FROM BONDAGE TO BONDAGE?

This article will certainly make a bunch of preachers mad. I am going to touch one of the sacred cows of Fundamentalism, and I intend to show no mercy. I believe that at the end of the age Satan is using every possible ploy to destroy the righteous, and one way he succeeds so well in Bible believing churches is by the bondage or captivity to forms and rituals. Yes, right in Fundamental KJV Only churches.

The following graphics come from Tom Lamb's book, "Old is Old, and New is New"

My comments accompany the graphics, though they speak for themselves largely.


This fellow shows the life of bondage to sin. We talk of this in our pulpits, and we talk of it in soul winning. The saints are encouraged to look back on the old life and rejoice that they escaped the terrors of sin and guilt. And, it is true.

Many a sinner has seen himself in this state, and the soul winner has been able to show him the hope of deliverance in Christ. So, we all understand this picture.




 

 

 

This picture shows the sinners only hope. This also we talk about continually, and it is a blessing to remember our Savior and how He saved us through His death and resurrection. The Blood of Jesus becomes a picture of mercy and salvation, and we rejoice in the Lord's Supper which reminds us of Jesus' love for us.

The sinner comes to the cross and is either repulsed, or he is broken and delivered from his sin. Fanny Crosby said, "I love to tell the story, For those who know it best, Seem hungering and thirsty, To hear it like the rest..."




 

 

 

 

One more picture-- This time of deliverance and joy. Sin takes all the joy out of life. The world tries to tell itself that there is joy in sin. "Here, this Buds for you.." "Things go better with Coke" Chevy is "The heartbeat of America." "Treat yourself right." All sorts of messages pour out of the media and Hellywood telling us we are OK and having fun. But the morning after, the hangover is there, and the guilt of sin is there after the excesses of lust have been enjoyed. The fellow in the picture shows the joy of salvation-- The new life.

Don't we all talk about the immediate joy of being born again, and then we say some glib thing about how the emotion and outward joy matures, or some dumb thing like that. This is how we explain how we grow dull and accustomed to salvation and lose the evidence of outward joy. There is nothing in the Word of God to indicate that the initial joy of our salvation is supposed to wear out eventually. That is abnormal, not normal Christian living. So, what goes wrong?




 

This is where the trouble starts. There is a body of custom and ritual in the most narrow Fundamental KJV Only church. It is propagated by the pastor first, and then the enforcers take over. The pastor teaches the Word of God, and he goes on to make applications. The Word of God is not the problem-- The application IS! All to often, passages of Scripture are used to determine what is proper to wear. The obvious might be that women should be modest and feminine. How this is applied is sometimes appropriate, while at other times it can be oppressive and cruel.

I invited an older lady to come to church over and over in a church I pastored in the California High Desert. Every time she would tell me she could not wear dresses. She had horribly scarred legs from a burn accident in the past, and she just KNEW that the people at the church house would not approve if she wore slacks. Now, I will be called a heretic by some of you boys with a Christian Mishna tucked under you arm, but I begged her to wear the slacks and come to church. She never did, and it may have been one of you who convinced her that she would be wicked if she did so.

I don't like slacks on women, but THAT situation had to come under Grace, not Law. How often are the saints troubled by a law which has no roots in the Word of God. The vast majority of Fundamental churches today demand that a man wear a suit, tie, and dress up to the "Ts". I know of a church in Michigan where this is LAW, and it is a backwoods country church. Half of the men don't have suits and cannot afford new ones. So, they go off to Goodwill, and they come to church in 1950s double knit checked coats and slacks, often not matching, and they look like Bozo the clown. Tell me what is sinful about a man coming to church in clean or new coveralls? Chapter and verse please.

We move on to consider some things which have crept in.

 

I went to several Fundamental Baptist fellowships for pastors in Michigan while I pastored there. These guys all came out Monday in three piece suits. Can't we take off the formal clothes one day and relax? Many of the preachers were overweight a bit, and they looked like they were in pain in those suits. I went along with it, but I resented the forced custom of dress which had NO foundation in the Word of God.

Look at the topics Tom Lamb included. You see, we usually think that only the Liberals and Ecumenicals have problems with these weights which so easily beset us. I think it is horrifying to think that we may have taken a sinner from bondage and put him right back into bondage. Of course, the bondage does not have the severe consequences of booze and dope, but the effect of dragging the man down is very similar.

 

 

 

MORE CONSIDERATIONS AS WE LOOK AT OUR WAYS:

Routine:

Who ever said we need a church bulletin. It is a burden to those who print it. It is canned, and the Holy Spirit is expected to give the order of worship on Tuesday so the bulletin will be ready on Sunday. It is a routine and ritual. Try changing one of the hymns, or try taking the offering at another point. This will set everyone in a dither. Things should be done the same every Sunday, right?

