During the months of July and August we are hitting what I would call a “rough patch” in our ministry. I am not speaking of the summer doldrums that hit most churches as well as ours. The summer is difficult with many of our people on vacation and occupied with other things. The work load increases on the few that do most of it anyway, and the offerings slip as well because vacation drains off tithes and offerings that are used to carry on the ministry. These issues make for rough riding in the ministry.
These are not, however, the makeup of the rough patch of which I speak. In our studies on both Sunday mornings and Sunday nights, we are discussing unpopular themes for most of the “Christian” world. On Sunday mornings the theme is the warning given by Jesus in Matthew 7 to beware of false prophets. The warning is not that some wildly heretical blasphemous people are attempting to tear down everything we hold sacred. The warning is not that atheists and agnostics are knocking on our doors trying to shut down the work of the church. The warning is that there are those that call themselves Christian ministers, which purport to be ministers of the gospel, which claim they are doing the work of God, but really are ravening wolves that make shipwreck the doctrines of the faith (1 Tim. 1:18-20). We are charged with the responsibility of identifying them and rooting them out. The “rough” character of our work is unacceptable to many because they believe in unity—at all costs, unity. Doctrine doesn’t matter to most people especially if it gets in the way of having a good time and ruining the party atmosphere of their church. Jesus warns against this by saying “broad is the way that leadeth to destruction.” The only basis for unity is truth and when the truth of God’s word is not spoken we must separate and be as divisive as true doctrine requires.
Coupled with the Sunday morning sermons is our study on Sunday nights in the book of Revelation. Has God providentially worked this out that after two years of teaching in two different books of the Bible that we should suddenly hit an exact parallel course? We are studying the 17th chapter in the Sunday night series that warns of the conglomeration of the world’s religions that make up ecclesiastical Babylon, the religious empire of the Antichrist. At the forefront of this religious system is compromising apostate Christianity that also seeks unity at all costs. Our firm stands on Biblical doctrine, our unwillingness to compromise, and our willingness to expose those who do will not make us popular. Our “rough patch” is the bumpy road we encounter when we teach systematically through the Bible. If the Bible says it, we teach it, because it is God’s word on which we stand. If it makes some uncomfortable, praise God, because it evokes the reaction Jesus promised it would (Matthew 10:17-40). If what we preach is easily acceptable to all people, we have missed the truth. Stick around to hear it all and rejoice that God has given you a church that still “contends for the faith which was once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
Pastor V. Mark Smith