I’m Sorry For Not Being A Baptist

I remember a friend telling me about some people he looked up to spiritually and how those people “changed the rules” throughout the years of their ministry.

“Changing the rules” meant they had certain standards, opinions or personal preferences that they passed on as doctrine (teachings of the Bible) or better known as living a certain way in order to be considered “godly”. These opinions and standards were adopted by my friend and his family as the gospel truth and passed down to others that they ministered to. However, through the years the people my friend looked up to spiritually changed and so did their opinions about certain standards and practices. Things that used to be taboo were now tolerated and enjoyed. I remember my friend saying, “Why do they get to change the rules all of a sudden?”

(I should insert an example here, but I fear that some will get to caught up with that “one thing” instead of considering the big picture and purpose of this apology.) Perhaps they “changed” because they realized that their standard wasn’t biblically consistent, or maybe it was just impractical for the real world, or could it be that they recognized they were in violation of Mark 7:7, which states “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” I remember reading this a few years ago – wondering if I have ever been guilty of the same sin of the Pharisees in Mark 7. Have I ever taught a personal preference as if it were a doctrine of the Bible? Sadly, I’m afraid I have.

In my zeal to be holy and desire to “help” other people be like Jesus, I have preached personal standards over scripture. However, through the years, God has opened my eyes to this and I have attempted to course-correct my teachings to accurately reflect the Bible. With this, I worry about previous damage I may have inflicted, as I have not always had the opportunity to go back and apologize to those who sat under my preaching, counsel, and influence.

Today, I want to do just that. I want to apologize for not being a Baptist. Before you get too angry with me, keep reading.

You see as a Baptist, we I believe in Baptist Distinctives which are as follows: (Feel free to skip this paragraph if you have ever completed a Baptist History course in Bible College)

1.Biblical Authority-the Bible is the only rule of our faith and practice.

2.Autonomy of the local church-each church should be self-governed with Christ as the head.

3.Priesthood of the believer-each believer has equal access to God as a believer/priest according to 1 Peter 2.

4.Two Offices-Pastors and Deacons are the only offices for the local church.

5.Individual soul liberty-Every person has the individual right to worship and live for God as they see fit. We are all individually responsible, and will individually give an account to Christ according to 2 Corinthians 5:10.

6.Saved and baptized church membership-In order to be a member of a church you must be saved and baptized by immersion after your salvation.

7.Two ordinances-The Lord’s Supper and Baptism are the only rituals God outlined for the church to practices.

8.Separation of church and state-The state should stay out of the business of the church. Federal enforcement of any religion would only produce fake and phony religious people.

These are the eight historical distinctives of Baptists. As a firm believer, it may seem simple enough to follow these eight distinctives, but on many occasions in my life, I have been guilty of not practicing #1, #2, #3, and #5. Let me explain.

#1 Biblical Authority. I took my own personal standards for dress, entertainment, music, etc. and strictly took them for-black and white truth. If anyone disagreed with my stance, I viewed them as unbiblical, ungodly, and as someone who was grieving the Holy Spirit. The truth is, I was guilty of usurping the Bible’s authority in the lives of other Christians. Jesus never intended for me, or anyone else, to preach personal standards as doctrine. It is loading down Christians with additional “man made” rules and guidelines, and it is unfair and downright wrong. Does this mean that I don’t have personal standards of holiness? Of course not. It simply means that I should allow the Bible to speak into people’s lives, and if my standards differ (whether I deem it above or below other people’s standards), I should not view or treat another believer as a compromising, ungodly reprobate. As a Baptist, I should have known better. I should have let the Bible be the final authority instead of taking it upon myself to be the final authority.  I believe I was not acting as a true Biblical Baptist in moments like this.  I want to truly apologize to people on which I imposed my own personal standards that God gave me for my life. I want you to have standards of holiness in your life, but I want them to be the standards that God gives you.

#2 Autonomy of the Local Church. From time to time, people ask my opinion of another church or ministry. I must confess that at times I have been quick to judge and voice opinions, based on my personal standards, on how I thought that church or ministry could improve. I also know that other ministry leaders have been guilty of taking on a position, practice, or attitude that was not motivated by the Spirit after being pressured by outside ministries or pastors. I am guilty of this myself. Instead of being motivated by the Holy Spirit or being led by God into a ministry or position, we can sometimes base ministry decisions on the fear of who might call us compromisers or denigrate us at the next pastor’s fellowship.

Along with you, I believe churches should be autonomous and directed by the head-Jesus Christ. I believe each body of believers can make choices, independent of one another, and that their decisions on preference-based ministries, positions and standards might differ from mine…and that’s okay. However, there were times in my past where I didn’t agree with that.

There were times in the past where I haven’t been a very good Baptist, but I’m working on it. I am working on not just saying churches are autonomous, but also practicing this belief. It is my desire to fellowship and co-labor with Bible-believing churches who understand the big picture of the gospel ministry, but may not always see eye-to-eye with me on preference-based issues.

#3 Priesthood of the Believer.  A good Baptist believes that every believer is a priest and has just as much access to God as any other believer, but sometimes we don’t wait for other Christians to talk with God about an issue in their life. Instead of God speaking to them, we are quick to instruct them on the core-values of being a Christian. This makes us more comfortable because they mimic our own current position of sanctification, and possibly short-circuits a believer’s ability and opportunity as a believer-priest to commune with God and establish personal convictions and standards of their own. It borders on violating Mark 7:7 yet again.

I want to help as many believers as I can to get close to God, but that cannot happen when I act as their mediator or try to make them carry my armor into battle.  (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

I am all for helping new and old believers alike to grow in their walk with God, but as a facilitator, I feel I’ve been guilty of pulling people off God’s path and attempting to direct them down a path more suited for me. I have prayed and asked God to forgive me for this. I also pray regularly that he will work through me to help others be the priest God designed them to be.

#5 Individual Soul Liberty. This is closely connected with #3, but contains some differences that I believe are worth discussing. Romans 14:12-So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.  At the end of the day, even after I preach what I believe is the truth, I need to allow people the space and grace to make their own decisions, and to follow God down the path they believe God is carving for them. If someone chooses to listen to a different song than I do or use technology where I would not, I need to be okay with that. They can still be my friends, and we can still partner in our work and serve our Lord together. There is no need for me to label them as a heretic. Even in situations that clearly disobey scripture, if I write them off and turn my back on them completely, I have forfeited the ability to help them to grow spiritually in God’s word.

