In case you haven’t noticed, our world seems to be spinning out of control. Of course, depending on your world view, you could lay the blame for our current tailspin at the feet of any number of different people, organizations, or special interest groups.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong? What’s right? What’s wrong? Is there any way to make heads or tails of it all?
While mankind seems to descend deeper and deeper into the abyss, many churches have responded by, oddly enough, either minimizing or completely changing their doctrine to match the culture. Some churches have reduced their statement of faith so dramatically that it could literally fit on a Post-it Note (I wish I was exaggerating!). These doctrinal statements are so pithy that they may not offend anyone, but that’s simply because they don’t say much of anything at all.
Other churches, however, have taken a radically different approach. Instead of reducing their statement of faith, they’ve completely changed their doctrine to be more palatable to society. Their reasoning? Without changing doctrine to match an ever-changing world, the church will become inconsequential—a relic of the past with no real relevance today. In summary: the church must adapt to the culture...or die.
As for myself, I reject both approaches as non-starters. Instead, I humbly believe that churches should look at the situation much differently.
There is no doubt in my mind that the world is descending deeper into chaos. In fact, Paul talks about this in his second epistle to Timothy when he says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away (2 Timothy 3:1-5).”
Paul’s description of the world could be ripped right from today’s headlines. One might wonder what Paul’s prescription would be for such a time of madness. Curtail biblical teaching and preaching? Change doctrine to make people happy? Ignore the God-breathed inspiration of the Word and conclude that the Scriptures are a “good book,” but hopelessly riddled with errors?
Although these are many of the options that churches opt for today, Paul didn’t agree with any of them. Rather, he told young pastor Timothy that as “evil men and seducers...wax worse and worse (verse 13),” that Timothy should “continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them (vs. 14).” Paul knew the solution was not minimizing or changing doctrine. Rather, the answer was to compassionately, yet candidly proclaim “all the counsel of God (Acts 20:27).”
He concluded the chapter by reminding Timothy, “...that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (vs. 15-17).”
Paul also gave this exhortation to another young preacher named Titus, who was charged to “...speak thou the things which become sound doctrine (Titus 2:1).” The implication from Paul’s epistles, and I believe the entire volume of Scripture, is clear: in an increasingly unorthodox world, churches should embrace sound doctrine from the Word of God more than ever.
The Bible reminds us that Jesus Christ is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).” Our Lord has not changed, nor have his teachings. Let us with great boldness—and even greater love (1 Corinthians 13)—proclaim the Scriptures to the whole world, and let us not dare change his message in an effort to cater to societal whims and wickedness.
Adam Riveiro is the pastor of Liberty Baptist Church at 800 Washington Street in Easton. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the church and its services can be found at www.mylibertybaptist.org.