A Fundamental Church
Speaker 1: Take your calls if you have them and turn to the book of Galatians. Galatians chapter number one is where we're going to start off tonight. I heard a joke yesterday. My family didn't laugh at it very much. For the man thought it was funny. He's a nerd, too. So this is the real test. You laugh, then. Well, then you're throwing your hat in the ring with me and brother Matt. You don't laugh. Well, then you probably like my family. All right, here we go. You know that it is illegal to laugh loudly in Hawaii. Did you know that? Yeah. You said that. You took.
Speaker 2: My job?
Speaker 1: Yeah, they'd like it if you just kept it to a low, huh? Good job, Mr.. She was too fast for me. Oh, man. See, I think if I just get it out of my system right at the beginning, then we won't have any of that kind of foolishness. You know, during the service. But we'll see how that works. Today is Administrative Professional's Day, and so we are very grateful for Miss Tammy. She is our administrative professional there in the office and she is a great help to our church and does a lot of behind the scenes work. And so I'm very thankful that God rested upon her heart to agree to work here at the church and really enjoy getting to work with her each day. And so thank you, Miss Tammy, for your hard work in our church. Yeah. Last week. So we're in the midst of a longer series called A Refresher Course, just on different things that we've all already heard. We all pretty much know we're just kind of rehearsing some things. And last week we started a mini series within the series dealing with the name that we either claim for ourselves or others ascribed to us. And a church like ours would most likely be identified as an independent, fundamental Baptist church. And as I said last week, I think there's a great propensity for those names not really to be understood as to what they're applying to. And different ones will read into it what they will, or they'll use it sometimes even as a derogatory term against us. And so as you can see up on the screen tonight, where to look at this this issue of a fundamental church. And I put a question mark on the end of there. You'll see why in just a moment. But this is another name that is commonly applied to churches like ours. Last week, when we looked at the term independent, I said, and I would still say that this is a term we would proudly claim. I am absolutely, unashamedly glad that we are all part of an independent church. That means we're autonomous, we're self-governing, we're self-supporting. I worry we should even be self propagating ourself, reproducing other churches. And so we are an independent body. We are. We talked about the freedom, the liberty that that affords us. We are free to be a unique ministry that this community needs us to be. You have a unique pastor, a unique situation, unique members. And so we should be a unique church. But the descriptor that we're going to look at tonight is slightly different. It is different in that it is not always a term that we would claim for ourselves. Instead, this has become more of a derogatory term that is usually meant to be an insulting jab at the ones that it is leveled against. It is supposed to mean that the target is out of touch. It is supposed to mean that the target is more passionate about other things besides the Bible. And so the term that I'm talking about, of course, you see it on the screen, is the term fundamental. I went looking through our statement of faith and our are what do you call that, the Constitution. Nowhere in it did I find the word fundamental. If you go and look at our website, I don't think the term fundamental is on there anywhere. I think we will say traditional, but that wouldn't stop most of modern Christianity from identifying us most likely as fundamentalists. And so in order to understand that, we have to understand what they are actually describing us as and whether or not there is any truth to it. So if you're in Galatians chapter one, you don't mind. Join me in standing in honor of reading God's Word, we're going to get verse number six and verse number seven. Chapter one, verse number six, Paul writes to the churches in the region of Galatia. He says, I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ and unto another gospel, which is not another. But there be some that trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. Let's pray the Heavenly Father. We thank you for this day. Thank you for the people that are here. Help us now as we look into your word. Help us to have good understanding and open hearts and minds. To hear the things that you have for us. And it's in Jesus name. I ask these things. Amen. And you may be seated. So when you get to Galatians in just a moment, but first, I'd like to start off with giving you some insight into the modern perception of fundamentalists. One writer said that fundamentalist is a word that is used by the folks who take delight in disparaging, strong religious convictions. If you have strong religious convictions, then they're going to say you are a fundamentalist and they're meant for you to be offended by that. I'm okay with being identified as someone who has strong religious convictions. Perhaps some of you are okay with that as well. You think? Well, I read my Bible. I believe it's God's word. And so, yeah, I've formed some opinions about what that means for my life and I hold to them pretty closely. So if being a fundamentalist means I have strong religious convictions, then so be it. I'm okay