Monday, July 24, 2006

Protecting and Contending: A Pastoral Perspective

This is also from Dustin Segars. Here, the concern is more pastoral. Again, any responses can be emailed to him directly at: .

Protecting and Contending: A Pastoral Perspective

2 Tim. 4:2-4; Tit. 1:9; & Assorted Scriptures



Opening question: “Can I get a show of hands as to how many pastors, elders, or Sunday School teachers are here?”

  • I ask this question because I want to take the time to remind you that the people under your care and teaching are under attack. You MUST be reminded in this hour that your people are the subjects of spiritual attack. The people sitting in the pews of your churches are constantly assailed by false teachings and philosophies through the secular media, magazines, the internet, and through the avenue of secular educational institutions.
  • What’s worse is that today’s average Christian is being absolutely hammered with false ideas that have crept into the evangelical church through so-called Christian magazines, Christian bookstores, or other religious literature. Rather than being taught how to be discerning and biblical, most people in America’s pews have been rocked into a spiritual slumber by the good Reverend CEO behind the translucent glass pulpits that are at the front of their churches.


***Now, to give you somewhat of a background so you can appreciate where I’m coming from, our church makes it a point to regularly engage the unbeliever in an organized, planned fashion. By God’s grace, we have an anti-abortion outreach ministry twice monthly where we stand outside one of our local abortion clinics and attempt to reason with the murderous mothers who are going in to have their children systematically destroyed on the altar of secular humanism. We attend the outdoor pagan summer and fall festivals in our area in order to interact with Wiccans, New Agers, and other monistic, relativistic worldviews. This fall, a group of men from our church are planning to attend the monthly atheist meet-ups held at the local Unitarian Universalist meeting hall (notice I didn’t call it a “church”).

Now, I said all that to say this: The elders of our church desire to teach our people how to engage and counter unbelieving worldviews so as to fulfill the Great Commission and maintain doctrinal purity within their own personal lives, their families, and their churches.

Now, although I’m an apologist, I am first and foremost a pastor, and it’s on that basis that I was asked to open this conference by discussing the issue of protecting the flock and contending for the faith from a pastoral perspective. It’s from that perspective I want to discuss three things that I believe are setting the stage for the proliferation of false teaching in our churches and our culture. My friends, we need look at what can be done to remedy those problems from a biblical perspective. We’ll cover these things under three major points:

  1. Many pastors are not preaching and teaching their churches but instead marketing and entertaining them.

  1. Many church-attenders have been trained to have their ears tickled instead of being taught sound doctrine.

  1. The practice of Church discipline is non-existent in most local churches and by way of extension most denominations fail to expose well-known false teachers and call them to repentance.

I. Many pastors are not preaching and teaching their churches but instead marketing and entertaining them.

Sadly enough, today’s average pastor isn’t known within Christian circles for upholding, defending, and actively promulgating the Christian faith other than within the four walls of his own church-building. It is at this point that I want to emphasize the fact that one of the reasons we need to have an apologetics conference in the first place is because many pastors themselves have neglected the task of teaching their people how to defend the faith. Now, by saying that, I don’t want you to get the idea that I’m against having conferences, but my point is that the elders of your church may be guilty of neglecting their duty to disciple some of you. Thus, you must be equipped this weekend to make up for where many pastors have fallen short.

Thanks to the rise of shady multi-million dollar televangelistic ministries in the 70s and 80s, the pastoral ministry is viewed as a slick professional enterprise wherein the pastor has become a promoter of a local organization, a businessman, a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), a psychologist, an entertainer, or the president of some large corporation. Not that all of those things I just listed are bad per se, but most pastors are viewed as one of the above with the underlying thought that he is often viewed as a financial huckster bent on running a church like a corporation that seeks to attract customers. Take for example a critical review by the online magazine The Simon regarding Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Community Church and author of The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life,

“Enter the office of Rick Warren and you'll see an interesting mantra alongside his requisite Bible trappings. It doesn't advocate forgiveness or claim Moses as its author, yet it speaks to the very heart of what Warren's sprawling evangelical empire is about:

What is our business?
Who is our customer?
What does the customer consider value?

