The Sin of Denominations
And after they had held their peace, James answered saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called saith the Lord who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Acts 15:13-18
I am going to explain why that denominationalism is wrong. That does not mean that denominations do no good, nor does it mean that there are not good people who are part of a denomination. I am sure that denominations do some good, but that does not change the fact that they are not a part of what God intended for the church.
There are four sins committed by denominationalism.
1. Denominationalism is a sin of idolatry.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Colossians 1:18
Jesus is the head or the boss of the church. With that in mind, let me make four observations.
(1) Jesus is the head of the church.
(2) Anything in His place is an idol.
(3) There is no such thing as a good denomination.
(4) When an outside influence controls any segment of a church, it becomes an idol.
Consider some examples.
Literature. When you control the literature of a church you pretty well control that church. When a convention publishes its Sunday school literature, it is exerting outside influence on the local churches and is doing what God is supposed to do. That is one reason why I write all of the Sunday school lessons at the First Baptist Church of Hammond. There is no place in the Bible where God gives anybody outside of the church the right to exert authority over the church.
Accreditation. Nobody has a right to accredit the institution that Jesus heads.
Government. When the Government supports a Christian school, the Government is not through with that school. When the Government supports a church, they are not through with that church. Once you have submitted yourself to outside influence, you are in trouble. Every church is a local, individual, autonomous, indigenous body. It is sin for anybody to control a New Testament church from outside that church, including the government.
Missionaries. When I was in the Southern Baptist Convention, we sent money to what they called the Cooperative Program. That money was divided and distributed at the discretion of the denominational bosses. They decide how much of that money goes to questionable schools. They decide what missionaries to support and how much to send those missionaries. The local churches have no say in where the missionary money goes. When anybody outside the church tells the church what to do, it ceases to be a New Testament Baptist church.
Ordination. It is not a denomination's business to ordain our preachers. That is the local church's job. Jesus is the head of the church. Anybody or anything that comes in between the church and Jesus is taking His place and is guilty of idolatry.
A pastor went to Portland, Oregon, area and bought some property to build a denominational church. He refused to do everything the denomination wanted, so they took his property. He raised that money. They had nothing to do with it, but they took his property and he had to move. He now is meeting in a rented building because an unscriptural denomination took his property.
2. Denominationalism removes your promise of divine perpetuity. Jesus said, . .. upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. God has promised that a local, New Testament, independent, indigenous, Baptist church never has to die. We may choose to die, but we do not have to die. If a school is not started by a church, it does not have the promise of divine perpetuity. If the church starts the school, then the school is under the church which is under Jesus. Jesus promised divine perpetuity to the church, so if the school is operated by the church, the school has a right to claim the promise of divine perpetuity.
A school started by a group of churches does not have that. When a group of churches start a school, a church is not operating that school, so it does not have the promise of divine perpetuity. That is given to the church. Anything that comes between Jesus and the church or anything not under the canopy of the local church does not have God's promise of divine perpetuity. I thank God that all across this nation churches are starting Christian schools and colleges.
A denomination cannot start a New Testament church. If a denomination starts a church, then that church is under the control of that denomination. God does not promise divine perpetuity to a denomination. The fact that the denomination starts the church means that they are intervening and are the head of it. If they are the head, Jesus is not the head. If a church is answerable to a denomination, it is not answerable only to Jesus; consequently, it is not a true church and has no claim on divine perpetuity.
3. Denominations cause the sin of muzzling the ox.
Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And The labourer is worthy of his reward. Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. I Timothy 5:17-19
Italy is a country with its own government. Inside Italy there is the Vatican City which has its own government. That is a perfect picture of a preacher and a church. The pastor rules that pulpit and what is preached there. The people have the rule over the buildings borrowing money, etc., but they have no vote about what goes on behind the pulpit. If anybody gets inside that domain and takes over, they are guilty of muzzling the ox. The Bible says that we are not supposed to muzzle the ox.
No church flourishes unless the pastor rules that little domain inside the big domain. The Bible says you are not supposed to muzzle the ox. I am not the head of my church, but I am in charge of the pulpit. I am under Christ in my pulpit, and we are all under Him as the church. I have no power, but the power of influence. I stand up and preach, trying to influence people as to how they should live, but I have no power over them, nor do they have any power over my preaching. My empire is inside the empire of the New Testament church. No church can be a New Testament church if the ox is muzzled.
To belong to a denomination means that the denomination ordains the preachers and gives them their papers. If they can give them their papers, they can take away their papers, so the denomination can decide at will if and when it wants to muzzle the ox.
4. Denominations cannot be of God because the church cannot build it. The only thing that can be of God in God's work is something which is built by a church. A church cannot build a denomination. You cannot put a denomination under a church. The church goes under the denomination. There are some things that a church does not build, but do some good. The grocery store does much good, but the grocery store cannot be promised divine perpetuity. The barber shop does much good, but it is not promised divine perpetuity. A denomination may do much good, but it is no better than a grocery store or barber shop as far as God's promise of divine perpetuity is concerned. It must be under the canopy of the church.
How the Devil
Removes Some Landmarks
Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's landmark; which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it. Deuteronomy 19:14
I want to detail some of the wicked things on which God has placed a curse.
Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. Deuteronomy 27:18a
Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife; because he uncovereth his father's skirt. Deuteronomy 27:20
Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. Deuteronomy 27:2 1
The landmark was a piece of stone or metal that was placed between the property of two people. They did not have sophisticated ways of dividing property like we do today. The landmark was often moved, but not quickly, nor very far. It was moved gradually, while no one watched, or saw it, until finally property had been stolen.
Churches and schools do not decay immediately. It is a little bit today, a little bit tomorrow, and a little bit the next day. I want to explain how the Devil removes some landmarks.
I am not an intellectual, but I have made a study of Christian schools. Before Hyles-Anderson College was founded, I made trips to several cities for the purpose of finding what kind of institution the good schools were when they were founded. I was concerned about our school starting and staying right. I talked to people who were there when those schools started. I talked to faculty members, students and graduates to find out what they were like. I made a study of many of the older institutions. I wanted to find out what made schools slide and what made colleges decay.
I am going to make some observations about these.
1. The local church has been given the promise of divine perpetuity.
2. If the school is under the church, then the school has a perfect right to claim the same promise.
3. It is the job of the church to keep our schools straight.
How is that job to be carried out?
1. The preacher should always be the overseer. Do not put an educator at the head of a Christian school. Colleges die when educators lead them. There are many Christian colleges that once had evangelists or pastors in charge, and when those men resigned, they called a suave educator, and soon the fire was gone. A pastor should be over the college and church, because the church must stay over the college.
2. Lay people must continually help police the institution. I tell our faculty members at Hyles-Anderson College to let me know if changes are made at the college that I do not know about. I am referring to things that are changing from what they were meant to be. The pastor cannot be in all the classrooms. He cannot be at all the meetings and athletic games. The lay people must help him police the schools, so they do not change.
Let me show you what can happen.
In 1947, an inter-denominational seminary was founded. In 1982, thirty-five years after it was founded, a poll was taken of their students. Here are some of the shocking results.
* Fifty percent were tolerant of drinking alcohol.
* Fourteen percent believed there was a Hell.
* Fifteen percent of the students believed the Bible to be infallible.
It does not have to happen, but can happen at Hammond Baptist schools and Hyles-Anderson College or any other Christian school or college.
Let me give you what my studies found. There are eleven things that caused the destruction of a school under the canopy of a church.
1. The church must not get tired of being warned.
Everybody in the church must walk guard as a sentinel around their schools, not to criticize, gossip, or to try to cause trouble, but to let the preacher know when something is changing. You are not the enforcer. That is the preacher's job. If the people try to enforce, the school will die, but, if the Preacher does not know, the school will also die.
