Saturday, January 26, 2008

A disgrace in the pulpit

I have told this story in the past, but felt it necessary to post it again. I feel it will help others to understand "WHY" I am so strongly against poor preaching and the unbiblical love-fest that seem to come out of our churches today.

Yep, that was my message when I first got into the ministry. Nothing wrong with that message. It is true! God loves you! Every sermon I prepared was geared towards the same theme...
are you struggling with addiction?
is your marriage faltering?
are you giving your tithes to the church?
do you hate your neighbor?
are you gay or involved in pornography?

That was me! Every sermon, the same. God loves you so much that he sent his Son to die on the cross for you. That's how much he loved you. He wants us to love each other too. If someone hits you on your right cheek, turn to him your left cheek! If someone steals your Ferrari, give him your Lamborghini too! I preached about how we should all be out witnessing to people because we are to fulfill the Great Commission. Of course, I wasn't doing it. I just told everyone else to do it. My bulletins were always filled with at least one joke for people to take home and share with others. My sermon always started out with a joke. It was good to see people laughing because it was a gift from God! I was really good at it too. I would read a line of Scripture, sometimes I would read almost a whole chapter (not too long, because I did not want people to get bored). I remember that my first sermon took me a whole 12 minutes! Twelve minutes and the people loved me. They got out early and were on their way to the restaurants in an effort to beat the church crowds. They said they enjoyed the sermon because it was right to the point. Never mind the fact that half of it was a joke and a good story. Remember how Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me?" He said it three times! Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep. Feed my sheep! I was offering potato chips and french onion dip! For the new Christians, I was doing nothing to help them grow in their faith. For the mature Christians, I was doing absolutely nothing for them. We all know we are to love one another. Now, give me some meat and potatoes is what they would say. (they didn't actually say this, but as I look back, I would have said it had I been them!)

One day early in the morning a lady came into my office. She said that her son was going to be in church that day and she didn't want me to mention anything about homosexuality because he was gay. I assured her that I wasn't going to talk about that. She was relieved. When church service started, I saw the young man and was very careful about what I said because I did not want to offend him or his mom. When the service was over, they both came up to me and said it was a very good service. I never saw that young man again!

How did I get people saved? Notice the wording...
how did "I" get people saved??!!

At the end of a really special service I would work on the emotions of people and if they were not saved, I would have them come forth to say the sinners prayer and to be baptized.

I was a pastor that was not saved. Hard to believe? read my story here

I used to preach "once saved, always saved." I would tell people that we as Christians will never fall away because God won't let us fall away. We had His promise that He began a good work in us...

So, I completely blew it as a pastor! I had a great ability to relate to people. I would listen to anyone and would not challenge anyone when it came to the Bible. I would shake my head in agreement but did not know the Bible well enough to stand up for it. I knew that God loved us and that He said the greatest commandment was to love Him and to love our neighbors as ourselves. I knew that and I preached it every Sunday. When it came time to actually trying to witness to people, I would say the classic line...
Are you saved? Do you know how you can get to heaven? If you say this prayer, you can know for sure you are saved!

I wanted to grow in my ability to relate to people so I bought several books. I purchased Rick Warren's Purpose Drive Church and Purpose Driven Life. I read them and loved them. I thought, "wow, this book is great! I have to get my church doing this!" I also went up to Chicago and visited the Willow Creek Church and fell in love with Bill Hybels preaching. It was good. I felt I wasn't doing too much different than he was doing. Just to about 10,000 fewer people!

Yep, I was a pastor! You could call me Pastor Brian, Pastor Culver or Reverend Culver. It was a badge of honor and with it came instant respect. I was liked by everyone. My church loved me, the community loved me, even the other churches loved me.

The problem with Once Saved, Always saved is this...
many people "think" they are saved when they are not!
I thought I was saved. I believed in Jesus and I got baptized. I preached and was fulfilling His calling in my life. I had to have been saved. But I wasn't!

