God has always expected His people to be holy. Holiness means separation from sin, the world, and false religion. God emphasized His own holiness and that of His people throughout the Mosaic dispensation. He likewise expects His church to come out from the world and to live clean and dedicated lives to Him. But what happens when sin enters the camp? In the first lesson of a two-part series, we learn about God’s system of discipline when His children rebel and will not repent.
The writer of Revelation speaks of two songs that are sung before God in heaven. We’ll consider those songs and what they mean to us today on earth. Good day, and welcome to Let the Bible Speak. It’s a joy to be with you today. The scripture has mentioned singing on many occasions. Singing has been a fundamental part of the experience of God’s people down throughout time and according to a passage in the Revelation given to John, it occupies an important place in heaven too.
In Revelation, chapter 15, in verse three, we read of a white robed host of redeemed souls who stand before the throne of God “And they sing “the Song of Moses, the servant of God and the Song of the Lamb saying, Great and marvelous are my works, Lord, God almighty. Just and true are thy ways now, King of Saints. Who shall not fear the oh Lord and glorify thy name for thou only art holy, for all nations shall come and worship before the, for thy judgments are made manifest.”
I don’t know the tunes to which those words were song. I don’t know how it sounded as John beheld this singing before the throne of God, but we know from the lyrics that they express a profound thought. Today, I want us to consider the songs of Moses and the lamb. And you’ll notice how I say songs rather than song because John mentions two compositions, the Song of Moses, the servant of God, and the Song of the Lamb, God’s son. The Song of Moses was a victory song, and so is the Song of the Lamb. What these songs have in common and where they’re different in today’s study, the songs of Moses and the lamb, and I’ll return with that after a song from the congregation.
Music is one of the greatest expressions of human thought and emotion that exists. A thought or a feeling, which we might struggle to convey in speech, we can more easily communicate in song. Songs stimulate not only the mind, but also the heart. And perhaps this is one reason why God chose singing as one of the primary ways of worshiping him and edifying and encouraging one another. God loves to hear his people sing and he always has. In fact, he commands us to sing. He instructed the Israelites to sing in the Psalms. In the New Testament, the church is told to sing, in the various circumstances we find ourselves in, whether it be worship or in times of trouble or in times of rejoicing. It should be no surprise to read that singing plays a part in heaven.
In Revelation, chapter 15, verse three, we find those before the throne of God singing. John says, “They were not only singing the Song of Moses, but also the Song of the Lamb.” Now, the revelation of Christ given to John was a victory signal to the persecuted and oppressed saints of the first century and by extension to the church of every generation facing whatever opposition may seek to destroy it. The church was threatened by various forces in its early days, including the Roman Empire during the days of the Emperor Domitian.
To the persecuted Christians, their future seemed bleak and uncertain. The cause of Christ might have seemed a losing campaign, but the Revelation was written to kindle hope within their hearts, that all was not in vain and that truth and right would triumph, that Christ was the victor and that a day of freedom from their oppressors was coming. Christ guaranteed it.
The Revelation pictures not only the defeat of Satan, but ultimately the defeat and the eternal destruction of all who opposed the true Israel of God, the church of Christ. Well, this of course has familiar undertones from the experience of Israel of old under the leadership of Moses. Bible students are usually familiar with the Exodus and all the events that surrounded it. Moses found God’s people suffering under the cruel hand, a physical bondage to Pharaoh. They were slaves, but Moses, we recall, freed them by the power of God from the tyrannical Pharaoh.
And so, when the people finally set foot on the other side of the Red Sea and the walls of water in tuned Pharaoh’s pursuing army, Moses led them in a jubilant song of victory and exhilaration. That song was recorded in the 15th chapter of Exodus. It was a song of triumph over the oppressors who had held them in bondage for hundreds of years, and it was a song that praised God for his wonderful work. It was not their achievement. It was not their accomplishment. It was the work of God that had set them free and they rejoiced in it. It was a victory over a cruel king and over physical and material slavery.
Moses’ word did not in there. Moses led Israel through the wilderness for the next 40 years. Throughout that time, God continued to provide victory. He provided for the needs of the people. When they were hungry, he fed them with manna from heaven until they were filled. When they were thirsty, Moses struck the rock and the people drank. When they encountered an enemy, Moses raised his hands and Israel prevailed. When they were dying from snake bite, Moses raised a brazen serpent, and they were healed. These were all the more reasons to sing. When Moses gave them the law, God again gave Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy, a song to teach to the people.
