Category Archives: drunkenness

Numerical Church Growth And The Biblical Purposes Of Church Services

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

NUMERICAL CHURCH GROWTH IS IMPORTANT TO CHURCHES. There are practical reasons for this. If churches don’t grow numerically, they will eventually die out as the aging attendees can no longer attend, or they pass away. If churches don’t grow numerically, they will eventually have no substantial reason to exist. If they don’t grow numerically, they will eventually run out of money and will, then, be unable to pay their expenses and will be forced to shut down. Most importantly, if churches don’t grow numerically, it means they have ceased to reach new persons in their communities with the Gospel message, and have failed to get them to attend their services.

ASTRAY FROM THE BIBLICAL PURPOSES OF CHURCH SERVICES. The fact that many churches are in serious numerical decline has caused a lot of them to stray from the Biblical purposes of church services. But what are the Biblical purposes for having church services? According to the New Testament, church services are to be held so that Christians can worship God together, pray together, be taught from the Word of God together, and to have fellowship with one another. But how have Bible-believing churches strayed from these God-ordained purposes? By making their services primarily a means of reaching non-Christians with the Gospel of Christ. This focus, they hope, will not only win many persons to believe in Jesus Christ, but also become  a means of increasing the number of attendees at their services, and thereby keep the church from going out of existence.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN EVANGELISM BECOMES THE PRIMARY PURPOSE FOR CHURCH SERVICES? It is certainly true that churches can and should be evangelistic. The Gospel can be made known during church services through music, through personal testimonies, through literature,  and through preaching and teaching the Word of God. But when reaching non-Christians with the Gospel displaces the God-ordained purposes for church services, it has serious negative consequences. Even though a church which has made this shift in its purpose for its services might still have a strong emphasis on worshiping God,  it is certain to spend less time teaching and preaching the Word of God to the Christians in attendance. The non-Christians are fed what they need to learn, and the Christians get little of the meat of God’s Word. This is comparable to what would happen if a family is made up of a wide variety of ages, but at meal time everyone is expected to eat what the youngest family members are able to eat. The youngest family members might thrive on such a diet, but not the older ones. But this is not the only negative consequence of church services becoming primarily a means of reaching non-Christians with the Gospel. Another almost-inevitable negative consequence is that in such church services many truths of the Word of God will be skipped over because of their potential to offend and thus alienate the very ones the church is trying to reach with the Gospel. Preachers in such  churches will very likely not warn about specific false teachers and their falsehoods. Preachers in such churches will not likely specifically identify religious groups that claim to be Christian, but in fact are not. Preachers in such churches will not be likely to forthrightly say certain kinds of behavior are to be avoided because the ones they are trying to win to Christ are involved in those behaviors, and they don’t want to drive them away from the services. Such preachers might forthrightly condemn things that the Bible specifically condemns, and which most persons agree are wrong. But they will be hesitant to speak against things that might be only what could be called questionable, borderline, and known to lead to worse behavior. The moderate drinking of alcoholic beverages and moderate gambling are examples of what I mean. Preachers in such churches will most likely say, “Don’t get drunk.” But they won’t say, “Don’t drink alcoholic beverages at all.” Preachers in such churches will say, “Watch out so you don’t become problem gamblers.” But they won’t say, “Don’t gamble at all.” Another almost-inevitable consequence of making evangelism the focus of church services is that the  music used will be the kind that is more acceptable to non-Christians. This means, it will be more entertaining than is appropriate in church services. And it means it will be more worldly or secular in style than it should be. Another way to put it is, the music will not be appropriate for worshiping  the Holy God revealed in the Bible. Here is an example of that very thing: One preacher told me and a couple other preachers of an experience he had as a guest speaker at church in serious numerical decline, and which was made up of mostly elderly Christians. He said that as he visited with the church folks before a service, someone began to play taped Christian rock music over the loudspeaker. He asked them why they were playing THAT kind of music. He was told it was done to appeal to the younger people. In our day it is common for older Christians to be criticized for objecting to much of the music used in contemporary churches.But those older Christians are justified in saying such music has no place in Bible-believing churches. To summarize the point of this paragraph, let me say that what happens when a church makes evangelism the primary purpose of it services is that it often gives itself over to accommodating the persons it is trying to reach with the Gospel of Christ. This always weakens a church, even if it results in many more attendees. It weakens a church because this kind of accommodation is contrary Biblical teaching, and it, therefore does not develop strong Christians.

