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Suffer or Compromise? The Great Collision

Friday, December 03, 2010 | Comments (53)

When you strive to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, you will be persecuted, you will suffer. That’s a promise right out of God’s Word (2 Tim. 3:12). And while history validates that truth, it also captures another tragic reality—you can mitigate your suffering for Christ with little or no effort. Just compromise.

For some, that translates into compromised speech—profanity and crass humor at work, and discussing openly what God intends to stay private and sacred. Others compromise their relationships. Where Scripture calls for separation, they cry for unity. Friendships, romantic pursuits, even ministry alliances all seem to push—or cross—biblical boundaries. Others resist suffering by blending in with the culture, immersing themselves into every fallen fad imaginable—movies, music, even their clothing is marked by compromise.

Certainly those examples won’t surprise you. But there’s another kind of compromise more subtle than risky relationships and risqué wardrobes. It’s compromised preaching. In fact, that’s where the trend begins. John addresses that in today’s sermon excerpt. Though he talks about preaching, his comments illustrate principles that apply to all of life.

Here’s John MacArthur, outlining the steps toward compromised preaching…

Listen to this 4-minute clip:

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#1  Posted by Jorge Alvarado  |  Friday, December 03, 2010at 8:57 PM

"Bible truth in Bible dress??" Just what is that? EVERYONE is saying they tell the truth. Some say avoid Harry Potter like the plague because it's a "portal" to allow satan a foothold, some say it's OK if you make it understood it's fantasy (and shouldn't that be obvious to begin with?) and totally harmless.

The "name it and claim it" folk have a lot of Scripture references to back up those teachings, yet some say they "misread" the Bible. I'm confused.

I think we ALL compromise at some point. How many call homosexuality an abomination up and until someone in THEIR family comes out of the closet?, then all of the sudden, the Bible was not teaching it's an abomination, and, after all, we shouldn't judge anyone.

#2  Posted by Joe Watkins  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 6:15 AM

Sadly I go to a "seeker friendly" church, where the gospel is hardly ever preached or taught from the pulpit. Lots of emotional or funny stories that are supposed to explain the text. I get nothing from these sermons, it actually makes me a bit mad. I stay because I have a girlfriend there, maybe that's my compromise. I know getting fed meat from the pulpit is more important. Thank you John McArthur, I've grown and learned so much a from you over the past 12 plus years. You're ministry keeps me sharp and focused, especially in an age(in the church) of compromise. I haven't been the most popular when I have spoken up, but standing for the truth of the gospel is a mandate for all Christians and it's my passion!

#3  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 1:06 PM

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#4  Posted by Shawn Clauther  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 2:18 PM

Could someone please explain what John MacArthur means by "Biblical Doctrine in Biblical Dress"? More specifically, what is the difference between giving a more modern illustration of a Biblical principle and the compromise of "Bible Doctrine in Cultural Dress," if there is any difference? Doesn't John MacArthur himself use illustrations to help expound some of his teachings?

I am not making any accusations; I am honestly trying to figure out what Pastor McArthur is trying to say. I am a regular user of his devotionals, and his ministry has helped my out on many an occasion.

#5  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 3:17 PM

Biblical Dress is a descriptive phrase John MacArthur picked up from R. L. Dabney. Here's a short excerpt from another message John preached that will provide more context. I think it will help answer your question(s).

R.L. Dabney points out that what happens in the history of the church is sort of a three-step downgrade. There is a time in the church—he calls it the Golden Age—when the truth of God is preached from the Word of God—when men exposit the Scripture. I grew up in a time like that. Bible exposition was flourishing. Bible exposition is what people did. Not any more. Dabney goes on to say there's a second step, when evangelicals say, "Well, we still believe biblical truth. We still believe sound doctrine. We're still evangelical. But we just think the Bible is archaic and people don't identify with it and it's boring so we've taken the truth and we've put it in some cultural context people can identify with to communicate better. It's still the truth...we just give it new clothes."

That's quite a transition from the Golden Age. First you preach the truth of God from the Word of God. That's the dress that God put on it, that's the way He clothed it. And God knows what is best for the soul and the spirit and the mind of a man who is under the convicting influence of the Holy Spirit, right? He knows what truth comes to a man most powerfully in the working of the Holy Spirit and that's why He put it in the Bible the way He did. But some people think they know better than God, so they take the truths of Scripture out of the Scripture, put them in another dress, clothe them differently in order to remove the stigma of the Bible, the offense of the Bible and somehow think they can get through to the culture in a sort of a soft-sell way and they have basically set the Bible aside because they think it's sort of embarrassing.

Dabney says, "This is the transition stage. In this, the doctrine taught is still that of Scripture but their relations are molded into conformity with the prevalent human dialectics and God's truth is now shorn of a part of its power over the soul."

Dabney pleads, "May we ever be content to exhibit Bible doctrine in its own Bible dress."

#6  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 3:32 PM

Jorge,

You’re missing the point of John’s mentioning Harry Potter. He wasn’t making a statement on the perils of reading J. K. Rowling novels. He was pointing out that when preachers are grasping for cultural relevance by featuring the culture in their messages—instead of Scripture—they’ve compromised the Word of God, the people of God, and their entire ministry.

