Have you noticed the recent trend in our post-modern church? Doctrine is out and tolerance is in. We are being told that for the sake of unity, doctrine should not be tested or contested. We are not supposed to declare any absolutes but to tolerate every wind of doctrine. Doctrinal and moral issues, which were once seen as black and white, are now being painted gray. The state of the church is in a state of confusion. Paul forewarned of this when he wrote: 2 Timothy 4:3-4 (King James Version) 3 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; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
When “Christians” turn to popular teachers who tickle their ears with messages on self esteem and self-improvement, they are also turning away from God’s Word. Without a steady diet of Scripture, they will not hear sound doctrine and therefore be unable to discern truth from error. Ultimately, they will not know if they are following Jesus Christ or His adversaries. Without discernment, the 21st century church is headed for serious trouble because the enemies of the Gospel are more determined than we are. What the Body of Christ needs now are soldiers of the Lord who are committed to battle for truth! We all need to do our part to reverse the pending death of discernment in the church.
There are are teachers who faithfully preach the whole counsel of God. They exhort in sound doctrine and refute those who contradict (2 Timothy 4:2; Titus 1:9). These men are devoted to seeking the approval of God over the approval of men (Galatians 1:10).
Then there are the ones who cater to desires of men (2 Timothy 4:3). These teachers are dangerous, not because of what they say, but for what they deliberately withhold. They purposefully avoid the offense of the Gospel for fear it will make people uncomfortable. Whenever preachers avoid the Word of God, believers don’t get discernment and “seekers” don’t get saved.
Then we have false teachers who secretly introduce destructive heresies and malign the way of the truth (2 Peter 2:1-2). These teachers deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting and the undiscerning (Romans 16:18). Without discernment, listeners will not be able to distinguish between who has been sent by Christ, and who is a mouthpiece for Satan.
Proponents of the church growth movement have developed attractive gimmicks and techniques to invite the world into our churches. Their thinking is this: “If we can get the world to like us, maybe they will like our Savior.” Their approach to post-modern ecclesiology has been labeled “seeker friendly” or, more profoundly, “sinner-friendly.” Jesus is being disguised to make Him and His Gospel “less offensive” to seekers. Their goal is to make sinners feel comfortable by giving them what they want instead of what they need. Their strategy is to throw soft balls at non-Christians rather than challenge and confront their unbelief with convicting truths from Scripture. As the goats are being entertained with this nonsense, the sheep of the Shepherd are being deprived of His Word.
We must ask where does God’s Word tell us to woo the world? Did not Jesus say, “The world… hates Me because I testify that its deeds are evil” (John 7:7)? James wrote: “Whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). Church history confirms this and we should learn from the past. The churches and denominations that made friends with the world began a downward slide into apostasy. By trying to woo the world, they had to compromise their preaching, tolerate sin and immorality and abandon nearly every doctrinal position they once held.
Some Christian leaders are calling for the church to adapt to the new generation by eliminating all absolutes. They are saying that we can no longer proclaim absolute truth. Truth is now said to be subjective and in the eye of the beholder. Needless to say, this is producing a Christian faith void of doctrine but full of confusion. Tolerance and acceptance of other faiths is now firmly established within Christianity. We are called to be tolerant of everything except absolute truth. This tolerance is being used as a platform for unity with the Roman Catholic Church. Some evangelicals would rather have a counterfeit unity based on tolerance than authentic spiritual unity based on truth. Anyone who stands in its way is labeled divisive or troublesome.
Numerous warnings in Scripture tell us the church will be bombarded with perverse teachings, empty philosophy, vain deceit, speculations, lying spirits, worldly fables, false knowledge, doctrines of demons, destructive heresies, myths, falsehoods, traditions of men and worldly wisdom. Jesus and Paul warned of false prophets who would come in as wolves in sheep’s clothing not sparing the flock (Matthew 7:15; Acts 20:29). We must do as Jesus and the apostles did and warn Christians of these destructive influences, all of which are weakening the church and bringing shame to the precious name of our Savior!
When sound doctrine is replaced with shallow teaching made up of humorous stories and shallow opinions, you will find biblical illiteracy in the pew. New babes in Christ have difficulty growing in the grace and knowledge of their Savior when pastors do not preach the whole counsel of God. When the Word of God is not being faithfully taught, people will not hear truth. And if they don’t hear truth, they will be unable to discern God’s way from man’s way, truth from error and right from wrong. We must all become more discerning because no man is infallible and no preacher is beyond the possibility of doctrinal error. We must always be ready to reject what is false and hold fast to what is true. As disciples of Jesus we must be known for what we’re for as well as what we’re against.
In closing we must recognize that all truth sets itself against error. Sound doctrine divides and confronts, it judges and separates, it reproves and rebukes and it exposes and refutes error. It leads us from the broad way to the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). It commands us to submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7). It exhorts us to discern between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:6). It demands that we turn away from evil and do good (1 Peter 3:11). It tells us that our ways are not God’s ways, nor are our thoughts His thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). It warns us against exchanging the truth of God for a lie (Romans 1:25). It promises the righteous will be blessed and the wicked will perish.
True Christians cannot continue to tolerate or ignore Satan’s wicked schemes to weaken and pollute the church. We must stand firmly on sound doctrine, heed biblical warnings and live passionately for the truth so that Jesus Christ will be glorified and His church will grow in holiness and strength.