2. We must reproduce ourselves. Modern scholarship teaches that we must have a certain percentage of teachers from other universities and colleges. You cannot be accredited without doing that. At Hyles-Anderson College we are more interested in hiring professors with the right philosophies than we are with ones with the right credentials. A great pastor and the founder of a Bible college sat in a restaurant with me one day and said, "Dr. Hyles, you are doing something I wish I had done. I hired a music teacher who I thought was a good Christian. I found out a few days ago, that at night he is playing in a dance band in our city." He made the mistake of hiring by the world's standard of qualifications rather than the qualifications of the right Biblical philosophy.
Hyles-Anderson College has a unique purpose. No other school has the exact same purpose. Nobody knows that purpose better than the ones we have trained. Because of that, we usually hire our own. We do not want to dilute our purpose with hiring people from schools that have already decayed or are decaying. We will reproduce ourselves.
One of our administrators came rushing to me one day and told me that a famous Bible scholar was interested in teaching at HylesAnderson College. It was a man who at that time was probably one of the most famous theologians in America. I said, "At HylesAnderson College, we will not hire famous men, we will make famous men."
3. We must choose all faculty members who have Bible training. Schools get the idea that an English teacher has to know only
English to be an English teacher. That is not the case. An English teacher in a Christian school needs to know the Bible as well. Nobody who does not know the Bible well should teach science in a Christian school. Nobody who does not know the Bible well should teach math in a Christian school. Everyone who teaches in a Christian college ought to know the Bible well enough to where he or she could teach Bible. It is not Christian education unless every teacher is a Bible student.
4. We must avoid the centrist position. As the theological winds blow, changes come in the extreme positions. The centrist positions says that we will stay right in the middle of the extremes. The centrist position says, "We will take a safe position in between those extremes." An institution ought to decide where it is going to stand. Every time the wind blows and somebody changes, we should not change. Whatever clothing is right or wrong to wear is always right or wrong to wear. If Hollywood was once wrong, it is still wrong. If the Bible was once the Word of God, it is still the Word of God, and it will not change. God is looking for people who will not change.
Our position must not be set with regard to others. We must decide our own position. If certain standards are not popular and we lose students, let us not change the standards. You do not grow by letting down your standards; you grow by remaining faithful to your standards.
You should not try to be at any extreme. You should stand where you are supposed to stand. Forty years ago, when I started preaching, I was not very extreme. Today I am very extreme, but I have not changed. The position of the extremes have changed making me more extreme than I once was.
5. We must avoid searching for the truth. We have already searched for the truth and found it. I am not in a search to see if the Bible is the Word of God. I have searched and found to my satisfaction that it is. It is not up for reexamination. The doctrines I believe today, I believed forty years ago. I decided then what I thought was right. I am not searching for the truth; I am proclaiming the truth!
Modem education does not like absolutes. To it, everything is relative. Our nation was built on absolutes. Every great empire was built on absolutes, and every great church was built on absolutes. When the absolutes leave, the growth also leaves.
6. Do not allow academic freedom. A person should not have the freedom in an institution to teach anything he believes. He should teach what that institution believes. Institutions are built by the sacrifice of individuals who believed in something enough to start the institution in order to perpetuate it. Some professor who has never built anything should not be allowed to come in and teach whatever he or she pleases.
7. Have no double standard between students and faculty. The faculty members ought be as good soul winners as the students are. The faculty members ought work as hard for Jesus as the students do. The teachers and leaders ought to be the example in involvement with the soul-winning ministry of the church. They ought to build great bus routes and bring their converts down the aisles. They ought to live by the same standards and convictions that the students do.
8. Every employed person in every school ought to be involved actively in the work of the local church. The church is more important than the school. When the church loses control of the school, the school is gone. The Vice President of HylesAnderson College has a bus route. That is the way that it always ought to be. If the college withdraws its interest and activity in the church, then the college is not a part of that which governs the church.
9. Student leadership destroys colleges. Hyles-Anderson College has no student body president, student body government, or student body newspaper. The heathen, wicked, humanist institutions have campus newspapers that feel free to criticize and rebuke their president or chancellor. They have articles that call for the firing of certain faculty members. I do not believe in that for a Christian school. I believe in administration government.
10. Keep the chapel hot. Nothing will destroy the Christian school any faster than allowing the chapel to lose its fervor and become a place of preaching style rather than preaching power.
11. We must not let the standards slip. When standards begin to slip, the school will begin to slide away from the purpose for which it was founded. We must not let our standards slip. If the student body decreases because of the standards, we should still stay with the standards with which we started. Nobody is supposed to decide our standards for us. I did not get in this business for America to like me. I got in it because I thought we ought to take a stand for what was right and against what was wrong.
In 1970 we started a school in an old dilapidated building. Our church raised $65,000 cash, remodeled that building, and started Hammond Baptist High School. The next year we started Hammond Baptist Grade School. The next year Hyles-Anderson College was founded. If we deteriorate as fast as the aforementioned seminary did, in fifteen more years we will not believe the Bible is the Word of God, and we will not believe in a Hell, and half of us will not believe that liquor is wrong!
Every school that has deteriorated did so by allowing one or more of these eleven things to enter. We must guard the schools with our lives for the sake of our children.
The Financing of the Church
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith theLORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:8-10
When the tithes are mentioned in the Bible, they are sometimes called the tenth; sometimes they are called the firstfruits; and sometimes they are called the tithes. Occasionally they are even called the firstlings.
The life of Israel is basically divided into eight definite sections of time. I want to cover those eight sections of time going all the way to the New Jerusalem. There is something that each of these ages has in common.
1. Patriarchal. This was the time before the book of Exodus in the days of Joseph, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham.
And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Genesis 28:17
And he called the name of that place Beth-el: Genesis 28:18a
And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house:
and of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
Jacob was at the house of God. Three times God's house was mentioned. Jacob said, this is the House of God. Then he said, I am going to call this place Beth-el, which means the house of God. Then he said, this stone shall be God's house. Three times Jacob brought the tithes to the house of God.
2. Wilderness. After they left the land of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they spent forty years wandering in the wilderness.
The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. Exodus 23:19
The first of the first fruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. Exodus 34:26
The Jews had started their journey toward the Promised Land. They had crossed the Red Sea and were being given the law. Moses had been to Mount Sinai, and the Ten Commandments had already been given. God was telling them how they were to behave in the wilderness. For the second time the house of God is mentioned as the place where the tithes were to be brought. While they were in the wilderness, they had the tabernacle with them. They followed the tabernacle everywhere they went, and they were told by God to bring the tithes into the house of God or that tabernacle.
3. The time of judges. This was the time after they had left the wilderness and gone inside the Promised Land. The first rulers were actually judges.
But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you your burnt-offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes and the heave-offerings of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the Lord. Deuteronomy 12:10, 11
In the Book of Deuteronomy, the Israelites were getting ready to go inside the Promised Land. God was giving them instructions on what to do when they arrived. God told them that there would be a place to put the tithes, and that place was the House of God.
4. The time of kings.
And Jehoash said to the priests, All the money of the dedicated things that is brought into the house of the LORD even the money of every one that passeth the account, the money that every man is set at, and all the money that cometh into any man's heart to bring into the house o the Lord. II Kings 12:4
There again the money was to be brought into the house of the Lord. In the first four eras of Jewish history they brought their tithes to the house of God. In the time of the kings, the tithes were brought to the house of the Lord. Notice that it repeatedly says to bring the tithes, not to just send them.
5. The time of rebuilding. This is when they came back from captivity in Babylon and rebuilt the temple, the wall and the city.
And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and theLevites shall bring up the tithes of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house. Nehemiah 10:38
And I perceived that the portion oftheLevites had not been given them:for theLevites and the singers, that did the work; were fled every one to his field. Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of Godforsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. Then brought allJudah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries. Nehemiah 13:10-12.
The Jews were back from captivity, and God was instructing them what to do about the money. The Levites were the preachers, or those who worked at God's House. They were having to work in the fields in order to make a living. They were supposed to live on the tithes of God's people. Nehemiah said that the house of God was forsaken because the Levites were working in the field. God told them to bring the tithes to the house of God.
6. The post-rebuilding days. This is the period of about four hundred years between the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the coming of the Christ child in Bethlehem.
