GOOD CHRISTIANS NEED
TO CORRECT ERRANT PREACHING
There are some errant preachers in Christianity, many are preaching a ‘tainted’ gospel. Sins have crept into the hearts of many, and out from their mouths, words are revealing the sin within. We have seen so called ‘prophets’ misinterpret passages of the Bible, misapply their meanings, and arrive at so called prophetic truths that hinder the true gospel message. Some are saving up for living through the tribulation, when, in reality, we are going to be raptured before the tribulation. Some have fearfully waited the ‘blood moons’, stocking up, hiding in horror of false prophesied disasters that never occurred. There are confused, befuddled, and exasperated ‘believers’ of those false prophets wondering what the false prophets are doing with all the money they sent them. The resort beaches are likely full of false prophets enjoying the benefits of heretical teachings.
Matthew 12:33-37 (KJV)
33 Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
34 O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
35 A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.
36 But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.
37 For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
The world hears these preachers, and recognizes what is in their hearts, often better than does the church. Hearers are led astray by these false shepherds, and the flock of God stumbles in the rocky path down which they lead them.
We hear from sinners things like, "They're just a bunch of hypocrites!" It is very unfortunate that they see the inconsistency of some within the church body. We hate to admit it, but many do live lives where the words and the actions are inconsistent.
Some will complain that the church is only interested in us for our money. Again, we have seen some in the churches who seem to be so oriented. This and other complaints of sinners against the church are often too true. One of the church's dilemmas is how to handle the sins of many of the preachers that are in errant thinking. We who are challenged with ministering to the unsaved world often need to get our own house in order, so that we may effectively do our main job of evangelism.
Some preachers preached messages they heard from false prophets, and became a follower of such, without realizing their error. They were ‘leavened’ by the leaven of others. They need now, a cleansing of the leaven of the false prophet they heeded.
Some congregants are also guilty of supporting with their offerings the false prophets whose intent was gain, not in preaching unadulterated truths from the Word of God.
I Corinthians 5:6-8
"Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be like a new lump."
It must be admonished that the church cannot condone sin. We cannot condone the sin of false preaching, and those errant unintentionally so, need to repent and confess their lack of proper interpretation of the Bible, and those errant due to greed in seeking offerings in their false teachings, need to repent doubly, for they have harmed not only themselves, but the whole of Christianity and its true message. Condoning sin by in-action represents rebellion against God and His Word. It is like apples in the "church" barrel. Therefore, one "rotten apple" affects the rest of us.
Treachery, gossip, theft, sexual immorality, oppression, pride, greed, criticism, spiritual abuse, and deceit are found within many church congregations. The rest of the church is tainted by the sins of a few. Teachings about such things often is twisted to condone those sins. Hearers of such errant preachers are often led to justifying then those sins, and the sinners. God is merciful, but He still wants us to live a holy life. Yet, many preachers in the church are preaching that tainted, corrupt message. The sermons from many pulpits preach greed, anger, bias, exclusivism, and false doctrines. Many can be hurt spiritually, financially, emotionally, from such preaching.
II John 11
"...he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
It is definitely possible for the whole "lump" to be tainted, contaminated, and defiled by the sins of preachers, by doctrines of churches following their teachings. Joshua learned after Ai that the sins of one or of several could affect the whole camp.
We may condone sin by word, by action, or by in-action. Paul simply held the coats of the ones who stoned Stephen. We could support, encourage, join, such errant ones, and thereby aid them in their heresies.
Proverbs 27:5-6 (Moffatt)
"Better a frank word of reproof, than the love that will not speak; faithful are the wounds of a friend."
Wounds from a friend are like wounds of a surgeon. They are designed to cure, not to kill. The enemy tries to wound and destroy, but a friend will at times need to gently wound, in order to bring a needed healing. There is a message that the church needs to hear, though it may sting, yet it is given in the ministry of exhortation.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT IS BEING PREACHED.
I Timothy 4:13
"Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine."
"Exhortation" is from the Greek word "paraklesis" which means "to call to the side of," or "to urge one to pursue some course of conduct." Exhortation is the ministry gift that was to prevent the straying and losing of the truth, power, and harmony of the church. When exhortation is Biblical, it is good, when it is errant, tainted doctrinally, it is evil.
The right kind of exhortation is needed and vital. Too often some give the wrong kind of exhortation. The problems of the congregations too often stem from an improper form of exhortation being preached. Like a scalpel, exhortation can either be an instrument of healing, or an instrument of death and destruction.
I Thessalonians 2:3
"For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile."
Three marks of true exhortation are shown:
1. Without deceit...
The Greek word here (plane') indicates "fraudulence, straying from orthodoxy, error." Too often, some have given exhortation that included lies, half truths, and twisted truths. This false exhortation needs addressed and corrected. Paul was careful to only give exhortation that was without this kind of deceit.
2. Without uncleanness...
The Greek word for "uncleanness" is "akatharsia", which means "that which leans toward corrupt passions. Some have looked at what the world wants to hear, and designed their preaching to lean in that direction, condoning what God never meant to be condoned.
