Thursday, December 27, 2007
Is It Wrong to Criticize a Minister or Ministry?
When Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses on the door of the church, he did so not to create a denomination, as some believe. Martin Luther wanted to correct anti-biblical practices being promoted in the church. The main theme revolved around the practice of “selling indulgences”. What the church was doing was convincing people that they could “pay” their family members out of purgatory. The church did this primarily to finance the Popes greed and desire to finance the Cistene Chapel in Rome. Now we Protestants read this stuff in Church History books and we gasp, yet how many of us “enlightened” Spirit-filled Protestants that know of Bishops, Pastors, and Preachers in our Protestant churches that “sell blessings” today.
We have condemned Catholics for centuries, yet we have the same skeletons in our closets. From Reverend Ike, Robert Tildon, or to the pastor in the storefront in the inner city, we too have been guilty of “selling blessings”. Every Protestant denomination (and non-denomination) has had it share of “Greedy Popes”. I really admired Martin Luther’s guts, but where are the Martin Luther’s of today? When Oral Roberts said he would die unless he got 80 million dollars in donations, where was the outrage from Christians? Of course the world ridiculed his nonsense, but there was no moral outrage from any Christian leaders. Why? Well I’ll tell you why! It is a very lonely position when you stand on the truth of scripture. We are quick to condemn Catholics trust in traditions and church doctrine, but we are equally guilty! How often have you seen and heard things done in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in your church, but in your gut (spirit) you knew it was against the Bible? And why didn’t you say something is the more disturbing question.
Jim Jones was able to take hundreds of lives in Guyana because someone refused to listen to their gut (spirit). I firmly believe in supporting the local church and helping pastors, I want to make that clear. However there is a real epidemic of spiritually stupid “saints” that don’t study their Bibles and try every spirit by the Spirit. We were given the ability to discern so we WON’T end up giving our money to crooks and drinking poison Kool-Aid! Many of today’s most prominent preachers would be labeled heretics hundreds of years ago because MOST clergymen were devout Theologians and serious students of scripture. Today ordination papers and licenses are given to anyone that say’s they are called to preach. I agree that being Spirit-filled and called is the first priority of being a preacher, but ALSO there has to be training…SERIOUS TRAINING! A lack of understanding of just the basic Bible doctrines of the faith can lead to the types of abuses I am talking about. Martin Luther was able to stand up to the lies of Rome because he was filled with the knowledge of the truth. I am a Pentecostal preacher, I believe in the Charismatic Gifts of the Spirit, but that doesn’t negate the fact that we must have a scholarly approach to the scriptures and its teachings.
I have heard PREACHERS say stupid things like, “I don’t know the Bible that well but I am filled-with the Holy Ghost and fire!” This person is a prime candidate for deception and a good whipping from the devil! The Bible say’s in 1st Timothy 4:4 “In the last days some shall DEPART from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits and DOCTRINES of devils.” The Devil will fill your head with HIS doctrine (teaching) if your head isn’t filled with sound Bible doctrine. Martin Luther unlike other priest actually studied the Bible for truth and not to support a man made lie. We must as individual believers have reformer’s courage to stand up to the church when it strays from the truth of scripture. I know it sounds crazy to say stand up AGAINST the church, I am of course talking about organized denominational/non-denominational institutions that profess to be of Jesus Christ, yet stray away from the truth of Jesus Christ. I have seen enough heresy in the church in the last 25 years of my life to make ones head spin and the majority of it went unchallenged.
We allow “preachers” to say anything in our pulpits and we say AMEN! We are afraid to be attacked for standing up for the truth. In 1980 I was stationed at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea. While there I heard a Baptist preacher (Who was also a Freemason) tell a group in Bible study that “all roads lead to Rome” meaning every religion can get you to heaven. I was a new believer, but I knew this was wrong! I challenged him, because NO ONE else would say a word. He was a popular preacher and I was a new convert so you can imagine whose side everyone lined up on. My point is this, when you hear false preaching or teaching SAY SOMETHING! The Apostle Paul was the new kid on the block (Read Galatians) yet he challenged and corrected the Chief Apostle Peter for treating the Gentile believers wrong.
Ministers are NOT infallible, only the Word of God is! No matter how popular or how powerful a preacher is, they are NOT above reproach!
But we will continue to devote ourselves steadfastly to prayer and the ministry of the Word. (Acts 6:4 Amp)
This is one of the key verses in the Bible to help a novice minister be a successful tool for the Master. Preaching has nothing to do with popularity, titles, or position. The successful minister is the one that realizes that sharing God’s Word is a divine call and privilege that can’t be done in one’s own strength.
The Apostles took this charge so seriously that they knew total devotion to prayer and study was paramount. A preacher that doesn’t devote his life to prayer and study is a potential false prophet. Satan loves preachers that say “I’m to busy to study” or “I don’t think preachers need formal Bible training.”
The gospel preacher must devote his (or her) life to purity of doctrine. Paul warned Timothy to avoid fables and old wives tales. It’s very easy for preachers to get involved in the “flavor of the month” teachings. In last 20 years we have been bombarded with the “faith” message, “prosperity gospel”, “Spiritual Warfare”, and “Prophecy”. Every one is an “Apostle” or “Bishop”; no one is simply a Gospel preacher. Don’t get caught up in trends and hype. Be lead by the Holy Ghost and walk in your calling. I have been preaching 23 years. I have done the work of an evangelist, and served in pastoral capacities, but I am called to teach. My anointing is that of a teacher. It would be foolish to try and be anything else. I live to study and teach the Word of God. We need more “Martin Luther’s” in the church today. Too much of our teaching today is unbalanced. We have churches teaching crazy things like you have to speak in tongues to be saved, Christians should never get sick, or you can only be saved in MY church! Wake up saints and speak out against false teaching! There are churches that teach everyone has a demon, yes some people need demons cast out! However some problems are not demon powered but human error! Teaching the truth can solve more problems in the church than by casting out a “demon”.
(Note: I am not picking on any particular denomination, there is enough heresy in every Protestant denomination)
Chaplain Mark H. Stevens, M.Min