By LOU TISCIONE
A few good men were needed in Israel and the church would benefit from her example. The title may appear to be one that is overused. I sought to create a better one and was unable. The church’s greatest need is a few good men! It is only necessary to look back at the church of the Old Testament to see the need and God’s remedy.
1 Kings 12 through 2 Kings 25 contains the record of God’s dividing Israel into two kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom consisted of 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel. The Southern Kingdom contained the remaining two tribes of Israel. The Northern Kingdom came to be known as Samaria and the Southern as Judah.
There were a total of 39 kings and one queen between the two kingdoms. Out of these 40 monarchs, there were only eight who did what was right in accordance with God’s standard of what is right. Of those eight kings, four kings failed to remove the “high places.” Their failure to remove the “high places” resulted in the people continuing to worship pagan gods at those “high places.”
The Northern Kingdom, Samaria, existed for approximately 208 years. The Southern Kingdom’s longevity was 344 years. The Northern Kingdom of Samaria was destroyed by the Assyrians. The Southern Kingdom was conquered by the Babylonians. God, through the prophets, declared the end of both.
In 1 Corinthians 10:1-12 the Apostle Paul reminded the church of the demise of Israel in order to warn believers. Israel in the Old Testament was a nation of idolaters. John Calvin wrote in the 16th Century that the mind of man is an idol factory. Mankind hasn’t changed.
We who are the church should take the Bible’s warnings seriously. That is, those of us who profess Jesus is Lord know that we are citizens of Heaven, yet we still live in the world. God has called us to work out our salvation within the context of the local church. He has given each one of His children and the church in general a command to be holy! Christians affirm that God has made us for worship. We know that all men were created to worship the one true God. God has set His people apart for Himself.
The modern evangelical church in large part has been reflecting ignorance of God’s command to worship Him as Israel did. Not only has He commanded worship but He has declared the way He desires His people to worship Him. The church has been deceived with the teaching of some that the church is about fellowship or relationships with one another. The Bible teaches that fellowship in the church is a propositional truth because all believers are “in Christ.” Relationships with one another are meaningful if based in Christ.
One of the last concerns of the Apostle Paul was leadership in the church. He knew that the church would be invaded by false teachers. He wrote that people would surround themselves with those who would tickle their ears (2 Timothy 4:3). He knew that the only remedy was for the leaders in the church to be fully convinced of the absolute sufficiency of the word of God. He said that there would be terrible times in the last days. He said that people would be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, irreverent, brutal and not lovers of the truth. Of course, as we read 2 Timothy 3:1-5, we immediately think of the world around us. But, the sobering reality is that Paul was not speaking about the world. He was declaring what would happen in the church. He said there would be people having an appearance of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5).
The answer Paul gave to two pastors, Timothy and Titus, was to select a few good men to lead the church under Christ. The answer is still the same. The Southern Kingdom of Israel had a few good men who did what was right. Likewise, the church of Jesus Christ, now more than ever, needs a few good men to lead in submission to the word of God.
We don’t need new ideas, youth movements or so-called “missional” emphases in the church. The answer is biblical leadership. May the Lord rise up a few good men in every Bible believing church and may we recognize them.
Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).