3. Without guile...
The word "guile" is from the Greek word, "dolos" which means "lying, falsity." The exhortation of correction needs to be based on total truth and not be half truths, twisted truths, or lies. Lies are being preached, like ‘Jesus never spoke of ...’ and ‘the Bible never condemns this or that...’ When the Bible does show that it condemns certain sins, and Jesus did speak on those sins, and yet, they say over and over the opposite, and hope by repetition to make people believe they speak the truth. That is ‘guile’ and is sinful preaching.
WAIT ON THE GIFT OF EXHORTATION
"...let us wait on our ministering...or he that exhorteth on exhortation."
The gift of exhortation must be "waited on." This means it must be patiently sought, and exercised in a Scriptural way. Attention is to be given to the nature of ‘ministry’. It is ‘diakonia’, meaning ‘service’. We minister as a ‘service’, serving the hearer with the truth, the answers from God’s Word. The exhortation is to be ‘waited on’ also, and we are to pay attention to what we exhort, and test all exhortations of others by the Word.
DO WE NOTICE ‘FAULTS’ IN THE PREACHING OF SOME OTHERS?
"Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
With the Scriptural instructions on exhortation being so specific, and with the gravity of the situation in the church today, this subject needs addressed. Have we tested the ‘exhortations’ of other preachers? Have we searched the Word, have we sought for discernment? Have we spoken to the Lord about the messages we hear preached and taught?
REBUKE EXHORTATIONS WITH WRONG PRIORITIES,
AND INCORRECT HOLINESS STANDARDS.
Many are saved from past lifestyles and un-Christian philosophies. Some attempt to institute them into the congregations. The Bible may too often seem to be contrary to their ideas. Because of spiritual malnutrition and lack of exhortation, they do not escape all these wrong concepts. They carry them into the congregations, and the exhortation forms that result are definitely ungodly.
Intellectualism, philosophy, men's ideas, improper attitudes, and holiness standards that are not Scriptural have created forms of exhortations that downgrade, berate, split, hurt, and abuse the saints.
Some holiness standards and rules only aid the pride of those who can obey them. The Lord Jesus took all the commandments of the Old Testament and summarized them. He said if people would love God supremely, and love their neighbor as themselves, they would be keeping all the commandments necessary. Yet, people have wanted to add to this list. The two of Jesus have become 20,002 in many congregations. The attempts to enforce these added rules brings many congregations to incorrect exhortations.
There have been congregations that try to enforce dress codes for a building of worship. They succeed in keeping out many saints, and many more of the unsaved that they are instructed to bring into the building by the Bible.
Some congregations preach and teach rules that are not loving or even Scriptural. They may gather a group of Pharisaical people who can look down their so-called "spiritual" noses at others, but they are not exhorting in a spiritual manner. They bring dishonor to the name of the Lord Jesus.
REPROVE EXHORTATIONS THAT ARE WITHOUT LOWLINESS,
MEEKNESS, LONGSUFFERING, FORBEARING, LOVE, AND PEACE.
THOSE SERMONS ARE ERRANT IN THEIR CONCEPTION.
Whatever the doctrine being taught is, if it lacks those elements, it was born our of a wrong spirit. The gospel is good news, and even its warnings and admonitions are to be born and engendered by love and humility.
"With all lowliness and meekness, and longsuffering, forbearing one another in love. Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
Lowliness is humility and realistic thoughts of self to counteract pride. Meekness is a disposition making us unwilling to provoke others, and not easily provoked by the failings of others. It does not harbor resentments or peevishness. Longsuffering and loving forbearance is the patient bearing of injuries without seeking revenge. It is continuing in love even though others may injure us.
Any exhortations or teaching is not worthy of the Lord's church if it is not done in a way that can be described as meek, humble, lowly, forbearing and longsuffering. Exhortations that are argumentative, self-uplifting, and bitter are not of the Lord. If others quarrel, we are to not quarrel back in self-defense. We may need to contend, but only in defense of another person, and in defense of the truth. Personal defense is to be left to the Lord. If we meet hate and anger, we are to back away from such confrontations. The desire should be for unity. Discord, quarrels, and disputes do not unite.
The gifts of the Spirit are given for restoration, strengthening, confirmation, comfort, and edification. The gift of exhortation is given to help unify and bond believers. The congregation without unity is certainly in a fault. Exhortation is the key. Improper exhortation will disunite and split such a congregation.
REJECT NEAR-SIGHTED EXHORTATIONS
The early church did not emphasize buildings, gymnasiums, and property. They emphasized evangelism. Some churches today exhort to build huge buildings. They want gymnasiums to play ball. They want beautiful structures and landscaping thinking the Lord is pleased therewith.
The world of the early church was filled with the evangelism and teaching of the early saints. They turned the world upside down without building a building. Buildings are all right, if they are not the emphasis of the congregation. When the buildings and property become the main message of exhortation, the saints and the unsaved community of the area suffer neglect. The Lord pronounces harsh words on an under-shepherd who neglects and abuses the Lord's flock.
