AMERICA LOVED PREACHERS

By Mario Murillo. A funny thing happened when celebrity preachers tried to get America to like them: America ended up hating them.

I am writing this with deep love for, and loyalty to, the local church. There is no desire to take a cheap shot at anyone, or to cause division within the church.  I have to write this, because love does not lie or withhold needed correction.

America has abandoned God, Christian values, as well as Israel, and our nation is racing toward disaster.  Evil festers when good men do nothing.  Denying it will not change it or make it go away.  Its effect on you and those you love will not be stopped by delusional teachings of spiritual entitlement.

So how do we turn the American Church around?  That is the question I posed in a previous post.  Now I continue to answer that burning question by saying this:  in order to turn the church around we must face the fact that America liked us better, back when we told the truth.

Here is an illustration from the Bible.  Jonah ran from his calling. Then God sent a great storm.  The captain of the ship that Jonah boarded in his flight from God had a gut feeling that Someone was angry about something. When they found Jonah asleep, they asked him, “Who are you?”   When he admitted he was a runaway prophet, Jonah 1:10 tells us, “Then the men were exceedingly afraid, and said to him, ‘Why have you done this?’ For the men knew that he fled from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.”

Americans feel a psychical resentment toward the church.  I say psychical, because it is intuitive and subconscious.  They really cannot explain why they are angry with us. They may claim it is our politics, or falsely accuse us of racism, or even rightly point out our flaws, yet this present dislike of the church stems from something much deeper.  They are asking us, as those men long ago asked Jonah, “Why have you done this?”

When the outside world observes our ‘illustrated-electronic-happy-talks’ they get a gut feeling that we are hiding something.   They also suspect that our nation’s storm, similar to that of Jonah’s time, is partly because preachers are not confronting sin anymore.  As one non-Christian pundit put it, “If there was more hell in the pulpit, there would be less hell in the ghetto.”

At this point in our national disaster, a mega-church is like having a great party going on on the deck of the Titanic—you may be having a great time, but you will not save America from the frigid angry ocean.

Here is the real rub…if numbers matter so much to our mega-churches, then why are we ignoring the most important statistic: overall church attendance in America has fallen dramatically?

They liked us better, when we were not trying to be liked.  There was a day when men of God stood in pulpits as free men.  They were free of any need to be liked or successful.  A. W. Tozer said, “These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary.  They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious act out of mere custom; nor will they allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.”

We are impressed by churches that can draw 15,000 people.  But that is nothing compared to back in the day when America liked us better…a whole lot better.

Look at the picture of Billy Graham in the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1963.  120,000 are inside, and another 30,000, could not get in.  On the scoreboard it says “I am the Way the Truth and the Life.  No man comes unto the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6).   Not one person was offered a visitors gift bag filled with CDs.  No one was in the dark about the purpose of the meeting.  Billy stood there and simply told them that they had to come to Christ or be lost for all eternity.

Look at this picture below of Billy preaching in Times Square in New York City.  We cannot even imagine any of this happening today.

When Billy prayed for sermons he focused on hearing what the Holy Spirit wanted him to say.  He wanted a message that God could use, and not words that would dazzle the audience.  When Billy was in the pulpit, he completely died to his private opinions.  He got out of the way, so that the Holy Spirit could work on the audience.

We bought into the lie that if we ‘made nice,’ and took out the scary parts of our message, we would be liked, but we ended up more despised than ever.

“He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.” (Proverbs 28:23)

Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas said, “Jesus did confront his culture with truth—and He ended up being crucified because of it.  I believe it’s time for pastors to say, you know, I don’t care about controversy, I don’t care whether I’m going to lose church members, I don’t care about building a big church. I’m going to stand for Truth regardless of what happens.”

They may not like us for telling them the truth, but they will at least hear the Truth!

THEY ARE SAYING

Satan has seduced many believers into separating the Holy Spirit and the Bible—by pitting them against each other.  The Bible not only predicted this deception, it exposed the motive behind it.

