There is a movement afoot that has become quite popular in our day—the Re-gressive Movement, or as some church historians call it, the Pro-gressive Movement of our day.
We’ve all seen it. Men who stood for the “old time” religion in the past, are now falling for an “online” religion of the present. They have traded in their old Manual (KJV), for a new, more modern one. They have changed their music from the Rock of Ages to rock-n-roll. They have changed their modesty standards for the outside-is-not-important-do-your-own-thing look. They have changed their methods to a “give the people what they want” approach.
I am not going to rehash the things mentioned above, except for the last one, because that is everyone’s favorite. How many times have you heard it said or read their copy: “We’ve changed our methods, but we’ll never change our doctrine”? Excuse me, but you have changed your doctrine!
Many regressive pastors have sold their people on a bill of goods that basically says, “Doctrine is Bible, but methods are not. They aren’t that important and change with the times.” I submit to you that many methods are doctrine, and we must be careful about any method that is tied to the Bible. Some methods clearly are not—the time of services, whether you ride a camel or drive a car to church, the facilities in which you meet, or the use of pews or chairs (to name a few).
On the other hand, some methods are very important.
Ask Moses about methods. God told him to speak to the rock but he chose another method. Moses decided to strike the rock instead, a seemingly minor change of method, but God said he lost his position of leadership in being able to lead the children of Israel into the promised land, “Because ye rebelled against my word” (Numbers 20:24). Methods are important.
Ask Uzzah about methods. King David wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, so they put it on an ox cart. Uzzah and a friend were driving the cart back when it began to shake. He put forth his hand to steady it, and when he did, God struck him dead! God told the Israelites to always carry the Ark with poles, so it wouldn’t be touched by human hands. However, they followed the leadership of the Philistines (the world), and Uzzah lost his life for a seemingly insignificant change in how something was done. Uzzah found out that methods count.
I remind us all that the church is God’s and belongs to Him. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 3:9–11, “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ [emphasis mine].”
While changing methods may seem insignificant to some pastors and their flocks, the greatest doctrinal change we need to be most concerned with, in my opinion, is the holiness of God. God’s Word says, “Be ye holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16b). Every preacher and Christian needs to consider this.
My point is, with the worldly music, the immodest and ungodly standards, the casual Christianity (bring God down to your level rather than reverencing Him), what are you teaching the lost heathen you want to reach? What will be their assessment of God’s holiness? Are “old things passed away” (2 Corinthians 5:17), or are they just repackaged?
I am sure we can all agree that the only method of salvation is through the blood of Jesus. Thank God for Calvary! But it could be helpful to mentally pause, and define the “new man” in Christ. Then compare him to the Bible’s description in Ephesians 4:24 which says, “And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Please meditate on those last few words: “Righteousness and true holiness” and ask yourself if that is what you are seeing in the lives of your children, yourself, and your church.
God wants us to be, “Partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). When we are new on the inside and partake of His holiness, everything changes! We are to be conformed to His image, not to that of the world. Now is not the time to regress and go back into the world.