CHARLES R. SWINDOLL, Pastor of the First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, California. (From his nationally known daily radio broadcast, Insight For Living, Study in I Timothy and published in the Bible Study Guide which gives a survey of this Epistle.)
'Some Observations on the Contemporary Church.
So we may better understand I Timothy's relevance to our twentieth- century churches, let's make some pointed observations about today's church in general. It should be to our chagrin that the following characterize most of our churches:
A. A Deeper Commitment to Tradition Than to Scripture. Many people seem to think that whatever has been done a certain way for a long time must be right. So, rather than test its alleged viability against the canon of Scripture, they keep right on doing and believing what they always have. Churches that do this have elevated tradition over the Bible. They need to return to a serious reconsideration of their traditions in light of the clear instruction of Scripture.
B. A Greater Concern for Being Successful According to the World's Standards Rather Than by God's Standards. Today, success in the church is often measured by such externals as the number of people in the congregation, the variety of programs, the size and architecture of the buildings, the number of people who have been saved through evangelistic thrusts, and the size of the budget. 'Bigger is better and biggest is best' appears to be the motto. However, some of the most successful ministries are not great in size. Besides, nowhere does the New Testament teach or imply that size is the measure of success. The biblical criteria of success focus primarily on internals, for when they are right, the right actions will follow.
C. A Greater Degree of Confusion and Uncertainty Even Though It's Larger Than Ever in History. Although there are more Christians in the world today than ever before, there is also less decisiveness and confidence concerning the Christian church's purpose and role in the world. We need to get back to the basics of understanding, applying, and proclaiming God's infallible Word. Then, and only then, will the church regain clarity of mission and the power and courage to carry it out.
D. A Greater Polarization by Tight Denominational Ties Rather Than Unification in Love. Three times in the Gospel of John (17:21, 22, 23), Jesus prayed to the Father that those who would compose His church (cf. 17:20) would be perfected in unity. Christ's consuming desire was that Christians everywhere would form a strong bond together in love under His authority. In our day, however, many Christians are more loyal to their denomination or local church than they are to the universal Body of Christ. Most contemporary churches are marked by rigidity and exclusivity instead of an attitude of love and concern toward all Christians - regardless of their denominational ties or church affiliations. Again we can see the necessity of paying closer attention to God's original blueprint for His church and much less attention to human revisions, additions, and deletions.'
The conclusions, outlined in a survey of these outstanding preachers, are as follows:
I. The factual existence of denominational sectarianism within professing Christendom is a hideous mockery to the person and design of Christ. It is satanically inspired and man-made. It is designed to destroy the beautiful order of God in His creating the "church which is Christ's body." (I Cor 12:27; Eph. 4:12,15-16;5:23)
II. There is a radical difference between the man-made sectarian institutions and the real living church of Jesus Christ. The one is devilish and veneer, whereas the other is divine and real. The one is often heathenish and idolatrous, whereas the other worships God in spirit and truth. In these days of apostasy, the vast majority of the true church is carnally mixed within the counterfeit.
Ill. The creation of the gigantic conglomerates in the modern ecumenical movements leads to a unity with Rome, which is revealed in the Bible as, "that great whore, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth," whose end is destruction - Revelation 17,18.
IV. The only real and Biblical solution for individual Christians is to walk by faith in the blueprint as given in the Word of God:
a. "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. . .come out of her, my people. . let us go forth, therefore, unto Him, without the camp, bearing His reproach." II Corinthians 6:14; Revelation 18:4; Hebrews 13:13.
b. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching... when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ.'' Hebrews 10:25; I Corinthians 5:4.
c. 'Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Ephesians 4:3-6.
I would like all your comments to see how many you agree with the above statements made by Charles Swindoll.