Paul wrote his last letter to his spiritual son Timothy. One warning stands out: The worst enemy Timothy will ever face is not devils, Roman tyrants, or barbarians. It will be preachers who are backslidden in the pulpit.
2 Timothy 4: 3 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”
Here it is again in the Living Translation: “For there is going to come a time when people won’t listen to the truth but will go around looking for teachers who will tell them just what they want to hear. They won’t listen to what the Bible says but will blithely follow their own misguided ideas.”
These preachers overrun the church today. They are created by audiences with sensual desires. They are the toast of a generation that never reads their Bibles. They are the product of churches gone wild.
Why am I writing this? The answer is in the prelude to Paul’s warning to Timothy in this final letter. 2 Timothy 4:1 says, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.”
These firm but loving words, are solemnly given. Timothy you will stand before Christ. He will judge fake preachers with great wrath and burn up their works. Don’t be one of them. Fight them. Rebuke whenever it is needed. Instruct with patience as often as is needed. Don’t just do it when you feel like it. Prove that you are one of the real ones.
But Mario, what real harm are these ministers doing? More than anything or anyone else is doing to the church. More than you can possible imagine. They are not merely doing more harm than good—they are doing all harm, and no good.
Preachers who are backslidden in the pulpit are a clear and present danger to the church and to themselves. Their messages create mutants—a huge number of Christian preemies—born in congenital compromise. Lacking the essential nutrients to start a life with Christ as Lord.
How else do you think we lost marriage, gained late-term abortion, and headed down the path of Sodom and Gomorrah? While the backslidden preacher didn’t cause our flood of immorality—they kept the army of God from rising up to stop it.
Because they are backslidden in the pulpit, churches are hostile to true saints. The remnant of God is grieved. They cry tears of sorrow and disbelief at what is pawned off as vessels of God. They struggle to find a church with even a hint of reverence or the presence of God.
To their shame, they, and their followers, have discouraged sincere young preachers.
Do you see any difference between the following situations?
-Urban youth see the lifestyle of drug dealers and pimps and ask “what’s the use of flipping burgers for minimum wage?”
-Young preachers see the tricks, the flamboyance, and easy money of carnal preaching while they struggle to get partners for a righteous cause.
Lost in all of this is the definition of a real man and woman of God. Let me remind you with these words from E.M. Bounds:
“The preacher must throw himself, with all the abandon of a perfect, self–emptying faith and a self–consuming zeal, into his work for the salvation of men. Hearty, heroic, compassionate, fearless martyrs must the men be who take hold of and shape a generation for God. If they be timid time servers, place seekers, if they be men pleasers or men fearers, if their faith has a weak hold on God or his Word, if their denial be broken by any phase of self or the world, they cannot take hold of the Church nor the world for God.”
I wrote this in direct obedience to God. Judgement is coming on preachers who are backslidden in the pulpit. Maybe Jesus can use this to save you before it’s too late.
I wrote this because we need to shout it from the rooftops that God will bless those who go after Him with a clean heart. He will give them untold provision and power. He will raise them up in true promotion. He can still change the world through pure hearts and broken vessels.