Nepaug Bible Church - http://www.nepaugchurch.org - Pastor's Prayer Meeting Lesson Notes - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/pm/pm20010509.htm
CURRENT REGIONAL THEOLOGICAL ISSUES
Part V: Dealing With Contemporary Christian Pharisaism
Lesson: (1) Spiritual Pharisaism exists today in Christendom as it did in Jesus' day in Israel, for men still practice such things as heeding extrabiblical rules as doctrine, practice artificial evangelism, push tithing while overlooking mercy and assert their orthodoxy while hypocritically going weak on upholding its stands in life. (2) Our response should be (a) to watch that our lives and doctrines stay Biblical, (b) and unhypocritically so, (c) while also watching that we keep good company that supports good living and beliefs instead of keeping bad, Pharisaical company that hurts these.
- Several books have appeared on the Christian scene detailing oppressive, unbiblical beliefs and practices existing among Evangelical and Fundamental Christian groups.
- From the Scriptures, we can identify much of this activity as contemporary Pharisaism, and we also check Scripture regarding how to respond to it productively (as follows):
- Dealing With Contemporary Christian Pharisaism, Matthew 15:7-9; 23:3-29.
- There is a close spiritual connection between the Pharisees of Jesus' era and a mindset in professing Christian circles today as to belief and practices, a contemporary Christian form of Pharisaism as follows:
- The Pharisees in Jesus' day tended to make the extrabiblical rules of men into doctrines people were to heed, Matthew 15:7-9. The same often happens in certain Christian circles today:
- A notable, Evangelical leader asserts there are ten Biblical reasons for the Church worship service to have the pastor's sermon first in the order of service. He writes that making this change in the service order will bring rewards and revivals, cf. www.iblp.org/seminars/admsinfo.html. However, there exists no such order for worship services for the New Testament Church!
- A notable, Evangelical leader asserts that since Scripture teaches children are a blessing from the Lord (Ps. 127:3), it is therefore a sin for a married couple to practice contraception, cited from an e-mail originating with BobtheTomato8@j... However, Jesus sexually abstained as He never married, a form of birth control, and yet He was the sinless Lamb of God, I Peter 1:18-21!
- The Pharisees in Jesus' day lay a great stress on making disciples, compassing land and sea to do so, yet they often did not convert them to true faith in God, Mtt. 23:15. The same happens today:
- Lewis Sperry Chafer, as far back as 1919 complained of false pressures put on the unsaved in evangelistic meetings such as going forward or standing in a meeting, True Evangelism, p. 10.
- Such pressures exist today in many churches contrary to what Scripture teaches, and can either keep people from the issue of faith in Christ or provide a false assurance to those who are still unsaved!
- The Pharisees of Jesus' day were fastidiously particular about tithing, but neglected weightier matters such as judgment, mercy and faith, Matthew 23:23. The same happens today:
- Some churches heavily promote tithing (which is not applicable to the New Testament Church, only to life under the Mosaic Law) ahead of using money even for basic family needs or household bills.
- Scripture details one should give the amount he himself selects, and that free of internal or external pressures to the contrary in 2 Corinthians 9:6-7.
- The Pharisees of Jesus' day sinned with hypocrisy, Matt. 23:25-27; 23:2-3. The same happens today:
- Dr. Robert Culver's book, A Wake Up Call, warning of laxity in his denomination, the Evangelical Free Church which is historically known to adhere to the truth, wrote: (p. 73) "[E-Free] Pastors . . . are under constraints to conform to the spirit of the age and go easy on doctrinal precision . . . Haven't you heard, doctrine separates, love unites'?"
- However, Scripture commands pastors to reprove, rebuke, exhort in expounding Scripture with all longsuffering and doctrine to offset the doctrinal drift tendency in their hearers, 2 Timothy 4:1-5.
- We are to handle this in a twofold directive from Scripture as follows:
- We are to watch our own lives and doctrines closely that they stay upright, cf. 1 Timothy 4:16.
- We are to adopt the truth while rejecting the unbiblical, hypocritical errors of theologians, Mtt. 23:1-3.
- We are to separate from those with hypocritical, artificial spirituality and unite with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart, 2 Tim. 2:15-18; 3:5; 2:20-22.