"Make him a minister of the Word. Fling him into his office. Tear the ‘Office’ sign from the door, and nail on the sign, ‘Study.’ Take him off the mailing list. Lock him up with his books and his typewriter and his Bible. Slam him down on his knees before texts and broken hearts and flick of lives of a superficial flock and a holy God.
Force him to be the one man in our surfeited communities who knows about God. Throw him into the ring to box with God until he learns how short his arms are. Engage him to wrestle with God all the night through. And let him come out only when he’s bruised and beaten into being a blessing.
Set a time clock on him that will imprison him with thought and writing about God for forty hours a week. Shut his mouth forever spouting remarks, and stop his tongue forever tripping lightly over every nonessential. Require him to have something to say before he dares break the silence. Bend his knees in the lonesome valley.
Fire him from the PTA. and cancel his country club membership. Burn his eyes with weary study. Wreck his emotional poise with worry for God. And make him exchange his pious stance for a humble walk with God and man. Make him spend and be spent for the glory of God. Rip out his telephone. Burn up his ecclesiastical success sheets. Defuse his glad hand.
Put water in his gas tank. Give him a Bible and tie him to the pulpit. And make him preach the Word of the Living God!
Test him. Quiz him. Examine him. Humiliate him for his ignorance of things divine. Shame him for his good comprehension of finances, batting averages, and political in-fighting. Laugh at his frustrated effort to play psychiatrist. Form a choir and raise a chant and haunt him with it night and day-‘Sir, we would see Jesus.’
When at long last he dares assay the pulpit, ask him if he has a word from God. If he does not, then dismiss him. Tell him you can read the morning paper, and digest the television commentaries, and think through the day’s superficial problems, and manage the community’s weary drives, and bless the sordid baked potatoes and green beans, ad infinitum, batter than he can.
Command him not to come back until he’s read and reread, written and rewritten, until he can stand up, worn and forlorn, and say, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’
Break him across the board of his ill-gotten popularity. Smack him hard with his own prestige. Corner him with questions about God. Cover him with demands for celestial wisdom. And give him no escape until he’s back against the wall of the Word.
And sit down before him and listen to the only word he has left-God’s Word. Let him be totally ignorant of the downstreet gossip, but give him a chapter and order him to walk around it, camp on it, sup with it, and come at last to speak it backward and forward, until all he says about it rings with the truth of eternity.
“And when he’s burned out by the flaming Word, when he’s consumed at last by the fiery grace blazing through him, and when he’s privileged to translate the truth of God to man, finally transferred from earth to heaven, then bear him away gently and blow a muted trumpet and lay him down softly. Place a two-edged sword on his coffin, and raise the tomb triumphant. For he was a brave soldier of the Word. And ere he died, he had become a spokesman for his God."
God has Spoken Clearly... and He has not Stuttered
Francis Schaffer, that gifted theologian/apologist of the twentieth century once said, “God has spoken clearly and He has not stuttered.” Schaffer was implying that when the church fails to honor and live by the truth of the Bible it is actually denying the sufficiency, efficacy and veracity of God’s Word as its sole rule and authority. It is declaring that God hasn’t given us “all things pertaining to life and godliness according to the knowledge of the Son” (2 Peter 1:3-4) –in other words, that God has stuttered. They are in fact saying they are ashamed of the gospel and do not believe in its life-giving, exhaustive truth.
Nowhere is this truer than in the integrational ‘theology of the therapist’ that wants to wed psychology and Scripture in an adulterous union. Unwittingly, pastors that teach and condone a psychological view of practical Christian living promote an impotent God that can save, but cannot sanctify; that can fashion us after His own image, but cannot understand and solve the deep seated problems of our mind and heart; that can create us, but cannot counsel us; that can discipline us, but cannot disciple us. And furthermore, it is driven under the guise of money. The average cost of a local church offering Christian psychological counseling is about $75.00 an hour. Most of these “counselors” (and believe me, over the years I have spoken to hundreds of them) don’t know any more about the Word of God than a Billy-goat knows about Beethoven; how sad and how tragic this truly is.
