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Cotham's Comments

By Perry B. Cotham

religion, articles, christianity

Some are advocating today that the church should change as society changes. If so, what shall we change?

Do we need to change the message of the Bible which we proclaim? The New Testament message is universally and perpetually relevant. "The faith . . . was once for all delivered unto tile saints" (Jude 3). It is for people of every nation, ethnic group, culture, and language in every age until the end of time. Changing the gospel message in any way on any subject brings eternal condemnation.

Paul wrote to the Galatians:

I marvel that ye are so quickly removing from him that called you in the grace of Christ unto a different gospel; which is not another gospel only there are some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema. As we have said before, so say I now again, If any man preacheth unto you any gospel other than that which ye received, let him be anathema (Gal. 1:6-9).

Biblical teaching is not a deterrent to genuine church growth, either numerically or spiritually (Acts 14:1; 16:5). Bible teaching is what the church needs (I Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18). Let us "preach the word" (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Liberal churches that "fall for anything, and stand for nothing" cannot please the Lord. A congregation needs to change its message only when it discovers it needs to do so to conform to the Bible. If a preacher will not preach the word of God on such subjects as the plan of salvation, scriptural worship, divorce and remarriage, the sinfulness of religious division, and godly living, then the elders need to make a change in the man who occupies the pulpit.

Methods will change. Sometimes the Lord permits us to select the method of doing what is required. If God tells us to do something but does not tell us how to do it, we are at liberty to use any method that does not violate some other Bible principle. This is called expediency. The day of worship is specified, but the hour is not specified; it may change from age to age, or from country to country. The number of teaching services is a matter of human judgment. Within the last few years, churches have taken advantage of the radio and TV for teaching God's word.

The church in many places needs to make a change and begin condemning sin. God's rules are best for any society. Immorality has ruined nations in the past and will continue to do so (Gen. 18:16-33; 19:24-25; 2 Pet. 2:6; Jude 7). Christians are not to be "conformed to this world" (Rom. 12:2). "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil" (Ex. 23:2) was the admonition given to the Israelites.

It is past time for many congregations to wake up and start preaching some old-fashioned gospel lessons. This is the hope of the church and the world. Departures from the New Testament pattern are sinful. "Let all things be done decently and in order' (I Cor. 14:40).

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Published December 1992