Tareing Up The Church
April 20, 2017
Mat 13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field:
25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way.
26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.
27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?
28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?
29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.
30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
There is far too much confusion and dissension in the Church. With so many different voices saying so many divergent things, I have no problem understanding why unbelievers have problems coming to Christ. How in the world can they know which sect of Christianity is the true sect, or if unlike the Highlander series there can be more than one?
Indeed, even among people using the same sect name, there can be various opinions. One need only to look at the Baptists and Pentecostals and you can find several variations of both. Having been a Baptist for forty years I know at times you can get six Baptists in a discussion and have thirteen opinions. Baptist range from ultra-Conservative to ultra-Liberal with many points between the two extremes. Southern Baptists are divided into at least two camps with Independent Baptists having many variations or camps. Methodists, Presbyterians, Lutherans and Episcopalians are divided between Liberal and Conservative/Orthodox. Even those groups that appear to be united have differing voices within them such as Catholics and Church of Christ. They may just not be as loud as some but they are there.
Dr. R. G. Lee was an old Southern Baptist preacher that once reported to the Convention, “Gentlemen. I have been through the churches in our Convention and I am convinced that only 10% of our members are saved!” There was a great commotion which he interrupted with, “Forgive me! I mean 5%” I wonder what percentage he would give now? The SBC had gotten more Liberal than what he knew in his lifetime so he might come up with 1%. I fear that the Independent Fundamental Baptists may average 1% between the camps. Some may be higher and some lower.
The Baptists are not the only group in such a predicament. We are, after all, in an age of apostasy clearly shown by how wicked our society is in a nation where most of the 300+ million people claim to be Christians. Indeed, the founders of most denominations would not be welcome in those groups who bear their names or claim them as their spiritual ancestor.
Part of the division has come from truth causing separation from lies. John said those who departed from them were not of them. People starting new groups out of old do so because they do not walk in agreement. In John’s scenario, those leaving were the heretics. In many cases, it is the wheat separating from the chaff because the old groups have apostatized. Many other divisions just come from fleshly pride or other anger issues because someone’s feeling got hurt or the vote did not go their way so they went down the street and started another church. Baptists are notorious for this. In some cases, there are churches that were started when three or four miles was all you wanted to walk on Sunday, but with the advent of automobiles their purpose for being is erased but power, building worship, and tradition prohibits good stewardship and mergers.
What causes most problems in many good churches is that there are tares among the wheat. Many folks are not saved. There are many carnal Carnal and immature Christians, but like Dr. Lee said, many are just lost. Religious, but not converted. They were born into a particular sect growing up knowing creeds and rituals. Accepting these as signs of true conversion they never make it truly personal in coming to Christ for salvation. Ask them if they are Christian and they respond with their sect name, that they were baptized as an infant and made it through some form of catechism/confirmation class. Their daddy or granddaddy was a preacher. Momma sang in the choir. They are a deacon or Sunday school teacher. All sorts of things, but not a clear affirmation that they came to Christ as a sinner and asked to be saved because He died and rose again for them.
My wife thought that her infant baptism covered her though she had no real clue about her sect’s beliefs or much at all about Christianity. I could quote some creeds, sing the Doxology and the Gloria Patria, but had no idea why I was in my church saying I believed in the Holy Catholic church when my buddy, Steve Reanock, was down at the Catholic church. Jesus died for the world and I was part of the world so I guess I figured I was good to go. In a sense, my sect brought me to the door but never made sure I got through the door. My wife and I would have gone to Hell thinking we were fine.
Many are pushed to say the “Sinner’s Prayer” before they fully understand or are really ready in their heart to do so. Pushy, well-intentioned “soul-winners” pressure people into saying the prayer as if the words in the prayer are magical changing the heart even if the message is not fully understood or the people just want the person out of their house. They would have sung a mantra if it meant the Christian would get off their porch. The next soul winner will be told that the prayer had already been said thus sending them happily on their way while the person is still lost, but inoculated or anesthetized thinking they are saved. They never come to church, get baptized, read their bible or have any change in their life, but according to the prayer they are saved and someone gets to report one more notch on their Gospel gun that is shooting blanks.
Some will be curious and will come to church and be baptized. They enjoy the music, the new found friends and the pastor so they become regular attenders and at some point a teacher or deacon. but they are still lost. These folks may be really good workers and in that sense. great assets to the local body until a controversy comes up. Then they will not be able to deal with it in a spiritual manner because they do not have the Spirit to guide them. They will more than likely take a stand against the truth unless their good friend is on that side and then they will stand with their friend even if they do not fully understand the issue or why their friend holds his position. In the end, the church splits and if enough people leave keeping the doors open becomes a challenge. Sometimes the split is called a backdoor revival because the troublemakers leave and God then blesses the church. Other times, it is the religious but lost that stay and eventually, the church just becomes a social club waning away until the last member dies unless God brings in people who cause a revival and the tares get saved.
