How To Win Souls Without Compromising Doctrine

How To Win Souls Without Compromising Doctrine

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary III

Gary Pollard

It’s hard to have balance while times change. Some seize current social realities and use them as opportunities to push unbiblical ideas (God’s design for marriage, leadership in worship, leadership in the home, etc.). As a result, our human nature kicks in and we’re ready to swing the other way. After all, we don’t want to be associated with groups who don’t teach or practice what God wants, right? 

Balance is way more difficult to maintain than reactionary practices in either direction. Both are extremely harmful to the church! Compromising doctrine is never acceptable, but gaining a reputation for being old-fashioned or otherwise incompatible with modern culture is equally harmful. 

I Corinthians 9.19-23 is an awesome text for this. We’ll look at a few key points in this passage briefly. 

  1. It’s About Serving Other People (9.19)
  2. It’s About Winning Them (9.19)
  3. It’s About Meeting Them Where They Are (9.20-22)
  4. It’s About the Message (9.23)

We do what we do because we want to save souls. We cannot maintain a church culture based on reaction because it does not save souls. It is not a sustainable culture and has led to many viewing the church as being incompatible with the modern world. This was never God’s design! We must never compromise doctrine, but we must always try to win souls. We need to do what we can to meet folks where they are and show them something better. 

“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (9.20). 

Lord, Help Me Remove The High Places

Lord, Help Me Remove The High Places

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

pollard

Neal Pollard

They are mentioned throughout the Old Testament, pagan shrines Israel and Judah put up typically to worship idols. Moses warns about them as early as Leviticus (26:30) and Numbers (22:41). This was the unrighteous practice of the Canaanites (Numbers 33:52), but it was adopted early and often by God’s people. Solomon appears to be the first king to lead the people into this, part of the evil influence of his pagan wives (1 Kings 11:7).  It would become one of the reasons the northern kingdom is destroyed and the southern kingdom is taken into captivity (Psalm 78:58). It seems that this was one of the harder vices for God’s people to remove, even when times were at a relatively spiritual high. During the righteous reigns of Joash (2 Kings 12:3), Amaziah (2 Kings 14:4), Uzziah (2 Kings 15:4), Jotham (2 Kings 15:35), and others, this was an exception to their righteous rule.  Occasionally, a king was thorough enough to remove these (2 Chronicles 14:3), but soon they were rebuilt and the people went right back to using them.  Calvin explains that it was through these high places  “that the service of God would be perverted and contaminated, unless they were regulated in every part of it by the Divine Word” (Commentary on the Book of Psalms, Vol. 3, Logos). 

God had a place to be worshipped and a way to be worshipped. The high place was a concession or accommodation that became a stumbling block to the people’s spiritual health. The temptation arose through it to change the object of worship and to see the high place as a convenient substitute for the tabernacle and the temple. But, the worst of all religious practices ultimately occurred there (Jeremiah 19:5). Only in Josiah’s reign, just a few decades before Babylonian Captivity, were they finally destroyed (2 Kings 23:4-20). 

Is it possible for me to construct my own high place, a shrine or altar to something that becomes a hindrance to serving God faithfully? It might be a vice, a habit, or a secret sin, something I retreat to as an indulgence or allow myself to participate in. It might be an attitude, disposition, or character trait that is the exception to my spiritual rule. It might be an unhealthy relationship or person I allow to unduly sway me. I might say, “It’s just this one thing or area of my life. What’s the big deal?” 

Maybe that’s how the Israelites looked at the high places. But, nothing can be allowed to occupy mental and spiritual space that belongs only to God. I cannot rationale or compartmentalize something as my self-made exception to God’s rule. Sin grows and expands when it is not dealt with and rooted out. I must regularly examine myself (2 Corinthians 13:5) to make sure only Christ is seated upon the throne of my heart. Jesus challenges me, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37, emphasis mine). I must be vigilant to take that challenge most seriously! 

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KEEP YOURSELF ON THE LEVEL

KEEP YOURSELF ON THE LEVEL

Neal Pollard

The word is maligned by some, especially by those to the right of biblical truth who believe any attempt at it is “soft.”  The word is misunderstood by others, especially by those who believe avoiding difficult, hard truths constitutes the concept.  Yet, in this age of extremism, the need for it has never been greater.  While balance takes in a great many things regarding both one’s life and teaching, many seem to have forgotten the importance of pursuing it in following Christ.

