False Ministers

“The apostles of Satan are not abortionists and sex traffickers, but are for the most part ordained ministers.

Thousands of those who occupy our post-modern pulpits are no longer engaged in presenting the fundamentals of the Christian Faith, but have turned aside from the Truth and have given heed unto fables.

Instead of magnifying the enormity of sin and setting forth its eternal consequences, they minimize it by declaring that sin is merely ignorance or the absence of good. Instead of warning their hearers to “flee from the wrath to come” they make God a liar by declaring that He is too loving and merciful to send any of His own creatures to eternal torment. Instead of declaring that “without shedding of blood is no remission,” they merely hold up Christ as the great Exemplar and exhort their hearers to “follow in His steps.” Of them it must be said, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3).

Their message may sound very plausible and their aim appear very praiseworthy, yet we read of them— “for such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves (imitating) into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing [not to be wondered at] if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works” (II Corinthians 11:13-15).

In addition to the fact that today hundreds of churches are without a leader who faithfully declares the whole counsel of God and presents His way of salvation, we also have to face the additional fact that the majority of people in these churches are very unlikely to learn the Truth themselves.”

A. W. Pink (1886–1952)

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Prophesy against the shepherds…

“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,

Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?

Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.

The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them.” (Ezekiel 34:1-4)

Every pastor has his critics. That’s just the way it is. He learns to live with it. A wise man once said, “If it is a lie, ignore it; if it is the truth, learn from it.”

However, there are men who use the flock to enrich themselves. They know nothing of servant hood. Their god is their belly and their end is destruction (Philippians 3:19).  They tolerate no opinion different than their own. Those who dare disagree are driven away and labeled as “backsliders, haters, gossips, slanderers, etc..” They use their “success” as proof that they are being used by God when the very scripture mitigates against that line of reasoning (read 2 Peter 2:1-3). Large numbers mean nothing. Success measured by the standards of the world is, in reality, failure. All the prophets of old were rejected by the religious community as a whole. Most were put to death.

We have a duty to proclaim the truth. The right thing is never popular, but it is still the right thing.

“Prophets were twice stoned, first in anger, then, after their death, with a handsome slab in the graveyard.” – Christopher Morley

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Dead Religion

“A dead religion uses the words of God to do the opposite of what God does. It’s grotesque when you think about it. It’s demonic. Keep in mind that when someone says ‘I am a Christian’ it may mean absolutely nothing.” Eric Metaxas

“So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.” (1 Kings 12:33, KJV)

Thus was the sin of Jeroboam. The Nation Israel had split into two parts after the death of Solomon, Israel to the North (10 Tribes with Jeroboam as King) and Judah to the South (two tribes with Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, as King). Jeroboam was worried that the people, in returning to worship in Jerusalem at the Temple, “…then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah.” (1 Kings 12:27, KJV). So he devised his own religion, with twin calves as idols, one in the North of Israel, and one in the South of Israel so the people could conveniently worship (and remain loyal to him) in Israel without having to go to Jerusalem to worship and offer sacrifice.

Convenient…Pride…Loyalty to men verses loyally to God…Inventing a new religion…worshipping idols.

“Is this not what you have done, O man? Is this not your sin? You have abandoned the Word of God and have taught others to disobey as well. You have started your own religion, that which you have devised in your own heart, desiring to fill pews and to enrich yourself rather that obeying Me and giving Me honor and glory. You worship idols, men who have set themselves up as authorities above My Word. Men who have invented excuses for their sin and have encouraged others to do the same. Shall not your judgment come swiftly? And what will you do in the day of calamity?

Return to Me, for I desire Mercy and not sacrifice. Return to me and I will abundantly pardon. But if you do not, there will be none to help you in the day of judgment.”

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Man Centered Christianity

“Christianity today is man-centered, not God centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men.

The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Saviour of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest.

To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking to them in the chummiest way imaginable.

This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show.”

A.W. Tozer, (1897-1963). From Man, The Dwelling Place of God, page 27

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Sunday Quotes

“I would not hesitate to put in the first position [for the decline]: the loss of belief in the authority of the Scriptures, and a diminution in the belief of the Truth. I put this first because I am sure it is the main factor.