2 Timothy 4:3 says “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…”

What they can’t endure is the Bible.  They play the ‘God card’ in order to fulfill their lusts, and then blame the Holy Spirit.

Many parents have had the following experience: They tell one of their children, “Go tell your sister, ‘Daddy says it’s time for bed.’”  Before very long, your children will begin using those magic words, “Daddy says”—even when Daddy didn’t say. That is one of the dangers of not judging prophecy. It is easy to use the words, “God told me that!” when anyone wants to shut down any word of correction, or to justify questionable behavior.

The current practices among Christians of drinking, carousing, and blatant New Age preaching, did not creep into the church overnight.  It insinuated itself slowly, quietly, and under the cover of good intentions. It began in small doses.  One preacher said, “Why do we trust a Book they (the early church) didn’t have, more than the Spirit that they did have?”  Another preacher said, “We’re not supposed to worship a Book.”

They will tell you they trust in the voice of the Spirit more than a Book.  What they are really hearing is their own voice…or worse.  They don’t deny the inerrancy of Scripture; they simply claim that they are receiving direct revelation from God that is equal to the Bible.

Bible study has become passé.  Many seek constant prophetic words.  They trust these words without comparing them against Scripture.

The Holy Spirit has become on-demand.  You’ve all seen the Facebook ads where “prophets” will give you a daily ‘word from the Lord.’  Some even charge money to give you a prophetic word. 

A young revivalist claimed to get more from “an angel” than from the Bible.  He even wrote on his website, “I have had experiences in the Spirit that cannot be explained by the Bible.”  Not long after this, he left his wife and children for his secretary.  He is still in ministry, and still defending his experience.

People blame all kinds of things on “leadings of the Holy Spirit.”

“The Spirit told me I can leave my husband and children because He wants me to be happy.” 

“You may not like the way I dress, but the Holy Spirit does.” 

One preacher even compared the Spirit to marijuana, and said, “I am toking the Ghost.”

The following conversation actually took place:

Him: “I am not just forgiven for the sins I have committed, I am also forgiven in advance for the ones I will commit.  Therefore, I never need to repent or confess my sin.”

Me: “That’s crazy, 1 John 1:8 says, ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.’”

Him: “Oh, well, that wasn’t written to Christians.”

Me: “No Bible scholar believes that.  In any case, that means the Apostle John wasn’t a Christian, because he said ‘if we.’ Where did you get this idea?”

Him: “It was revealed to me by the Spirit.”

Addiction to alcohol, drugs, pornography, and a host of other vices, will overtake believers when the natural protection of the Bible is removed.  Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.”

Why am I condemning all of this?  Because the Bible commands me to do so: “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth, commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:2)

This heresy of tuning out the Bible, in order to hear the Spirit, has flooded the church with the most carnal and self-centered believers ever.  To reject the Bible, while seeking a word from God, is to toy with witchcraft. 

The Holy Spirit and the Bible exist in unbreakable agreement.  The Spirit will take you to the Bible, and the Bible will take you to the Holy Spirit.

One of the prime purposes for Jesus sending the Holy Spirit was to help us understand and remember the Bible. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

You can be sure that if you are not regularly reading the Bible, God will avoid speaking to you through prophecy.  To neglect reading the Words of Life creates a dangerous habit.  Without a biblical foundation, you will have no way to judge prophetic words.

The superiority of the Bible over the prophetic is clearly shown by the fact that, although we are told to judge prophecy, we are never told to judge Scripture. Remember: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…”

(2 Timothy 3:16)

Daily Bible study is a hallmark of those who seek the Truth.  In Acts 17: 11 we find the story of a group of believers who were praised for their diligent Bible study: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” 

True revival is always Bible based.  True preaching will always quote Scripture liberally. 

We are at a crucial point in America.  If the Body of Christ doesn’t repent of this foolishness, our nation is sunk.  That is no longer the mindless wrangling of doomsday prophets—it is a clear reality.

However, there is great hope.  The combination of the Word of God confirmed and revealed by the Holy Spirit, will more than match today’s wickedness.