According to The Simon magazine, “This ‘doctrine’ is the brainchild of Peter F. Drucker, a strategy guru who coached fledgling pastors on management techniques through his Leadership Network. ‘I still go sit at the feet of Peter Drucker on a regular basis,’ Warren said in a 2005 interview with Fortune Magazine (Drucker passed away later that year). ‘He honed into me hundreds of one-liners and taught me that growth always comes from the outside – from people who are not now using your product, or listening to your message, or using your services.’”[1]

My friends, it’s because of things like this that the pastor is no longer viewed by his local community as a righteous man who is (1) untainted by the scandal of sin; (2) and one who has maintained a faithful testimony in the Christian Community by maintaining a high reputation as a Servant of God and God’s People and of being an outspoken and staunch defender of the Christian faith that he so graciously lives out! (Matt. 20:28).

My friends, it is my view that one of the major reasons we have such a proliferation of false teaching is because we have fewer men who are truly set apart and qualified to protect the sheep from the wolves. I pray that God will set apart men in our local churches for the work of pastoral ministry who are willing to bear their cross and suffer physical death for the faith, if necessary. Churches must be careful not to recommend and appoint men to the office of pastor because of fame, notoriety, or some type of special position that they have within the within the community but only when they fulfill the necessary character and doctrinal qualifications set forth in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Too often, a pastor is appointed because he is an eloquent speaker or because he looks and smells nice. I know this is somewhat of a category error given the fact that he was the last OT prophet, but do you think people listened to John the Baptist because he smelled good? Brethren, we need men to lead us who are shining examples of Christian character, personal piety, and doctrinal fidelity. The character and capabilities of the men who minister to your churches affects what type of doctrine you and your children learn (whether good or bad), what the quality of the teaching will be (whether clear or obscured), what type of integrity will be modeled for the families in those churches (godly vs. shady), the witness our church will have for the local community, and most importantly, the effectiveness our church will have in bringing the maximum glory to the Triune God.

Now, as a brief aside, I want to stress the fact that the reason why pastors must be faithful to teach biblical doctrine from the pulpit is because to do otherwise leads people to hell. A lack of clear, precise, biblical teaching from the pulpit sends people to hell. When God’s requirements for a person to be saved are either made light of or are muddled by the pastors of a local church, this ultimately leads to confusion in fundamental doctrine, and ultimately, confusion in fundamental doctrine determines where people go when they die. When a pastor avoids, confuses, and blurs the lines of distinction between sound doctrine and heresy from the pulpit he opens a Pandora’s box of problems that can lead to apostasy and spiritual death.

As I was studying this past week, I noticed that the importance of having sound pastoral leadership was reflected in a brief, written review of a pastor’s conference I attended this past year. In this review, a dear Christian brother had many perceptive things to say regarding the necessity of each local church having faithful pastors who will clearly preach and teach the Scriptures to their congregations:

We need pastors so desperately. Our churches are crying out for them. Christians of all ages, all denominations, are weeping in desperation for men - godly men - to lead them. They are crying aloud for men to lead them into God's deepest truths. They are groaning in desperation for men to open the Word of God to them.

I have seen so many examples of men and women who are saved and spend a period of time in a church that does not feed them with the Word of God. These people inevitably become hungry. They know instinctively that they are lacking and famished, and may not even know what they hunger for. Yet if that hunger goes without being fed, eventually these people lose the hunger and settle into a spirituality that is based not on sound teaching from the Word but on whatever fad is being passed off as true spirituality. They find [P]urpose and Jabez and their wild hearts, but never receive deep, satisfying teaching from God's Word.[2]

Sadly, the situation I just read about is rampant throughout the entire world of evangelicalism. People are sitting in churches everywhere hungry for that “word the proceeds out of the mouth of God” but they are not getting it. They know something is wrong but they can’t put their finger on what it is. They are like soldiers who know they’re in a war, but they can’t figure out why their commanding officers aren’t giving them any weapons to fight the enemy with or why their superiors haven’t given them any food, but have essentially left them to fend for themselves in a dry, and parched desert.