I don’t know your level of exposure to churches in America, but survey the evangelical landscape in America, and you’ll see John’s point has proven accurate. When movie clips from Andy Griffith and Chronicles of Narnia are the main feature of the “message” on Sunday morning, hope is dim… And those are just “clean” versions of cultural dress. It gets worse—much worse.

-Tommy

#7  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 4:14 PM

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#8  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 4:22 PM

As a general rule, the preaching of biblical doctrine in biblical dress evidences a biblical saving faith. It gives evidence that the person believes the testimony of God that His word is that incorruptible seed that when preached to unregenerate sinners those whom God has elected to be saved will in fact become born again (see 1 Peter 1:23-25). It gives evidence that the person believes the testimony of Christ that all those whom the Father has given Him (who are not of the world even as He is not of the world) are sanctified by the truth, namely, His word (see John 17:9-17). It gives testimony that they seek the Glory of their Master and not their own. It gives evidence that they seek praise from God and not the praise of men, giving evidence of their own salvation (see Romans 2:29).

As a man thinks in his heart so is he. It is a man’s actions that give evidence to what he truly believes not what he says (see Proverbs 23:7 KJV). Those who seek the glory (honor) that comes from men rather than the glory (honor) that comes from God give evidence that they really do not believe (see John 5:44). Granted, they may have “faith” but in the end it will shown to be the “faith” like that of the demons, a faith that cannot save (see James 2:19, 20). One of the distinguishing traits of one who is born from above is that they embrace the truth of the word of God when it is accurately taught or proclaimed. This is so because the Holy Spirit who indwells every believer bears witness to that truth. Since they are His sheep they follow Him. In other words, they will obey the truth as they are born of the truth and they have the Spirit of truth within them.

Lest we think that this message is for the preacher and not for all of us. Bear in mind that the biblical meaning of confessing Christ before men is to SAY THE SAME THING as Christ before men. We face the same temptations as every preacher. Each one of us will either hear “depart from Me, I never knew you” (see Matthew 7:22-23) or “Well done good and faithful slave, enter into the joy of your Master” (see Matthew 25:23). All who are in Christ are both encouraged and exhorted to draw near to (with boldness) the throne of grace (Oh, what a glorious privilege) that we might receive mercy and find grace (enabling grace) to help in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). –His Unworthy Slave

#9  Posted by Shawn Clauther  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 4:47 PM

I think that I am starting to get the picture, but let me see if I'm getting it right. My question was whether there was a difference between using an illustration from OUTSIDE the Bible to explain Biblical truth, and compromising. If I am getting everything correct, the difference is whether the outside reference is additional or central.

In other words, an illustration like "Just as a child progresses from letters to words to sentences, so God's revelation progressed from types, ceremonies, and prophecies to final completion in Jesus Christ and the New Testament" (quote taken from today's Drawing Near devotional) is permissible, but a whole sermon based on analogy from the natural world is impermissible.

Am I right?

#10  Posted by Orlando Delgado  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 7:49 PM

Thanks Tommy, I get it now, but still do not like it, that phrase sounds very much like the 'Word of Faith Movement' or 'Purpose Driven Whatever'. Lord knows I do not want to compromise, do not want to sin, but I always mess up. So glad for the blessing of the Spirit's indwelling me for the conviction in my heart as I meditate on my actions, and study Scripture, I always end up begging for forgiveness.

Douglas, you seem very passionate about the Word. God bless you.

Thanks you all for your comments and questions, they really make me grow, so I can understand the Word of God better.

#11  Posted by Thomas Walker  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 7:57 PM

The point is valid that many churches and individuals compromise confessing their faith by clothing it in popular cultural images and idioms which weaken the original impact scriptural truth was meant to make.

The key here should be for the Christian to dig deeply into the meaning of the text, know current illustrations which can touch heart and mind, (like mustard seeds and light under bushels did for Jesus) and so make the truth live through his/her own in thoughts, words and deeds.

Just take a walk somewhere out in the country. Illustrations are all around you! God put them there for you to use like Jesus did. I live near the Ozark Mountains and try to hike several times a year. God is real and alive today.

If you know those who worry tell them to spend a day just noticing the "birds of the air." (direct command from Jesus)...much better than any video clip, though they have a place, yet not to usurp exposition of the text. This is LIVING WORD! This is incarnational truth!

#12  Posted by Joe Watkins  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 8:01 PM

If I had a dollar for every movie clip I've seen in church to set up a sermon. The whole point is scripture is not being exposited. It's usually a topical sermon or sermon series with a text thrown in to look spiritual. But the text has nothing to do with what's actually being talked about. Example: When Paul was in the boat caught in the storm the pastor used it for a sermon series on the storms of life. The sermon never actually explained the portions of scripture. It's compromise, so the unchurched(lost dead sinners) feel comfy. I've also been through many prayers after the sermon where people are asked to repeat a salvation prayer without ever hearing the gospel, no law,sin,judgment,hell,repentance,Jesus,salvation,redemption,etc...nothing, just repeat this prayer. It's very unsettling and disturbing. Lost people need to hear the whole gospel!

#13  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Saturday, December 04, 2010at 9:44 PM

Right on, Shawn. That’s what John was getting at.

Joe, I know what you’re talking about. Services like that are standard fare for many congregations—every single week. I can’t imagine facing a spiritual crisis of some kind, or experiencing a family tragedy, then coming to the LORD’s house only to be fed video clips from Andy Griffith or Rudy.