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in house and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Malachi 3:8-10
God told them to bring the tithes to His house. The house of God was not always the same. For a time it was the altar. For a time it was the tabernacle. For a time it was the temple. For a time it was a place called the tent of meeting. Wherever the house of God was, that was where the tithes were to be brought.
7. The New Testament age. I am going to skip this era for now and cover it later in this chapter.
8. The millennium.
And the first of all the first fruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest's: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that ye may cause the blessing to rest in thine house. Ezekiel 44:30
.. and the Sanctuary of the LORD shall be in the midst thereof It shall be for the priests... Ezekiel 48:lOc, 11a
The last part of Ezekiel deals with the rebuilding of the house of God in the kingdom age, or millennium. We will bring the tithes in the millennium to the priest. The priest was at the sanctuary of the house of God.
That takes the Jewish people all the way from the patriarchs in Genesis, into the New Jerusalem. We have found that in every era they brought the tithes to whatever was called the house of God at that time. First it was the altar, then it was the house of God, then it was the tabernacle, then it was the tent of meeting, then it was the temple, and in the millennium it will be called the sanctuary of house of God.
Do you think that God would require His people in all seven of these eras to bring the tithes to His house and then change His mind in one New Testament era? God said, I am the Lord thy God, I change not. The Bible says, in whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. The Bible says, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. Consider...
...If He wanted Jacob to bring his tithes to the house of God...
...If He wanted the Jews in the wilderness to bring their tithes to the house of God...
...If He wanted the Israelites in Judges to bring their tithes to the house of God...
...If He wanted the Jews under the kings to bring their tithes to the house of God...
...If He wanted the Israelites when they returned from captivity to bring their tithes to the house of God...
...If He wanted the Israelites during that silent period of four hundred years to bring their tithes to the house of God...
...If He wants us in the millennium to bring our tithes to the house of God.....
...Would you not think that He would also want us to bring our tithes in this age to the house of God?
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe ofmint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done and not to leave the other undone. Matthew 23:23
Jesus said that tithing was not as important as mercy, judgment, and faith, but He said we still ought to do it. He said, these ought ye to have done. Tithing is a New Testament principle. That is the only place Jesus ever spoke about tithing, but Jesus did not have to say something twice to make it true. Jesus said we ought to tithe...
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. I Corinthians 16:2
This Scripture teaches proportionate giving. We are supposed to give according as God has prospered us. If one person makes more money than another, he is to give more money. The storehouse is the name used here for the house of God... God always wants His people to bring the tithes to the house of God...
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, I Timothy 3:15
The house of God today is the church. The church is a called-out assembly. When God's people meet on the Lord's Day, that is a church. Anywhere that a called-out assembly meets, that is the house of God. Throughout history God always commanded His people to bring the tithes to the house of God...
In the patriarchal days it was the altar. In Exodus 25 it became the tabernacle. With David and Solomon, it became the temple. In the land of Canaan, it became the tent of meeting and later the rebuilt temple. In the millennium it will again become the rebuilt temple. In this age, the house of God is the called-out assembly. Every Sunday God's people are supposed to take the first tenth of their income to the house of God. The house of God is the church.
When God said, ye have robbed me in tithes and offering, what did He mean? One tenth of our income is already God's. If we do not put it in the church, we are robbing God. If we make a vow to a building program, or vow to give God more than the ten percent, as soon as we make that vow, the amount of that vow becomes God's, just like the ten percent. We are robbing God if we do not give Him what is already His.
Ananias and Sapphira were killed because they had promised God that they were going to give Him the selling price of some property. Barnabas had done the same thing. He had sold a piece of property and had given all the profit to God... They sold their property, but did not give it all to God as they had vowed.
Let me go a step further. If you surrender your life to full-time Christian service, your life becomes God's. You vowed your life to serve God full time. Vows were very sacred in the Old Testament. At the moment that vow is made, it becomes just as sacred as the tithes.
God will not allow us to live on more than ninety per cent of our income. A tenth of it belongs to God. If you make a million dollars a month, a hundred thousand dollars is supposed to go to the church... You have no right to divide it up and designate it as you choose... You are to give it to the regular offering of the church. There is nothing wrong with giving designated gifts, if they are over and above the tithes... There is no place in the Bible where any Christian designated the tithe. They brought it to the house of God, and the house of God disbursed it.
When I was ten years old, I got a newspaper route for the Dallas Morning News... I had about thirty-five customers and made about three dollars a week. I thank God that when I got those first three dollars, my mother said, "All of that money is not yours." She took out three dimes and said, "That belongs to God."
I said, "Why?"
She said, "Because we live on God's earth, drink God's water, enjoy God's sunshine, and breathe God's air... That is rent."
Through the years there has not been one dime I have ever made, without a penny of it going to the Lord, by way of the church (the house of God for this day)...
The Task of the Church
And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessedAbraham in all things. AndAbraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: AndI will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell:
But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. Genesis 24:1-4
And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor... And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. And he said, 0 LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink; and I will give thy camels drink; also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master. And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder. And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her: and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher. And she said, Drink; my lord: and she hasted, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink. And when she had done giving him drink; she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. Genesis 24:10-19
Abraham told his servant to go to the far country of Mesopotamia to choose a wife for his son, Isaac... He had to go several hundred miles away and find the woman who was to be the bride of Isaac. Notice what the servant did...
The servant got on his knees and asked God to help him to find the one who was to be the wife of his master's son... In those days, ladies came down to get the water... They brought bottles made of skins, filled them with water, and carried them back on their heads. He was going to ask the women coming for water to give him a drink of water. If one offered water to his ten camels as well, she would be the one who was to be the bride of Isaac. A camel drinks an enormous amount of water, so the lady would have to go down to the well repeatedly in order to get enough water for all of his camels. That was to be the way God showed the servant the right bride for his master's son.
When the servant found her, he took out earrings and gave them to Rebekah. He also gave her two bracelets and talked her into coming back and marrying Isaac, sight unseen.
In this story ,Abraham is a type of God the Father... The eldest servant is a type of the Holy Spirit. The wife is a type of all Christians. Isaac is a type of Jesus. The far country, Abraham's home land, is a type of the world.
The Heavenly Father told the Holy Spirit to go to the world and get a bride for His Son. Everything the Holy Spirit is commissioned to do in this age, is wrapped around getting a bride. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts, but the gifts are to help us get the bride... The Holy Spirit gives us the fruit of the Spirit, but the fruit of the Spirit is to help us get the bride. The Holy Spirit comforts us, so we can be comforted while we get people saved... The Holy Spirit strengthens us, so we can get people saved...
The job of a Christian is soul winning. The consuming passion for God's people should be to get people saved. Jesus went to a great effort to get people saved. The Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.
Charismatic people often make a drastic mistake. They get more concerned about the comforting than they do about the purpose of the comforting. They get more concerned about getting the gifts than they are about getting the bride... Every child of God is supposed to get people saved... That is the purpose of our existence. That is why we have the church... That is to be the purpose of every ministry of the church... Everything we do is to be wrapped up around getting the bride.
The servant gave her a bracelet and earrings. When the Holy Spirit chooses a bride for Jesus, the first thing is to tell them how to be saved. That is the earrings. The next thing is for them to reach out and accept it by faith. That is the bracelet. A person is saved by hearing and then taking.
In the Old Testament days, when priests were anointed, oil was placed on the lobe of the right ear, on the thumb of the right hand, and on the big toe of the right foot. The progression goes from hearing the Gospel, to taking the Gospel, to spreading the Gospel...
The servant was nice, courteous, and friendly. We should do the same, but our master did not tell us to go to the far country and be friendly. He said to go to the far country and get a bride. Being friendly is a tool to get the bride. We must talk people into marrying somebody they have never seen...
In Bible, we have what we call the fruit of the Spirit. Here is where Charismatic people get confused. They get the fruit of the Spirit mixed up with the getting of the bride... They forget that the purpose of the fruit of the Spirit is to help us in getting the bride. They make the possession of these fruits an end in and of itself, rather than the means to the end of getting a bride. We are supposed to be kind in order to get the bride.
