Volume 15 Issue 4
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Reader! Scan these words! Do these matters seem negative to you? Are you offended? Are the writers sowing discord? Are they being small? Does reading this cause you to think that the apostolic preachers were a bit touchy or perhaps intolerant? Are they setting their own standards, rules, guidelines, principles, and thereby hindering the move of the Spirit? Perhaps they were being political.
It is, of course, sacrilegious to think that these words were written for any other reason except to assure that the church was edified and that the saints of God were warned to distinguish between the false and the real.
The Christian Pulpit is weak today. It has little influence on society. Part of its failure is that it has become uncertain, politically correct and shallow. If average non-church goers were looking for a clear and consistent Christian message today they would be hard pressed to find it. What they would find is confusion. For example, some churches cry out against homosexuality while others are participating in same-sex marriages and ordaining homosexually oriented persons as priest and pastors. An outsider is about as likely to understand what Christians actually stand for today as they are to catch a Japanese bullet train while it’s moving at 120mph. Even if he were to tune into some Gospel T.V. presentations he would think that church is merely about raising money or would quickly dismiss it as some theatrical farce presented by bad actors with horrible hair.
When good preachers cry out against sin and false doctrine they are not being negative, political, intolerant, hateful, non-progressive or mean. In fact their voices may well save the day. Preachers are not required by God to be all vanilla. They are to preach. To deal with the issues. To contend for the faith. To have an opinion, have a view, have a word from the Lord, and express it.
I worry that we are going to become so fearful of a clear and certain sound that we will characterize the “righteousness speaker” or the doctrinal preacher as a trouble maker, while permitting the “evil speaker” to work subtly behind the scenes, or with “smooth words” lay out clever arguments that deceive and lead the faithful into false doctrine or worldliness. (Psalm. 140:11)
In America, there is little argument that conservative radio talk show commentators have had a profound impact on the thinking of our society. Atlantic Monthly magazine’s April 05 issue referred to the genre as “take-no-prisoners political talk radio.”
They are not nice. They are hard on false political hype. They attack self-promoting politicians at every level. They speak to real issues: abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, war, and political and corporate corruption. They dragged the names of celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, and Michael Moore into the real spotlights of public examination. They play the actual recorded words of U.S. Presidents, senators and congressmen and force their listeners to analyze every inconsistency. They mock the drunken slurs of Senator Edward Kennedy and others. They address the despicable child abuse recently committed by priests, and they rail against the lying weak preachers of our nation. They have millions of listeners, and for good reason: people care about issues that really matter.
Rush Limbaugh, to cite one example, has over 22 million listeners daily and arguably has influenced the nation’s moral and political direction over the past few years more than any other single person, including preachers. Why is this? Could it be that people are hungry for truth, certitude, conviction, authority? Does the shadow of Rush’s success hang over the churches of America? While Limbaugh is getting “mega dittoes” the churches are getting a bewildered, “say what?”
The Pentecostal revolution of the past century was not brought about by academics and collegians pontificating over esoteric ideas and doctrines, conceived mostly by liberal theologians to avoid dealing with Bible absolutes and a Living God who does not change. Rather, the Pentecostal revival was generated by holy preachers, prophets, teachers, evangelists, and brave believers who confronted the stale and stagnant liberal ideologies of the day. They rocked the boat, they ignited fires, and they moved a world. They spoke in tongues, prayed for the sick, cast out demons, called for people to come out of the movie houses, casinos, and bars, commanding that they be filled with the spirit and live a sanctified, overcoming life.
This Early Pentecostalism at the beginning of the 20th century was dismissed as emotionalism and religious ignorance. The boys and girls in the ivory towers of academia and the leaders in main line denominations never knew what hit them. The clear call to repentance and the falling fire of the Holy Ghost baptism swept the world. People flocked to the brush-arbors, storefronts, and tent meetings to hear about the Holy Ghost. They defied their old main-line pastors and the religious elitists who spoke and wrote of the “new-blessing” as something demonic, unholy, and completely false or at best “not for us today.” But the masses were not convinced and, as time revealed, they were not going back.
Pentecostalism, I would argue, was driven by preaching. Clear preaching. Straight preaching. Direct preaching. Holiness preaching. Doctrinal preaching. Moral preaching. Anointed preaching. It was not a public relations campaign; it was preaching that fired hearts and attracted people to a movement that in a few years from now will eclipse the Catholic Church in actual numbers. (Fire from Heaven, Harvey Cox)
And a good deal of that preaching, as every church member over 55 could attest, was strong hard holiness preaching: the kind of preaching the world may well desire to hear today, contrary to popular opinion.
Perhaps the modern talk-show hosts have sent a message to the church. Get some convictions, speak up, stand true and be consistent. Sounds better to me than a compromise with the untrue or the unholy.
Romans 3:4 Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;
Romans 3:13 Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips:
Is the apostle being a bit too strong here?