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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

SATAN'S ATTACK ON ALTAR CALLS




WHY DO WE HAVE A PUBLIC INVITATION?




           By: Keith Phemister

I was talking to a man whom I pastored, and while we were talking, he made a statement that took me aback. He said that in our Baptist churches we do many things that are not biblical. “For instance,” he said, “we have invitations and nowhere in the Bible does it say for a church to have an invitation. If it isn’t biblical, then I will not move during the invitation.”


Well, since we are on the subject, where in the Bible does it say we should have pews? Offertories? Organs? Pianos? How about Ushers? May I just say that because the Bible is silent on an issue does not mean it is wrong! In fact, just because the Bible does not address the issue of a public invitation does not mean that we are wrong in conducting an invitation.

           I would even go further and put that notion on the defensive. How about this; if it is not in the Bible, then why don’t you show me where it violates Biblical principles?

Charles G. Finney was held as the pioneer of the “public invitation.” For the first time in his preaching career at Evans Mill, New York, in 1825, Finney conducted an invitation and asked anyone who would like to give his heart to God to come forward and take the front seat. On his first attempt, Finney was successful.

Now Finney was not a Baptist, he was a Presbyterian. I say that because of the belief I have that what he did was biblical because it stood based on biblical principles.

The reason for conducting an invitation can rest in the need for recognizing the saved so that the next step can be easily pushed. How can we really know whom to baptize as part of the “Great Commission” if there is not an identification of the saved?

A person does not need to be saved in a church building. There are numerous instances of people in the Bible being saved in places other than the church.



If you look in Acts 2, Peter is preaching the very first sermon after our Lord’s Ascension. These Jews were pricked in their heart at the preaching of God’s Word, and demanded, “What must we do?” Folks who are under conviction should be told by the preacher what to do.

          An invitation is the answer to meet the need. The answer in this case was: Repent and be baptized! I have a simple question to ask all of us. How did they know whom to baptize that day unless they identified themselves?

          The Bible says that about 3,000 were baptized. Before baptism, there was salvation. Identification was necessary. Therein lies a very good reason for an invitation. Whenever there is preaching, real Bible preaching – there rests a demand for a decision. I have always been taught that preaching is teaching with authority, persuading with the intent to make a decision. We have gotten away from Biblical preaching and become teachers exclusively with the intent to not “run off the crowd.”

The Biblical principle of an invitation is evident in the Old Testament as well as the New. In Exodus 32:19-29, Moses came back from the mount, only to find the people having made the golden calf. There was ungodly music and the people were found naked.

Exodus 32:26 says, “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.” Would that not be an invitation to the people of God? Absolutely!

An Old Testament example of the invitation is found in Deuteronomy 30:15-19,  15“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil: 16In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.   17But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt no hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;   18I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall jnot prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.   19I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and they seed may life:” 

There is ample biblical principle for an invitation. See also Joshua 24:15 and I Kings 18:17-21.

The simple truth of the matter is that preaching demands a decision. There is a difference between preaching and teaching. In our church, I desire a balance amongst our people. I want them to get the fire and zeal that preaching gives, but I also want them to get the knowledge that teaching brings. We need to also be aware that biblical preaching will include teaching.

When I think of preaching, I think of II Timothy 4:2 that says, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Doctrine means teaching. Biblical preaching involves reproving, rebuking, and exhorting. What does that mean? Here it is broken down for us.

1. Reprove – to charge with a fault, to excite a sense of guilt
2. Rebuke – to restrain, to calm, to check
3. Exhort – to call for, to encourage to obey

So, in conclusion, we see a preacher is to identify sin, present the need to change, and finally urge one to make a decision. No wonder our Lord said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

          We are to press them for a decision. One of the most critical points in presenting the Gospel is what is called, “Drawing the Net.” For the soul winner it is the invitation. It is the time after preaching where we invite the sinner to “receive the Lord Jesus Christ as personal Saviour.”

We must not bow to the liberal’s way of doing things. The neo-evangelical crowd, emergent church philosophy or even the seeker sensitive agenda must never cloud our minds. Just stay with the old paths. We must stay the course and have an invitation.
    