Some people like to talk about love, yet never or seldom win souls to Christ. They are unfaithful servants. God did not send them to the world to smile and be happy. God told them to be loving, kind, peaceful, gracious and gentle in order to win more souls. The fruit of the Spirit is simply a soul winning tool. It is a course on how to get the bride.
Every gift of the Spirit is given for that one purpose. If I talk in tongues and do not get the bride, I am an unfaithful servant. If I heal forty people from thyroid trouble, and cast out thirty tumors, but do not get the bride, I am an unfaithful servant. No matter how much we get the gifts of the Spirit, if we are not winning souls, we are unfaithful servants. The Holy Spirit came to this world to get a bride for Jesus. That bride is to be composed of all believers at the rapture who will be married to Him. The purpose of the fullness of the Holy Spirit is to get the bride...
The servant did not talk about himself. The servant talked about the son. When you get the Holy Spirit, you love Jesus more... That is His purpose... The Holy Spirit's purpose is not to be magnified, but to magnify Jesus. The servant praised his master and praised the master's son.
When RebeKah agreed to go with the servant, it was a picture of people accepting Jesus Christ as their Saviour. They like her are agreeing to marry someone they have never seen. The purpose of every church in America is to get the bride for Jesus. I do not care how rich a church is, how many missionaries it sends out, or how much Bible the people know, if it is not getting people saved, it is not right with God, and is not doing what it is here to do. The one purpose for the servant going to the far country was to get the bride.
I have more respect for a hard-boiled fundamental soul-winner than I do for a sweet and kind compromiser. Being nice is important, but not as important as getting the bride. I would rather see a person do right wrongly, than wrong rightly. I would rather see a person have the right position and the wrong disposition, than to have the right disposition and the wrong position. The reason he sent the servant was to get the bride...
The Charismatic movement is popular because it is built around the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit, but not on the purpose of the Spirit. It is built around the tools to get the bride and not on the getting of the bride. The job of the servant is to get the bride. Without the servant, we are in trouble. The father sent the servant, just like the Holy Spirit was sent by the Heavenly Father, to find a bride for the son.
Rebekah had a long journey ahead... They were going to go through some pretty dangerous and lonely places. Rebekah did not know the way to the son, but the servant did. His job was to lead her safely to the bridegroom. He knew every spot between them and the son. The secret was for her to follow and obey him...
That is what we must do to be happy as Christians. Between the time that we receive Christ as Saviour, and the time when we meet Him face to face, we must allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and to tell us what we ought to do.
Imagine the journey Rebeka took in order to get to Isaac. Sometimes the journey went down into the valley and was foggy and dangerous... The secret was to follow the servant. Sometimes they had battles... Sometimes wild animals came. Often they could hear the hissing of serpents... Her only hope was to follow the servant. His job was to get the bride safely to the bridegroom. Sometimes the journey was crooked, and sometimes the journey was straight.
We do not know the journey to Heaven God wants us to take... We must simply follow the Holy Spirit.
One day, they got close... Isaac had come out to kneel and pray, and they got a glimpse of him. When they got close enough, the servant introduced her to Isaac, his master's son. The Bible says Isaac took her to his tent. What happened to the servant? He drifted away into the shadows because his job was done. It was his job to get the bride for the groom...
That is my job... The Holy Spirit lives and dwells in me, so it is my job to get the bride for the groom. For these many years, I have spent my life trying to get the bride to the groom. At the rapture, all the people I have won to Christ will get their first glimpse of Jesus, and I will get to see them meet the one I told them about.
It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus.
The tragedy is that many of the churches in America today have either forgotten the servant altogether or misinterpreted the purpose of the servant. Most Christians do not understand the purpose of the Holy Spirit. I believe in the fullness of the Holy Spirit, but the reason I believe in the fullness of the Holy Spirit is to get the bride for the Groom. I believe in the fruit of the Spirit, but all of those are simply tools to go soul winning. I believe in the gifts of the Spirit, but the gifts of the Spirit are simply ways to get the bride.
The earrings and bracelets were simply tools to get her... We ought to teach our children to be kind to one another. Why? Because the kinder they are, the more souls they can win. We should have love because the more love we have the more folks we can get to the Saviour.
Ours is an impossible task, humanly speaking. How can I possibly convince somebody who has never seen Jesus to put his faith in Him! The servant does it with love and with the gifts. Many go to church to shout, not to see people saved. My Bible says they that sow in tears shall reap in joy. You do not sow in joy, you sow in tears... They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
She goes to Isaac, and the servant steps back into the shadows.
The joy of getting the groom and the bride together is all the servant needs. That is the job of the Holy Spirit, and that is the job of the church.
A Shrewd Way the Devil
Takes Over a Church
To every thing there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace... Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Every one of these things mentioned is neither good or bad. All of these things can be bad and all of these things can be good. In this is the secret to success and happiness in life.
If you want to build a great church, or if you want to have a happy life, do not do the same thing all the time, but do the same things all the time. You will never find a more important philosophical statement than that.
Monotony is both depressing and exhilarating. If you are monotonous in doing the same thing all the time, you will become depressed... If you are monotonous in doing the same things all the time, you will find it exhilarating.
Life is that way. You cannot live on a peak all the time. You must come down into the valley. The valleys are just as important as the peaks. A church needs to have services where the people shout and praise God. It also needs to have services where the people are still and know that He is God. Taking the Lord's Supper in quietness and sweetness is just as important as shouting and praising God.
I sometimes preach on Sunday mornings on comfort because people must be comforted... You cannot compare a sermon on comfort with a sermon on praise and rejoicing. You cannot compare either of those with a Bible study...
The same applies to Bible truth. This is how churches start teaching false doctrine. A pastor finds a truth in the Bible that the people have never heard. The people think that it was wonderful, so he has obligated himself to find a deeper truth the next time. Before long he is finding things in the Bible that are not there because he is trying to find something new and fresh all the time...
I will not build a church that way. I will build a church on the solid basics of the Bible. The same thing that builds families, builds churches. The basics... The way you stay healthy is by eating the basics.
There are churches that have to find something shocking as far as the truth is concerned. After a while they are spending all of their time trying to force types and truths that are not really there... If they do not continue to find new and more shocking truth, the feeling or effectiveness begins to wear off.
You cannot build a church, a life, a family, or a relationship on one thing all of the time. God is a God of variety. That is one thing wrong with rock music... Rock music is not a music of variety. It uses the same beat over and over again. Good music is a variety of music in one song. Churches are destroyed because they go down a good road, but only down that one road. They are destroyed by the continuous repetition of something that is good...
Some churches are destroyed by spectacular events. You cannot have a big day every Sunday and you cannot build on the spectacular.
A church should never get off onto any one thing. For example, we had 5,195 people saved on a Sunday. That is not going to happen every Sunday. There must be times when we study the Bible. Every Sunday cannot be a big Sunday.
The same thing is true in a family... There are times you should take the children for ice cream and times you must make them eat their spinach. There are times to go to the park and swing, and times to bend them over your knee and spank them. There must be a balance of good things.
Jesus told Timothy to preach the Word. Many people believe that is all we are ever supposed to do, but that is not all it says. It also says to rebuke, reprove, and exhort. There are four things mentioned, and preaching the Word is just one of them. God is saying that sometimes the pastor needs to teach the Bible verse by verse. Other times the pastor needs to exhort as to how to live. Sometimes the pastor is to preach the Devil out of us. That is what a church needs... Churches will self-destruct when they get wrapped up in only one thing...
I am a very happy man. I live by the same schedule every week. It is not monotonous. Doing one thing all the time is monotonous, but doing several things all the time is not monotonous. I do not have to go on vacation to be happy. I do not need a hobby for a diversion... The truth is I live on vacation all the time... Vacation is a change or a diversion.
The professional golfer golfs for a living, but plays tennis for vacation. The professional tennis player plays tennis for a living and plays golf for a vacation... My whole life is one diversion after another. That is why I am happy and can preach several times a day. I live a life of diversion... I do many things all the time, but not the same thing all of the time...
