Recently I spent some time listening to a message from John MacArthur that he preached back in 1983. The message was a part of a series that he preached on the anatomy of the church. In that first message, he mentioned 5 things that the church must be committed to. I agree wholeheartedly with MacArthur’s view concerning these 5 things. Lately, I have been discouraged and burdened with the state of the church today. There is a sense of apathy and complacency that has settled into the church. The church used to be the center of the community. The church was alive and vibrant. The members of the church were fully committed to the program and work of the church. Now days the church is filled with people that are only there because they don’t have anything else to do. We have lost our fervor. We have lost our commitment. We have lost our sense of responsibility. We have lost our hunger. We have lost our concern. We have lost our fight. We have lost our first love.
Even though it is not popular. Even though it may not draw in big crowds today. Even though pastoring is becoming more and more difficult today. I for one refuse to bow to popular opinion. I refuse to be conformed to the ways of the world. Wherever God takes me, wherever God places me, both now and in the future, I will be a pastor that will stand firm on these fundamental truths even if it means there are no people left to pastor.
John Macarthur points out the following 5 things that the church must be committed to:
1. A high view of God.
In his sermon, MacArthur mentions that many people do not take God seriously anymore. We tend to look at God as our servant, demanding things of Him, rather than seeing Him as our God and King, whom we are to serve. God is not our genie in a bottle. He is holy. He is sovereign. He is righteous. He is everything that we are not. He is not just a friend or one of the guys. He is God.
2. The absolute authority of scripture.
The Bible is the final authority. God said it and that settles it! The church must never ever compromise on the Word of God. The Bible is inspired by God. It is inerrant, infallible, and it is without any mixture of error. A church that compromises on their commitment to fundamental expository preaching of the Word will soon cease to be a true church.
3. Sound Doctrine
There is way too much questionable doctrines being preached today. The church should guard itself against such false doctrines. I am a firm believer in a literal, historical, grammatical, and cultural hermeneutic. I believe that such a hermeneutic always leads to a fundamental, dispensational, premillennial view of scripture. Such sound doctrine must be preached without compromise.
4. Personal Holiness
This is an area that many churches fail to deal with. We live in a culture where anything goes. There are no standards anymore. Unfortunately, this new culture norm has crept into the doors of the church. We no longer hold each other accountable to living a life of holiness. Church discipline is nonexistent. We sweep things under the rug. We turn and look away. We do not love each other enough to tackle the sin in each other’s life. We are commanded in scripture to be holy. The filth of the world has no business in the life of a believer. We are in desperate need of a house cleaning!
5. Spiritual Authority
MacArthur also mentions the need to hold firm to a Biblical way of church authority. The Bible is very clear that the church is to be governed by pastor(s)/elder(s) under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They are to be the spiritual overseer’s of the church. They are to watch out for our souls. They are to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Such God-called men are to be respected, followed, obeyed, and honored as long as they hold true to scripture and the qualifications of their office. This authority must not be taken for granted nor should it be taken advantage of. If your church has a God-honoring, Bible preaching, Holy Ghost filled pastor, then it will do you well to listen to him, learn from him, and follow him.
I could probably add other things to MacArthur’s list. Many of those things would be natural results of committing to these 5 basic things. Commitment to these things will affect our prayer life, Bible study, daily living, priorities, church attendance, giving, etc. The bottom line is that we live a world where far too many churches and pastors have gone astray. The church is weak because we have no backbone and we have no real commitment. I for one am fully committed to these 5 basic fundamentals and will continue to be committed to these things whether anyone is with me or not.
Here is a link to John MacArthur’s sermon series on the autonomy of the church: http://www.gty.org/resources/sermon-series/98