with that. You know, I'm not an overly pushy person. I don't know how well you know me or how well you think you know me, but I try to be pretty flexible. I try to be pretty accommodating. But there are some things that we just don't bend on those strong religious convictions that we're not willing to compromise. And so if that makes us a fundamentalist, then I'm okay with that. Another theologian said this. He said that fundamentalists are those who parade secondary and sometimes even obscure aspects of our positions as necessary frontal phases of our view. So I don't really know what that means. They major on the minor things and they minor on the major things. If the Bible makes a big deal out of it, they push it off to the side. If it's barely mentioned and they'll make that the whole focus of their of their religious practice is basically what he's saying. And that's all he's saying is that fundamentalists are the ones who take all the little issues and blow them up into big issues. I don't know about you, but I'm not okay with being known for taking secondary issues and making them primary issues. Those things that I'm not willing to bend on, I have to examine for myself and you have to examine for yourself. Are those primary things or are they secondary, secondary issues? Fundamentalism was not a word that was used. All that I mean, it came about not that long ago. I guess you could say you're almost up to the hundredth now. It would be the hundredth anniversary of the word. Okay. So, hey, happy birthday, fundamentalism. 1922 was when it was first used to apply to a group of Bible loyal Baptists. It would become internationally known in 1925 upon the publication of a series of essays known as The Fundamentals. As anyone familiar with that that work, I knew where the irony would be, but I didn't know if it would extend beyond any of us. Oh, the fun. Oh, brother. David. All right. Thank you. Got to get a hand up there. Yeah. The fundamentals would contain of the essays, which attempted to refocus believers in all camps back to the Bible. Christians were being distracted by issues such as evolution, textual criticism, which is basically casting doubt on the word of God, and then also replacing evangelism with social programs. And so instead of trying to win the lost with the Gospel, churches were investing a lot of their time, energy and resources into good things. Not the main thing. We're trying to feed the hungry, clothe those who didn't have enough clothes, provide shelter for those who didn't have a home. Are any of these things bad? No. But are these the primary needs of men? No. Is that the primary mission of the church? No. And so the fundamentals the fundamentals, the the the 12 volume set was trying to refocus believers and churches back to the Bible. The foreword to the collection of essays stated this in 1925. This is what they said says This book is the first of a series which will be published and sent. This is crazy. But to every pastor, evangelist, missionary, theological professor, theological student, Sunday School Superintendent, YMCA and YWCA secretary in the English speaking world. So far as the addresses of all of these can be attained, two intelligent, consecrated Christian laymen bear the expense because they believe that the time has come when a new statement of the fundamentals of Christianity should be made. Their earnest desire is that you will carefully read it and pass its truth on to others. And so the the the campaign was to get these these essays out to every church and religious organization that they could possibly get it out to. And it was two businessmen who funded this whole project. Now. Though it started with a desire to refocus Christians on the Bible. It didn't take that long between before even the old time fundamentalists began to get distracted and they began to get distracted into in an area that that really precipitated the writing of the essays in the first place. Within 50 years, the fundamentalists became distracted by cultural battles. On one writer said this cultural battles eclipsed the theological battle both as motivator and engine of growth. He went on to say that the crusade of Bible believing Christians shifted until their ministry was not about how to read the Bible, but how to vote and how to act on matters such as abortion, feminism, homosexuality, school prayer and a host of other related issues. Now, let me ask, are those issues that Christians should oppose? Yeah. These are all issues that you and I should not stay silent on. We should take our Bible beliefs and apply them in these areas. They go back to what we said before, is the church's primary job political? Oh. It's to get the gospel out. It's to, according to Jesus, to teach all nations, baptize them, and then train them to observe all that he has commanded us. All of these things need to be spoken on and acted on by Christians. But we should all understand that these issues are simply symptoms of the fact that we, as God's people, have become distracted from what is primary. You get sick, you're going to exhibit symptoms that may or may not be an indicator of what the root cause is. The social ills that bother us so much, rightfully so, are symptoms of a deeper problem. Would you agree? And so one of the initial thrusts of fundamentalism was to get people back to the Bible, to not be distracted by all of the symptoms and go after the root cause. But even fundamentalists got distracted. You see, there is always going to be a danger of Christians, of Jesus followers becoming