Wisdom for the Modern Church from the Not-So-Distant Past

Friday, January 20, 2012

“I trust I am not given to finding fault where there is not fault. But I cannot open my eyes without seeing things done in our Churches which thirty years ago were not so much as dreamed of. In the matter of amusements, professors have gone far in the way of laxity. What is worse, the Churches have now conceived the idea that it is their duty to amuse the people…. What folly has been left untried? What absurdity has not been too great for the consciences of those who profess to be the children of God—who are not of the world but called to walk with God in a separated life?  The world regards the high pretensions of such men as hypocrisy. And truly I do not know another name for them….

Surely there is a sobriety of behavior which is consistent with a work of Divine Grace in the heart and there is a levity which betokens that the spirit of evil is supreme…. We have gone from liberty to libertinism. We have passed beyond the dubious into the dangerous and none can prophesy where we shall stop. Where is the holiness of the Church of God today? …Now she is dim as smoking flax and rather the object of ridicule than of reverence.
May not the measure of the influence of a Church be estimated by its holiness? If the great host of professing Christians were in domestic life and in business life sanctified by the Spirit, the Church would become a great power in the world. God’s saints may well mourn with Jerusalem when they see spirituality and holiness at so low an ebb! Others may regard this as a matter of no consequence. But we view it as the breaking forth of a leprosy.”

          - Charles Spurgeon, 1889 (“A Dirge for the Down-Grade, and A Song for Faith”)
“Pragmatic philosophy...asks no embarrassing questions about the wisdom of what we are doing or even about the morality of it. it accepts our chosen ends as right and good and casts about for efficient means and ways to get them accomplished.  When it discovers something that works it soon finds a text to justify it, "consecrates" it to the Lord and plunges ahead.  Next a magazine article is written about it, then a book, and finally the inventor is granted an honorary degree.  After that any question about the scripturalness of things or even the moral validity of them is completely swept away.  You cannot argue with success.  The method works; ergo, it must be good.
The weakness of all this is its tragic shortsightedness.  It never takes the long view of religious activity, indeed it dare not do so, but goes cheerfully on believing that because it works it is both good and true.  It is satisfied with present success and shakes off any suggestion that its works may go up in smoke in the day of Christ.
As one fairly familiar with the contemporary religious scene, I say without hesitation that a part, a very large part, of the activities carried on today in evangelical circles are not only influenced by pragmatism but almost completely controlled by it.  Religious methodology is geared to it; it appears large in our youth meetings; magazines and books constantly glorify it; conventions are dominated by it; and the whole religious atmosphere is alive with it.
What shall we do to break its power over us?  The answer is simple.  We must acknowledge the right of Jesus Christ to control the activities of His church.  The New Testament contains full instructions, not only about what we are to believe but what we are to do and how we are to go about doing it.  Any deviation from those instructions is a denial of the Lordship of Christ.”

          - A. W. Tozer, 1970 (God Tells the Man Who Cares)
“According to God's grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder, and another builds on it. But each one must be careful how he builds on it. For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.
If anyone builds on that foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, each one's work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one's work. If anyone's work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire....
If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish so that he can become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written: He catches the wise in their craftiness; and again, The Lord knows that the reasonings of the wise are meaningless....
A person should consider us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of God's mysteries. In this regard, it is expected of managers that each one of them be found faithful.”

          - The Apostle Paul, 55 (1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 18-20; 4:1-2)


Dan McGhee January 20, 2012 at 6:16 PM  

powerful quotes! thanks for posting these!

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