Look What We Discovered!

Dr. Bill Harrell
Bill Harrell Ministries

There is a principle laid down in John 15:18-19 that was spoken into existence by none other than Jesus Himself.  And, once a principle or law is placed in God’s Word it can never be changed.  There is just such a principle in the statements of Jesus mentioned above.  Basically it says: “The world hates me and it is going to hate you also.”  Never in the history of mankind can we find a point at which the world loved Christ or His Church.  So, we need to understand that the world isn’t going to like us.  It is spiritually opposed to us and will repel the Church.  The church isn’t repelling it, but the opposite is true for the world.  The world repelled Jesus, but He did not cease from seeking to redeem it.  We must not cease seeking to redeem the world, but we must realize that becoming like it is not the Biblical way to do it. 

They want very little to do with God’s people unless we modify ourselves to the degree that they are willing to have something to do with us.  You see, the world will accept the church to the same degree that we are willing to modify ourselves so it can be comfortable, remaining as it is, and still feeling that they are accepted by God.

In John Chapter 17, we find a wonderful and enlightening revelation of the truth principle I mentioned, which is found in John 15:18-19.  We will never win the world by becoming more like it.  One cannot do God’s business with the world’s methods.  We have nothing to tell them to turn from if we are like them.  People are supposed to be redeemed out of the world not made to feel comfortable and accepted by God simply because they have attached themselves to a “church,” which has modified itself to the point that the principle laid down by Jesus will no longer apply to them, or so they think.

When the world discovered that the Church is no different from them, they decided to attend.  When they discovered that the difference between them and the Church had reached a tolerable level, they decided to darken the doors.  When the Church created an environment they could tolerate they decided to attend.  They had always known that the Church was different and therefore they stayed away, but now they found the situation was different so they decided to attend.

As long as the Church maintains its difference from the world, it will flourish.  It cannot witness to something that it is like.  You can’t win people out of the world unless you are different from it.  Jesus went into the world but at the same time He maintained a separation from it.  They knew He was different and many of them wanted to be like Him.  Suppose He had adopted their habits and actions?  Does one think He could have also said: “The world will hate you because it first hated me.”  No one hates that which is a mirror image of itself.  But, if it calls the people of the world into question, they will not like that at all.

I believe that the reason the world now finds the church acceptable is that it more and more reflects a worldly image which is totally acceptable to the world’s people.  They don’t have to change a thing to feel at home because the Church has adjusted in such a way as to make the unsaved world feel comfortable in their midst.  They have implicitly been told that simply because they are now willing to come that they will go to heaven when they walk out the door.  This writer is not just talking about contemporary worship, although I think it is teaching people that the worship of God is a casual thing and that He is just happy that one has taken a little time to come to His house.  I am talking about the way in which some denominations have “adjusted” themselves so that unchristian attitudes and beliefs are standard practice.  When abortion is accepted in a church, or denomination, then the church has compromised and the world loves it.  When individual churches, and whole denominations, decide that homosexuality is fine and that God didn’t actually condemn it, then they have adjusted to the world’s standard and the world loves it.  When they will ordain homosexual priests and pastors, then they have compromised themselves to the point that they are in danger of apostasy and the world loves it.  When even some of our Baptist preachers tell their people that moderate alcohol consumption is all right they have modified themselves to satisfy the desires of the world and the world loves it.  Question: Why should the church give a flip about what the world thinks on such issues except that we would seek to redeem them out of such things?

Since I mentioned contemporary worship let me expand on it a little.  As stated above, the church cannot do God’s business with the world’s methods.  What is it teaching people about God when we adopt the mechanics of the honky-tonks and hard rock concerts?  And that is exactly where some churches have gone for ideas on what will make people feel comfortable so they will come to the show.  One only has to visit a few churches in today’s world to hear deafening music with words that can’t be understood and dark rooms with strobe lights flashing.  Of course we can’t leave out the smoke since it is needed for worship.  People on the platform dressed like they just washed their dog instead of coming before a holy God who demands respect.  I have heard many preachers intone that “man looks on the outside but God looks on the heart.”  Does that mean then that God doesn’t look at the outside as well?  I think He does.  A good rule is this:  One should wear the best they have to come into God’s presence.  It signifies respect. But, if all one has to wear to come before the Lord is a pair of half worn out jeans, a ruffled T-shirt, and some worn out tennis shoes then by all means, wear them and come worship the Lord.  He knows the circumstances.  However, if a person has a nice suit or dress hanging in the closet then they should wear the best they have to come before our Father.  I have heard it said by some preachers that we need to “be more like our people so they will better identify with us.”  Our people don’t want someone who is suppose to represent God to them to look and act like just another man standing in the pulpit.  They want to be able to look up to the man in the pulpit.  He represents God to them and they came to hear God ‘s Word delivered by God’s man to the people of God.  We should do everything in our power to separate ourselves from the world and stand before His People with dignity and respect for Who we are serving.

One other principle: Anything that the world accepts and runs to, anything that they cling to and praise, anything that they adore and virtually worship, the Godly person will be well served to stay away from it.  Remember what Jesus said: “If the world hates you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.  If ye were of the world, the world would love its own; but because ye are not of the world but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you”, John 15:18-19.  If one wants to argue against this principle laid down in the Lord’s words, then that is a sign that they are on the dangerous ground of modifying themselves to the point that they are acceptable to the world.  And then the world will gather a crowd and loudly proclaim: Look What We Discovered!



Jake Fowler 27-09-2016, 04:34

Great post, Dr. Harrell! I may not be a “T-totaler” myself, but even still, this is a much needed word for our modish “churches”

Jim Poulos 27-09-2016, 06:08

Core issues that distinguish God’s People from the world start at the heart level, that is the inner man. The outward presentation may not always conform with the heart.

