Despite the present darkness, I sincerely believe evangelical Protestantism can yet become a powerful fighting force for God, truth, and freedom! The many visits to our online online Bible studies (about 8,000 per month) encourage me of this. Yet this will never happen without a level of revival that could be described as open-heart surgery on the American church.
There can be little doubt that lack of courage in the pulpit is one main reason evil and falsehood—especially emerging from Jewish supremacism—now dominate once Christian America. Many pastors and church leaders lack conviction. Precious foundational truths have been dropped along the path of American history like heirlooms discarded from pioneer wagons.
In the time of Luther and the Reformation it was expected that clergy address moral and political threats. Yet for at least 60 years, the image of believers as “Christian soldiers” and their pastors “leading on to battle” has been abandoned as embarrassing. Christians are preoccupied with relating to the lost through “love” and “relevance” and have largely dispensed with any duty to publicly stand against moral and political evil.
Ask any North American pastor why he does not preach against social evils and he will probably reply, “It’s impossible. My congregation is so immature it’s all I can do to feed them spiritual baby food. If I brought up abortion or gay rights, it would split my church. Most people come for community, not because they are hungering for righteousness. They definitely don’t come for controversy! And if most people left, I would end up doing far less good than I am now.”
This pastor holds a policy of non-controversy. Does he have the right to it? Read God’s definitive requirements on the youthful Jeremiah, the ultimate pastoral role model:
Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee; And before thou camest forth out of the womb, I sanctified thee and I ordained thee a prophet to the nations. Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces; for I am with thee to deliver thee sayeth the Lord. … speak unto them all that I command thee…lest I confound thee before them…. And they shall fight against thee; but they shall not prevail against thee; for I am with thee, sayeth the Lord, to deliver thee. (Jeremiah 1:5,7,8,17,19)
God asks every pastor: are you willing to suffer to deliver others from bondage? Will you accept controversy or unpopularity to keep even one soul from going to hell; to save one baby’s life; to keep one family from being ravaged by alcohol? Will you speak the whole truth to save free speech from hate laws; to defend Jesus from the blasphemy of evolution; to help hold back Jewish supremacist corruption and Zionist conquest?
Through silence, many pastors preserve the appearance of unity. But they also guarantee evil will ultimately prevail in their church and society. And they disappoint God. No pastor is entitled to remain silent on critical moral issues, simply because it seems impossible—not when the Lord says “with God all things are possible.”
Pastors can and should pray, “Yes, Lord, I do believe you can use me to speak uncomfortable, life-saving truth! I present my feelings, reputation and future a living sacrifice.” God promises to reply, “I will reward you with spiritual power to do my perfect will and in my own way and time I will cause the ‘mountain of resistance’ to truth telling to slide into the sea.”
At last God gets what He wants most: deliverance of life saving truth through a person who cooperates with Him. And the act of public reproof and total truth telling from the pulpit is never the pastor’s decision alone. It is a decision first made by God. God may lead us forward into confrontation or He may strongly restrain us.
God wants the pastor to yearn for truth and righteousness regardless of the results of truth-telling. Jesus knew He would “fail” in an earthly, visible sense to bring repentance to His nation Israel. He is the ultimate pattern of going forward full of faith toward rejection, humiliation, even death. Yet “for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Heb. 12:1) Going forward by faith in God’s leading against impossible odds is the standard pattern throughout the Bible. Pastors should thus model and emphasize total death to self, leading to spiritual rest, which is fully possible in this lifetime. Jesus said that if we are to be His disciples we must be willing to sell everything we own and follow Him. Only such death to self-will makes possible the “glorious rest” of finding perfect peace of soul through Him.
Emphasis on holiness and active resistance to evil is the only path for Christianity that leads to vigor, renewal, and basic survival!
One of the greatest dysfunctions of the church today is denominational leadership that prioritizes numbers rather than service to God’s truth. Leaders and boards usually pressure pastors to sacrifice Spirit-led preaching, warning, reproof, and instruction in favor of a doctrinally safe yet inoffensive message that will swell congregations. This is a great evil.
The New Testament records local evangelists as free to do whatever necessary in the way of discipline or reproof to achieve spiritual purity. The requirement of materialistic quotas by high leadership disheartens pastors and, worse, runs blasphemous competition to the Holy Spirit, who alone must guide pastors in pursuit in what He wants most—purity.
Does the Bible promise that if pastors publicly oppose evil that their ministries will expand? Of course not. Generally speaking, people today are not interested in the deep things of God or social, political realities. Church is a warm, fuzzy social club in a cold world. Too often, people also are attracted to church to placate their consciences for sin and refusal to bear public witness for Christ throughout the week. I believe God actually wants many in the church to leave. God told Gideon to strip down his forces from 30,000 to 300—to 1%. After attracting many thousands, Jesus purposely offended most of His followers, declaring a seemingly cannibalistic message: “except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6:53) The early Methodists actually forced non-spiritual members from their ranks on a monthly basis, completely devaluing numbers in favors of purity.
Total truth telling will make a pastor unpopular with most people. Yet the truth is vital for continuance of spiritual power in his congregation as well as long-term survival of freedom in America. If Christianity is to be salvaged, denominational leadership must take a long and penitent look at how it is working against the Holy Spirit. Instead of pressuring and humiliating pastors who speak the whole truth and suffer declining numbers, such leaders should instead reward such pastors for creating spiritual quality —even if it means drastic decline in attendance.
Present materialistic emphasis will result in the extinction of the denomination anyway. Why not accept smaller numbers now and a spiritually alive denomination for tomorrow?
Many pastors will object: “Scripture enjoins me not to receive visitors or new converts to ‘doubtful disputations.’ I am not called to a prophetic, controversial ministry. I am called to a pastoral one of evangelism, comfort and counsel.” There is nothing “doubtful” about a baby’s right to life, or the fact that homosexuality is wrong, or that pornography is sin, and that evolution destroys families and blasphemes Christ. Fleshly people in the pews may debate the pastor, but it is his business to dominate and even to exclude them if they contend with moral and biblical truth. Every pastor, no matter how gentle and comforting his nature and calling, must provide an all-around ministry of God’s truth adequate to the moral guidance of his flock in the twenty-first century.
Scripture says that if a person wants to be a pastor but is unwilling to tell the whole truth, he should not become one. He will receive “greater condemnation.” (James 3:1) After the Civil War, Gen. Robert E. Lee said that above all things, he regretted his interest in military tactics as a college student, leading to a career that saw countless killed under his command. On the Day of Judgment, many pastors will bemoan the day they entered seminary—a choice that brought them vastly greater condemnation. Standing before Christ they will be held guilty for the damnation of every soul they failed to adequately warn and shepherd.
I would love to give the commencement address at a theological seminary. I would tell the young and idealistic graduates that they shouldn’t enter ministry unless they intend, like Jeremiah, to pay the price for total truthfulness and faithfulness. Right now, I say to evangelical pastors: If you have not been telling the whole truth, repent and start! If you can’t, then get out of the ministry.
Being a minister of Christ is an opportunity for tremendous good and praise from God. It is also an opportunity for massive condemnation. The church and its church-men have gone far too long ignoring God’s law. Judgment and persecution will surely come if the leaders of Christendom do not turn from their man-fearing ways—and fear God alone. Then, and only then, will we know the power to fear no man.
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