Sometimes good churches are taken over by bad pastors because either the church has too many tares or the saved are not wise enough to prevent it. I have been in some churches thatI know a man with less than biblical theology, but with charm and charisma could take the church and mold it into his image. I have interviewed with many that had convoluted doctrinal statements and glaring procedural loopholes that could allow a smooth talking heretic of the highest order to be voted in.
One church was really confused about their identity. I am not sure how they got my name. but I went and preached for them. Church was first and then Sunday School. Men and women sat on opposite sides of the auditorium. They had broken off from the UMC because they were Conservative and the UMC was not. In their order of worship, they had some prayers and things that seemed to come from Episcopalians and some other things I was not sure of their origin. In my message, I had alluded to eternal security. The Sunday School teacher had come from the Methodist Church, which may be why Sunday School was second so he could be there. He taught against eternal security. It was a confusing morning.
When I spoke with deacons, I asked them why they had a Baptist come when it appeared they were not in alignment with that doctrine. They had sent their vacancy to quite a few places. Some of the other things I asked them about came from a previous pastor who was somewhat eclectic. I explained how having Church first was going to turn some people off as people are used to Church being second and do not visit Sunday School until they develop an interest in the church. I also said that very few people will not like the men and women separated, especially the women. who like to jab their husbands in the ribs with an elbow to emphasize a point the pastor made. Finally, I said you really need to discuss who you are and seek someone that identifies the same way. They did not really seem to know who they were, but they needed a pastor and that was what they were going to get. I often wondered if they went back to the UMC out of sheer desperation. I am afraid they were in a similar boat as the folks in Acts 19 as well as many people in church business meetings.
Act 19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.
There are times when situations like this happen when the people have not been discipled thus do not know doctrine. This opens them up to all sorts of things. Most pastors do not teach their people how to find a new pastor unless they are planning to retire or are moving on for fear they will empower the people to replace them. If he dies or moves quickly they are in trouble. They may turn it into a CEO search instead of a pastor search since business protocols are all they know. Add a couple of religious but lost men on the committee and it gets more tedious and dangerous.
Today, we have too many people who have never been in church and their parents were not believers. They are more like the Greeks on Mars Hill where Paul had to start from scratch telling them about the unknown God. Those at Mars Hill were constantly seeking some new thing and most today are seekers, but they are unsure of what they are seeking so they grab onto many philosophies and fads. Many believe in science and the false science of evolution. Using the same bait that worked from 1776 until the 60’s is like fishing for rainbow trout in the ocean or using fly fishing tackle for Blue Marlin. You catch nothing or you get a nibble and lose it because the string is too lightweight.
We need to stop the door-step conversions as most are not true conversions. Many people have prayed that prayer and are going to Hell because their heart was not in it and the Holy Spirit was not involved. It was more like a Madison Avenue sales pitch and many returned the “product” before the three-day period was up. Often as soon as they close their door. We are not helping them or the church. Yes, we may get some religious, but lost people and I have heard many testimonies over the years of people getting saved after being good church members for years. Some were pastors, pastor’s wives, organists, deacons and Sunday School teachers. Some had been in church and ministry for over thirty years. We need to stop tareing up the church so they will not be tearing up the church.
Which brings me to my last thoughts. We need to pray for a mighty revival within the Church. Because we have so many religious but lost in our midst we need them to be saved or gone. We are not to try to throw them out because we are usually not discerning enough to do the job right. The Lord said the tares would be with us until the end just like the weeds in the yard that you have to continually treat. We may not get them all, but we can ask God for some weed control to limit the amount of them.
Our first prayer is for our own revival and to return to our first love. Then we pray for the salvation of those who may have been inoculated but not converted. Finally, God knows those will be saved and those who will not so we can ask God to move a troublesome tare or potential ones out of our local bodies and even into a different religion so they do not confuse the unbelievers. We ask God to do this because He is omnipotent and omniscient. If we do it, we may be deceived into keeping a few of our favorite tares and kicking out some wheat.
When revival comes and the Holy Spirit is moving the Body will be led into all truth and unity. We may see many small churches close and merge rather than just exist to maintain a building. We may see large churches crumble that were built by man’s programs or fads and were predominantly a barn full of tares not leaving enough believers to pay the mortgage. While tares tear down the Church. Christ tears up the Church and rebuilds it to be like Him and about His Father’s business. When that happens the approved will stand out and unbelievers will no longer have any excuses. The light will either blind them or they will come to Christ and bask in the Light. May it happen today! Maranatha!!