Pray for the Bennetts in Australia as they with God's help and for His glory are seeking to establish:
Western Plains Baptist Fellowship, and Gilgandra Baptist Fellowship as New Testament Baptist churches.
Missionary David C. Bennett, D. Min.
March 10, 2005
J. C. Ryle in THE DEFINITION AND CAUSE OF IDOLATRY wrote that he believed that "… we have come to a time when the subject of idolatry demands a thorough and searching investigation. I believe that idolatry is near us and about us and in the midst of us to a very fearful extent. The Second Cmmandment in one word is in peril. ‘The plague is begun’ (Num. 16; 46)."
Is it as bad today as Bishop Ryle said it was in his? Paul said the Thessalonian believers had "…turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1Th 1:9). To say the unsaved are idolaters is a fact with which we have no problem. But then John the aged apostle whom Jesus "loved" wrote in his first epistle chapter 5 verses 18 – 21 "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 19 And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."
Is John suggesting God’s people would abandon the worship of the true and living God to worship idols?! The aged apostle is not suggesting but is declaring idol worship is an ever present danger in the lives of the people of God! Bishop Ryle was affirming the truth of John’s statement as he saw idolatry taking place in his own day even among the people of God.
Perhaps we should first define what is an idol and idolatry? Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones defined an idol in his LIFE IN CHRIST: STUDIES IN 1 JOHN saying "an idol is anything in our lives that occupies the place that should be occupied by God alone." He goes on to say that "anything that holds a controlling position in my life is an idol." J. C. Ryle says "…idolatry is a worship in which the honour due to God in Trinity and to Him only is given to some of His creatures or to some invention of His creatures."
For Demas it was a love for "this present world."
For some it is the love for, desire for, and acquisition of money, 2 Timothy 6:10.
For Roman Catholicism it is their sacraments, many images and relics, Romans 1:23.
The aforementioned are just a smattering of the diverse forms in which idol worship presents itself. One example of idol worship for today’s contemporary Christianity is its music. Christianity has elevated music and those who sing as its idols. For instance each year in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia is held the Australian Gospel Music Festival (AGMF). In a PDF document downloaded from the following internet address http://www.buq.org.au/qb/buq_downloaded_document.php3?FileID=153 we read "The 96.5 FM mainstage was packed for his performance, at which he sang songs from his debut album, from Idol, and a medley of hymns, including I Surrender All. A throng of screaming teenage girls jostled near the foot of the stage as he sang, highlighting the euphoric reaction which has followed his crowning as our first Australian Idol."
This AGMF is advertised as a "Christian" musical event. The person of whom the article is speaking is Guy Sebastian, winner of the 1994 secular musical television program "Australian Idol." The name of the programme "Australian Idol" is the first warning to a Christian not to partake. Note at the "Christian" musical event you have supposedly Christian "screaming teenage girls" jostling "near the foot of the stage" as their "Christian" idol "sang". I wonder if the stage (the old rugged cross) upon which we view the Saviour in His bloody agony as the substitute for our sin would find many contemporary Christians jostling for a position "near the foot of the stage" (the cross).
This "Christian" idol, Guy Sebastian, is quoted saying "It’s almost like Christian music is just a few years behind the world. I’d love to see it keep up or take over. That would be cool." Imagine a Christian desirous of Christian music to "keep up or take over" the world’s music! That is an interesting statement as I see the music of the contemporary church growth movement as the same as the world’s! Of course this young man’s statement opposes what John said in 1 John 2:15 "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" which includes the world’s music. Saying the name of Jesus or God in a song does not make it Christian.
There is no question that music has become an idol to the contemporary church. However, music is just one of many idols that are worshipped today but those many idols really point back to one predominant idol. C. H. Spurgeon and D. Martyn Lloyd Jones both agree in that they say SELF is the number ONE Christian idol. Dr. Jones said in the same book mentioned earlier that "…perhaps the supreme idol is self, for I suppose that in the last analysis we can trace all the others back to self." In his sermon IDOLATRY CONDEMNED Spurgeon writes "First, keep yourselves from worshipping yourselves." Then Spurgeon outlines the ways in which we Christians worship ourselves. They are; "by living a life of indolence" "by decorating their bodies most elaborately" "wealth" occupation, friends and relatives. His last point was to "be sure to keep yourselves from the idol of the hour" of which Spurgeon said was "intellectualism, culture, modern thought."