Throughout their wilderness wanderings, the people Moses led were a singing people and Moses gave them the songs they sang that reflected their joy and their gratitude for all that God had done for them. But notice that after the people sang their songs of victory, they were still in encamped in the wilderness. Moses led them nine to the promised land, but he was not allowed to bring them in. As great as Moses was, he died in the wilderness. The Song of Moses is indeed a song of victory, but its triumphant strains echo through the wilderness and across the desert sands and the notes, well, they die out on the bank of the Jordan. What should that tell us? It tells us that the Song of Moses was the harmony of material blessing and victory. It proclaims victory over the defeated tyrants of the world. It declares God’s deliverance from physical slavery and from hunger and thirst and plagued and physical suffering, but ultimately that song dies on the threshold of death.
Today, we hear a lot about freedom, independence, deliverance. We celebrate those things. Men and women yearn for freedom around the world. Many of them fight for freedom. We who enjoy freedom from dictatorships and cruel and despot rulers, we relish our freedom, and we celebrate that freedom and that is within itself a wonderful song. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to sing the song of the free, but if you please, it is only the Song of Moses in a sense. It will die on the bank of Jordan. It will lie muffled in the grave, but there is another, and a much greater song. There is something much more meaningful and important than the physical and material circumstances that surround us and over which we might or might not gain freedom or victory.
This freedom that I’m talking about should be much more desired than any political freedom. When we have won this freedom, we can sing a victory song more exalted than the Song of Moses, and that is the Song of the Lamb. You see the Song of Moses proclaims that the shackles of slavery had been broken from the hands of men, but the Song of the Lamb proclaims that sin shackles are gone from the souls of men.
It’s a wonderful thing to enjoy religious freedom in a country. It’s a wonderful thing, I suppose, to enjoy the freedom of speech, to have freedom of movement, to have the opportunity to chart your course through life, but it pales beside the need for spiritual freedom. The great irony of our day is that while we celebrate physical freedom, and while we try to spread the cause of political freedom as a nation around the globe, we’re rather indifferent about the greatest freedom of all and that is freedom from sin that Jesus, our heavenly Moses, came to secure for us at Calvary that is today, this day, available for all. It doesn’t have to be fought for because Jesus Christ already acquired it. He already conquered sin. He has already pronounced the eternal vanquishment of the devil.
Now, Moses is the greatest type in the Old Testament of Jesus Christ. He prefigured the Christ who was to come and led God’s people out of a much worse bondage than that imposed by Pharaoh and that is the bondage of sin. This is the bondage that few people realize. They don’t realize they’re held in this bondage. In John the eighth chapter, beginning in verse 32 Jesus left the Pharisees befuddled with his use of the term freedom and telling them that he had come to free them. He said in verse 32, “And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Well, “they answered him. We be Abraham’s seed and we’re never in bondage to any man. How sayest thou ye shall be made free? Really, that was a silly statement because they were in bondage to the Roman Caesar at that very time. But the real bondage that they refused to admit was the one that held them fast in its chains and just like them, it’s the same bondage that very few realize or admit today, and that is the bondage of sin. Even among those who admit to committing sin or to being sinners, they don’t really think of being held in bondage to sin and serving Satan.
Verse 34, Jesus continues. “He answered them verily, verily I say unto you, ‘Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin and the servant abideth not in the house forever, but the Son abideth ever. If the son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” My friend, there is a task master, much more terrible than Pharaoh and there is a labor that is harder than making bricks under the Egyptian sun. There is a punishment worse than the lash of a soldier’s whip. There are chains that are heavier than those made of iron and that’s the slavery of sin.
Jesus, for example, called those people in verse 44, the children of the devil. In other words, people under his influence are in bondage to him through their sin. He said, “Ye are of your father, the devil and the lust of your father, ye will do.” Here, Jesus says that the person who lives in sin and refuses to submit themselves to Christ is of the devil. He or she serves the devil. They are bound hand and foot to the devil and they spend their lives carrying out the devil’s will.
