Thursday, March 16, 2006

GREATEST THREAT TO CHRISTIANITY

This is from Steve Camp's website. It's an excellent but sobering article on the state of too many pastors today.
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Spiritual Malpractice - Part One
by Steve Camp

The greatest threat to Christianity is not political correctness, liberal politicians, the ACLU, religious cults or their leaders, post-modernism, materialism, pragmaticism, asceticism, rationalism, syncretism, Romanism, humanism, etc. The greatest threat to Christianity are pastors who have forgotten their biblical duty and role; who have not modeled themselves after Christ, who have failed to disciple God’s people and have not trained other men for ministry so that the church is led by a plurality of godly leaders. Sadly, there are those who have fallen prey to the spirit of the age; who have abandoned their calling and responsibility to the local church to pursue their own celebrity; who have been reduced to a self-consumed, pragmatic, gimmick driven dictatorial rule, posing as pseudo-psychological storytellers, who once a week--for one hour a week turn into superficial biblical motivational speakers giving 'sermonettes for Christianettes' that utterly fail to equip the body of Christ for the work of the ministry with the truth of God's Word (Ephesians 4:11-16). It is as Hosea says it is, "Like people, like priest" (Hosea 4:9). Listen beloved, no church will ever rise above the depth that they perceive in their leadership. The pastors and elders set the tone and the mark for the entire church. Poor, incompetent pastoral leadership has split and crippled more churches than any other singular thing in the evangelical world and it is sin!

There seems to be mass confusion today as to what the role, function and purpose of the pastor is supposed to be. Some say he is to take on the role of a CEO, a manager, a professor or academician, a kingly ruler, or chairman of the board. Others might think he should play psychologist or even social worker. Still others think he should simply be a referral service to various counseling agencies so that they--not them--can deal with the real deep seated problems of the mind and heart.

But in reality, none of those things capture what the pastor is supposed to be. Biblically, the most powerful imagery that fully represents the heart and role of a pastor is that of the shepherd. This is what the Lord so wonderfully is to us (John 10) and gives as the grandest of all names for a faithful minister of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:1-4). The under-shepherd of Christ is to pray, love, care for, feed faithfully and disciple the sheep. He is to correct, admonish, rebuke, and even discipline the sheep if necessary. This is servant-leadership at its core and woe to those shepherds who abandon their post and are lax in their God commanded duty.

I want to say at the outset of this very important series, that I love and appreciate greatly my pastor and thank the Lord for him. He is a "servant of Christ, a steward of the mysteries of God, and is being found faithful [in life and doctrine each day]" (1 Cor. 4:1). All of us at Community Bible Church are blessed people to have Byron Yawn as our under-shepherd. He is the real deal and I thank the Lord every day for him and the entire eldership of our church.

I know that to biblically shepherd God's people is hard and sometimes lonely work. Certainly there is joy and tremendous fulfillment in serving the Lord. But it is not a playground for would be pretenders, it is a battlefield for the soul. To shepherd the flock of God as under-shepherds of Christ, to care for His sheep as servant-leaders, to love His people with a selfless self-sacrificial patient love takes the grace that is in Christ Jesus, tremendous courage, brokenness and contrition, humility, holiness of life, uncompromising dedication, strength of character, a high view of God, undiminished commitment to the Word, a face set as flint for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, and an unfettered heart. I hope you daily thank the Lord for your pastor and go out of your way to encourage him if you have been blessed with a faithful man of God as I have. Nothing is so wonderful than to have capable leadership within the local church. And at the same time, nothing is so bitter to the people of God than an unfaithful, unqualified pastor.

