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Posts Tagged ‘apostasy’

There is really no easy way to say this, but the state of far too many of our Southern Baptist Churches is poor. One has to look no further than the deacons who serve as de facto elders in many churches.

Those coming from other denominations may be unaware of the leadership model commonly found in Baptist churches. In these churches, the deacons function as ruling elders. They are the authority in the church, superseded only by congregational vote. Instead of a plurality of elders having oversight of the church in teaching and administration, most SBC churches (and most other Baptist denominations as well) have deacons functioning in that role. (Even more egregious than this model is the one that has a church council operating as ruling elders, but that is for another discussion.)

Usually these deacons are nominated and voted upon by the congregation. Business sense and popularity are often the criteria for getting elected. Spiritual requirements found in 1 Timothy 3:8-13 are seldom acknowledged. These deacons typically have little awareness of the Scriptures, no knowledge of church history, no understanding of why they are Baptists other than immersion as the mode of baptism, and yet have authority over the church. When someone in the church has a complaint about the pastor, these deacons confront the pastor to change in order to keep peace in the church. Heaven forbid that a disgruntled church member offended because his sin is confronted through the preaching of the Word should leave and take his money with him. At all costs, the budget must be met!

But why do we have this situation? The blame cannot help but be placed upon pastors who have been more concerned with keeping their positions than being faithful to the Scriptures. Pastors have before remarked about some particular doctrine with this: “I believe that, but I can’t preach it in my church. They won’t stand for it.” Didn’t the apostle Paul warn us of this very thing?

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4, ESV)

So now we have church after church led by deacons who possess little understanding of the Scriptures and yet determine whether the church’s pastor stays or goes. Too often they are more concerned about the budget and attendance than with sound doctrine and godly living. Have our churches ever been in a more deplorable condition? I doubt it. May God have mercy on the pastor who seeks to be faithful to the Scriptures in such churches. Unless God intervenes, he will find himself either without employment or with a drastically-reduced congregation (as well as reduced compensation). And often his antagonist will be some curmudgeon retired pastor who has remained as a member of the congregation, the very cause for the congregation’s wretched spiritual condition! (I have in mind a church in which this has recently occurred.)

May God be pleased to change the hearts of our people to be submissive to his Scriptures, to seek to glorify him in all things, and to rejoice in having pastors who preach the whole counsel of God.

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In a June 28 Associated Press story entitled “Presbyterian Assembly votes to drop homosexual clergy ban,” Ed Gorski reports that

The denomination’s General Assembly, meeting in San Jose, Calif., voted 54 percent to 46 percent Friday to drop the requirement that would-be ministers, deacons and elders live in ‘fidelity within the covenant of marriage between and a man and a woman, or chastity in singleness.’ The proposed change to the church constitution requires approval from a majority the nation’s 173 presbyteries, or regional church bodies — a yearlong process that has proven to be a barrier to similar efforts in the past.

As if that were not enough, a second vote entrenched the denomination in its depravity:

Of equal importance to advocates on both side[s] of the debate, the assembly also voted to allow gay and lesbian candidates for ordination to conscientiously object to the existing standard. Local presbyteries and church councils that approve ordinations would consider such requests on a case-by-case basis. That vote was an ‘an authoritative interpretation’ of the church constitution rather than a change to it, so it goes into effect immediately. The interpretation supersedes a ruling from the church’s high court, issued in February, that said there were no exceptions to the so-called ‘fidelity and chastity’ requirement.

Surely the time for Christians to separate from the PCUSA has come. By its actions, the PCUSA has shown that, as a national body, it is no longer a Christian denomination. Indeed, it is apostate. While Christians may differ over doctrine and the interpretation of portions of Scripture, Christians do not reject that which is clear in the Bible. No Christian will support homosexuality as a union blessed by God because the Scriptures are clear. Homosexuality represents the bottom of human depravity: “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27, ESV).

Those who claim to follow Christ and yet practice homosexuality worship a Christ of their imagination, a Christ fashioned by the deception of their own hearts. And yes, those of us who call attention to their rebellion against God will be castigated as “unloving” and “uncaring” and “pharisaical” and other such less-than-charitable epithets. The bottom line is this: One cannot be a Christian while condoning that which the Scriptures condemn.

Homosexuality is a sin, just as a host of others are. The apostle Paul provides quite a list: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21, ESV).

None of us is without sin, and all of us who are indeed Christians are followers of Christ by God’s grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Nevertheless, a true Christian will not endorse the practice of that which the Bible prohibits.

This is indeed a sad day for Bible-believing congregations which have remained in the PCUSA. The PCUSA has shown itself to be an apostate denomination, and it is time for local churches comprised of true believers to separate from it. May God give them the discernment and the courage to do so.

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