Recently we were reminded of church representatives coming together to vote on the truth of God and the conduct associated with it. As a result of the decision reached by the vote, reportedly they had made themselves “more relevant”. Let us look at these two issues - voting and relevance.
Voting in the Church
Such a concept is never mentioned in the New Testament. Nor can I recall it in the Old. Not even in the darkest days of the history of Israel and Judah was this used, either for determining the truth of a matter, or for appointing a person to an office. In the Old Testament, and in the period before the Holy Spirit was given, the “casting of lots” was used in appointing a person as it left the decision to God.
What then does the scripture teach us? We find the model set out in Acts 15, where Christians were gathered in Jerusalem to determine whether or not the Gentile Christians should be required to keep the law of Moses for their salvation. If a vote had been taken, the outcome would have been completely different. The newly converted Jews who were zealous for the law of Moses outnumbered those who understood the real issues. Rather, there was a godly discussion. Acts 15:7 - “And much discussion having taken place”. The truth of God, when set before the congregation in clarity and spiritual power, was accepted. They were then able to write - among other things - in Acts 15:25 “it seemed good to us, having arrived at a common judgment, to send chosen men to you…” By the way, there were no fresh edicts or rules, but a confirmation of principles established long before Moses’ law.
Voting assumes that each person’s vote is equal. This is not so. In any assembly there will be differences in understanding and spiritual maturity. It also ignores the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.
Voting to appoint persons to an office over those voting is also counter to God’s way. Appointment is always made by a higher authority, not a lesser. Even in a secular organisation, whether in business or the military, it is the chief officer who appoints the next rank, and so on. Democracy came from the Greeks, not from God.
Persons will say that there is no prohibition in scripture, therefore they will do it.
Where will that wretched principle lead? To chaos. That is exactly where Christendom is at present. Furthermore, one would have to know every verse in the bible to be able to say that it was not forbidden. In our era the Holy Spirit does not teach in masses of “thou shalt nots”. Rather we have positive examples by the Lord and the apostles, and in most cases the principles are given in detail in the Old Testament.
People will put forward the argument that everyone does it.
This is the miserable principle of “universal consent”. It does not prove that a thing is right before God. It may just mean that the most are mistaken. Scripture abounds in examples of the many and the few, and “the many” are invariably in the wrong.
The churches felt that they were now more relevant. To whom?
The issue should be: Is the church relevant to Christ? Is the church a faithful witness to God? Is it, in practice and conduct, honouring the name of Christ in his absence? Is it relevant to his mind? Or has the church publicly become so mixed with the world that the Lord has to say, as he said to the assembly at Laodicea in Revelation 3:16, “Thus because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spew thee out of my mouth”. That church had failed as a witness so the Lord speaks of himself as “the faithful and true witness”. Those at Philadelphia were commended because they had kept his word, and not denied his name. That may seem a small thing, but to Christ, when all around have given up his word, it is everything.
May we seek the Lord’s help to order our individual and collective conduct according to his mind, and not according to the shifting social climate, the changing tastes and the abandoned morals of society today.
We can rightly serve man only as we put God first.
MM May 2007