John, in his epistle, draws the same contrast between the Christian and the sinner; between the person who has been saved through obedience to the Gospel and the person who remains in the world. He says in first John, the third chapter, beginning in verse eight, “He that committeth sin is of the devil for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose, the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God, does not commit sin for his seed remains within him and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” Now, don’t misunderstand those statements. When he speaks of those who commit sin, he’s talking about the person who’s bound to sin. He’s talking about the sinner. He’s talking about the person who lives in sin, and we must understand there’s a difference between sin living in our heart as a resident and submitting ourselves to the power of sin. On the other hand, sin enters our life as an intruder. It’s very true that none of us will ever, as long as we live in the flesh, as long as we live in this world, that we will never reach a point that we will remain sinlessly perfect. But you see for the Christian, sin is not welcome. For the Christian, sin is an unwelcome intruder, and there’s a difference between a thief breaking into your house. You don’t want him there, but there’s some weakness maybe in the door or the window. He finds his way in and you get him out and you take measures to keep him out. There’s a difference between that and you opening the door and allowing him to come in and live, and that’s the way a lot of people are with sin.
John is making that contrast here when he speaks of one who commits sin. The person born of God doesn’t live in sin, and the person who does live in sin, he says, is of the devil. They serve the devil. They’re bound to the devil. They’re enslaved by the devil. He goes on in verse 10 to say, “In this, the children of God are manifest and the children of the devil. Whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” You see the person who lives in sin and refuses to do the will of God is living as a slave to Satan.
Isn’t it ironic that people who resist the commandments of God and the holy life we’re called to live, turn around and claim their freedom to live as they please? Don’t most people who live in sin do so defiantly, thinking that no one has the right to tell them what to do or how to live their life. That’s the picture the Psalmist paints in Psalm two, I believe it is, when he speaks of why the heathen rage. They want to cast off the bonds and the shackles that they believe the authority of God represents, and that’s the way the sinner is today. But yet, ironically, every day those people who claim freedom from rule, freedom from someone who had tried to tell them how to live their life, the fact is every day, they march to the beat of the culture. They bow to the whims and fads of the world. They live being led about on a chain by the devil and in so doing claim to be free from the supposed ‘tyranny of Christianity’. It reminds me of what Peter wrote concerning the carnal and sensual false teachers in second Peter, chapter two, beginning in verse 18. He says, “For when they speak great swelling words of vanity they allure through the lust of the flesh through much wantonness”, and that word basically means they live fulfilling their unbridled lust. They live for their passions. He says, “those that were clean, escaped from them who live in error while they promise them liberty.” Listen, now. “They themselves are the servants of corruption. For of whom a man is overcome of the same is he brought in bondage.
Now, my friend, that’s where the world is at today. That may be where you are today. Oh, you may say that you’re living your own life, and nobody tells you how to live, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The person who commits sin is the servant of sin. The sinner lives for sin. The sinner is driven by his lust and his appetites. The sinner is motivated by the flesh, and he lives to fulfill its desires. The sinner is a slave to sin, and that’s the real tragic plight of our world.
Jesus, our heavenly Moses, came to bring us out and set us free from that bondage. When Jesus came, the world was held in that bondage. There was no victory over sin. There was no victory over death, over Satan and over hell. Sin held man a prisoner and there was no hope of liberation, except in the promise that one day Christ would come and preach deliverance to the captives. Captive to what? Captive to sin. Captives living on death row, condemned to eternal death and Hell because of sin and evil and transgression. Ironically, when he did come, many were so in love with their sin until they refused him and chose their change over the glorious freedom that he came to offer them.
Today, bondage to sin remains the greatest form of slavery in the world. All slavery is dreadful and abhorrent, and most people recognize that until it comes to the slavery of sin. They’re interested in being able to sing the Song of Moses, but not the Song of the Lamb. I mean by that, they want freedom from political bondage, but not freedom from the world and its evil system. They want freedom from debt, perhaps, but not freedom from doom. They want freedom from hunger, but not freedom from Hell. They want freedom from suffering, but not freedom from sin. Many have consequently tried to transform Jesus into an earthly Moses instead of a heavenly one. They want him to rain down manna, but they don’t hunger and thirst after His righteousness.
They want Him to provide for their material needs and use him as a cosmic bellhop to answer their prayers, but they’re not interested in being his disciple and following him. They want freedom from pain and freedom from problems, but they’re willfully blind to the freedom he actually came to bring.
