OceanSide church of Christ
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SUBJECTIVISM IN THE CHURCH
Victor M. Eskew
A. The Christian religion is based upon a divine standard, the Word of the living God.
1. In John 12:48, Jesus sets forth His Word as the standard of judgment in the Last Day.
He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
2. In Ephesians 4:5, the apostle Paul declares that there is “one faith.”
a. Faith in this verse refers to the body or system of faith.
b. God has one, and only one, law, gospel.
B. Man’s responsibility is to read God’s Word, study it, and walk by its precepts.
1. II Corinthians 5:7
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
2. Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
C. Subjectivism versus objectivity
1. When a mean hears God’s Word and obeys it, we say that he is being objective.
a. The person’s focus is upon the object outside himself. In this case, the object is God’s Word.
1) God commanded Noah to build an ark out of gopher wood (Gen. 6:14).
2) Noah’s focus was upon God’s command (Gen. 6:22).
Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
2. When a man hears God’s Word, and rejects it, he does so based upon his internal opinions or feelings. He is being subjective.
a. The person, the subject, becomes the focus. What exists in the person’s mind determines his actions.
1) Naaman was told to dip seven times in the Jordan River to be cleansed of leprosy (II Kings 5:10).
2) Naaman took his eyes off the object, the command from the prophet, and turned within to his own opinions (II Kings 15:11-12).
But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold I thought, He would surely come to me, and stand, and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. Are not the Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus better than all the rivers of Israel? May I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.
D. In the denominational world, we have often had to confront subjectivism.
1. Those in denominations constantly focus upon their feelings and opinions rather than focusing upon the object of God’s Word.
2. Baptism, the oneness of the church, instrumental music in worship, Israel’s not being God’s chosen people; all become difficult subjects to discuss when the subjective is front and center.
E. Sadly, we have also seen the rise of subjectivism within the precious church of Christ. God’s Word is cast aside while men rely upon their feelings.
I. PREACHERS HAVE BECOME SUBJECTIVE
A. God’s Word is clear on what is to be preached by the minister of God (II Tim. 4:1-5).
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
1. God’s Word is to be the thing that is preached.
2. It must be preached when it is popular and when it is not.
3. It must include both the negative and the positive.
B. Many rely on their own feelings and opinions when it comes to preaching today.
1. Book, chapter, and verse preaching is said to be too authoritative.
2. Stories, illustrations and ante dotes are said to be more easily remembered.
3. People prefer plays, skits, and dramas more than sermons.
4. Negativism must be eliminated from the pulpit.
5. Preachers do not need to call names or discuss issues that are plaguing the brotherhood.
II. CHURCH DISCIPLINE HAS BECOME SUBJECTIVE
A. God’s Word legislates plainly on the matter of church discipline.
1. II Thessalonians 3:6
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
a. Demand: “we command you”
b. Deity: “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”
c. Discipline: “withdraw yourselves”
d. Disorderly: “every brother that walketh disorderly”
e. Definition: “not after the tradition which he received of us”
2. I Corinthians 5
a. Verse 2: …that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.
b. Verse 5: To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the Spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
c. Verse 7: Purge out therefore the old leaven
d. Verse 11: But now have I written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
e. Verse 13: Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
B. Both leaders within the church and her members approach the subject of church discipline subjectively.
1. It really does not work.
2. It does more harm than it does good.
3. It is mean and unloving.
4. If we do it, someone might sue the church.
5. It is not fair to the family members.
6. It gives us a bad name in the community.
III. DOCTRINE HAS BECOME SUBJECTIVE
A. The word “doctrine” itself has become suspect for some.
1. Some “feel” that doctrine is negative and repulsive.
2. Three verses that exalt the doctrine of Christ:
a. The early church continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine (Acts 2:42).
b. Ministers of the gospel are exhorted to “give attendance”…”to doctrine” (I Tim. 4:13).
c. Those who continue in the doctrine of Christ hath both the Father and the Son (II John 9).
B. Doctrines revolving around the worship of God are viewed subjectively by some within the church.
1. The Scriptures teach that worship is to be done in harmony with the truth (John 4:24).
God is a spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
2. Men are not satisfied with what the Bible says about worship. What we find in many worship settings springs from the minds of fallible men.
a. Instrumental music in worship
b. Women taking leadership roles
c. Saturday night services complete with the Lord’s Supper
d. Elements other than the unleavened bread and fruit of the vine used on the Lord’s Table
e. Choirs and solos being sung during worship
f. The use of denominational speakers
IV. SALVATION ISSUES HAVE BECOME SUBJECTIVE
A. There are two points wherein a man can be lost: prior to his obeying the gospel and after obeying the gospel if the Christian chooses to transgress God’s will.
B. To be saved from sins, God has set forth what man must do.
1. The alien sinner must obey what is called “the plan of salvation.” The actions of the one in sin culminate with the penitent believer being baptized for the remission of sins upon the confession of his faith (Acts 2:38; 8:36; 22:16).
2. The child of God who sins against God is commanded to repent of his sins (Acts 8:22), confess his sins (I John 1:9), and pray to God for forgiveness (Acts 8:22).
C. Some now view these means of salvation very subjectively.
1. Faith is said to be the point of conception (life), and not baptism.
2. All baptisms are acceptable unto God.
3. There is no need to make any type of confession for one’s sins.
A. Replacing the Word of God with subjective ideas of frail and foolish man has always led to problems.
1. Cain chose to offer the fruit of the ground and was rejected by God.
2. Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire which the Lord had not commanded, and they were devoured with fire from heaven.
3. Saul spared Agag and the best of the flocks and herds of the Amalekites and was rejected as the monarch of Israel.
4. David and Israel carried the ark of God on a cart drawn by oxen and did not successfully get to the city of Jerusalem.
B. Three verses we need to place deeply into our hearts.
1. Psalm 118:8
It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
2. Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
3. I Corinthians 4:6
And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes, that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.