|Vol. 12 No. 10 October 2010||
“‘Behold, days are coming,’ declares the Lord God, ‘when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord’” (Amos 8:11). When God sent His prophet Amos to Israel, He was speaking to a nation immersed in idolatry. While Amos spoke God’s truth to them, the Israelites preferred the message of the false prophets, who spoke to appease the desires of the people, not to please God by being faithful to His Word. If they persisted in their rejection of God and His will, the time would come when God would no longer send His prophets to warn them. The time would come when they longed to hear the truth, but wouldn’t be able to hear the truth. A famine of truth leads to the problems of sin.
The New Testament counterpart of this is offered by Paul to Timothy about some in their day. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). There would follow their own desires and would seek out teachers who offered God’s blessings apart from God’s truth. A famine of truth leads to the problems of sin.
Though separated by centuries, this same attitude of heart leads to the same consequences today. In our society, we have rejected the objective truth of Scripture for the subjective desires of the individual. There is a famine of the Word today, as people have deceived themselves into thinking whatever they believe is what God believes, teaches and condones. Few feel the need to consult Scripture, and having been deceived to believe such an outrageous lie, why should they? They should because their souls are at stake.
Such an attitude makes evangelism difficult at best. It is hard to convince people of the need for immersion, for example, if they believe in their heart simply believing in Jesus is enough. It is hard to convince them to abandon a sexually immoral lifestyle, when they believe God wants them to be happy. It is hard to talk about the reality of hell, when they believe God loves us too much to condemn anyone.
A famine of the Word, however, leaves us with the consequences of sin, and as sin only begets more sin (Romans 6:19), the effects of evil will only get worse. In each person’s life, a window of opportunity can open when one’s desires only bring sorrow and suffering. If we can show the authority of Scripture, we can show what God actually does teach, how one should actually live and what eternity awaits if one ignores or rebels against God’s Word.
Do we, as New Testament Christians, believe in the authority of Scripture? Do we know what it teaches? Do we live by its precepts? Or, have we succumbed to the spirit of the age? Are we suffering from a famine of the Word in our personal lives, in the life of the church? A famine of truth leads to the problems of sin. We cannot make a difference in other lives, in the culture in which we live, if we don’t allow the Word to make a difference in us first. “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Colossians 3:16).
It is not easy to sing with brethren during worship when they are using another language beside English. We understand the apostle Paul teaches us to sing with the spirit and with the understanding, and it is imperative this takes place. If one’s brethren of another nationality are singing in their language, but using a tune or melody we are familiar with, then it becomes possible to sing together, expressing the same concepts of praise and instruction while teaching and admonishing one another in spiritual hymns even while using different words and phrases. If one does not recognize the melody however, forget it. It’s not going to happen.
Unfortunately, there may be a discordant tone that ascends heavenward to clash in the ears of our Lord, when brethren are singing the page, the line, the measure or the note they personally choose to sing without consideration of the direction and leading of the great “Conductor.” When brethren do their own thing (because they can) without due and proper consideration for Jesus, His wishes, His will and His purposes, it becomes difficult, yea impossible, for His disciples to blend in sweet, perfect harmony.
Some sing with their heads bowed down. They never look up to see whether Jesus is smiling on them, or whether His heart is breaking from their failure to love, appreciate, adore and follow Him.
Some are unwilling to sing with and follow the great “Conductor.” Rather than sing together on the same page, same line, same measure, etc., they either “run ahead” or “fall behind” the “Leader.” Some seem to think the only thing that matters is that they are singing, without regard to place and time.
Brethren, there are elders, deacons, preachers, Bible class teachers and members in general that need to turn to the page Jesus has “announced,” and we need to wait for His lead and follow Him. He will not “drag” us through the song, but He will lead us cheerfully and triumphantly through it as we march together “to Zion, the beautiful city of God.”