The Revelation that John was given pictures the overcoming church, and I want to stress that word ‘church’. It’s a message of hope to the church, not to the world. The scenes of revelation culminate with the church overcoming the enemy, and ultimately that enemy is Satan. The saints pictured to John had not been delivered from earthly rule. They had not been delivered from poverty. They had not been delivered from sickness. They have been delivered from sin and spiritual death.
Look at the scene in Revelation chapter seven, verses nine through 14. John says, “I beheld lo a great multitude, which no man could number of all nations, kindreds, people, tongue, stood before the throne and before the Lamb clothed with white robes and palms in their hands and cried with a loud voice saying salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne and about the elders and four beasts and fell before the throne on their faces and worshiped God, Saying, Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and Thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might be unto our God forever and ever. One of the elders answered saying to me, what are these which were raid in white robes and whence came they? And I said, Sir thou knowest. And he said to me, these are they, which came out of great tribulation and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
You see what the victory was? Do you see the difference between the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb? Both are songs of deliverance, but one was the song of deliverance from the evil forces of earth. The other, the song of deliverance from the spiritual enemy, sin, death and eternal defeat. The saints pictured in Revelation could sing the Song of Moses having been delivered from the crushing persecution of the Romans. But more importantly, they could sing the Song of the Lamb because they had been delivered from the chains of sin and condemnation. Moses delivered from material oppression. Jesus, the Lamb, delivers from spiritual ruin.
In Romans, chapter six, verse 22, Paul says that when we have obeyed a likeness of the Gospel by being baptized in the form of Christ, death, burial, and resurrection, that we “now being made free from sin have become servants to God. And ye have your fruit under holiness and the end everlasting life.” You see, that’s what the Song of the Lamb is all about. A man may escape the iron chains of Pharaoh’s Egypt and still be in hell in the wilderness.
On the other hand, a man may lay in chains in a dungeon and still have all the freedom of the Kingdom of Heaven, freedom from sin, freedom from guilt, freedom from fear, freedom from condemnation. If the children of Israel could lift their voices in jubilant song and celebrate their freedom, how much more should we long to lift ours in victory over sin that can only be found in Jesus Christ? Can you sing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb? If not, I hope you’ll find freedom in Jesus today.
Are you the slave of sin today? Jesus Christ, the great emancipator, came to set you free from Satan’s bonds, victory and liberation from sin, from the condemnation of sin, from spiritual defeat is within grasp. Jesus Christ secured it in his death, upon the cross and in his resurrection from that garden tomb.
Today, you can lay hold on that victory by submitting yourself to the Lordship and the reign of King Jesus. If you would obey the Gospel of the Lord, Jesus Christ, your sins will be washed away. You will be born again, made a new creature and you will be set free from not only the penalty of sin, but the power of sin as well.
Today, we’d like to assist you in taking those steps of gospel obedience. If you need to be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins and added to the one true church that we read about in the Bible, it would be our joy to teach you more about that and to help you take that wonderful and grand step in your life this very day. If you’d like a copy of our lesson, we’d be happy to send it to you. It’s free of cost. That’s always the case with materials that we offer here on the program. Just ask for the lesson, the Songs of Moses and of the Lamb, and we will get that on each way.
Thank you so much for spending your time with me today. I hope you have a great week ahead and I hope that in the week ahead, you’ll spread the word about Let the Bible Speak, share our page on social media, share the sermons and encourage others in your area to watch next Lord’s day, if the Lord wills, as we gather here to study the Bible once again. Have a great week. May the Lord keep you safe and may He bless you. We’ll see you next time.
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Singing has not only been a fundamental activity of God’s people through time, it apparently occupies an important place in eternity as well. In the great revelation of Christ shown to John, he witnessed the redeemed throng singing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. These celebratory and worshipful hymns seem to be blended together in perfect harmony in this heavenly scene of triumph. What was the Song of Moses and what is the Song of the Lamb? In this broadcast of Let the Bible Speak, we see how the theme sung by the Israelites of old but foreshadowed the chorus sang by those later delivered by the Lamb and how we may join the glad refrain.