The liberals blast confrontational soul winning in the same way that invitations are blasted. All because we are pressing the appeal to make a decision! 2 Corinthians 6:2 “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”

The same people who claim that the invitation is unbiblical are much of the same crowd who are consumed with pride. Pride will keep one from going to the altar to do business with God.

In no way, shape or form do I believe one must go down an aisle to be saved. It is belief in Christ death, burial, and resurrection that saves, not walking an aisle. Sadly, there may be some who think that walking an aisle is what saves them. Confession does not save. Confession is for man.

When we confess Christ, we show man our belief and God is glorified. Romans 10:10 states, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness (God sees it) and with the mouth confession is made (man sees it) unto salvation.”

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that confession is necessary for salvation. When Paul addressed the Jew in Romans 10, he said to them that confessing Christ was essential to note salvation from man’s point of view.

To the Jew, confessing that Christ was Lord and not a man would mean a loss of friends, respect, position and even life (witness Stephen and the Apostles). Even Paul himself, in Acts 9:1, persecuted those Jews who had confessed Christ.

Yes, according to biblical principles a public invitation is desired and needed. We will continue to give an invitation as long as we continue to preach. God give us strength and wisdom to continue to carry on what we have been taught and never waver.

























































THE KEEPER OF THE GATE!

JESUS IS THE DOOR



 John 10:7, “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.”


In the book of Job chapter 1 and verse 10 the Scripture says, “Thou hast made a hedge about him.” Proverbs 15:9 talks of a hedge. Isaiah 5:5 says, “I will take away the hedge.” Ezekiel 13:5 says, “No man was found to make up the hedge.” 

The same thing is mentioned later on in Ezekiel. Micah 7:1 says, “Sharper than a hedge.” Mark 12:1 says, “Hedge about it.” Hosea 2:6 says, “I will hedge up.” Job 3:23 says, “Whom God hath hedged.” Lamentations 3:7 says, “Hath hedged me about.” Matthew 21:33 says, “And hedged it.” I Chronicles 4:23 says, “Amongst plants and hedges.” Psalm 80:12; 89:40 says, “Broken down hedges.” Jeremiah 14:3, “Run to and fro by the hedges.” Luke 14:23 says, “The highway and hedges.”

The hedge in Bible times were tall stiff, sturdy, and sharp plants that made a fence around the vineyard in order to keep the oxen and animals from trampling or destroying the vineyards. However, workmen had to trim those sharp hedges inside and out in order to keep passer-bys from cutting themselves. The ones who cut and trimmed the hedges were the blue-collar workers of that day.

These hedges had an entrance into the vineyard. This was the door into the vineyard. Someone would be posted at the door to keep out and to let in. In Ezekiel 13:4-5 the redeemed are not the hedge but rather the door for the hedge.

Now, Jesus is called the door and the redeemed are His vineyard. Jesus stands in between those that could destroy the redeemed. There are two things that Jesus does as the door.

·      To let in
·      To keep out

I have a question? How could the Apostle Paul say, "in everything give thanks.” He did not say “for everything” it says, “in everything give thanks.” How could Paul say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” He had never been to Arkansas I promise you! 

How could Paul make these statements having been in imprisonment, scourging, being stoned to death, beatings, and narrow escapes of his very life how could he say these things? How could Paul say, “In whatsoever state I am to be content”? How can the Apostle Paul say, “All things work together for good.”

All of us could very easily put pen to paper and share our individual griefs and heartbreaks. Here is how the redeemed can take it and make! God has placed a hedge about me and about you. God had placed a hedge about Job and Satan pointed out, rightfully so, that he could not get to Job because of that hedge. Then, God being the door of that hedge said to Satan Job can stand the test!

Please take note! Satan could not have done a thing to Job without being able to go through the entrance or the door of the hedge to get to Job’s life. In other words without God’s permission Satan could not have done to Job what he did because God is the door of the hedge. Thus, nothing comes to the redeemed that does not come through the door and the door is Jesus Christ!

It had to come through God before Satan could take Job’s riches, his health, his ten children, his loss of loyalty, loss of his wife’s faithfulness, and the loss of his friends. God is the door of the hedge. Jesus is the door of the hedge.