Is it possible that the Holy Spirit would lead someone to a different position/standard than me? Will we get to the Judgment Seat and hear Jesus say, “if you all did it just like Matt, you would have been perfect to”? Absolutely not! Even though I believe I’m right in everything I am doing for the Lord (if I didn’t believe that I should desire to change my position), I’m not perfect, and I’m not getting an A+ at the Judgment Seat of Christ, so I need to approach people and their preferential differences with a little more lateral-love (give others space to be different and godly all at the same time). Is it possible? Yes, it is and I am ready to be the example of this or at least attempting to.

This apology letter is from me and to anyone who I may have burdened with an extra-biblical rule. Maybe even one God called me to carry but not you.

I also want to apologize for times that I preached, modeled, or enforced the truth absent of true Biblical love.

When I was in my twenties, specifically, I was so consumed with calling out anyone who played on the edge of Biblical error, heresy, and worldliness, when I should have exemplified Christ-like love, patience and grace. As a Resident Assistant in college, anytime sometime went against the rules (walking on the grass even!)  they got demerits-EVERY Time! No exceptions! Anytime they stepped off the sidewalk, I saw it as complete and utter rebellion. It ranked right up there with devil worship. I’m sorry for not loving you grass-walkers more. I’m sorry for not showing any grace…ever.

When I was a coach, I remember chewing a guy’s head off because he threw a plastic bottle out the bus window as we drove back from a team activity. I pulled the bus over, ran to the back, and discussed with him (very loudly mind you) as to why it was a horrible testimony for Christ to litter. In the moment, it never dawned on me that my testimony was worse than his was, on that given day. I want to apologize to all of you bottle-tossing litterbugs for being so concerned about outward perfectionism over inward holiness and Christlikeness.

Early in my ministry, I remember preaching a message on music and shortly after that night, I received a letter from a lady in our church congregation that basically stated, “We know what you believe, now back off and let us make up our own mind.” I didn’t appreciate the letter at the time, but she was right. I’m sure she was familiar enough with my habits enough to know that I would be looking to enforce the truth I had just preached. I would be looking for violators and impatiently beating them back from the edge of “doctrinal” compromise. It would have been more effective for me to graciously preach truth in a way that demonstrated my love for people, thereby, opening a door of communication that allowed me to impact them for righteousness. I acted more like the Queen of Hearts from Alice In Wonderland shouting “off with their head” towards anyone who dare to differ with me.

I really do believe it came from a desire to please God in holiness (I think this was the same misguided desire of the Pharisees in Mark 7) and help others do the same. Today, I’m striving to live out 1 Corinthians 13 and couple the truth I present with clarity and Christ-like charity. The verse I quote repeatedly is “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves.” Meekness means that the Holy Spirit controls my words, responses, attitudes, and actions. Instructing means I’m taking time to lead people in God’s word not my way.

I want you to understand that it is my desire to be a Baptist in the truest sense of the word, but I’m afraid I have failed to be a real Baptist at times. As I work to improve my practice, please pray that God will work through me to continue to elevate the message of the Bible over my personal standards, as well as  allow other people and churches to follow God and his teachings through the Holy Spirit instead of inserting undue and unbiblical pressure to be like me. Also, for all those guys who resided in Spurgeon Dorm and may still grimace when you see me on Facebook, please forgive me for trying to make you like me instead of like Jesus.

Sincerely attempting to be a Baptist,

Matt Lahmann

P.S. If any of my English teachers are reading this, please forgive me. My improper use of the English language is no reflection on your performance as an educator.

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53 thoughts on “I’m Sorry For Not Being A Baptist

  • August 7, 2016 at 8:39 pm
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    Well said Matt.

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  • August 7, 2016 at 9:11 pm
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    Christ supercedes all man opinions!!!

    Following after HIS heart

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  • August 7, 2016 at 11:14 pm
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    Matt, i cant even put onto words how much this helped me. I was litterly prayi g 15 minutes ago for God to help me as i struggle to find my own path in convictions. My family was so hurt by a church who held their views as doctrine and i am desperately trying to figure out how i can live to please God. You put into words exactly what i needed today. God bless you.

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  • August 8, 2016 at 2:11 am
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    1 Corinthians 1:10-13 (using the KJV so as not to offend anyone who discounts other versions)
    10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
    11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.
    12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
    13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

    While I don’t disagree with any of your doctrine on these issues, why label godly living as Baptist instead of Christian? Doesn’t that undercut your entire point? Is the Baptist denomination superior to other denominations? I’m sure you’ll reply with that isn’t your point and I am sure it isn’t, but that’s what it sounds like.

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    • August 8, 2016 at 9:02 pm
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      I must agree that I prefer “Christian” to “Baptist” these days because of the harm I have experienced in my past. God has called me to Him as His child not as a denomination. I feel man as had to use names to make things more clear for separation ratger than unity in Christ.
      I do appreciate the article and will be passing it on for others to consider. Thank you

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      • August 23, 2016 at 11:03 am
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        I’m thinking his point in using baptist vs christian is to get the attention of those who call themselves baptist. He’s trying to draw attention to the fact that people who refer to themselves as independent baptist aren’t holding true to the truths that make them baptist in the first place. I don’t believe it’s because he thinks there is a separation between the meaning of christian vs baptist. It was a genius way if getting a certain groups attention.

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    • August 9, 2016 at 4:37 pm
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      Could you imagine going in to a grocery store to look for a can of vegetables with no labels? I hate shopping even with the labels but imagine the frustration of not being able to identify what you are looking for. The name “Baptist” simply identifies us with a certain set of doctrinal beliefs. I don’t know of anyone who would say that just because you carry the name Baptist means that your lifestyle of living is automatically godly. This was an article written by a Baptist to provoke the thoughts of other independent Baptists. Respectfully, I don’t see what your questions had to do with the article.

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      • August 10, 2016 at 4:27 pm
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        Hey Matt,

        Where are you from?

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        • August 15, 2016 at 1:14 pm
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          I’m the pastor of CityLightBC.com in the St. Louis area.

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    • August 10, 2016 at 2:25 am
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      I agree with you Andrew. While I was raised and still am Baptist, a denomination title is not what’s going to get you into heaven. And there are several different degrees of Baptist, some of which I would not want to be associated with. I am saved by grace by the blood of Christ and that is all that matters.

