26 January 2011

Serve in Your Church...but First Ensure Your Church is Serving the Gospel of Christ

I finally got around to reading the Winter 2010 magazine of a certain international, interdenominational Bible study. (I will not be naming this organization in this article, though I suspect most of my readers know exactly what group I am talking about. I am also aware that members of the leadership of this organization at its "headquarters" occasionally visit this blog and search on a particular label and topic. To them let me first say "Hello and Welcome!" and also encourage them to contact me if ever they take issue with anything that is said.) This magazine was officially given to members in mid-December, prior to a 3-week Christmas break, and is available online. Per the terms of use of this organization's website, others are only to link to them if doing so in a purely favorable manner, however I must link to the magazine following the quotes below in order to properly represent my source. After all, a good researcher always provides his/her sources when making a declarative statement.

Thankfully, the heretical Message "Bible" isn't quoted this time, but this latest magazine sure does have a feel of the social gospel. It was disappointing to see such an emphasis on "serving" and "doing" and works, with little mention of bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ into those works. This edition of the magazine encourages its members to go into their local churches and congregations and serve Christ that way. Okay, not in and of itself a bad thing. However, what this Bible study group fails to do, not just in this magazine, but also in its classes, is to encourage its members to stand up for the Truth of God's Word if it is being compromised in their churches. Countless members and leaders in this group are attending weak, Gospel-less churches and yet the organization, rather than encouraging them to seek out a Bible-teaching church, encourages the people instead to stay and serve where they are. Consequently, there are members who have been attending this "Bible study" for over 10 years, yet remain in the cult of the Catholic Church because they have not been shown clearly from Scripture that the Catholic Church teaches a false gospel. There are members and leaders who attend Willow Creek Community Church, who hear Bill Hybels talk to them about listening for "God whispers" each week, yet have never been shown in this "Bible study" that Scripture expressly denies that such revelations are valid. So while it sounds noble to send your members out to serve in their churches, perhaps this organization would best first encourage its members to ensure that they are in a Scripturally, doctrinally sound and solid church, and only then to remain there and serve. And perhaps if they were referring to Christ's true Church, the invisible Church, I would be a little less intent on examining this further. Instead, they are of course referring to the visible church which is, quite regretfully, largely apostate and has drifted far from the truth of God's Word. Unfortunately, this organization often fails to alert its class members to the fact that many churches are obviously and blatantly straying from the clear Word of God.

A couple of quotes from the Winter 2010 magazine:
"God has a calling for [this organization]: Serve My Church. What if every [...] class member took this calling to heart?" (Online Source)
First of all, I would love to know how they came upon this supposed "calling." Was it a vision, a voice, or a liver shiver? Is it someplace in Scripture that I seem to have missed? Of course we all serve our fellow Christians out of love and in response to the Gospel and grace. But language like this implies some sort of extrabiblical revelation that this group has been ordained or, to use one of their own favorite terms, anointed by God to go out and serve.
"What would happen in your community if [this organization's] class members became sacrificial servants of their churches? What would happen if waves of [members] dedicated themselves to church-based works of social concern, propelled by God's sense of justice and concern for the poor, the oppressed, the widow, and the orphan?
Can you even begin to imagine the impact?" (emphasis added, Online Source)
Here's a question: What would happen in our communities if class members went out and preached the Gospel? Can you imagine the impact? What would happen if class members stood against the false hope of the social gospel and called people, even in their own churches, to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as both Lord and Savior? Wow, now there would be an impact!

I'm not against feeding the poor and all that stuff that gives you the warm-fuzzies and makes you feel like you did your good deed for the day, but I am against it when it is lifted up as more important than spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As Mary anointed Jesus just days before His death, and as His disciples grumbled against this "waste of money," did not our Lord say, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me?" (Matthew 26:10-11). Is not our worship of God, then, more important than any earthly ministry we may ever undertake? And in our worship of God, in our response to His amazing goodness and grace, should we not seek first to share His Gospel?

This organization declares itself as a "training ground" so that leaders and members may disperse into their church and community and lead their own Bible studies. Again, a very noble goal. However, what is the true reaction of this organization when members and/or leaders want to go out and begin their own Bible studies? I happen to have a personal answer to that, and it is not a favorable one, but for the time being I will leave personal and family experience out of this article. Instead I will ask, when we are sending the sheep into a church of wolves, what good will it do? Unfortunately, it is simply not possible these days to blindly support and endorse the local church as a generic group. The churches which have chosen the wide path of apostasy are far more prevalent than those who are faithfully walking the narrow road of truth. To elevate the local church without first alerting people as to the dangers and deceptions which are running rampant in most of them is perhaps just as grievous an act as actually participating in the false teaching.

In these days of apostasy, silence toward false teaching is just as dangerous and just as deadly as the error itself. This organization, I can say from experience, has largely chosen to be silent and to silence those who are not. May we pray for our brothers and sisters who have chosen blind acceptance and loyalty to any manmade organization over and above the Word of God.

4 comments:

  1. Excellent analysis of a significant problem. Thanks for this expose.

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  2. The same applies to sharing the gospel, which is not brought up in the class.

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  3. Thank you for an honest, objective evaluation of this Bible Study. I spent a year in it before going to seminary and had a difficult time with their policy of not correcting false teaching and erroneous comments. What good is a bible study if the absolute authority for truth is not used to correct those who are in error? It is no wonder that something that started so good has now been blown off course by every wind of doctrine. May the leadership take heed and navigate the ship back on the path of truth for the sake of the Gospel and the eternal destinies of those who are being influenced.

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  4. Thanks for your comment, Mike. What a privilege to have you visit my blog! It is sad that an organization with such a vast, reaching influence is influencing people with a dangerous mixture of truth and error, and doing so while claiming to be teaching the pure Word of God. My time spent in this study revealed to me that they place loyalty to their rules and their leadership over and above loyalty to the truth of God's Word. It is my prayer that God would open the eyes of the leadership so that they may repent and turn back to Him, teaching only His truth, clearly and unashamedly!

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