Like the weaponless and foodless soldier, these Christians are defenseless against the doctrinal compromise that surrounds them and they are starving in the desert of the modern evangelical church, because there is a “famine in the land.” What’s worse is that some of you here may be in a church situation where you’re not being discipled properly in basic Christian doctrine and because you lack the training you need you’ll attend a conference like this thinking that you’ll be able to charge forth and attack the gates of hell with a spiritual squirt gun!

Do you remember what Paul charged Timothy with in 2 Tim. 4:2? He said, “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.

Brethren, that same problem affected the early church, it affected many during the pre-Reformation era, and it affects us now. It’s because of that we’re going to briefly talk about how Titus 1 describes the absolutely essential teaching ministry of the shepherd and how he must first embrace God’s word as truth before he can teach it authoritatively.

Titus 1:9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching . . . .

The words “holding fast” in the original language consists of one word (avnteco,menon) that has the idea of withstanding opposition while embracing truth.[3] The apostle Paul wanted Titus to appoint men who wouldn’t cave in when the winds of false doctrine from their pagan society blew against the house of sound doctrine! He wants the elders on Crete to be firm, resolute, and unshakeable in their understanding of apostolic doctrine because they are the ones who will be responsible for the doctrinal purity of their congregations. He wanted Titus to select men who will be tough-minded and immoveable in their convictions when it comes to teaching the word of God, that pure and precious message of eternal life.

· The apostle Paul knew that the errors of the false teachers had the potential to destroy that precious, life giving message of eternal life. This is why he warned the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 to, "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (Acts 20:28-31)

· Notice in Acts 20:31 that Paul spent THREE years training the Ephesian elders, teaching the people, and preaching the gospel to them. He was so endeared to them, he loved them so much that he constantly was warning them about the false teachers who would rise up from the very congregations that he had prayed for, ministered to, and loved so dearly.

· The reality of the coming false teachers emotionally gripped Paul with so much concern for the Christians at Ephesus that he cried about it! What a wonderful display of a pastor’s heart!

As I read a commentary earlier regarding a pastor’s conference that I attended, Jesus also pointed to the absolute necessity of feeding the sheep with the word of God when he rebuked Satan,


The Scripture says that the incurable God-lover will PANT after God, THIRST after God, and HUNGER after God. How despicable then are those so-called preachers who ramble on in the pulpits of evangelical churches and promote pop-psychology, stand-up comedy, storytelling, clever speeches about an unrelated social cause, promote entertainment, and tell funny jokes! This is what John Piper called, “the slapstick of evangelical worship.”[4]

  • How sad that when those who hunger and thirst after righteousness must find false solace in the evangelical fads that lines the Christian bookstores. They go from fad to fad until they eventually lose hope in church and wander in doctrinal aimlessness.
  • How sad that preaching and teaching has been traded for pragmatic schemes and marketing of the church of God.

Shame on those pseudo-shepherds for starving God’s people and feeding themselves instead! They are like the false shepherds mentioned in Ezekiel 34 who were more concerned with feeding themselves off the material wealth of God’s people rather than feeding them the word of God!

**NOTE: Any preacher than consistently wanders from the clear exposition of word and thus fails to feed the belly and quench the thirst of that hungry and thirsty God-lover should be downright ashamed of himself. God says in 2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

  • God tells Timothy in 2 Tim. 2:15 that if he doesn’t correctly “cut” or handle the Scriptures, then he should be ashamed because he fails to be diligent at his preparation and lacks accuracy!
  • If Timothy should be ashamed if he doesn’t accurately handle the word of truth, how much more the so-called evangelical pastor who avoids bringing the centrality of expositional preaching to his pulpit and trades it for pragmatism thereby starving rather than exhorting his sheep? (!)

Pastors, if God has given you a desire for the ministry and you meet up to His standards then do as Jesus commanded Peter before He ascended into heaven: “Tend my sheep!” (John 21:25)

Pastors, come along side them and demonstrate that you care about them by exhorting them to live in holiness and righteousness. Encourage them by modeling godliness for them. Teach them what the healing waters of Jesus feel like to a parched and weary soul in need of spiritual nourishment. You can only do this by constantly pressing upon them the only infallible source of truth by which they can find such nourishment, the word of God.