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  • August 8, 2016 at 2:35 am
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    Guilty as charged! Thus is awesome…

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  • August 8, 2016 at 6:26 am
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    I want to be fair and say that there are some great points, before I bring up some concerns.. So many times teachers and preachers spend their sermons consumed in [their] opinion and [their] personal standards over what God says on the matter! God does love us, and each one of us has got to figure out what those PERSONAL convictions are to us. God wants us to have a relationship with Him. We need to draw closer to him. So I guess my question is this; how do you find the balance in teaching God’s love, if you don’t teach on personal holiness so folks can find [their] personal convictions? I believe there are far too many preachers giving their standard, or what personal conviction God shared with them and their family, but how would a pastor be able to preach on sin or personal holiness, with balance? The Bible isn’t only filled with messages on “God’s love”. God does want us to grow, toss away our pet sins, the “sin that so easily besets us” and the BIG sins we hold on to. He wants us to grow in our knowledge of His word, and our walk with Him, and to become better Christians after salvation. I know he holds the shepherds accountable as well. The one that preaches his own convictions instead of the Bible, and the one that refuses to preach hard against sin… Sin is addressed in the Bible, so I do believe God wants it addressed from the pulpit, you might even believe that yourself, but I just didn’t see where it was mentioned here. I saw where you said you preached against music, and the lady said she was sick of it, and now you see you were wrong for going on about it, so I’m wondering how it’s done if you feel you can’t even preach against things of the world.
    So many times, especially in today’s world, we have such an “aversion” to “hard preaching”. I’m not talking about opinion, I’m talking about just the Bible. People don’t want to hear about their sin AT ALL. I’m afraid that a lot of times articles like this, while helpful in some ways (to those that incessantly blast people with their own personal opinions or convictions) end up ultimately giving more am or or excuses to those Christians that are stuck in a life full of Luke warm Christianity. They continue to stiffen up, and quench the spirit, at any mention of sin or personal growth at all.. Christians that for years, drink and party on the weekends, and write their statuses during the week, or talk about how “Christians shouldn’t judge, because God’s still working on them”. Yet they never feel the need to grow, or change. They’re satisfied with their lives, their Sunday morning Christianity, where only “God loves, don’t judge” is preached, and they sit in the pew and nod their heads like crazy, “Yeah, that’s right!”
    Our churches are filled with self righteous, and self-centered, millenials, of whom I will admit, I am chief, but I am seeing the effect in my own church, that was once on fire when I was a teen under a different pastor, but the spirit is now being quenched by the outnumbering of younger folks, against a man that will now only preach on “Reaching out in God’s love” because preaching on sin, or any kind of personal Christian standards, and holding up how you live your life according to God’s word is “too judgemental”, “old baptist” and “man’s opinion”. Less and less people are getting saved, no one goes forward for invitation anymore, and our churches are not seeing lives changed. Our church is a hang out.. It makes me want to look for that “old Baptist Church” sometimes. I miss something alive. Why don’t people want hard preachin? Do they think we just get convicted all by ourselves?? I feel numb. I’m tired of blogs like this. I feel like these kinds of blogs are just as much man’s opinion as you think your old preaching was.. Maybe your old preaching was a little too much. Only you truly know the content. Maybe I just need more clarification, and I’m sorry if I’m reading you wrong.. I’m just craving something I feel I can’t find anymore nowadays. I almost need to hunt the Internet for it, or maybe see if that church that’s having tent revival in NC has messages online. . I think blogs like this get plenty of hits and shares, due to their “catching titles” and applicable content to my generation.. This new group of self-centered, flippant, batch of Christians, who like I said, I am one of right now. I need revival in my life and I need to deal with the sin of complacency, but I’m growing so concerned for my own church, and age group, and so convicted that seeing more “apology blogs” like this, the kind of “Sorry for preaching against your sins, or on standards…” type, like it’s a bad thing, that it is starting to rub me the wrong way.. It’s so “American” to even think this way, and I know we live here, but hear me out. It’s just not even something a Christian in a 3rd world country, like China, India, Iran, or North Korea would be worried about. They’re just so happy to have Jesus. He’s HOPE over their hopeless life of poverty or communism. Heaven is something to look forward to. They get to go to heaven one day. They want to do anything and everything to please Him. We’re so spoiled, entitled, and selfish here, we have to apologize for preaching against sin.. I’m in a huge group that gets together with other church groups, full of Christians that care more about IPhones, Pokemon, growing their own vintage whisky and record collections, and using church, small group band time to practice the new Panic at the Disco song, while people are shaking hands.. I just don’t see where you fit any teaching on personal holiness or sin, when you’re not allowed to teach on personal holiness or sin.. be careful apologizing for it.. Yes, teaching God’s love can change people, but so can complacency and weak minds.. This is coming from personal experience. There are two extremes, and I’m wondering what the middle ground is, because it wasn’t mentioned in this article, and we need some hard preaching in this day and age.. Our nation is changing fast and I don’t think we are emotionally or spiritually prepared to deal with it ourselves, or even help others.. I know I feel like this.. Maybe you can write a follow up article on dealing with sin in a balanced way.. Sorry for rambling. It’s late, church was tonight, I’m exasperated again and this article didn’t help:(

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    • August 8, 2016 at 8:48 pm
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      My first question to anyone is what must I do to be saved? Could you please tell me what must someone do to be saved?

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      • August 9, 2016 at 2:35 am
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        Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

        You’re looking for salvation because you know you need it. Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for all sin and purchase eternal life as a free gift to all who choose to receive it. Believing is not just knowing that someone named Jesus once lived on Earth. It means placing your trust in the fact that He is good and powerful enough to take the place in your punishment that you deserve. He is, and He offers eternal life if you choose to accept it. You have to receive it for yourself.

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      • August 9, 2016 at 5:37 am
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        That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. Romans 10:9-10

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      • August 10, 2016 at 8:52 am
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        You must admit you’re a sinner, repent (turn away from) sin, believe Jesus died in your place as the perfect sacrifice and paid a debt you couldn’t pay and receive Him as you savior (no man cometh to the Father but by me.) Romans 10:9-10

        To quote a children’s sonf “admit, believe and forever receive.

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    • August 8, 2016 at 10:29 pm
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      Thank you Nicholas W. I was beginning to think everyone had gone mad. Or I’m just an old Fuddy Duddy.

