'Changing' or 'The Same': Which?
Leslie M. Grant
'Come away to a land like your own land' (Isaiah 36:17)
A 'New Movement' has recently surfaced, which boldly proclaims as its slogan, 'Changing to Remain the Same.' This is certainly an arresting statement, as no doubt it is intended to be. Is it dependable? Is it true? Does it have its origin in the Word of God? Perhaps we should not be surprised in finding that Scripture does speak of such a principle, for 'there is no new thing under the sun.'
However, who is it who announced such a principle? It was Rabshakeh, the Commander of the Assyrian army, at a time when that army was besieging the city of Jerusalem in the days of Hezekiah. He called out to all the people of the city in their own Hebrew language, 'Hear the words of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: "Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you: nor let Hezekiah make you trust in the Lord ..." "Make peace with me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you drink waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land,
land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards" ' Isa. 36:13-17 NKJV).
How appealing he makes this to all the people of Jerusalem! He tells them in effect, 'Make the change I advise and you will really remain the same because I will bring you to a land just the same as your own land.' They might well ask, 'Why change if we are to remain the same?' Would he have an answer for this? Likely so. For instance he might tell them they would be identified with many more people in that other land.
However, God had set His name in Jerusalem where Solomon built the temple. This was God's centre on earth, of which we read, 'Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the city of the great King' (Psalm 48:1-2). Were Hezekiah and the Jews to willingly forsake that city and go to another land 'like their own land'?
What is God's centre for the Church today? The Lord Jesus raised from among the dead is that one blessed Centre, and just as Jerusalem was 'the foundation for peace', so the Lord Jesus is the one foundation on which His Church is built (1 Cor 3:10-11), a solid foundation that stands (2 Tim 2:19) in spite of all the attacks against it. Shall we change from this to accept another ground that the enemy says is really the same?
Those inside the city might be tempted to accept the offer of Rabshakeh, thinking it likely the other land might be as good as their own. In the same way some Christians today may be tempted to look at groups, specially ones that have believers who are spiritually minded among them and seem to be prospering. They think, 'Why, they are more numerous than we. Though they are not gathered simply to the Lord's Name alone, yet they are so much like us that we will really remain the same if we link up with them.' Thus the principles of the house of God are given up on the plea that we are showing practical fellowship to other Christians. Our eyes are turned from the centre to the circumference, and the fellowship of the people becomes more important than devotion to the Lord Jesus Himself.
Another objection to the path of true separation often made is that those who stand for such principles of truth are not careful enough to maintain faithful works of true devotion to the Lord. This is a distinct issue, but one that should deeply exercise every true child of God. Do we dare to be proud of the fact that we are separated? While the principle of separation from evil is a vital one, and Scripture tells us, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity,' (2 Tim. 2:19), yet the same chapter insists, 'Flee also youthful lusts: but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart' (v. 22). If we are disobedient to the Lord in anything, certainly we should 'change', and not 'remain the same' in this practical area of life.
Therefore the Word of God does not in any way approve the principle of 'changing to remain the same.' In fact, Rabshakeh's suggestion along this line clearly proceeded from Satan.
L. M. Grant
'Meddle not with them that are given to change.' Proverbs 24:21