Titus 1:9 says that the pastor must hold “fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine . . . .

Our text goes on to state that this exhortation must be done with “sound doctrine.”

The word “sound” translates from a Greek word (u`giai,nw) from which we get the English word for hygiene. This word means “healthy” or “wholesome.” The word “doctrine” (didaskali,a) simply means teaching.

· Just a person must begin to eat a healthy diet and continue doing so the rest of their life to maintain physical health, healthy teaching is what the pastor must feed and exhort his congregation with so that they can become and remain spiritually healthy.

This is such a daunting task, that James says, James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

· This stricter judgment means that all those who fail to handle the word accurately, will answer for it at the judgment seat of Christ because they didn’t teach healthy doctrine but watered-down doctrine.

· That is why the man of God can never preach what is in his own mind, but he must preach God’s mind as revealed in the Scriptures.

· This is why preaching must be expositional (verse-by-verse explanation). Expositional teaching is teaching that will always be the most healthy form of diet for the sheep because it systematically, clearly, and completely sets forth God’s truths from His own word and ONLY those truths. The faithful elder will seek to be like Ezra, who “set his heart to study the law of the LORD and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

· A faithful preacher doesn’t seek to preach and teach so as to make the Bible’s message relevant to the culture, but the faithful man will enable them to understand sound, healthy doctrine, which will become the foundation for their spiritual life. Jesus said so Himself when he declared:

Matthew 7:24-25 "Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 "And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.

However, Jesus also said that those who don’t build their spiritual foundation on him are fools! He goes on to say in verse 26 of the same chapter:

Matthew 7:26-27 "Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 "The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell-- and great was its fall."

This brings us to point # 2, which is the fact that many pew-warmers have been conditioned to have their ears tickled instead of desiring true doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3).

II. Many church-attenders have been trained to have their ears tickled instead of being taught sound doctrine.

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,

Many people in typical evangelical churches cannot stand a solid expositional message from the Bible because their pastors have been preaching sermonettes for Christianettes. Such dumbing down in teaching and proclamation has developed such a shallowness of doctrinal understanding for those sitting in the pews that their thinking of the gospel is about that is two millimeters deep and three miles wide. Given such shallowness it is no wonder that the average evangelical gets tied in knots by a person who has only been at the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses for 90 days. However Titus 1:9 says that the pastor should be able “to exhort in sound doctrine . . . .”

Briefly looking back at the issue of “healthy” or “sound” teaching, let us consider for a moment how often Paul uses this concept in exhorting Titus and Timothy to set up the churches in Ephesus and Crete:

1 Timothy 1:10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,

1 Timothy 6:3-4 If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing . . .

NAU Titus 1:12-13 “ . . . ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ 13 This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith,

Titus 2:1 But as for you, speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine.

Titus 2:2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

Sound doctrine, sound words, sound in the faith---all refer to that which is in proper order, functioning properly, or healthy. Teaching that is not "sound" may "work" by today’s pragmatic standards of the market-driven church. It may "get the job done." But if it is not really sound, it will have results, down the road. As I’ve already mentioned, it’s like feeding the sheep an imbalanced diet: they may live fine on it for a while, but eventually, it will have an impact. Sickness will develop and doctrinal disease will enter the church and eventually manifest itself in the proliferation of false teaching.
Sound doctrine is not something that would be "nice" if we could just "afford" it. You will never become truly healthy by cutting corners on diet and exercise and nutrition---though you can, in the short haul, get away with things. But short-sightedness is the hallmark of American evangelicalism, is it not? The shallow mess that we call "teaching" in so many churches today cannot long nourish the famished sheep. It builds no solid foundation, and it results in an anemic, birth-defect filled next generation who wants beach bands rather than Scriptural truth. Sound doctrine is simply letting God say what God says in His Word: unsound doctrine means we are ashamed of the truth and think we are wise enough to come up with something else. This brings us to point # 3.

III. Church discipline is non-existent in most local churches and by way of extension most denominations fail to expose well-known false teachers and call them to repentance.

A. Local Church Discipline

Simply put, church discipline is simply the application of biblical principles of holiness to the local church. Church discipline should always be corrective in nature. For sake of time, we’ll discuss church discipline as a corrective means against false teaching. What do I mean by corrective?

