Reforms We Can Live Without

In 1 John chapter 4, the Word of God tells us:

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,  but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

God, the deity of Christ, and the Bible are being attacked, criticized, and challenged like never before. It’s happening here. It’s happening abroad. It’s happening outside the church, and it’s even happening within the walls of the church as well.

There is a very quiet but growing movement being promoted by non-Christians and surprisingly, even by some Christian churches, that calls for the reformation and modernization of Christianity. I read about this recently and here are some of the changes being recommended:

Pastors should stop preaching about heaven and hell.

Stop preaching the Bible as the absolute authoritative word of God.

Stop making the claim that the Bible is inerrant.

Stop preaching Christ as the only way to God.

Stop preaching sermons that make people uncomfortable.

And the lists concludes with this preposterous claim – Christianity must adopt these changes if it hopes to survive. 

Why do I say it’s preposterous? The Christian faith has survived for 2000 years because of its universal relevance, which simply means that the Bible and Christian doctrine are as relevant now as they were in the first century, and that there has never been an age in which they were not relevant. I would challenge anyone to point to a time in human history since Christ’s incarnation and show me a period of time when the Bible wasn’t relevant. And yet these so-called reformists are saying that Christianity must now adapt to modern culture in order to survive. John MacArthur had this to say on the subject: “The Bible does not need to adapt to modern times. Modern man needs to go back to Bible times.”

When I read that list and got to the part that says, “Stop preaching Christ.………..” that was as far as I needed to go. The changes being promoted by these so-called reformers are not from God. To stop preaching Christ is to effectively deny that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. It denies His deity. It denies the cross and the Resurrection. It denies that Jesus is Lord and it denies the fact that someday, Jesus is coming again. If these proposed changes were some sort of litmus test, they’d fail on that one single point alone. We can never stop preaching Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father.

Someone may ask, “What about Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation? Wasn’t reform needed then?” The answer is yes, reform was needed back then. By the time Martin Luther wrote his 95 Theses, the church had begun to stray off course. “So what’s the difference between the Protestant Reformation of the early 16th century and this modern day call for reform?”  The answer is very clear. Martin Luther and the other reformers turned to the Bible as their point of reference. They went to the Bible and sought out its truths. These modern day reformers are, for all intents and purposes, denouncing the Bible.

In 2 Timothy chapter 4, Paul wrote:  For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.

It appears that time is near, if it hasn’t already come. I reject with all my heart and soul every single one of those recommendations. Every pastor and every Christian must emphasize heaven and hell, and not water down any part of any sermon concerning the reality and horror of hell. We must stand our ground on the authority of the Bible as the absolute word of God. We must boldly defend Christ, for if we deny Him, He will deny us. If that makes people uncomfortable, then maybe a little discomfort is what they need. We must pray that God will open their eyes to the truth.

Yes, it may cause some discomfort, so we must make every effort to teach and preach the truth of the Gospel in a spirit of love and with genuine concern for those who might be corrupted and lost because of this kind of false teaching. Our nature as men is to bristle and get defensive when challenged. We must avoid that type of response. We want to win people to Christ, not push them further away. Our conduct and speech must be a reflection of Christ. All we do is for His glory. Do people see Christ in us? That’s our litmus test.

Contrary to the notion that Christianity must adopt these changes if it hopes to survive, I say any church that adopts these changes would cease to be a Christian church. Peter warned the church about false teachers in his second letter to the church:

But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach destructive heresies and even deny the Master who bought them. In this way, they will bring sudden destruction on themselves. Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of these teachers, the way of truth will be slandered. In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction will not be delayed.

Beware of false teachers and false doctrines. Know what God’s word says. That’s the only way to defend it. When you make your stand, stand on His truth!