James offers remarkable wisdom for such teachers “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment” (James 3:1).

#14  Posted by Bryan Chasteen  |  Sunday, December 05, 2010at 6:58 AM

I used to think God's will for my life was something I would be searching for until I got to a place where I had achieved all I wanted and felt comfortable in what I was doing. I was selfish because I was concerned about "I" and not about what GOD wanted. I appreciate this blog series because it is clearly BIBLICAL and not man's opinion. The truth about persecution is also found in Matthew 5:10, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." This comes at the end of all the other "Blesseds" and is also the result of salvation and living righteously. I am glad that we have God's word to tell us how to live and what will happen when we obey it. It helps us be able to examine ourselves according to 2 Cor 13:4-5.

#15  Posted by Bryan Chasteen  |  Sunday, December 05, 2010at 7:11 AM

Jorge,

Jesus said that He would bring in fact, division. "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division;" Luke 12:51. If I was going to a church like yours I would do one of two things: 1. I would leave even if I had a girlfriend there and look for a girlfriend in a Bible-preaching church where I would be more apt to find one who loved God with all her heart, soul, mind and strength. A girl who loves me with all her heart, soul, etc. is not a girl that I am interested in and I don't care how beautiful she is! Human emotions and commitments are fickle. God said it himself that when a woman marries a man, her DESIRE will be for him [to rule over him]. When you get married to this girl, you will be in constant battle to rule the house according to God's word and your chief opponent will be this girl if she is not surrendered and submitted heart and soul to Jesus Christ. YOU must be surrendered to Christ more than to your emotions. This is one way to surrender to Christ by leaving this church and going to the church where the Bible is actually taught.

2. I could possibly stay in the church if I could find a MAN (not a woman) to disciple. Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20 told us to make disciples. Jesus made disciples by investing His life into them and teaching them the word of God. I am sure that in your current church, because the Bible isn't being taught, that there are several men that are in sexual sin that God can use you to help (That is if you are living in victory over it). You can fulfill the great comission right there and maybe start a group for men who are living in sexual sin and if you desire, I could suggest the material from purelifeministries.org

#16  Posted by Ben Ray  |  Sunday, December 05, 2010at 2:14 PM

Jorge,

Harry potter is harmless?

2 Timothy 4:1-5 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

how many are consumed, not only with Harry Potter, but with so many other forms of entertainment that do not build that person up spiritually. Harry potter is just especially grievous because it contains witchcraft, a thing that God hates. The point is people would rather find entertainment in the things of this world rather than delight themselves in Gods word.

#17  Posted by Greg Tegman  |  Sunday, December 05, 2010at 7:46 PM

Joe Watkins,I can relate with on this. I have attended a church,similar to the one you mentioned. This church has two screens on stage. It will often show a short clip from a Hollwood movie. The clip preceeds the sermon. Afterward,this clip is used as an example for that day's sermon. A few verses are used,then another story on that same topic. They will also present a personal life experience as well as a funny experience on the same topic. It is difficult for me to say that they are doing or saying anything blatanly wrong in general,but,I do leave empty. When I compare it to the kind of expositional,verse by verse teaching from such persons as MacArthur and others like him, I feel very full in a Biblical way. Tommy Clayton,Once again,thank you for correcting me. I'm working on your advice.

#18  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Monday, December 06, 2010at 6:32 AM

Paul tells Timothy to preach the Word, in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). I don't see a valid reason for preaching not to be from the Word of God. It would seem that the preacher who doesn't speak from the Word is relying more on his own words and ability to communicate than he is on God's Word and the Holy Spirit's ability to convict. For those of us who don't speak from a pulpit but seek to be a witness to those we encounter, we too, need to rely on God's Word. I think we need to at all times be reflective of scriptural teaching, and not be hesitant to actually quote scripture. God tells us that His Word is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) and Paul tells us not to be ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to salvation. We must not be men pleasers (Galatians 1:10), hesitant and afraid of the reaction of men (of which I am all too often). Rather, we should live to please our Lord alone, and pray for boldness to proclaim and teach His Word, doing so in love and gentleness.

#19  Posted by Joseph Estes  |  Monday, December 06, 2010at 7:00 AM

I understand the danger of non expository preaching because you can slowly, overtime, depart from the truth. Should we then scrutinize preaching that is mixed between expository and also based on life experience? When I talk about life experience I mean how pastors often draw on parallels from their own life to reinforce a message. This may sound like common sense, but doesn't the life experience stand the chance of being used in another pastor's sermon and drawing farther and farther from the actual scripture?

#20  Posted by Keith Krohn  |  Monday, December 06, 2010at 3:29 PM

I agree with Bryan (Post #15) regarding the best kind of woman a Christian man is to have: Find a woman who loves God MORE than herself and YOU and you've got yourself a potential wife. Even then, the struggle a wife will have with her sinful flesh will be great at times but if you are not on the same page together about God first, above all, and have BOTH been made new in Christ, you will not have a marriage as God intends it for His children.