The Bible says there is a time to love and a time to hate. So we need to love a while and hate awhile... Billy Sunday said, "You cannot love flowers if you do not hate weeds..." A doctor cannot love health if he does not hate germs... There must be times when the pastor praises God for His wonderful love, but there must also be times when he preaches against the dirty liquor traffic; against the wickedness in Hollywood, etc..
All over the country there are people gathering in living rooms for cottage prayer meetings and Bible studies. They have no evangelism, they have no invitation, they are not getting anybody baptized, and they have no house-to-house soul winning, street preaching, or passing out of tracts... They just go deeper and deeper in the Word until they are teaching things that God does not even know... They are destroying a church by seeking truth...
There are churches that take all their time to be still and know that He is God...
There are preachers who get off into casting out demons, and the people begin to come to church expecting to see the spectacular. If the spectacular does not happen, they quit coming.
I know churches that are one issue-oriented. They will get on an issue and stay on it for six months or more at a time... Every sermon and Bible study is wrapped around that issue. That is why I seldom use spectacular sermon titles. Everything about the Bible is spectacular. I want to build in my people a desire for the basics of the Bible, not just the spectacular.
It is tragic when a church calls a man to be their pastor after hearing him preach only one Sunday, because they fail to discover if he is an issue oriented preacher. Before calling a pastor, the church should get the man's tapes and find out if his preaching over an extended period of time is balanced. Somebody asked me who I thought was the greatest preacher in America. I would have to hear him preach for a year before I could answer that.
Let me make three observations.
1. Come expecting something, but do not come expecting any one thing.
2. Do not make anything be in competition with itself.
I know people who get hooked on one food and just eat it all of the time. I know people who get hooked on one hobby and stay on that one hobby all of the time. There are too many things in life to enjoy... Sometimes you should go bowling, but sometimes you should just take a walk in the woods. Happy people are the diversified people. Live a varied life.
3. Do not go down just one road. Do not do the same thing, but do the same things.
Our preacher boys often go to a new church and for their first month there preach a series of sermons on women wearing pants. I do not mention women wearing pants all the time... I may go many months and never mention anything about women wearing pants.
My critics take one little phase of my ministry and talk about it as though that were the whole of it. Most of them have never set foot inside the buildings of First Baptist Church. If there is a church in the world that has a varied ministry, it is First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. That is the way to keep a church healthy.
A college can get off onto a few doctrines. I believe the King James Bible was preserved word for word, but if I preached on that subject every week to the college students, I would destroy the college.
That is what the Devil does. The Devil comes to a church and gets the pastor and the people enraptured about one thing. My soul hungers for my church to be thrilled and excited when people get saved, but I also want them to be able to sit at the Lord's Supper table with sincere praise and worship to Almighty God... There is a time for both. There is a time to laugh, and a time to cry, a time to plant, and a time to reap, a time to love, and a time to hate.
Churches all over this nation have gotten caught up in trying to find some new revelation from the Bible and destroyed themselves. People need a well rounded diet to be well rounded people. We need to stick to what the Bible says. The Bible says we are supposed to pray. The Bible says we are supposed to live a clean life... The Bible says we are supposed to read the Bible. The Bible says we are supposed to go soul winning... The Bible says we are supposed to walk with God... Often that does that not satisfy us because we have gone down one road. That one road excites us until every time we meet we have to exceed where we went the last time.
In life it will not work, and in a church it will not work. It creates a church that only knows one thing and gives us only one phase of the ministry we are supposed to have to God. The Bible talks about ministering unto God. That is our purpose. God wants us to shout and praise Him... God wants us to spend some time quietly with Him and express to Him our love... God wants us to go out and tell people about Him and get them saved... God wants us to learn about Him from His Book... That is what makes a great Christian, and that is what makes a great church.
When the New Testament
And he goeth up unto a mountain, and calleth unto him whom he would: and they came unto him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach, And to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out devils. And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself Mark 3:13-15
This is where I think the New Testament church was started. Jesus was in the mountain and called to Himself those He wanted. This was the first called-out assembly by our Lord. There, He ordained the twelve to go out and spread the Gospel.
The church had to be founded sometime before Matthew 18 because it talks about the church. It also had to have been started before Acts 2 because the Bible says that they were adding to the church those that were being saved. You cannot add to something unless that something already exists.
Three things have distinguished the New Testament church down through the centuries since this time that Jesus called out these people.
1. Believer's baptism. Very few churches, other than Baptists, believe in salvation by grace, security of the believer, and baptizing only believers. Believer's baptism has been the issue that Baptists have fought for more than anything else through the years.
2. The independent congregation. No denominational boss has any scriptural right to tell a local New Testament church what to do, or to interfere with its business. It is difficult to even find a denomination that believes correctly on all of the important issues. All denominations interfere from the outside. They ordain preachers, and that is not the job of a denomination. The local church is supposed to ordain preachers. These denominations will also try to take away the credentials of those who do not follow their guidelines. That is control.
3. The doctrine of the local, visible church, not the doctrine of the universal church.
These are the things our forefathers fought for the most. They are also the things that I am fighting for across America. Somehow we must get back to placing the importance on these issues.
There are also other things that are important characteristics of a local New Testament church. Let me go into some detail on these.
1. It must be founded by Christ. Methodist churches were founded by John Wesley. Presbyterian churches were founded by John Calvin. Lutheran churches were founded by Martin Luther. Baptists are the only ones who can trace their origin all the way back to the time Christ first gathered together that called-out group on the hill.
2. There must be two ordinances. The Lord's Supper is a church ordinance and is supposed to be observed by a church. The ordinance of the Lord's Supper was started as a church ordinance. It always has been and it always will be an ordinance of the local church. It is a memorial supper when we gather and remember the blood and broken body of our Lord.
Baptism by immersion is the other ordinance. Nobody is a fundamentalist who sprinkles babies or adults.
3. You must have only two church offices. There is nothing in the Bible about a Flower Committee. There is nothing in the Bible about a Music Committee. There is nothing in the Bible about a Board of Trustees. There are only two offices. One is pastor, or it is sometimes referred to as bishop or elder. The other office is that of deacons.
4. There is to be no outside control. No church can be a New Testament church unless it takes care of its own business with no interfering from the outside. A church cannot be a New Testament church who assigns the pastors. Any church that allows any outside control whether that control be good or bad is negating its right to be called a New Testament church.
5. It must have the proper order of membership.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:41
They baptized these converts the same day they were saved. Many churches criticize those of us who believe this way; yet it is a distinct characteristic of a New Testament church. They got baptized the same day, joined the church the same day, and began taking the Lord Supper. This is the order for church membership: Salvation -Baptism - Church Membership - Lord's Supper. Any deviation from that order forfeits the right to be called a New Testament church.
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. Acts 8:36-38
Philip said that all the Ethiopian eunuch had to do to get baptized was to believe. He did not have to appear before a committee. He simply had to believe and he was able to be baptized on the spot. To be a New Testament church, you must baptize converts immediately.
6. The Bible is the final authority. No church is a New Testament church that does not believe in the verbal inspiration of the Bible.
7. Soul winning is essential. You cannot have a New Testament church and not be a soul-winning church.
The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches. Revelation 1:20
A golden candlestick is another word for a church.
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works: Revelation 2:5a
The first works Jesus told the New Testament church to do was to go soul winning. Jesus was telling this church that if they did not get back to soul winning, He was going to remove their right to be called a church. That is the church's first and foremost responsibility. The church is not a social club. It is a soul-winning station. The New Testament church was hated by Jerusalem and was persecuted because they were soul winning. There is no such thing as a church that is not a soul-winning church. You may call it a church, but it is not a church. Jesus does not recognize any church as a church unless it is a soul-winning church.
9. Salvation is by grace through faith only.
10. Biblical separation. No organization that is not Biblically separated is a church. Our founding fathers were separated people. They were a persecuted, hated, and fanatical people. There are three areas in which we are to separate ourselves.