      ·      God has placed a hedge about the redeemed
·      God is the door to that hedge
·      God decides what comes into my life
·      God decides what does not come into my life


Nothing comes into the life of the redeemed that does not come through God the door. What a great truth! Likewise God decides what to keep out of the life of the redeemed. Why, because the redeemed are His children and He loves them and knows what is best for them.



WHO IS THIS DOOR?


He is the One Who loves me! He stands at the entrance of the hedge that He Himself created to protect me. He stands as the door and decides what is best for me. He loves me more than anyone in the whole world loves me! This One Who loves me unconditionally is the door and the entrance through my hedge of protection. He stands at the entrance of that hedge and says nothing can get to me that does not come through me first.

God has to personally approve everything that gets to the redeemed and that which is to be kept out of their lives. Being a child of God means that God Himself built a hedge around His children and God is the door through which comes into their lives what is best for them.


·      God has placed a hedge around His children
·      God is the door to the hedge
·      God decides what is allowed in
·      God decides what is not allowed in
·      What God decides to allow in is best for His children
·      What God decides to keep out is bad for His children
·      God loves His children


WOW! This is no indifferent keeper of the gate or entrance! This is no nonchalant gatekeeper. This is the One Who loves me more than anybody else loves me! This is the One Who decides what is permitted in my life and what is not permitted in my life!




HE WANTS WHAT IS BEST FOR HIS CHILDREN


Wait a minute! It is possible to love someone and to not know what is best for them, but this One Who is the door not only loves me but He is Omniscient! He KNOWS what is best for me because He knows everything! He KNOWS what to let in and what to keep out! He Who is Agape love is the door and He who KNOWS all is the door.

Our ways are not His ways. Our thoughts are not His thoughts. Our ways are imperfect while His ways are perfect!


·      The One Who is all love is the door
·      The One Who wants what is best is the door
·      The One Who knows what is best is the door
·      The One Who is able to do what is best is the door


There is a hedge about the children of God. There is only one entrance to that hedge. God is the One Who is the door. God is the One Who wants what is best, knows what is best, and is able to do what is best.

God never has a helpless feeling as he watches His children suffer, have heartaches, and have heartbreaks, being attacked, being slandered, filthy Internet lies, and personal threats. Not one second does God possess a helpless feeling. He Who is the gate, the entrance, and the door of the hedge that surrounds us has the ability to let in and keep out!

God is the door! Jesus is the door! God never wonders what to do! God never says, “Uh oh” or “Oops” or “I didn’t know that happened” or “Really?” or “Your kidding”, or “How can that be?”

The sad thing is that God’s own children blame and criticize far too often God for doing what He knows is best for us!


·      The redeemed criticize God for not doing it like they would
·      The redeemed thus are criticizing God for loving them
·      The redeemed are also criticizing God for wanting what is best for them
·      The redeemed actually are blaming God for not being human


Friday, October 9, 2015

BEFORE JUDGING HOW ABOUT AVERAGING FIRST?

AVERAGING LIFE




Please allow me to put into perspective the delicate relationship  between old and dear friends of a life time.  In fact, let me give you a Bible principle that will help any one of God's people to get along with their worst enemy.

Human relationships always reflect our relationship with our God.  If you cannot forgive and move on with your life, then the real problem is with the relationship you have with God, not your enemy.  (I John chapter 1) It merely rises to the surface for all to see because of a failure to grasp this truth.

MOSES

In Joshua chapter one and verse two the Scripture says, "Moses my servant is dead..." God said that!  In the closing chapter of Deuteronomy in verse 10 it says, "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face."  Verse five of Deuteronomy chapter 34 says, "So Moses the servant of the LORD died there..." 

Hold it, why did God look at Moses' death, which God Himself had caused because of Moses' rebellion, and call Moses a "servant"?  God Himself had taken the life of Moses before Moses wanted his life to be taken.  Moses was never able to enter into the Promised Land.  He saw it from Mount Nebo, but he, who had led the Israelites for 40 years, never was able to set foot in that very Promised Land.

