Removal And Deterioration Of The Gospel Ministry
In these last days it has pleased the Lord to withhold His Spirit in “demonstration and power” both from the ministry and from the hearers. Churches have dwindled in a born again membership and spiritual worship, until there are few who even mention the Lord’s name publicly; the deacons in old times were “full of the Holy Spirit,” but very rarely now can they be called upon to offer prayer, and still more rare for any brother to pray, exhort, or speak words of comfort to his brethren and sisters in the church.
Consequently, when a little church — thus feeling her leanness — hears one of her members speak any spiritual words at all, immediately they say he is called to preach, and so they urge him on until he is finally ordained. But the poor brother, not having been “called of God,” or “Put in trust with the gospel,” proves a disappointment, and in many instances, a hurt to the cause; and by his inability or apparent indifference to his sacred office, he proves “as vinegar to the teeth and as smoke to the eyes,” to them that send him.
By reason of these things the standard of gospel ministry is lowered before men and the churches, and the cause weakened and depleted, and in some cases entirely ruined.
The minister’s qualifications are set up by God Himself, and not seeing these qualifications manifest are we not forced to the conclusion that He does not call or send such to thus degrade His name and bring contempt upon His churches?
We believe that every true God-fearing servant will be concerned about the honor and
faithfulness of his ministry and that of the ministering brotherhood; for upon their deportment depends much of the honor and respect justly due their cause.
Should not this be of greater concern to the churches?
It is the church that is to be “ministered unto;” it is the church which is ordained of her Head to keep order in His house and to whom the ministry is amenable.
The Lord said, “There shall be, like people, like priest.” (Hosea 9:4) In other words, if the ministry is God-called, God-fearing, and God-honoring, – if the preachers “shun not to declare all the counsel;” if they are faithful to “reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine,” and study to show themselves approved unto God, workmen that need not be ashamed of their profession of faith and their calling; if they refuse to regard men’s persons in standing for their convictions and for gospel order and discipline in the house of God; if they manifest their faith by their orderly and unblameable walk; in a word, if they “make full proof of their ministry” by “showing all diligence” and putting it first in their lives, — is it not more likely that the people whom they serve will bear the like fruits of such a ministry, His word be more honored, and the cause benefited?
But on the other hand, if the minister be not God-called, does not tremble and fear before Him, nor has any concern for the honor and good of His cause, does not attempt to feed the flock with savory food and “things new and old;” but is satisfied to repeat the same stereotyped sermon year after year, is very slack in order and discipline, may be found in company of drunkards, or may himself be immoral and dishonest, has no thought of studying the scriptures in humility, but rather boasts of his ignorance, continually wrest the scriptures, winks at error and corruption in the churches, hates and opposes godly and God-fearing ministers who will stand for right because it is right: — so also will not this type of a minister reflect his doings in the people who hear and continue to follow after him?
And therefore does not this present itself as a matter of deep and prayerful concern?
Such men are often found to be “lords over God’s heritage” (I Peter 5:3), and keep the flock in such awe and fear of him they dare not assert their true and lawful convictions; and if he advocates corruption in the church, none will dare oppose it because of this fear. Thus they pretend to reign in peace and order when in fact they are “servants of corruption.” This type of minister is one of the greatest evils a church may have, and has been the means of breaking down many walls of churches; and they will hinder the re-building of these walls until they are brought into subjection by those churches suffering under their usurping rule of terror.
For many years there has been a decaying in the testimony of the gospel, both in power and demonstration of the Spirit. Some have shunned to declare “all the counsel of God” on many things vital to the welfare and upbuilding of the churches in their earthly pilgrimage, and the cause in general.
Comparatively few have dared to warn or reprove against anything that would hurt the flesh or the carnal mind. Whenever men have shunned to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine,” seeking the honor of men, God has always removed His Spirit from all such men.
Surely the members are not entirely to blame for their unfaithfulness if the minister himself speaks only “smooth things,” and seeks to please men rather than God. The command is to “preach that bidden thee,” and “he that hath MY word, let him speak My word FAITHFULLY.”
A faithful testimony will prosper — not necessarily in numbers, but in godliness. Such ministers as mentioned above have no convictions, and therefore they cannot preach the gospel. This is a day when people are content to follow or repeat rather than think for themselves. When Peter and John were brought before the council they replied: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than to God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
They had definite convictions of the things they had seen and learned, and were “put in trust with” by the Lord, and so they had no intention of keeping silent to please men. And so on, down through the ages, God has had men and women of conviction who were ready to suffer for their belief.
A flood of worldiness has come into the homes of church-goers. The filthy dregs of Hollywood pour into our homes via television, and the churches remain silent. The ministers and deacons sit and laugh at the devil’s jokes. The entrance of the TV into the homes of church members has finished off what little was left of communion and fellowship. It has revealed the shallow-mindedness that already existed. Any man or woman who can sit day after day and gloat on their TV sets are not living in the fellowship of God nor do they give thought to the command to “redeem the time, for the days are evil.”
