Jeff Smith

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Solid Food

Reaping Another Whirlwind

“They sow the wind, And reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no bud; It shall never produce meal. If it should produce, Aliens would swallow it up” (Hosea 8:7).

The minor prophet was excoriating the false religions which Israel dallied with in their temptation of God so many centuries ago now. Such false religions plant something without substance and produce something destructive. Their adherents are without moral compass, for false religion offers either none or one inferior to God’s and thus the challenges of the world and the worldly overcome them in time.

The prophecy bears some resemblance to Christ’s parable of the sower in Matthew 13. There also, three of four souls touched by the gospel did not endure in the faith because of persecution, trial or apathy. Today, so many churches of Christ are sowing the wind in their instruction of the young that we are nearly reduced to standing back and waiting for the whirlwind when the next, untaught generation assumes pulpits, pens and presbyteries.

Last year, a survey summary was produced by Robert Oglesby, Jr. and Carley Dodd of Abilene Christian University, a school operated by our institutional brethren. The project queried 530 teens (ages 11-19) who attend churches of Christ from the South, West/Midwest and East to find out what young people think. The evidence of sown wind and budless stalk follows:

  • 16% think there is little difference between the church of Christ and denominations.
  • 90% think instrumental music is acceptable in worship.
  • 69% believe Christians can dress like, talk like, etc. the world.
  • 65% believe church membership doesn’t matter as long as you love God.

Anecdotal evidence has long shown a decline in the distinctiveness of our people, but this study astounds.

It is ironic, for instance, that only 16 percent think there is little difference between the church of Christ and denominations. Having talked with institutional members and preachers, I would probably see little difference myself if that were my only impression of the church.

We see churches of Christ building up banquet and recreation halls while tearing down the New Testament demands of fellowship. Some do not require water baptism of mature believers before membership. Others accept into their number those living in open immorality or unscriptural remarriages.

These modern, mainstream churches of Christ indeed exhibit little distinction from the denominations of this world, but they should. Fellowship is limited by such passages as 1 Corinthians 5, where sinful members are recommended for withdrawal and Romans 16:17-18 where the factious and false teacher are marked as errant, not embraced as progressively enlightened.

Nine in ten of their young people believe that instrumental music in worship is acceptable. Could it be that their Christmas cantatas have led to this conclusion? Could it be that there has not been enough teaching or insistence on submitting to approved New Testament examples like Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16? Could it be that they have listened too long to influential digressives like Max Lucado? The elders where he preaches have announced that, while they will not introduce instruments of music to their worship, they see nothing wrong with them anymore and may consider it in the future. Do you hear the whirlwind revving up?

Almost three in four of their young people surveyed believe that Christians can behave just like the world. A decade of “positive” sermons and feel-good Bible classes have dumbed down their children so far that they now actually believe that worldliness is a virtue, or at least, no vice. When the preacher refuses to sermonize against immodest attire and foul speech, it signals to impressionable minds that such things are not so serious after all. Enough of that indifference will eventually lead more and more to embrace the immorality. When the elders look the other way so often that their heads are practically put on hinges, the flock learns that certain sins will always be winked at.

God, however, demands a peculiar people (Titus 2:4), transformed from the world and not conformed to it (Rom. 12:-12). The way of the world is sin and doom (1 John 2:15-17). Worldly attire tends to incite lust (Prov. 7:10). Worldly speech tends to be crude and irreverent. Did Jesus die so that our young people could sin with immunity from guilt or correction? Or have their leaders simply sold them a bill of goods, tending to their self-esteem and neglecting their souls’ salvation?

Perhaps the plan was to appease the masses to keep them in the church. It failed, for 65 percent think church membership is optional, too. A generation reared on spiritual junk food is growing up, facing decisions of morality without moral foundation and preparing to take the lead in churches which they will surely continue to transform into just another worthless, destructive denomination. Once you have sown the wind, it is hard to stop the whirlwind. The time has come to get back to the Bible, or better, catch up to it. Before it is too late.

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