The pastor has the unique privilege of having his job description completely and thoroughly carved out by the Lord Himself. There is no equivocation as to what he is to do and how to do it. There is no doubt as to what the Lord expects from him and through His Word and by His grace equips him to do. May I encourage you to faithfully pray for him and serve him. Submit to his godly counsel and leadership (Hebrews 13:17) and at the same time hold him accountable. Be a faithful "Berean" in his life and examine carefully everything he teaches and is called by God to do. Love him and honor his authority. Correct him when he has strayed from this holy calling and embrace him when he honors the Lord. Be faithful to gently point out his blind spots and let him know you are there to walk with him and see him conformed to Christlikeness. You might be asking yourself, "Why should I even do this?" For one primary reason, these are men that will one day give an account to the Lord Himself as to how they have cared for and watched over the souls of His people. They are to live, serve and submit to Christ and His people—as we all are to—in the fear of God. Oh for pastors who will guard the trust (1 Timothy 6:20), tremble at God's Word (Isaiah 66:2), by the terror of the Lord pursuade men (2 Corinthians 5:11a), who are not afraid to discipline sin (Matthew 18:15-20), preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:1-5) and disciple God's people (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13).

This series I am calling "Spiritual Malpractice"--when pastors fail to biblically shepherd God's people. It is a burden and issue that has consumed my heart. I would like to begin by calling your attention to what the Apostle Paul has outlined in 1 and 2 Timothy as the character, role and duty of the faithful shepherd. This list was compiled almost in entirety by the eldership of Grace Community Church and professorship of The Master’s Seminary under the leadership of my friend Dr. John MacArthur. It is a powerful reminder of what the man of God is called to be and do. Encourage your pastors and elders to read this today. Email it to them immediately and don't delay. It will enrich their lives and ministry and serve as a loving remembrance of the high and holy calling that a faithful under-shepherd of the Lord Jesus Christ should be.


Paul's instruction to Timothy in First Timothy:

-Correct those teaching false doctrine and call them to a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith (I Tim. 1:3-5)

-Fight for divine truth and for God's purposes, with sound doctrine (the faith) and godly character (a good conscience) (1:18-19)

-Pray for the lost and lead the men of the church to do the same (2:1-8)

-Call women in the church to fulfill their God-given role of submission and to raise up godly children, setting an example of faith, love and sanctity with self-restraint (2:9-15)

-Carefully select spiritual leaders for the church on the basis of their giftedness, godliness and virtue (3:1-13)

-Recognize the source of error and those who teach it and point these things out to the rest of the church (4:1-6)

-Constantly be nourished on the words of Scripture and its sound teaching, avoiding all myths and false doctrines (4:6)

-Discipline himself for the purposes of godliness (4:7-11)

-Boldly command and teach the truth of God's Word and be a model of spiritual virtue that all can follow (4:12)

-Faithfully read, explain and apply the Scriptures publicly (4:13-14)

-Be progressing toward Christlikeness in his own life (4:15-16)

-Be gracious and gentle in confronting the sin of his people (5:1-2)

-Give special consideration and care to those who are widows (5:3-16)

-Honor faithful church leaders who work hard (5:17-21)

-Choose church leaders with great care, seeing to it that they are both mature and proven (5:22)

-Take care of his physical condition so he is strong to serve (5:23)

-Teach and preach principles of true godliness, helping his people discern between true godliness and mere hypocrisy (5:24-6:6)

-Flee the love of money (6:7-11)

-Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness (6:11)

-Fight for the faith against all enemies and all attacks (6:12)

-Keep all the Lord's commandments (6:13-16); and instruct the rich to do good, to be rich in good works and to be generous (6:17-19)

-Guard the Word of God as a sacred trust and a treasure (6:20-21)


In his second epistle, Paul reminded Timothy to:

-Keep the gift of God in him fresh and useful (II Tim. 1:6)

-Not be timid but powerful (1:7)

-Never be ashamed of Christ or anyone who serves Christ (1:8-11)

-Hold tightly to the truth and guard it (1:12-14)

-Be strong in character (2:1)

-Be a teacher of apostolic truth so that he may reproduce himself in faithful men (2:2)

-Suffer difficulty and persecution willingly while making the maximum effort for Christ (2:3-7)

-Keep his eyes on Christ at all times (2:8-13)

