My idea in this topic is how do we truly make real Christians? In other words, we can easily offer incentives (like give-aways, esteem type rewards like offices and other “perks” to people to get them to attend and supposedly “be loyal”, but that is not making real Christians. The problem with these things is that their loyalty is “skin deep”, and as soon as somebody offers them something better, they jump.
As a missionary I am in the business of church planting. The modern missions scene pushes us to compete (which I am of the opinion that the entire missions system of today in the USA is unbiblical, because a godly man should never have to brag about himself to get a fair salary, because that works against humility). As I observe other missionaries works, I notice some have twice as much as us in half the time, and some five times more or even more. “How do they do it?” I ask myself. My observation is that they have give-aways, and other such systems which work wonderfully among poor people who are extremely stressed to just live from day to day. But these “masses” that these missionaries are gathering have no true depth as Christians. I doubt the majority are even saved. These people have “missed the boat.”
I look at churches in the US, and again, we see a regular diet of “greatness” which is all slanted towards making the head guy rich and famous. These works enter into Paul’s warning of not worshipping angels (“messengers”).
Col 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
The “voluntary humility” is bowing the knee and worshipping of the messenger in question. This is heresy, but so many “great churches” exalt the pastor into the place of Jesus Christ on earth, and we see the great disaster when that “angel” becomes human and dies, or falls into gross sin.
Morality by precept and by example
Heb 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of [their] conversation.
One of the problems with all of this is that morality is not just an intellectual thing that is taught in a classroom. The problem is not just with “knowing”, but with a deeper understanding and personal commitment to a moral position dictated by God. God knows this and has designed a way to transmit morality from one person to another, and in this process, there are elements of intellect, logic, and intellectual understanding, but there are also other elements of emotional inspiration and commitment to a position or standard because of example.
In Hebrews 13:7, the principle is seen that the preaching of the Word of God is coupled equally with the teacher’s personal example. That is why we have God’s design, local churches with committed men and woman who do the work of God in evangelizing, teaching, and preaching, but also they live what they preach. At any time, anybody in the assembly can see the effects, results, state, etc. of their Christian faith.
This is a very important principle in Scripture.
1Pet 5:1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: 2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight [thereof], not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3 Neither as being lords over [God’s] heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
Leadership then is to personally live the Christian norms, standards, and principles that we teach as leaders. In our day of freaky ministries, the pastor and leadership wants to have a double standard, or hide their lifestyles. We have Internet churches with Internet pastors which could have any kind of lifestyle, and we would never know it. It was informative to me when Pentecostal pastor Jimmy Swaggart admitted to frequenting hookers on Saturday night and then getting into the public Sunday morning saying the Holy Spirit filled him. My God doesn’t use that kind of dirty vessels.
Another point here is that we need to do the math.
When a godly man teaches biblical doctrine living what he preaches, then the product of multiplying those things is that the people learn God’s morality.
When an ungodly man teaches good biblical doctrine, living a lie, then the product or outcome is that the people see and learn hypocrisy.
Matt 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
God warns us of false prophets, and the instruction here is to closely and intensively examine their personal life because what they really are will come out in their fruit. They will eventually produce (or reproduce) what they are. By seeing the fruit of their own personal life and ministry, you can discern whether they are frauds, evil workers, deceivers, or true men of God.
I think the point here is that Satan wants us to see his false prophets as “angels” (i.e. take everything they say as being from God without examining either the message or the messenger). This is a very clear matter if you really think about it.
Spiritual fruit, like that seen in Galatians 5:22-23 or in the life of Christ, should be abundant in all of God’s true servants, ministers, and messengers. Satan messengers will apparent as angels of light, but no good messenger will use Satan’s methods, i.e. lying, deceit, greediness, domination techniques, jealousy, envy, wrath, cheating, stealing, or anything else that is not just. Why do we allow our ministers to publically do things that are not just, and then just pass over it as though there is nothing wrong?
We see Paul in 2Thess 3:7-9 offering the example of his own life as an example for the Thessalonians. Why is modern Christianity so “gun shy” about ministers living a Christian testimony? Are they so few doing it? Do they think it is impossible? What is up with this?
We are morally obliged to imitate Christ (Eph 5:1; 1Jn 2:6; Jn 13:15; 1Peter 2:21). This is where it all begins. Our relationship with Christ, our daily walking hand in hand with Christ our Saviour should mould us into the image of Christ. Somehow these people have made than unimportant, and even to the point that ministers, leaders, pastors, teachers, etc. can fully function in the Christian community, and divorce, abuse of wife and children, drug use, alcoholism, and unbiblical financial practices are all ignored “because of the great ministry of this man”.
Marking and Imitating the Man of God
Contrary to the popular current of today which strongly directs people NOT to put any importance on the improprieties in ministers lives, God goes the other direction to extremely notice and follow only godly men. I cannot count the number of times I have heard or read, “Don’t put your sights on men, because they will always let you down.”
But consider these verses…
1Cor 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ.
Phil 4:9 Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
1Cor 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet [have ye] not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. 16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.
Phil 3:17 Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. 18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, [that they are] the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end [is] destruction, whose God [is their] belly, and [whose] glory [is] in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
In other words, almost all of Christianity has fallen into this trap of allowing ministers that are not personal examples of Christ. People, there are lines ten thousand ministers long to dictate and control your mind and take your money, but the ministers that are out there that are examples of Christ as so few as to count them on your fingers.
There is the problem we need to address. We need to be insistent and absolutely resolute that we will not tolerate any kind of “funny business”.