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[Next][Up[Previous[Contents]
Next:Spiritual Wickedness Against Believers  Up:Sermons Previous:Life's Beginnings
 
Sermons of
Rev. Phyllis H. Wolfram (1921-1985)
Pillar of Fire Church

 

Dangerous Trends in the Church Today

Greetings

Greetings, radio friends! I should like to do something just a little bit different at this time. I have found a wonderful article that was impressive to me, and I would like to share some of this article with you. This is from a recent publication of Pulpit Helps. The publishers of this paper make us feel welcome to use any of the materials that are not copyrighted in any way we see fit, either in print or by word of mouth. And so I'm going to give you some of this article, for I feel that it is very important for us. It is called, Dangerous Trends in the Church Today. Now, as we go through this together, we find out that by the church, we could mean the church of Jesus Christ, meaning all believers --  dangers that Christians find confronting them today. We are not talking about a particular church edifice or a particular church name. You may recognize some of these dangers threatening your own Christian life. So these are dangerous trends today.

Quoting from the Article, "Dangerous Trends in the Church Today"

We are drifting. The meaning of the word ``trend'' is ``general course or drift or tendency.'' The church of today can be compared to a row boat in the middle of a stream whose occupants are at ease. They are lukewarm, self- complacent, gradually and unconsciously drifting down the stream to the water falls below, carried along by the tendency of the times. Now we know that the Laodicean church period is talked about in the scriptures. We feel it is the last church period before the rapture. The tendency in this age that we are living in is certainly luke- warmness. Yes, it is true there are Christians who are on fire for the Lord. But if they are, they are fighting the trends of the times. They are praying. They are feeding their souls with the Word of God. They are testifying, witnessing, and they are fighting against the powers of Satan and the trends of the times.

The inspired writer to the Hebrew Christians, in the first chapter, endeavored to exalt and magnify the resurrection, and Jesus Christ who was resurrected. Then he begins the second chapter with an admonition and warning. ``We must, therefore, pay all the more attention to what we have heard lest we drift away.'' That is Moffet's translation. You are familiar to the King James version, perhaps: ``lest we let them slip.''

Today the church is in a period of transition. Most of us know where we have been. Some of us know where we are now. But where are we going or ought to go? Many seemingly are not sure.

Now, here are some of the dangerous trends. There are several. The first dangerous trend is the light treatment of the Bible as the inspired Word of God. It's being commonly taught today that much of the Old Testament is legendary, and that the New Testament epistles are not authentic. Many imply that the Bible is not the Word of God, but that it contains the Word of God. Over twenty-five hundred times the Old Testament claims to be the Word of God. And the New Testament makes the same claim some five hundred times. Our tendency to follow man's philosophy in place of the Bible is dangerous, one of the dangerous trends. We read in the Proverbs, quoting from the Moffet translation, ``What man thinks a right course may end up on the road to death. We must, therefore, pay all the more attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away.''

Another dangerous trend I want to call to your attention is prayerlessness. In a recent survey one of the large well known theological colleges in the United States, 93% of the students who were studying for the ministry said, ``I have no devotional life.'' These students will become powerless preachers. They may be able to develop a strong pleasing personality. They may become eloquent orators. But they will never be able to communicate God's message to man, because communication is supernatural, the work of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit only comes to us in power through fervent heart-felt prayer and communication with God. We must be on our guard to maintain a stimulated prayer life. It is said that Queen Mary of Scotts dreaded the prayers of John Knox more than any army of ten thousand men. St. James wrote, quoting from a latter translation, ``powerful is the heart-felt supplication of a righteous man.''

Words uttered are not prayer. God doesn't merely answer words. He answers the desires of the heart, and it is the heart-felt faith prayer that goes through and brings results. All the great characters of the Bible came to their greatness from an alter of prayer.

The third dangerous trend is our careless treatment of the securities of our faith. I speak here of the inspiration of the Bible, the personality of the Holy Spirit, the virgin birth of Christ, the deity of Christ, the sin pardoning value of His atonement, His resurrection from the tomb, His ascension, His personal and visible return, the resurrection both of the just and the unjust. These are the great securities of our Christian faith. And the apostle in writing to the young minister Timothy, admonished him to keep the faith intact. Quoting from a later translation, ``Oh, Timotheous, keep the securities of the faith intact.'' Another translation reads, ``Guard the truths exhorted to you.'' The faith is a trust, a solemn trust placed into our hands, the people of God. And the apostle Peter, in his second letter, in the second chapter, says, ``There were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you who privately shall bring endamnable heresies.'' A heresy is an unorthodox teaching tending to promote division and strife.

