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Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Temptations of a Man Pleasing Gospel in These Last Days

The Temptations of a Man Pleasing Gospel in These Last Days

Kato Mivule | November 9, 2009

As global society converges towards a single global economic, political, and religious system, those who preach and labor in God’s Word are finding themselves increasingly at odds with Christians who are falling prey to Global Relativism.

Increasingly as I noted in my article last week (Receiving God’s Word with Humility in These Last Days), many preachers are caught up in the game of ‘diplomacy’ and so-called ‘tact’ as they try to convey God’s Truth in ways that they claim are ‘none offensive’ to their listeners. In doing so, many have watered down God’s Truth and the Devil has used the opportunity to not only dilute the Truth in God’s Word but also inject deception.

Many preachers think that they need to help The Lord with dexterity and diplomacy so as to ‘win over’ those who would otherwise be offended. The Lord’s Word is seen as too radical and too offensive by such preachers.

This, however, does not mean that we should not preach or teach God’s Word in Love, we must and but we cannot engage in adding or removing Truth we deem offensive in order to please our listeners in the name of Love. This does not mean that we ‘force the Gospel’ on people, nor are we called to use any means of violence, intimidation, hate, or vengeance in our communication of the gospel.

However, if we are going to preach the Gospel, then we had better communicate the whole truth and not conceal Truth in as to appease our listeners. We cannot separate God’s Truth in His Word from His Love and His Love from His Truth.

The temptation to use tact and diplomacy in preaching the gospel often leads to compromise and deception. Often many equate tact and diplomacy as love while they preach the gospel. There is nothing wrong to employ tact and diplomacy in conveying truth, however, many preachers and pastors today often use tact and diplomacy not to convey truth but instead to win over converts – it turns out to be a numbers game and appeasing people to gain large crowds.

The end result is that the convert who was won over has to be ‘maintained’ in the church pew through ‘tact’ and ‘diplomacy’. The day the pastor stands to preach truth openly, then the offensive truth that was held back by the pastor drives away the believers, and as such a drop in the congregation numbers. This reminds me of an African proverb that ‘Riches gained through lies are maintained by lies until the day they speak truth….’

Jesus Christ had to deal with this issue when He made bread for the Jews and a large crowd came following Him not for His message but for Bread and Miracles. When Jesus Christ begun to teach hard Truth, the crowd was offended and walked away except for his core disciples who chose to stay…

John 6:24-27
(24) When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus.
(25) And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither?
(26) Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
(27) Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.

John 6:31-35
(31) Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
(32) Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
(33) For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
(34) Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
(35) And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 6:51-57
(51) I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
(52) The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
(53) Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
(54) Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
(55) For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
(56) He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
(57) As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.

John 6:60-68
(60) Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is a hard saying; who can hear it?
(61) When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
(62) What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
(63) It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
(64) But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
(65) And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
(66) From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
(67) Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
(68) Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Paul the apostle wrote to the Thessalonians Christians about his stance when it came to preaching the Word of Truth in Jesus Christ. Paul the apostle was not at anytime going to preach the gospel with motives to please man but rather he was to please The Lord. This does not mean that he did not love the people to listened to him preach; he did, and so much that he was unwilling at anytime to conceal truth from his listeners regardless if it was ‘offensive’. Of course the context and perspective is love but love in Christ Jesus does not conceal truth but conveys truth.

Yet there are a number of lessons to learn from Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians, especially Chapter 2 that deals with his conduct in preaching the Gospel. I believe that these are areas that we must all watch out for in our lives as we labor in preaching the gospel, that we do not allow the devil to slowly use snatch away the Truth of God’s Word in our lives.

2 Timothy 1:11-13
(11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
(12) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
(13) Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.

Preaching The Gospel not in Timidity…
1 Thessalonians 2:1-2
(1) For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
(2) But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

Paul and his team were bold in preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were not ashamed of the gospel as they did preach the gospel in an era when persecuting and killing Christians was wide spread in the Roman Empire. This does not mean that they were arrogant, cocky, and or boastful but rather in Humility spoke with boldness the Truth without not as pleasing man but pleasing God and were willing to suffer the consequences.

Yet this is one area we must all watch out for in these last days as Relativism becomes the norm and Absolute Truth is cast out of churches. The falsehood of tact and diplomacy is that you are often trying to win over the other party at all costs – you are trying to please the other party. Yet Jesus Christ commands us to call all men to Repentance. We are commanded to preach The Gospel of Repentance from sin to All men.

Preaching The Gospel not in Deceit…
1 Thessalonians 2:3
(3) For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

As Christians engage in preaching the gospel through tact and diplomacy, truth is hidden and concealed so as to please the other party and not offend then in the process. As this method of preaching the gospel is repeated over and over again, it becomes normal to preach an incomplete gospel and the end result is a distorted gospel – a deceptive gospel.