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    • August 9, 2016 at 5:31 am
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      This is my take on this topic……It is very important to me for many many reasons. I am a Christian School teacher. So grateful that you mentioned these “apology blogs” …..We are entering a time when we should not be making an effort to “blend in” with the world….Praying in saying this, to do it in humility….and yet going as Christians in this particular direction I think is making a turn in a terribly wrong direction….the same one as our country right now…..Just like children need walls of discipline around them so they do not grow up unstable……God’s children need standards for the growing of and the molding of strong Christian lives. We need preachers who will PREACH…..speaking the TRUTH of the WORD and Teaching us Biblical standards to live by. This generation more than ours years ago is often unwalled..They need to know what is true and honest and decent….Look around…Where else will the typical person be able to find examples of the ways a Christian should live, in this generation……They don’t know what standards to live by. Living the Christian life now calls for STRONG walls. We need standards in this generation and we need to hold them high. There should be a clear difference and not more of the same as in the media and life in the USA today…..catering to the weak and whining….Some people wake up in the morning, I believe, and say “now what can I complain about today”…Life in the USA is fraught with one bellyache after another….To get out there and make a difference, Christians need standards…We should wake up in the morning and think…..”What can I do to honor the Lord, today”…..and we need discipline from the Word of God and practice in living real Biblical standards….with accountability…..and most of all we need to take responsibility before God for our own actions..bad actions bring bad consequences….We should all understand that..but many, even believers in this generation have NOT been taught that important information…and are so hurt when reaping what they sow….They truly did not know……I think this mindset of passing off responsibility just joins in with the secular society of our world today…..Everything is the other guy’s fault..It’s nice for some people when Christians will take the blame……..When given an opening to “blend” like this……some will take any one of this deluge of these “so sorry I behave like a real Christian who practices my faith and beliefs” blogs with apologies for preaching strong standards in the way that this brother writing them probably has meant for good, but many many weaker brothers and sisters, will just make it a condoning license to slide……for moving closer to things like drinking and sexual sin……There is no I’m OK, You’re OK for a believer…We know we’re not OK, but we are saved and need to LEARN to practice the act of living like a believer….because we are a new creature created in Christ Jesus and we don’t HAVE to practice sin as when we were not saved by the blood of Christ……I know many of these apologetic writers mean to undo a wrong they believe has been done along the way and are good and Godly men and mean only the best…..But I sure see MUCH more of a problem about toughening the younger believers to grow strong in our country today…..They are going to need to be strong in the power of His might and should be in the process right now of being trained and strengthened for the things they could be facing in the nearer than not future …”I left church because I got my feelings hurt” actually means “I left God because I hooked my wagon to a person and got my heart broken”. That will not cut it, since it was never the Lord who moved away from you. Believers need to be taught this. Patting the heads and handing out pacifiers won’t make any young believer able to withstand what those believers who are facing real persecution in many other countries are going through right now..It’s a recipe for failure…and I don’t believe it comes from the Lord…….do we really believe that this kind of pampering and apologetic speech will equip our young saints to be the kind of Christian soldiers who “having done all (can) stand” in the possibility of persecution in their generation here….like in many other countries across the world……Should we be catering to baby believers and tiptoeing around feelings right now like in our “everyone be tolerant or we’ll come get you” world now….. or should we be strong in our Biblical standards…. making a clear difference and making known the gospel, training believers who are able to Man up through Christ…….believers with some strength, stability, and resilience to them……..who can take what is ahead and not blend to the degree of becoming just a part of the tolerant, mellow, roll over, don’t make waves……”no difference” kind of people who just have nothing better to offer others than what is going on right exactly and every day now in our secular world…….making tolerance everything? Jesus…. had followers who turned the world upside down…….He made a difference and they made a difference with Him…He made waves and He made them still…..He offered His life freely……but when he walked the earth……He showed us how to do it like a MAN of GOD…….We all need to Man UP……or Lady UP……whichever the case may be……….in whatever the place He has given us to serve Him………and not be a weak, scrawny, crying, standard-less whining baby sitting back in the corner waiting for someone to come and take care of our poor hurt feelings. We didn’t and don’t want to raise our own precious children like that and so WHY EVER would we, as Servants of a Great and Magnificent God fail like this in training the Lord’s precious children to be lightweights as they grow into facing the kind of world they will be living in …….in this next generation??????????????

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      • August 10, 2016 at 8:06 am
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        Thank you for this response. for myself I’m thankful I was taught the Thou shall not’s. not having been taught about the Bible and church as I was growing up. after I was saved God showed me HIS love and Holy Spirit’s conviction’s. There in is where I will rest – We are free in Christ, then the Holy Spirit will indwell in me to lead me on the paths I will walk.

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    • August 9, 2016 at 6:18 am
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      Hay Nick, i used to think the same way that you do about biblical standards. After all Sin is sin right? if we get our standards from the Bible why are there different standards for different people. If the Bible says that something should be a certain way then shouldn’t it be that way for every Christian across the board?? After all we’re all sinners, and we all had to be saved the same way. So where does this idea that there are personal convictions that people can discover for themselves come from.
      like it’s some sort of mystery game that God is playing and you have to walk down this certain path to discover the convictions that God wants you to have. A congregation should not be held to any higher or lower standards then the Pastor. I know that Pastor is supposed to have certain qualities and characteristics as it says in Timothy, but if a person is saying they’re a Christian than they need to hold themselves to the Biblical standard of morality, and that standard of morality is across the board for every person that says there a Christian. Right?
      But for some reason everybody has come up with “Personal convictions” and they can give you a Bible verse to back it up lol. This is understandable to a degree, because there are some situations in the Bible where the Bible seems to have double standards. as well as there are multiple interpretations for every verse. Five pastors of the same denomination can have five different thoughts on the same verse.
      So after seeing this kind of controversy going on wile I was going to church and in Bible college for a number of years, I have kind of come to my own conclusion that Aside from the “big sins” (killing, stealing, ect) nobody really knows The particulars about what is right and what is wrong. Everybody is throwing around their own idea of standards they think Christians should live by. I beat myself up for years trying to live by “standards” that I didn’t really agree with, even though I wanted to agree with them because I was told that These standards are what is “right”. But I don’t anymore. Because I don’t think there are a “right” set of standards. there are only a few clear do’s and donts in the bible. Point being is that after thows clear rights and wrongs the rest comes down to your own convictions.
      In your comment you seemed a little disappointed, and I can relate. because I was the same way for years. But I think I was trying to find something that wasn’t there. I wanted Cut and dry dues and don’ts across the bord. It sounds like your looking for Cut and dry dues and don’ts, but The Bible just isn’t that way with a lot of things.
      Yes, preach again sin!
      But don’t get worked up about things that aren’t cut and dry. It almost seems that the bible has left room for personal conviction.

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    • August 9, 2016 at 8:17 am
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      Why must “hard preaching” equal conviction? Isn’t that the Holy Spirits job?

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      • August 9, 2016 at 4:18 pm
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        Can you direct me to where it was said that hard preaching equals conviction? I’m having a hard time finding it in anyone’s comment. My understanding of hard preaching is that it is preaching that flies in the face of a worldly system of philosophy. It is not necessarily a certain kind of preaching style but preaching that brings conviction. Did God not use the “hard” preaching of Peter to bring conviction to the Jews in Acts chapter 2? “When they heard this they were pricked in their heart…” Certainly it is the Holy Spirit of God that brings conviction and reproof but many times in the Bible it is arm in arm with the proclamation and declaration of God’s Word.