Corrective: By corrective, I mean that it is for the purpose of instructing someone about a specific sin, sins, or in the context of this lecture, false teaching.

We have two types of corrective discipline:

  1. Directly from God - Hebrews 12:5-11.
  2. Through the Church - Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5:1-13.

It is specifically outward church discipline that I want to focus on. Christ said in Matthew 18:15-17,

15 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you a Gentile and a tax collector.”

When you read the verses in Matthew 18:15-17, you must understand that stopping the spread of false teaching from within the church starts with YOU!

1. The Necessity of Corrective Church Discipline:

  • If false teaching is allowed to go unchecked, it will spread to other members in the church body and either destroy or greatly obscure the proclamation of the gospel in that local church and the local community. If allowed to go unchecked, false teaching can mar a local church beyond repair.
  • If a false teaching is allowed to go unchecked in the local body, that local church may eventually cease to be a true church of Christ but instead may become a synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9).[5]

2. The Motivation of Corrective Church Discipline:

A. The Glory of God

B. The Holiness of God

C. The Truth of God

D. The Fear of God

E. The Love of God

3. The Matter Requiring Corrective Church Discipline.

**In this context, the sin of teaching false doctrine or false philosophies within the church requires corrective church discipline.

We cannot overlook the potentially false teachings within our churches and forsake formal church discipline if it is needed because:

1. False teaching hurts other believers and leads them astray.

2. False teaching destroys unity in the body.

3. False teaching destroys the purity of the local church and its witness for Christ.

4. False teaching brings reproach on the name of Christ.

**Ultimately, formal, Church discipline is required in this context because false teaching is destructive to Christ’s church at large and the local body specifically.

B. Denominational/Interchurch Discipline - It is absolutely essential that pastors and Christian apologists publicly mark false teachers out as heretics so as to protect the Church of Jesus Christ.

I have a pastor friend that is known for saying, “The cults are the unpaid bills of the church.” When I asked him what he meant, he said something like this, “The proliferation of pseudo-Christian cults in the mid 19th century is simply the result of the church not properly disciplining false teachers that were within the churches and a failure to mark out false teachers that were outside of the church.”

This “marking out” of false teachers includes naming names, exposing their particular errors in detail, and calling them to repentance without fear of personal cost. That is part of what should be going on at this apologetics conference!

Titus 1:9b says that the elder must be “. . . be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

The pastor and the apologist is to refute those who contradict, especially those within the church. This is because the healthy doctrine of the gospel is the precious, life-giving message of truth that people so desperately need. Any hindrance of false teaching is the wall that prevents sinners from getting the medicine of the gospel which is the only cure for their spiritually diseased, dead, and sin-infected souls! No wonder such righteous indignation was warranted when Jesus and the apostles rebuked false teachers! (Matt. 23; Rom. 1:18-32; 2 Peter 2-3, etc.)

  • As I said earlier, many people have been rocked to a spiritual slumber rather than being taught how to be discerning and biblical.
  • However, the pastor who wants to be honoring to the Lord *MUST* be willing and able to fight against such folly by gently and patiently correcting those oppose themselves through teaching them sound doctrine (2 Tim. 2:23-26). The teaching of sound doctrine from the Bible is the best prescription for those who are wandering into a doctrinal hogpit!
  • It is important to note here that those who constantly “contradict” the word are to be considered false teachers and no true Christians at all. I’m not talking about dividing over some small point of church government or the details of different eschatological positions. These minor doctrinal differences are understandable because we “all see through a glass darkly” and only “know in part.” (1 Cor. 13:12). Also, our minds are stained by sin, thus, we’ll not always agree on some of the finer points of theology (Rom. 8:22). No, I’m talking about essential truths of the Christian faith such as salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! When men begin to deny these essential doctrines, they must be resisted firmly and exposed for what they are because they have the potential to lead people into another gospel, which leads to hell. Paul says elsewhere in the NT:

Romans 16:17-18 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.

Titus 3:10-11 Reject a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

Finally, a heretic must be marked out clearly by naming who the heretic is. Paul made a regular practice of this with several heretics:

2 Timothy 4:14-15 Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. 15 Be on guard against him yourself, for he vigorously opposed our teaching.