If you have not got authority, you cannot speak well, you cannot preach. Great preaching always depends upon great themes. Great themes always produce great speaking in any realm, and this is particularly true, of course, in the realm of the Church.

While men believed in the Scriptures as the authoritative Word of God and spoke on the basis of that authority you had great preaching. But once that went, and men began to speculate, and to theorize, and to put up hypotheses and so on, the eloquence and the greatness of the spoken word inevitably declined and began to wane.

You cannot really deal with speculations and conjectures in the same way as preaching had formerly dealt with the great themes of the Scriptures. But as belief in the great doctrines of the Bible began to go out, and sermons were replaced by ethical addresses and homilies, and moral uplift and sociopolitical talk, it is not surprising that preaching declined. I suggest that this is the first and the greatest cause of this decline.” Martyn Lloyd Jones

“As goes spiritual leadership, so goes the church; as goes the church, so goes morality; and as goes morality, so goes the nation. God’s people are both salt and light in society (Matthew 5:13-16); when they are corrupt, society becomes corrupt.” Warren W. Wiersbe

“Shallow preaching that does not grapple with the terrible fact of man’s sinfulness and guilt, calling on ‘all men everywhere to repent,’ results in shallow conversions; and so we have a myriad of glib-tongued professors today who give no evidence of regeneration whatever.

Prating of salvation by grace, they manifest no grace in their lives. Loudly declaring they are justified by faith alone, they fail to remember that ‘faith without works is dead’; and that justification by works before men is not to be ignored as though it were in contradiction to justification by faith before God.

We need to reread James 3 and let its serious message sink deep into our hearts, that it may control our lives. ‘If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.’ No man can truly believe in Christ, who does not first repent. Nor will his repentance end when he has saving faith, but the more he knows God as he goes on through the years, the deeper will that repentance become. A servant of Christ said: ‘I repented before I knew the meaning of the word. I have repented far more since than I did then.’” Harry Ironside (from ‘Except Ye Repent’), 1876 – 1951

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Should Church Pastors disclose their incomes?

If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ.

Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me; for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.” (1 Corinthians 9:11-15, NKJV)

It is clear that those who minister the Gospel full time, dedicating themselves to serving God and others, should be provided for by those they minister to. We do not have an argument with that. However, the question before us today is, “Should Church Pastors disclose their incomes?”

We live in a day not unlike any other day. There are men and women in pulpits across America that are thieves, fleecing the flock. Warren Wiersbe wrote:

“It is unfortunate when the ministry of the Gospel is sometimes hindered by an overemphasis on money. The unsaved world is convinced that most preachers and missionaries are only involved in ‘religious rackets’ to take money from innocent people. No doubt there are religious ‘racketeers’ in the world today (1 Timothy 6:3-16), people who ‘use’ religion to exploit others and control them. We would certainly not agree with their purposes or their practices. We must make sure that nothing we do in our own ministry gives the impression that we are of their number.”

He wrote this commentary in 1983. We believe that the number of “racketeers” have only increased. Pastor Wiersbe continues:

In that day, the Greek cities were filled with all kinds of itinerant teachers and preachers, most of whom were out to make money. Not only had Paul refused to use the kind of oratory and arguments that these teachers used (1 Corinthians 2:1-5), but he also refused to accept money from those to whom he ministered. He wanted the message of the Gospel to be free from any obstacles or hindrances in the minds of lost sinners.”

And, “For that matter, when Paul added ‘neither have I written these flings’ (1 Corinthians 9:15), he was making sure that his readers did not get the idea that he was ‘hinting’ that they should support him!”

We especially appreciate his comments. Which brings us back to our point: Should Church Pastors disclose their incomes?

There are a number of controversies in the church today regarding pastors and how they have come by their fortunes. Yes, many pastors of “large churches” have become wealthy. Many live in gated communities in million dollar houses.

Now we do not believe that church pastors should live in squalor, which, point in fact, many do. Just look around the world and you will see that most are poor and are persecuted daily, even to the point of death. While the “wealthy pastors” of America enjoy their lifestyles.