In the Old Testament, they could not plant two seeds together in the same mound; they could not plow with an ox and a donkey in the same yoke; and they could not have two different materials in the same garment. These things symbolize several areas of separation.
1. The Bible. The seed is the Word of God. We are not to yoke up with any denomination, church, meeting, fellowship, or endeavor that is wrong on the Bible. We are not to yoke up with people who do not believe the Bible is verbally inspired.
2. Salvation. A robe is the symbol of salvation. We are not to yoke up with people who are wrong on salvation. We are not to yoke up in any kind of meeting with people who are wrong on salvation.
3. The preacher. An ox is a symbol of a true preacher. The false preacher is symbolized by a donkey. We are so afraid of not being accepted. New Testament Christianity never has been accepted. A big battle in fundamentalism in the next few years is mainly going to be the compromiser attacking the separatist. When one starts that battle, he moves outside the circumference of fundamentalism.
There are some wonderful Christian people who belong to churches that are not New Testament churches, but this issue is a big one. We must teach our people the importance of belonging to a true New Testament church.
Acts 20:28 says, Take heed therefore unto yourselves.., to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Jesus loved the New Testament church enough to purchase it with His own blood, so we ought to love it enough to belong to one that is a true New Testament church. God has formed the New Testament church as His unit of operation. It is His company; His squad; His platoon; His unit of battle; His unit of action; His base of fellowship. God organized it and wants His people to come out from among the false churches or any church that unites with the false churches.
I thank God that I belong to a New Testament church, the kind that has fought to exist through the years, and the kind that Jesus founded.
The Church and Education
According to the Bible
It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:11-15
I want the First Baptist Church to be ready to stand when the battles come in the future. The battle will come concerning the schools. We are very fortunate to live in the State of Indiana because we have had very few battles, but the battle is eventually going to come. Preachers all over this nation are going to face it.
The big battle is this: Is the school a part of the church?
The courts are going to have to decide whether or not education is worship. A church worship service cannot be licensed by a state. The question is whether or not education is worship. I am going to explain from the Bible that education is worship.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. John 4:21-24
Jesus said of His people that they knew what they worshipped. They learned what they worshipped because they were taught what they worshipped. This woman was a heathen worshipper and did not know what she was worshipping because all pagan worship is built on ignorance. All true worship is built on knowledge. Knowledge is education. To get knowledge you must have a teacher and a student. Consequently, true worship is based on knowledge. False worship is based on ignorance. The most ignorant and primitive places in the world worship heathen, pagan gods because they know not what they worship.
Truth is education. Jesus said that we are not to worship Him ignorantly, but in spirit and in truth. Truth must be transferred. People who know the truth have been taught the truth. If you have not been taught the truth, you cannot worship God. Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life. You must be taught the truth, so real worship is based on being taught. I worship Him in truth because I was taught truth as a child. If our next generation worships God in truth, they will do so because they are taught the truth. You get error by accident, but you get truth on purpose.
You cannot worship God ignorantly. You must worship Him in truth. Truth must be conveyed. Truth must have a teacher and a pupil and a truth being conveyed from one to the other.
If Jesus is the truth and we are supposed to worship God in spirit and in truth, then mathematics, history, geography, science, and languages are all truth. If Jesus is the truth, then God's people should be in search constantly of all truth, including these things.
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 6:6
We are commanded to talk about Him when we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up. That means that we are to teach our children the truth every day, not just one day a week. Our government, judges, and many state legislatures say that we worship only on Sunday morning, so they will not license Sunday morning worship. The Bible says that we must know the truth before we can worship, and we are to teach the truth to young people every day. That means that God told us not to confine teaching the truth to Sunday.
Let me give you some observations.
1. God must be worshipped in truth. The average person goes to church on Sunday without thinking about God all week. He takes one little hour to hear a few dead songs and a sermonette by a gown-wearing preacher. That is called worship. The Bible says we are to spend every day learning who He is, what He is, and where He is.
You cannot learn about God unless you know mathematics, because God is truth. You cannot learn about God unless you know history, because history is truth and God is truth. True worship must be built on truth. Truth is teaching. Teaching is education. If we teach our children at home seven days a week, we can come to church on Sunday morning and worship the true and the living God in spirit and in truth, because we spend all week teaching them truth and Sunday worshipping in truth.
2. Truth must come before true worship. You cannot worship God ignorantly. The Bible says that they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.
3. Truth comes by learning, which is education.
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 will also forget thy children. Hosea 4:6
People are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge. Children do not get the truth in the public schools. One of these days America is going to be enslaved because we do not know the truth. The Christian school movement in America is facing the fight of its life in the not too distant future. Churches like First Baptist Church of Hammond will have to lead the fight. Most denominational and inter-denominational churches will allow their schools to be licensed.
4. Education is preparation for true worship.
5. Worship not based on truth is false worship.
Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lust of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. John 8:44
Satan is the father of lies. He is also the father of ignorance?. Jesus is the truth. The Devil abides not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Truth comes through proper education. Truth is conveyed from one person who knows it to a person who does not know it. There was a day when I did not know that two plus two equal four. I learned that from a teacher, and now I know that truth. It is important to know that truth because it is mathematics and God is a God of mathematics. Christian education is better than public education because it is based on truth.
6. All worship is of God or Satan. You either worship the true and living God or you worship the Devil. There is no other ground. If you worship the truth, you worship God. If you worship a lie, or error, you worship the Devil. That means the liberal people worship the Devil because they educate their children at the feet of error rather than truth.. If they do not believe that Jesus is God's Son, they worship the Devil. If they do not believe that Jesus is virgin born, they worship the Devil. If they do not believe the Bible is the Word of God, they worship the Devil. You either worship in truth, the Living God, or in error, the Devil.
7. Education is a part of worship. I would like to plead this in court and take this before the Supreme Court. There is no true education without the fear of God. I am talking about science. I am talking about history that honors the father of our country. All truth is a part of God, whether it be mathematical truth, Bible truth, historical truth, language truth, or geography truth. God is the One Who made the universe, so to understand the universe we must understand God. If we do not know the truth, we cannot worship God. If we love God and want to worship God, we ought to be interested in all of His creation. The Bible says that the heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork. We cannot know God unless we look at His heavens and consider the work of His hands. God speaks to us through the heavens, so education is worship.
8. In the Bible worship was not limited to Sundays.
Acts 5:42 says that they taught the truth daily in the temple and in every house. Our government is trying to confine it to a little one-hour period of worship. They try to tell us what worship is, yet they do not even know God. It is going to take more than thirty minutes a week to learn all the truth God has for us to learn. When we education our own children, we are preparing them for worship.
9. To say that a church should not teach math, history, etc. is to say that God has no interest in those subjects. God does have an interest in history. God does have an interest in math. God does have an interest in language. God does have an interest in geography. He is truth, and all truth is a part of God.
10. This is the way America was at first. The public school system was not the way America started. It was an afterthought. The educational system of the United States of America was started by the churches, and that is where it should be. Churches should educate their own. It is not the government's job to educate. The school system of America was founded by the church. That is our heritage and that is the way it should still be.
Let me give you another view.
1. We worship a teacher.
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: John 3:1, 2a
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 28:19
2. We are to teach what He taught. Jesus, our teacher, goes back to Heaven and commissions us to teach what He taught. I am commanded by Jesus to teach what he taught. The reason I teach what He taught is so I can properly worship.
3. If He commanded me to do it, what right does the State have to give me permission? I have already been commanded by Him to do it, so I do not need permission from the government. It is not the state's business to give us permission to worship. Nobody in the state says they will try to license our worship service, but they will try to license our school. The school is where we teach the truth necessary for worship.
Let me tell you what is going on.
1. The state is trying to limit worship to Sunday.
2. Some states are trying to limit worship to Sunday morning.
3. Some states are even to what they call sanctuary worship. In some states they are trying to prove that Sunday school must be licensed because it is not worship.
4. Only worship will not be controlled by the govern-ment. You cannot worship unless you know the truth, so we learn the truth in order to worship God. That makes the Christian school as much a part of worship as the Sunday morning service. It is an extension of what goes on then. It is as much a part of the church as the Sunday school.
