WHY CHURCH FALLS (PART I)
“Inspired by a Doctrinal Debate”
By Akin Ojumu
Doctrinal debates are as old as the Christian faith. This commentary was inspired by a doctrinal debate I had with an elder brother of mine. This is someone for whom I have profound respect, and he is, in my opinion, far more vast in Christian theology than myself.
Spirituality is not what a Christian does but who he is on the inside. Our spirituality is not measured by the list of dos and donts we follow. For instance, it isn’t the length of a woman’s skirt or the size of her head covering that determines whether that person is a spiritual Christian. The person who wears a nasty body odor as a badge of their spirituality is not any more spiritual than someone who prefers to put on fragrance so as not to choke a room full of people to death with what’s oozing from his body.
“For “the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”” (1 Samuel 16:7).
Now, that’s not to say a Christian has the liberty to dress provocatively in a manner unbecoming of someone within whom the Holy Spirit resides. A true Christian – one who has had a genuine encounter with Jesus Christ and has accepted Him as his Lord and Savior – will not go about dressed like a hobo or a whore.
Nevertheless, a Christian denomination whose focus is on the external appearance is a denomination that’s in error. Denominations built on doctrines of how a Christian looks on the outside is a denomination that will soon fade into extinction. The reason is because there are many members of such a denomination who, on the outside, look like the Virgin Mary, but are, on the inside, rotten souls full of evil and wickedness. I have crossed paths with such people. They go about all pumped up like inflated balloons full of hot air of self-righteousness and self-imputed holiness.
You say, and I quote, “It follows automatically that where there’s redemption, doctrine cannot be undermined! Doctrine or the teaching of God’s word is the food for the redeemed soul.”
That’s quite true, I totally agree. Sound doctrines often produce sound Christians. However, it’s not entirely true that doctrine cannot be undermined where there’s redemption. Many of the dead churches today were once epitome of sound doctrines. You don’t have to take my word for it, Sir. Examples abound in Scripture.
In Revelations 2 and 3 we read about the seven Churches in Asia Minor. We all know the letters to the Churches at Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. These seven churches were made up of people who were redeemed, people who had turned from idolatry and immorality and had wholeheartedly embraced Christianity. Because they believed, they suffered cruel persecutions and experienced severe hardship. All of those seven Churches were doctrinally sound. They were taught by the most gifted Christian theologian of all times, Apostle Paul himself.
Paul spent almost 3 years at the city of Ephesus where he poured himself into the congregation, teaching them the Word of God and sound doctrine, validated by extraordinary miracles. He built them up to be one of the most Biblically sound churches of any era.
“And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus. This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” (Acts 19:8-10).
We read Paul’s valedictory message to the elders of the Church at Ephesus in Acts 20. On his return leg to Jerusalem following his third missionary journey, Paul had invited them over to visit with him in Miletus.
“Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all people. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” (Acts 20:26-27)
Paul gave them everything, he taught them everything, and held nothing back. In fact, it was from the Church at Ephesus that the Churches at Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea became the center of Biblical knowledge and sound doctrine. We know this because the Church radically transformed the city of Ephesus.
To be continued…