To Please Men, or To Please God?

I’d like to have a little heart to heart talk:

Pleasing Men, or Pleasing God?

When some of you get the information I send out to my email list, or if you read it on my blog, do some of you reflexively say to yourself: oh no, not again, why is he stirring up the waters?  Why is he causing me to get upset because my favorite preacher or Christian book writer is being criticized?  How can Manny say that about someone who I admire so much?  When you read my emails and posts,do you at least consider the information and prayerfully think about it?  Has it ever been disturbing enough that you wanted to call me, or write me, and ask me to explain what I have written?  I always pray that if I offend one of my friends with my postings, that they can talk to me privately and express their concern to me instead of keeping it to themselves and perhaps staying angry at me.

My question for you today: Is your goal always to please God, or do you sometimes try to please men or women at the risk of displeasing God? I suggest that if your goal is to truly please God, rather than men, then what I suggest that you could do with my postings, is to at least prayerfully consider it, and if necessary, ask additional questions, or do some more research.  If my warnings to you sound too crazy to be true, do you then wonder if I am crazy, or over-reacting to something that is not serious, or perhaps obsessed, or do you wonder if there may be something there?

My desire is to always please God first. It is not always an easy decision to make.  What I started doing since last year, including my blog, was not an easy decision.  I could just be going along to get along right now, with no one taking offense, keeping my concerns to myself.  My decision was made with the realization that I was not always going to please every person who read my postings.  I risked not only getting friends upset at me, but family as well.  Perhaps even my wife.  And believe me, no man who really loves his wife, wants to ever get her upset, at least intentionally.  But even my wife has to take a back seat to God.  I must please God even above her. (I am thankful that she gives me her full support on this).

Let’s look at what Paul said in Galatians 1:10:

  • 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.

That’s simple enough without a need for “interpretation”, as the vast majority of the Bible speaks plainly enough and is not open to “various” interpretations.  If I find myself trying to please others over God, I am not truly serving Jesus Christ.  Hard words.

It is interesting to note the preceding verses that led him to say this:

  • 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.

Again it’s interesting how Paul repeats what he said for emphasis.  There may be other passages in the Bible like this, but it’s the only one I know that is repeated like this.  I believe that one of the reasons he did this was that perhaps he knew that what he said in verses 8 and 9, could bring such a strong, negative reaction from many readers.  By saying what he said in verse 10, this is part of the message I believe he is sending:

  • “this is so serious, that I knew some of you would dislike how strongly I have put this.   You know what, though, friends?  I would love to please all of you, but this is too serious to really worry about that.  I care too much for you to say this any other way.  I would prefer pleasing God, and losing friendship with all of you, rather than not telling you the truth.  Whenever truth needs to come out, I will speak it, at whatever risk to me there is to be.  So there is no room for any other gospel, no matter how nice it sounds.”

You see, this is why I do what I am doing.  There are many others out there like me; many of them a lot more articulate, a lot more learned in the scriptures, and perhaps with more time to be able to research and expose the apostasy and heresy that is infiltrating the Christian denominations, universities and seminaries, including my own denomination.  (More to come later on this).

This is not a game we are playing.
This is not being done to cause strife or division, just for the sake of causing strife or division.  This is eternal life at stake for many people. Eternal life is at stake for those who are not Christians, but who might get roped in by a false gospel and believe they are Christians, when they have never had a chance to repent and receive Christ’s forgiveness, and actually get to know the real Jesus.  For Christians, they are in  danger of falling for dangerous, non-biblical practices being ushered in by the New Agers and the heretical Emergent church movement.  The false leaders of these movements seem to think that they are the new enlightened ones, and that 2000 years of orthodox Christianity has all been wrong.  How foolish!

  • Acts 20:28-31 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard!

Do not mistake what we are doing out here for anything other than all out war against the powers of darkness. The Emergent church high priests, the New Agers, the churches of Oprah and Schuler, and many others, have an agenda to subvert the very authority of the Word of God.  They have a universalist agenda as well, deceiving many into believing that there are many ways to God, or that all somehow are following Jesus, regardless of what religion they practice.  They want to associate and work with any and all religions in whatever cause there is that might seem right, even though we are admonished to “do not be unequally yoked with non-believers”.