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    • August 9, 2016 at 11:00 am
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      Amen. YOU hit the nail on the head. We’ve “apologized” our way into a Godless society, but thankfully, no one is offended!

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    • August 14, 2016 at 3:10 pm
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      I appreciate your remarks and agree there is some confusion. I think we can reach out in love without apologizing, when we also speak the truth in love. God clothed Adam and Eve when they disobeyed and ate forbidden fruit. Gluttony and nakedness are condemned in the Bible. So is evil speaking, lying, cheating and stealing as well as adultery. Moses broke the two tablets with the commandments on them when he came down from the mountain because the music the Israelites listened to caused them to be naked. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed because of sodomy. Jesus forgave the woman at the well for having 5 husbands and living with a man she wasn’t married to, but also told her to go and sin no more. Jesus died a horrible death to keep us from going to hell when we receive Him as our Saviour. God allowed wicked men to crucify Jesus, His only begotten Son, to pay for our sins. So doesn’t it just stand to reason that He hates the sin that nailed Jesus to the cross. What is sin? Everyone has their own pet sins these days and prefer to not be called out on them. We need to teach what the Bible says. We shouldn’t try to cram it down anyone’s throat, but we have a responsibility to God to call it what it is. We don’t need to be afraid to say the truth that will inevitably make people mad or offend them. II Chronicles 7:14 says, If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. That’s a mouthful to swallow!!! But good soldiers of Jesus Christ are instructed to die to ourselves to anything that would come between us and the dear Lord who gave His life for us. LOVE is not just a feeling. Love is doing what is best for another person. Jesus did that for us. He paid the price for our salvation. We should pay our respect to Him by living righteously and stop thinking we can do whatever we please. Anyone can tell me if they think I am sinning in any of my actions. I will go to the Bible and see what God has to say, and more than likely I will have to admit I am wrong. God’s Word is the key. Listen to what the preacher says and then, like the Bereans mentioned in the Bible, compare it to Scripture. When we get our standards from the Bible we don’t have to apologize to anyone for what we believe. I’m glad I’m a Baptist and that the truth was preached steadfast and sure, even when I might not have liked it. It’s not all about us. It is all about HIM. IT’S ALL ABOUT HIM!!!!!

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    • August 22, 2016 at 8:52 pm
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      Wow! Sounds like a mix up, wherever u are. I was raised in a great Christian home where my dad came from a very good but worldly home. There were certain things that we were not allowed to listen to, not because he believed it to be wrong,but simply because it took my dad back mentally to his former lifestyle before his salvation. And I dont mean in a good way. I will never forget one illustration he used to tell us when we would ask about the the truth. My dad went to his Sunday School teacher and said, “Roger, can a person really know for sure that he can go to Heaven when he dies?” Roger looked at my dad and said, “Wayne, why don’t you see what God has to say about it. After all, Heaven belongs to Him.” I have never forgotten that story. I say that to say this: I know what I believe, and I believe the Bible is very clear on many things-if we are willing to search the Scriptures-I also believe that God is VERY opinionated when it comes to His children and their dress and behavior, etc. Because, come on, Anyone Who created everything around us in perfect detail is going to have an opinion! Also, if you are saved, the Reason you are so bothered by everything going on around you in your church may be the Holy Spirit trying to speak to you. I am not sure if any of this has/will help, but don’t be afraid to stand for your beliefs, based on God’s Word. You are not alone in your disappointment and disgusted at the watered down “truth” being shoved down our throats so we can be accepted in the world’s eyes…..anyway, gotta run. Praying for you in your search for the “right”eous.

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    • August 9, 2017 at 1:45 pm
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      Mr Lahman, I believe you are searching for God’s will, although I would warn you that you are teetering on the edge of worldliness. Read Ephesians 5. You are correct in part, that we are not to judge those of the world, because God has already judged them. Jesus’ mission in this world was to die for our sins to make us right with God, and rise from the dead to defeat death. He condemned no one; He allowed Himself to be condemned for our salvation. Everything else was secondary. But the Holy Spirit was given to convict us of our sin, condemning it to lead us to the Cross, give forgiveness, salvation and lead on to spiritual maturity. That’s His job. Once we are saved, we ARE to judge ourselves – collectively, as the body of Christ; and personally – in the love of God. Scripture focuses on this in many places.

      We ARE called to Holiness, not debauchery. There ARE standards of us required by God. He is not just a warm, fuzzy pushover, he is the Holy One who will NOT tolerate sin – so much that He sent his beloved Son to die for our sins, big and small, and took upon Himself the payment for all sin. It was not simply a death on a cross, which is horrible enough in itself, but was taking the wrath of a holy God – infinite wrath, absolute unfettered punishment for ALL sin, for ALL TIME. When the Father was done with Jesus, He was an unrecognizable piece of meat. But the spiritual, emotional, and mental parts were by far the WORST. The cry, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is the most profound statement ever uttered. Think on that a while before you decide to play Churcus (Church Circus). We need to re-read Ephesians 5.

      The Bible brings us God’s Law, which convicts of sin, which enables us to open our hearts to God’s forgiveness and salvation. Without conviction of sin, there can be NO salvation. God accepts us as we are, but he never leaves us as we are. He demands that we grow in grace, and even gave us His Holy Spirit to assist in that endeavor, along with a legion of Angels. Christian maturity is a hard thing to do, and requires total obedience to the Spirit. He has a ROD and a STAFF for a reason. Sometimes He will use His rod on a wayward Christian, like a devoted Father ought. We are also given brothers and sisters in Christ who “rebuke and chasten” us when we fall aside. We are REQUIRED to correct each other in gentleness and kindness, and to submit to one another (Eph 5:21). God bless those faithful few who have intervened in my life. We are pilgrims together traveling to the City of God. Thank you all for prayerfully guiding and rebuking me. Without you, I know where I’d be, and I’m eternally grateful for your guidance. Lukewarmness results in Him “spitting (you) out of his mouth” (Rev 3:14-ff), as He told the Laodiceans.

      This is not to say that we do this in the flesh. We are to always live in the Spirit, displaying the Fruit of the Spirit. We all need to pray without ceasing, asking our Father to guide us in our endeavor to serve. But never water down the Gospel. It is the Power of God.

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    • August 9, 2017 at 2:32 pm
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      Nicholas W,

      A pastor friend of mine forwarded this column to me, and I understand his sensitivities to preaching a “Love” message, and being more tolerant with other denominations, and that is fine that is his prerogative. I however hold that truth needs to be told, and that “open rebuke is better than secret love”.