Why, because of an awful sin he committed, a sin so awful that God took his life.  Wait a minute!  This is astounding, for as soon as God takes his life God Himself says, "Moses my servant is dead..." God killed Moses and then says in essence, "What a great guy!"

I have a question, why didn't God say, "Moses the hot head is dead."  Why didn't God say, "Moses the rebel is dead." Why didn't God say, "Moses the disobedient one is dead."  The truth is, Moses was a hot head, a rebel, and disobedient, for which God took his life.  Yet God said, "Moses my servant is dead..."

ABRAHAM

Why did God call Abraham his friend?  When God speaks of Abraham he says, "...Abraham my friend." How can God make such a statement about Abraham?  Wasn't Abraham the one who left the land of Canaan because of the famine and sojourned down into Egypt, where he should not have gone?  Did he not leave the will of God?  Did he not hire the little Egyptian gal Hagar to be his servant while in Egypt?  Did he not bring her back to Canaan?  Did he not impregnate her and they had an illegitimate child?

Is this the same Abraham of whom God said, "Abraham my friend." Yes it is! This is amazing to me.  Listen to this, after Abraham's life is over God says, "Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God." How do you figure this?

DAVID

Why did God say concerning David, "...I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart."  Someone forgot to tell God that David was the one who stole Bathsheba, Uriah's wife.  Someone forgot to tell God how David has Uriah killed to cover up his adultery.  Yet God looks back at the life of David and says, "...a man after mine own heart."

NOAH

Why did God say of Noah, "...a preacher of righteousness..."? Someone forgot to tell God that Noah got drunk after the flood. Didn't God know that Noah took off all his clothes and was lying there naked after the flood?

LOT

Why did God say about Lot, the one who fathered illegitimate children from his own daughters, "...just Lot...vexed his righteous soul..."?  I believe you would have to agree with me that this does not make any sense whatsoever.  After fathering two illegitimate children by incest, God looks back and says Lot was just and his righteous soul was vexed.

RAHAB

Why did God put an ex-harlot, Rahab, into the hall of fame of faith in the book of Hebrews chapter 11.  This is confusing to all of us.  Certainly there is no doubt that God Himself placed her name in the hall of fame on purpose.  This is no mistake with God.  This is not an uh oh with God.

JACOB

Why did God call a deceiver, a liar, a crook, and a thief like Jacob. He stole from his own brother and lied to his own father, a "prince of God."?  This is confusing.  This just does not make sense to me or you.  If God keeps this up His reputation and credibility will be hurt and if the internet ever gets a hold of this God's name will be hurt.

PETER

Here is another one.  Why did God allow Peter to preach on the day of Pentecost?  It seems to me that the Bible college he graduated from should have demanded his degree be returned along with his ordination certificate.  Maybe the First Baptist Church of Jerusalem should demand he return both?  

Fifty days after he had denied the Lord denied the faith, and denied his church, he preached on a big day.  Why did God allow this one who had cursed and swore just 50 days earlier to organize and preach on the day of Pentecost?  Certainly this does not line with the modern day excommunication policies for local churches.  The church disciple by-laws are being violated.  This doesn't seem to be in tune with keeping the church pure and holy.

JOHN MARK

Why did God allow John Mark, the quitter, the man who turned back on the first missionary journey with the Apostle Paul, to pen the second book of the New Testament. A quitter was allowed to be the human author of the second book of the New Testament?  Something must be wrong with this?  Is this a scandal on God?"

SOLOMON

Here is one that tops them all in my book. Why did God call Solomon the wisest man in the whole world?  Dear readers he had 700 wives and that is not wise.  He had 300 substitutes in case one of his wives called in sick and that certainly was not wise.  Yet, God looked back at Solomon's life and said he was the wisest man in the world.

THIS IS CONFUSING?????

How can all of these cases be true?  What was God thinking?  Maybe this is what God did.  Could it be that He looked at each individual's life and average out that life? Did God take one day and grade it?  Did he then take the next day and grade it?  

Did God, at the end of their lives, average out their days and then come to the conclusion that on an average Moses was a "servant," David was a "...a man after mine own heart," Noah was a "preacher of righteousness," Lot had a "just" and "righteous soul," and Solomon was a "wise" man?

