By Marlin Kilpatrick
The most blessed people who have ever lived are those people who have remained faithful to God. The downfall of Old Testament Israel was caused by their unfaithfulness to Him. There is a parallel between Israel’s unfaithfulness and what is happening today in the Lord’s church. In fact, in both cases the principle involved is precisely the same—a lack of respect for divine authority. When God’s people become unhappy with His way, it’s not long before they find a way to satisfy themselves. As with Israel, so it is today with more than a few congregations of the Lord’s church.
During some 450 years God ruled Israel through Judges. But the time came when his people wanted a king; they were unhappy with God’s way of ruling over them. Israel’s dissatisfaction with God and his way of ruling is quite revealing.
When the elders of Israel came to Samuel, who was the last of the Judges, they presented two “reasons” for their request for a king. The elders said, “Look, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways” (1 Sam. 8:5a, NKJV). Both of these claims were true, but their real reason for wanting a king is revealed in their words, “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5b). Israel’s having a king like the other nations may have made them more acceptable to their neighbors, but it started them down a path that, ultimately, led them away from God. No matter what man may think, he cannot improve on God’s way. God wanted his people to be a unique people. The uniqueness of God’s people brought glory to God and distinguished Him from the heathen gods of other nations. He also wanted a particular people through whom, eventually, the Messiah would come into this world. The coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, fulfilled a promise God had earlier made to Abraham that in “thy seed” all families of the earth would be blessed (cf. Gen. 12:1-3; Gal. 3:16).
The true church of Christ is the spiritual body of Christ (cf. Col. 1:18; Gal. 4:16). Israel wanted to be like the nations around them. The church, spiritual Israel, is, in many congregations, making the same mistake. We are losing our distinctiveness for which we have so long been known. We are becoming more and more like the denominational churches around us. God wanted Israel to be a distinctive people, and the Lord also wants His church to be distinctive. There is a line of demarcation drawn in the New Testament between the Lord’s church and all other organizations. We have a divinely given pattern which, when followed, will make us identical with the church which began in the 1st century (Acts 2).
Today it’s not uncommon to hear of certain congregations that now use instrumental music in their worship services (for which there is no scriptural authority). There was a time, not too many years ago, when the Lord’s church in any community was known for her stand on having scriptural authority for all that we do (cf. Col. 3:17). Now, the denominational churches smile at us and welcome us with open arms; they see little or no difference between us. The denominations see us as having finally arrived at what they’ve known for years—there’s no need for scriptural authority. How sad!
Brethren, where is the scriptural authority for the dedication of babies, the use of women in leadership roles in the church, children’s church, and a host of other practices? Why is there a lack of preaching on controversial subjects, e.g., marriage/divorce and remarriage? Why are we hearing very few sermons on the one church and her distinctiveness?
In closing, please look once again at the title of this article. The end of Old Testament Israel came when God sent them into captivity. The Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrians in 722-21 B.C. and they were carried into Assyrian captivity. The Southern Kingdom, about 135 years later, fell to the Babylonians and they were carried into Babylonian captivity. As a nation, God’s people never again enjoyed the exalted position they once occupied. The captivities were the result of God’s people not being satisfied with His way.
It is past time that the faithful in the Lord’s church take a stand against the liberal element among us who are leading the church down a path that can only result in our spiritual ruin. Think about it.