This past Sunday, our pastor made the point, in his sermon called Discerning the Times, that compromise within the visible church has led to the moral disintegration of our society. If you can budget an hour, please listen to this sermon–it’s foundational in understanding how to respond to the persecution that promises to come on Bible-believing Christians.
Pastor Garber began his sermon by asserting that churches have confused the world by making moral compromises. Certainly, those who call themselves Christians show an increasing tolerance of premarital sex, no-fault divorce and same sex marriage. But he doesn’t camp on that rather obvious point. Instead, he goes on to contend that many professing Christians have also compromised the Gospel message in the name of evangelism, as if modifying it could enhance its marketability.
I would add that postmodern churches confuse the world by compromising doctrine. My addition ties in closely with the compromise of the Gospel, perhaps, but I believe it differs slightly. This type of compromise may not mitigate the Gospel so much as it obscures it by emphasizing ideas that contradict the Bible’s teaching or distract people from Christ.
For most of my Christian life, for example, I had the basic Gospel right, but I embraced a lot of teaching that deviated from Scripture. Of all people, I know how easily believers can get caught up in teachings that sound spiritual but don’t accurately represent Biblical Christianity. Perhaps my passion for doctrinal purity comes from having fallen prey to so many evangelical fads. At any rate, I do understand the temptation to jump on Christian bandwagons, because I’ve ridden far too many.
A popular teaching may very well seem consistent with Scripture, particularly if it’s supported by Bible verses that are wrenched from their context and manipulated into mere proof texts. But, as the following graph illustrates, an idea that begins as only a small deviation from God’s Word will, if followed, take a person extremely far away from truth.
Christians, because we are still encumbered with fallen sin natures, can allow false teachers to lure us into all sorts of deceptions. Most of these deceptions start as innocent misapplications of Scripture (barely perceptible), only to lead us miles away from Biblical Christianity. To protect us from such departures from truth, the Holy Spirit prompted Paul to counsel Timothy:
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. ~~1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV)
Many translations render this verse, “Watch your conduct and your doctrine.” Indeed, Christian conduct flows out of Biblical doctrine. Until we learn to properly interpret God’s Word, mastering its great doctrines, how can we hope to apply it correctly. By all means, the Lord wants His people to put our faith into action, proving that our faith is authentic. But let’s make sure to apply those principles that Scripture actually teaches.
The Supreme Court’s ruling on same sex marriage this summer puts Christians in the crosshairs. Persecution is coming! Pastor Garber desires to prepare our local church for this persecution by equipping us to faithfully proclaim the Gospel and by maintaining sound doctrine. The seriousness of our times necessitate that we put aside our gimmicks, return to the purity of Biblical doctrine and offer the world the Gospel.