distracted. I mean, just as an example. Do you know how many times I got distracted just trying to write this sermon? It was a lot. It was a lot. How many times are you going to get distracted just during this message? Like, I don't know. How long is it going to be? I remember when I first started teaching and one of the teachers said, you know, an American teenager has the same attention span as a goldfish. So I think that's right. It's not that 3 seconds to teenagers is about 30 seconds. So, you know, it's a little bit of an exaggeration. Jesus apostles when he was on the earth with them, he realized that they were distracted. For almost three years, they were distracted from what Jesus's true mission was. I mean, here they are walking with Jesus. They have the Son of God. They're physically among them, and yet they are distracted from his primary ministry was they were consumed with the idea that Jesus was going to set up an earthly kingdom. Jesus tried to pull them back to the truth over and over. He tried to refocus their attention. He told them in Luke 1910, he said, For the son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. He didn't come to reign. He came to die. He will come to reign. But right then he was coming to be the sacrifice for humanity, since this was the fundamental fact of Jesus mission. And no matter how much the disciples wanted to focus on their interpretation of his life, they couldn't. Change was true. It doesn't matter what their interpretation of him was. What mattered is what is true about him. And what was true about him was that he came to die. By maintaining their distraction. All the disciples did was become disillusioned when Jesus didn't do what they wanted Him to do. They needed to be refocused. They needed to get back to the foundation or the fundamental reason why Jesus came to this earth. Well, let's get on to Galatians chapter one. That was more of an illustration. In Galatians chapter one, we see that Paul also dealt with people who became distracted from the truth and needed to get back to the basics. We already read Galatians one, six and seven where he says, I marvel that you are so soon removed. The message of the Bible, we understand, is not the message of man. If if it was the message of man, then the apostles would have been right when they assumed that Jesus came to set up an earthly kingdom. That's what men think should happen. How many times have you said, Well, if I was running things. We do this? My. The only one that said that. I still say that. If I was the pastor of this church, we would do this. Message. The Bible isn't man's message. It is God's message. Galatians one 1112 Paul says this, he says, But I certify you brethren. The gospel which was preached of me is not after man, for I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. When Christians begin to follow men over God, then we will easily find ourselves becoming more and more distracted from what God intends for us. He said One of the things about being an independent church is that it gives you liberty and freedom to to be unique, to serve God, to follow Jesus and not follow men. Paul is dealing with that same issue here because the churches in Galatia had begun following men rather than God. And so what Paul is doing, should sound familiar, is trying to refocus them back on what God's mission for them was. Now I know if you've noticed this or not, but distracted Christians start to do weird things. Some of you lived through the fifties and the sixties where there were some weird things happening as Christians followed men rather than following God. If you were to do some study on some of the modern Christianity, you would find that Christians who follow men rather than follow God, they start to do weird and odd things. This was true in Galatia, just as it is true today, both over if you were to Galatians chapter two. Verse number four. Paul says that because of false brethren unawares brought in who came in privately to spy out our liberty, which we have in Christ Jesus that they might bring us into but. Punch. I don't know if that's. Obviously weird to you are not. But what Paul is saying is, is that if we were to follow these men, we as Christians at Liberty and Jesus Christ would willingly trade our liberty for bondage. That's what happens when you start following men rather than following God. But that's an odd thing. If you're a Christian are people who try to do this, they try to make you enslaved to their opinion and they'll say things like this If you are a Christian, you will support the social causes that I support. You are a Christian. Then. Then you will look to me for the example of how you should operate in your home. If you're a Christian, you will oppose the things that that I oppose. Have you ever noticed that your philosophy is and opinions and even actions have a tendency to change as you go through life and amass different experiences? And you say, you know, I used to think this. But now not so much. I saw a fun, funny, fun thing on social media. And it was making fun of first time parents, but I guess we're not anymore. I'm sorry. I was looking at my wife's. Not. Not looking at you at all. And as it said. It was just making fun of the fact that, you know, before you become a parent, you have got some really good plans, right? I mean, you know what you're going to do and it's going to work. And this didn't happen for us. But I understand it happens for some people. You know, you have that first kid and they're so docile. And submissive and