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Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Doing it His way; and a massacre!

In the previous post, I mentioned that the Old Testament prophet, Malachi, had four main criticisms of the Children of Israel. The second of these was that they had failed to keep the covenant into which Almighty God had entered with them. 

"For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of YHWH SabaothBut you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says YHWH Sabaoth, ..." (2:7-8).

The covenant to which he refers was a covenant that YHWH had made, with the priests, through Levi (see Numbers 25. Phineas was a descendant of Levi. This is "another example of the Heb. concept of 'corporate personality'; Levi represents the 'tribe of Levi' of the Levites . . ." (New International Bible Commentary. Zondervan), that they would teach the people, accurately and faithfully, all aspects of the divine law. This they had patently failed to do, and so Malachi faces them with this challenging and strong indictment.

However, I would contend that we are experiencing a similar situation in the church in the 21st century (and before!). In an article that I had published, recently, I stated: "Surely the church is intended to be a prophetic voice to the nation – not a subservient reflection of the social norms that, sadly, are so much at odds with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, the Christ! Is it not the case that the established churches that are seeking to emulate society ... .... are slowly dying as they forsake the Word on which they should be founding their message to mankind?" One friend, here in France, often makes the point that the problem in the church is one of ignorance (in the correct definition of the word!) of the Word of God, and I believe that he is absolutely correct. But who is to blame? Surely it is those who have been charged with delivering, and explaining, that Word of God. Is it really being expounded in  the way in which it ought to be?

Now, of course, there are notable exceptions, and I could rhyme off a list of congregations/ fellowships in Scotland in which the Word is faithfully preached, without the addition of 'gimmicks'! However, there are far too many places in which the Word of God is so diluted, diminished, denigrated, denied, and even destroyed, that people leave having heard no divine challenge; no word from God; no revelation from heaven. We may have a semi-professional worship team (or a fine choir and an expensive organ); we may have hearty congregational singing; we may have our programmes to help the poor and downtrodden; we may have regular visiting of the sick; we may have a hundred-and-one wonderful programmes; but if we have no sound Biblical exposition and teaching, then our 'worship services' are a hollow mockery, and an empty pantomime!

I am convinced that, if Malachi were alive today, he would be thundering into the ears of the 'spiritual leadership' of our nations: "... you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; ..." (v.8). In that article already mentioned, I also wrote that when I consider "... the church adapting its beliefs and practices to conform with the current social zeitgeist, I wonder what Paul would think! That is the Paul who, under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, enjoined that we “be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom.12:2; emphasis added)."

Yesterday, in Texas, a young man deliberately murdered 26 people, and left another 27 seriously wounded in First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs. This was no Muslim jihadist. This was no "gun-toting redneck". This was, it would appear, a young man who once taught briefly on a Christian vacation camp, but who had become a militant atheist. It begs the question - that doesn't apply only to the USoA - "What is happening to the teaching ministry in today's church?" Do our young people grasp the full meaning and implication of the Christian faith? Are they being shown how to live in accordance with the values revealed in the written Word of God? Do we provide them with clear Biblical instruction on how to cope with sexual permissiveness, and deviance; problems of authority; matters of morality?

Surely it is time that many in the church - and particularly in its leadership - became less concerned about changing the Gospel to suit society, and started to preach the Gospel that society might be changed! Paul's Holy Spirit inspired words are as relevant today, as ever they have been! It's time that we did it His way!


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