-Lead with authority (2:14); interpret and apply Scripture accurately (2:15)

-Avoid useless conversation that leads only to ungodliness (2:16)

-Be an instrument of honor, set apart from sin and useful to the Lord (2:20-21)

-Flee youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith and love (2:22)

-Refuse to be drawn into philosophical and theological wrangling (2:23)

-Not be an arguer but kind, teachable, gentle and patient even when he is wronged (2:24-26)

-Face dangerous times with a deep knowledge of the Word of God (3:1-15)

-Understand that Scripture is the basis and content of all legitimate ministry (3:16-17)

-Preach the Word - in season and out of season - reproving, rebuking and exhorting with great patience and instruction (4:1-2)

-Be sober in all things; endure hardship; do the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry (4:5)

-Fight the good fight; finish the race; keep the faith (4:7)

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The biggest threat to Christianity is Brothers and Sisters in Christ fighting with one another. I'll never forget the time my team in basketball (ranked 6th) beat the undefeated team (ranked 1st) because the undefeated team starting arguing and fighting with one another in the middle of the game! They were so concentrated on each other they forgot their focus, to win the game. I think us as Christians do the same thing. Did Paul not say let there be no divisions among you!!! I pray that us as Christians start looking toward Christ TOGETHER and stop acting like the Corinthians. Aren't we all different branches growing from the trunk of the same tree.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

Anonymous,

God never holds unity above truth. If he did then He would not send anyone to hell because he would want to be with them more than maintain his holiness and purity and truth which is unable to tolerate sin. There should not be unity if some are not abiding by the Word of God which is how we know what truth is. If pastors are not fulfilling their task as the bible instructs them to do then before the body can move forward in unutiy it first must conform to the guidence and submission to the Word of God.

God is a God of division. You're either with him or you're lost forever if you don't conform to him, which we learn how to do through his scriptures (truth).

4:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You missed my whole point; I said Brothers and Sisters in Christ!!! Paul still called his brothers, Brothers in Christ after all the sin. I'm not agreeing with what they did but I'm agreeing with how Paul confronted the Corinthians in their sin and still loved them and wanted them in his family. No one has good theology, yes I'll choose John MacArthur over Tony Campolo any day, but I will love Tony Campolo if God instructs me to, because that is the most important command. "The most important one" answered Jesus, "is this: 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." We could put it like this, "Love Tony Campolo as yourself! There is no commandment greater than this." Let's focus on Christ and not whether a church has a contemporary youth group, or watches Rob Bell videos, or if the pastor changes his shirt in the 10:30 service (man judges by the outward appearance while God judges by the heart.) These factors are so insignificant compared to Jesus on the cross for us. We preach Christ crucified and that should be it. The youth groups will change, the pastors will change, but Christ shedding His blood for our selfish and evil sins will never change. Can we please stay focused on what matters?

7:04 PM  
Blogger Kennyo said...

True love will expose Tony Campolo's doctrinal errors.

That's all that we are trying to do here.

MacArthur's theology is a lot more biblically solid than Campolo's.

BTW:
I will soon be posting an article on Campolo's bizarre views about Muslims entering heaven. Be sure and check it out.

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sounds good.

9:50 PM  
Blogger KCO said...

Dear Anonymous,

Family arguments are good. Sometimes that's the only way you can really get down to the real problem. Perhaps if that 1st place basketball team would have had their problems issues dealt with in practice, they would be unified in the game.

All we're trying to do is to deal with the problems in the Body of Christ. Let's not be naive, there will be many in the church, as scripture warns us, who are posing as true biblical teachers but are actually false teachers. They divide the body. NOT by debating and discussing issues but rather by FALSE DOCTRINE. Family arguments, debates, heated discussions often times are the only things that exposes the true problems that MUST be dealt with.

-KCO

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But not over the internet, lest we hinder the gospel! I've partaken in your sin too, pray for me to control my anger and not to write back lest I hinder the gospel anymore.

8:48 PM  

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