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Scripture Reading: Isaiah 29:13-16

Earmarks of Discontented Positivism


1.   The past 20 years has seen a definite mindset arise among brethren in non-institutional churches of Christ, a positive emphasis that tells us the Christ-like way of teaching, preaching and living is to avoid negativism. Promote “positive Christianity” (“emphasize the positive, eliminate the negative, and don’t mess with Mr. In-between!”).

2.   This has led to an imbalance in preaching and has opened the door to numerous dangers and compromises:

   a.   Increased unity in moral and doctrinal diversity, 2 Jno 9-11.

   b.   Increased opposition against contending for the faith and preaching whole counsel of God, Jude 3; Acts 20:27; Jer 6:16.

   c.   Discontent with authoritative Bible preaching in favor of “talks”, chats and sharing experiences, 1 Tim 4:11; 5:7; 6:2.

   d.   A fear of being direct with the truth of God’s word (re. sin, error, calls to repent, etc.), Gal 4:16.

3.   Balance of truth: On the one hand present the positive blessings of the gospel while on the other plainly preaching the negatives of sin, 2 Tim 4:2; 2:24-26.

4.   Comments collected over past 15 years that are earmarks of “discontented positivism”.


I. “We need to hear more preaching about the daily walk of the Christian.”

   1.   No doubt that how we must live every day is at the heart of being a disciple, Lk 6:40; 1 Jno 2:6.

   2.   We are taught to walk in good works, worthy of our calling, in love, in truth, etc., Eph 2:10; 4:1; 5:8; 3 Jno 3-4.

   3.   At the same time, we must warn against walking as the Gentiles walk (Eph 4:17-20), and to walk “circumspectly” (5:15): Identify dangers of sin and error and rebuke of sin.

   4.   Positivism is not content with the reproof and rebuke of sin that comes with identifying how we must live, 1 Jno 1:6-9; 2:3-6.


II. “The love doesn’t flow.”

   1.   The positivism movement heightens emotions and emotional responses, as if that equals true love; it does not.

   2.   We should not think that obeying God is void of emotion, Acts 8:39.

      a.   Joy comes as we are likeminded in Christ, Phil 2:2.

      b.   Joy comes from mutual devotion to truth and sacrifice for Christ, Phil 2:16-18.

   3.   We must love in deed and truth, 1 Jno 3:16-18; Eph 5:2.

   4.   Positivism is not content with defining love as obeying God’s commands; so it discounts obedience as unfeeling, uncaring and not truly loving one another, Jno 14:15; 1 Jno 5:3.


III. “Preaching on Bible authority is too dry and boring.”

   1.   We must know how to establish and how to apply Bible authority or we cannot successfully follow Jesus, Matt 28:18-20; Col 3:17 (CENI, Acts 15:6-21).

   2.   Cannot rightly divide Scriptures without understanding the fundamentals of authority, 2 Tim 2:14-18.

   3.   Many have lost interest in solid, sound, Scripture-based preaching, 2 Tim 4:3-4.

   4.   Positivism is not content with Bible patterns, 2 Tim 1:13. It derides “patternism”; says Bible is love letter not blueprint.


IV. “Your sermons make me feel beaten down, not lifted up.”

   1.   Gospel preaching will comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable! 2 Tim 4:2

   2.   Depending on your spiritual condition, gospel preaching will generate a variety of emotional responses:

      a.   Fear, Acts 24:24-25.

      b.   Godly sorrow, Acts 2:37; 2 Cor 7:9-10.

      c.   Anger, hate and opposition, Acts 6:54; 13:45.

      d.   Gladness and rejoicing, Acts 13:48.

   3.   What preaching intends to generate is faith! Rom 10:17

   4.   Positivism infers we must always feel good (be made to feel good); that is not balanced Christianity! 1 Pet 1:6; Jas 5:13


V.  “We need to go in a new direction.”

   1.   Way of salvation, Acts 16:17; way of the Lord, Acts 18:25; way of God, Acts 18:26; way of truth, 2 Pet 2:2; way of righteousness, 2 Pet 2:21.

   2.   Positivism not content with old paths, Jer 6:16; 2 Ths 2:15.


VI.  “The church needs to operate like a business.”

   1.   Businesses operate for profit; not churches! Relationship of brethren in Christ, 1 Cor 12:26.

   2.   Positivism is turning preachers into professional CEOs or “hired guns” to do our work for us. cf. 2 Tim 4:5



Positive/negative are man-made distinctions, cf. 2 Tim 3:16-17; 4:2.