Church members are now following the latest fashions in immodest dress and makeup;
divorce and remarriage so damning to present-day society has also found approval in the churches. The ministry in this day, instead of speaking God’s truth about these evils and publicly denouncing them, choose to speak “smooth things,” and “the people love to have it so”.
If you are not guilty yourselves, you wink at it in others, then come into the pulpit and ask God to “bless” you. He is neither the Author nor the Approver of such ungodly confusion.
If Baal be God, then let’s follow him — but if the Lord be God, then let us serve Him; but in either case, let’s stop acting hypocrites, — we profess to worship God while we follow Baal and his friends.
Are church members today standing up and suffering for righteous principles?
Is their ministry despised and hated by a wicked world because they are as Noah, “preachers of righteousness”?
Or are they, Samson-like, flirting with the world and have lost their power and moral courage.
Just what are you afraid of?
What do you think you will lose by consistently standing for both truth and right
We are warned of some who sought the honor of men rather than of God only. If we honor God, He will honor us, but if we disregard His honor, He will neither honor us nor our work.
Depend upon it!
The evil and perilous days are upon us – shall we play the coward?
Shall we keep our mouths shut when we should speak?
It is not enough even to refrain from following the wicked, but we are commanded “rather to reprove them.”
It is certainly true the present day ministry is suffering little or no offense – getting along better financially, and more popular with carnal professors. But the real condition is as told about a certain rich Pope in the Middle Ages, while showing his treasures, said to a visitor: “The time is past when Peter must say ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” To which the visitor replied: “And likewise the time is past when he can say, ‘In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’“
We have indeed the form of godliness, but the power is gone. As one expressed it, we have been decorating our machinery and have lost connection with the dynamo. We have split hairs, and split ourselves over so-called order and fine points of doctrine, and have forgotten the very source of true religion – the love of God and communion of the Holy Spirit. Every church or religious sect that ceased from its early love and a fervent, earnest contending for the practical fruits of its basic doctrine, has degenerated into a mere traditional, lifeless form, with “a name to live while it is dead.”
Furthermore, history does not show where any such religious organization has, of itself, stopped in its own tracks, confessed and turned again; but rather has sunk deeper, until some outside persecution or other judgment has brought about the change.
We believe the God of Israel has today men who are convinced of the truth, and who hold these convictions to be of more value than the applause and goodwill of carnal
professors. In many instances their open stand is not what it should be, but we pray God will make the burden heavy on them. We need servants who dare to speak out against the pollutions and errors of these times, who will stand in the face of devils for the things they KNOW to be right and the sacred truth of Christ. We need those who will not cater to the whims and desires of carnally-minded professors who “hold the truth in unrighteousness” and have “men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” We need, as never before, those who think enough of their belief to stand for it at all cost. And God WILL HAVE such to serve Him, if it takes the fires and sword of persecution. We need members who have come through fires which make them declare:
“I’m not ashamed to own my Lord, Nor to defend His cause, Maintain the honor of His Word, The glory of His cross.”
Jealousy and distrust in the ministry has been the means of much destruction and sorrow. We all need to be actuated by that love of our Master that will cause us to consider HIS honor and the good of His Church, to the sacrificing at all times of our own lives and our own carnal, selfish feelings. We need to be more free and open with each other. A frank and brotherly discussion on matters of difference or possible misunderstandings will usually tend to better feelings and happier relationships. And by no means should we disregard our Lord’s rule given in Matthew 18, using instead the pulpit to air our views against those we have made no attempt to understand or labor with. The Lord’s ministers who really have the cause at heart will not be seeking to kill his brother or to carry his point by stirring up confusion in the minds of his brethren, but will do all he can in the love of Christ to save his brother and to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
This last is more manifestly needed today in the churches by all of us, perhaps more than any other one thing. (See Ephesians 4) For those who doubt the signs of the times, let them read the accounts of such men as Wilson Thompson in the early settlement of this country and compare the whole matter of God’s moving hand then and now.
The comparison is not just “interesting.. – it is simply amazing!
We would not have you think that we are trying to convince anyone that these are the
conditions – but rather are we merely recounting a part of the facts now so abundantly evident before all of us, if we could see it.
Several years ago, while attending an association, we asked two old ministers (now
dead), what time it was on the time-clock of prophecy?
Why was it that today we circulate only among ourselves, while such men as Wilson Thompson preached the gospel where it had not been preached?
Why was it that none are pressed down with a burden to “go preach” and when they get there, to preach with power and demonstration of the Spirit to the dismay and crying out of sinners, and the gnashing of teeth of the ungodly?
Did it mean that God was not so burdening men among us today because we are in the fulness of the Gentiles, or just what did it mean?
They did not answer, nor has it been answered yet. Our pages are wide open to the man who can answer. However it must be an answer based upon facts and prophetical truth, — not on traditional opinions.
For those who may ask why we are stressing these things, our answer is as we have repeatedly stated. First, because it behooves God’s people to confess their sins and faults, and the next all-important reason is, that our preaching and living be in view of “that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:13)
Could there be better reasons than these?
By W.J. Berry
Old Faith Contender, 1958.