God is not saying that Moses never did anything wrong.  God is saying the average came out to be such that God called him "my servant." God is saying the same thing about Abraham. God is saying that He averaged out Abraham's life and his average was defined in the word "friend."

God summarizes Moses' life taking into account the bad days, good days, and high days giving him the average grade of "my servant."  God did the same with all of the above people mentioned.

WE USE AVERAGES TO DEFINE SUCCESS IN LIFE

Sammy Sosa led the major leagues in strikeouts the same year he broke all of his home run records. Babe Ruth did the same thing in his baseball days. Michael Jordan in his prime missed half of his shots.  So, if Babe Ruth can fail 60% of the time he went to the plate, doesn't it seem feasible to average out life when it comes to others before summing up our opinions about them?

The professional baseball player who will lead his league in hitting will be the one with the highest average.  The Valedictorian for the class of 2013 will be the one with the highest average.  Isn't this a wonderful thought?  Think about it! God will not judge any of His people by bad days, or by high days;  He will judge all of the days and give an average.



SUMMATION

Let us consider all of the good things people have done and average it ALL out.  A pastor is never happy when someone leaves their church.  However, I refuse to be a part of this crowd that says, "What have you done for me lately?"  How about changing the motto to "What have you done for me formerly?"   Averaging it out will cause you to keep a right spirit about those who forsake you and to keep a right spirit about those who are currently involved in your life.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

DON'T MISLEAD OR LIE ABOUT REPENTANCE!


REPENTANCE FROM UNBELIEF LEADS THE SAVED TO REPENTANCE OF SINS



Acts 2:38, “The Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

 The word “repent" can be defined as changing ones mind, reasoning, or opinion. In essence the word “repentance” means, “to change ones mind.” It could be defined as “a deciding to change” or  “a deciding to go another direction,” but basically it means to change one’s mind or direction. II Timothy 2:25, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;”




 All we have to do is find out what makes a person lost spiritually. Then if we can change what makes that person lost then he or she can be saved from an eternal hell. Thus, one must repent from whatever it is that makes that one lost without salvation. John 3:18, “But he that believeth not is condemned already.” Why is a person condemned? Simple, because “he believeth not.” 

 If he is lost because he believes not then what must he do in order to be saved from going to hell? He must repent! Repent from what? Repent from believing not! If it is believing not that makes you lost then it is changing to believing that makes you saved.

 John 3:18, look at the last part of that verse, “because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.” What is it that makes a person lost and on their way to hell? Not believing in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 




 Which means if you do not believe on Jesus to pay for your sins and to take you to Heaven you are lost! John 3:18, “He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed.” Thus, a man is lost because he does not believe on the Son of God for payment of his sins.

 Man then must repent of that which makes him lost in order to be saved from a devil’s hell. John 3:36, “He that believeth not the son shall not see life.” What is it you do not do to see life? Believe not the Son of God. The verse goes on to say, “But the wrath of God abideth on you.” What do you have to do in order to have the wrath of God abiding on you? Believe not the Son of God. 

 Believing not is what makes one lost and on their way to hell. You must repent or change your mind about something you are doing to trust in to keep out of hell to what God says is THE way to heaven, which is to believe on the Son of God for payment of your sin penalty of hell. 




 You believe in your mind and your will. So, you must change your mind. You must change from “I will not receive Christ” to “I will receive Christ.” Consequently you must undo to be saved what you do that makes you lost. What do you have to do to go to hell?  Believe not on the Son of God! What do you have to do to go to heaven? Believe on the Son of God for payment of the price of your sin!




 John 5:40, “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”What kept these people from having life? Not coming to Jesus! If you do not come to Jesus for payment of your sins you will die and go to hell! What you have to do in order to go to heaven is to change your mind and come to Jesus for payment of sin. 

 You undo to be saved what you did to be lost. You are lost because you do not come to Christ and you are saved because you do come to Christ for payment of the penalty of sin. What you are repenting of is not coming to Christ and not believing on the Son of God.


IN THE BIBLE YOU CAN REPENT FROM SOMETHING OTHER THAN SIN



  
 Repent means to change one’s mind. If a person decides to go to town and then decided not to go to town he has repented. If a person decides to be married and then decides not to be married he has repented. 