5. Anything that is not called worship as they see worship, will be licensed. The day will come when we will be forced to decide whether or not we are going to allow the state to tell us what to do in our schools. John Bunyan was in the Bedford jail for twelve years because the state wanted to give him a license and he would not accept it.
When we refuse to accept their license they will try to approve our teachers. They will approve only teachers who meet their educational requirements, which will be worldly, godless, humanist courses taught at state universities.
I like what Moses said to Pharaoh. Pharaoh told him not to go, but to stay and worship in the land.
Moses told him that they were leaving and going to Canaan.
Pharaoh said not to go very far away.
Moses told him that they were going all the way to Canaan.
Pharaoh told him to at least leave the children there because it might be dangerous out in the wilderness.
Moses told him that everybody was going to go.
Pharaoh suggested that they leave the cattle there.
Moses told him that not one hoof would be left!
The state is going to tell us that we have to be licensed. When we fight it, this is what they will do to try to get us to compromise. We must be determined not to allow one hoof to be placed under the control of the state!
1. Hire state approved teachers. No, we will not do this.
2. Christian Schools can appoint an accreditation board of their own. The idea is not who licenses or accredits you, the idea is any outside accreditation. The local church is an indigenous, autonomous, independent institution. A group of preachers have no more right to tell us how to operate our Christian schools than a group of congressmen do!
3. Send us a list of your teachers. Even this is too much control because it is NONE of the government's business who teaches in our Sunday school or in our daily school.
The battleground of the near future will be whether or not education is a part of our worship. The Bible says education is necessary to worship. In order to worship properly on Sunday, we must teach our children the truth every day. The truth is what makes me free and the truth is what makes me worship God, for they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.
Why Biblically the State Cannot Control the Church
Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk. And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regard est not the person of men. Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites? Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny. And he said unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto him, Caesar's. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's. When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left him, and went their way. Matthew 22:15-22
Human law was begun of necessity. Men had to protect three things.
1) their person
2) their property
3) their freedom
Government was started for those three things. Government was founded to be a servant of the people. The state has the authority to control only whatever threatens one of these three things. The state, however, has often become the agency that takes away our person, property, and freedom. Now, we must be protected from that which was made to protect us.
There are different powers. When the Bible says that we are to be subject to the higher powers, it is not suggesting that we be subject to just one of them. It is saying that we are to be subject to all of the higher powers. We are to obey the higher powers in the proper proportion of their power. Our first allegiance is to God. Our second allegiance is to our country, then to our state, our county, and our city. They are all higher powers, but they are not equal powers.
God was here first, so He established the first laws. Any law that a nation makes that contradicts God's law is wrong and does not have to be obeyed. Any law that a state makes that contradicts God's law or a nation's law does not have to be obeyed. Our first allegiance is to be to the highest power. God has the first right to our person, our property, and our freedom.
I want to make three observations.
1. Caesar has no right to put his image or superscription of ownership on anything that belongs to God.
God created the heavens and the earth. So God has the right to choose what He wants. Consequently, that which belongs to God is totally outside of the rights of Caesar or the state. The state has no power whatsoever to put its stamp of ownership on what belongs to God.
(1) The church belongs to God. Caesar has no right to put any stamp of approval upon a church, because the church belongs to God. The church is a part of another kingdom. In Acts 20:28, Paul told the Ephesian elders to take heed that they feed the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. Jesus purchased the church, so it belongs to Him and not the state. He has first rights. That means that the nation, the state, the county and the city have no right to give anything the right to exist that belongs to God. God already has established its right to exist.
Since the church belongs to God, the government has no right to require the church or any part of the church to have a permit or a license. A Christian school does not have to have permission from the government to exist. God's power supersedes the state's power. A preacher does not need to have a license from the state to preach. The church does not belong to the United States government. As long as a church is not endangering anybody's person, property or freedom, the state has no power over it.
(2) The body belongs to God. Paul said that the body and the spirit belongs to God. My body belongs to God. I Corinthians 6:18 says that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are bought with a price and we are to glorify God in our bodies. My body does not belong to the state. It belongs to God. The state has no right to tell my body what to do, unless it injures somebody else's body. As long as I am not endangering another's property, person or freedom, then the state has no authority, because that is the government's only intended purpose.
(3) The spirit belongs to God. The spirit is that which fellowships with God. My body is that which you see. My soul is that which fellowships with you. My spirit is that which fellowships with God. My spirit is God's. The state has no control over my spirit. I can worship God as I choose. That is not the state's business. I can worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience and as I see the word of God.
(4) The soul belongs to God. The soul is that with which we fellowship and learn. That means our minds belong to God, so the state is not supposed to educate us. God never intended for the state or the government to educate our young people. Before there ever was a nation, God owned our minds.
(5) The tithe belongs to God. Leviticus 27:30 says the tithe is the Lord's. God is supposed to get the first of your increase and of your income. Caesar cannot place his stamp of ownership on what belongs to God.
2. Caesar cannot tax what is God's. The church is financed by the tithes of God's people. The church should not be taxed, because it would be the tithe being taxed, and Leviticus 27:30 says, the tithe is the Lord's. The government would be taxing God. The state has no right to tax the church, because the church is operated by the tithe, which is the Lord's. If the state taxes the church, the state is taxing God. That would be like the state of Indiana trying to tax the United States Government. The United States cannot tax God, because the inferior power cannot tax the superior power. Jehovah God is a higher power than the United States Government, so it has no right to tax the church.
3. Caesar cannot pass a law in conflict with God's. If a city passes a law that the Supreme Court does not like, it will not be a law. The Supreme Court of the United States can nullify a law passed by a city council because it is a higher power. The Supreme Court can also nullify a law passed by the state of Indiana or even one by the Congress of the United States. But the Supreme Court cannot nullify a law passed by Jehovah God. Consequently, a nation cannot pass a law in conflict with God's law. God's law came first.
A nation can pass no law conflicting with God's law. A state can pass no law conflicting with a nation's law. A city can pass no law conflicting with a state's law. If the city conflicts with the state, you should obey the state because the state is a higher power than the city. If a nation's law conflicts with God's law, we are to obey God because He is the higher power. We do not have a license to live above the law of the land, but whenever a law of God conflicts with the law of the land, God's law supersedes the law of the land.
4. We do not always have to obey man's laws.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Romans 13:1, 2
That word subject is a military word. In the military an individual is to obey according to the rank of the officer. The higher the rank, the more the priority there is to obey the order. Daniel prayed with his window open every day. They passed a law he could not do that. Daniel kept on doing it because he was obeying the law of God instead of the law of man. We are to obey God, who has revealed His will in His Word. The state has no right to pass a law that is in conflict with God's law. It is important to remember that it must be something that He has divinely commanded in His Word.
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:27-29
God's kingdom is superior to the United States of America. We have a right to go soul winning without the permission of the city council. We have permission from a bigger source than City Hall. As long as what we do does not threaten another person's person, property, or freedom, we have the right and the obligation to obey the law of God over the law of man.
We are not of this world. Our kingdom is above this world. As we interact with this world, we must see to it that we submit ourselves to the laws, even if we do not agree with them, as long as they are not against the laws of God. Whenever one power conflicts with another power, our allegiance is to the highest of the two, which means whenever any power conflicts with God's laws, our allegiance is always supposed to be to God!
The Church and Government
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government andpeace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice henceforth even for ever. The zeal oftheLORD of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:6, 7
When Jesus comes, all human government will rest upon His shoulder and will flow from His authority. Government will increase until the millennium comes, so the millennium will be the perfect time when all government is under Him. During the kingdom age, the throne in Jerusalem shall become all the government. All cities will get their right from the throne of David, from Jesus on the throne. At that time the government shall be upon His shoulder.
In Romans we have a prophesy concerning the deterioration of a civilization. It also describes the deterioration of the fundamental Gospel position before it is forsaken by God. Three times in the first chapter of Romans we find words like, God gave them up, or God gave them over. There comes a time in a country, in a civilization, or in a movement when God gives it up. I want you to notice the stages in this deterioration as they apply to fundamental churches.