Then there is the Sunday and Wednesday schedule. Pastors will occasionally consider moving the fellowship to the homes of the people. It might be to conserve energy in the winter, or it might simply occur to him that meeting in the homes will make it easier to convince sinners to come and visit the assembly. This is what I did one time in a church I pastored in Michigan. A deacon panicked and concluded that someone might come to church on one of those once a year visits, and we would not be there. Routine and ritual had to be maintained for one gold brick who showed once a year. The deacon's wife nearly had a heart attack over the thing. We did it anyway, and visited another church nearby and had a wonderful day. That began the process of the deacons and their wives running me off. I left relieved in many ways.

There are many other routines and rituals which drive the local church along. One is the Baptist heritage. Other groups have their own heritage. None of these are encouraged in the Word of God, yet Baptist pastors find many little distinctions to make sure the members of the church remember that they are Baptists. None of them are in the Bible. Baptist distinctives, they are called. They only serve to keep the saints in bondage to a system, not a Savior.

Membership:

There was NO membership roll in the New Testament church. There was not even a hint of it. The church met in the homes, and it was very clear who belonged and who was loyal. They did not lay hands suddenly on new people, but the Lord's Supper and all activities were open to the faithful.

Today, Fundamentalists make a very large issue over membership. What is the benefit? First, hirelings and wolves use membership to infiltrate the church. They come with a church letter and references. They are received in eagerly, and sometimes rebaptised in order to retread their Baptist zeal. Later, they use the membership to wreck havoc during church business meetings, and when the pastor finally catches up with them, the by-laws demand that some long procedure be observed to run them off. By the time they are finally out the door, the church has split.

Second, there are the good old boys and deadbeats. They know the pastor is desperate to brag about all the new members that came into the church during his tenure, so these deadbeats join the church, and they do nothing. They come on church dinner Sundays, and they will show for the annual pig roast. But they are worthless to Christ and the local church. But, they are left alone lest they be offended and stop coming all together. There is NO precedent for this in the Bible.

So, when a new saint comes into the fellowship, he is expected to submit to the membership demands on him. He finds out soon that if he wants to visit another assembly in the area, he is a traitor. The vast majority of Baptist pastors will threaten and brow beat anyone who visits another local church. This is far worse than staying faithful to one's wife, and it is treated as a worse sin than going back to booze. Thus, membership in the physical assembly is charted, counted, registered, enforced, and boasted of regularly. Little badges and pins are given for faithfulness and membership, while deacons chase each others' wives, and in one superchurch, the pastor uses the church secretary sexually. Ah, but the membership is growing.

Tradition:

We really have covered this somewhat, but here is a wonderful thing. Baptists will mock at the Roman Catholic Church for their claims of apostolic succession, and they complain about the stuffy old denominations. Then these same Baptist preachers chatter on and on about the Baptist heritage and the "Trail of Blood." Some even brag that a "mother" Baptist church started their church, and thus it is pure. What glorious tradition! They try to trace the Baptist heritage back to John the Baptist. Never mind that there were not Baptists before about 1650. They were Anabaptists, and before that, Waldenseans, Abergenseans, Winklers, Stablers, Catharea, and Donatists, and I missed some. These neo-traditionalist Baptists also forget that John the Baptist was in the Dispensation of Law, and his baptism was NOT the same as that of the Lord's Church. Never mind, law the tradition prevails, even if you have to invent it.

Why is this new tradition needed? Answer: These deadbeat preachers cannot keep the people coming and faithful. The preachers don't study, and they don't teach. They preach a traditional message, which is the Gospel every Sunday all year long. They are far too lazy to study and do a Bible book study. No wonder they need tradition. They have nothing else to threaten the troops who long for greener pastures.

So, the bondage multiplies. Wear the right clothes. Join the membership. Vote at the business meetings. Earn a place on the board. Get your little badge for attendance. Burp up the doctrinaire Fundamental Baptist heritage. And if you don't get it just right, you are not pure. You in fact run the risk of being run off. What evil bondage to a system. How is this different from the Whore of Rome and her rituals?

Liturgy:

Fundamental Baptists have a heritage in LEAVING ritualistic churches, such as the BBF flight from the Southern Baptists. Well, what can we say for a church where there are two hymns every Sunday, the announcements come just before the offering, two verses of every hymn are scrapped, and an invitation is given for virtually every message? The invitation is the farce of farces in many churches. The preacher has to hype it every time like it is earthshaking, and the saints get the idea that the only place to get right is at the altar of the church house. This then makes a ritual of soul winning, for the saints assume that a real salvation experience happens ONLY at the church house, and soul winning between Sundays is nonexistent. This is why the preacher then has to add the ritual of going door to door on Thursday night. The net result is that the saints don't witness spontaneously and over a coffee table. That is NOT how people get saved. This is all the result of liturgy at all the services.

Then there is the Sunday School quarterly. Many saints in Fundamental Baptist churches learn to teach Sunday School, but they NEVER learn to study their Bible. Some get pretty clever at making the teacher's quarterly sound like they invented it, but that is the extent of the advanced level. This is again the result of liturgy.

