Friday, October 2, 2015

A Vital Issue

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Friends, I'm convinced we live in a time where tares have been sown among the good seed. Few seem to notice, or care, and the good seed is suffering. I've been reading a book published in 1987, and I believe much of what it says has never been truer than today.

Following is an excerpt from the book, which summarizes a situation I think many churches face today. When the flock is not nourished, cared for, and led the way Christ commanded, the sheep look for other shepherds and vets. If each of us steps out, stands up, and speaks out in truth and love, we will be able to have a church whose Husband one day will come and find her pure and blameless in the sight of God. But if we neglect the Word and the flock, and walk about indifferently as if we have nothing to improve, nothing to repent of, and nothing more to learn as a church and as individuals, we will continue to have sheep without a shepherd, wandering in darkness, seeking for what they could have easily had if some of us would just quit playing church, and begin doing church as Christ commanded.

I welcome your comments and questions since you are not able to see the context of this excerpt. I am certainly not against counselling from the Word of God; in fact, I believe (as the author says at the end of this excerpt), counselling and discipleship should be as much a part of the ministry of the church as preaching and teaching, and many other things the church does. The Bible says that it pleased God to use the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe, but preaching, as essential as it is, is not a set of irresistible magical spells that change a person the moment it is heard. Preaching the Word must be followed by careful counselling and discipleship (and exemplary modelling). Otherwise, we will continue to be puzzled, and wonder why so many nice people throw up their hands and don't choose to stay in our church to make a difference in the right direction.

A Vital Issue

In summary, by accepting a “new interpretation” of the Bible that comes from outside and cannot be supported by Scriptures themselves, the church has embraced an alien gospel administered by a new class of priests supported by humanistic authority. With its own vocabulary and rituals and academic knowledge, this new clergy has gained authority over those who know only God and His Word and are thus no longer qualified to counsel from Scripture. That long-established function has taken on new meaning: It now involves the diagnosis of psychological problems and psychological solutions and must therefore be under the direction of those trained in this art. No one can appeal to the Scriptures as a means of correcting this new priestly class, because they alone hold the keys to a vital part of “God’s truth” that supplements the Bible.

In fairness to the Christian psychologists, most of them have been motivated by the genuine desire to help the many hurting people who are not receiving the care and guidance they ought to have from their brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. One of the most desperate needs within the church is for personal and family and marriage counseling—but it must be biblical and not psychological. For this need to be supplied, the church must be willing to support biblical counselors who can thereby provide the necessary help without charging for it. Many young people sense a call of God upon their lives to work in this vital area, but the only possibility for support is to charge a fee—which means that they must be licensed by the state and therefore conform to secular standards of education and competency. The church must provide adequate training in biblical counseling, yet at the present almost nothing of this nature is available. Christian colleges and seminaries have succumbed to the pressure to be accredited by secular agencies, and the academic courses in “pastoral counseling” are therefore generally heavily weighted with psychology.

It would be unthinkable for the state to license and impose such control over those who preach and teach from Scriptures. Yet we consider it normal for those whom we expect to counsel from the Bible to be regulated in this way. Only when the church considers counseling of individuals to be as important as preaching to and teaching congregations will biblical counseling take its rightful place in the church. Until then the best of sermons will unfortunately continue to turn to psychologists for lack of the real solution being put into practice by the local church.

The healing of broken lives, moreover, cannot be accomplished by an hour of counseling once or even several times a week. It can take place only in the context of the caring and loving family of God, the body of Christ concerned for the welfare of each member. There ought to be older couples, mature in the Lord and leading exemplary, Spirit-filled lives of leadership, who will give the time and expend the effort to take under their wing younger couples who may be having marital or financial problems. Again it is an individual matter: Revival begins with each of us. We dare not wait for someone else to say or do what is needed, but each of us before the Lord must step out in the leading and power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill that ministry to which God has called us. God’s Word enjoins us:
“Warn them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient toward all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble by the comfort therewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (w Corinthians 1:3, 4).
“Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

We are spending considerable time on this issue because it is vitally important that we understand how we got to the present impasse.  If we are to return to a biblical Christianity, then we must undo what has already been done. We must cease adding to and taking away from the Bible. God has specifically forbidden this and has prescribed heavy penalties for it, yet we have violated His command and are reaping the inevitable results.

-David Hunt, Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity.
Harvest House Publishing (1987), pp. 144-145

What do you think? Is any of this something you have seen in your experience? What are you doing to make a difference, and make the church more like what Christ intended it to be?

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