1. They hold the truth, but they hold it in unrighteousness.
For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Romans 1:18
The first step down for any great movement is when it loses its separation. Its doctrine is sound, but it is not separated from the world. I do not care what group, denomination, or movement it is, the first step down is losing its separation position. Many once great churches are no longer effective for God because they quit taking a stand on the matter of separation.
There was the day when Germany was basically a Christian nation. There was a day when England was the headquarters of fundamental Christianity in the world. There was a day when Chicago, Illinois, was the fundamental headquarters of the United States. What happened? They held the truth, but they lost their position of separation. That began their downward slide. They began to live like the world, talk like the world, dress like the world, sing like the world, walk like the world, watch what the world watched, and go where the world went. The great soul-winning churches in history have been the greatest separated churches in history. Their first step down was when they lost their separation.
2. They lose their shout.
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; Romans 1:21a
The Bible says that they glorified Him not as God. What does it mean? They lost their shout. The churches in America that have joy and excitement are usually separated. The quickest way to lose your joy in the Lord is to lose your desire to be separated.
3. They lose their gratitude to God.
The Bible says that we are to enter into His courts with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. When we lose our praise, we will lose our thanksgiving. That is always the next step down.
4. Their foolish heart is darkened.
... . but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Romans 1 :21b
It does not say that their foolish mind was darkened. It was their foolish heart that was darkened. They still believe the Bible, but they lose their emotion. They lose their tears. It is sad that even in fundamental circles a separated and excited church is an unusual thing. Some of the deadest churches in America are independent Baptist churches. Why? They lost their separatist position. When you lose your distinctiveness, then you lose your shout, and your thankfulness, and your heart becomes darkened.
5. They begin to think that they are wise.
Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. Romans 1:22
That is why our schools change. Usually that is the next thing that happens. We decide that we want our schools to become like the heathen schools that we once shunned. We want to use the same textbooks that they use. Man becomes wise and God becomes a fool.
6. They become humanistic.
And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. Romans 1:23-25
That is humanism. Humanism is when a man thinks he knows more than the Bible. Humanism is when man becomes more important than God. Humanism is when man reasons with himself. That is what formal education often becomes. Nobody knows the truth, but we are all searching for it. That is what modern education teaches. They fight dogmatism and any kind of authority because they do not want to yield themselves to the authority of an omnipotent God.
7. They become immoral.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient. Romans 1:26-28
That term reprobate mind means that the mind has gone as rotten as it can go. It means that God has given it up. God will give up the civilization or movement that does not take a stand against immorality. Many churches no longer are a lighthouse for the Gospel because they have lost all semblance of righteousness and accepted the filth of this world. That is why some denominations that once stood for the truths of God's Word now openly accept the homosexual lifestyle.
8. They worship government.
The Bible says that they worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator. That is interesting. They worshipped and served the creature. That is government. The last step in the decay is when we come to a point where we hold government in higher regard than we do God. Many churches once held the aim of pleasing God as their goal, but now are so busy trying to please the government that they no longer give God any authority. God, not government, is to be the final authority of the church.
With that in mind, let's consider the matter of authority as it deals with the church. Authority may be claimed by three sources.
1. By strength. When the conqueror conquers, he has authority over the conquered. That is the wrong way to get authority.
2. By surrender of the weak to the strong. Let me illustrate this. Lithuania never chose to be a part of Russia. Lithuania had no choice. Stalin and Russia got power over Lithuania by strength. Strength conquered weakness and that gave authority. In contrast, Texas was also a foreign country. Texas, by treaty, decided to enter into the Union, so Texas voluntarily entered into our country. Lithuania did not voluntarily enter into Russia.
3. Delegated by God. There are four areas where God has delegated authority.
(1) God has given authority to the family to rule itself. The Bible has given the husband the authority over the wife. The Bible also has given the parents the authority over the children. The little unit, called the family, has been given the right by God to rule itself.
(2) God has given authority to the local church to rule itself. The family has no right to rule the church. The church has no right to rule the family. The church has been given the authority by God to govern itself.
(3) God has given business the right to govern itself.
Free enterprise is God's gift. Capitalism is God's gift. It is God's way.
(4) God has given authority to the State. When I refer to the state I am referring to Government as a whole. God has given to the state the authority to govern itself.
God gave the authority to each of these and none of them has a right to usurp that authority. They are not over each other. They are separate from each other. The state has no authority when a parent is obeying God by spanking his child because God has given the family the right to govern itself. God said to spank our children. That command has been given to the family. The state has no right to prevent the family from obeying commands given by God to the mom and dad.
The church has no right to control the state. The church has no right to control business. Each of these are separate entities.
The state has no right to control business. That is what is called the free enterprise system. That is America. When America was founded, the Government did not interfere with business. Business has a way of settling its own problems if it is left alone.
For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; He will save us. Isaiah 33:22
Every local church is supposed to govern itself. There is no great centralized church power. In America, our judges and politicians are basically not church-going people, so they do not understand the church. The state has no right to interfere with the way we serve our God.
There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? James 4:12
A lawgiver is one who gives government the right to exist. A lawgiver is one who gives the home the right to govern itself. God is that lawgiver.
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Romans 13:1
God gave the state the right to exist. God gave the home the right to exist. God gave the church the right to exist. God gave business the right to exist. All of these are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God. Romansl3:2a
If the state resists the power that God has given to the church, they are resisting God. The state is resisting God when it tries to run the home. There is nothing in this country more corrupt than the Welfare Department. They think they own our kids. God has given parents the right to own those kids.
When our son was in Junior High School, he brought home a book the school was requiring him to read. The name of the book was Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck. I told him to tell the teacher that he could not read the book. His teacher gave him a substitute book to read called, Catcher in the Rye. I told him that he could not read it either. The next day I went to the principal's office to inform him that my son was not going to read those books.
The principal had me meet with the English committee to come to a satisfactory resolution. I told that committee that my son was not going to read those books. That principal said something to me that I have never forgotten. He said, "Reverend Hyles, when your boy is in our school, he is no longer your boy."
Before I knew it, I was across his desk and had that principal by his collar. I said, "I do not care where he is, he is still my son, not yours!"
That is the attitude of the state. The issue is one kingdom trying to operate another kingdom. God has given each kingdom a right to exist independent of the others. God gives each of these institutions the right to exist.
God is the lawgiver. If the government gives these institutions the right to exist, than the government becomes the lawgiver and has taken the place of God. So, the government become an idol. God is the One who gives the right to the state. God puts up kings and sets down kings.
If any of these four rises up here to give any of the other four the right to exist, it become a lawgiver takes God's place. They make themselves an idol. Not only that, for us to submit to them, makes us idolaters.
If the government tries to get us to license the church, the government has moved itself where God is supposed to be, so a church that allows itself to be licensed by the state is idolatrous, because they have another god. It is not the state that gives the First Baptist Church the right to exist. It is God Who gives the First Baptist Church the right to exist.
We are to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Truth is education. If we do not educate and teach the truth, we cannot worship. Truth must be taught, so we are to teach our people five days a week at our schools. The state has no power over the school, because the school is a part of our worship and a part of the church. If the state says that our school must be licensed, it has usurped the place where God is supposed to be. The state becomes the lawgiver, giving us the right to exist. The state becomes an idol.
If you try to start a church in many communities in America, you will be told what street you must start it on, how big a sign you can have, and how many parking places you must have per pew. That is the state controlling the church.
God is the lawgiver who gives each of those areas the right to exist and the right not to interfere with any of the others. The state has no right to give a Christian college the right to exist. Many of our colleges are in trouble because they are not controlled by a church, which takes away its right to claim autonomous authority. They do not have the canopy of the local church. They have formed an empire, or a kingdom, outside the four kingdoms God ordained.
The First Baptist Church of Hammond and every other church should determine that no one will give us the right to exist. We already have our right to exist given to us by the only Lawgiver in the universe. So let us be free. It is a matter of being scriptural.