#21  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Monday, December 06, 2010at 5:05 PM

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#22  Posted by Jorge Alvarado  |  Monday, December 06, 2010at 7:38 PM

#16 Posted by Ben Ray

Re "...how many are consumed, not only with Harry Potter, but with so many other forms of entertainment that do not build that person up spiritually. Harry potter is just especially grievous because it contains witchcraft, a thing that God hates. The point is people would rather find entertainment in the things of this world rather than delight themselves in Gods word."

Well, that's kinda what I was getting at. The way I see it, there would be nothing wrong with using ANY movie, play, or whatever secular society shows that portrays the struggle between good and evil (old or new) as long as one kept the context clear. It's just a movie, or game, or whatever, and it needs to be appropriate either to an age group, or, in our case, with "faith" age.

Take another example: The Lord of the Rings. I remember when the "Christians" were oh so happy because that was so much better than H.P. and a good alternative. Not necessarily openly Christian, but with a good Christian message. Despite it being so violent, and with so many "obscure" and "dark" overtones (that king in the last movie even conjured up the dead to help him win a battle, for crying out loud) (( talk about the ends justifying the needs?? (from a previous blog subject)).

I believe it's more important to place things in their proper place. To teach that one should NOT get their theology from the world of entertainment. Even "The Passion of the Christ" had it's problems, remember??

To say one compromises his beliefs when enjoying a movie, or whatever CAN be misleading.

#23  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Monday, December 06, 2010at 8:52 PM

In a follow-up series on this blog, we’ll be discussing how to make choices in the gray areas where the Bible provides no explicit instruction, but only gives principles. That discussion will include choices in entertainment—songs, Internet, movies. Yes, Harry Potter. Let’s hold off on that conversation until then.

You’ve picked up on John’s point. God’s Word has been replaced. The replacement is not as important as the sin of slighting God’s Word. John has commented before that when he sees or hears of churches that practice such foolishness, he’s mindful of King Saul trying to suit up little David in his over-sized armor. David tests the armor and feels like a fool. He can’t maneuver. He can’t fight. He can’t win. So…he resorts to what God has always blessed in the past—his trusty shepherd’s sling.

The Bible is that sling. Culture is the armor. Get it…?

Ever thought about what might have happened to David if he ventured down in the valley to fight Goliath in Saul’s armor instead of wielding his shepherd’s sling?

God likes to get glory from the things man deems foolish and despicable. Goliath mocked David’s battle strategy. But he didn’t laugh long…

#25  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Tuesday, December 07, 2010at 12:42 AM

Now that we are back on topic, the sin of slighting God’s word.

In regards to the market driven approach … “It appeals to people at the level of their fallen-ness and promises to give them what they lust for in their unredeemed condition.” “There are many, many ways to build the first church of the tares, many ways, behind which, Satan is the real power.”(John MacArthur-Shepherds’ Conference 2008) In the process of reading “Ashamed of the Gospel” in 2003, I was brought to such a level of conviction and awareness of sin that at the time was so terrifying, I wasn’t sure I could even be forgiven. I fled to Christ for mercy holding fast to His claim to save sinners. What was my sin? I had trivialized the seriousness of slighting God’s word. It was not so much that I had been ashamed of His word (I had experienced suffering because of the word) as that I had associations with “ministries” who had. In the end I discovered that not only did they not have a love of the truth, they opposed the truth. Not only did they not have a concern for the glory of God, they resented the glory of God because it took away from their own glory. It was all about self. They were building the kingdom of self. They had never surrendered themselves to the lordship of the “Lord of Lords”! Without holiness, no one shall see the Lord.-His Unworthy Slave

#26  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Tuesday, December 07, 2010at 1:10 PM

One of my favorite pastors-Jeff Noblit-preached a sermon titled The Milky Way. His assessment of modern day preaching is what I see much of in SBC churches as well as other area churches. The gist of what Jeff said, and I fully agree, is that pastors and church leadership endeavor to continuously keep their congregants milk-dependent rather than weaning them from elementary principles and teaching them deeper truths from God's Word.

Here is a link to Jeff's sermon...listen when you can!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O8Z8MV838xc

#27  Posted by Greg Corron  |  Wednesday, December 08, 2010at 10:06 AM

The new styles of preaching and the other approaches such as storytelling are just a vehicle to sneak in different meanings of the gospel. I agree that there is no call to use a different vehicle other than authoritative, expository preaching from biblical texts. But even more concerning is what is being smuggled in those vehicles - newly defined words.

"Grace" is usually redefined as a free ticket to heaven, no questions asked, or just the fulfillment of your desire to be loved, instead of God's special and complete provision of the things needed for salvation (the atonement, right understanding of the gospel, the reborn conscience, etc). "Faith" is usually redefined as "just believe" or living in your imagination, rather than knowing the trustworthy, historical, and accurate knowledge of salvation preserved in the Bible and loving that knowledge and its meaning.

So we can criticize the formats that carry in the redefined words, or examine the meaning being taught. We can learn a lot from the wrong meanings that are given to these important words. They may help us to see how we may have been too careless in understanding the clear meaning of the gospel.

So if you are blessed with a good preacher who does not try to dress up the Bible in new clothes, that is good. But make sure that he can define his words accurately and with clarity. Seek good preaching, but even more importantly, seek clarity!

#28  Posted by Tommy Clayton  |  Wednesday, December 08, 2010at 10:15 AM

Good word, Greg:

But I wouldn’t include a “reborn conscience” in my list of things needed for salvation. Whatever you may have meant by that term, it could confuse people. And as you mentioned, we must aim for clarity, especially when discussing issues pertaining to salvation.