How do I know that I was not saved?
It wasn't until I heard Hell's Best Kept Secret and True and False Converts that I realized I was not saved. For the first time, I heard about God's Law. As a pastor, I could only name 4 or 5 of the Commandments. I did not know all of them, let alone, know them in order. How could I as a pastor, not know the Law of God? I was preaching against sin, but I truly and honestly did not know what sin was. Oh, sure, I knew that telling a lie was wrong, I knew adultery was wrong. I knew all of them were wrong and were sins. But it wasn't until I was confronted with how God's sees me in light of Scripture.
Have you ever told a lie?
yes I had, that makes me a liar.
Have you ever stolen anything?
yes I had, that makes me a thief.
Have I ever looked at a woman with lust?
yes, I had, that makes me an adulterer

So far, I am a lying, thief and an adulterer at heart and I have only looked at three of the Ten Commandments. I am guilty of breaking ALL TEN of the Commandments!
If God were to judge me based on the Ten Commandments, would he find me innocent of guilty of breaking His Laws? I was guilty. In fact, I still had unresolved sin in my life as a pastor. Not only had I broken all of the Commandments, but I was knowingly sinning with no idea of repenting or no second thought of wanting to repent of my sin. I was hiding it from the world...
but God knew about it!
He knows about your sins too.

Once I truly and honestly repented of my sins, I then put my faith and trust COMPLETELY in Jesus Christ to save me. What a difference it has made.
The world hates me now and I am okay with that. Other pastors look at me like I am crazy, and I am okay with that. Because the Bible tells us that if we follow Him, the world will hate us. When I set out to do a revival in town here this past October, I was persecuted by many pastors. I had one pastor of 30 years tell me that the revival won't do any good because they had tried it before and it didn't work. Of course they felt they had to entertain the people first in order to get people to come. God's Word should be enough. IT IS ENOUGH!

When I became truly saved, I still give a message of love but now I do it while pointing to the cross. I always used the cross as a sign of His love for us. Now I use the cross AFTER people realize and admit for themselves that they are a sinner headed for hell. At that point, they will realize just how much love God has for us. We have all fallen short and are all with sin. We are all headed for hell but because of the cross we do not have to go to hell. But if people don't hear the whole message they will continue to be lost. Just like I was lost even as a pastor.

Now, back to the gay guy at church. I never gave him the Word of God that he needed to hear. I never saw him again. Unless someone preached repentance to him, he will end up in hell when he dies. I don't want that to happen to him and I don't want his blood on my head! (read Ezekiel 3:17-18)

When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous [man], that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul. If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked [man], thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked [man] shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.

Knowing what we know now...
if it were Sept 11, 2001 and you were in the Twin Towers in NY, one hour before the planes hit, would you tell people, "let's go out for coffee tomorrow and chat!" Or would you give them the information they need to hear? Are you a good person? The Bible says there is none that is good, no not one! Have you ever told a lie? they will admit they have. Do the rest like I did earlier. They will have to admit they are a lying, thief and an adulterer at heart and will stand guilty in front of God one day (that very DAY!) They will not be offended because they have willingly admitted their guilt to you.

Now, if inviting them for coffee is not the right thing to say (knowing that they will die in an hour), then how can that be the biblical way to present the gospel message to them? Because we don't know when any man or woman will die. We don't know when any teenager will die either. We must give them the TRUTH of GOD'S WORD. God Law to the proud and arrogant person and God's Grace to the humble of heart.

Believe me, people will thank you for loving them enough to care about their eternal destiny!

Once saved, always saved?
Are you truly saved in the first place.

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 1Tim 2:19

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matt 7:21-23

Are you a disgrace in your pulpit? think about it!

Listen to a very good sermon on controversy here.


pastorbrianculver said...

here is a good link for you all to read...

michelle said...

this is an awesome testimony, thanks for sharing!

pastorbrianculver said...

thanks Michelle! good news up here, it is actually 37 degree's out. After two weeks of sub-freezing temps, it is finally nice out!

Tim Brown said...

"That was me! Every sermon, the same. God loves you so much that he sent his Son to die on the cross for you."

What is sadder is that the verse, from my study anyway, has nothing to do with the "extent" of God's love, but how He expressed it.

In other words, the better translation is like "God loved the world by giving His only Son..." It isn't "He loved it so much He just couldn't help Himself..."

pastorbrianculver said...

you are right. it is a love expressed in the wonderful sacrifice on the cross. When we hear of people preaching God-like love, there is no sacrifice. In fact, it is just the opposite. They don't want to lose anything...
no numbers in the church
no friends
no lost chance at having coffee the next day.
When facing a lost person, we must show the love of Christ on the cross. We must show people WHY He died on the cross. It was because of their sins and it was because without His death on the cross, we would all be going to hell.

michelle said...

james mcdonald did an awesome message where he had four people hold a life size cross at the front of the church... he told everybody to look at it and realize it should have been us hanging on that cross... it should have been me, ot should have been you... it was a powerful use of imagery...

pastorbrianculver said...

it really hits home doesn't it? another thing that is strong is the sound of a hammer hitting a hail into the wood. It sends shivers right down your spine. very powerful!