One of the things I have pondered since I have been housebound is what happened on the last night of a meeting that was held in Ft. Pierce, Florida in 1986. In the audience of about forty were two Baptist preachers along with the local brethren, a few Christians from other congregations and various interested persons. The two Baptists had been there every night except Wednesday. On the last night, after things were concluded, the preacher told me that he and I had just been invited to hold a meeting with a local Baptist Church. And he had accepted the invitation. I thought he’d lost his mind, and said something like “We can’t do that!” He replied, “Sure we can, but we’ll need a place to fall back to when they fire us.”
Puzzled I then asked why he would accept the invitation in the first place knowing we would be going into the “devil’s tent” and would not last the week; and how did he know that he would be fired. He answered the last query first saying that we would be fired on Wednesday night because he would preach on baptism; he said, “They’ll throw us out.” Of course that answered everything. But being immature in the faith and a lot slower than I now care to admit, I said, “Then why go at all?” He quietly replied, “I have baptized seven Baptist preachers and several of their song leaders by being invited into their meeting houses.”
Have you ever heard anything like that? Do you know of anyone who has been invited and preached at the other guy’s meeting? And you may even be wondering is this the first time you have heard of crazy things like this? Most preachers and members of many congregations would never get the invitation, let alone go visit the other guy’s place. And what would our own brethren have to say? A lot of churches won’t invite anyone in and don’t have meetings. It’s strictly the home crowd each week. If someone comes to visit it’s because they were in town, they come on their own initiative or were invited by a member.
There are no debates. There is no effort to enter the “Temple of Rimmon” to see if anyone has any questions about what goes on. While meetings once lasted for weeks; now they last just a few days. And most preachers do little or no personal work while they are involved in a meeting. Occasionally we get someone who is unhappy with the digression where they have been worshipping coming into the house during regular services or during a short meeting. But that is pretty rare. We are all very busy living and working to pay our way. I know – I hear that a lot; I get it and I have to do that too. But perhaps we are in need of a slight course correction.
We may be too busy to see the opportunities that are placed right in front of us. Where are the soldiers of Christ, those unafraid to go out into the field? Who will go into “the synagogue” in town to read and teach? Isn’t that what Jesus and the apostles did to get things started – go into the camp of the people who God had completely rejected for their rebellion, lack of faith and contrariness? What exactly is any different with the denominations and digressive churches right now?
You know what you learn by sitting amongst a group over a period of time that is digressive or completely cut off from the truth? You learn that there are good people everywhere. There are flowers along with the weeds. Then there are snakes too. You will also learn who is sincere and who is “dyed in the wool.” And the leaders of the synagogues ran the apostles off, just like they may run you off too if you try this today. But then there are good people in various places at regular meeting times who have been there even though they may harbor concerns and questions – just like there had been in Jerusalem and Thessalonica.
Jacob was told by his sons that Joseph had been killed. He trusted the report and wept, and he put his hands on the physical evidence. The result was that a lie came to have the same effect on him as the truth. So, you can believe a lie just exactly as if it was the truth and you might never know the difference. Do you suppose that there are sincere people who have bought into a lie in various churches out there? I know several people who had gone from denomination to denomination searching until they found the truth.
Apollos was “instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John” (Acts 18: 25). So Apollos was teaching incorrectly about immersion even though he taught Jesus right (just like some of the folks in the denominations and other false groups). False teaching mixed up with the truth is useless. The record states that “Aquila and Priscilla took him aside and taught him the way of God more accurately.” He got it. Somebody sought him out and helped him get his charts straight and his compass properly aligned. Do you suppose he was meeting with a sound group in Ephesus and no one had bothered to stop his error? Or could it be that he was out in public teaching on his own when they took the initiative to lay it out more accurately for him. All of that is speculative – but you don’t get the answers if you don’t ask the questions. By the way this is an example of what happens when someone gets the truth to a searcher who has pure motives. How do you suppose this can ever get accomplished today?
We are surrounded by digressive churches and useless denominations. What might happen if one or two groups of “Aquila’s and Priscilla’s” or “Timothy and Titus” here and there were to spend their Wednesday nights for a few weeks or months searching out assemblies where they might in time be respected, make a comment and perhaps be heard, while meeting people and making acquaintances with some members to the good of all involved? Now it might work exactly opposite to that too – there are hazards. They also might get asked to leave quickly. But then there is probably another group meeting right down the road. You simply won’t know what will happen unless you try.
So why do we not follow reasonable and scriptural examples? Are we content to do nothing or just the simplest and easiest things? Do we fear putting some “skin” in the game? Is there no one interested in seeing if they might be able to set up a trial and work in their home area this way? And why not use an example that the Lord and his apostles left us?
What sayest thou…