Many experts call him the greatest professional football coach in history. (1) Vince Lombardi, the legendary football coach of the Green Bay Packers and the Washington Redskins, enjoyed many victories in his career.
While head coach of Green Bay, he won 5 NFL Championships and the first two Super Bowls before retiring from the Packers in 1967. (2)
He never had a losing season as an NFL coach. One Lombardi quotation pinpoints his foundation for success: “Excellence is achieved by the mastery of the fundamentals.” A typical story from his coaching era at Green Bay explains this philosophy vividly.
After a bitter loss to the Chicago Bears, the Packers’ arch rival, Lombardi hustled his players from the locker room after the game onto the team buses. He took them from Chicago back to their practice field in Green Bay, still in their dirty, sweaty game uniforms. He gathered them around himself with a football in his hands.
He held the football in front of them and said to them, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” He then directed his team through a grueling practice session with particular emphasis upon the fundamentals of football. The team performed them poorly in their loss to Chicago, and he reviewed them with the team to remind the players of the importance of the fundamentals in successful football.
This story from the victorious career of Vince Lombardi holds significance for life as well. Life has a way of clouding our eyes to its fundamentals. We get distracted by the latest fads and excitements which lead to disastrous results.
Lombardi’s lesson describes the desperate need facing the professing Church of Jesus Christ today. Although exceptions exist, they prove the rule. The Church and its leadership has lost sight of Biblical fundamentals and flounders in perilous times.
For too long, it followed the mantra, “Doctrine does not matter” and forsook the fundamentals. To the bewilderment of many, a rudderless, spiritually weakened Church ensued. In vain attempts to “fix” the difficulties, it flits from one new idea to another, hoping to find the mysterious plan that evades it.
Church leadership has failed. Whether from ignorance or by deliberate choice, the Church of Jesus Christ has succumbed to the siren call of false prophets and abandoned the old fundamentals from the Bible.
The Apostle Paul feared this pattern would befall the churches he labored so hard to develop. On his last trip to Jerusalem, where he knew trouble awaited him, he called together the church leaders from the Church at Ephesus.
He wanted to give his friends some instruction about his future, though somewhat unknown. His message combined a warning and directions on how to face the coming problems. (3) He warned them that grievous wolves, false prophets, would come into their Church and draw many aside.
In his message, Paul compared these Church leaders to shepherds. God had entrusted them with the responsibilities as shepherds over His flock, the Church. They had a duty to feed the people of God, not with physical food, but with spiritual food.
God required these shepherds to protect their flocks from their enemies, who wanted to destroy them. God expected these spiritual leaders to give direction to their flock. Paul emphasized these obligations, because he knew that dangers lay ahead, and he made clear the responsibilities of these spiritual leaders as shepherds.
That which Paul feared would happen at Ephesus describes the condition of the Church today. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, false prophets, have infiltrated the Church. They twist the Scriptures to their own benefit and, consequently, the Church has declined.
We live in perilous times. False leaders victimize the Church. Faulty leadership of our day evades, attacks, and undermines Biblical doctrines. They teach that doctrine is not essential to Christian life. Even more dangerous, they say that no one can really know the truth.
Seven Biblical doctrines serve as the old fundamentals of the Church of Jesus Christ and of our faith in Christ. Church leaders, the shepherds of Christ's flock, must defend these truths against those who proclaim otherwise. To disregard them indicates false prophets, the grievous wolves against which Paul warned.
1. False prophets neglect the fundamental doctrine of God, His person and works.
God has existed from all eternity in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As the only true and living God, He sovereignly created and controls all things according to His plan and purposes. Through His Appointed Judge, Jesus Christ His Son, God will pronounce justice upon all who fail to trust and obey His word as revealed in the Bible.
2. False prophets neglect the fundamental teaching of the nature of Jesus Christ.
True shepherds of the Church must believe and defend the person and works of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Without eradicating His deity, He took upon Himself human flesh, born of the Virgin Mary. He became the God-man, God in the flesh, in Whom dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.
His works would fill volumes describing His supernatural miracles. His greatest work came when He gave His life on the cross as atonement to God for the sins of people like you and me.
Everyone is born with a sinful nature from the moment of conception, which alienates and separates humanity from God. This sinful nature so thoroughly permeates mankind that it renders us completely helpless to satisfy God or to reconcile ourselves to Him.
The Bible describes humanity as dead in trespasses and sins. However, God made provision to reconcile sinners back to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, whose death brought reconciliation between God and people like you and me.
Everyone who comes to God by faith upon what Jesus Christ accomplished on his/her behalf will experience forgiveness and peace with God. Justification by faith in Christ alone provides salvation for all who believe. His resurrection on the third day after His death and His ascension into the Father’s presence confirmed it.
08. If you study this article with another person or in a group, perform a short play in which one person shows the plan of salvation to another person. If you do this quiz alone, write the major points yhou would share if you could lead another to Jesus Christ.
09. How did the Bible come to exist? What does “inerrant” mean? What does “infallible” mean? How does the Bible differ from any excellent history book?
10. How does the Bible show the organization of the Church as different from business or charitable organizations? How does the Church organization differ from democracy?
Personal Information: Thomas P. Hill, M. A. in Ministry, Luther Rice Seminary; author of 3 books: Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing; Homosexuality, Christians, and the Church; and Keys To A Revolutionary Life (all available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Tom’s web site). To invite Tom to speak at your college, church, or group, contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format, in whole or in part, provided that you do not alter the wording in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. For web posting, whether in whole or in part, a link to this document on our website is preferred but not necessary. Please obtain permission from Tom Hill for all exceptions to the above request.
I accept and encourage email letters to respond to this article: email@example.com.
Charles Spurgeon Advice: Need To Keep The Fire Now “Keep The Fire” By Charles Spurgeon "The fire shall ever be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out" (Lev. 6:13). “Keep the altar of private prayer burning. This is...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
“Everything Old Is New Again.” Remember this song? At least you must remember the title. Peter Allen’s classic song first appeared in 1974. (1) It prompts us to remember the past, because you might need it again when times get...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
See Part I for the first part of this sequence of articles. Jude warned centuries ago that disrespect for authority marks a false teacher, an often overlooked characteristic in our day. The False Prophets: Deficiency of Knowledge Jude identified...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
A W Tozer: Lost Simple Ways To Know & Adopt He chose not to own or drive a car. He preferred train or bus. He used these travel times for writing. He could turn a series of words into concise noteworthy statements. His works survive and thrive...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
John Newton: 4 Little Things Overcome Your Crisis John Newton: “Bodily Ills and Spiritual Health” “I’d rather be rich and healthy than poor and sick.” And who wouldn’t. Yet, most of us never attain it. We all...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Tony Evans: Discover Proven Care In 2 Surprising Ways Caring Enough to Connect Dr. Tony Evans Those of us who have accepted Christ as our Savior form a community of believers. This community of faith is to be known for the care and concern it...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
5 Simple Ways It Will Help You Why does the Holy Bible remain as the #1 best-selling book of all time? Dictators attempted to destroy it. Cultures condemn it. People mock it. Yet it outsells all other books. In 2014, organizations distributed...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Free Book Offer: Keys To A Revolutionary Life “Behind every successful person stands a surprised mother-in-law…” No doubt you have laughed at this familiar statement. No, a surprised mother-in-law does not provide the key...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
5 Minute Simple Solutions You Can Use Now Matthew Henry: Counsel For Direction When You Need It Matthew Henry pastored churches in Wales and England during the late 1600s. He wrote one of the most well-known commentaries on the Bible that students...[ abbreviated | read entire ]