They will argue with us that “the Word of God is really Jesus, not a book.  So stop idolizing that book, and get to know Jesus”. I have heard these arguments, and they are false, and deceiving, or just plain unintelligent.  I have had to stop responding to many of these people, because of their silly arguments that don’t use scripture to back them up.  They prefer to use their own reasoning, since they do not respect the authority of God’s Word, but in their wisdom proclaim that it is just a collection of stories from the past.  If  my father were still here to listen to all the “fables” that they invent, it would not go over well with him.  He was a real gospel preacher who never compromised with anyone.

Once the authority of God’s Word is undermined, you may as well pack up and leave.  You may as well become a Buddhist who follows Jesus.  In fact, why not be an agnostic who follows Jesus?  Have you noticed that many emergents are calling themselves “Christ-followers” and do not like using the word “Christian?”.  Yes, that’s it.  A Christ-follower can be someone from another faith following what Jesus did, but never has to leave their own faith!  Isn’t that what Brian McLaren suggested?  See article at LightHouse Trails Research on “Christ-followers”.

  • Colossians 2:4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
  • Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

There is a great lesson based on the book of Hosea that I read several months back, by a preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs, who wrote it back in the 1600’s.  It’s called “Plead With Your Mother”.  I came upon it remarkably on the same day I was wrestling with the very question of  “what should I do, who should I warn, or should I stay silent?”
(You can read it at: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/12/plead-with-your-mother-plead.html)

We are pleading with the various denominations we belong to, to look at themselves and see what has gone wrong. Do not let yourself continue to be at risk and become part of the great apostasy, or falling away, that is coming.

Use the Bible as your guide, and see what needs to be removed from that body, before the cancer spreads so badly it cannot be eradicated. If some new practice comes along, see if it comports with the scriptures.  Men in their vanity will often come up with new ways of “doing Christianity” which are not based on sound doctrine.

Consider those of us laboring on this out here as “humble” physicians who have spotted a cancer, and rather than negligently wait until it has spread all over, we now are pointing out the cancer and asking you to join us in attending to the body of Christ before the cancer spreads even more and “kills” more.  The danger here, of course, is not physical death, but spiritual death.

Prescription number 1: Trust in God and His Word, and throw out anything that does not line up with the Word of God.
Prescription number 2: Don’t trust your feelings, or the words of men, without “testing the spirits”; again, trust the Word of God.  It will never fail you!
Prescription number 3: Did I already say this?…. Ground yourselves in the Word of God!  :-)

In humble service to the one true God and the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who overcomes.

Manny

Contending for the faith…

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9 responses to “To Please Men, or To Please God?

  1. Well articulated, Manny.

    Acts 20:31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.

    We are compelled to warn and confront.

  2. I know how you feel, Manny. Brings tears to my eyes. I can think of so many lovely people who look at me with glassy eyes when I talk about their favored teachers. I recall some of the gut wrenching feelings myself. I would say…”Oh no not pastor….” The difference is I would follow up and read their own works and articles easily found online. They only hide as long as you don’t research.

  3. Hey, christianlady! Thanks for visiting my labor of tough love. I enjoy your postings and read them as often as possible. How did I forget to put a link to it?
    Blessings,

    Manny

  4. I humbly thank you for the comment, Ex-Naz. For what it’s worth, occasionally my brain functions long enough to allow me to put my thoughts down. I find it easier to think, than actually putting those words down! If I could only invent something that can take dictation from my brain directly to the hard drive!

    Keep up the great work on your blog! It is very helpful. I have pointed several parents of college students to it.

    Manny

  5. Manny,
    Officially became a fan of this blog…

    It’s seeing the patterns in all different churches that has let me know my family was not crazy for seeing what we saw. At first I feared I was being led astray by the things I was reading (Lighthouse trails and other sites) but then I began to see the patterns play out in my church exactly as warned. I didn’t just read “discernment” ministry sites, I read those who were being pointed out. I saw their error in bold letters on their own sites. I began to realize that things I had felt strange about but ignored, or even those things that made me uncomfortable enough to make fun of in small group were actually much worse than I could even imagine. It took some time for me to accept this whole thing is real, and then to realize it wasn’t just the “new” lead pastor but was also our former lead pastor who had planned all along to bring the church down this terrible path. The former lead pastor is such a giving man, such a poet, so kind. I cried my last day at our former church and told the previous lead pastor (now a “missional” pastor) that I love him. I couldn’t say anything more, it was evident to me that nothing I would say would make a difference. It broke my heart to leave without screaming from the stage, “WAKE UP PEOPLE.” It was not to be an easy exit. The newer pastor attacked us. I also, in my zeal, spoke to people I would run into who had left the church like us. Once I was overheard, which gave fuel to the fire for the pastor. We were now spreading rumors. Lovely. So, after being mentioned in a sermon as those who were spreading “lies from the pit of hell” we know we can never set foot in that church again, and we made the right choice to leave. It also proved Lighthouse trails right, as well as Ingrid from Slice. These discernment blogs were not your usual, ordinary blogs. They were voices warning the sheep. Thank God I heard them one day, when I began looking up names like Rob Bell and Rick Warren on google.