This is spiritual warfare. Satan will never attack in the arena of trivial, but always in the arena of the crucial. He always launches his attacks against two fundamental things: one, the character of God; and two, the Word of God. As MacArthur is fond of saying, “Satan's number one objective is to infiltrate the church with error—and he is succeeding. He does not want to fight the church-he wants to join it! Satan and his demon emissaries do their deceptive work usually through human beings and most often through religious leaders. Among such religious leaders, there are some who pose as Christians, whom Paul describes as "false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ" (2 Cor. 11:13). And no wonder," Paul goes on to explain, "for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" (vv. 14-15). Paul acknowledged the human agents used by Satan when he spoke of the "deceitful spirits" who propagate "doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars" (1 Tim. 4:1-2).” Unfortunately, even genuinely saved, bible-believing pastors today have been seduced by the enemy buying into the post-modern belief that the Scriptures are not sufficient, posses no absolute authority and are not complete for everything pertaining to life and godliness.
The Sufficiency and Veracity of Scripture
This psychological sanctification has replaced the Scriptures and the work of the Holy Sprit in the predetermined work of God to conform us daily to Christ. "Sanctify them by Thy truth, [Jesus said,] Thy Word is truth" (John 17:17). The faulty axiom propagated from the Christian psychological community is, “All truth is God’s truth” and, this is simply not true. All truisms do not conform one to godliness—though they may be ‘truthful’ (i.e. 2+2=4). Christian psychologists (a conundrum in itself) want to justify a skewed view of general revelation (Romans 1:18ff) to think that anyone (Freud, Watson, Skinner, Maslow/Rogers, Binet, etc.) can contribute to a biblical world-view for us; because if God is the author of all truth, then any truisms they stumble on through theorizing can be profitable when embraced by pastors and the church-at-large in dealing with the felt needs of believers in Christ. This is spiritual child’s-play: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8). Only the truth of God's Word is sanctifying truth. "The sum of Thy Word is truth" (Psalm 119:160). We are to "handle accurately the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15); and are to proclaim "The word of truth, the gospel" (Colossians 1:5). Why? For God has "exalted His Word even above His name" (Psalm 138:2).
Word of God - Speak
“The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Thy servant is warned; In keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.” –Psalm 19:7-11
"For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe." –1 Thessalonians 2:13
"Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ's appearing," -1Thessalonians 6:12-14
"But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." -2 Timothy 3:14-17
The Dumbing Down of Doctrine
We can see the effects of the dumbing-down of doctrine by the pervasive tolerance of another gospel which has resulted in redefining Biblical language. I am referring to the deceptive endorsement and acceptance of psychology within the church today. Psychology, even by secular standards, is a failed and ineffectual behavioral science. It cannot bring life transformation and at the very best, on rare occasions, may only bring a modicum of behavior modification. The greatest danger of the integration movement within the church today by ignorant pastors is that it attacks at the very heart of the sufficiency of Scripture and seeks to redefine the nature of man. Sin is no longer called sin, but sickness; disobedience is now called disease; and adultery is simply referred to as addiction.
It is infinitely hazardous to ones spiritual health when the local church embraces a Freudian anthropology justifying one’s actions by abandoning personal responsibility (the abuse excuse) and allowing one to attach the blame outwardly to one's environment or to one’s parents, rather than owning their issues as moral agents before a holy God and looking to Him alone through His Word to find real resolve. Giving people a sense of becoming and belonging, addressing felt needs instead of real needs is the "theology" of the hour. Churches now hire full time psychological counselors fortuitously replacing faithful pastors and elders who are the ones called by God to shepherd His flock! "Preach the Word…" is no longer the mandate of men of God but rather, "Go ye into all the world and relate!" In other words, I must increase - He must decrease!
I have met countless numbers of people who have pleaded with their pastors to shepherd their lives and hold them accountable to the standard of Scripture; only in the end to be ‘pawned off’ to some Christian psychologist or Para-church counseling center because the pastor is too busy or feels inadequate to watch over the souls of the sheep; precisely what Scripture commands him to do (1 Timothy 3:1-2; Hebrews 13:17).
Os Guinness is spot on in his analysis when saying, "This… sea change is a particularly important precedent because it was not so much from Calvinism to Arminianism as from theology to experience, from truth to technique, from elitism to populism, and from an emphasis on 'serving God', to an emphasis on 'serving the self' in serving God."