What we need for salvation is comprehension of the gospel of Christ, faith, and repentance, all gifts of Grace.

A rightly-informed, or cleansed conscience will follow as a result of salvation. It’s the cart, not the horse, if you will.

-Tommy

#29  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, December 08, 2010at 4:05 PM

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#30  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Wednesday, December 08, 2010at 4:56 PM

Hi Dan,

I don't know that we could go so far as to say that it would be a sin, but I do think it would be displeasing to God.

Considering the fact that most believers only gather together for 1-2 hours on Sunday morning for worship, I can't imagine why that hour has to be sacrificed instead of the other 165 hours in the week.

#31  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Wednesday, December 08, 2010at 5:12 PM

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#32  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 7:09 AM

Here is a brief portion of the belief statement from such a "community driven church":

"God accepts us just as we are, but never intends for us to stay just as we were, rather to gain glimpses of heaven by the way we choose to live our life on Earth."

Here is what you can expect if you wish to attend this "church":

* Dynamic Worship

* Relevant Messages

* Engaging Children’s Ministry (Nursery – 5th Grade)

* Continental Breakfast and Coffee

* Casual Dress (Flip Flops welcome!)

Wow!

#33  Posted by Greg Corron  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 8:06 AM

Tommy:

I see your point Tommy, and you are right that we are given a clean conscience when we accept the Gospel. But I was thinking along the lines of repentance, which depends on the conscience being convicted of sin. My belief is that we are unable to repent until God gives us a new conscience. Even if we disagree on this point, we probably agree that God intervenes in some way in the conscience of the unbeliever to bring about repentance. Some of the texts that pointed me in this direction are 2 Tim 2:25, Acts 11:18, and 2 Chron 30:12.

Greg

#34  Posted by Joanne Beange  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 9:47 AM

to Dan Wilson #29

In answer to your question we need to look at the purpose of the church in the first place. Go to Acts 2:42 where it states "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers." Church is for believers and is a place where they can 1) be taught doctrine, 2) have fellowship with other believers where they strengthen each other in the Lord, 3)take communion, and 4) pray together. If the church does not meet these needs of the believers then how will they be able to go out and serve effectively in the community?

Verse 47b states "and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." Believers get fed and strengthened in the church, then go out and witness and the Spirit uses that witness to save them and add them to the church.

Hebrews 10:25 states "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Believers need that time together to get them ready to face the world and be of use to it. Without the strong Biblical foundation, compromise sets in and believers unwittingly lose their effectiveness because they are just like the world.

Joanne

#35  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 11:01 AM

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#36  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 4:41 PM

Dan, you may not have realized it but your question brings to the forefront a very terrifying reality that exists in the “church”. By God’s grace I shall endeavor to address the issue in a manner that will awaken the saints out of their slumber and will absolve me of the blood of those who cleave to a false assurance of salvation and whose righteousness, in the end, will prove to be nothing more than filthy rags.

I shall start by bringing to our remembrance a quote from the introduction. “But there’s another kind of compromise more subtle than risky relationships and risqué wardrobes. It’s compromised preaching. In fact, that’s where the trend begins.” What is this trend? Let us not forget the title of the subject at hand. “Suffer or Compromise.” The issue at hand is the issue of the avoidance of suffering. How can this be? The very calling of the Church, this coming to Christ and following Him, necessitates suffering. That is why our Master warned us to count the cost. The church is following another Jesus, you know, the popular Jesus, the one that cannot and does not save from sin. The Church, however, is still suffering and still following their Master, feebly perhaps but faithfully nonetheless.

The method through which this trend of compromise, this method of bait and switch, is accomplished through this sin of slighting God’s word on the part of preachers. Notice John’s point. It is the preachers who start this departure from suffering. I submit to you that they are not alone in this departure from suffering. They are merely leading the way. They have willing followers. This brings us back to your question Dan, “Is it displeasing in God's eyes to cancel worshiping God to serve the community without one in community asking them to?”

I can find nowhere in God’s word that tells us to go out and serve our community. Where in the gospels do we see such a command? Where in the book of Acts do we see such an example? It is a fraud. It is heresy and is a bait and switch which will bring you the praise of man but in doing so you will forfeit the praise which comes from God. “Objection; Christ served His community.” Answer; Christ performed many miracles that testified to the fact that He was the Messiah, even God in the flesh. His multiplying of the loaves and fish demonstrated that He was the Bread of Life. When He rebuked them for coming for the bread which perishes (John 6:27), what was His community’s response? They grumbled (see John 6:41) and later cried crucify. He came to do the will of the Father and give them His words (John 12:49) not to serve His community. We also are called to be His witnesses and make disciples, proclaiming and teaching His Word and to joyously and faithfully follow Him in His sufferings, not to “serve our community”. -His Unworthy Slave

