By Fred J. Foster
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
As we march against the foe.
Let’s remember Pearl Harbor
Wherever we go.
The words of this song were challenging to the people of the United States in World War II. I remember them well and would catch myself, or maybe others, unconsciously humming or singing them from time to time. With it we would remember, and remembering, we would be more determined to fight on. More determined to stick to our duty and win over the enemy who had started WWII by their sneak attack on that fateful Sunday morning December 7, 1941.
For the Christian we have our own songs, and the great theme that weaves its way through all these songs and into all we do is “Remember Calvary!” With this a note is struck in our hearts to fight on. Something says loudly, “We will win! We will persevere! We will see it through!”
One of the great battles we continue to fight is holding the line on holiness and separation standards in the church. It is a battle that is never totally won because of several factors. People are continually coming into the new birth experience and need teaching as they are coming out of the world. Young people in the church are, for the first time, coming to grips with these things on an adult level. Also, new babies constantly are being born to couples in the church, are growing up into adolescence, and then youth. They need to be taught how Christians should live. Another area is that this teaching must over and over be reinforced to all the members of the church. Repetition is the essence of learning. Christians don’t like to be harped on about standards but do appreciate and enjoy hearing them from time to time.
The Eight Principles
There are eight adhering principles I want to mention in holding standards in the church:
1. First and foremost, you must believe that the Bible means what it says.
a. A striking verse to me says, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35) & (Mark 13:31).
b. John 14:15 says, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
c. Again in the 23rd verse, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me he will keep my words. . .”
d. The Psalmist seemed to shout, “Forever, 0 Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89).
e. Jesus talked about the judgment centering around the Word: “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him, the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48).
f. The Apostle John spoke about being able to know that we know Him: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments” (1 John 2:3).
2. You must believe that some things are not preferences but are absolutes.
a. The apostle speaking of the children of Israel in the wilderness having to wander for 40 years said, “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it” (Heb. 3:19) Sc. (Heb. 4:1 — 2).
b. Paul is saying that there are absolutes we must hear mixed with faith. They were not preferences for the children of Israel. Because they didn’t believe, they missed the Promised Land.
c. We must settle in our hearts and minds the Word of God. We must be willing to declare as the great apostle: “. . . for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13).
3. You must dedicate to and be willing to live those absolutes.
You must example them.
a. No greater examples do we have than the apostles. History tells us that every one of them, except John, died a martyr for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. John also was in that position but was delivered miraculously.
b. Every church needs to be led by men and women who will courageously stand for His Word. This fosters a strong people and church body that can build strengthened lives.
3. You must preach and teach the absolutes.
a. It is sometimes difficult, especially when you know there are good people in the congregation who are not living up to what you are preaching about.
b. You must understand that you and your preaching are your congregation’s means of salvation: “. . . it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Cor. 1:21).
c. You must understand and believe that the preached Word can work miracles in people’s hearts that cannot be done in any other way. Changed thinking and changed lives will be the result.
d. Do not apologize for the Word of God or your preaching it as it is. Be happy for what it is going to accomplish. Leave the Word and the miracles in God’s hands.
5. You get what you preach and teach.
a. If you want people to be baptized in Jesus’ name, you preach it. Keep the water warm because you will be baptizing.
b. If you want people to receive the Holy Ghost, you preach it, and people are going to be talking in tongues at your altars.
d. If you want people to give in the offerings and pay tithes, preach it. People will respond and be blessed by it as the Bible says, and you will be empowered to move the work of God forward.
(1) Why do some smaller churches give so much to some missions program? It is preached, and they give more than many much larger churches.
(2) Why are some smaller churches so blessed financially? The blessing of giving offerings and tithes is preached, and the church and the congregants are all blessed by obeying.
d. If you want godly, separated from the world, holiness minded people in your church, you must preach it.
(1) The preached Word will produce modest thinking and dressed men and women.
(2) The preached Word will produce women with long hair and men with short hair.
(3) The preached Word will produce women wanting to dress and look like women and not wanting to dress as men or be thought as wanting to so dress.
6. “You must not get weary in well doing” (2 Thess. 3:13).
a. I know you may get tired of having to hold the line against worldliness, but
remember the saying of some wise person: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”
b. I know you may feel you are inadequate for the battle, but remember the wise man again that said, “It’s not the size of the dog in fight that matters; it’s the size of the fight in the dog that counts.”
c. I know this worldliness battle seems overwhelming at times, but remember, your Lord Jesus said, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
7. You must not let your teenage children change you and your family.
a. If you have small children, you must begin teaching them the ways of church life when young. You can dress those little girls nicely without putting shorts, pants, or sleeveless blouses on them. Remember, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
b. Make sure they love Jesus and salvation.
c. Make them a part of your ministry. Put them on a church bus route, in the choir, etc.
d. With your children always assume that with God and them, they are going to live for God and are going to live the standards of the church.
e. Worldly children will want to be a part of the church and the world.
f. They have, in the past, changed parents (pastors of these children) to let down on platform standards so the children can participate on the platform or be part of the leadership. If you don’t take a stand with your children, they will draw you away. We all have seen it happen.
8. Sell out to God’s ways and standards.
a. Dedicate to Jesus that you will always stay true.
b. Periodically re-consecrate yourself to the principles of God’s Word and the absolutes.
c. Promise God and yourself you will be as Noah and be “moved by fear. . .” and
will “. . . prepare an ark to the saving of your house, by which you will condemn the world and become heir of the righteousness which is by faith” (Heb. 11:7).
The above article “Eight Principles for Standards in the Church” is written by Fred J. Foster. This article was excerpted from the 3rd chapter of Foster’s book Bible Absolutes.
The material is copyrighted and should not be repainted under any other name or author. However, this material may freely used for personal study or purposes.