I remember in Uganda, Street Preachers used to preach a gospel of repentance on streets but then as the Prosperity Gospel invaded churches, Street Preachers resorted to preaching a gospel saying that “come to Jesus Christ, He will give you everything”… The trouble was that once the new converts got to Church and started to walk a Christian life, they realized that coming to Jesus Christ did not mean “getting everything”…some of these converts backslide…

Yet still the most important point that Paul stresses in the verse above is that the Truth of God’s word be preached in season and out of season. If you are going to preach the Gospel, then preach the Truth and Preach and Teach Sound Bible Doctrine. Paul did not go about preaching falsehoods and fabrications but rather He preached scripture and Sound Bible Doctrine.

The question then is are you preaching the Truth of the Gospel, are the sermons you preach biblical or do they contradict scripture? Are you concealing Truth simply to win over large numbers of converts and to please men? But yet sill Paul speaks of uncleanness and guile which have to do with evil motives, cunningness, cleverness, astuteness, and ingenuity.

The trouble with Preaching a Gospel of using Tact and Diplomacy is that masses get to listen to you, then to keep the masses and large crowds, one has to device means to conceal Truth, then money comes into the mix and the large crowds give lots of money to sustain the ‘man pleasing’ preacher – a teacher who teaches things that they love to hear. The end result is compromise and sin. Brethren, in this age of Relativism, let us watch out.

2 Timothy 4:3-4
(3) For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
(4) And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

Preaching the Gospel not to Please Men…
1Thessalonians 2:4
(4) But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

Paul mentions to the Thessalonian Christians that The Lord had entrusted him to preach the gospel not as to please man but God who tests our hearts. The mandate to preach the pure gospel was not only entrusted to Paul who is now long gone but to every Christian, that we proclaim the Truth not as pleasing men but God. Yet the Tact and Diplomacy methodology of preaching the gospel will always run into the arena of pleasing the other party and avoiding all forms of messages and truth considered offensive to the other party.

Paul’s proclamation in this verse was not to sound arrogant and boastful but he was avoiding the pitfalls that come with so-called tact and diplomacy in that diplomacy can be very manipulative. Diplomacy can be used by the powerful to gain advantage of the weak by employing trickery to convince and control opponents and thus deny them a chance to respond.

Yet the Gospel we preach is one that gives all men a choice to either believe in Jesus Christ and Repent or refuse and reject The Grace of God in Jesus Christ. Therefore Paul the apostle was not going to preach a gospel that pleased man but rather he was to preach a gospel that called all men to take full responsibility of their spiritual lives and Choose to Follow Jesus Christ or not; preaching the gospel that pleases men denies then that choice.

Galatians 1:8-10
(8) But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
(9) As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
(10) For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Preaching the Gospel not in Flattery and Greed…
1Thessalonians 2:5
(5) For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:

Of course one of the side offshoots of preaching the gospel through tact and diplomacy is that flattery becomes part of the mix. Often preachers and pastors begin by sweet talking their listeners and in the process Truth is cast aside.

The Listeners who don’t want anything to do with truth will maintain the preacher and will endeavor to keep the preacher paid well. The preacher then becomes a slave to the listeners who hate truth but gather to themselves preachers who teach things itching to their ears. This is the whole essence of the Prosperity Gospel for example; both the preacher and the listener in such settings are co-dependent.

The Listeners uses money, power, and popularity to keep the covetous and greedy preacher in check…the greedy preacher likewise uses a gospel of flattery and sweet talking to keep the large audience. It is in this setting that many popular New York Times Best Selling so-called Christians Books fall today…they are books that conceal Truth and use flattery to sell. Most of such books are always about ‘Self and You’ – sweet talking listeners and readers to perdition.

Flattery always goes along with Greed in Christendom. Show me a Preacher of Prosperity Gospel and I will show you Flattery. Show me a Flattering Preacher, and I will show you greed and covetousness.

Preaching the Gospel not as to Burden the People…
1Thessalonians 2:6
(6) Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

Paul gives an antidote to the Gospel of Greed and Flattery, and that is that the preachers of the gospel must be willing to work with their own hands. Paul and his team did not want to become a burden to any of the Christians but rather sought to be a blessing. There is nothing wrong with work and preachers of the gospel in these last days must embrace hard work.

Paul made Tents that he sold off and was able to preach the gospel and even help support those on his team. I know some American Pastors have so much given themselves to the concept of “Full Time Minister” that they wait for the offerings in the basket. This alone often leads to various temptations like publishing Best Selling Books that often are filled with no substance of gospel truth but flattery. Yet for one to publish a New York Best Selling Book, one has to dilute Truth and offer notions that people love to hear – notions that will sell.

Yet this does not mean that the saints did not support Paul and his Team on their mission trips, they did and it was and is a very noble thing to do. However, looking to such offerings for a living is not wise and will often lead true preachers to ‘improvise’ ways to increase such offertory – and one of such ways is through preaching a gospel of flattery.

Secondly, if a preacher will work and support themselves financially then they cut off the temptation to use flatter in preaching the Gospel and will speak the Truth boldly and with no fear that they are controlled by the crowd of listeners who hate listening to truth but simply seek teachers of their like.

In Christ Jesus
Kato Mivule