". . . At the door of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the alter, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east . .." (Ezekiel 8:16)
I can't help reading those words without noting that one of the great sins of our day is the turning away from God's plan, place, and program for this dispensation--the local New Testament church. Even many preachers are guilty. They are so concerned with popularity, prosperity, promotion, and pleasure that they will bypass, run over, and even turn their backs on the New Testament churches.
"Church-hoppers" ravage local churches like a plague. In most churches Biblical discipline is impossible to administer because the minute a "brother" is confronted with his sin he just slips out the side door and is accepted into the church across town before the sun sets! Even preachers have been seen vehemently proclaiming the authority of the church and then "hopping" to another church because of the slightest disagreement with their "senior" pastor. Shame, shame, shame!
In recent years we have witnessed pastors split their churches to stay in good standing with certain universities, colleges, and fellowships. Many refuse to stand for the King James Bible because they fear rejection and retaliation at the hand of the Wescott-Hort "scholarship-only" gang. They know that if they boldly declare the position that they have believed and have taught their church they will not be "accepted" at the big meetings and conferences. We need to be more concerned for the truth of God being declared in the local church than acceptance into the "big boys club."
We also see the authority and the autonomy of the New Testament church sacrificed to advance colleges, universities, fellowships, and mission boards. For instance some fundamental institutions of "higher learning" strongly declare their belief in the autonomy, necessity, importance, and primacy of the church but, in their practice they defy the New Testament pattern as they operate outside of church authority in the training of preachers for the ministry, in ordination of preachers, and in the starting of "churches." Those three practices are the business of the churches, not the schools!
Most "Baptists" today are more than happy to go along with the ideology, compromise, and fellowship of Protestants and inter-denominationalists. Many even find fellowship with baby-baptizers! Our Baptist forefathers "fought to win the prize and sailed through bloody seas" over baptism. If only the "fundamentals" are important then why did the Baptists of history put their lives on the line by immersing their converts? If we are Baptists we ought not turn our backs on the true churches of God by accepting the teachings and practices of protestants and interdenominationalists as Biblically legitimate. We ought to be "earnestly contending" for the truth against all error and compromise.
There is no higher calling than service in the local New Testament church. But, in our service we must do God's work God's way. If those that operate unbiblically continue to turn their backs upon the local New Testament church then we ought to turn our backs on them!
By Bobby Mitchell