If something is not anchored, it will invariably drift. This is not only true with a boat; it’s true in our lives and it’s true when it comes to the Church. An old gospel song likens the Church to the old ship of Zion, and that metaphor certainly works because the Christian life is implicitly and explicitly referred to this way in the New Testament. The writer of Hebrews was concerned about Christians abandoning the faith and turning back to Judaism. He challenges them to stay true to the course they had set out upon.
Hebrews 2:1 “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”
The word slip is rendered drift in the New King James and other translations, and it refers to something being carried downstream, away from its original place. This is what happens in many a life. It’s also the story of religion over the past 2,000 years. It is what’s happening in many congregations of the Lord’s Church today. Today, we’ll consider the drifting church. Are you part of such a church? How can you tell?
The Christians to whom the Hebrew letter is addressed were under the increasing temptation to renounce the faith of Christ and return to the sacrifices and ordinances of the Old Testament. The inspired writer repeatedly emphasizes the inadequacy of those things and the superiority of the things found in Christ Jesus. The fateful decision to turn away from the truth was not something that would happen all at once—it never is. It was a gradual process. A building doesn’t fall into a state of neglect and disrepair overnight, and neither does a soul. Neither does a church. It happens over time. Thus, the apostle admonishes them to be diligent and not let the truth slip away from them.
The verb slip can have several shades of meaning. It was sometimes used in classical Greek as a nautical term meaning to drift or float away, like a boat that is not securely tied drifts along with the current. It can also mean to take a wrong course. The metaphor is clear: when one is not careful and paying close attention, he can drift away from the truth. Notice that the truth doesn’t drift away from us; rather, we drift away from the truth. The truth doesn’t drift because it is fixed and unchanging.
Psalm 119:89 “…For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.”
So, if we become removed from the truth, it was we who moved, and not the word of God. The truth of God does not change with the times. It does not wax and wane in power, it is not bendable and pliable whatever times or circumstance we may find ourselves in. You see, the truth is always the same. If we become separated from it, it is only because we were carried away from it by the currents of life.
It is possible—and more times than not, it is the case—that people drift slowly and unconsciously. If you’re out on a boat in some large body of water and you’re not anchored or tethered to something that doesn’t move, you will drift. It usually takes some time to realize just how far you’ve gone. If you don’t have a fixed point of reference, but merely look at the surrounding water or look inside the vessel, you will not realize you’ve drifted, sometimes until it’s too late. That’s the way it is when we drift morally, spiritually, and theologically. We become so accustomed to the culture of sin until it doesn’t seem quite as bad as it used to. Or changes in doctrine occur so slowly, so insidiously that we don’t realize how lax and liberal we’ve become when it comes to the teachings of the Bible. Or, little by little, we become lackadaisical and careless about spiritual things until we simply don’t realize how worldly and full of apathy we’ve become as Christians.
Hebrews 2:1 doesn’t mention some heinous and shocking sin that has suddenly been committed, but careless, thoughtless, gradual drifting. What’s the difference between many a teenager who takes his first drink and a bleary-eyed drunk lying in some gutter? Time. What’s the difference between someone who allows himself to compromise some moral standard when he defies his conscience in some manner and the person who embraces things that most would’ve seen as shocking a few years ago? Time. What’s the difference in the person who begins to neglect church services now and then, who starts to get too busy to attend to the duties and responsibilities of the Christian life and the person who has left the faith altogether? Time. It’s simply a matter of gradually drifting over a period of time. It takes no effort to drift.
The Hebrew writer takes this picture from the vast ocean where powerful underwater and often unseen currents are at work, and the vessel drifts away with them. That’s the way it is in life, and so it is with the Church as well. There are always powerful currents at work, threatening to take the Church away from the established truths of God’s word and from those doctrines and practices revealed by the apostles into uncharted territory. There were the Judaizers, the Gnostics, and other factions, groups, and people who arose—even in the first century—to draw away disciples to themselves (Acts 20:29-30). As a result of these currents, the old ship of Zion sometimes finds itself drifting along with them, moving farther and farther away from the truth, sometimes without realizing that that’s the case. It’s true in how and what the Church preaches, what it practices, and even how its members live.
