He Tore Up The Church - by Jeff Grimes

Through the years, and even recently, I have heard this phrase a number of times. It got me to thinking. What does it mean when someone says, "He tore up the church?"

As a general rule it is intended to cast the person named as "tearing up the church" in a bad light. And there are instances where such a person should be looked on with disdain. In Third John vs. 9, John identifies Diatrephes as one who had "tore up the church." Diotrephes' love of preeminence, and his "prating against" [lit. accusing falsely] John and others with "malicious words," were defiantly "tearing up the church." Diotrephes thought he was "the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." The spirit of Diotrephes lives on in the church today. This egotistical, high minded, "You can ask me something, but you can't tell me anything" attitude has made "havoc" of many congregations of the Lord's church.

However, more often than not, the phrase "he tore up the church" is directed toward faithful Gospel preachers who refuse to compromise, and have "not shunned to declare the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). He is labeled a troublemaker, in a similar fashion as Ahab did Elijah (I Kings 18:17). Not one time do those who make this charge stop and consider the real troublemakers, are those who refuse "sound doctrine", and "who have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and... followed Baalim" (I Kings 18:18). (Notice with little spelling change Baalim could be spelled BALL-UM) My point is simply this, when faithful Gospel preachers preach against worldliness, the worldly church members who are "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God" (II Timothy 3:4) don't want to hear it. Their attitude is like some in Isaiah's day, "... a rebellious people...children that will not hear the law of the Lord: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us" (Isaiah 30:9-11). Does this last phrase sound familiar? Don't many folks today (even church members) want God to step aside and let them "do their own thing?"

When sermons are delivered on immodesty (which includes everything from nudity at the public beaches, to the Friday night half-time show at the local high schools, or the wearing of low cut tank tops, halter-tops, and short shorts in Wal-Mart) the worldly, ungodly, unconverted, lotto playing church members kick up their heels like a bunch of young mules in a rye patch. Never mind Paul's admonition to Timothy to "keep thyself pure" (I Timothy 5:22; 4:12; 5:2), or Jesus' words, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (Matthew 5:8).

This same group begins a bickering, backbiting campaign against the preacher. They charge him as "mean-spirited", and having an "un-loving" attitude. It's the same group that literally loathes, and detests doctrinal preaching. To this "enlightened" group sermons on Nadab and Abihu, Phillip and the eunuch, or the conversion of Saul of Tarsus is "old hat", and such topics or completely irrelevant. They tell us sermons like these answer questions no one is asking. So what! God's answers never change, even if no one is asking the questions.

And heaven forbid! A sermon on the uniqueness of the Lord's church is off-limits for sure. Sermons can be delivered on the "one Hope", "one Lord", "one God", and "one Spirit", but never on the "one Body", "one Faith", or "one Baptism." These topics are too controversial. Preaching the truth on these subjects might offend their friends in the local civic club. We certainly don't want to appear judgmental, or to narrow minded.

Brethren we need to wake up! Stand up! And speak up! The ones who are "tearing up the church", are the liberal minded brethren described in the above lines, not faithful Gospel preachers, and the godly elders who stand with them!

There is another group that is to share in the blame for "tearing up the church." I call them "Moderates." Moderates do not teach, preach, or practice false doctrine, and worldliness, but refuse to take a stand against such. There are a multitude of preachers, elders, and members in this category. They have the "go along in order to get along" mentality. They are moral cowards. The Bible condemns such behavior by precept and example. "And Moses said unto the children of Gad and to the children of Reuben, Shall your brethren go to war, and shall ye sit here?" (Numbers 32:6). "Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the LORD, curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof; because they came not to the help of the LORD, to the help of the LORD against the mighty" (Judges 5:23). Brethren, if we share in the inheritance, we will have to join in the conflict (Jude 3). The Christian that is fearful of conflict will be lost, along with the unbelieving, abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars (Revelation 21:8). W. E. Vines states, the word fearful "denotes cowardice and timidity and is never used in a good sense."

The Lord needs the help of the faithful today against the mighty foe of liberalism. Liberal political principles are destroying and dividing our country. If left unchecked these same liberal principals when applied to spiritual verities will defile the lovely bride of Christ beyond recognition. Thankfully, there are still faithful Gospel preachers, and elders who are willing to "stand in the gap" (Ezekiel 22:30) in order to help stem the tidal wave of worldliness, and liberalism in the Lord's church today. Some might label the faithful as "radical", or "ultraconservative." These names have been applied to the faithful before. If abiding by the authority of God's Word means I am a "radical", or "ultraconservative", then I will gladly wear those names.

It's time for the "Soldiers of Christ to arise, and put your Armour on." All of us need to study carefully Ephesians 6:10-20. Note especially the number of times Paul uses the word "stand." Verse 11, "...that ye may be able to stand against..." Someone has said, "The character of a man is not measured necessarily by what he stands for, but what he stands against." "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with turth..." (Ephesians 6:13, 14). In verses 19 and 20, Paul requested that prayers be made on his behalf that he might speak "boldly", "as I ought to speak." Paul knew that when one takes a stand against "every false way" it would take courage.

My prayer is that every Gospel preacher will have the courage to preach the Word of God, "Boldly as they ought to preach", and if preaching the pure, unadulterated Word of God, in love, tears up a congregation, then maybe it needed tearing up. It would not be the first time it ever happened; in fact in the first century it "turned the world upside down" (Acts 17:6).

In the context of those who would deny him Jesus said,

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 10:34-39).

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