There is an old country song which has the lyric “You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, and know when to run”. To change or hold firm is a decision we all must make from time to time. Change from wrong to right is necessary. It has been said of old, “A wise man will change their mind but a fool never will”. However, I should be certain that I am in the wrong before I change. I need to be sure that I am in the right and not changing to wrong.
Must I change the wording of my marriage ceremony? I have been in the habit of having couples who are not Christians to pledge that they will live together after God’s ordinance so long as they both shall live. However, some of my brethren are telling me that God’s ordinance of marriage does not apply to those who are not Christians. They are telling me that it does not matter if aliens to the kingdom of Christ divorce for any cause and marry other people. They reason that the laws of God apply only to Christians. If their argument is correct then I must leave God out of the ceremony and merely pronounce them husband and wife according to the law of the state. Divorce and remarriage is violation of God’s law, just the same as murderers and liars, and all will be found in the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8) unless they repent (2 Pet. 3:9). I do not plan on changing to the customs of the world.
Must I change my preaching on the necessity of repentance? As long as I have been preaching I have preached that children of God who sin must repent of their sins in order to be forgiven and be in fellowship with God. Yet, in these days some of my brethren believe that so long as my general spiritual demeanor and health is good, that these few and incidental sins are taken care of by the Lord. Thus they would have me change my preaching, assuring the hearers that they do not need to be concerned about those inadvertent lies, lascivious looks, words and acts, occasional social drinks, innocent (?) dances or provocative poses and dress. They will be assured that the Lord will cover these “little” sins so long as they worship regularly. All along I have been teaching that the Lord makes no distinction between sins, that his word insists that sin be repented of in order to forgiveness. No, until I am shown otherwise from the Scriptures I am not planning on changing my teaching, to please the compromisers.
Must I change my view and teaching that the Scriptures are inerrant, and that they are written for our time as well as the first century. A lot of people and some brethren are deciding that some things were written only for that time, though it is not so stated and the context does not so teach. Paul gave some teaching and spiritual advice about what to do in “the present distress” (1 Cor. 7:26). So I know that this does not directly apply to these days even though the principles involved may have application. He wrote concerning the use of spiritual gifts, but elsewhere points out that such gifts would not last (1 Cor. 13:8-10). Therefore I understand that such specific instruction does not apply to me. However, I am not to conclude that the Bible is an outdated set of words to be taken or left at my own whim. My faith in God and his word as the incorruptible and eternal word (1 Pet. 1:23-25) is such that prating of skeptics will not cause me to change my teaching on the matter.
Must I change my thinking and teaching on the matter of fellowship with immoral people and teachers of false doctrine, or those whose practices are in addition to and contradictory to the teaching of the New Testament? I have always preached that the church (including each member) is not to have fellowship with such. But there are those who suggest that just so long as I do not do these things then I can worship with and have social concourse with those who do them. It appears that they would insist that if they had an idol in their worship, that so long as I did not worship the idol I could go right along. The Bible teaches that I am not to so endorse sin and error (2 John 9-11). No, I am not considering changing my thinking, teaching and practice in this matter.
Must I change what God teaches on adultery? Most in the churches teach that the law of exception applies both to the man and the woman. Yet, the scriptures expressively teaches God’s law on adultery was not the same for both man and woman. Moses granted the man the opportunity to divorce his wife for any cause, but the wife did not have the right to divorce her husband for any reason (Deut 24:1). In the new testament, Jesus changed the law back to the way it was intended from the beginning. Man and woman who married were intended to be married for life (Mk 10:9). However, to the man Jesus wrote, “And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery” (Matt 19:9). Now, I would like to tell you that this also applies to the woman, but God’s word never said such. To the woman Paul wrote not once, but twice, that she was bound to her husband as long as he lived, but if her husband be alive and she be married another man, she shall be called an adulteress (Rom 7:2,3 f; 1 Cor 7:39). Jesus did not increase the amount of people who were allowed to be divorced and remarry, but rather limited it. Why? Because God hates divorce (Mal 2:16) No longer could a man divorce his wife for any reason. The only reason allowed was for fornication and that only. The woman was bound to her husband so long as he lived. If the woman breaks that law and divorces her husband, she is not allowed to remarry, but can be reunited back to her husband (1 Cor 7:10,11). I would like to be loved by fellow brethren, but I like being loved by God more. This will only happen if I keep God’s commandments (Jn 14:15). Thus, I will not change to appease errand brethren and sinners (Acts 5:29 f; Gal 1:10).
There are those who teach that women can speak in the assembly. They teach that women can teach little children or other women in classroom settings despite the scripture prohibiting women from speaking in the assembly (1 Cor 14:33-40). Many members of the church believe that if everyone is doing such things, that no matter what the bible teaches on the subject, God will allow it. Then they have the audacity to try and silence the one teaching God’s Word as it is written in order that they might appease the masses. They will say that Paul was a woman hater. Some say that Paul’s writing only applied to the Corinth church. Some say that this only applied to the prophet’s wives. Yet, according to the scripture, what Paul preached to one church he preached to all churches (1 Cor 4:17). Is it any wonder why some churches of Christ now have women preachers, song leaders, women leading prayers and waiting on tables? Sin begins one small step at a time. A little leaven leavens the whole lump (Gal 5:9). No, I am even considering changing my thinking, teaching and practice in this matter. I will not change when the change makes me in direct conflict with the Word of God.
There was a time, when I was young in the faith, that I went along with errand brethren. Then I grew in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I made the change necessary to please God. I agreed to speak where the bible speaks and I remained silent where the bible was silent (1 Pet 4:11). I rejected the idea of going beyond that which was written (1 Cor 4:6). I realized that if I am going to be judged by the Word come the day of judgment, then I had to submit myself to the Word of God now (Jn 12:48).”The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:3). That time is now. Therefore, I ask you to make a change to submit to the Word of God as it is written. Remember, God’s Word cannot be broken and God cannot lie (Jn 10:35 f; Heb 6:18). If we as Christians do exactly what God has commanded, he cannot deny us eternal life (2 Tim 2:13). God promised if we keep his commandments, we shall obtain eternal life (Rev 22:14). We have his promise on it and God keeps his promises (1 Thess 5:24)! Therefore, may God grant us the courage to change when we are in error, and the strength to remain firm when we are contending for the faith (Jude 3).