Massaging the Soul
He is devastatingly correct! Even at the seminary level that change is evident. Men are no longer being taught today to preach expositionally but experientially. The object of faith is no longer Christ but self-esteem; the goal of faith is no longer holiness, but happiness; the source of faith is no longer the Scriptures, but experience. "A new religion has been initiated (says Spurgeon) which is no more Christianity than chalk is cheese; and this religion, being destitute of moral honesty, palms itself off as the old faith with slight improvements, and on this plea usurps pulpits which were erected for gospel preaching." Dr. Al Mohler of Southern Seminary powerfully states, "An aversion to doctrinal Christianity has been growing for several decades, along with an increasing intolerance for doctrinal and confessional accountability. Evangelicals have embraced the technologies of modernity, often without recognizing that these technologies have claimed the role of master rather that servant."
Church growth expert, George Barna, arguing for how the church must find new ways to reach a post-church generation with the gospel, says, "Busters do not believe in absolute truth. This means that they, for the most part, reject the Bible as having any real answers. Thus, proposing Jesus Christ as the solution to a person's sin problem is not likely to make any significant impression." Did you hear that? Dear people, the gospel never begins with man and his need, but with God and His glory!
The Case for Truth
Truth by definition is exclusive. When we declare the Scriptures to be the truth and Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life, who is full of grace and truth, we are declaring that every other claim to "the truth" is false. Every other way is a dead end. Every other faith system asserting eternal life is a path leading to death. Crossover that! Make that seeker-friendly! Commercialism won't tolerate a God-conceived, Christ-centered message! Why? There is an offense to the cross!
In a culture where absolute truth is considered obsolete, it's only inevitable that people will sink to the lowest common denominator to try to make sense of the extremes between depravity and salvation. Again, Barna gives evidence of this: "It is critical that we keep in mind a fundamental principle of Christian communication: the audience, not the message, is sovereign." The evolution of his disconcerting ideology is significant: Even when CCM began, it was not afraid to declare Jesus Christ as Lord. Within a few years His name was replaced by the generic, but proper title of God. Still too offensive for some, dilution occurred, filtering the name of God to He, Him, "It", or to the non-specific cognomen, "Love." Today, His name is reduced to a multitude of pseudonyms: "The Man Upstairs"; "The Boss"; "The Big Guy"; "Chairman of the Board"; "My Higher Power"; "My Buddy', "My Pal" and "My Lover"- ad nauseam… ad infinitum! This biblical illiteracy I call “theological Ebonics” - biblical language diminished to cultural unintelligible chatter affirmed as profound, acceptable spiritual truth.
"Jesus is the Truth. We believe in Him,-not merely in His words. He Himself is Doctor and Doctrine, Revealer and Revelation, the Illuminator and the Light of Men. He is exalted in every word of truth, because He is its sum and substance. He sits above the gospel, like a prince on His own throne. Doctrine is most precious when we see it distilling from His lips and embodied in His person. Sermons are valuable in proportion as they speak of Him and point to Him. A Christless gospel is no gospel and a Christless discourse is the cause of merriment to devils." -C.H. Spurgeon
It is spiritual malpractice and ultimately factious, by any pastor, when he introduces, recommends and supports a psychological counseling model rather than a biblical discipleship model as an appointed heralder of the Scriptures. In reality, this unmasks and exposes what they think, believe, practice and teach about the Bible. They may say, “Sola Scriptura,” but by example they model “Sola Psychologia.” Pastors who have willfully surrendered their shepherding duties to others; that have been reduced to being nothing more than a referral service for local psychologists (Christian or otherwise) need to repent of this sin, take back their pulpits and disciple God’s people as faithful under-shepherds of Christ with the Scriptures alone; holding people accountable to its standard once again. Anything less than this will continue to perpetuate a brand of Christianity void of power, impotent of authority and lacking that which is eternal… befitting Christlikeness. He is our Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6); His testimonies are our counselors (Psalm 119:24); He will counsel us (Psalm 34:8); and His under-shepherds are given charge to watch over our souls (Hebrews 13:17). Is there any greater privilege for the true pastor of the church than to preach His Word, pray for God’s people, and disciple the body of Christ?
Wednesday, October 10, 2007