 Matthew 27:3, “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” Was Judas saved? No! Judas was not repenting of his sin! Judas realized he had made a bad deal. He changed his mind about what he should have done, but he never repented of being a sinner. You can repent of something other than sin. 

 By the way, Judas went to hell and yet repented. Everybody who lives in sin sooner or later repents of it. There is a difference between that and repenting of not believing on the Son of God. You can repent of a sin or sins without repenting of the sin of unbelief. It is the sin of unbelief that sends one to hell. Thus, it is the repenting of the sin of not believing that sends one to hell. Judas repented but was not saved.

 Genesis 6:5-6, “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.”  Does that mean that God sinned? No! You can repent of something other than sin. 

 God who cannot sin, lie, or do wrong repented in Genesis 6:6. God repents, but does not commit sin. Repentance does not always have to do with sin, but it does always have to do with the changing of one’s mind.

 I Samuel 15:35, “And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the Lord repented that he had made Saul king over Israel.” God chose Saul to be the king of Israel, but he changed His mind! God repented that he had made Saul king. You can repent of something other than sin.

 Exodus 32:14, “And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”  God and Moses are having a disagreement and the Lord repented. Hold it, God is not speaking of sin here. He is talking about punishment here! God repented! Did God get saved here? No! God simply changed his mind here!

 The same is true in Jonah 3:9-10 and Amos 7:3, 6! Repentance does not always have to do with sin. It is not always sin you are repenting of and it is not always salvation as the issue in repentance! The wife says, “I think we’ll have roast beef Sunday. No, no I think we’ll have fried chicken.” Hold it, she repented, but it was not sin she repented of.


REPENTANCE FROM SINS IS ALWAYS DIRECTED TOWARDS GOD’S PEOPLE - EXCEPT FOR THE SIN OF NOT BELIEVING WHICH IS DIRECTED TOWARD’S THE UNSAVED





 You do not clean up and then get saved! You get saved and then clean up! Not believing is what condemns a person to hell. Believing is what un-condemns a person! Revelation 2:5, 16, 21, 22; 3:19 repentance from sins is directed toward God’s children in Ephesus, Pergamos, Thyatira, etc. 

 Not one person in the Bible was saved by repenting of his or her sins! Acts 16:30-31, “And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” They did not say repent! They did say, “Believe.” This is the only verse in the Bible that goes directly to the issue of being saved and it does not say, “Repent.”

 Jesus does not forgive sin! Jesus paid for the price of sin with his death, burial, and resurrection. Jesus does not forgive sin for he paid for sin himself.  He forgives sinners by paying for their sins.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

SOMETIMES OUR BIGGEST ENEMY IS OURSELVES!


The Lust of the Ministry




"From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?"


The Book of James is one of the most practical books in all of the New Testament. Some have compared it to the Old Testament book of Proverbs in its practicality. When James wrote these words he was writing them to believers, anticipating the fact that there were going to be conflicts among them. 

Preachers are also believers, so there is no reason to believe that preachers are exempt from the truth of this passage. In fact, sometimes preachers are the most guilty of fighting and warring among one another. 

What causes conflict between preachers? It is usually ministry based. It is easy for a preacher to believe that his ministry is more important than the cause itself. In other words, a pastor or preacher can be guilty of thinking that his ministry is the cause rather than being a part of the cause.  

When that happens jealousy, envy, bitterness and other sinful attitudes can come into the life of a preacher. These attitudes can infect his spirit and make him think he must fight other ministries in order to protect or even advance his own. 

It is a dangerous thing when the preacher begins to place his ministry in an idolatrous type position. Some preachers have placed their ministry above other ministries and even above the overall cause of Christ. As a result God has removed men from their ministry. In other cases God has removed his blessings from that ministry. 

I am saddened when I see preachers war and fight with one another not over principle or doctrine, but rather over power. Power struggles take place when a man feels his ministry is more important than another's. 




My mentor, Dr. Jack Hyles believed that every ministry was important. He may not have agreed with everything they did, but he did not believe his was more important than theirs. 

