The church in the Denver metro area is no different than most parts of this nation. There are a few congregations of God’s people with whom we find ourselves deeply divided when it comes to worship, women’s role, the plan of salvation, and even how to view the Bible. One zealous young preacher in the area has been doing much to defend a radical overhauling of the Lord’s church through his writing and preaching. One of his more recent blog posts seeks to prove what he sees as the pressing need of the church to change, using the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale to illustrate this. He contrasts the time before Tiger Woods’ hole-in-one there in 1997. Before, there were conservative old men with cardigans tied around their neck and polite golf claps. Since then, a coliseum has been built around the hole and rowdy college fans boo shots they deem not close enough to the pin. Analyzing this Arizona anomaly, the writer credits new leaders who change the boundaries, bending to the local culture, capitalizing on the “right moment,” and meeting people’s expectations.
The thing that struck me most was that this no doubt well-intentioned young man tried to speak for God and the Holy Spirit. He said, “God and the Holy Spirit are ready for a party.” God shows up for worship at church camp. God shows up at the worship at Pepperdine University (Where Christian Church members speak on the program, like Victor Knowles. Where church of Christ members who have added instrumental music, like Rick Atchley, Lynn Anderson, Jeff Walling, and others, speak. And where this young man and his wife speak). He asserts that “we need a fresh wind of the Spirit” plus “leaders who will change the expectation in our worship experience.” He ends by saying that God is “ready for a new day.”
Here’s the flaw in his assertion. How do we know what the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit want from our worship? How are we to know what God is ready for or where God shows up? Are we to take our brother’s word about what God wants? No matter who speaks, this brother or any other, including me, we must “speak the utterances of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). We do not have to guess at what God wants or desires. He has revealed His will. We do not keep on the cardigan or hold onto the golf-clap, to borrow our brother’s analogy, out of personal preference. Only the Lord gets to make that decision, and He has informed us of His decision about our worship in His written revelation (see 1 Tim. 2:8-15; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; etc.).
One need only visit the podcasts or watch video of the latest worship at this area congregation to see what our brother means by “fresh wind,” “right moment,” or “change the expectation” in worship. It means women leaders. It means a choir. Will it mean instrumental music? If the Spirit is instructing them differently than in His Word, what proof is there to confirm it? What is to be done with the Spirit’s previous, once for all, sufficient work of Scripture? Does it get jettisoned? I will not speak for God, but here is what He said: “But even if we (which included an apostle, NP), or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Gal. 1:8). Let us be very careful what we teach (cf. Jas. 3:1)!