just easy going. And you think, Oh, look at me, I'm pretty good. We got this parenting parenting thing figured out. I don't know what all the rest y'all are losing your minds about, but, man, this is easy. And then the wonderful second child comes along and just slaps you in the reality. Right? Have you experienced that? I don't even know why I got into that. Following men. Yeah. Okay. Uh huh. Paul looks at man's attempt to rule over us with his philosophy and his opinions, his way of doing things. And in verse number five, he says, to whom we gave place by subjection. No, not for an hour. That the truth of the Gospel might continue with you. I see. Paul wasn't willing to let these people subjugate the believers, the family of God, not even for an hour with their their traditions and their philosophies of men. Paul wants them to keep their eyes firmly fixed on Jesus, on his message, on the Gospel, so that they can continue in the liberty that Jesus has purchased for them. It didn't matter even how great men, how great the men were that promoted these distractions. If they were being untrue to the truth, then they were not worthy to be followed. I mean, they could have been the most respected, widely acclaimed teacher on some topic, but if he was not being true to the truth, then he did not deserve people to give him ear, much less to follow his example. So. Well, that's a pretty big deal. Um, yeah, because there's some pretty well thought of men out there and well thought of men never prove themselves to just be sinners like all the rest of us. I mean, they're they're basically, you know, saints and just flawless, right? No. Even the first pope. Peter. Right. Messing with you guys. I'm not being serious. Even Peter had to be resisted by Paul because he had gotten distracted from what was true, Paul says in chapter two, verse 11 said. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I was stood him to the face because he was to be blamed. I mean, you think about the day of Pentecost. You think of those early days in the church in Jerusalem. There really wasn't a bigger figure than Peter. And so many people were being changed and touched by by his preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And yet, Peter was just a man. Peter was a man that was able to become distracted from the truth just like anybody else could. He said, Well, what was Peter guilty of specifically that made this necessary? Well, without getting too much into it, if you look at verse number 14, Paul kind of summarizes the issue. He says, But when I saw that, they walked not up rightly according to the truth of the Gospel. I sent them to Peter before them all. If now being a Jew, living after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compel us now the Gentiles to live, as do the Jews? He's accusing Paul. Peter, I'm sorry of hypocrisy. Of a double standard of setting up something that was unbiblical, that was man's man's opinion and telling other people that they have to follow it while he himself was not following. Paul uses this as an illustration because the Gentiles were being influenced by Judy officers to believe that they had to observe the law in addition to their relationship with Jesus. Yes, you have, Jesus. But you also have to do A, B, C, D, E, F, G, so on and so forth in order to really be God. You have to do these things. You have to agree with us. You have to avoid the things that we avoid. If you want God to really, really accept you. See, that's bondage. That is not the freedom that Jesus purchased for us by dying on the cross. Why would a child of freedom want to go back under bondage? Well, that's exactly what happens when we get distracted from the truth. We start to add other rules and other conditions to qualify our religion. Paul refocuses their attention on the truth. If you'll flip over to Galatians chapter number five. We're moving so fast. You're going to get out early tonight. You're being such great listeners. I'm like, Oh, wow, we're almost done. And you're like, It's cool. Okay. Stop talking and get on with it. Relationship for five. First number one. Paul says Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. See, all of us need someone to refocus us on the truth from time to time. What did he say in Philippians? That we were to think on things that are true. Fortunately, we get distracted on other things. Sometimes we get distracted on good things and someone has to bring us back into what is primary. Fundamentalists were originally an effort to do this for the followers of Christ, to refocus them, bring their attention back to the Bible. Some of the things that they were focused on were were lies like evolution, higher criticism of the Bible. These these are things that are damaging and dangerous to the Christian faith. Other things that they were focused on was. Feeding the hungry. Clothing. Housing. Social issues. This this movement brought people back to the Bible. So. Are we a fundamentalist church or are we not? Do we want to be fundamental or do we not? Well, it depends. We say fundamentalist. Are we talking about a church that refocuses people on the fundamentals of the Christian faith? We claim to be fundamentalists. Are we talking about this definition that we are trying to cut away at the fat, cut away to destruct the distractions and just refocus people on what God's word says on the facts and the truth concerning the virgin birth or the inerrancy of the Bible, the Trinity, Salvation by grace through faith alone, the incarnation of Jesus, the work of the Holy