March 1, 2013
The unregenerate heart holds few surprises. While it may not be as evil as it might be, one can only wonder at the amount of sinful activity it produces. We are always surprised when a child of Satan actually participates in something good, because that is not his nature. The world of communication is filled with man’s efforts to cover sinful attitudes and actions. The use of “turn-speak” is only one example. Using new words with cloudy meanings in order to cover old words that hold harsh reality is certainly nothing new. Claiming good intentions in an effort to hide heinous perversions has simply become a way of life. When Jesus was faced with the question of good, however, He said “…there is none good but one, that is, God.” (Matthew 19:17) Only the true child of God has the capacity for true good, and this is because the God who is good dwells in each believer.
Not only is it possible for the redeemed one to have good in his/her life; it is expected. The surprise comes when a believer chooses to speak or do evil, because that is not the nature of the God who dwells within. The saint is out of character when attempting to cover up his sin and disobedience. We call this the “Adam syndrome.” Never in my lifetime, though, have I seen such a prevalent practice among those who profess salvation as is evident today. This attitude has become epidemic, but remember the old spiritual that said “everyone talking about heaven ain’t goin’ there”!
The covering up of sin has become a much-used tool in both evangelicalism and fundamentalism today, and we need to focus on one particular aspect of this practice. There is a well-worn but foolish phrase being used constantly which tries to convince us that methods do not relate to belief: “We have changed our method, but not our message.” That is impossible, and down in their hearts, they know it. Denying the link between methods and faith is part of the Adam Syndrome; it is “The Big Lie.”
OUT OF THE HEART
Jesus taught that all issues, both evil and good, flow out of the heart. (Matthew 12:35) Any attempt to divorce action from motive in the normal life is impossible. For both the children of God and the children of the devil, the source of any action or method comes from the heart. The inner man represents what we believe, and every word or deed in your life today comes from what you believe. This is not a light matter; men want to be free to do their own thing without any interference from a holy God. There is only one real reason why the pseudo-scientist pushes the folly of the Big Bang theory and evolution - it has to do with what they believe. The first chapter of the book of Romans details this motive: it is the motive of fools, both in what they believe and in what they refuse to believe.
Paul writes that God expects better things from believers, because actions do come from what they believe. When trying to cover a rebellion of the flesh, a believer is acting out of character and violating his new nature. The practice of covering one’s own base desires by trying to separate them from what he believes is nonsense. It is dangerous to try and cover actions that rise from anything but the true faith detailed for us in the Word. (Proverbs 28:13-14)
DEFENDING THE IMPOSSIBLE
It is impossible for a person to do anything that does not rise from his belief. There is a positive side to that. A person who changes his method because of greater understanding of the Word finds it beneficial. We never really arrive; we just continue to grow. As a result, positive changes that rise from our belief are good for us. The whole point of this article, however, is that to say there is no relationship between method and message is a statement without merit. It is impossible, since all our actions rise from our beliefs.
Many of today’s changes in methodology result from a lowering of theological standards. The opposite is also true in that the change in methodology may affect our view of biblical authority. Francis Schaeffer rightly pointed out that a society is affected by art, music, literature, media, law, science, and medicine. It is also true that a society is reflected in these categories. That is why, when you see or hear something in an area, you are often able to tie it to a certain historical cultural setting.
The question is, “Why would anyone deny that methods and messages are joined by a silver cord?” It is because this is the nature of the flesh. We want our own way, even if it means we have to attempt to tell God what to do. So strong is our lust for the present cosmos that it becomes easy to say that “God has not spoken to this” or “He is not interested in that area of life.” The truth is that God desires to supervise our “every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5) That is true of both what we do and how we do it, particularly in ministry. Defending an unsupervised methodology is like telling God to mind His own business… and He will; you can be sure of that!
WHO DOES THIS?
It is very interesting to note the sources of some of these new approaches for which so many of today’s leaders seem to be clamoring. In the majority of cases, the ideas are not coming from trusted biblical theologians; rather, they come from people who may know about the Bible, but who demonstrate that they do not know the Bible. On the receiving end, we can only wonder why people in our circles are so quick to swallow ideas that have not been tested by the text of scripture. In many cases, it may be that they are unfamiliar with basic Bible theology and therefore are not wary of adopting things that do not rise from our basic beliefs.
This discussion is similar to the defense that left-leaning leaders offer in academic institutions. They tell us that they still have their original statement of faith, but it is neither taught nor practiced; it is nothing but paper and ink. This flawed model is where a lot of flawed method comes from. It makes no difference where the error is born; denying the connection between practice and faith, method and message, is downright dangerous. It is not only a lie - it is the Big Lie.
Shepherd’s Staff is prepared by Clay Nuttall, D. Min
A communication service of Shepherd’s Basic Care, for those committed to the authority and sufficiency of the Bible. Shepherd’s Basic Care is a ministry of information and encouragement to pastors, missionaries, and churches. Write for information using the e-mail address, Shepherdstaff2@juno.com