#37  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 4:43 PM

To illustrate my previous post from another angle I must ask: Have we forgotten that Satan is the god of this world (2Corinthians 4:4) and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1John 5:19)? Have we forgotten that the wrath of God abides on the sons of disobedience (see John 3:36, Ephesians 2:2, 3)? Quaint little pleasantries and niceties will do them no good. It only serves to give them a false sense of reality and a false sense of their true spiritual condition. (Consider what a wicked thing it is to speak peace, peace to a soul when there is no peace. Consider also the judgment of God upon such prophets as revealed in Ezekiel 13:9, 10). Nothing less than the Sword of the Spirit, the Living and Abiding Word of God will deliver a child of wrath out of their dreadful condition. Have we forgotten that we were once also, by nature, a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3)? (Notice it says “were”). What fellowship does light have with darkness? Our citizenship and fellowship is no longer with “our community”. We have a new citizenship and a new fellowship. What a sweet fellowship it is! What a blessed hope the saints truly have! –His Unworthy Slave

A word of encouragement to those of you who know and believe these things: Do you grieve because of your inconsistency? Keep going, because you are not alone. Keep going because your brothers and sisters in Christ also struggle to be like their Master. You are not alone because your Master has not forsaken you. A bruised reed He will not break. Most importantly, keep going to your Master. Can you see Him in His Priestly robes? Look a little longer, go to Hebrews 4:15-16. Can you see Him now? How lovely He is. He ever lives to make intercession for His own (Hebrews 7:25). Keep going to Him, keep receiving His mercy and keep petitioning Him for His enabling grace. If you are faithful to do this you will become more and more consistent in your walk and someday you will see Him in all of His glory and you will finally serve Him in the manner in which He is worthy. –His Unworthy Slave

#38  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 4:46 PM

Douglas,

I'd like to respond, but before I do, can you clarify something? Are you saying that you do not think believers are ever to serve their community in any way? Or does what you're saying apply to Sunday mornings?

I guess I should ask it this way: what is the believer's and church's relationship to the community? It's a big question, but could you answer it as briefly as possible?

#40  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 5:03 PM

Gabriel, I would pose the question this way. "What is the believer's and the Churches relationship to the world." I would submit to you that we can see these things fleshed out in the book of Acts. We dare not get our examples by observing what is going on in these days of departure from the faith. -His Unworthy Slave

#41  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 6:26 PM

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#43  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Thursday, December 09, 2010at 9:28 PM

I see... well, I just got a new Bible today and I was happy to find that it didn't end in Acts, but actually ended with maps. Actually, if it did end in Acts you couldn't call yourself a slave... that comes later.

As far as serving the community, would you agree that evangelism is serving the community? Whether door-to-door, or standing on a street corner, or handing out literature? That's a kind of service isn't it? I think so. Service is simply a way of meeting needs. The world/community needs Christ, so we serve them when we share the gospel.

Can an unbeliever come to a believer with marriage problems and the believer use that as an opportunity to share Christ as the only source of help? That's serving them, isn't it?

If it is, can a church host a counseling center during the week where unbelievers can go for help and hear the gospel on their first or second appointment? That's serving people, right?

Well, what if the church went and served food at a homeless shelter gaining an audience for the gospel? Can a church dish out food and share the gospel?

Here is a problem I see in your thinking: we don't know how everyone came to believe in Jesus in Acts. We do know that a lot of them came to faith through faithful preaching. But there are many statements of the growth of the church untied to a sermon or preaching ministry.

So long as the church remains focused on the proclamation of the gospel, I think Scripture gives a lot of freedom in how the gospel is shared. Of course wisdom is necessary, but since Acts is descriptive not prescriptive, we cannot base our understanding of the church exclusively on Acts.

#44  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, December 10, 2010at 5:32 AM

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#45  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Friday, December 10, 2010at 6:01 AM

To answer the question of what is the church's relationship with the world, Jesus said we are to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-14). We also are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to answer the question, who is our neighbor, Jesus told the parable of the good Samaritan. This parable depicts a Samaritan seeing someone in need and helping them.

Jesus told us to go out into all the world and spread the gospel. Certainly this would include our communities. As we go, we will see needs and surely we are to try to meet them, in the love of Christ, as His representatives. We do all for His glory, proclaiming His Word as we serve in love.

#46  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Friday, December 10, 2010at 6:15 AM

I think there is a fine line between what Douglas has asserted and how Gabrielle has responded. First there are clear indications in scripture that we should be very mindful to assist our "brethren" in times of need...such as Matthew 25:31-46 and James 1:27 (among others)

However, there also seems to be an emphasis in many evangelical circles to ONLY serve the community at large with needs that are temporal while totally and completely ignoring essentials of the faith such as preaching repentance and acceptance of Christ by faith.

Paul would say these words as his primary focus to one of his audiences: "For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2

There must be a balance between FIRST preaching the Gospel THEN providing for the "brethren" (that terminology is key).

#47  Posted by Greg Corron  |  Friday, December 10, 2010at 10:39 AM

Gabriel made a valid point about Acts being descriptive rather than prescriptive. However, when it comes to preaching, it is clear that God has ordained the kind of preaching done by Jesus, the apostles, and the prophets as the chief (though not only) means of disseminating truth. Why is it clear? Because these people continued to preach even when no one wanted them to. They didn't switch to a more effective method at those times. The New Testament commands preaching and says that it is absolutely vital to the spread of the Gospel (2 Tim 4:2, Rom 10:14).

