As someone who is the other side of sixty and who has been saved for many years, I see the frustration of Christians that has arisen essentially from wrong teaching.
A lot of the problems and frustrations Christians experience are as a result of the Church structure. Let me explain.
Most Pastors have one foot in the Old Covenant and one foot in the New. Only confusion can result from this.
Secondly most Pastors don’t trust the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives. For some, this is a big one – no drinking, dancing, smoking, movies, trousers for women, short hair for men, facial hair, Deacons must only wear white shirts – the list is endless.
Thirdly, the “one Pastor” system is not Scriptural and brings with it a host of issues.
Scripture doesn’t teach the “one Pastor” system, rather a plurality of Elders, of which the Pastor is one. The Pastor is not a title but an office. We don’t talk about Deacon Joe or Elder Bob so why Pastor Bill?
Deacons do not have a spiritual role in Scripture. It has been said that a lot of Churches are run by strong willed, Deacon’s wives.
How often do you hear people talk of the “Pastor” in breathless tones. My wife and I some years ago were helping out a Church that was starting up and the wife would refer to her husband as “Pastor” when talking to the congregation. “I’ll ask Pastor” or “Pastor doesn’t want to do that” or “Pastor will decide”. Even his young children spoke that way. It was “Stepford Wives” all over again – cultish.
With the “one Pastor” system, the Pastor is put on a pedestal by default. Mankind, as with Israel, always wants a leader, someone they can see and touch. The only difference between the Catholic Church and the Protestant Church is that the latter preaches a salvation message (sometimes). There’s still this reverence for “the man”.
God wants his people worshipping Him directly and not going via a man. Of course, I’m not speaking about Church structure and discipline but there are a lot of Churches where the Pastor is “the boss”.
It is not natural for one man to be “in charge” of a Church. With our fallen nature we will fail. Pride will set in and every carnal thing if left unchecked. Just look at the outrageous behaviour we have seen with the Hyles type Churches. Google “Independent Baptist Cult Survivors”. It’s terrible to see what has been done to families by these men.
John MacArthur in spite of his Reformed Theology is a great example of how a man should preach. In over twenty years of listening to him, (and there is nothing about Reformed Theology that I agree with) I still don’t know his wife’s name, or how many children and grandchildren he has and obviously their names. He preaches the Word. He doesn’t spend time cracking jokes, although he has a good sense of humor.
I don’t care and a lot of people don’t care either what the Pastor likes or doesn’t like to eat, wear or his feelings about social matters. I want to hear him present the word of God – that’s his job. We don’t read anywhere in Scripture of any writers cracking jokes and making light of a situation.
As mentioned initially, one of the biggest problems Pastors have is that they don’t trust the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives. This is born out by their insistence in putting their congregations under the Law.
The problem is that most of them don’t understand the difference between Law and Grace. They mix the two to suit their needs. They will preach tithing, bringing their congregation into bondage, instead of preaching the New Covenant and relying on the Holy Spirit to work in people to provide for the Lord’s work. There is not ONE verse of Scripture in the New Covenant to support tithing – so what do they do – pull out Malachi 3:8 – “Will a man rob God”?
Some show their lack of understanding of the Gospel by telling the lost they need to be willing to give up their sinful life (clean up their act) before they can get saved. A very well known Internet personality (weekly posting on the web) had a lost person “come forward” at one of his meetings to receive God’s free gift of salvation but he had a wife and a concubine. (He was from another country and culture) The preacher told him to go and sort out his personal life and when he had done that to return and accept God’s free gift of salvation. Where do we find that in Scripture – nowhere. Is anyone going to stop sinning or never sin again once they accept the Lord’s gift of Salvation? Of course not.
Some teach that we are sinners saved by grace. Well I’m not. I was a caterpillar and am now a butterfly – I cannot go back to what I was and neither can you if you are saved – it is an impossibility.
As saved people, we have the righteousness of Christ – God said it, not me.
Some Pastors preach that Jesus paid the price for sins, past present and future and that the sin issue has been dealt with “once and for all”. They even sing hymns to that effect but then in the next breath will teach that we have to ask for forgiveness each time we sin and they use 1 John 1:9 not understanding that verse has nothing to do with Christians. They don’t have an answer for the “sins” that we have forgotten about and haven’t “confessed”. They don’t have an answer when asked, “If I die with unconfessed sin, will I go to heaven”? They will however, follow up and preach a message on Eternal Security.
They don’t understand that “light” and “darkness” is being saved and lost – you can’t go from light to darkness and back again. You can’t be saved (in the light) and then walk in the dark (lost) they mix those terms as well as not understanding what they mean. They don’t understand the meaning of “confession” – they think it’s asking for forgiveness. Some of the don’t understand the meaning of “repent” – it’s something we only do once. Doing a 180 on thinking who Jesus Christ is.
Some teach that Christians lose fellowship when they sin. Where in Scripture do we find that – nowhere. 1 Cor 1:9 tells us we have been brought into fellowship with God through Jesus Christ – never to be broken. This “in and out of fellowship” is just not in Scripture. 1 Cor 1:9 “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord”.
Some teach that the Holy Spirit convicts the believer of sin. What about in Hebrews where the writer says “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more”.
Hebrews 8:12 and 10:17
In fact Hebrews Chapter 8 needs to be studied by these Pastors. Chapter 8 is about a BETTER COVENANT.
All this wrong teaching - keeping people under Law and in bondage and causing so much confusion when the Gospel is so simple. It takes man to complicate it.
It is disgraceful for Pastors to be wrongly dividing the Word and being arrogant and dogmatic about it. It’s not what they believe and teach that gets me angry but the confusion and hurt they cause people.
I’ll end with my favorite story on being teachable.
A man is standing waiting to cross the road when a little four year old says to him “Excuse me Sir, you can’t cross the road now”. He is insulted that he has been told what to do by a child and pridefully proceeds to cross the road muttering to himself how dare that child tell him what to do. Only problem is the child saw the eighteen-wheeler hurtling down the road that he didn’t.