Returning From the Downgrade

by Mark W. Evans

The deluge of error destroy- ing our land demands se- rious consideration. By increments, the professing church has yielded to un- biblical practices, such as:

  • Believing a large crowd assures God’s approval (Exodus 23:2; Matthew 7:13,14);
  • Pursuing ecclesiastical unity at the expense of doctrinal and practical purity (2 Corinthians 6:14-18);
  • Accepting the theological contra- diction that liberalism and evan- gelicalism can co-exist as one Christian body (1 Timothy 6:3-5);
  • Failing to discipline or separate from compromising Christianity (2 Timothy 3:5);
  • Accepting the false premise that Biblical Christianity and Roman Catholicism are essentially the same (Revelation 18:4);
  • Exalting religious feelings above purity of doctrine and practice (Isaiah 8:20);
  • Confusing a religious “decision” with Biblical regeneration, repen- tance and faith (John 3:3; Acts 20:21);
  • Minimizing or rejecting Bibli- cal warnings against worldliness (1 John 2:15-17);
  • Submitting the conscience to religious leaders instead of establishing Christian convictions through diligent Bible study and prayer (Acts 17:11; 2 Timothy 2:15; Luke 11:9-13);
  • Equating entertainment with worship (John 4:24);
  • Trusting human devices, worldly methods, and money to build Christ’s church (Psalm 127:1; 1 Corinthians 1:20,21; 1 Timothy 6:10-12; Revelation 3:17-22);
  • Ignoring the Biblical standard for ministers and church officers (Acts 20:28-32; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4);
  • Ignoring the Biblical standard for church membership (John 1:12,13; 10:1-5,29; Acts 13:38-43; Ephe- sians 5:25-27; 1 Thessalonians 2:12-14; Revelation 14:12);
  • Seeking preachers who are ad- ministrators, have an attractive personality, and are able to please everyone, rather than seeking preachers who labor in God’s Word and prayer, expounding the whole counsel of God (Acts 6:4; 2 Timothy 4:1-5);
  • Seeking the world’s acceptance ra - ther than God’s approval (John 12:42,43; Hebrews 11:33-38; 13:12-14);
  • Submitting the conscience to the “majority vote” of church assem- blies, rather than standing upon the Word of God and “doing right, even if the stars fall” (Acts 5:29);
  • Establishing church relationships with denominations defective in belief and/or practice (Romans 16:17; Galatians 5:9);
  • Refusing to obey the Lord’s com- mand to “come out from among them, and be ye separate” (2 Cor- inthians 6:17,18).

Such changes have come through time. In many areas of our country it is difficult, if not im- possible, to find a church faith- ful to God’s Word. There is a dearth of serious Christians, determined to obey God regardless of consequen- ces. If a Reformer from the sixteenth century or a Covenanter from the seventeenth century entered into most modern congregations, he would pronounce “Ichabod” upon the assembly. How did these things come to pass?

  • Through apathy towards Christ, His doctrine and practice (Revela- tion 2:4,5; 3:15,16)
  • Through love for the world (Co- lossians 3:1-10; Titus 2:11,12)
  • Through the vain attempt to build Christ’s Church by human de- vices (Jeremiah 5:30,31; Matthew 15:7-9);
  • Through man-centered preaching (Galatians 1:10-12);
  • Through infatuation with crowds, power, influence, and public fa- vor (Zechariah 4:6; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5);
  • Through compromise with false teaching and practices (2 Chron- icles 19:1,2; Romans 16:17);
  • Through failure to preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27);
  • Through failure to exercise Scrip- tural discipline (Matthew 18:15- 18; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13);
  • Through failure to faithfully in- struct future generations (Deuter- onomy 6:3-9; Acts 2:39, 2 Timo- thy 3:14,15);
  • Through failure to repent and re- turn to Christ (Luke 13:1-5; Rev- elation 3:14-22).

How can such a downgrade be turned around? The answer is found in the five principles of the Reformation:

  1. Scripture alone (Jeremiah 23:26–29; 2 Timothy 3:16,17; 4:1-5);
  2. Grace alone (Romans 4:1–5; Ephesians 2:8, 9);
  3. Faith alone (Romans 1:16,17; 3:21-25; 5:1; Galatians 2:16);
  4. Christ alone (John 14:6; 15:5; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Timothy 2:5);
  5. Glory to God alone (Romans 11:33–36).

By these Scriptural principles, the Lord was pleased to overthrow civil and religious tyranny in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Oppressed men, women, and chil- dren read the Bible for the first time. Souls were set free by God’s grace, through faith alone in Jesus Christ, all to the glory of God. Sinners repented and believed that the Savior kept the law in their place and sat- isfied the infinite penalty for their sin on Calvary’s cross. They were delivered from religious oppression that required financial payment and submission to unbiblical religious practices that filled them with fear and guilt. The Gospel brought them joy that no man can take away. The Bible was received as the only rule of faith and practice.

Heirs of the Reformation popu- lated the colonies of our own land. They braved the frontiers, estab- lished their homes and worshipped their God. Their motive was to glorify God and to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Such liberty had not been known in the many centu- ries leading up to the Reformation. Rome’s superstition and feudal sys- tem held mankind in servitude. Al- legiance to Rome was enforced by physical punishment — even execu- tion. Ownership of private property was for the privileged few.

Today, we are facing a similar plight as our politicians and many preachers believe it is proper for the government to deprive us of our property in order to subsidize uncon- stitutional and immoral practices. In the Reformation, it was the preach- ing of Christ and His soul-saving redemption that broke the chains forged by civil and religious tyrants. By reading the Bible, ordinary men learned the principles of true liberty and the power of God to defeat the schemes and scams of wicked men. “The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: He maketh the devices of the people of none effect” (Psalm 33:10).

Our hope is in the Lord. As dark as our hour may seem, we are to serve our Savior, knowing that the victory is certain. He is mighty to save and is able to raise up a new generation to glorify Him. “Some trust in chari- ots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).