This preaching must be authoritative in keeping with the Bible's authority. Even when people disdain this kind of preaching, we should remember that Jesus persisted even when his own disciples complained and took offense (John 6:60). They wanted him to tone down the rhetoric so he would not drive people away. But he would have none of it. He explained that although the words preached were essential, it wasn't the preacher that persuaded people to believe, but God's sovereign will and the Holy Spirit (John 6:63-65). If we put less emphasis on preaching and try to be more effective persuaders, then we don't really understand this dynamic.

#48  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Friday, December 10, 2010at 12:28 PM

This trend of avoidance of suffering through the slighting of God’s word is often times very subtle. Indeed sin itself is so very subtle, so often we are unable to see it without the working of the Holy Spirit, the influence of the living and abiding word of God, and the help of another brother or sister or even a neighbor for that matter. To illustrate this subtlety and at the same time attempt to shed further light on the point I have been attempting to make, I shall use the example of what we call the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:29-37. Don’t miss the fact that this parable was given to a man who was “wishing to justify himself”. It was a response to the question “And who is my neighbor?”.

We must go back to Leviticus 19:15-18 to see the context of the scripture from which this phrase “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” is being quoted. In verse 15 we are warned to be righteous in our judgment, neither being partial to the poor nor deferring to the great. In verse 16 we are warned not to “stand against the blood of our neighbor”, nor to go about as a talebearer (a merchant carrying the wares of gossip). Notice the warning: “I am the Lord”. In verse 17 we are warned not to hate our neighbor in our hearts. This “hating” of our neighbor is then illustrated through the issuing of a positive command, namely: “you shall surely reprove your neighbor” you shall not incur sin because of him. Don’t miss this warning of not incurring sin. In verse 18 we are given another warning. We are not to take vengeance nor bear a grudge. It is here that we find the phrase which is quoted “you shall love your neighbor as yourself”. It is then concluded with the warning “I am the Lord”. _His Unworthy Slave

#49  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Friday, December 10, 2010at 12:28 PM

The context of the scripture from which this phrase “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” is being quoted clearly reveals that to reprove your neighbor is to love your neighbor. To fail in this is to hate our neighbor. We see these same commands being fleshed out in Matthew 18:15-20 (please take the time to study this text).

Failure to understand the scriptural context of the text from which this scripture is quoted can only lead to disastrous results. Rather than showing mercy to this poor man who had been beaten, robbed, stripped and left for dead as he took that dangerous journey from Jericho to Jerusalem we may find ourselves “ministering” to the very individuals who were responsible for this wickedness and are now under the wrath of God as it is being revealed from heaven (see Romans 1:18). In doing so we shall no doubt experience God’s displeasure as did that good king Jehoshaphat (see 2 Chronicles 19:2). It takes much grace to reprove and warn others. More often than not it leads to all manner of evil spoken against us falsely or other forms of suffering. Occasionally, however, we are both privileged and blessed to witness the glory of Christ being made manifest in the life of a soul. Oh, for more grace! –His Unworthy Slave

#50  Posted by Gabriel Powell  |  Friday, December 10, 2010at 12:53 PM

Mary, Keith, and Greg: Great comments!

Douglas, I'm not quite sure what you're getting at. I can see what you're saying about how loving our neighbor is reproving them (though it is so much more than that as the NT teaches), but I'm not sure what you mean by ministering to the ones responsible for the violent robbery. Can you be more specific as to the point you're trying to make?

#52  Posted by Dan Wilson  |  Friday, December 10, 2010at 2:21 PM

Hi Douglas,

I just lost my job yesterday. I was let go cause I was no longer a member of the church where I work as a janitor. My emotions got the

best of me. Forgive me.

I lost my confidence and I wasn't thinking what I wrote.

You are right that I need to stay on the point of the blog and I appreciate it.

I agree to we as Christians to present the Gospel to all flesh. Matt 28

is a powerful statement.

Forgive me too, Gabriel.

#53  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Friday, December 10, 2010at 6:18 PM

Gabriel, in reference to your statement, “I'm not sure what you mean by ministering to the ones responsible for the violent robbery.”, lest I succumb to the temptation of resorting to persuasive words of wisdom, please allow me to reference other scriptures to try to illustrate my point. In Matthew chapters 24 and 25 Christ answers the disciples’ questions regarding the end of the age and His second coming. He starts out with warnings surrounding the period of the great tribulation and His actual second coming when He comes in all of His glory. He gives several parables which serve to warn false believers and true believers alike. It will be a time of reckoning, a time of giving account. Matthew 25:31-46 describe the actual separating of the sheep from the goats. Unless the reader understands the historical events which take place prior to this event, they may very likely end up being goats instead of sheep.

There is only one distinguishing trait that identifies the sheep from the goats. They had been ministering to the brethren. They did so because they were in fact brethren themselves. Their acts of kindness to one another were so spontaneous that they were shocked when their Master made reference to them. Remember, they had been hated by all nations on account of His name (Matthew 24:9). The goats on the other hand were shocked when their Judge made reference to their failure to “minister” to His brethren. They had been busy “ministering” (to the children of wrath) as is evidenced by their shock. They had survived the great tribulation and all the terrifying judgments described in Revelation 6:1 to Revelation 19:6 because they were among those who had been described in the parables of Matthew chapter 24 and 25 which served to warn false believers and true believers alike. They were slaves” but they had not giving them their “food” (the word) at the proper time. They were “virgins” but they were foolish virgins. They had been given a talent but they had been “afraid”. They had avoided suffering.