Balance is threatened when we equate our opinions, judgment, proclivities, and personal beliefs with divine truth.  This is especially of great concern when those with heightened influence among us press these matters to the point that they are portrayed as matters of faith and fellowship.  Several issues of late have emerged as such tests–that dating is sinful, that homeschooling is the only biblical means of educating our children, that having a special program or even Bible classes for youth in a congregation is wrong, and the list seems to keep growing.  Often, the old “anti” argument is made: “Where is your authority for that?”  Yet, like our non-cooperation brethren, there is a glaring lack of understanding about how God authorizes (especially as regards “generic” and “specific” authority).  Can we be opposed to dating, public schooling, homeschooling, and the like?  Certainly.  Can we be divisive or draw lines over them in the Lord’s body?  Never!  God is as condemning of law-making as law-breaking (Rev. 22:18-19; Mat. 23:2ff).

Balance is threatened through compromise with the world.  Balance is not blending in with the world, as a chameleon in its environment.  Balance is certainly not conformity (cf. Rom. 12:2).  Some preachers never touch hot-button-issues like modesty, marriage, divorce, and remarriage, instrumental music, the sinfulness of denominationalism, and more through a misguided sense that such avoidance is balance.  While one must avoid making any of these subject “hobby horses” that are ridden endlessly and exclusively, these are all biblical matters part of the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27).  Often, they are avoiding out of fear or favor.  Such is not balance!

Extremism, especially noised angrily and vociferously, looks more like the culture than the Christ.  Let those of us who teach, write, and otherwise publicly communicate beware of the higher standard to which the Lord holds us (Js. 3:1ff).  Let us stand firmly and courageously upon the foundation of Christ while being careful not to press what He has not taught or suppress what He has.

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A PLEA TO THE OLDER AND YOUNGER GENERATIONS

A PLEA TO THE OLDER AND YOUNGER GENERATIONS

Neal Pollard

I am at a unique crossroads at which I cannot hope to long remain.  Currently, I am young enough to exercise vigorously, play sports, appreciate indie music,  vaguely cope with technology and its changes, and not feel old.  Yet, I am old enough now to have seen all my children reach the teen years, accumulate some life’s experience, and deepen my appreciation for the living history and wisdom that is our senior citizens.  Subtly, but surely, I will loosen my grip on youth and embrace old age.

As a 43-year-old, I still am able to hold hands with both sides.  No generation is perfect, nor does any have the clear advantage over the others. There are things all of us should keep in mind, no matter our age.

To our older Christians, may we appreciate that our youth and young adults need so much more than a constant diet of teaching and preaching on sexual and moral sins.  They need a larger diet of Christian evidences, how we got the Bible, and similar subjects in a post-faith world that is increasingly hostile to biblical principles. They deserve as many textual and deeper studies as anyone else. May we further appreciate our need to meet the younger people of our churches with technological savvy, newer (though scriptural) songs, and an empathetic view of the challenges they face in the culture. They need us to believe in them, listen to them, and go to bat for them.  May we view them as “innocent until proven guilty,” hoping the best for them.  May we value them, empower them, and use them in meaningful service in the Kingdom today!

To our younger Christians, may we appreciate that the church is comprised of more than those 30 and younger. There may be some things that are lawful but are not expedient. The fact that you are a part of your culture does not mean you should not strive to rise above it, excel, and be an example to it.  That even should impact how you dress for worship (not meaning coat and tie, but meaning doing better than ratty shirts, “holey” jeans, and flops).  Remember that the church has more than one generation in it, and the servant-hearted does not insist on his or her “rights” or liberties but rather strives to serve through love. Wisdom should propel you to “rise up before the gray-headed and honor the aged” (Lev. 19:32).  As was said of Lot’s wife, so we do well to “remember Rehoboam” who listened to his peers instead of his elders (1 Ki. 12:8).  Beware the temptation to hold the “older generation” in contempt and disrespect the greater wisdom that usually accompanies the accumulation of years.

We all truly need each other, now more than ever!  There must be empathy for everyone else, a love that seeks the best for others. Let us look through each other’s eyes as best as we can and so “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (cf. Eph. 4:3).