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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Men may fail you but God never will; men may forsake you but God never will; men may change their doctrine and beliefs but God never changes.
As independent Baptists we have been accused of being an old "fuddy-dud," stick in the mud; Baptist bigots that believe only in the Baptist Bride. I say praise God, we need more men of God who will take a stand for God and His Word and His Church.
Men are mortal, they die and pass off the scene but there are two things that will always endure, last, and never change and that is God's word and His true churches. It has been said that we are afraid to change a program or to try a new method because we have always done things a certain way. The fact is that if our programs and methods of yesterday do not work today, and the programs and methods of today will not work tomorrow, then I believe we are using the wrong program or method.
God, in His Word, has provided for us every program or method we need to do His work. There is no room for improvement or change in God's programs and methods. It is often argued that we should be willing to make changes as the peoples' needs change. But if I understand my Bible correctly, man's need has always been the same since the fall of man up to this present moment–the Lord Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour.
The spirit and attitude of being changeable is all too common in the thinking of most people today. When one has the tendency of not being changeable, he is referred to as being too rigid, not flexible enough, too dogmatic, and maybe even "hard-headed." There is nothing wrong with change altogether.
I believe in making changes when needed and called for. But when it comes to in regards to our independent Baptist churches doctrines, beliefs, convictions, and standards, I say no, there ought not to be. I have a hard time believing that we should be flexible and open-minded to certain issues and doctrines when the Scriptures teach us to be otherwise.
If we, as independent Baptists, do not see the importance and the need of remaining steadfast and unmovable, of digging in and holding our ground, then it won't be long before our present existing churches will become a conglomeration of people believing in everything in general and standing for nothing in particular and principle.
There are Baptist churches that have headed down that road and today they are either no longer in existence, or for all practical purposes, dead and cold, or else they may seem to be alive and well but they are and have to compromise on just about every fundamental doctrine of the Scriptures.
The Bible teaches us that God does not change (James 1:17), His Word does not change (Ps. 12:7; 119:89), and His true churches do not change (Matt. 16:18; I Tim. 3:15). The question I would like to answer then is "should we change?" If so, when, how, and to what extent?
In II Tim. 2:15, the apostle Paul very pointedly stressed to the young preacher Timothy to be a student of the Word. I believe as you study this verse in its context it is interesting to note why Paul was so persistent in making his point understood because of what he explains happened in v.16-18: "But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some." It should be pointed out of the distinction that is made between "their word" of vs.17 and "the truth" of vs.18. Paul declares that these two men "erred" concerning the truth of the resurrection, meaning to "miss the mark, deviate from, swerve."
Paul had earlier warned Timothy of this very thing happening in I Tim. 1:6-7, "From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm."
Again, in I Tim. 6:20-21, Paul emphasizes Timothy's need of staying with the truth and not change: "O Timothy, keep (watch, be on guard, preserve) that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen."
Remember the Lord once said, "Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it" (Lk. 11:28).
Paul specifically instructed young Timothy to "Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us" (II Tim. 1:13-14).
It was bad enough that Hymenaeus and Philetus erred concerning the truth but Paul also states "and overthrow (overturn, subvert) the faith of some."
The tragedy here is that there were, in all probability, some who knew better, those who had been taught the truth concerning the resurrection and yet they may have developed the open-minded attitude and concept by being persuaded to listen with an objective viewpoint. The end result is that it began to sound logical and right and therefore they changed their doctrine, belief, and stand on the issue.
One can read and study I Cor. 15 and know for a certainty that the apostle Paul was not at all confused about the doctrine of the resurrection nor did he attempt to mislead anyone.
But Paul does explicitly warn us to not have this attitude of always changing from one thing to the next, "That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and from, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive" (Eph. 4:14).
In Phil. 2:16 he tells us to be "holding forth the word of life," meaning to retain, hold upon, stay with it.
In Col. 1:23 Paul says, "if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not move away from the hope of the gospel."
Col. 2:7 says, "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught." To be grounded, settled, rooted, and stablished all refers to that which is steadfast, stable, immovable, sure and abiding which is quite the opposite of being changeable, open-minded or flexible.
In a very clear passage of Scripture, Paul says in II Thess. 2:15, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast (persevere, be stationary) and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
In II Tim. 3:14, Timothy is told to "continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them."
The day is here when people will not endure sound doctrine. Many are turning their ears away from the truth; they are not enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. I believe it is needful again, as it was in the days of Jude, to remind God's people that we must earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Peter tells us, "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness" (II Pet. 3:17).
We are told in Heb. 13:8-9, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace."
I believe it is a sin to be flexible, changeable when it comes to the doctrines of the Word of God and the standards by which it prescribes for us to live by.
This is neither popular or easy but by God's strength and grace we can remain unchangeable, steadfast, unmovable as we have been taught, instructed, and grounded in the truth of God's Holy Word. Heb. 10:23, "Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)"