      I must say that I agree with your comments; in that I don’t see hard standards can hurt anyone. The author needs to be careful that what one concludes from his piece is not that: everyone can set their own standards according to their own interpretation of scripture. If we take that position, are we not at risk of (a) encouraging factions within one local assembly? (b) how can such a body make any decision, because no matter how well meaning, human beings – even those filled with the Holy Spirit will interpret things differently. Consider the case of two spiritual giants of the new testament: the apostle Paul needed to rebuke the apostle Peter for his double standard in dealing with the Christian Jews in the Galatian region. Consider Jesus’ teachings when even His disciples noted the His teachings were “hard sayings, who can follow…”.

      My point is that given the human heart, we need to be deliberate, in preaching the whole truth of the gospel, not some sissified, seeker-friendly, excuse for bad behavior even after being saved. I see too much pampering, and it sickens me. Let’s face it, there is much wheat among thorns. As a matter of fact, I don’t know about the US, because many of your churches seem to be going where I don’t know, but in the Caribbean where I am, it is the sinners who can tell you, and quite accurately how a Christian should act. Just let some Christian commit some sin, and let it become public, and you will then get the yardstick on what biblical Christianity ought to be; notwithstanding that they are bound for hell, they know what Christians should and should not do. Ok then, if the unsaved know so well (and if you take away the usual biases of having some personal issue with the offender, they are usually on the ball) why can’t we in the body criticize each other?

      We should constantly remind each Christian how hard the walk is, and that we should really appreciate the great sacrifice our Heavenly Father made for us, and it was not so that we could sit on padded pews and act like pieces of tissue paper, but so that we could be grateful for His act of unspeakable grace, and get out there and warn others of the wrath of God that hangs over their collective heads like the mythical “sword of Damocles”.

      As we grow closer to the end, we need to be doing more, with a more urgent message; not less. Look, we are all in this war together, so let’s stop babying believers, babies don’t belong in wars, let’s mature and fight the real enemy, SATAN!

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    • August 11, 2017 at 6:47 am
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      Dylan, I don’t know where you are, but my church has started putting our worship service on Facebook Live Sunday mornings around 11:30am Eastern Standard time. It’s Capital Heights Baptist Church in Tallahassee, Florida. Feel free to contact me if you like.

      Reply
  • August 8, 2016 at 11:17 am
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    Thank you Matt for these encouraging words. It is evident that they were thoughtfully and humbly presented.

    By the way – if we are honest they represent many of us.

    God bless you!

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  • August 8, 2016 at 3:07 pm
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    Thank you for taking the time to share this journey toward embracing grace more completely, more earnestly. Grace helps us see the all the many shades of gray there are in a world some so badly want to see as rigidly black and white. How merciful that God does not leave us where we are, but lovingly brings us along as we earnestly seek Him. I am guilty of these things as well. The best Pharisee that ever lived has nothing on me. God bless your ministry, Matt.

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    • August 14, 2016 at 3:27 pm
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      I don’t mean to sound like a smart alec or unkind in any way. I’ve heard so much about gray areas and I’d just like to say if a person really looks for the truth, they will find it in Scripture. The first truth I’d like to mention is that Jesus is the light and in Him is no darkness at all. Jesus is the Living Word and the Bible is the Written Word. That kind of does away with the gray areas because to have gray you have to add a little of something dark. We are to be the light now in this dark world and shine so brightly that there will be no question about right and wrong. No pun intended but ‘gray’ areas is just a cover-up to keep a person from studying the Sriptures for themselves and keep doing what pleases them, in most cases. Some people do search and are still learning. I am. The more I search the more I learn that this life is not about me. It’s about my dear Lord and Saviour.

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  • August 8, 2016 at 4:24 pm
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    Thank you for pointing out the problem many Baptist have or are struggling with

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  • August 8, 2016 at 5:01 pm
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    I thought about your story of how the boy threw the bottle out of the bus window giving a bad impression of those on that bus and whom they represent. I did similar in the past. What would have been good perhaps is if you had stopped the bus, (they were probably in a hurry to reach their dest.) went back and got that bottle and placed it in your trash can. And said nothing.
    Everyone on that bus would have respected what you did. And the fellow that did it would have perhaps learned respect for others op. And there is a law against littering.

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    • August 9, 2016 at 5:51 pm
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      Love that!! Actions speak so much more loudly than words.

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  • August 8, 2016 at 5:29 pm
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    This is my childhood. Thanks Matt.

    Also, if you’d like me to proof-read this and submit suggested edits, I’ll gladly do so. After all, the critics that need to hear this the most are the most likely to get caught up in the typos. 😉

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  • August 8, 2016 at 7:21 pm
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    Perhaps it is rude or crazy to send you a whole article on the subject, but I wrote something earlier this year that may be helpful in this discussion. Of course, it is wrong to teach the commandments of men as the doctrines of God, and it is wrong to be mean about making people live better. These often-sincere actions of people we love were nevertheless sinful. However the guidelines we were given by older Christians were not always wrong. Just because a teacher fails to teach the biblical arguments for a life-decision, does not mean that it has no biblical background. It seems like the whole standards debate has gotten off-track. Take a look at what I say.