Not much has changed since the days of Paul, John, Spurgeon, or David Martyn Lloyd Jones. The warning to "keep yourselves from idols" is as valid today as it was in the past. Believers must "Be sober" and "vigilant" as their "adversary the devil…walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" 1Peter 5:8.
We need to take to heart Paul’s words to "…flee from idolatry" 1Corinthians 10:14. Idol worship can be avoided if our heart throbs as Paul’s when he said "For to me to live is Christ…" Philippians 1:21.
When idolatry raises its ugly head and seeks the worship only due to God we must flee even as Paul told Timothy to flee youthful lusts. We must not be IDLE when it comes to IDOLS!
Bishop Ryle well said in THE DEFINITION AND CAUSE OF IDOLATRY that "We must not think, as many do, that there are only two sorts of idolatry—the spiritual idolatry of the man who loves his wife, or child, or money more than God; and the open, gross idolatry of the man who bows down to an image of wood, or metal, or stone, because he knows no better. We may rest assured that idolatry is a sin which occupies a far wider field than this . . . it is a pestilence that walks in the Church of Christ to a much greater extent than many suppose. It is an evil that, like the man of sin, ‘sits in the very temple of God’ (2Th 2:4). It is a sin that we all need to watch and pray against continually. It creeps into our religious worship insensibly and is upon us before we are aware."
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd Jones asks in IDOLATRY CONDEMNED "How am I thus to guard myself from idols?" He then gives three principles. The first "thing we must always do is remember the truth about ourselves." That is we are a child of God’s and "if we are of God and belong to God, then we must live for God, and we must not live for any of those other things." The second principle is "I must remember the true nature of idols." An idol is only temporary but God is eternal. We must remember that an idol, no matter what it is, is transitory! The third principle is "remember the truth about God and live in communion with Him."
Oh, how we so desire to be in communion with the Lord but too often we are like Peter when he said "…Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said" (Lu 9:33). We mean well but without thinking we have opened the door to idol worship.
However, God the Father quickly stepped into the scene and said "…This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matthew 17:5). Here is one of the safeguards to idol worship and that is listening to the Son. We LISTEN to Him as He speaks to us through His Word.
We must LISTEN to Him and secondly it is to be noted that on that memorable day after Peter spoke those words and the Father had spoken, the three disciples looked up and "…saw no man, save Jesus only." As great as Moses and Elijah were they are not to be worshipped! Jesus only is deserving of man’s worship.
Then in Hebrews 12:2a we read we are to be "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…" We are to LISTEN and LOOK to Him. It is at His name that "every knee" shall bow someday.
It is because He alone is worthy of our worship that the apostle said that "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen" (Ephesians 3: 14 – 21).
In closing Puritan David Clarkson summed up the matter well when he said "When you are more careful and industrious to please men or yourselves, than to please God; to provide for yourselves and posterity, than to be serviceable unto God; more careful what you shall eat, drink, or wherewith be clothed; than how you may honour and enjoy God; to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, than how to fulfil the will of God; more industrious to promote your own interests, than the designs of God; to be rich, or great, or respected amongst men, than that God may be honoured and advanced in the world; more careful how to get the things of the world, than how to employ them for God; rise early, go to bed late, eat the bread of carefulness, that your outward estate may prosper, while the cause, and ways, and interests of Christ have few or none of your endeavours, to idolize the world, yourselves, your lusts, your relations, while the God of heaven is neglected. And the worship and service due unto Him alone is hereby idolatrously given to other things. He that makes Christ his chief aim, if at length he finds Him whom his soul loveth, this quiets his heart, whatever he want, whatever he lose besides" (from SOUL IDOLATRY EXCLUDES MEN OUT OF HEAVEN).
1 John 5:21 "Little children, keep yourselves from
Missionaries David and Pamela Bennett
The Bennetts Serving the Lord in Australia Since 1979.
Address: Dr. and Mrs. Bennett, PO Box 1241 Dubbo NSW 2830, AUSTRALIA
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