  6. Hey Christian Lady,

    Well, you brought to my mind a lot of things I am myself sensing lately.
    I hope the things you experienced don’t come true with me, but I am prepared if that is the case.
    Hard to describe them, because much is suspicion right now. So I don’t want to run on suspicion for everything, until I verify. But at times already I have felt the heat, and this last blog posting was no exception.
    I am trying to see if can even get some kind of reaction at all, positive or negative. Since most don’t respond to my emails of these postings, I just don’t know how they feel about these issues.
    I have felt the heat from my Sunday School class, where I was wrongly berated for exposing false doctrines, AND naming names. Thankfully, I was given the opportunity to “clarify” myself, but even after my thorough mini-lesson which showed we are COMMANDED to judge and name names, there were those who still disagreed with the scriptures, and would prefer to leave things alone!
    So I fear that a number of people in my class have very little discernment, and are afraid of tough love… are afraid of talking about anything but “loving one another”, without realizing that love includes being honest, direct, and warning people of these dangers that can kill people spiritually.
    Sigh… I will press on. At times the discouragement tries to overtake you.. at times, doubts come up saying, am I doing the right thing here? Or should I just shut my mouth and stop?
    But I know the truth… so what can we do, but speak the truth in love.

    Blessings to you,

    Manny

  7. I would say if you want to really find out what the reaction will be listen to the sermons, ask the pastors what books they read. Then present them with the questionable beliefs that the authors they are reading and quoting. Someone who cannot handle the truth will defend these authors, or worse yet will attack you for being unloving. They will claim, “it’s not neccesarily so that we believe what the author quotes” but when you point out that they haven’t made any statements from the pulpit to clarify the beliefs, they will find some other excuse and say you are trying to find something wrong. Of course, if they are actually are willing to check out these authors for themselves, that is a good step. If they honestly are unaware of the beliefs, they should honestly research.

    Sounds like you have a good balance. You must pray and stay in the scriptures yourself, it’s so helpful to study something without thinking of the deception out there. Just to study the Bible and learn of Christ, just to pray to Him is very important and refreshing. Of course, we left the church with the problems and have found a nice respite in the church that is studying the Bible in a word for word way.

  8. Yes. My experience is very similar. My pastor became very upset with me when I questioned him about Rick Warren’s business methods and model for doing church. My pastor said to me….”be careful criticizing God’s anointed!” I was stunned. I said back to him…..”would the Holy Spirit be involved in a work that is compromised?” He was silent.

    He also got upset that I criticized Rob Bell. He loved Velvet Elvis. He was a big fan of Andy Stanley and used a couple of his sermon series. He had the board read the book Simple Church….and said that it wasn’t a church growth book. I pointed out to him that in the bibliography there were 13 references to Church Growth books or Business Leadership books.

    A few of us over the course of several weeks had asked him to concentrate on feeding the sheep with the Word of God instead of the seeker stuff. He addressed us (not by name) from the pulpit one Sunday by saying……”that there was a group in the church urging him to preach more from the Word instead of constantly preaching on the love of Jesus and he was advised by a retired minister from Grove City Naz to tell us….’go tell Jesus on me!’ ” He went on to state that once we are saved, we need to be content with that while he concentrates on the unsaved.

    So much for, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Instead, we got topical sermons on being a community to each other, and being nice to each other because Jesus was all about doing good things….and if they would ask Jesus into their hearts, their lives would get better. I was really tired of the life-enhancement gospel.

  9. Oh yes….in addition…..I said that I didn’t think The Message “Bible” was good for any staff member to use in church. He defended Eugene Peterson and said that it was a scholarly work based on the Hebrew and Greek and was an excellent translation. I said it was not a translation, but a paraphrase.

    I had to show him from a Zondervan site where they even admitted that it was a paraphrase and not a translation.

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