2 Timothy 2:16-18 But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.


To have integrity in teaching you can't hold back on any element of God's truth. This is truly a major area of failure today, and that for “fear of men.” As our culture becomes more and more post-Christian (and indeed, anti-Christian), the pressure to compromise on the content of the Christian faith will continue to grow, not only so as to create large mega-churches that do not at all challenge the sinner's rebellion against God because they want him or her to remain “comfortable” in their sins, but even more directly in forcing us to count the cost of speaking the truth when the culture decides to make speaking the truth illegal. Who will we obey at that point and who will we be willing to “offend” for the sake of being obedient to Christ? Are we going to kow-tow to men, who love their sin and rebellion, or, will we raise up men within our own church who are going to be obedient to God by faithfully, clearly, and consistently preaching His gospel?

For a pastor to teach in honesty, integrity, and purity, assumes something that, sadly, apostate Christianity no longer confesses. If I say “this gold is pure,” I need to have a standard of purity and a way of defining the substance of “gold.” If I can't tell you exactly what gold is, I can't claim to possess pure gold now can I? In the same way, if you cannot define the gospel clearly and specifically you can't claim to be teaching it with integrity and purity, since those terms assume it exists and can be defined. It is my humble opinion that those who plague the church today with their constant sowing of doubt and confusion are a manifestation of God removing His blessing, something that is hardly surprising in light of God's wrath coming upon Western Society.

A teacher with integrity will teach “the whole truth and nothing but the truth” to the best of his ability, as the Apostle Paul did (Act 20:27). However, today the greatest heresy in many churches is hurting someone's “feelings.” The teacher who has integrity will not seek to unnecessarily offend, of course. But when offense is part and parcel of the message, the teacher marked by integrity will always leave that matter in God's hands.

How little respect and love for God is shown with the proclamation of God's message today! Congregations tell their pastors to keep it to twenty minutes---we want more music, more entertainment! Give us “gospel lite” preacher! Keep it simple and don’t give us anything heavy! We want to feel good when we leave, so no doctrine! No content! Stories, tell us childhood stories! Many sleep through the sermon with their eyes open, never considering the gravity of the message (if there is any gravity in the message to begin with), day dreaming about getting home to watch football, or worrying about what will happen Monday at work. We live in a generation that lives off the sound-biters---if you don't get the message across in four minutes and thirty seconds, you've lost me. Better throw a joke in to wake me up now. I can't concentrate on one thing this long! Of course, that's why I only read a few verses of the Bible a week, why the biblical text is a choppy mess of individual verses instead of a contiguous whole, etc. and etc.
What is the minister, apologist, or evangelist to do who is called to labor in the midst of a congregation who does not honor the dignity of the message or the messenger? To use a phrase from Steve Camp, “you need to remember you have an audience of One.” When you preach, you should preach full well knowing you stand in the sight of the Sovereign of Heaven who gave you the Word you are handling, and who expects faithfulness to His truth and accuracy in the preaching and teaching of it. Do others sense your awe at His presence? So what? You preach for His pleasure and His glory, and you leave the others to His hand and His will. He may well be pleased to grow some folks up based upon your model, honoring His Word, and edifying His people. It is not your job to work for the sloppy mess-pottage oftentimes called “evangelical Christianity.” If we want to see strong doctrine restored to the church of Jesus Christ and false teachings diminish in volume, we must first have men in pulpits who have a fear of God rather than a fear of man, men who are not afraid to teach God’s word and confront an unbelieving culture with the gospel regardless of the personal cost. We need men who will call the people to a higher place of holiness and spiritual growth instead of entertaining them to hell. Thank you.


[3] Nicoll.

[4] John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books 1990), 21.

[5] C. Biblical Examples of Corrective Church Discipline: 1 Cor. 5:1-11; 2 Thess. 3:14-15; 1 Thess. 5:14; 1 Tim. 1:19-20; 5:19-20; 2 Timothy 3: 5; Titus 3:10-11.


  1. Thanks for posting this Gene...

  2. The audio for this session is online here.

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