Church health: Contention for doctrinal purity and health of the church
By Olufemi Emmanuel Phd
The admonition of Apostle Jude for believers to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the Saints s (Jude1:3) has continued to remain relevant across the ages, particularly to the present day Church. Unfortunately such an admonition and other similar ones could easily be misinterpreted to mean engagement in some kind of prayers in the name of spiritual warfare. But proper understanding is that the Church must keep up the struggle to maintain purity and health in the things she teaches, believes and practices.
Doctrinal purity and health is the most Paramount need in the Church. Today’s Church does not lack people; she does not lack money; today’s Church does not lack a good standing with the political powers that be; the properties owned by the Church today are unquantifiable. But one thing is lacking: passion for purity and health in doctrine.
The Church, especially in Nigeria, is worried about only one thing, and that is security. She is more concerned about protecting her life, money, properties, prestige and many other things that are only of earthly relevance. Those are the things that are mostly preached, taught and prayed about.
A little reflection on history will reveal that the early Church were faced with two major challenges: persecution and heresy. The former was an external attack while the latter was internal. The Church struggled, endured and survived the external persecutions but it was a more uphill task to withstand heresies. But Church leaders spent more time to give it attention in dealing with it. But for their commitment to attack doctrinal errors in the Church, Christianity would have been no more.
In the present day church, it is very obvious that dealing with wrong teachings, beliefs and practices is not the passion. The concern is more about the externals. That is clearly reflected in how external persecutions and threats are being responded to. The only time leaders of the church are worried is when their earthly interests are disturbed but they never care about the ravaging unwholesome teachings, beliefs and practices that are cancerously destroying the faith of many.
Many followers in the church of today are living in fear of those who can only kill the body but not of those things that destroy the soul. The soul-wrecking heresies in the church have continued to breed un-Christ-like lifestyles of corruption and hypocrisy and that is not a cause for leadership to blink an eye as long as the externals are secured.
There is need for serious prayers; not against those who only kill the body but against those falsehood and heresies that are destroying the souls. Upon whom should curses be released? On people who only kill the body and destroy material properties? No, it is those who preach another gospel, even if they are angels from heaven, that should be accursed. (Gal1:8,9)
It is important to note that nobody living today can be a better manager of the church than the Lord Jesus Christ himself and his early Apostles. The prices they have paid for the Church can never be surpassed by any man of God today irrespective of calling, placement or social standing. That is why it is only their passion for the church that should be maintained; their concern for the prevalence of the truth and the practice of the same by the church people should be preserved throughout the ages; it should be the paramount prayer point and ultimately the only reason for celebration if the Church must be pure and healthy.
The society is increasingly being unreached by the Church because the teachings and belief system are weak and inadequate to make meaningful impacts for transformation. The health of the Church is not the function of wealth and social status but the soundness of the doctrine and the practices. Who judges the correctness of the doctrine? Somebody may ask. The answer is not farfetched: the scriptures; the tradition of the Church as entrenched in history and the Christian experience as guided by scriptures and the Holy Spirit. These three are placed in order of priority. Any Church that is not being consciously built on these, will of course remain weak and may even die. May God revive his Church!
Olufemi Emmanuel is Dean of Academics at WATS, Lagos, Nigeria. Please respond to this piece through 07010741933 (SMS only)