A good place to start with the heart is this verse:

Phil. 4:8 ¶ Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

For me the is the greatest warfare is to keep a pure heart. Someone once said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”

Tom 27-09-2016, 06:52

Are Southern Baptists churches letting the world into the church? If that is true why is something not being done about this. Surely these churches could be disfellowshipped.

Pam Knight 27-09-2016, 08:19

Thank you Bill. My husband and I feel exactly the same way. This needs shared through out the Churches across the world.
In Christ

Tom 27-09-2016, 10:07

Dr. Harrell: Are you saying you oppose all “Contemporary” worship?

Andy 29-09-2016, 07:18

It probably depends on what’s one definition of “contemporary worship” is…

Andrew Barker 29-09-2016, 10:59

Contemporary is “of the time” and in music, timing is actually quite important. ? When King David danced it would have been a contemporary dance, but I’m not likely to follow suit next Sunday. Swell great and positive manuals plus full foot keyboard for most of the hymns. But I still use the Roland for the more modern songs. On occasions I pre-record on the organ and blow my own trumpet!

I happen to loathe drums in worship but if people wanted them, I would try and fit them in. What really matters is does it aid or hinder worship. Contemporary is a total red herring. ?

Andy 29-09-2016, 11:11

I think we may have found something we mostly agree on…except i don’t “loathe” drums. Our drummer is extremely tasteful and musical, perhaps since he was a piano and guitar player first. I’ve actually had 80 yr old ladies say things like, “I thought I would hate the drums, but I appreciate the way _________ play’s them.”

Does it aid or hinder is the big question. I think if we played an organ at full volume in my church it would hinder…same if we had heavy metal. So we don’t do either. a medium-volume organ sound form the electric keyboard seems to work pretty well.

Dennis Lee Dabney 29-09-2016, 11:03

Look at what we discovered. . . . Broadway!

In some gathering, certainly not any of ours, the world has discovered Broadway.

These assemblies have that “Home” appeal, with the Wide Gate “look” and that Broadway “feel”.

The world comes in, crosses his legs and says, in the words of the late Jackie Gleason, “How Sweet It Is”!

Tom 29-09-2016, 11:47

Please define “the world.”

Dennis Lee Dabney 29-09-2016, 13:21

Dr Harrell has delineated the meaning throughout his article using the term “world” more than 25 times. His definition should suffice.

Tom 29-09-2016, 15:49

I asked Dr. Harrell to explain the term “world.”, not Dennis Lee Dabney. Please let him answer me.

Dennis Lee Dabney 29-09-2016, 16:47

Please forgive me.

Tom 30-09-2016, 06:10

So the words above were insincere. Why say it if you did not mean it?

Dennis Lee Dabney 30-09-2016, 07:42

Those words were from the heart for making the assumption you were responding to my comment right above your question which wasn’t addressed to Dr Harrell by name.

Now your first question on this subject was addressed directly to Dr Harrell by name and Andy shared his opinion regarding the question. He is not Doc. I believe he was only doing what we all do, giving his opinion.

However when I respond to a question of yours addressed by name to absolutely no one, a sharp rebuke was leveled, Not Dennis Lee Dabney.

Have the last word.

Tom 30-09-2016, 10:17

Please forgive me as I am the one who is in the wrong not you.

Jim Poulos 30-09-2016, 11:31

To both of you,

Well done.

Dennis Lee Dabney 30-09-2016, 05:45

Not “Dennis Lee Dabney” wasn’t necessary at all!

If it was, let’s discuss it.

Dennis Lee Dabney 30-09-2016, 10:50

Brother Tom,

Both of us can share the Laver of His Word and He can wash both of us in the same Living Water out of the same Holy basin.


Andrew Barker 30-09-2016, 10:58

“One only has to visit a few churches in today’s world to hear deafening music with words that can’t be understood and dark rooms with strobe lights flashing. Of course we can’t leave out the smoke since it is needed for worship. People on the platform dressed like they just washed their dog instead of coming before a holy God who demands respect.”

Personally, I think a number of issues are being conflated here. Hearing the words in any music is difficult. We don’t appreciate this generally, because hymns are so well known that understanding what is being sung is not an issue. You try and catch all the words of an old fashioned hymn while it is being sung which you’ve never heard before and you may well struggle. A well lit church is an obvious general advantage for reading etc. But how many of us have enjoyed the Christmas Eve service where the lights are deliberately turned down or off and we sing by candlelight? It becomes a matter of taste and what is or isn’t appropriate. But if low light enables some to feel more comfortable and they end up listening to the Gospel because of it, who’s going to complain?

Coming into God’s presence is an odd phrase for Christians to use really, but we do. It may be symptomatic of the fact that we spend much of our time not in God’s presence? Ought we not to address the first problem before tackling the latter? And if the Psalmist was correct in saying that the person who may ascend the hill of the Lord, must have pure hands and a clean heart we should be mistaken if we thought this referred in part to personal hygiene! Because I attend a Church in Wales fellowship, we have a vicar who leads the service and he is dressed in what I think is a silly robe. But I try not to let it bother me as it’s not that important, although I do prefer it when he dresses down.

Some churches have made the mistake of putting style above substance and hence yes, they have opted for what is a ‘modern’ look with heavy beat music, guitars drums and lights etc. etc. If that is all they have done, then this is a mistake indeed. But at the other end of the spectrum we shouldn’t make the same mistake in thinking that a well dressed leader, church organ and choir etc. etc. means we are doing church right!! Jesus said he was looking for people to worship him in spirit and in truth, not in spirit and in suit! :-)


Leave a Reply

 characters available

Security Question * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.