I have stated on numerous occasions to my Reformed Baptist (Confessional) brethren, that the vast majority of those that God loves, that Jesus has saved, is sanctifying, and using to build His kingdom do not agree with us. The question can then come, why bother to hold to (and I know this is becoming a dirty word) our distinctives? If holding to certain truths causes many to not want to be in our churches and others to leave our churches, why bother to hold to them? Are we just plain stubborn? If God is blessing brethren who do not hold to the Lord’s Day Sabbath, who do not believe in the Regulative Principle of worship (at least as it has been defined and defended and practiced for decades), and who do not practice serious churchmanship, then what are we doing? I have realized for years that there are things that I could begin to do or stop doing which would grow our church. We would instantly become more appealing. Why then am I such a stick in the mud?
A favorite text of mine for years has been Paul’s admonition to Timothy
Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. 2 Timothy 1:13-14
Paul is about to depart from the scene. He is going to be leaving the church, not only in the hands of the Chief Shepherd, but imperfect men as well. These men would have trouble in their churches. They would live to see the day when those in the churches would not ‘endure’ sound doctrine. This sound doctrine would be rejected and in its place would come many popular trends. These “preachers” would fill their churches, while the faithful man would live to see his numbers diminish. This man desires to see sinners come, he desires to see the churches full, but at what cost?
Paul foreseeing such days urges Timothy to, Preach the Word! To give the very thing which people are rejecting! Give the very thing that they don’t want to hear! Why bother? Because we do what we do in light of the coming day of judgment (see 2 Tim. 4:1)! We labor as those who will give an account to the God who has spoken. When I think of the question, Why bother? I think of at least three things.
The first reason is a clear Bible. By and large, those things that we are seeking to promote and defend in our generation are very clearly laid out in the Scriptures. That the Scriptures are sufficient and authoritative for all of church life, that the church exists preeminently for God, that God is sovereign in the salvation of sinners, that God should define what worship is, etc are not doctrines hidden away in obscure portions of the Scriptures but easily found and clearly articulated.
A second reason why we “bother” is the worthiness of the Savior. The death of the Lord Jesus accomplishes not only the satisfaction of the wrath of God toward the elect, but the promise of the perfection of the church. Jesus gave his life unto the end that His people would be zealous for good works, that they might proclaim the glory of Him who called them out of darkness into His marvelous light. He is worthy to have churches that take His word and worship seriously.
Finally there is the matter of needy men. There are saints of God who long for such churches as a place of refuge. They are tired of compromises, they are tired of not being fed, they are tired of business as usual in the 21st century church. Many of us can remember when certain doctrines and practices were new or strange to us, but we are thankful that our friends or pastors stayed the course. When we think of needy men, we also include unconverted men. Those in search of the Savior, who are seeking Him in His word will be most satisfied where He is most clearly revealed and where His word is most faithfully followed.
Why bother to hold to the old ways, the old doctrines? Because the orders which the Holy Spirit gave to Timothy two thousand years ago have never been rescinded!