How do churches drift? Why do churches drift with the tide of time? How can we tell if that’s the case? First, I believe that when the Bible ceases to be the Church’s sole authority, that ought to tell us that Church is adrift. When we become less concerned and conscientious about proving our beliefs and practices by the word of God, we’re drifting away from the principles of truth. There used to be a time when people firmly held to doctrinal convictions because they earnestly believed that the Bible taught those things. It used to make a difference to people what the Bible actually said or where the Bible was silent about a practice. People at least made an effort to go to the word of God to see if their practice was true. They would contend for that practice if they believed it was true. But today, in the name of ecumenicalism or union, people now think that it doesn’t make any difference what the Church practices. Churches of Christ have long been known as a people who demanded book, chapter, and verse for what we believe and do.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
1 Corinthians 11:2 “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.”
1 Peter 4:11 “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God…”
That is, let a man speak only as God has already spoken. We can’t go beyond or fall short of what the word of God says. It is our guide in all matters of faith and practice. Simply put, how do we know if a church is abiding in the truth? How do we know if it’s practicing the truth and not error, and whether or not it is contending for the faith once delivered to the saints? Only by comparing what it believes and practices to the word of God. We don’t measure a church’s loyalty to the truth by church tradition, popular opinion, or human-written creeds because all of those things change themselves with time. And there are so many in existence, which one do you believe to start with?
Today, the standard in many churches is no longer “what does the Bible say,” or whether the Bible teaches something by explicit statement, approved example, or necessary inference. Rather, many have begun to ask questions like “does it get the job done” or “do people like it,” “is it popular,” “does it draw people in,” “does it feel right,” “does the majority of the Church agree with it”…These become the standards instead of “what does the Bible say?” If we held ourselves strictly to that standard, I think we would shockingly find a lot of things that are going on in the religious world today don’t come from the Bible, but are the result of human ideas, innovations, and traditions.
Folks, if the Bible does not authorize it, the Church has no business doing it. We are Christ’s subjects. He possesses all authority in His kingdom. The Church is His to govern as He sees fit, and He governs it through the teaching of the inspired apostles, the New Testament. We are admonished to remain within the parameters of the things they wrote.
Jeremiah 6:16 “Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls…”
The people were at a crossroads: they could choose the path that led to the unknown or they could choose the old paths that were laid out long ago and walk in them. Unfortunately, they refused to walk in the paths of old and so have most churches today.
Friend, listen to me. Is your church changing? Is it becoming something you no longer recognize? Is the preacher or are the elders changing their tune, saying things like, we just don’t think those things matter anymore? Are they embracing practices or trends that made you uncomfortable just a short time ago? Things that, perhaps, you never would’ve imagined a few short years ago? The truth doesn’t change. God’s standard doesn’t change. The Lord’s pattern for the Church as revealed in the New Testament doesn’t change. Rather, times change, and people change along with them and drift with the times, unfortunately. When your church starts to drift, where will it end up? That’s a question we should be willing to face. If a church starts to embrace unscriptural innovations, where does it stop? When that becomes the mindset and trajectory of a church, do you really think it will stop where it is now? Of course, it won’t!
People have asked, what’s happening to Churches of Christ? I’m gonna tell you what’s happening. The spirit of change and innovation is and has been at work and will continue to be if people don’t stop it and start demanding a thus saith the Lord. Many Churches of Christ have simply become a denomination or community church with very few doctrinal moorings or convictions. They’re embracing things that they flatly opposed just a generation or two ago. In many cases, those changes subtly and insidiously started sometime back with gradual compromises with error. Those churches are adrift. We need to wake up and realize what’s happening before it’s too late.
Secondly, when the pulpit fails to fulfill its purpose, the church will drift. The pulpit is to be a place of not only encouragement and edification, but sound doctrinal teaching and admonishment as well.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
Paul says that the pulpit is to be a safeguard against apostasy and error. You can’t dance around or sugarcoat the truth or avoid preaching it and expect people to remain within the truth. Some don’t believe the pulpit should be used to expose and warn against error. You can mark it down: a church that adopts that philosophy will become a drifting church if it hasn’t already. When a pulpit becomes a place for vapid pep talks, motivational speeches, psychology, politics, feelgood devotionals, and not a place where the meat of God’s word is taught and souls are challenged to truer, holier, and godlier living, that will quickly become a drifting church.
