Sunday, 12 February 2012

Slavish Adherence

"...we must beware of a slavish adherence to old forms," preached Dr Lloyd-Jones in his Ephesians sermons (Vol.8, p.289).  How often has DMLJ not pressed this point!  And the apostle Paul warned about the same kind of thing.  Yet we tend to become enslaved by what are good things - old forms of ding things, old ways of thinking, old practices that once had great significance but now are no more than of historical significance.

For example, why are some churches today asking congregations to stand for prayer?  True, the Scottish covenanters stood for prayers, with the backs of members turned to the minister.  Why was this done? Because at that time, Christians were persecuted relentlessly so while prayer was being offered by the minister, at least some of the worshippers kept their eyes open to watch for potential attack.

Is this relevant in today's church situation?  Hardly.  But some Christians have to keep the tradition going on, a "tradition of men," as Peter called it, and for no apparent reason; certainly their is no spiritual or theological reason for such a practice.  But to do otherwise would be to take these Christians out of their comfort zone, and leave them confused.

We need to beware of the traditions of men, and well did DMLJ warn the churches against such a practice.  How easy it is to adopt like practices, such as, the way Presbyterians all seem to sit in the back pews of a church, etc.  Slavishness to a particular translation of the Bible, or to the insistence that women cover their heads for worship, or do not wear 'men's clothing,' or the exclusive use of Psalms in the public worship of God, etc; the list could go on interminably. 

Once we succumb to any 'old form' is a sign that we have been defeated by the devil, according to DMLJ.  So watch out.  Stay alert.  And dont become a slave to anything or anyone but Christ and His truth.

1 comment:

graham wood said...

Hazlett. I quite agree with this - as you would expect me to!
I'm not sure whether I have sent you this before, but DMLJ had some accurate comments about the need to abandon the 'slave' mentality and the traditions of men - as opposed to his call for a clear doctrine of the church:
"The Manifestation of the Spirit by D.M. Lloyd-Jones

Posted: 02 Feb 2012 04:19 AM PST

“To Each One Is Given The Manifestation Of The Spirit For The Common Good” (1 Cor.12:7)

Food For Thought from D. M. Lloyd-Jones

There is also this whole question of the exercise of gifts in the church. I mentioned our ex-Exclusive Brethren this morning and I did so deliberately in order that it might focus our attention on this particular point. Here are men who have come out of their bondage but are bewildered and confused; they do not know what to do. They have certain major difficulties, one of which is the so-called “one-man ministry.” We have our views about that, but I feel the time has come for us to examine even questions such as these. It does not mean that you necessarily abandon that ministry, but it does focus attention on this: are we giving members of the church an adequate opportunity to exercise their gifts? Are our churches corresponding to the life of the New Testament church? Or is there too much concentration in the hands of ministers and clergy?

You say, “We provide opportunity for the gifts of others in week-night activities.” But I still ask, “Do we manifest the freedom of the New Testament church?”

In other words, this is another reason why we must come back and consider the whole doctrine of the nature of the church, and the marks of the church. By doing so we shall be solving, in detail, many of these particular points and problems which need to be reconsidered among us.

When one looks at the New Testament church and contrasts the church today, even our churches, with that church, one is appalled at the difference. In the New Testament one sees life and vigor and activity; one sees a living community, conscious of its glory and of its responsibility, with the whole church, as it were, an evangelistic force. The notion of people belonging to the church in order to come to sit down and fold their arms and listen, with just two or three doing everything, is quite foreign to the New Testament, and it seems to me it is foreign to what has always been the characteristic of the church in times of revival and reawakening….

We cannot just go on in the position we have inherited, which we inherited from mid- and post-Victorianism and Edwardianism. The machine is still running so many of these things, but is it running to any good purpose? It is for us to call a halt and to stop."

I suggest quite a challenge to all institutional churches, including the 'Reformed'.
I suggest that Evangelicals within all of them are paying a very heavy price for failing to think through, and articulate, a biblical doctrine of the church of Christ for our time.
DMLJ challenged that tradition. Will we?