Several years ago one of my students spoke with me about a conversation he had with a brother just a few days earlier. It seems the student had preached a lesson that “stepped on some toes,” and the brother under consideration said that was “Okay, but as the student got more mature he would learn to smooth out the rough edges.”  It may well be that the student misunderstood what was being said about such a need, but his interpretation was that the need for “maturity” was not in his speaking ability, as he was told he had not been rude or crude, but, rather, in knowing how to “smooth out the edges” of the message itself.  After he told me this, I thought of how that has already been done, and the results of such.

For example, people have “smoothed out the edges” concerning the biblical teaching on the oneness of the church (Matthew 16:18, 19; Ephesians 1:22, 23; 4:4) to the point that we now have brethren who do not know that such a doctrine even exists within the Bible. For years we have “done battle” with the denominational world over this matter. Now we have to deal with brethren who are parroting what the denominations have been saying.  Brethren, the “edges” on the doctrine of the church need to be left right where God put them, and who are we to “know better” than God in how to “better say” what has been said?

Others, over time, have found a way to “smooth out the edges” when it comes to the plan of salvation.  It does not seem to matter that the New Testament teaches that if a person wishes to obey God they must obey the “form of doctrine” delivered unto them by God (Romans 6:17).  It appears that in our attempt to “smooth things out for God,” we have overlooked that the “gospel of Christ…is the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16).  Likewise, we have failed to understand that in order for mankind to be “pricked in their heart” (Acts 2:37); the Word in its fullness and power must be proclaimed. God’s Word is still “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword” possessing the ability of discerning “the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12) when preached as God would have it preached. When the “edges” are “smoothed out” this takes away the necessary power for the Word to do as God would have it. I have a metal trowel at home that is used to spread glue on the floor before laying floor tile or other type of floor covering. On the edges of this trowel are little notches designed to assist in the spreading of the glue in a way to hold the floor covering in place. I wonder what would happen if I smoothed those little notches out? I might think I could create a better trowel but, guess what; it would be better to leave it just as its “creator” designed it.  Likewise, it seems best to me to leave the “edges” right where God put them on this matter also.

Others would have us to “smooth out the edges” when it comes to our worship of God. The “battle” over the use of mechanical instruments of music has raged for years. For a while it looked as if the “battle” had come to an end within the church, but it has raised its “ugly head” once again, in some congregations, which no longer see this as an issue over which we want to take a stand one way or the other. Never mind that there is nothing in the New Testament that even comes close to authorizing the use of such. The whole of the matter is what do “I” want, instead of what does God want, which is very similar to what Paul called “will worship” in Colossians 2:23. As this type of worship continues, what we end up with is one that seeks to please themselves, regardless of what the Lord has said on the matter.  Keep in mind; God has spoken on this matter. Our worship is to be such that it is in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). It is to be such wherein we seek to draw near the Lord with more than our lips, as we put our hearts into the worship of God (Matthew 15:8, 9). Some are seeking to bring in “special singing,” and other entertainment types of activities, just to please modern man and his attempt to “smooth out the edges.”  But here, too, wisdom would seem to suggest that it is better to leave the “edges” just how God left them (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).

As we look at the “edges” of the leadership of the church many would have us to “smooth” things out on this matter. For example, many congregations have found a way to “ignore” the qualifications set forth by the Apostle Paul concerning the eldership of the church (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-11). The reason I say “ignore,” is there is no way around them, so they must just be disregarded as if they are not important.  Some of “our” congregations are now busy putting women in the role of deacons and even elders, regardless of what Paul had to say in the texts previously mentioned. It is long past the time that we leave the “edges” on this issue alone. I used to see a bumper sticker that said, “God said it, I believe it, and that settles it.”  But you know, whether I believe it or not, once God said it, it was settled, and He had settled the matter of the leadership of the church, and we need not meddle with it.

Needless to say, an article like this could go on “forever” as we ponder the areas where people have sought to “smooth out the edges” when it comes to the church and her practices. What really needs to be understood is that the church that our Lord died for does not have “rough edges” needing to be “smoothed out!”  We need to restore the sentiment of “where the Scriptures speak, we speak, and where the Scriptures are silent, we are silent.”  Let us pray that those among us who clamor for change will come to the understanding of the danger of such before it is eternally too late.

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