Yet, all is not lost. The church still has her calling, message, and Lord who is in fact building that church. Three affirmations come to mind here.
First, in a culture of compromise, it is the authority of Scripture that is rejected by evil men who are deceived. We must never forget that one's commitment to the authority of Scripture for his life is a spiritual issue. The true believer is one who is increasingly committed to God's will as given through the Scriptures while the unbeliever is one who increasingly rejects the truth and its authority. Paul says to Timothy, "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived (2 Tim. 3:13)." The issue is not intellectual or rational. People without Christ are deceived. They cannot understand the things of God apart from the work of the Spirit of God (1 Cor. 2:14). No one can be forced, enticed, or even manipulated into embracing the Bible's authority. The issue is spiritual and God alone can cause submission. Of course, when we believers reject Scriptural authority from time to time, and we do, we are mimicking those who are deceived. We must be confronted with this staggering reality often.
Second, in a culture of compromise, it is the authority of Scripture that is our only rule for faith and practice. In other words, what we are to believe and what we are to do in any circumstance is revealed to us in God's Word. With reference to what we believe, Paul declares that it is the Scriptures that are "are able to make [us] wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15)." It is from the Scriptures we get our doctrine (2 Tim. 3:16). This principle relates to what we believe about ultimate reality, politics, ethics, relationships, and so forth. In terms of what we do, Paul asserts that it is the Scriptures that are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17)." This principle relates to what we do in terms of our attitudes, actions, vocation, the way we treat others, our worship, or even the way we carry out the work of the church in ministry or evangelism for example. We must search the Scriptures daily to get our doctrine. We must be reproved, corrected, and instructed constantly by the Scriptures. Only then will the Scriptures be our practical authority. Otherwise, all we will be doing is paying lip service; and that is hypocrisy.
Third, in a culture of compromise, because it is the authority of Scripture that is rejected by evil men who are deceived; while at the same time, it is the authority of Scripture that is our only rule for faith and practice; it is the authority of Scripture that is underneath the Lord's solemn charge to us. That charge is straightforward: "Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching (2 Tim. 4:2)." We are to preach the Word whether it is popular or not; whether it is received or not; whether people like it or not. It is authoritative. And, it is the Word that God uses to change the hearts and minds of guilty sinners. We must not ourselves reject the authority of Scripture when it comes to our method of evangelism. Sinners cannot and will not be saved by fleshly means. Further, our culture cannot and will not be changed by fleshly means. We are in a spiritual battle and the weapons of are warfare are not carnal (2 Cor. 10:4). God Himself commands: "'And he who has my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat?' says the LORD. ‘Is not my word like a fire? says the LORD, ‘And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?'" This command affirms both that which we are supposed to do (preach the Word) and why we are to do so (it is the Word that breaks the rock in pieces). The Lord Himself says we must preach the Word.
Every now and then someone asks me what the vision of our church is. I usually say, "What do you mean," when I know exactly what they mean. They want to know how we are going to go about building the church. Because the Scripture is my authority, I simply say, "Preach the Word; no compromise." If the church doesn't get hold of this reality, we will continue to lose our savor and be trampled upon by men in this culture (Matt. 5:13). On the other hand, if we do get hold of it, the fortresses of this culture will crumble before our God.
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He hosts a live, call-in radio broadcast every M-W-F at 1:00 pm Eastern. You can access archives or join the conversation by logging onto www.callingfortruth.org. You can also sign up for "The Dean's List," a free news and Christian worldview e-letter. Check out his new book, Disciple Like Jesus for Parents. To schedule Dr. Dean to speak, simply e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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