BIBLICAL STATEMENTS CONCERNING THE GOD-ORDAINED PURPOSES FOR CHURCH SERVICES. Above, I said the New Testament tells that God has specific purposes for church services. But where we can these be read in the New Testament? I will give some of the chapters and verses to read, and you can look them up yourselves. As you read them, look for the statements indicating that the teaching and preaching of God’s Word to Christians was central to the meetings of the Christians. (We now would call the meetings church services.) Acts 2:41 – 47; Acts 14:21 – 28;  Acts 15:22 – 41; Acts 16:1 – 5; Acts 18:8 – 11 & verse 18, first sentence; Acts 18:24 – 28; Acts 19:7 – 11;  Acts 20:17 – 38; Ephesians 4:11 – 16; Ephesians 5:17 – 20; Colossians 1:28; Colossians 3:16 & 17; 2 Thessalonians 2:5 & 16; 1 Timothy 4:6 & 13; 1 Timothy 5:17; 2 Timothy 3:14 – 17; 2 Timothy 4:1 – 5; 1 Peter 5:1 – 4.

Advertisements

My Scientific Discovery About Alcoholism

 

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen, First Baptist Church, Spearfish, SD

In this post, I am going to use some humor to make a serious point about alcoholism, which is not a humorous subject. For those of you who don’t know me well, and maybe not at all, I am not a scientist. But I am a Norwegian-American, and I am a Baptist pastor. Please don’t hold these facts against me. I had no choice in the matter of being born a Norwegian-American. I am glad I was born an American, but some days I have my misgivings about being a Norwegian. But when we eat some more lefse, I am again a happy Norwegian. Although I did not choose to be a Norwegian-American, I did choose to be a Baptist pastor. But, unlike being a Norwegian, I have never regretted it.
But on to my humorous way of making a serious point about alcoholism: I made a remarkable discovery about alcoholism in the USA. I did not discover the fact that there are 12 million alcoholics here in the USA. Someone else made that discovery. I did not discover the fact that beverage alcohol is the number one drug problem in the USA. Someone else made that discovery. In fact, there are many things about alcoholic beverages and alcoholism that I did not discover. But, after spending 10 trillion dollars of my own money, made by delivering newspapers, and which is kept in one of my 200 savings accounts, and after personally interviewing all 12 million alcoholics in the USA, I did discover an amazing fact, previously unknown by anyone: all alcoholics drink alcoholic beverages! That’s right: all alcoholics drink alcoholic beverages. Why had I not previously grasped this fact? I was so stunned, that I had to sit down for an hour just to think it over. Could it really be true that all alcoholics drink alcoholic beverages? No, this does not mean all who drink such beverages are alcoholics. But, still, it was a shocking thing to discover that all alcoholics drink alcoholic beverages. That means there is a provable link between the consumption of such beverages and alcoholism. Now, I know that many who no longer drink alcoholic beverages still think of themselves as alcoholics, and more specifically as recovering alcoholics. But that is not my subject right now. My subject, remember, is that I discovered that all alcoholics drink alcoholic beverages.
This discovery led to another one. And it, too, required a lot of work and money to make the discovery. What I did was this: I personally interviewed every American who has never drunk an alcoholic beverage. What I discovered was almost as mind-boggling as the first discovery: Not one person of the millions of Americans who had never drunk an alcoholic beverage is or was an alcoholic! You might have to re-read that statement to grasp the implications of it: Not one person of the millions of Americans who had never drunk an alcoholic beverage is or was an alcoholic! That fact alone blows the mind! So, I came to the same conclusion after this second discovery as I did with the first one: there is a provable link between alcoholic beverages and alcoholism. Why had I not realized this fact long ago?
If you want o read some very interesting statistics about alcoholism in the USA, click on the following link: http://www.learn-about-alcoholism.com/statistics-on-alcohol…