The forth trend is negligence in observing the rules that are set forth in the New Testament. We read in Paul's second letter to the young minister, Timothy, ``If any man takes part in an athletic contest, he gets no prize unless he obeys the rules.'' This is quoted from the Weymouth translation. We are spiritual athletes contending on the arena of this present world for the crown of immortality, and I don't believe we will ever reach the glory world unless we observe the simple rules that our Lord Jesus has set forth in His last will and testament. God has always required detailed obedience from His people, both under the old and new covenants. Whenever His people took things into their own hands and disobeyed, they got into trouble and they suffered for it. As we run this great race for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, we are expected to observe the rules, just as those great athletes of Greece were expected to observe the rules of the race. Jesus said, ``It is not every one who keeps saying to me Lord, Lord, who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the man who actually does my heavenly Father's will.'' That is quoted from the Phillips translation. I feel that we may become too careless about observing the rules as set forth in the New Testament.

Another dangerous trend is higher education. Now I am not condemning higher education. I wish I had more knowledge. I think everyone should get all the knowledge he can. But there is something more vital than knowledge. Knowledge is the plow. Wisdom with spiritual understanding is the man behind the plow. But it seems that our higher educational system has drifted into a type of intellectualism. If higher education were so vital to the welfare of the Christian church, Jesus would have selected twelve young scholars from the school of the rabbis to become the foundation pillars of the Christian church. But He did not do this.

The apostle Paul had a highly trained technical mind, and a deep spiritual insight. He says, in writing the the Corinthians, (from the Phillips translation) ``For consider what have the philosopher, the writer, and the critic of this world to show for all their wisdom? Has God made the wisdom of this world look foolish? For it was after the world in his wisdom had failed to know God that he in his wisdom chose to save all who would believe by the simplemindedness of the gospel message.'' Then in his letter to the Christians, the second chapter of Colossians, quoting again from the Phillips translation, ``Be careful that no body spoils your faith through intellectualism or high sounding nonsense. Such stuff is at best founded on men's ideas of the nature of the world, and it disregards Christ. Yet, it is in Christ that God gives a full and complete expression of himself within the physical limits that he set himself in Christ. Moreover, your own completeness is only realized in him, in Christ, who is the authority over all authority, and he is the supreme power over all powers.''

I want to relate briefly a little experience I had with Dr. J. Curtiss, one of the heads of the department of English at Madison college. It is a large state institution, located in my home town. Dr. Curtiss grew up in [a certain church] in North Carolina. [I don't care to mention the name of the church.] While he was in my office transacting business, we got to talking about some other things. He made a statement that shocked me. He said, ``I don't attend that [particular local congregation] very much any more. This intellectual, philosophical preaching doesn't satisfy my soul. Now I believe in the intellectual,'' he said, ``If I didn't, I wouldn't be in the position I'm in. There's an intellectual part of man, and there's a spiritual part. And the one does not take the place of the other. When I attend a worship service, I don't go there to have the intellectual part of me stimulated. I go there to have the spiritual part of me nurtured and fed. And this intellectual, philosophical preaching just doesn't do it. Now," he said, "a man doesn't have to use the best phraseology or the best grammar to hold my attention. If he's got it in his heart and in his bones, he can communicate it to me and I can sit and listen to him.''

