Church Porch, Holbeach

Another medieval Lincolnshire church, another spiritual lesson. This time, it’s Holbeach. Do you notice anything remarkable about this building? To folk not interested in architecture or history, I’m guessing all old churches look alike, much as breeds of sheep and cattle do to me.


Just look at that porch- it’s like a castle’s gatehouse. It has two crenelated turrets by which one must pass if entry is to be gained. Many medieval churches look vaguely defensive with their towers and battlements, but Holbeach goes a step further. Of course, it’s all show; a real invading army would have broken through in no time. Yet this church feels like a fortress.


We must guard our churches. We may not build fortifications by the front door, but there are other things we can do. For the New Testament church, the chief enemy was false teaching. There were other adversaries- persecution, luke-warmness, divisions and immorality, but false teaching seemed the most hazardous. Paul warns the Ephesian elders that savage wolves would soon infiltrate the church, and “from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves”. The false teachers were already there, just awaiting their opportunity to rise and shine. So how do we stop this?

First, let me tell me how we don’t do it. We don’t nit-pick over words nor expect brethren to be automatons made in our image, neatly reflecting the pastor’s theology in every tiny detail. We allow for genuine disagreement on peripheral matters and accept that different perspectives will produce different hermeneutics (interpretation) of a text. Yet on matters of fundamental doctrine, the essence of the gospel, may we construct formidable gatehouses to our churches.

We don’t let any old Tom, Dick or Harry enter our pulpits. Eloquence and education are not sufficient qualities to render one a suitable Bible teacher. Just because someone used to preach here doesn’t mean they always will. Just because they preach elsewhere doesn’t make them mete for us. Let us guard our pulpit.

We keep watch on what we allow into our minds. Many believers do more than attend church, they will watch YouTube, follow famous preachers, listen to Christian music. All of these we must vet and assess. Listening to rubbish can be harmful and against it we must be guard.

We ensure that those who join the church as members are possessed of the sure and living hope in Christ. Allowing the unconverted, the devious and heretical is merely sowing seeds of strife and compromise which will flower in due season. This can be taken too far; I know of Strict Baptist churches who have memberships of zero, so unworthy do the regulars feel. This is not a state I would desire, yet guard our membership rolls we must.

We do not fellowship with apostate or corrupted church leaders. With those who wafer-worship or deny the Son’s deity, we cannot share a platform. Whereas we can engage in co-belligerence, to appropriate Francis Shaefer’s term, on moral campaigns, we cannot extend this to worship.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Phil 4:7