Does your preacher preach sermons that are soaked in scripture? Or are they filled with personal anecdotes, poems, stories, and statistics? Is he willing to call sin by its name? Is he a watchman on the wall crying out against those things that can lead souls astray and endanger them?
Acts 20:26-31 “Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.”
Generally, a church will never be any stronger than the teaching it receives on a regular basis. We all like to be encouraged and made to feel good. We like to see the rosy side of things, but if that’s all a church hears, that church will drift from the truth. Whether it’s popular or not, a preacher or leader is under a solemn charge from the Lord that he will give an account to the Lord for one day, and that charge is to preach the word. As unpleasant as it may be sometimes, sin needs to be condemned. Regardless of whether people get up and leave sometimes, error must be pointed out and souls must be warned. You can measure whether a church is drifting by what’s coming out of its pulpit.
Thirdly, churches drift when they forget what they’re here for. When they lose sight of their God-given mission, they lose their focus and drift. Why does the Church exist? That’s a question that we need to remind ourselves of and answer on a regular basis. Why did Christ set up His Church to exist in the form of local congregations throughout the world? Just what are we here for? Are we just here to come together and worship, as important as that is? Well, no! A church that is in line with the will of God exists to hold out the light of truth in the community where it exists.
Philippians 2:16 “Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”
That’s the Church’s posture in its community according to Paul, to hold forth the word of life. Friend, the Church is not a political organization. It has nothing to do with politics. It is not here to engage in political or social activism. That’s what many consider their church to be all about today. Some preachers are all about that today. That’s not what the Church of the first century was about. Christ didn’t institute the Church to eradicate poverty or to enact social equality in the world, important as that might be. He didn’t institute the Church to get certain people elected into office so they could affect a political agenda. It’s not the Church’s job to make the world a better place to go to Hell from. It is the Church’s job to preach Christ and Him crucified, and to uphold and defend the truth of the gospel.
Romans 1:16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
The Church is not a business. It is not here to raise money or make money. It’s not here to sell things, to provide entertainment or recreation for kids or anyone else, for that matter. The Church is here to preach the gospel, to save the lost, to edify the saved by functioning as a body, and to edify and build itself up, ultimately by the word of God. That is the mission of the Church. Any church that forgets that has drifted. I see church campuses and facilities that speak rather loudly to me that those churches are in some other business besides just preaching the word of God.
What does a fitness center have to do with preaching the gospel? What do baseball leagues have to do with teaching the word of God? What do festivals or parties have to do with training disciples in the doctrine of the Christian faith? Don’t misunderstand, I’m all for Christians getting together and I’m not opposed to individuals having wholesome fun in the process. But that is not the business or the mission of the Church. Resorts, clubs, and condominiums dotted along the seacoast don’t save endangered ships; lighthouses do that. The Church and the truth it preaches is a lighthouse. It’s not here for looks or to host a party. It’s here to reach out and save those who are drowning on the sea of sin. It’s not a social club and many people need to learn that.
Friend, is your church drifting because it is no longer anchored on the Rock of Ages, but is adrift on the sea of change and endless transition? The Church that drifts will lose its relationship to Christ because He will not drift with it. The Churches that drift, like those of Asia Minor in the book or Revelation, will spiritually die. That’s the fate of a drifting church. It will meet the rocks of doom. The Church is drifting today, and we need to stop it before it’s too late. If there was ever a time in the modern Church where Christians needed to stand up and be counted, and say along with the prophet Jeremiah, Stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, that time is today. We are drifting away from the core principles of the gospel and the doctrines contained in the faith once delivered unto the saints, from Christian living, from the ideals of godliness and holiness that are set forth in God’s word. It’s time we return to a thus saith the Lord. We hope our lesson today will challenge all of us to do just that.
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A ship that is not anchored will always drift with the current. While this fact is obvious, it is often difficult to detect that a vessel is drifting, much less how far it is drifting if one is aboard and has not objective point of reference. The tide and the undercurrents can be subtle and a boat can drift away before the passengers realize it. The same is true with our souls. It is also usually the case with churches that drift into sin and error. The ocean of culture has strong, often unseen currents which bare the old ship of Zion away and off course. Many churches are adrift today. In this broadcast of Let the Bible Speak, we let the Hebrew writer remind us to review our position on the sea of life and make sure we are not slipping away from the truth. Find out some of the ways to detect a drifting church.