(This is written in particular for the teachers of Bible Baptist Church)
We want people of all ages to come to church. But what is it we want them to come into? “Church” has turned into a slang term that has corrupted our estimation of its value. The modern church-goer might define it one of these ways:
- ‘Church’ is an area on a map, like a diocese or government (‘Christian nation, campus, organization, etc)
- ‘Church’ is an event on a calendar, like a scheduled time
- ‘Church’ is a room or a building belonging to a congregation
You may or may not agree with those statements, but before you make up your mind, search the Scripture. What does the Lord think of “church?”
- According to Matthew 16:18, the church is a spiritual foundation on Jesus Christ.
- According to 2 Thessalonians 1:4, the church is a steadfast endurance in everyday persecution
- According to Romans 16:5, the church is the saint’s gathering at any place, at any time.
Church is being invaded. Not the modern church, but the Biblical one. There are denominations by the dozens that can meet on their own property, for their scheduled service time, inside of designated classrooms and auditoriums to “worship,” I say, they meet this way, and are ignorant to the fact that the Lord has nothing to do with their services. God’s church has left the building, or more accurately, it never was in one! Knowing this, if we lose our definition of church, we will also lower our defense of it.
Apostasy is the term to describe a spiritual falling away from the truth. Apostasy is prophesied in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 as a signal to the coming judgment of the world, the believer, and Israel. Apostasy undermines solid truth, leaving only a hollowed-out shell, as the Bible says: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:5) Apostasy as it relates to the church, will allow you to have your building, have your classrooms, have your meetings, but you will have NO INTEREST OR INVOLVEMENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN YOUR LIVES.
I believe I have been guilty of leaving Christ outside of my ‘church’. I believe this is a sin of present congregations that makes God sick, and that finds Him knocking on the door, pleading with someone to let Him back inside! (Revelation 3:20)
We have come to rely on our surroundings for our spirituality. We seem to think by retreating to our classroom, to our pew, to our particular time slot that we can miraculously grow closer to God. We have so quickly forgotten the roots of the church: preaching in a Jewish synagogue, praying all night in a guestroom, testifying in a Roman theater, singing in a prison, building a fire on a beachfront, rising before dawn to evangelize men on their way to work, interrupting lunch for a sermon, breathing a blessing on your enemies as they put you to death, counting a clear conscience more valuable than life itself, and to cap it all, even borrowing a tomb! Why, if the church needs facilities and staff and comfort to operate today, I submit that we are missing something vital!
In times of war, a statistical term is used to report the number of lives lost. This is intended to take some of the sting out of the reality of war. Instead of, ‘men who will never come home,’ ‘fathers who will never see their families again,’ or ‘sons and daughters we will miss,’ the military has adopted a neutral, almost numb term: “casualty.” It is intended that a ‘casualty report’ can convey facts without affecting morale. But to anyone who has ever suffered a ‘casualty,’ you know there is nothing ‘casual’ about it.
I believe we have suffered some ‘casualties’ because we have left or lost the Holy Spirit’s blessing with us. We have allowed ourselves to slip into apostasy, and a generation is dying off, falling away from church, lost into eternity. Our Sunday School roll in Heaven is nothing more than a casualty report.
I don’t care who your preacher is. I don’t care what service you perform. I don’t care what class you teach, or what title you hold, or how many you bring on the bus. When these necessary things are abandoned, you can call it whatever you want, but God does not recognize it. Church becomes artificial, when you give up these authoritative doctrines that an authentic church should show:
1. The sole dependence upon the words of God, the King James Bible
“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17
I am amazed how many new versions of the Bible are being manufactured. Each and every one fails to merit the majesty and power of “The word of a king.” (Ecc. 8:4) Surprising also, is how so many of these new version pushers will try to steal the martyrial history of the King James Bible. They want you to assume that the same Scripture William Tyndale burned for is the latest scrap they have on the market.