The true exhortation must emphasize the seeking of the lost souls - no matter what race, economic status, or previous background. Too many exhortations cater to the ones able to swing a hammer or give greatly in the offering. The poor are unattended during many building projects because they may drain the money needed for the carpet of the pastor's new office.
Sermons are, in many congregations, intended to get the people to jump, brag, shake, and yell about a building, instead of weeping for the unsaved, seeking to help the hurting of the congregation, or properly exhorting the congregation to be loving as the Lord commanded.
REBUKE PREJUDICIAL AND VENGEFUL EXHORTATION
Jesus said to preach the gospel to every person. Too often the congregations of today, preach the gospel to those they think deserve it. These congregations set standards that shut out many. There is no room for bias, prejudice, racism, or bigotry in preaching, or in administering a church.
In the early church, some sought to keep out any who did not carry over parts of the Jewish law that rejected the eating of pork, etc. Some sought to exclude those who were not circumcised. Others sought to keep out those who worshiped on a different day. Some wanted to choose their exclusive apostle, and worship only with those who excluded those who followed a different apostle. Prejudice develops, and the exhortations of the congregations become dominated by such standards.
The denominations of the day often seek to have their followers believe that they are the total of the true church. Any other form of worship is degraded. The Lord usually allows them to go on that way for a while. Finally, the Lord will shine the heavenly spotlight on some vile and horrible sins within the denomination. The shock to the pride of the denomination is more than many can bear.
The early church objected to the household of Cornelius being accepted into the church body. Peter preached a sermon to this uncircumcised, un-baptized, Gentile family. Before the altar call could be given, with whatever restrictions the early church may have wanted to include, the Lord saved and filled with the Spirit the whole household. The Lord loves to ignore the prejudices of those who call themselves "saints."
JUDGMENTAL, DISRESPECTFUL SERMONS
WITH CONTEMPT SHOULD BE REJECTED.
Sentiments of disrespect, disesteem, and contempt are found in judgmental people. The people of the Bible times were similarly judgmental.
Joseph was arrested on a morals charge because of anger of a rejected suitor.
Jeremiah was put into the sewer of the prison because he would not change his unpopular prophecy.
Zechariah was stabbed by another priest because he dared to preach that God was the God of everyone.
John the Baptist was beheaded for rightly accusing a government leader of sin.
Stephen was stoned by the religious people of his day for reminding them what they had done to former prophets and to the Lord Jesus.
John was rejected by Diotrephes who wanted the pre-eminence.
The Bible indicates that this type of judgmental attitude pervades every generation There are many who are being penalized because of inaccurate accusations. The ministers may have their "prayer" times wherein these "blackballs" are discussed, but the Lord still defends those who are abused, lied about, and attacked. The system of blackballing and black-listing needs to stop. Revival begins with the "house of God" getting on its knees in repentance. Just as Paul felt a deep remorse for holding the coats of the stoners of Stephen, some ministers need to remorsefully remove themselves from listening to blackballing, black-listing, and judgmental stonings.
Test ministers by testing their messages by the Word of God, and by the love with which they deliver such messages. False, judgmental, errant, and tainted messages will bring sickness to the body of Christ, if not rejected. Healing needs to come to many who have been injected with the diseases of many errant teachings.
We could quietly acquiesce, like Paul, and hold the coats of the "stoners." There are in many who, like Paul, are holding the coats of modern day "stoners". The stones of false doctrines that are striking the saints, are bringing pain to the congregations. Healing is needed. Those holding the coats may feel innocent, because they are not throwing the stones, but they are quietly participating in the event, by holding the coats of the modern day stoners.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH THOSE
WHO PREACH TAINTED MESSAGES?
Perhaps we should check the Scripture on that, too.
II Corinthians 2:7-8
"...ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow... Confirm your love toward him."
"Him that is weak in the faith, receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations."
Paul, when he was Saul of Tarsus, was a "coat holder", and would probably not have been saved if Stephen had not prayed to the Lord as he was being stoned, - "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge" (Acts 8:60).
We must also pray for the modern day "stoners" who have preached errant doctrines, given false exhortations, thereby inflicting many harmfully.
We should also pray for the coat-holders who acquiesce and believe these unchecked accusations. The judgmentalism and the improper exhortation are far too common in Christian circles of today.
The gifts of the Spirit are not being exercised very often. "Stir up" such gifts! Pray for discernment, pray for the word of knowledge, pray for the word of wisdom. Then be sure to follow the Scriptural instructions on how to judge any accusations being made against others.
Some don't like the mention of some of the faults herein shown. They would rather ignore the misuse of the gift of exhortation. It cannot be ignored and tolerated any more. Paul repented of his coat-holding. Many congregations need to repent of their sin, and of their coat-holding. Then the true gift of exhorting needs to be exercised.
The best way to discourage false exhortations is for us to be preaching, teaching, and emphasizing the true exhortations. Lack of preaching the truth, leaves a great gap in the hedge for false teachings to enter. Preach the Word, be instant in preaching it.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 (KJV)
2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.