, and show of self righteousness. The plagues of the Bible, which indeed are many, God promises to heap upon those who add to or take from the sacred volume. The call has ever been "Choose ye this day whom ye will serve." The soul-reaching question has ever been, "Who is on the Lord's side"? There has never been a preacher of righteousness that pleased the people, nor will there ever be! Noah, a preacher of righteousness condemned the world, not because the world was not already condemned, but because they refused to accept the Word of God. "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." The world was condemned already, and stands condemned when Christ is refused. Which of the prophets pleased the people? Which one did not the Jews persecute? Which of the apostle's pleased the people? Which one escaped persecution? If today a fellow is popular, pleases the people, he is not a servant of Christ, but he serves his own "belly."
The Trend Of Doubt
The lack of faith has ever been disastrous. It caused Peter to sink into the water. It caused Thomas to doubt the Lord Jesus Christ. It caused the church at Laodicea to wax indifferent and become lukewarm. It caused Demas to forsake Paul and the Lord to follow the love and lures of the world. It caused Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit and lose their lives. The lack of faith caused the Greeks to seek after worldly wisdom. It caused the Corinthians to be torn with party strife, to follow after men rather than God. Truly, it is the "sin which doth so easily beset us." None deny the spirit of doubt is in the world, such as caused Pilate and Herod to become friends and execute the Savior of men to please the people. But the mind of doubt is finding its way into the hearts of professed believers. There are preachers on the West Coast and possibly on other coasts, that doubt it all. Gods saved are in the church of Christ."
Some seem to "doubt if immersion for baptism is essential" and seem to want to take folks into the fellowship of the truth who have been sprinkled and not immersed. Some preachers, one especially from Tennessee in the Yosemite Camp Meeting, indicated in a sermon that God answered a sectarian's prayer and he would not say that individual was not a Christian. Yet the sectarian does not wear the name "Christian." If the church of Christ is not different, then it is simply another denomination. These weak, indifferent, doubting preachers are afflicting and affecting the church members with doubt, are preying upon the young people in the kingdom instilling in them the spirit of doubt and compromise.
The Trend Towards Worldly Wisdom
To the world the name for this is Philosophy. The word calls for a "love" of the thing. Some preachers seem to know more about Plato, Epicurus, Aristotle, and Zeno, Greek philosophers who sought after "worldly wisdom." To God and the church such is foolishness. The Bible is not a treatise on human wisdom, but contains the "wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." Philosophy is a science that attempts to explain the causes, reasons, powers and laws, including in it as a branch of learning mental and moral sciences such as logic, psychology and ethics. To place the Bible on this level lowers its standard and degrades its author to a rank with pagan philosophers. There are causes that cannot be explained. There are conditions existing for which reasons cannot be given. There are things that logic cannot understand and comprehend. What things are they? They are the things of God, the things of Divine revelation and inspiration. When it reaches the point a man or a group of men love their philosophy more than the Word of God, they have launched out upon the uncharted seas of human wisdom to dash their vessel, the soul, upon the rocky shoals of infidelity. When this we do we leave the lighthouse of God, drifting upon the waves of foamy shame to be lost in the depths of eternal darkness. Turn back my friends before it is too late! Love God's Word and church above all things else, for "'the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. (1 Jno. 2:17).
The Trend Of Psychology
This is another science, a science of the mind, that is indeed growing. Even at this date it just has its "rompers" on. This science is divided into two great divisions, viz., (1) the analytic or introspective, and (2) the experimental. That these divisions are human arrangements cannot be denied. At least half of the science is not proved, the experimental! Some have gone so far as to say that if Stephen had used the right kind of psychology the Jews would not have stoned him. Others, if Saul or Paul had used the right kind of psychology he could have been spared. One might as well affirm that if Christ had used the right kind of approach he would not have been crucified. Thus one can easily see that God did not plan the truth and the church to be advanced through human science or psychology. The Bible plan of salvation originated in heaven, included in it is faith, service and sacrifice. In these three functions Jesus is our example. Our admonitions in the Bible are to "Preach the Word" and "Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine" and "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" and "Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel." These Divine commands are given to every servant. The Bible is not a book telling us the functions of the mind, how it ought to operate, but it is a Book that directs our mind to follow after the mind or spirit of Christ. Let us accept it as such.
The Trend Towards Compromising Truth
Truth is pure, unmixed, flowing from God's fountain. There can be no compromise with error and truth still be held. To compromise is to loose one's self from the anchor of truth. Too many are making the truth a matter of politics and diplomacy. It is possible for folks to "believe a lie"' and be damned if we receive not a "love for the truth." The whole world is afflicted with delusions due to the fact people do not receive a love for the truth. Thus God permits man's mind to be deluded, deceived when that man does not hold a strong love for the truth. It is the truth that frees men from sin (Jno. 8:32). Jesus is the "truth" (Jno. 14:6). We are "purified by the truth" (1 Pet. 1:22, 23). We are set apart by the "truth" (Jno. 17:17). There is not a question but that the church today is feeding upon "softism." Not all this attitude is coming from the colleges, but a great portion of it is. To give you proof of this statement a group of college graduates were called upon to go to a foreign field on a special campaign. After they arrived on the field and were on the job it was discovered by a faithful preacher that they were not trained to teach the truth and a special session every day was held to instruct these graduates in the doctrine of Christ! Now if you doubt this statement I have definite proof, can give you the name of the preacher, tell you where the work was, and the name of the institution from which the students graduated. It would be much better for institutions not to teach any Bible in their halls; rather than implant in young minds the idea that it matters but little what one believes religiously.
Trend Toward Entertainment
This cry was first the cry of denominationalism. Due to laxity in teaching the Bible truths at home and in the church, the young folks in 'denominationalism became worldly' minded. They were taught constantly that one church was as good as another, and even that people could be saved outside the church. They evidently believed it and began to stray away from the church to droves. In the excitement the bewildered parents began to cry out for a return to Bible principles that would save their children and themselves, but they started the appeal, "What will become of our young folks"? Someone suggested that entertainment be found for them, and thus began a phase of activity in sectarian churches that has entered into the church of Christ. The church has never been by the authority of Christ engaged in the recreational business, but has been engaged in the saving of souls. The entertainment idea has gone so far in denomination all churches that church dances are being sponsored for their pleasure, and recreational falls are a matter of necessity in church blueprints today. Recreation and entertainment are matters of social and domestic responsibility. Worldly pleasure and the church have never been associated in the mind of God. We would not be surprised if someone soon advocates a "Theatre for members of the church to show only good pictures" or a "'Swimming pool for members of the church" or a "Bowling alley for church members" or some other worldly project to fasten on to the spiritual.
Let us ignore the modern trends in the world that will lead us away from the simplicity of the New Testament. Let us refuse to fasten to the church any institution of a worldly nature. Let us cling to the truth and the love for it we should manifest, rejoicing in the Lord's handiwork, the true tabernacle, ever looking for the coming and claiming of our blessed Lord from the courts of eternal glory!