I shouldn’t be writing this right now. I should be studying or reading, but in order to keep the masses happy, I will post!
I’ve been meaning to compose these thoughts for about a week now, but the last post had such a positive response (any response at this point would be positive); and I have been participating with the feedbackers. The subject that has been pressing upon me has not just recently sprung up in my mind. This has been weighing on me for some time now, and I would just like to voice my opinion about it. As many of you may already know, I don’t suffer from a lack of opinion on many things; I hope you all can agree with me on this concern, though. I also pray that if the Lord hasn’t already burdened you with this that He will after you ponder the following thoughts.
My concern is the well being of the church in America today. These concerns may well hold true in other countries, but I live in America which mean I only get to see firsthand the results of what I will suggest is the cause in this fine nation. As we notice the things on TV and on the bookshelves at Wal-mart or the local Christian bookstore being produced by televangelists and other mainstream “Christian” pastors (rather, motivational speakers), we may chuckle at the absurdity of the message that those popular authors/entertainers are propagating. I, myself, feel an uncontrollable sense of disgust and even a bit of anger. That anyone would take them seriously is rather absurd, but the fact of the matter is that the businessmen and women producing these materials are becoming very successful as they lead countless souls to hell. I hope we can all get a little angry over these things, but I think we must realize that this is only a result—the symptom of the real problem. Now I want to turn from this point to what I believe is the root of the problem.
I can’t speak for everyone that may be reading this, but I sure would like to be able to stand up in front of the entire population of the U.S. and proclaim the truth of God’s word over against the serious error that is plaguing so-called “Christianity” today. Where have we gone wrong? I know many people would claim that it is due to the masses of “seekers” with “itching ears,” and I would agree to a certain extent. Certainly there are millions of citizens of the United States who are looking for a feel good pill, and they get that prescription filled at the local church; and they also, I’m sure, get their sense of appeasing God done in the process. By the way, I think that apart from the Biblical evidence for elder rule church government the real life evidence is tremendously strong (maybe I’ll cover this in another post). These evidences being granted, I don’t believe that this is the real root problem here—even though I realize that these current events have been prophesied.
The prophecies of end times disaster within the church (which has been evident since the inception of the last days), I believe, are simply giving us an observation of the result of a lack of the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-16). Like I said, this is not simply a modern occurrence. Dissenters have been a thorn in the side of the church since the very beginning, BUT what are the local churches doing to secure their borders from them and send out troops? Since Paul was traveling this planet planting churches all over the known world false teachers have been pushing their own agendas (rather, Satan’s). And there have been those great heroes of the past who have stood up against them here and there, but what is the realistic solution to our problem? Should we sit back and watch the John MacArthur’s and James Whites of this country confront and refute the false teachers while we applaud the Lord for the work that they’re doing, or do we step up and do the work that we were called to do?
Whether we openly admit it or have even taken the time to think through it or not, we all can recognize the fact that if each pastor took the time to continue to learn in order to teach their sheep the deeper things of the faith we would be a much healthier church. Some pastors would say, “My people wouldn’t understand these things and it would just confuse them.” I say, “Maybe YOU’RE confused over these things, and if not, it’s YOU’RE job to make them UNconfused.” I’m pretty sure that, as a pastor, you are called to teach DOCTRINE, right? Here’s a good verse for the pastor: “He (the overseer/pastor/elder) must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” (Tit 1:9 ESV) We also read in Hebrews an admonition to progress beyond the elementary teachings of the faith in order that we may seek to know the deeper things of Christ (Heb. 6:1-2). These admonitions are given to those who have “their powers of discernment trained” (Heb. 5:14). “See!” the pastor says, “The deeper things are not for those without discernment!” But when we read the next part of the verse we are told that the one who has discernment obtains this “…by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” How do they practice this art? By having their minds transformed by the word. I don’t think I’ll have any disagreement there, will I?
Back home we had an instance when a man who had attended our church for years wrote a book denying the deity of Christ and the veracity of Scripture tried to, and I believe he succeeded, turn people away from the faith. At this point, my dad (who is the pastor) preached a masterful sermon refuting the book, and many were more grounded in their faith as a result. I praise the Lord for that; and this is an example of something that is necessary, but I believe that the refutations and training in the Scriptures should be a constant--in every church. Some of you may be blessed to attend a church that does confirm the major doctrines of the faith and supplement them with Scriptural exposition demonstrating these truths on a regular basis which is outstanding, but in my experience that kind of teaching is scarce.
What are we afraid of? We should be afraid of answering to God for the shoddy job of shepherding that we’re doing. Why are some pastors not continuing their education? Why don’t we teach our people about the great heroes of the past and the errors and accomplishments that marked their lives? Why don’t we proclaim the truths that the Holy Spirit has taught the church over the years from His word? Why don’t we supply our people with responses to the cults when they come knocking? Why don’t we encourage our people to witness to them instead of slamming the door in their faces? Why are we living like practical atheists and not fearfully working out our salvation and being salt and light? Why are preachers fashioning sermons that are merely motivational speeches to encourage the people emotionally instead of equipping them spiritually for battle in this evil world?
The world is a very dangerous place for Christ’s sheep. The appointed shepherds of the flock must be toiling relentlessly to prepare and protect them from the opposition. We need not point the finger at anyone, and indeed we cannot until we take the beams out of our eyes and live up to the highest calling ever achievable in this life that has been given to us. One day we will all meet our gloriously wonderful and merciful Savior. Imagine the intense heart breaking anguish you will experience if He not only lacks to tell you “Well done,” but He shakes His head at you and tells you how disappointing it was to watch you pass over every opportunity to bless the people He left in your care.