Truth be told, there were other ‘bibles’ in Tyndale’s day, many, many others. He didn’t give his live for the ESV or the CEV or the NLT, nor for the Alexandrinus or Siniaticus or Vaticanus. No, he gave his life to prove there was a BETTER Bible, that what was around in that day was not pure, and that God was not pleased with them. We are NOT the only church in history to be surrounded by fakes and corruptions. We just happen to be the only church in history that doesn’t take it seriously. “Lord, open the church’s eyes!”
God’s church displays the King James Bible. God’s church declares only the King James Bible. We should not approve of anything less, from a coloring page or greeting card to a lesson plan or philosophy, than the pure Words of God. Why would you waste your precious class time with an obscure language like Hebrew or Greek, or with an imperfect English perversion?
The Devil doesn’t care which bible he uses either.
2. God’s church holds on to the supreme priority of prayer before everything.
“I exhort therefore that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” 1 Timothy 2:1-2
If I had a dollar for every time someone has referenced Madelyn Murray-O’Hair and the Supreme Court decision of 1963 making prayer in the public schools unconstitutional, I’d be much wealthier than I am today. It seems that so many Christians are spurred to scorn the public school system because of this fact. Yet, I have seen in the trenches of church work in the past ten years so very few who will actually champion the cause, and pray!
Paul said it should be first. And you don’t make it first by talking about how it should be first; you stop before everything, and YOU pray. It’s no wonder our stance on the Bible is sloppy- if we don’t care what God thinks enough to talk to Him, we also will not care much of how He speaks to us. In your class, you should open in prayer. You should close in prayer. You should not DARE to explain God’s Words without intreating God’s help. And don’t you dare criticize a public school ever again if you yourself cannot find the intestinal fortitude to stop and pray in public.
Dogs don’t pray before they eat; said someone once of the heathen, and yet is it now true of Christians?
3. God’s church holds on to the simple job of pointing men to the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:3-4
The children in our Sunday Schools have much to learn about the Bible. The Bible contains in it the history of the world, the nature of God, practical philosophy, natural science, geography, national government, as well as clear prophecy for what will happen to the world in the next ten years to the next thousand years. There is so much to know, we almost get lost in learning… forgetting it’s not about what you know, it’s Who you know.
Adam and Eve were distracted with the temptation: “Ye shall be as gods, KNOWING…” (Gen. 3:5) And it cost them their health, their home, and their walk with the Lord God of creation. Was there any knowledge that God would have withheld from them, if they would have asked? Knowing Him, didn’t they have access to all the riches of knowledge?
I’ve led you to cast a judgment on Grandfather Adam. But I hope you see how disturbing it is to have a lust for Bible trivia replace a love for the Saviour. Jesus said, “I am… the truth.” (John 14:6) There is no way that in just one year through the Bible, nor in three years, nor in ten, no, not in a lifetime of Bible study will you grasp, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Rom. 11:33) You can’t learn enough, neither can you teach enough.
But you know what you can, and should do? Present the Gospel every chance you get. I mean, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ to save any and all who will trust Him. Every class you teach, every activity you plan should be an opportunity to tell others how to be saved from sin. You say, but I don’t have time! How long can it take to tell others about escaping hell forever? Because the reality is: if they never learn to trust HIM, nothing else they may learn will matter much. And if they know Him, they’ve got it ALL.
What’s the big deal if someone doesn’t hear the Gospel in my class today? I’ll just tell them next week! It’s not like people die every day…
When my kids come home from Sunday School, I love to ask them what they learned, and see what sticks out most in their memory. Yes, teacher, they talk much about your class. What do you think they say? What do you hope they say? What does your version of ‘church’ look like to those to whom it matters most?
The place may change. The times may change. We may be replaced. We are expendable. But there are some things that are absolutely non-expendable: the Book, prayer first, and the giving of the gospel. Don’t let these fall away from your church this Sunday.