Now lest you think we are unjustly persecuting these “wealthy pastors,” we have pastored for 10 years, in Oregon and Oklahoma, respectively. Our last pastorate, we left an $80,000 @ year job in the oilfield to pastor for $24,000 @ year and a $500 health insurance allotment. So if we were “in it for the money,” we were moving backwards. We refused increases in compensation three times and when we left were being compensated $33,000 @ year plus $750 @ month insurance compensation. This was our strong conviction to no enrich ourselves at the expense of the flock of God.

The church published a quarterly statement to the congregation accounting for every cent they gave to the work of God. The annual income for the church typically was $100,000, of which 20% was given to missions. Once a year we would provide to the church board (of which I was president and one voting member) an accounting of the compensation we were given (which included “gifts” and income from speaking and weddings, etc.), including medical expenses. We believed that the church had the right and obligation to know what their pastor did with the compensation they provided through their giving.

Should church pastors disclose their incomes? We believe that the answer is yes. Jesus disclosed His income in Luke 9:58:

“Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” (KJV)

No doubt many church pastors will disagree with me. That’s fine. Disagreeing with me is no sin. In fact, what I am sharing here is my conviction regarding honesty, integrity and openness regarding compensation. And finally, we do not speak for God. These are our convictions based upon the study of the scripture and the Spirit’s conviction of our hearts.

Let us close with the words of Paul the Apostle to a young church pastor:

“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:1-8, KJV)

Think about it…

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Popularity is not the motive…

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits.” Isaiah 30:10, KJV

While there have been over 2,000 views of this blog, not many people comment. That’s fine as this blog is not intended to be “popular.” I have no “smooth” things to say here. The purpose is to challenge false teachers and so-called “pastors” to repentance. Others have said it better than I ever could and the problems of today are not new.

“Christianity today is man-centered, not God centered. God is made to wait patiently, even respectfully, on the whims of men. The image of God currently popular is that of a distracted Father, struggling in heartbroken desperation to get people to accept a Saviour of whom they feel no need and in whom they have very little interest. To persuade these self-sufficient souls to respond to respond to His generous offers God will do almost anything, even using salesmanship methods and talking to them in the chummiest way imaginable. This view of things is, of course, a kind of religious romanticism which, while it often uses flattering and sometimes embarrassing terms in praise of God, manages nevertheless to make man the star of the show.” A.W. Tozer, (1897-1963). From Man, The Dwelling Place of God, page 27

Much in the religious world is nothing more than a get rich quick scheme for those that are in control. Do you doubt this? If you attend a church that has more than 1,000 attendance, ask to see the pastor. I’ll be shocked if he agrees to meet with you. Second, ask the leadership to see the financial breakdown of the organization including the salaries of the pastor and other employees. Odds are you wont be able to see it.

These men serve themselves. Look at how they live compared to how you live. They ask you to trust God, but they themselves put you under pressure to give so that they can maintain their lavish lifestyles. Jesus spoke of them in Matthew 23:4-5:

“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do for to be seen of men.” (KJV)

Their time is coming and it does not slumber. Their the ones this blog is challenging.

Think about it…

 

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Measuring Success by the Numbers

“I have found that churches, pastors, seminaries, and parachurch agencies throughout North America are mostly playing the numbers game—that is, defining success in terms of numbers of heads counted or added to those that were there before. Church-growth theorists, evangelists, pastors, missionaries, news reporters, and others all speak as if:

(1) numerical increase is what matters most;

(2) numerical increase will surely come if our techniques and procedures are right;

(3) numerical increase validates ministries as nothing else does;

(4) numerical increase must be everyone’s main goal.

I detect four unhappy consequences of this:

First, big and growing churches are viewed as far more significant than others.

Second, parachurch specialists who pull in large numbers are venerated, while hard-working pastors are treated as near-nonentities.

Third, lively laymen and clergy too are constantly being creamed off from the churches to run parachurch ministries, in which, just because they specialize on a relatively narrow front, quicker and more striking results can be expected.