Even the shouting and demonstrative aspect of Fundamental Baptist churches is liturgical at times. It is hyped, and it is called for on cue by the pastor. Jokes are always at the beginning of the sermon, and music becomes a signaling device to let the people know what is about to happen.

What is missing?

1. The freedom of the Holy Spirit to take the saints, sermons, and services where HE wants to go.
I am NOT hinting at Charismatic confusion here. I mean that some of you people don't know about a meeting where the Holy Spirit was obviously in charge. In Michigan, I was ready to preach as usual, but the song service was simply getting out of control-- MY control. The folks were sharing about handing out tracts, something from their daily Bible reading, sorrows and victories, and so on. I finally realized that I was not going to preach. When I told the folks that I felt that the Lord wanted us to just continue in the Spirit and keep singing and telling war stories and encouraging one another, they went bonkers. It almost got Pentecostal. They ALL were wishing for just that sort of thing on that particular Sunday.

If I had insisted in having it my way, well, the Lord would have had mercy on us I suppose, but we would not have had the blessing we had. That only happened maybe once in every two years, but when it did, it was the heavenlies for a while. It is the Lord's Church, and when He wants His Spirit to go off in a different direction, pity the Fundamental church that cannot let Him.

2. That new freedom felt when the believer's salvation was new and fresh.
The new freedom of a believer should be the NORMAL life and emotion of the saints. Why do believers lose the thrill of their salvation. David panicked in Psalm 51 when he realized he had lost the joy of his salvation. Do you recall why he did? It was because of sin. That new believer has just unloaded his burdens at Calvary. The reason joy goes away, in the preacher, in the deacons, in the deacons' wives, and anyone, is because they have settled into half a life. They are mixing ritual, three piece suits, the old nature of sexual lust, dull attitudes toward witness, and their greed for making money with their church membership, and they are coasting in neutral. The new believer is NORMAL in his zeal and excitement. The rest of you are deadbeats, so you drag him down and destroy his freedom in the Lord.

3. Bible study which controls the flow of the meetings and applications.
Many churches have some pretty good Bible study in Sunday School or at other occasions, but the preacher does NOT want his private time to preach in the pulpit to leave his mighty control. Thus, questions cannot be asked, and the godly men are not invited to make observations. The preaching may be so shallow that nothing CAN be added. How can you add chili pepper to pabulum without terrifying someone? So, the Bible is the source of preaching, but the preacher screams and spues and sprays the flock until they think that is normal. It is a grotesque counterfeit of what Paul did at Ephesus in the New Testament. I wonder, preacher, when was the last time you got a sermon from a question of a deacon, teenager, or some little kid? Your Bible, and your flock, are NOT your object. YOU are the center of your preaching. How shallow and puerile. Don't you see that they are back in bondage-- to YOU?

4. Sound Bible book studies-- There is nothing very deep in the pulpit.
This has been touched on, but consider please. Book studies of the Bible are considered wicked and wrong by the majority of Baptist pastors. Why? Answer: Tradition. They are NOT taught to do this in Bible college. They are also too cotton pickin' lazy. Book studies are hard work, and the average Baptist preacher does not spend over four hours getting up a sermon. And, some of the twinks BRAG on it. It has to be the height of arrogance for a Fundamentalist to fault John MacArthur for his errors, which they ARE, yet the man attacking John Mac spends four hours on his sermons, and I KNOW MacArthur spends 40 hours a week studying.

5. Joy that lasts. Ritual takes its place.
There is very little joy in the Fundamental churches. There is talk, there are lots of jokes to fill the dead space, there are lots of ways to keep busy, BUT where is the joy? With all the ritual, tradition, obligation to be at a zillion activities, and to give give give, the joy is gone. Many Fundamentalists don't have ONE night to themselves at home. There is something going on every night to which a member of the family must attend. The car is running back and forth all week long so everyone can be where they belong at a church event. There is no joy in this. Much of it comes from the preachers thinking that the Body of Christ is the Body only at the church house. And, lots of these preachers forget that the folks are at work all day while the preacher is dreaming up more ways to take away their evenings.

This is cruel and evil bondage, and it can easily cause a saint to feel like he simply traded in one form of slavery for another. Really, preacher, it all boils down to one question:

Who owns the sheep?

If you own the sheep, then you can jerk their chain with your traditions and laws, and they better do as you tell them.

If Jesus owns the sheep, then preacher you better be real careful how you conduct yourself. You better be very cautious what you lay on them, and prove all things from the KJV you claim to love.

Let me ask you one more question:

What did Abraham do for God? Make a list please, and remember, he lived for over a hundred years. If he were attending your church, would you tolerate Abraham? Could a saint in your assembly be as unproductive as that old boy and be loved by you and your people?

Sorry, but I have to ask another:

Was the thief on the Cross a Baptist? Huh? Hey, where are you preacher? I can't hear you :-)

Why don't you start looking for traditions, rituals, and liturgy in your conduct of church life, and see how much you can unload. Ask yourself if you could love those people and trust the Holy Spirit to keep control if you didn't have paper membership. Go on now, I dare you.

 

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