On Thursday evenings I've been teaching on a biblical subject that does not get a whole lot of pulpit time, by-and-large, in churches across America. It’s a series on the subject of Holiness, Modesty and Separation from the World. I've had visitors to our church remark just how difficult it is to find someone who walks the walk, rather than just talks the talk. Frankly, it should not be that way in the Church. I trust that they got a different impression from the good people at Cornerstone Pentecostal.
Somehow the doctrines of Holiness, Modesty and Separation from the World—which were once prominent in many church movements—have fallen away over time to the point where congregations of a mere 40 years ago would not recognize that they had any ties to their modern-day counterparts. Some of the older folks in these congregations grieve inwardly, but have acquiesced to the onslaught of “progressives” and the latest quest for “relevance.”
There is a new “emerging church” (let’s leave that lower-cased, shall we), that wishes to go to great pains to try to appear “relevant” to our post-modern society. They tell us that doctrine is not relevant. Yet Paul wrote to the young minister, Timothy to continue in the doctrine, and in doing this he would save both himself, and those who hear him (I Timothy 4:16). Peter, Paul, John and Jude all made doctrine out to be vital—how then could it not be relevant? This emerging church tells us that holiness is quaint, and that modesty is so very, very yesterday—yet these things are dealt with repeatedly by the Apostles as essential. “Follow…holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord,” the writer of Hebrews said (Hebrews 12:14). This emerging church is bent on replacing old meaningful songs and hymns with shallow pablum that teaches nothing. My Bible still encourages us to be “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.” Yet many of these new 7-11 songs (seven words repeated eleven times ) instruct no one and have little meaning. Many of them are downright unbiblical—not just shallow.
So—what is so relevant about churches that teach no doctrine, sing shallow songs, exhibit no holiness and are, in almost every respect, indistinguishable from the non-Christian world around them. My answer? Nothing. There is nothing relevant about them. Without doctrine—there is no gospel (I Peter 1:25). Without doctrine people are lost in their sins—and sins have consequences (Romans 6:23). Of course, they downplay all sin as well. Here is the venue: shallow “expressions of worship,” changing “Pastor Jones” to “Pastor Bob,” replacing the pulpit with a stool and a spotlight, replacing dressing up in your “Sunday best” with the rumpled look and a scruffy four-day old beard, talking instead of preaching the Word, lattes instead of altar calls and weeping in the altar—and it all leaves people with a sense that they’ve “done something good,” yet with the uncomfortable feeling that there’s something more to it than this. I fail to see the relevance.
To me preaching about sin is real relevance because “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23; 5:12). Preaching the gospel (the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ) is real relevance, because we all are in need of a Savior! Preaching repentance from sins is relevant because Jesus said, “except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). Preaching baptism in Jesus’ name (Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5 and 22:16) is real relevance because “there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Preaching about the blood of Jesus Christ is relevant because “without the shedding of blood, there is no remission [of sins]” (Hebrews 9:22). Preaching holiness is relevant because without holiness “no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
There is nothing so relevant as meeting people at their greatest need with this unchangeable, unalterable message! Not everyone is aware of their need of a Savior; and not everyone desires to be saved from their sin and its’ consequence—yet their need remains. Cornerstone Pentecostal Church intends to continue preaching this old-fashioned message—because it’s the only thing that works. That, my friend, is real relevance.