Today’s posting is from my friend Scott Hervieux, a minister from North Carolina.
You can check out his website at: http://web.me.com/shervieux
Losing Sight of Sin and Conviction
My pastor had a saying “those who are offended by the truth, are offended because they know the sin in their life, and can’t stand the truth.” A side from this whole “emerging/emergent” thing, here is even a problem with non-emerging/emergent type churches; the preaching that God is Love. God is Love and we should emphasize that, but even in some of the most bible teaching churches, I have seen them stray away from the teaching of sin and conviction. Now, I am not saying we need to be the old “Hellfire and Brimstone, if your not saved you’re going to burn in hell” type of church. But the problem is, we have become so caught up in the fact that we are living in the dispensation of Grace, that the teaching of true repentance of sin has fallen by the way side. What is repentance? Repentance is “to turn from”. Yes, we are sinners saved by grace, by Jesus taking our sin for us on the cross – but when we see or are convicted of sin, we are to repent or turn away from it.
The problem with preaching God is Love, is that it has turned into this feel-good type religion. God loves me, so if it feels good then it must be right. If it feels good, then God must be in it. I am saved by Grace, and saved by a graceful God; therefore no matter what I do or what I believe, God loves me, and He will save me. This is where we are dead wrong. I can take many Bible verses and interpret them to mean that God does not judge anyone and that any preaching on the word of God is good. Even Satan himself quoted scripture when trying to have Jesus worship him during the 40 days in the wilderness fasting. Jesus used the same scripture verses to tell Satan what the word of God said. Both Satan and Jesus were quoting from Deuteronomy.
The church as a whole has watered down the Gospel to the point of there is no teaching of the consequences of SIN. Oh, there are still a few churches that do teach the consequences of sin, but most stay away from it and only touch on the grace of God. Why? It’s because we don’t want to offend anybody. When people feel that you have gone from preaching to meddling, then they are offended. Why? It’s because God has convicted them of that sin. How many times have you heard a sermon and thought “How did the pastor know that about me, and why did he single me out in his sermon?” Nope, 99.5% of the time, the pastor does not know, and it is God speaking through his word and sermon to your heart on a particular matter.
This “God is love” and a “watered down gospel”, is then coupled with the religion of prosperity from the name it and claim it crowd.
This has led to a false religion that God is Love, and if God loves me, I will have whatever I ask for. If I wish for something and don’t get it – then God does not love me. The Bible talks about unanswered prayer, and why your prayers are not heard by God. And one of them is un-repented sin in your life. The Bible also clearly teaches about earthly and spiritual riches and treasures.
I do a lot of reading, and there are many “Christian books” that lift me spiritually and make me feel good. The problem with half of them is if you dig deep, you will see that verses are taken out of context or the meaning has been twisted to fit the message the author is trying to convey. Also, if you dig into some of these authors’ lives and beliefs, you will think twice about what you are reading.
I had an experience once. I was in a Christian book store and picked up a book on teaching in a post modern world (or was it reaching the lost in a post modern world?) Anyway…. I really did not even know the scriptures, like I do now. The whole time I was looking at this book, I kept saying something is not right. I also felt someone standing over my shoulder. I kept turning around, but no one was there. Every time I looked at another page in the book, I felt someone was there and I should put the book back on the shelf. I went home and researched the book and the author (I wish I could remember the title and the author now – but it was several years ago). It turned out the author was a New Ager, and a lot of his teaching was a mixture of the Bible and New Age philosophy. Now, getting vibes and feeling someone is there is not an indication of God, but God was using that to send a message to me to watch what I was reading and feeding into my brain.
So do we need to focus on the good and the things of the Lord? Yes.
Do we need to be educated in God’s word to have proper discernment over false teachings? Yes.
Is every Pastor teaching the word of God as they should? No.
Can I make a difference in someone’s life, without the word of God? Absolutely, there are denominations that believe you are saved by works. If you are saved, then you will have works, but works do not save you. Also, just because I am charitable and lead a good life does not mean that Jesus is in my heart and I am pleasing him.
Is Jesus Love? Yes.
Was Jesus ever unloving? This is a catch-22. Jesus is Love. But I am sure when he cleared the synagogue twice, convicted the Pharisees, etc., they thought he was unloving.
Just because an author is popular, has a large following, and “led a lot of people to Christ”, does not mean that he is teaching the true Gospel and message. There are many pastors I can name who have “fallen from Grace” because they were teaching a different religion and leading a different life.
To paraphrase a verse: ‘let no man add to or take away from the word that is written”. Any meaning added to or taken away from what the word of God says and teaches is a SIN and those who mislead their followers will have a price to pay. Any pastor or teacher has more judgment on them, as they are leading others in the word.
When we start following men over the word of God, then there is a problem. My pastor was going to have to take time out from teaching as he was having health concerns. I asked him, rather than taking a break or postponing classes, would it be all right to teach since I have already graduated from these courses. His response was “I have no question in my mind your ability to handle these classes and to properly teach. The problem is some people are only here for me. If I am not the teacher, then they will not come. This is a sad reality with some of the people in this church and in this school as I feel they are following me rather than God’s word. It should not matter who is teaching, what should matter is what is being taught.”
Scott Hervieux, http://web.me.com/shervieux