Philippians 1:9-11 also address this issue as well. Paul prays that their love would abound more and more but notice that it would be according to “real knowledge and all discernment” in order that they might be found to be sincere and blameless until that “day of Christ”. There is a love that in the end will be judged to have caused stumbling and to have been impure. In reality it caused the sinner to feel secure in their unsaved condition. It spoke “peace, peace” when there was no peace. I hope this helps.

Dan, fear not, no offence was taken. I shall endeavor to keep your name before His throne of grace. Grace, mercy and peace be multiplied to you. –His Unworthy Slave

#54  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Saturday, December 11, 2010at 8:34 AM

Douglas...your comment "Unless the reader understands the historical events which take place prior to this event, they may very likely end up being goats instead of sheep." is rather concerning. That ideology is a theological misstep as it appears to place man in ultimate charge of his salvation. By stating that "they may very likely end up..." you appear to be supporting a theology that defies the sovereignty of God in salvation (correct me if I am wrong).

The truth is that only the sinner's acceptance by faith (which faith is also a gift from God as Ephesians 2:8-9 says...as is repentance as 2 Timothy 2:25 says) of the Gospel will determine the difference between who are sheep and who are goats.

Ephesians 1:4 (and the are a myriad of other texts that bear this out) states: "...He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." This scripture says nothing about our community endeavors being involved in that decision.

I have stated previously and do so again that an outworking of true conversion is benevolence to the brethren. However, benevolence by a non-converted individual has ZERO bearing on salvation...otherwise that would equate to works-salvation and that is anathema according to Paul.

#55  Posted by Keith Farmer  |  Saturday, December 11, 2010at 8:41 AM

One more post for now.

In terms of countering compromised preaching here is an appropriate text that should be considered: 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 (New King James Version)

The Light of Christ’s Gospel

1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

John MacArthur comments on this passage by stating: "The false teachers accused Paul of preaching an antiquated message. So Paul showed that the problem was not with the message or the messenger, but with the hearers headed for hell (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:14). The preacher cannot persuade people to believe; only God can do that."

#56  Posted by Mary Kidwell  |  Saturday, December 11, 2010at 7:12 PM

I agree with the comment that we are not called to make the sinner comfortable in his sin. That gets us back to where the blog started, the problem of compromised preaching. We need to correctly handle the Word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and not shrink back from proclaiming it. At the same time, if we are to be imitators of Christ, we are called to serve, as He modeled for us. He said himself that He did not come to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Jesus did not limit His serving to believers, but as He served He taught and proclaimed truth. The parable of the Good Samaritan was told to a Pharisee. The Pharisees were careful not to have anything to do with anyone whom they did not deem righteous which included all Gentiles. Jesus was rebuking this attitude in telling the parable. Jesus went out in the crowds serving and teaching. We should do likewise, always for the glory of God.

#57  Posted by Douglas Grogg  |  Saturday, December 11, 2010at 7:23 PM

Keith, thank you for your comments, I treasure the doctrine of the sovereignty of God in election. The text though does clearly indicate that there was only one distinguishing trait that identified the sheep from the goats. The sheep manifested, as you put it, “an outworking of true conversion” namely, “benevolence to the brethren”. Perhaps I failed to effectively convey the historical context of what this time period will be like. I had pointed out that they had been hated by all nations on account of His name. The text however, also states that they would be delivered up to be afflicted and killed. The next verse goes on to warn that many would be “caused to stumble” and would “betray and hate one another” (Matthew 24:9, 10). Note that the rocky ground hearers are “caused to stumble” (same word in the Greek) when persecutions or afflictions arise BECAISE OF THE WORD (Matthew 13:20, 21). Those who “had fallen away” betrayed and hated those who were faithful to the word. The goats hated the sheep. Not only is the great tribulation a time of great persecution and martyrdom, it is also a time of faithful proclamation of God’s word! They overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, the word of their testimony and they loved not their lives, unto death (Revelation 12:11).

We currently have “churches” which are filled with rocky ground hearers being led by rocky ground preachers. They avoid suffering (persecutions and afflictions) by committing this “sin of slighting God’s word”. They are unregenerate and, as such, have no imputed righteousness and as such are incapable of possessing imparted righteousness, otherwise known as holiness or sanctification. (As a side note, we are exhorted to pursue holiness. You cannot pursue that which imputed. Without holiness no one, no exceptions, will see the Lord!) Because they have never been brought to see their dreadful condition, (as you pointed out from the scripture, the god of this world has blinded them.), they have never fled to the biblical Jesus for deliverance from their sins. Since they have no true righteousness, they cloth themselves with the filthy rags of good works, namely, benevolence, otherwise known as the social gospel. The flesh is not only capable of, but delights in such things. Look at Hollywood. For that matter, look at Washington D.C., of course the difference is they use someone else’s money. I am persuaded that because of the goats’ reaction of shock, they had been clothing themselves the filthy rags of a social gospel works based system. It is my hope that if there are any who associate themselves with the “church of the rocky ground hearers" they will be brought to see their dreadful condition, count the cost, flee to Christ for mercy and come out from among them or better yet, endeavor to “snatch some out of the flames" (Jude 23). –His Unworthy Slave