by R.J. Evans
The Apostle Paul warned the Ephesian elders that “from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:30). Paul spoke of men such as Hymenaeus and Alexander who caused other’s faith to “have suffered shipwreck” (1 Tim. 1:19), He also told Timothy of Hymenaeus and Philetus whose message “spread like cancer...saying the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:17-18). The Apostle John stated: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1).
Just as there were false teachers and false doctrine that threatened the people of God in the first century, the same danger exists today in the 21st century. To illustrate this, I would like to cite a few examples that I, personally, have been made aware of over the past year or so.
Recently, I decided to go to the website of a church in our area. I found listed on their web page and monthly calendar for February, 2013: A woman “campus minister”; “Parents Night Out”— providing fun, games, entertainment, movies, etc.; “Ladies Swap Party” and “LTC scrapbooking”; a men’s basketball team; bringing in a professional comedian, Bob Smiley, as their “entertainment” for young people, charging $15 per person. There were other unscriptural activities listed, but these should be enough for us to see how many “social gospel” activities make up the work of this church. Did Christ die for church ball teams, professional comedians, entertainment, etc.?
My wife’s first cousin emailed us a copy of a letter she wrote to one of the elders where she had been attending. In the letter she listed several reasons why she was leaving that congregation. They were as follows: Praise Teams—emphasis on their professional voices, with women taking a leading role in the assembly; adding musical instruments in other parts of the meeting house; allowing teachers to use books written by denominational preachers such as Rick Warren and Max Lucado; the celebration of Christmas and Easter. Yes, it is clearly evident why she had scriptural concerns and reasons for leaving that congregation.
More and more, I am hearing from my brethren in different parts of the country who are telling me things that are shocking and difficult to believe. This is so disappointing and discouraging. It is regretful to write about these matters, but it is necessary so that we can be forewarned and aware of what is going on in the brotherhood.
We now have some who are telling us that the Bible is just a story or narrative. One wrote about the book of Acts stating— “It’s about the work of the Holy Spirit in taking the gospel of Jesus Christ from Jerusalem (the capital of the Jewish nation) to Rome (the capital of the Roman, gentile world)...It’s narrative, not teaching...It’s not written to give law, though we see in it how early Christians obeyed Christ.” According to this doctrine, we are wrong to believe that such books as Acts serve as a pattern for us today. This kind of “new hermeneutic” will do away with establishing Bible authority by commands/statements, approved apostolic examples, and necessary inferences.
There are some who are advocating that the Lord’s Supper be turned into a meal (this is amazing in light of what 1 Cor. 11:22 & 34 teaches); some are changing the Lord’s Supper from strictly being a memorial of Christ’s death (1 Cor. 11:26); some are advocating that we partake of the Lord’s Supper on other days, not just on the “first day of the week” (Acts 20:7). Some believe that everything we do in our daily lives is worship. So according to them, when the congregation assembles, it is not to worship, but rather to encourage. Thus, the preacher should not preach against sin, error, etc. The thrust of his sermons must always be positive, revolving around the subject of love. Some, while not preaching it publicly from the pulpit, but privately, are saying they are no longer opposed to the use of instrumental music in worship. Some are privately revealing that they do not believe baptism is really essential for salvation.
The change agents who are engaging in unscriptural innovations think of themselves as “progressive”; in reality, I believe the proper description is digressive. Once the “old paths” (Jer. 6:16) are abandoned, the end result is never good. Back in the late ‘60s, a young gospel preacher in Baton Rouge, LA started drifting toward apostasy. He and I were friends during those years. Today, he is an Episcopal priest on the west side of the Mississippi River here in Louisiana. This is truly sad! When we see individuals and entire congregations go off into apostasy, we can then understand how Paul must have felt after mentioning all his perils and hardships, stating— “besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28).