The expressions “non-institutional” and “conservative” are often being commonly used by brethren today to describe an assembly of brethren who do not support the sponsoring church or human institutions and who are not what is viewed as being liberal minded in their spiritual thought. But we need to be aware that these terms are also now being used among a great many brethren to describe congregations where brethren gladly advocate and practice the false teachings of “unity in diversity” and where the endorsement and fellowship of brethren who teach and/or practice soul destructive error is a common occurrence.
So it had a better become most obvious to faithful brethren that “soundness” in teaching and practice involves a great deal more than simply describing an assembly of brethren as being non-institutional or conservative. I am confident that we could all profit from a full examination of what constitutes the acceptance and practice of “sound doctrine” among our brethren, but suffice it to say for our purposes in this particular article that we recognize that a sound and faithful group of brethren will be those who abide in the doctrine of Christ, John 8:31-32, and who will not receive anyone who does not bring this teaching, II John 9-11. These are brethren who have fellowship with God and one another because they walk in the light, I John 1:5-7, and they are very concerned and careful that they have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, Eph. 5: 6-14.
Brethren, I would like to tell you in as plain and straightforward manner as I can, that I am also genuinely concerned about a great many of my brethren who are in churches where “sound doctrine” is considered the criteria for faith and practice and where brethren contend that they oppose the support and endorsement of false teachers and their doctrines. These are churches where brethren do not accept the errors of “unity in diversity” and where they will tell you that they understand and hold to the Truth on “fellowship issues”. These are churches which do have men who profess a love and respect for the Word of God to hold meetings for them and to fill the local pulpit. But I greatly fear that far too many of these are also churches which are filled with many brethren who still don’t have a clue as to what is really happening in the church today! This is the serious issue that I am seeking to raise by saying that we have brethren who are “In A Sound Church, But Yet Without A Clue”.
Possibly a good place to start would be with the quality and quantity of teaching which is being done in these churches. I am persuaded that far too many of the preachers who fill the pulpits of these churches are not really on the “firing line” in the battle which is raging between Truth and error among the Lord’s people. They will tell you about their sound convictions if you ask them, but the fact remains that some are not doing enough public preaching and teaching on these issues to fill a thimble! If you were to ask these preachers for a copy of their sermon outlines or tapes of their sermons which they had preached in the local church or in gospel meetings on such matters as unity in diversity, false teachers, fellowship of false teachers, the false teaching being done on autonomy, the fellowship of those who teach error or practice error on divorce and remarriage, the error that fellowship doesn’t exist between brethren except in a local church, the issue of justifying sinful doctrines and practices on the basis of Roman 14, the issue of using preachers who believe and uphold soul damning error to preach in meetings just as long as they don’t “teach it here”, or a host of other matters which seem to arise almost on a daily basis, then you may be greatly surprised to find that you will have very little material which can be provided for you to consider. That concentrated teaching is just NOT taking place in these churches. How many gospel meeting sermons on these issues have been preached in these local churches? How many articles in local bulletins, or on the internet, or in papers published by brethren are being written on these issues by these supposedly “sound” preachers? Brethren, I am persuaded that some of these “soldiers” are missing FROM action! Instead of being on the “front lines”, they are staying well hidden behind the trees and in the bushes! And what you end up having from all of this is a “sound church” which is filled with brethren who don’t really have a clue as to what is actually happening in churches today! It amazes me that in some of these same churches there seems to be a constant emphasis on “balance” in preaching. I don’t know of any faithful brother who would deny the need for balance in what is preached, but why is it that the balance scale doesn’t seem to contain hardly any preaching on the matters just mentioned above? Brethren, it is rank hypocrisy to say that you are “sound” and that you do “sound preaching” when you are not even touching your finger to the issues which are currently tearing the church to threads. And the end result of such neglect is that you have brethren in these supposedly “sound” churches who don’t have a clue as to what is happening in churches all over this country. Do you suppose that this local preacher might feel that if he can just keep these brethren ignorant of these issues, then surely it “can never happen here”?
And it therefore becomes a sober reality that we have a tremendous number of brethren who are persuaded that they are in “sound churches” and who are being ignorantly carried down the road of digression at the speed of a bullet train! Brethren, it is time to tell preachers among us to wake up and become much more vocal and aggressive in opposing these errors than many of them have been in the past. Yes, some of them might have to pack up and move somewhere else if they did. Yes, some of them might have to suffer financial hardship. Yes, some of them might have to get out and get a job “making tents” in order to support their family. Becoming aggressive in the battle might cost the cancellation of some of the gospel meetings which they have planned. But let it be made very clear that continuing to hide behind the trees and avoiding the conflict is not going to slow the progress of error and false teaching. These churches will eventually be lost because some of these preachers and elders do not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up and be counted in the battle to uphold righteousness and condemn sin! If ignorance and a lack of awareness is allowed to prevail, you can be assured that error will flourish and that these churches will be a “lost cause” before they even know what is happening to them. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I also will forget thy children.” Hosea 4:6.
Are there really preachers professing to be “sound” who will remain QUIET because they don’t want to look for another place to preach and have to uproot their families? You know the answer, don’t you? Are there preachers who will remain QUIET because they don’t want to suffer loss of income or have their gospel meetings canceled? Again, you know the answer, don’t you? What other explanation can you give for their not boldly speaking out on these matters? They can preach about “balance” until Rome burns to the ground, but their inconsistency is certainly obvious to the Lord, and I can assure you that it is obvious to faithful brethren who are beat upon and bloody because they have had the courage to meet the enemy on the front line of battle! I don’t have a moment’s problem with preaching on “balance” if you will just PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH!
There are brethren all over this country who are teaching and converting people out of the grips of sin and error and at the same time having to teach them that many of our own brethren are upholding sin and error under the guise of “unity in diversity”. Do you think that this is an easy task? We are pleading with them to leave the world behind and find the “peace that passeth all understanding” in the one true church, and then at the same time having to teach and ground them with the reality that many of our brethren are exchanging the Truth for a lie and are doing everything within their power to “bring the world into the church”? Do you think that such is an easy task? Do you think that it is easy to tell new converts that most of the churches of Christ in your area support “unity in diversity” (the fellowship of moral and doctrinal error) and that most of these churches will support and uphold preachers who teach and practice soul damning error? And then, are we naïve enough to believe that we can solve all of this by just preaching a sermon on “balance in preaching” and then proceed with our practice of “whistling past the graveyard”?
As long as we have “sound churches” with brethren in them “who don’t have a clue”, then we are going to lose ground to Satan on a daily basis! As long as we have preachers who, for whatever reason, are not joining the front line of battle against this encroaching enemy, then Satan’s forces will continue to surround and destroy one church after another because of their ignorance and complacency.
Brethren, there is only one answer and you and I KNOW what it is – “I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables. But be thou sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil thy ministry.” II Timothy 4: 1-5.
By Dennis L. Reed
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