It is not uncommon to hear people speak of a need for change. Most often, it is in the realm of politics and government. Needless to say, most would agree that there is need for change in that realm. However, just because one makes a change, in any realm, it does not mean it is for the good. Change can be to the good or to the bad. One must know the specifics of the changes planned before one can determine if it should be welcomed or shunned. This is true in any realm and especially in the realm of religion. We have all seen articles in the newspapers that speak of some denomination or religious group that have determined to make a change in their teachings and practices. If the change is for the good, then it should be welcomed. If the change is for the bad, it should be shunned. That’s simple isn’t it?
However, when it comes to changes in matters of Christianity, one must ask if the change is authorized by the word of God. If a teaching or practice is in harmony with the word of God, it cannot be changed without sinning, for disobedience to God is sin and such a change should be shunned. If a teaching or practice is not in harmony with the word of God, then it must be changed to that which is in harmony with God’s word, and that change should be welcomed. The problem is, too many of the changes that have been made in the teaching and practice of the Christian church, from the mid-second century to present, are not God approved changes. God’s word was preached and used to establish congregations of the Lord’s church in the first century and those churches were not to make any changes from that teaching and practice. Paul said, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). Any change of the gospel of Christ found in the pages of the New Testament is an unauthorized change!
Seen recently was a church sign that read, “Welcome change, it will give birth to new experience”. Change will give birth to new experience, but that does not necessarily mean we should welcome it. The wife who has never been unfaithful to her husband, but then changes, will indeed experience something new, but said experience is certainly not something to be welcomed, but is instead a change that should be shunned. One must first ask the question, “is this a change of what God has said, or is it a change in matters of opinion?” God’s will has been revealed to man by way of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:9-13) and is not to be “changed” in any way. When God revealed His will to the nation of Israel through His servant, Moses, they were told, “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it…” (Deut. 4:2). As the apostle John concluded the book of Revelation he writes, “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18-19). Any change of what God has legislated in his word, is a change that should be shunned. God has legislated concerning what one must do to be saved. Any change from God’s way is wrong and must be shunned. God has legislated concerning how He is to be worshipped and any change from God’s way is wrong and should be shunned. God has legislated concerning the purity of life His people are to live, and any change from that is sin and should be shunned. God has legislated concerning the church and any changes from what God has authorized in His word are sin and should therefore be shunned.
Are there things in the realm of Christianity that can be changed without violating God’s will? The answer to that question is, yes. But, not in matters of which God has legislated in His word. We are to assemble upon the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Cor. 16:2; Heb. 10:25), but the time of assembly is not legislated. We may meet in the morning, in the afternoon or at night. We may meet for an hour and we may meet for three hours. These things, and such like, are simply a matter of expediency and we are free to change such. Certainly there have been many changes over the years concerning the Christian’s job of evangelism. Jesus said to “go into all the world and preach the gospel” (Mark 16:15). No doubt, most of that was done either by walking, riding an animal or by ship at the time it was first done. However, today we have changed to automobiles, planes, trains, radio, newspaper and the most recent change is in the use of the internet. We have not changed the commands of God in so doing, we have simply changed the methods to that which was more expedient since God did not legislate the method to be used. Change can be good and should be embraced. But, change can also be sin and should be shunned.
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