    THE “STANDARDS” MESS
    By Dr. Rick Flanders
    “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
    (Second Corinthians 3:5-6)
    Many organizations have and maintain standards. Of course, over the years churches in particular have preached and upheld certain standards of belief and behavior. The concept of doctrinal standards, creeds, and statements of faith in religion is normal and expected. The idea of standards of conduct for church leaders, church members, and the Christian way of life is also generally accepted. The question is not whether churches should have standards. All religious movements and organizations do.
    There is a problem today, however, over the mess that has grown up over standards in conservative churches. There is a whole movement against the standards fundamentalists have followed, and there is another one over whether they should have standards at all. In all the fussing on “both sides” of the standards issue, some very basic facts are being lost. When Christian thinkers come back to the basics, the truth about these matters becomes clear, and we can clear up the mess! So let’s take a constructive approach, and consider four important and indisputable facts.
    1. THE ARGUMENTS OVER “STANDARDS” ARE REALLY ABOUT WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES.
    Somehow we have forgotten that the standards Bible-believing churches have maintained over the years were developed from the teachings of the Bible. Before anybody debated standards, preachers and teachers in the churches were preaching that the Bible has things to say against certain things and for certain things. They preached that scripture condemns drinking and intoxication, speaks against the lasciviousness of social dancing, advocates modest apparel, calls for personal restraint, mandates sanctifying the body, and exhorts believers to stay away from worldly amusements. That’s where we started. Christians were living by the Bible. They studied God’s Word to learn how to live!
    Do church people today know that holiness in the Bible is separation from evil and to God? Do they know that Christians are called upon to live holy lives (check First Peter 1:13-16)? Scripture requires both ecclesiastical and personal separation (see Second Corinthians 7:1 and Second Timothy 2:16-22). The children of light, according to Ephesians 5, must not do what the children of darkness are doing (verse 7), nor endorse what they do (verse 11), nor even unnecessarily talk about what they do (verse 12). That’s what the Bible teaches! It’s separation, a concept that is controversial today among critics of the standards. The Bible makes an issue of clothing and the covering of the body from the beginning to the end (you can see this first in Genesis 2:24-25 and 3:6-11 and 21, and follow it throughout scripture). Scriptural promises (such as Matthew 5:18 and 24:35) are the basis of believers insisting on the traditional text behind the King James Version and rejecting the revised text followed by so many of the new Bibles. Keeping the law will not save anybody’s soul; but grace doesn’t mean that there aren’t any rules, that the Lord has no opinions, or that saved people have no obligations about how they behave. The “rules” or standards that spiritual Christians followed and taught for years were not arbitrary or based on tradition. They came from Bible teaching.
    The real issues in the “standards” debates are questions like “Does the Bible have anything to say about gender roles and distinction?”, “Is there Bible doctrine that would motivate a Christian to abstain from using tobacco?”, “According to the scriptures, does it matter what Bible a church uses?”, or, “What teaching of the Bible would affect whether or not we go to the movies?” Many have believed that scripture does teach things that apply directly to questions such as these. The real and legitimate discussions regarding the standards are discussions about Biblical interpretation. They are not arguments over whether or not certain old “standards” are still appropriate for our day. They ask whether our spiritual fathers were right or wrong about what they understood that the Bible said. Many of us think they were right! For example, reasonable people see that Christians who dress modestly and appropriately for their gender are following scriptural principles. These are not petty squabbles over personal tastes. They are serious issues about the revealed will of God. No kidding!
    2. THE “BOTTOM LINE” OF BIBLE TEACHING ON POINTS OF CHRISTIAN LIVING EVENTUALLY HAD TO BE “STANDARDIZED.”
    As conservative churches grew and added to their ministries and staff, it was necessary for them to set standards of life and belief for those who led and represented them. These standards were actually applications of the Bible teaching that had led those churches for years. In other words, although it normally takes time for new church-members to arrive at the same conclusions about Christian living which are followed by their teachers, when they joined the ministry team, they had to follow standards that reflect the corporate viewpoint of the ministry. When people take positions of responsibility in the ministry of the church, they are expected to uphold and live by these standards even before they have come into total agreement with all of them. Leaders are responsible to some degree for the behavior of those who have joined the team! This is why the conclusions of the Bible teaching were “standardized.”
    What the New Testament says about polluting oneself with idols (Acts 15:20 and 29, First Corinthians 8 through 10, and Revelation 2:14 and 20) by eating the meat sold at the pagan temple was applied to modern issues by setting the standard not to attend movie theaters or night clubs or other places associated with sin. What the Bible teaches about gender distinction (in places such as Genesis 1:27, Leviticus 18:22, Deuteronomy 22:5, First Corinthians 11:1-16, First Timothy 2, and Revelation 9:8) led leaders to call on co-workers and followers to dress with their gender in mind. Teaching and interpretation led to the specific standards, when behavior necessarily had to be “standardized.”
    Some standards were also sometimes recommended to everyone up front, before they had a chance to be supported with reason and scripture by the pastors and teachers. Bible teaching always leads to behavior adjustment. Sometimes the conclusions or “bottom line” of the teaching had to be stated at the beginning and came to be regarded as a set of standards. Ordinarily believers who are being instructed “to observe all things” that Jesus taught (Matthew 28:20) will grow in knowledge over a period of time, and come to correct conclusions only after a while. But when the conclusions are “standardized” for workers up front, the period of instruction and growth is not in the mix, and there can be problems. Certainly church workers can follow the rules without really buying into them, and often this set-up has helped people grow. Many adopted the standards from their hearts, based on what they saw in the Bible, only after following them for other reasons as they grew in grace. This isn’t really a bad idea. The man who smokes may save his own life by giving up tobacco because the preacher told him to do it (Hebrews 13:17) well before he really understands why. However, standards must eventually be backed by persuasion from scripture if they are to do the good they were supposed to do. And before they are, there can be misunderstanding and problems.
    Such standardizing necessarily took place in Christian schools. Students, as well as faculty and staff, were required to follow Bible-based standards from the first day. In many cases, these rules were not adequately defended or justified with scripture during the school year, provoking some to wrath. The connection between certain standards and God’s will and ways was not always made. But the standard-setting in the form of rule-keeping was justified.
    Note that the setting of standards for God’s people to help them in their lives was done in both the Old and the New Testaments. Deuteronomy 4:5-8 teaches us that following standards can help us live with more wisdom than we really have. Adopting the rules will give us a head start on living wisely while we are growing in grace and knowledge. Acts 15 records the setting of standards for the benefit of the Gentile Christians, at the same time that Legalism was rejected (notice especially verses 1, 5, 10-11, 19-29). Standard-setting is not necessarily Legalism. Legalism requires rule-keeping for salvation or spirituality. Standards followed under the truth of God’s grace can really help growing believers, as we can see in Acts 16:4-5. So standards are good, not bad, although they cannot stand alone. They must be backed by the Bible.
    3. PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES OF THESE ARGUMENTS FOCUSED TOO MUCH ON THE STANDARDS AND NOT ENOUGH ON BIBLE TEACHING.
    Critics of the standards complain that the kind of Christianity they knew growing up was “all about the rules.” They identify it with Legalism, and sometimes make fun of having to keep a bunch of rules. Supporters of the standards zealously defend the “old-time” expectations and taboos while sometimes neglecting to defend them from the Bible. Both are wrong.
    Christianity is not just about rules. Rules and guidelines have always been part of church and Christian living, but they have served only as helps and props. The Christian life is really about love!
    “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God: and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
    (First John 4:7-11; read also verse 12 through 5:3)
    Christianity is God’s love coming to us through Christ, and coming through us to others. See this also in John 15:9-12. The real thing is often lost by both pro- and anti-standards people, and the rules become the big thing. They aren’t the big thing. According to Galatians 5:22-23, walking in the Spirit keeps us within the boundaries of the rules (“against such there is no law”). Those who are absolutely surrendered to Christ observe higher ideals than those who just live by rules. They live the way they do because they love Jesus with all their hearts. Carnal people who hate the rules can only see the rules, and resent them. Prideful and unspiritual people who keep the rules also only see the rules, and miss seeing Jesus. Both kinds of Christians are carnal.
    Some folks who complain the loudest about the old standards as they were enforced in their families or churches are really hurting from the hypocrisy of their parents and leaders, and not the effect of the rules. Proud and harsh attitudes are not spiritual. Efforts to cover up inconsistencies in the homes we grew up in were not the result of following the Bible. They were products of making the standards the big thing and not making love for God the heart of the home. Making mean and harsh statements against others isn’t spiritual either. Jesus taught us not to judge others (remember Matthew 7:1-5). Yet the Bible does say that spiritual people, while not judging people, should judge things.
    “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things…”
    (First Corinthians 3:15)
    We are to discern from scripture what things are right and what things are wrong, from God’s perspective. There is nothing wrong with saying, “That’s wrong.” But we are taught to love the erring brother and meekly hope to pull out the mote from his eye, instead of scorning him and proudly holding up ourselves as better (see Galatians 6:1-2). Much of the heat in the arguing over standards is generated by carnal people engaged in combat with other carnal people. Take a look at Galatians 5:13-16.