Fourth, many ministers of not-so-bouncy temperament and not-so-flashy gifts return to secular employment in disillusionment and bitterness, concluding that the pastoral life of steady service is a game not worth playing.

In all of this I seem to see a great deal of unmortified pride, either massaged, indulged, and gratified, or wounded, nursed, and mollycoddled. Where quantifiable success is god, pride always grows strong and spreads through the soul as cancer sometimes gallops through the body.

Shrinking spiritual stature and growing moral weakness thence result, and in pastoral leaders, especially those who have become sure they are succeeding, the various forms of abuse and exploitation that follow can be horrific.

Orienting all Christian action to visible success as its goal, a move which to many moderns seems supremely sensible and businesslike, is thus more a weakness in the church than its strength; it is a seedbed both of unspiritual vainglory for the self-rated succeeders and of unspiritual despair for the self-rated failures, and a source of shallowness and superficiality all round.

The way of health and humility is for us to admit to ourselves that in the final analysis we do not and cannot know the measure of our success the way God sees it. Wisdom says: leave success ratings to God, and live your Christianity as a religion of faithfulness rather than an idolatry of achievement.”

  1. I. Packer, A Passion for Faithfulness: Wisdom from the Book of Nehemiah (Wheaton: Crossway, 1995), 207-209.

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A few words from A.W. Tozer…

“Churches and Religious Organizations have shown a tendency to fall into the same error that destroyed Israel: inability to receive admonition. After a time of growth and successful labor comes the deadly psychology of self-congratulation.

Success itself becomes the cause of later failure. The leaders come to accept themselves as the very chosen of God. They are special object of the diving favor; their success is proof enough that this is so. They must therefore be right, and anyone who tries to call them to account is instantly written off as an unauthorized meddler who should be ashamed to dare to reprove his betters.” A. W. Tozer

“History will show that the church has prospered most when blessed with strong leaders and suffered the greatest decline when her leaders were weak and time serving. The sheep rarely go much farther than the shepherd.” A. W. Tozer

“The Lord had no servants. He bossed on one around. He was the Lord, but He never took the tyrannical attitude towards anybody.” A.W. Tozer

“The proud seek every means imaginable to obtain for themselves an advantageous place in the eyes of others. The humble make every effort not only to avoid applause and praise of others, but even withdraw from the honorable estimations people could have of them.” A. W. Tozer

“The desire to fulfill the purpose for which we were crated is of course a gift from God, but sin has twisted this impulse about and turned it into a selfish lust for first place and top honors.” A. W. Tozer

Aiden Wilson Tozer was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. For his work, he received two honorary doctorate degrees. He went to be with the Lord on May 12, 1963

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A unselfish example…

“Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year until the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, twelve years, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions.

But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God.” (Nehemiah 5:14-15, NKJV)

D.L. Moody said, “A holy life will produce the deepest impression. Lighthouses blow no horns; they only shine.”

How different it is today, when we repeatedly hear of men who claim to be pastors (servants) enrich themselves at the expense their congregation. Nehemiah could of lived off the Kings taxes collected from the people, but he chose not to. He had the right, but did not exercise that right.

The Apostle Paul also behaved accordingly, “If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things? If others are partakers of this right over you, are we not even more? Nevertheless we have not used this right, but endure all things lest we hinder the gospel of Christ…  What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:11-12, 18, NKJV)

Instead of unselfish men of humility, so often we see men who are demanding sacrifice from others they themselves are unwilling to make. Sound familiar? It should:

“Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. But all their works they do to be seen by men…” (Matthew 23:1-5, NKJV)

If Jesus despised the religious hypocrite then, what makes you think that He doesn’t now? There will be an accounting. Do not mistake His lack of action as approval. He is giving you space to repent. Should you refuse to do so, there will be consequences.

“It has been said that leaders are people who accept more of the blame and less of the credit, but they are also people who quietly sacrifice so that others might have more.” Warren W. Wiersbe

Think about it…

Note: The quotes in this post come from The Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament © 2001-2004 by Warren W. Wiersbe. All rights reserved.

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