Brethren, Let Us Return to New Testament Practices
This has already turned out to be a blessed year for me in many ways. I have been given such a strong burden to stand for the historical Christian position and the purity of the visible church. I am beginning to realize just how profoundly wrong counterfeit Christianity is as well as our “heresy of practice,” as Francis Schaeffer used to call it. In my spiritual pilgrimage, which is now in its 44th year (I was born again at the age of eight), I am realizing that the only thing that really matters is to have one’s life grounded in the reality of Him who has conquered sin and death. This means that we must come to terms with spiritual deadness and spiritual pride; that we must learn how to bring everything under the blood of Christ; that we must seek to live moment by moment in the presence of the Lord; and that we must step out in faith under impossible circumstances so that we might see a little of the blazing of the glory of God.
It is interesting to me, looking back over my writings through the years, that I see a shift in emphasis as my activities have embraced wider and wider circles of life and culture and, at the same time, as I have became more and more aware that everything must be founded upon an unchanging spiritual reality at the center of life. This change has not been a dramatic thing, like Paul’s road to Damascus experience. I have just stumbled upon it, like Bunyan’s Pilgrim, falling into the Slough of Despond, locked up in Doubting Castle; then, from time to time, by God’s mercy, I am relieved of my burden of apathy, only, alas, too soon to acquire it again. All the while I have gradually become a participant in the “remnant movement”— those who have always been theologically conservative but who are seeking to forsake the heteropraxy and traditionalism that stands in contrast to the pure teaching of the Word of God. I have become convinced that far too many of our congregations that claim to be New Testament churches in reality follow very little of what the New Testament Scriptures have patterned for local assemblies. So we must seek the Lord’s way for our lives, our families, and our churches day by day, living carefully within the bonds of Scripture and in constant fellowship with Him so that He would show us our path. And I have the freedom of knowing that if I honestly miss the way somewhere, God will still stand by me and deal with me gently.
None of our ministries is perfect, but I really do believe that one of the things the Lord uses at Dave Black Online are the links on the New Testament church. I am convinced that if standards are raised that are not really Scriptural, and especially if these are put forward as the spiritual standard for which we should strive, it can and will only lead to sorrow. I have do doubt that we have inherited many traditions and practices that simply have no basis in the New Testament and that we have never bothered to question or investigate in the pure light of God’s truth.
For over a year now I have been calling for reform in American society. But the healing of America is not dependent primarily on reaching the lost for Jesus Christ, as important as that is. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 we are told that God’s condition for His healing of our land is that we His people repent and turn from our wicked ways! As the family and the church go, so goes the nation (please read Deuteronomy 28).
My word to you today is this: Are you willing to “test everything and hold fast to that which is true,” as the Scripture requires (1 Thess 5:21)? This year, may God give us the grace and joy of obeying Him not only in our theology but also in our practice.
January 9, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.