In my first post on this subject we looked at the truth that in most churches the people are unrestrained because of no revelation (Proverbs 29:18). This implies the great need for systematic exposition of the Scriptures in order to bring the church under the guidelines of God as revealed in His Word. Preaching expository sermons systematically through books of the Bible will yield great benefits both for the pastor and his congregation. In the book, Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching, Derek Thomas in his chapter, Expository Preaching: Keeping Your Eye on the Text, wrote, “History reveals that the benefits of the lectio continua method of preaching are considerable and essential in eras of biblical illiteracy” (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, Morgan PA, 2002, page 67). As Proverbs 29:18 says, “But blessed is he who keeps the law” implying the great benefits that come from knowing God’s guidelines and abiding by them.
Now the question must be asked: how or why did most churches get unrestrained; how or why did they get out of control? The answer to this question will give us a clearer understanding of the root of the problem facing today’s churches.
It seems obvious to me that the fault needs to be put squarely on the shoulders of those in leadership. The people are unrestrained and get out of control when there is no restraint because of poor leadership (Exodus 32:1-28).
The people get out of control because of poor leadership who operate under the fear of man rather than fear of God (1-6, 25). Here we see that Aaron succumbed to the wishes of the people (1-2), allowed and led them into idolatry (3-6), and let them out of control (25). Instead of caving in to the pressures of the people and giving them what they wanted, Aaron should have reminded them of God’s revelation of Himself and His guidelines. Churches get out of control because of poor and timid leadership who refuse to confront the people with God’s revelation of His guidelines.
The people and the leadership are responsible for their sin (7-10, 21). Not only do we read that the people are held responsible for their sin when they demand things to be done their way (7-10), we also read that the leadership is responsible for their sin of allowing the people to get out of control (21). When the people will not endure sound doctrine but want to have their ears tickled so that they can be unrestrained, we are not to be teachers in accordance to their desires but are to preach the word of God and operate under the fear of the Lord and not the fear of man (2 Timothy 4:1-5). God will hold both the people and the leaders responsible for their sin!
The leadership is responsible to keep the people under control (21, 25). God will hold the leadership to a higher standard of judgment (James 3:1). No leadership or poor leadership results in anarchy with the people being out of control doing that which is right in their own eyes. God has designed not only the church but also the family and society to have leadership. Those who are given the responsibility of leadership are to lead according to God’s guidelines both guiding and guarding those for whom they are responsible. Bad leadership makes for a bad church, a bad family, or a bad society. As goes the leadership so goes the people and God hold both responsible (Hosea 4:9).
Bold leadership needs to take immediate disciplinary actions (19-28). When the people are out of control because of poor leadership, bold leadership needs to step in and bring corrective disciplinary actions to bring the people back under control. Any unrestrained people are a derision to their enemies (25) and are subject to God’s anger and wrath (9-10). The disciplinary actions necessary may seem harsh (19-20, 26-28) but are totally necessary to restore restraint.
Corrective discipline will restore restraint but will bring death and division (26-28). This is a price that bold leadership must be willing to pay in order to bring those out of control back under control. We must remember that God isn’t interested in quantity unless it has quality. God isn’t interested in bigger churches unless they are better churches. In order to purify God will prune (John 15:1-6) and purge (Acts 5:1-13) and then His quantity will have the quality that He desires (John 15:8 and Acts 5:14).
Pastor, are you willing to do God’s work God’s way using God’s word to restore restraint and keep the people under control?