God knew that the insanity of today was coming. He took steps to prepare the hearts of a group of believers who would enter into a special relationship with Himself. He did so, in order to produce special powers for His children.

But, if even only a small remnant repents, gets back in the Word, and obeys the Holy Spirit, God will build an army that will prevail.  1 Samuel 14:6 gives us an example: “Then Jonathan said to the young man who bore his armor, ‘Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised (Philistines); it may be that the Lord will work for us. For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.’”

Be a Berean! Study the Word of God, and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Become one of those ‘many or few’ who will bring this nation back to God!

 

 

 

Stolen

They are saying what we should be saying.  Millions have seen their videos.  They are credited for starting a revolution of thought in North America.  Here’s the rub: they are stealing our thunder.  They are putting preachers to shame.  They are Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro. 

You may be the last human in America who hasn’t seen their confrontations and then eliminations of post-modern secularists.  They tackle every hot button issue from transgender, abortion, gun rights, feminism…in short, everything your pastor may be afraid to preach on.

Here’s the thing—they do it with an aplomb that devastates their opponents.  They produce clear facts and irresistible common sense to show how ancient morality is key to sanity.  In other words, they are doing our job.

There is one audience that is especially resonates with Jordan Petersen: young men.  This is a key demographic that the church has almost lost entirely. 

Ben Shapiro destroys the case for abortion in take-no-prisoners style on the most liberal college campuses.

Jordan Petersen champions free speech in a way that you are not hearing in any pulpit today.

What they are, is what preaching used to be in America.  What they have done, is destroy our great excuse: the lie that young audiences do not want to hear classic morality. And they have destroyed the sister lie that if you take on the false arguments of the left you will be shot down in flames.

The fact that they don’t preach the Gospel or refer to that many Bible verses only increases our embarrassment.  That’s because, they are still closer to the counsel of God than most celebrity pastors.

While most mega church pastors seek the non-offensive sermon, these two wade into the fallacies of sin and atheism.  They prove that there is a vast young audience for moral absolutes.

They prove what I have long declared: it is time for sermons with content.  Paul said he did not come with the excellency of man’s wisdom but the demonstration of the power of God.  That does not mean he was not compelling.  We are not compelling because we are so afraid of telling people where they are wrong.

There was a day when Ben Shapiro would not have been such a novelty.  We used to have preachers who were anointed with content that exposed the bankruptcy of secular culture.

Billy Graham was such a preacher.  He stood unapologetically before lost souls, of all races, and educational levels, and declared the Word of God.  He left nothing out. 

The notion that he was a simple preacher is misleading.  He once said, “the new morality is nothing but the old immorality.” A simple yet profound observation that is more at home in a meeting with Jordan and Ben than our present churches.

Billy  seized headlines, current events and never shied away from explaining why sin destroyed and Jesus offered peace that passes understanding. 

Today the church is talking to itself because it does not know how to talk to modern minds.  We do not change hearts and minds.  We are not adding daily to the church such as should be saved. 

You know I believe in miracles.  However, those who continually offer the world emotional experiences are missing the great power of preaching like Jesus promised, “I will give you a mouth and wisdom that your adversaries will not be able to gainsay or resist.”

On the other hand, those who leave out the power of the gifts of the Spirit—that are a sign to the unbeliever—are equally crippling the Church’s power to transform lost souls.

This dynamic duo of gifts of power with piercing preaching was embodied by Paul the Apostle.  Until Paul, the church was led by Peter.  Peter had fire but not the trained mind of Paul the Apostle. 

When Paul told the initiative his dual gifting of heat and light caused the Gospel to spread to all the known world.  It can be that way again.

It is not enough to tell harmless stories to the already converted.  We need to penetrate those who never darken the door of a church.  It is not enough to dazzle them with logic as Jordan and Ben do.  They need both a convicting declaration and the confirming signs of the Holy Spirit.

Jordan and Ben have done the heavy lifting.  They proved our shallow sermons are unjustified.

Maybe we needed to be shamed into action by two men who have proven that millions—many who we thought wanted nothing to do with Christ—are hungry for truth.