Where Have They Gone?
“Too many pastors have put aside the scriptures to become entertainers of goats rather than feeders of sheep. Too few pastors are being faithful shepherds who nourish their flocks with the Whole Counsel of God.”
The other day I read the news story of a pastor in New York City who was robbed at gunpoint in the middle of his church service. The thieves took the church offerings and the pastor’s personal jewelry which was worth over one-million dollars. Thats right, not a misprint, one-million dollars. Here is an actual quote from the news report: “The Bishop, known for his designer clothes and luxury cars, raised eyebrows when police valued the worth of the jewelry stolen from him and his family on Sunday to be close to $1 million. The Bishop has over 1.6 million followers on Instagram, where he regularly goes live.” The story goes on to report that the Bishop has been imprisoned before for fraud and is currently the subject of a lawsuit by a church member for swindling her of her life savings. While this story is shocking, it is not uncommon behavior for many of the so called Prosperity Gospel preachers who fleece their congregations while they live their “best lives now,” all in the name of God. What is also shocking is that someone like this is an actual Christian pastor who is very popular. The churches of the Prosperity Gospel are overflowing with members who are happy to hand over their hard earned money–but why? The answer is in my post, “The Attraction to False Teachers.” The point of this article is that there are far too many charlatans, false teachers, and ungodly pastors teaching in so called Christian churches.
So where have all the good pastors gone? Those godly pastors of prior generations who faithfully preached the teachings of scripture without compromise. Part of the answer to the question requires a restatement of the question. The question should be, “What has become of today’s pastor?” The answer is that for many churches, the role of the pastor has transitioned from preacher to a host of other postitions, because the title of preacher is associated with being judgmental, condemning, or otherwise intolerant. This is not good in a self-centered culture that is itself intolerant to any criticism of any behavior no matter how vulgur, harmful, or sinful it is. The pastor has now become a life coach, a motivational speaker, a spiritual guide, a stand up comic, or a religious entertainer. The modern pastor has tossed the Bible aside and is now equiped with modern psychology, the latest cultural beliefs, marketing statistics, and warm and fuzzy quotes all packaged for a selfish generation.
Standing Fast in the Truth
The truth of God’s word has never changed. It is the culture that changes and evolves with new ideas and beliefs. So, the church responds by adapting new methods of presenting the Gospel. New forms of technology, communication, and social practices require new approaches to preaching and teaching without compromising the Gospel. This is where many churches have erred; they have tried to become relevant by changing the message to conform to the culture, instead of changing the culture by preaching the unchanging message. It is only the Gospel of Christ that has the power to transform hearts and minds. People who are violent, corrupt, hateful, and otherwise sinful are not going to be changed by the creation of new laws or by fancy speech. It is their hearts that need to be changed. The heart is what motivates them to sin and become lawless. Only the Gospel through the power of the Holy Spirit can change the heart, and God has chosen the faithful pastor to preach His Gospel.
The modern church with a pastor who has turned from God’s truth, now preaches a man-centered message that has created a church where the image of God has been brought down from His throne of majesty and reduced to a common idol. A.W Tozer, a well known 20th century theologian made the following assessment of the church: “The church has lost her lofty concept of God and no longer knows what God is like; her religion is thin and anemic, frivolous, worldly, and cheap.” God’s truth is eternal, unchanging, and meant to be the standard of righteousness. As the culture changes so do the views on morality, character, lawfulness, and virtue. We have seen the cultural standard slide downward to the point where evil is now considered good, and good is now evil. This cultural shift cannot be reversed unless the minds of men and women are transformed by the truth that comes from the very mouth of God. The search for this truth begins in the churches that still adhere to Scripture and through Godly pastors who stand fast in the truth.
The Good Shepherds
The good and faithful pastors who continue to preach the true Gospel of Christ because they follow His example as the Good Shepherd can still be found. If you are searching for a good pastor then use the example of Jesus in your search. In the opening story we learn of the pastor who dressed in flashy clothes and wore jewlery worth more than most people make in decades of hard work. Compare him to Jesus who declared to a scribe who sought to follow him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head,” (Matt. 8:19-20). The good pastor is focused on preaching the Full Council of God and will not compromise it for the sake of popularity, wealth, or growth. The good pastor will transform your mind towards righteousness. The unfaithful pastor will praise you and tell you that life is all about you. You will leave that church ready to be served. In contrast, the good and faithful pastor will praise Christ, and teach that you that life is all about Christ and his death on the cross. You will leave that church humbled, and ready to serve. One pastor exalts himself, while the other exalts Christ. One pastor teaches selfish desire, while the other teaches Christ crucified.
Godly Men Who Preached Sermons of Fire
To find a good pastor like those of times past, we must look back to a few of these men for reference. George Whitefield was a famous circuit riding preacher of the 18th century who rode thousands of miles to waiting crowds of thousands who would gather to hear him preach. His heart-piercing sermons would bring tears to the eyes of his audience. It is written of Whitefield that he preached with a fiery zeal and that “he was aglow with the glory of God as he procalimed the Gospel of Christ.” Charles Spurgeon was given the title Prince of Preachers, for his sermons that changed the lives of tens-of-thousands. He began his ministry by pastoring to shrinking congregations. Their faith was like that of a “kindled ember,” which is a fire that is dying out. The sermons of Spurgeon would rekindle their faith through his preaching of the cross of Christ. Martin Lloyd Jones was a faithful man of God known for his style of preaching which was referred to as “logic on fire,” due to its straightforward and doctrinal basis. He was an expository preacher who gave a verse by verse teaching of the word of God. His preaching moved and transformed his audience to devote themselves to the Gospel of Christ.
The good pastors have diminished in number as have the churches that are still faithful to the Full Council of God. They may be hard to find but it may be easier to avoid the bad pastors. Common sense can go far in detecting the wolves in sheeps clothing who have extravagant lifestyles. If your pastor has a private jet or drives a Rolls Royce, then you need find another church. Seek God wholeheartly and with all sincerity and He will find you, (Heb. 11:6). He will lead you to a faithful shepherd. If you seek the truth, then seek a pastor who preaches the truth. Do not settle for a lukewarm faith, but strive for a fiery faith. A fiery faith is ignited through fiery sermons from a Spirit-filled pastor. Don’t settle for anything less!