We are talking about here the dangerous trends of our times in the church today, and I might mention again that I am quoting from the publication, Pulpit Helps, and the author of this article is Olan B. Lands.
The sixth dangerous is the over rating of man and the under rating of Christ. Now the easiest thing in the world for me is to act like a man because that's natural. My problem is getting Olan B. Lands to confirm and conform to the image of Christ. This is the conflict going on in my life, and in the life of every Christian. The whole energy of my lower nature is set against my new divine spiritual nature, because my new spiritual nature is contrary to my lower physical nature. The apostle Paul testifies, ``here is the conflict, and this is why you are not free to do what you want to do, it requires effort to tone and mold my character after the beautiful character of Jesus Christ, and to conform to the image of Christ, and to add to my saving faith, Christian manliness, and to Christian manliness, a right understanding, and to a right understanding, self control, and to self control, patient endurance, and to patient endurance, godly reverence, and to godly reverence, a spirit of brotherhood, and to brotherhood, a spirit of love. This is the problem: every one of us should be striving to conform to the image of Christ.''
When we finish reading this article, I want to comment on this danger of not conforming to the image of Christ. I have a little something to add to what this author has said there.
In conclusion, the last dangerous trend I want to call to your attention is the erection of magnificent church houses. Magnificent steeples that cost up to thousands of dollars aren't going to help feed the hungry, nor heal the broken spirits of the world, neither will they attract one soul to Jesus Christ. Your body is the sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, under the New Testament. God no longer dwells in temples made with hands. That passed away with the law. Now the building is only a meeting house where the church comes together for worship. You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and Jesus Christ himself is the corner stone in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom ye also are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. That's the church of which Christ is the head.

Let us firmly accept the New Testament as our guide and our rule of faith, and strive to live by it. ``We must, therefore, pay all the more attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the divine word spoken by angels held good, if transgression and disobedience met with due punishment in every single case, how shall we escape the penalty of neglecting a salvation which was originally proclaimed by the Lord himself, and guaranteed to us by those that heard him.'' Hebrews 2:12

The Interpretation

Well that is a wonderful article. We go back to this conflict which was talked in the sixth dangerous trend. I'd like to add to what this gentleman has already said, that the Bible in the New Testament teaches us that we can be filled with the Spirit of Christ, and He will put within our heart and our soul the desire to please Him. And if we allow Him to, He will take over and direct our lives and put within us His mind, giving us a desire to please Him and do His will and do the things that are right. When we come with our all, and put our all on the alter, and allow Jesus Christ to enter our hearts in His fullness, and allow the Holy Spirit to come into our hearts in His fullness, He will take over, and the conflict inside ceases. The conflict and upheaval comes partly from the carnal nature, the desire to please the Lord and yet still a certain love for the world and the things of the world, to be like the world and yet to be like Christ. Jesus wants to do a perfect work in our hearts. He want to purify, cleanse, dwell in our hearts in His fullness, and put within our minds the desire to do His will and to please Him in everything.

This is a true experience. It does not mean that there is full growth immediately. I believe from the scriptures that we grow spiritually as long as we live. There is great growth to be carried on in our lives. Who do you know who has enough love for his neighbor? Yes, we know lots of Christians who love their neighbor, but who do we know who is a finished product in love for his neighbor? Or who do you know who loves the Lord enough? with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and loves the Lord so much there's no room to love Him or please Him more? All of us can grow. We have, certainly, a need for growth. But the Lord does a particular work of holiness in our hearts when we are given up to Him, and allow Him to do the cleansing in our hearts, and give us that peace in our hearts, that the world knows nothing of, and the peace that ends the struggle inside and ends the desire for the world and Christ. The two certainly cannot live together within our hearts in peace and contentment.

So the Lord has a great work for us to do for Him. And He will do a great work in our hearts and in our lives if we allow Him to. We want all that the Lord has for us. We don't want to be caught up in these last days in any of these dangerous trends that we are readings about; but we want to have a prayer life and keep in touch with the Lord, and don't forsake the things that are going to feed our souls and draw us closer to Him. We want to present ourselves to the Lord and have Him do what He would with us, give ourselves completely to Him, consecrate to Him, and allow Him to enter our hearts in all of His fullness. And He will do this if we come to Him believing and inviting Him in. He won't turn us away. He will satisfy our need and our desire.

I pray that the Lord will bless every one of you listening in. I am thinking of those who have physical problems, praying for you and others who have problems, in the family, perhaps, or burdens about loved ones who are not saved and in the ark of safety. Remember the Lord loves you, and He loves those that you love. And if we come to Him in prayer believing, He's going to answer prayer, and He's going to work miracles in your behalf. As you come to Him and present yourself, and come believing, He will work miracles. And so may the Lord bless you. And I thank you.
 


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