He did not believe his church was more important than other churches. He did not believe his conferences were more important than other conferences. He did not believe his college was more important than other colleges. He did not believe his personal ministry was more important than other men's personal ministries. 

There were times when other ministries conflicted with him, but he did his best not to conflict in return. When ministries fought him, and many did, he did not fight back unless it was based upon a departure from the faith or from sound biblical positions. 

I am amazed at how good men become petty because of their egos. They are more concerned with the furtherance of their ministry than the furtherance of the Gospel. 

When Dr. Hyles started Hyles-Anderson College he did not want to be a competitor to other colleges, but rather provide another opportunity for students to be trained in his ministry. He did not put down Tennessee Temple in order to elevate Hyles-Anderson. 

When I began Texas Baptist College many men would've considered that an affront, but not Dr. Hyles. Not once did he offer me an ultimatum, or suggest that as an alumni of Hyles-Anderson College I was being disloyal for starting another college. He cheered me on. He encouraged me. In fact, he sent Dr. Wendell Evans at his own expense to help start our college. 

Did I take students from his college? A few, no doubt. However, not once did Dr. Hyles make me feel that Hyles-Anderson College was more important than Texas Baptist college. 

Many men have started colleges who either graduated from Hyles-Anderson College or were greatly influenced by it, yet not once did I hear Dr. Hyles speak ill towards those ministries or minimize their importance. He praised them. He encouraged them. He did not fight against other ministries because they had some "negative" effect on his. He believed that the cause was bigger than his ministry, and proved it by the way he behaved towards them.



When God placed upon my heart to start Independent Baptist Online College, A pastor friend with a Bible college did not look at IBOC as a competitor, but rather saw the possibility of working together. He asked if he could use the online college to help missionaries who were close to graduating, but who were ready to go out for deputation. He saw this is a way for them to finish their studies while they were raising support to go to the mission field. 

This pastor also agreed to speak and teach in our online Pastoral Education class. I respect this pastor for seeing the cause as bigger than his ministry. He could've seen independent Baptist Online College as a competitor, but he didn't. He saw it as a part of the cause  In other words, the cause was more important than his ministry.

The same was true with my good friend Dr. Jeff Fugate and many other pastors with their own colleges. The devil is our adversary not each other. To frame someone as an enemy simply because he obeys God to start a ministry is absurd. 

We need a revival among preachers of having the right spirit towards other ministries which may appear to be in competition with their own. 

I recently heard of two fine pastors who had scheduled national church growth conferences the same week in different parts of the country. I celebrate both of these conferences. I rejoice that both of these men are encouraging preachers to build churches and reach more lost souls. 

Will they effect each other? Probably they will in a small way, but I hope and believe these men will not fight and war among themselves, but rather rejoice in the furtherance of the cause.  



We need preachers to quit fighting each other about what God wants the other  do for the cause of Christ. We need them to see the cause bigger than themselves. 

Let's face it, none of us are indispensable. There will come a time when all of us will be gone and someone else will take our place. In some cases our ministries will not survive after we are gone. 

None of us are so important that we cannot be replaced. God in his sovereignty chooses to use us as He wills. There will be times when He will lift another's ministry above ours, and we should rejoice and encourage that one. 

Would to God that all of us saw the cause bigger than ourselves and bigger than our ministries. 

I loved Longview Baptist Temple and Texas Baptist College when I was their pastor and leader. I love them to this day. However, I love every other church, conference, college and ministry that is doing the same thing of bringing souls to Christ and bringing our country back to God. 

Ours was not superior to others. There were times when I had to remind myself that we were not THE cause to the exclusion of others, but a part of a greater cause. Woe be it for me to hinder a work of God because of my pettiness, my jealousy, my envy or as James calls it, my lusts. 

Far more preachers succumb to ministry or power lust than to sexual lust, and that is what causes us to fight others who are trying to do a work for God that they feel God has led them to do. Our enemy is the devil not each other.

May each of us do our best to build our ministries, but may our ministries never become our idols. May they always be a part of the greater cause. 

Let us encourage one another and do nothing to stand in the way of the work of God. May we always remember that the work of God is bigger than us and thus bigger than our ministries.