Spirit. The Presence of sin. The Return of Christ. These things are primary. Are we talking about a church that takes secondary or ancillary issues and makes them the primary focus? See? Depends on on what we mean by saying we're a fundamental church. The fundamentals of the Bible. Or is it something else? And see, like what else? What's the secondary or ancillary issue? That we might make a primary focus. Well. Music could become one of those things. And there can be. Distractions on either side of the coin. Perhaps you want the music at our church to be more modern. Perhaps you want the music at our church to be more traditional. We're not careful. We can become distracted from our mission. By worship wars. Fights over the music. Dress. Can become a distraction for our church. Social issues of the day can become a distraction for our church. I've been in meetings where it was suggested to a roomful of pastors that they needed to have a a moment of politics in every service. Where you updated the church on what was going on. Political realm. Sorry. I guess I might reference something that everybody already knows about, but it. Can't see where it's my job to update you on. You know what the president did today? I might tell you, that's something that requires our. Attention. There's not going to be a regular part of our services. Political issues, social issues. These things can distract us from what our primary mission is. On one hand, as one writer put it. We could become a church that possesses a mentality that is legalistic and authoritarian. Fundamentalists can be intolerant of differing viewpoints, feeling compelled to impose themselves on the rest of the society. Well, in that statement, if they're referencing those who get distracted and begin following the dictates and traditions of men, then they're probably right. That's exactly what Paul was battling against. See, it was the Judaism who were the legal ists. The duty officers were the authoritarians who said, if you don't do this. If you don't circumcise yourself, then you're not. You're not really right with God. On the other hand. It is fairly common for those with strong religious convictions to be misrepresented. That's why one man said about fundamentalists. He said, I don't feel like we're a bunch of obscurantist anti intellectuals, pure jumping, backwoods hillbillies. I consider fundamentalists to be simple, Bible believing Christians. Message of the Bible and the message of the Gospel is where liberty and freedom are found. And if you say that we're a fundamentalist church and that means that we are true to the Bible, then I say, Yeah, sure, let's let's claim that I want to be known as someone who refocuses people on the Bible. Not okay if we are linked in with fundamentalists because of our propensity to major on the minors in minor on the majors. You realize that sometimes when I preach a message, it's aspirational. I don't know what goes on in people's minds when I preach on something, whether you look at me and say, Well, you're not doing that. Well, if I'm preaching on sin, you're probably going to be right that I do have sinned in my life. Right. But I aspire like you aspire to be closer to Jesus. I don't know what you think about me being your pastor. Word that you think I'm just satisfied with. Why things are just the way things are now. I aspire for our church to continue to improve in our ability to minister to people a biblical way. That means I aspire whether we have arrived or not. To be a ministry that directs people back to Jesus, back to the gospel, that that directs people to the freedom and the liberty that comes from a true walk in relationship with Jesus Christ. I don't want to be known. We're making a big deal out of things that should not be primary. I want to be known for making a big deal out of Jesus, making a big deal out of the gospel and seeing people get saved. I didn't write it down, but one of the articles I read regarding fundamentalists went into detail of everything that this author ascribed to fundamentalists when it came to success. One of the things was creativity and passion for evangelism. That surpassed any other group at the time. Like I said that last week, that's why I wasn't that long ago that the largest and fastest growing churches in the country, independent fundamental Baptist churches. No reason why that can't be true of us again today. But if we get distracted by other battles, we won't have the time or the energy to reach people the way we're supposed to. So. Fundamentalist church question mark. Depends on what your definition of fundamentalist is. If it's pushing people back to Jesus in the Bible, then yeah, will be that. Definitely. Father. Thank you for this day. Thank you for the good attention of the folks that are here. Well, I hope that this has been a helpful thing or just understanding the definition of who we are, who we claim to be. Well, I pray that you would help these aspirational words to become realized in our life and ministry. God, may each one of us seek to point people back to you. Not to men, not to the opinions or the traditions of men, but to Jesus Christ and the Gospel that He established for us. Help us to apply it to our daily lives. See, it lived out as we interact with the folks in the different spheres of influence that we have. May our church be known for having an evangelistic passion and zeal to reach the people in our community with the Gospel. Or, we love you so much. Thank you for all that you do for us. That's in Jesus name, I pray. Amen.