    4. STANDARDS APART FROM THE SPIRIT-FILLED LIFE ARE DANGEROUS, ALTHOUGH THEY CAN BE HELPFUL IN CONNECTION WITH IT.
    The Bible has very many good things to say about keeping rules, while also warning us against giving rule-keeping a role it should never have in the Christian life. We find this help in Second Corinthians 3:5-6:
    “Our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
    The Law of God expresses the opinions of God, and therefore is “holy, and just, and good” (Romans 7:12). However a set of rules in itself does not enable me to keep the rules. “The law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin” (see Romans 7:13-24). In other words, the Law is good, but not good enough to help me. Just knowing what is right does not give me righteousness. But Jesus Christ came to give me His righteousness. It is His righteousness that saves me, and it is His righteousness that provides me with the Christian life.
    “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
    (Read Romans 7:22-8:4)
    Those who are in Christ have the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is the key to living the Christian life! We learn that our sufficiency is in God alone, that Christian living only happens when we are living by faith, relying on the Holy Spirit to provide the life of Christ! The rules set the standard for how we ought to live, but they can’t get us to that standard. The standards describe for me what a spiritual man looks like, but they do not make me spiritual. It is the Holy Spirit that does this. The letter of the law only can condemn us when we fail, and the Bible says that it kills people. Standards without the Spirit are deadly. A revival that acquaints believers with the ministry of the Spirit will liberate the unhappy believer and give him the victory he wants and needs.
    “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
    (Second Corinthians 3:17-18)
    The devil got us into this mess of looking at standards apart from the bigger picture. The rule for the Christian is, “What does the Bible say?” And the Bible calls upon us to conform to the will of a holy God. Doing so will require self-denial and sacrifice, as Jesus told us. But the Bible tells us that the Christian life is Christ’s life in us. Loving Him and yielding to the influence and power of His Spirit within us is what causes us to experience the abundant life He came for us to live. When we come back to these simple truths, we will get out of the mess we are in, and get back to reaching our dark and lost world for God! Revival will deliver us from the standards mess! Those who rebel against good standards must humble themselves and learn the reason for the standards, which is love for Jesus Christ. Others who have been killing those under them with the letter of the law must go deeper than the rules, and learn to be filled with the Spirit!
    EVANGELIST RICK FLANDERS drrickflanders@gmail.com

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  • August 8, 2016 at 9:47 pm
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    I cannot help but wonder why Elder was left out of #4.

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    • August 9, 2016 at 12:28 pm
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      because this was about Baptists and they don’t have that office

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      • August 11, 2016 at 2:14 pm
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        We actually believe that in the New Testament there are multiple terms used to describe the same office. Elder, bishop, and pastor are different words used in the New Testament to describe different functions of the same position.

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  • August 9, 2016 at 12:08 am
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    Hi Matt,
    Loved your genuineness in this article. I remember dreading the possibility of you becoming my dorm supervisor for some of these exact reasons! LOL To my embarrassment, (as an R.A. in the same dorm the following year) I made the same mistakes as you did and worse! I remember trying to explain to a student why I gave them demerits for something, but did not get them myself for the same thing, and then I had the audacity to label them as a rebel when they rolled their eyes, huffed at me, and stomped off. I certainly modelled a pharisee more than I modelled Christ sometimes. A few years ago I had an “aha” moment myself and had to seek God’s forgiveness for many of the same behaviors. Praise God for His mercy and grace! I’m still imperfect, but growing, and learning to be more like Him each day. And by the way, even though you were a stickler sometimes, you had our respect. Keep Christ first

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    • August 9, 2016 at 12:39 pm
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      Good point about the demerits. Many churches today are run like the DNC. The standards don’t apply to us but to the little people. Horrible example.

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  • August 9, 2016 at 12:51 am
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    Thank you for writing this. As a Christian Mom of 3 I grimaced when I read about your experience with the boy on the bus. I have a son who spend his entire teen years running from the Lord and rebelling against whatever he could. I have countless memories of red-faced screaming matches demanding he have a better testimony for Christ. All the while I had a terrible testimony of anger. It took much prayer and letting go to get to the point that I stopped trying to legislate his heart. Praise God he made it through…surrendered to full time ministry and is bound for Bible College in a few weeks. I wish I could have those years back to be patient with him instead of angry but I hope I will have a better testimony with hus brothers. Thank you again for sharing.

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  • August 9, 2016 at 12:02 pm
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    I started to read a book a few years back that condemned Christians if ladies wore pants or males had long hair because that’s the way it should be and it makes them look like girls if they have long hair. Besides that females were the first to wear pants, this is a personal standard, not a Biblical doctrine. At a former church of mine you couldn’t work in the nursery wearing pants. This is a personal standard to some, I understand that but it shouldn’t be taught as right or wrong to others in the church. I know the same thing happens when men have beards or don’t wear a suit and tie. We need to stop getting caught up on the little (unbiblical) things and focus of Christ!

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  • August 11, 2016 at 3:39 pm
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    I forgive you for giving me demerits when I walked on the grass. Just kidding. Well thought article. It is great to see our generation returning to biblical standards and not man-made standards. May God continue to bless your family and your church plant in Missouri. Love you guys!

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  • August 16, 2016 at 10:28 am
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    It’s arduous to find educated folks on this matter, however you sound like you already know what you’re speaking about! Thanks

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  • September 18, 2017 at 6:22 am
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    Funny. My best friend and I grew to be able to discern the difference in our pastor’s sermons. We would look at each other and say “walker-ism”. Neither of us will even visit that church, even though leadership has changed (and my mom still goes there.)
    I hope your audience reads your words and appreciates it. I’m not sure I would be mature enough to be gracious should I receive a similar apology from him.

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