Saturday, May 13, 2006

Wanted are Faithful Men

“The poor condition of the churches today may be traced straight to their leaders. When, as sometimes happens; the members of a local church rise up and turn their pastor out for preaching the truth, they are still following a leader. Behind their act is sure to be found a carnal (and often well-to-do) deacon or elder who usurps the right to determine who the pastor shall be and what he shall say twice each Sunday. In such cases the pastor is unable to lead the flock. He merely works for the leader; a pitiful situation indeed.” (The Responsibility of Leadership, Aidan W. Tozer)

The truism of the above quotation cannot be overemphasized. Faithful leadership often brings with it a price; the preacher, not the congregation, usually pays that price. Truth is not welcomed anymore in this generation of itching ears, and to offend the congregation is to beg for a self-imposed economic sanction. The truth of God’s Word must be tailored to suit the taste of its hearers. It is “shared”, not “preached”. One must not be too dogmatic about his convictions, lest his convictions do not please the audience. Provided that the Board of Elders agrees, the speaker may show his face on the pulpit and give a perfunctory smile, as long as his preaching does not grate on the ears. The perfection of God’s Truth must be compromised so as to avoid disunity in the church. It is presumably acceptable to slander God and His Perfect Bible, for they have discovered that God does not take his flock to the secular court of law or threaten them with a lawsuit. Contrariwise, by offering the faithful preacher a session with their personal attorney, some have found it effective in stultifying the testimony of the Lord’s prophet.

The fear of man is the pitfall for every minister of God’s Word. If we cannot preach what God has commissioned us to preach, if we fear the consequences of proclaiming the truth, or if we worry of what may become of our wages, then we may as well be the servants of men, not God. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). God has given us a mandate to preach His Word, walk the narrow way, and bear the offence of the cross. For the servant is not greater than his Lord, if they have persecuted Him, they will also persecute you. Nevertheless, “As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy forehead: fear them not, neither be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:9).

When a minister or elder tries to seek a place for himself, what better way than to be popular and acceptable in the eyes of men? He ceases to be Micaiah, and follows the footsteps of Diotrephes. He tries to meet the “felt needs” of the congregation, and avoids being too harsh on sensitive ears and young minds. The majority opinion of the congregation determines his agenda and weekly sermons. Democracy substitutes theocracy in the church. Christ is dethroned and men are enthroned. The preacher becomes the motivator, the pastor becomes the resident clown, and God’s prophet becomes men’s puppet.

In the name of democracy, unity and Christian charity, some are willing to compromise anything but their own income. They want both the riches of heaven and the riches on earth. They covet the eminence among men, but at the same time, put on an acquiescent front. They desperately try to convey an image of meekness, yet their ad hoc subversive sermonettes betray their character. As lost sheep and goats clutter around the feet of these perfidious gainsayers, generous doses of theological jargons and histrionics are thrown to impress innumerable benighted souls. The eternal state of these souls is not their priority, but the eternal state of their wallets is.

We know that the leaders of churches are not necessarily the pastors. Whosoever controls the crowd, whosoever writes the cheque, and whosoever gives the speech often is the “pastor” even if he is not officially one. These men are adept at garnering the support they need to win the majority vote. Instead of leading the flock where they ought to go, they lead them where the crowd wants to go.

The leadership of God-ordained men is needed to salvage the spiritual state of churches today. We require pastors who serve the Lord and not their own bellies. We want ministers who are not fearful of men, and are willing to preach God’s Word uncompromisingly. We need faithful men to uphold the banner of truth in the midst of spiritual decline and apostasy.

We cannot avoid the influx of falsehood and worldly philosophy when we have “whited sepulchers” heading the congregations. These are indeed beautiful outwardly, alluring men with their carnal wisdom and apparent rationality, “but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

When the Word of God is denied its authority in the congregation, how can we ever expect sinful men with totally depraved hearts to lead the flock to green pastures and still waters? It is of little wonder that some churches find themselves in parched lands and turbulent waters. “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2 Peter 2:22)”

The Word of God tells us that, “judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). Before the judgment of God befalls us, faithful leaders must direct the church to repentance. Now is the acceptable time for a complete separation from doctrinal errors and ecclesiastical ecumenicity. We must cease from all compromise with unbelieving rationalism, and begin transforming the world with the perfect Bible of our perfect God, who is forever blessed.

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