For years, I wondered why so few pastors clearly teach and preach the Bible and fail to contend earnestly for the faith in their own churches and religious organizations (Jude 3). Its as if most of them simply don't care about doctrinal apostasy and sin in their own congregations. They have no problem conveniently looking the other way when things that are immediately spiritually damaging to their own congregations are running rampant. Many also appear to be more concerned about their own well being than the spiritual well being of their own congregations. They seem to be afraid to preach the truth for fear that they will empty out their church buildings, lose all material support, and lose favor with their denominational peers. They seem to be so shackled tight to their desire to have the praise, favor, and acclaim of men, that they cannot imagine doing or preaching anything that is true that would possibly offend a large majority of their congregation or those in their religious associations. Indeed, "the fear of man is a snare" (Pro. 29:25 HCSB).
A Major Problem: Unconverted Pastors
After interacting with many evangelical pastors through the years, I have come to the conclusion that many of them are simply unconverted. They have a fear of man rather than a fear of God (Matt. 10:28). I was speaking with a pastor-friend this past Sunday morning and he told me story after story about pastors, preachers, and Bible teachers he knew of who were living double lives of adultery, homosexuality, and other grievous sins when all the while getting up and preaching twice every Lord's Day. When these men were confronted, all of them denied any wrongdoing and one even said, "You people have no right to judge me." Its important to note that I am not talking about men who are pastors of churches associated with apostate mainline, liberal denominations, but churches that pride themselves in being in theologically conservative. When "pastors" respond to sin this way, they are showing that they possess a perverted mind that is destitute of the grace of God.
Unconverted Pastors = Grade-A Myth Makers
So many professing Christians are concerned that gospel preaching and direct, clear, Bible teaching will drive people away instead of reaching them. This was evident in my outreach at UNCG last week and it has been evident in the responses that I have received from professing Christians who have objected to our regularly preaching the gospel outside of a local abortion clinic. I have often asked them, "Since you think the message is driving people away, what do you think I should say to get these people to think about the judgment that awaits them should they fail to repent?" They usually say something like, "Just tell them that God really loves them and that they need to give their lives to Him." I then ask the following: (1) "Why do they need to give their lives to Him?" and (2) "Where in the pages of the New Testament do you find Jesus or the Apostles telling people that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives?" At this point the person usually tries to shift the conversation away from what the Bible says about the gospel being the God-ordained means by which He saves the lost to something like "We live in a different time and culture; people today aren't going to listen to you if you're always harping on about God's wrath, God's hatred of sin, and the only way of salvation being through Christ." When the conversation comes to this point, they are telling me that either they simply don't understand the message of the New Testament, or, they do, yet they think that we need to apologize for God being so harsh and exclusivistic. The way that we typically "apologize" for God is by purposefully avoiding telling people what the Bible says about sin, righteousness, and judgment and pandering to society's standards of holiness (i.e., political correctness) rather than God's. As I've said many times before, evangelical churches are confusing Biblical meekness with political correctness and removing the offense of the cross in the process. Hirelings that do this will not only attract a huge following, but they will also become grade A "myth-makers". As I noted last week. remember what Paul says in 2 Tim. 2:2-5,
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. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.Many modern congregations are filled with preachers that tell the people what they want to hear instead of what they really need to hear. This isn't just a problem in theologically liberal, mainline denominations. Conservative churches have produced scads of false converts through their altar call invitational system and by simply watering down the precious apostolic deposit and mixing it with pop-psychology. Then, when the false convert is produced and starts showing signs of going back to the mire, the hireling comforts them in their sin and gives them false assurance. Congratulations hireling, you just made your proselyte twice as much a son of Hell as yourself! (Matt. 23:15)
Wherever the pastors are spiritually determines to a large extent where the parishioners are spiritually. If he is hungry for truth, they will be too since hungry people attract more hungry people. If he loves myths, they will too, since myth-makers attract myth-mongerers. Either way, it's a like a fly to the ointment. Which type of ointment do you want to be? The one that burns upon initial contact yet heals forever, or the kind that goes on warm and smooth but seeps fatal poison into the skin until you finally croak and are cast into a devil's Hell? Sadly, many so-called "evangelicals" are swimming in an ocean of mythology, evangellyfish mythology.
Please understand that I'm not advocating hateful, nasty, and mean-spirited behavior from angry pastors. Quite the contrary, I want men to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15) and warn people of their peril with tears in their eyes if necessary. I want pastors to seek the salvation of their people and their communities for the blessing of those people to the glory of God. I want to see pastors who pour over the Scriptures night and day mining out the gems of the Biblical text from the original languages so as to equip their people to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-12).
IN CONCLUSION, may God grant us thousands of young preachers that are willing to go homeless and be mistreated for the sake of the truth. May they love their people and patiently preach Biblical grace rather than worldly rubbish and may their hearts be set aflame by the Spirit's power rather than the endless myths that come from the idol factories of men's minds.