Sunday, July 19, 2015

Cart before the horse

I'm not sure what caused it or the whole procedure of it; perhaps the cart was set before the horse or maybe it is simply a wrong headed reaction to a bad situation.  Either way it is all wrong.  The church has gotten into its head that works are more important than good and right theology.  It may seem strange to some, but the church has always done good works more or less.  Take a look at how many hospitals and charitable organizations are named after saints or run by church or para-church organizations.

Now I won't argue that the church could be doing more good works, but it shouldn't be assumed she has never done or is not now doing them.  Good theology without good works isn't merely dead theology but bad theology.  On the other hand bad theology with good works is mere activity and will save no one. Salvation, the spreading of the gospel, is the first work of the church here on earth. Without that we are worse than nothing for we have the truth which has been vouchsafed to us and we are hiding it from the world.

The church must take her responsibility to teach true doctrine about the one true God to the sheep, making sure they understand it well and put it into practice. She has all but set aside this emphasis for a show of it to those they think are watching.  She entertains and focuses on being culturally relevant while her lack of teaching correct, biblical doctrine makes here wholly irrelevant.  But this is what the world really wants.  As long as we keep our mouths shut or, at least, sound like we are agreeing with the world, we are left alone.  We are not a threat so the world and the enemy will not soon bother with us.  But give me one prophet who can't keep his mouth shut and a crucifixion is sure to be on the program.

This teaching is the responsibility of everyone, but especially leaders.  And not just the elders of the church but also the fathers or, if the father is unavailable, the mothers or grandparents or guardians. In Deuteronomy 6:6-7 God commanded the Israelites:

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

and

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

(Deuteronomy 11:19 ESV)

The Bible is full of the results of Israel's failure to do this.  And likewise the church, who equally has a mandate to teach God's commandments, has demonstrated abundantly the results of our failure in this area.

It is true that faith without works is dead (as I've already agreed to above), but the American mentality is that if one isn't working and doing many things he or she is lazy or somehow lacking in diligence.  Ours is the culture of the workaholic.  And what has it gotten us?  Over ninety-percent of the world's wealth and the most powerful country (read: bully) on the planet and little else of lasting benefit.  Broken homes, psychological disorders, violence, millions of murdered children, a culture spiraling into moral decay unprecedented in history and more.  And the church has followed after the world like the adulterous fool spoken of in Proverbs 7.  But boy is she busy.  So busy and yet the sheep die for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6).

It is time that all of God's congregations get back to the centrality of the teaching of God's word.  No more topical sermons centered around the cleverness of a good public speaker.  No more movies.  No more pep-talks.  No more concerts on Sunday morning (we get it already; you are a cool church with a really radical band.  But your sheep know nothing about true worship!).  It is time to preach the Word of God and not the opinions of men.  It is time to take a break from all your running to and from and sit at the feet of the Master.  It is time to choose the better part. It is time to get the horse back in front of the cart.


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