Tuesday, April 17, 2012

When is it...Time to Change Churches? Chapter 7



For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

John 3:16 is an old standby for many pastors who have forgotten about the rest of the bible and God’s Word. Their sermons begin and end with God loves you. Is this bad? No, not in the basic sense, but here is the problem with only hearing this one message…

Matthew 4:17 speaks about Jesus as He was beginning his earthly ministry.

“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Jesus did not begin his ministry by saying, “I love you, come follow Me.” No, actually it was started out by a warning and a cry that said, REPENT, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. When the disciples went out preaching the gospel message, did they say to the lost people, “Jesus loves you, come follow Him like we do?” No. They were commanded to preach that men should repent.

And he called [unto him] the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; Mark 6:7

And they went out, and preached that men should repent. Mark 6:12

The disciples did not ignore the real message of Jesus, that He came into the world with a message of repentance of sins. People were to turn to God, repent of their sins, put their faith and trust in Jesus and obey His words and teachings.

And we have many pastors, or so-called pastors, preaching every Sunday from behind the pulpit only giving half of the message of God. They completely neglect the need to repent of sins. Why? Is it because it might offend the listener? It might cause them to feel uncomfortable? Kind of like the pastor who tells jokes to the congregation because he feels that God’s Word can get kind of heavy and convicting and he does not want anyone to leave church with a downcast look on their face. The truth of the matter is that God’s Word can be heavy and convicting, but that is a good thing, not something to be shunned. It is meant to convict us of our sins. Why? So we will realize the need for a Saviour and will repent of our sins. We will have a better understanding of how God loves us. He sent His Son to die in our place. Those who keep God’s command have the love of the Father in them. Those who do not keep His commands do not have the love of the Father. If you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you.

Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1 John 2:15

Many pastors and people in general will cite John 15:9 as Jesus declaring his love for the people.

As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.

At first glance, this looks to be true. But do not take scripture out of context. The pastor who will tell you this verse, will ignore the very next verse in his preaching.

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. John 15:10

“IF” ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love…

Pastors today are so scared, and probably not scared so much as ignorant, of what scripture truly says. They have been brought up in the lie that the only message we are to give is God’s grace. They will tell you that since Jesus came, we live in a time of God’s grace. The truth of the matter is, we have always, since creation, been living in a time of God’s grace. God could have destroyed Adam and Eve when they first sinned. When He flooded the earth and only saved the eight on the ark, He could have destroyed them shortly after they landed on dry ground. Noah got drunk and from there on, sin reared its ugly head again and forever more (in an earthly sense).

Yes, God’s grace is extremely awesome and we are definitely not worthy on our own to receive His grace and His mercy. But to only give one side of the whole gospel message is wrong. Read the Book of Acts again. Look at what Paul said in Acts 20:20,

“[And] how I kept back nothing that was profitable [unto you], but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,

Paul held nothing back. He preached the whole gospel of Christ. Not just the things that “feel good” to the listener, not just the things that will tickle the ears of the congregation. No. He preached it all, he held nothing back. Look at verse 26.

Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I [am] pure from the blood of all [men].

He is pure from the blood of all men. How can he say this and why does he say this. First off, the “why” he says this, is found in Ezekiel 33.

Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman: If when he seeth the sword come upon the land, he blow the trumpet, and warn the people; Then whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him. But he that taketh warning shall deliver his soul. But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take [any] person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand. 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. Therefore, O thou son of man, speak unto the house of Israel; Thus ye speak, saying, If our transgressions and our sins [be] upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live? Say unto them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his [righteousness] in the day that he sinneth. When I shall say to the righteous, [that] he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; [If] the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live. Yet the children of thy people say, The way of the Lord is not equal: but as for them, their way is not equal. When the righteous turneth from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, he shall even die thereby. But if the wicked turn from his wickedness, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall live thereby. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways. Ezekiel 33:1-20

Paul, taking the role of a watchman, sees it as his duty (and it is everyone’s duty) to warn the people of God’s wrath that is to come upon all who are disobedient to His Word. He is confident that he has fulfilled that duty. His hands are clean, as is his conscience, that he has proclaimed the whole gospel of Christ to the people.

As for the “how” can he say this (about his hands being clean)? Look at what verse 27 says in Acts 20.

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Paul had not shunned his duty to declare the whole gospel message of God. He was faithful in his duty as a follower of Christ. How many pastors of today can make the same claim? Not very many pastors overall, considering that most pastors only feed the congregation half of the counsel of God. The end result is seen in the following passages in Acts 20.

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:28-30

Look at the pastor of today. He speaks and acts in a way to be accepted by the world. He entertains, he jokes, he cries, he false for every false teaching and he only gives half of God’s Word and half of God’s character to the congregation. People are made to feel good about themselves. So long as they leave church feeling good and smiling, then the pastor has done his job. No conviction of sins, no call for repentance, no mention of the wrath of God, no mention that Jesus said that not all who think they are saved, shall be saved.

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. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: Matthew 7:21-24

Many pastors are negligent in their duty as pastor. They have neglected the meat of the Word of God. People no longer fear God, they no longer feel obligated to repent of their sins, in fact, they expect the church to accept them just the way they are and they want to be included in all levels of leadership within the church. We are all sinners, but the person who lives in their sins, the person who makes provision to sin is the one that Jesus will say, Depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you.

God loves you! He loves you so much he sent his only Begotten Son to die on the cross for your sins. If you forget everything else in the book, remember this one thing…

The first words Jesus spoke in ministry were, Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Is your pastor only giving you half of God’s Word? If so, you need to leave that church. You need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, put it to prayer and listen to God directing you. Just because a church is considered a mega-church, is no reason to belong to it. Just because everyone else goes to that church does not mean it is blessed by God. Large numbers of people followed Jesus and when He required them to repent of their sins, they all left. If you are in a church that does not require you to repent of your sins, then you are being misled. Run, don’t walk, get away from that pastor (and I use the term loosely) and that church. It is time to change churches!

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