The Bible has many warnings about alcoholic beverages. Although its warnings most often refer to intoxicating wine, what is says about intoxicating wine easily applies to other forms of alcoholic beverages. Below is a quote of the entire 23rd chapter of the Old Testament’s book of Proverbs. It is quoted from the Modern English Version (MEV), and is taken from this website: http://www.biblegateway.com. As you read through this chapter, take note of its warnings about alcoholic beverages.

Proverbs 23 Modern English Version (MEV)

Saying Seven

23 When you sit to eat with a ruler,
    consider diligently what is before you;
and put a knife to your throat,
    if you are a man given to appetite.
Be not desirous of his delicacies,
    for they are deceptive food.

Saying Eight

Do not labor to be rich;
    cease from your own wisdom.
Will you set your eyes on that which is not?
    For riches certainly make themselves wings;
    they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.

Saying Nine

Do not eat the bread of him who has an evil eye,
    neither desire his delicacies;
for as he thinks in his heart,
    so is he.
“Eat and drink!” he says to you,
    but his heart is not with you.
The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up,
    and lose your sweet words.

Saying Ten

Do not speak in the ears of a fool,
    for he will despise the wisdom of your words.

Saying Eleven

10 Do not remove the old landmark,
    nor enter the fields of the fatherless;
11 for their Redeemer is mighty;
    He will plead their cause with you.

Saying Twelve

12 Apply your heart to instruction,
    and your ears to the words of knowledge.

Saying Thirteen

13 Do not withhold correction from a child,
    for if you beat him with the rod, he will not die.
14 You shall beat him with the rod,
    and deliver his soul from death.

Saying Fourteen

15 My son, if your heart is wise,
    my heart will rejoice—even mine.
16 Yes, my inmost being will rejoice
    when your lips speak right things.

Saying Fifteen

17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
    but continue in the fear of the Lord all day long;
18 for surely there is an end,
    and your expectation will not be cut off.

Saying Sixteen

19 Hear, my son, and be wise;
    and guide your heart in the way.
20 Do not be among winebibbers,
    among riotous eaters of meat;
21 for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
    and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.

Saying Seventeen

22 Listen to your father who gave you life,
    and do not despise your mother when she is old.
23 Buy the truth, and do not sell it,
    also wisdom and instruction and understanding.
24 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice,
    and he who fathers a wise child will have joy of him.
25 Your father and your mother will be glad,
    and she who bore you will rejoice.

Saying Eighteen

26 My son, give me your heart,
    and let your eyes observe my ways.
27 For a prostitute is a deep ditch,
    and a seductress is a narrow pit.
28 She also lies in wait as for a prey,
    and increases the transgressors among men.

Saying Nineteen

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow?
    Who has contentions? Who has babbling?
    Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?
30 Those who tarry long at the wine,
    those who go to seek mixed wine.
31 Do not look on the wine when it is red,
    when it sparkles in the cup,
    when it swirls around smoothly;
32 at the last it bites like a serpent,
    and stings like a viper.
33 Your eyes will see strange things,
    and your heart will utter perverse things.
34 Yes, you will be as he who lies down in the midst of the sea,
    or as he who lies upon the top of a mast.
35 “They have stricken me,” you will say, “and I was not sick;
    they have beaten me, and I did not feel it.
When will I awake?
    I will seek it yet again.”

Modern English Version (MEV)The Holy Bible, Modern English Version. Copyright © 2014 by Military Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House.