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When God Calls a Man

Understand The Times International: Roger Oakland Ministries

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When God places a vision in a man’s heart, events happen God’s way according to God’s will. When man plans things man’s way without God, events may unfold, but they are the product of manipulation and human control. I have learned this principle the hard way, and it took me many years. Sometimes, it takes a few hard knocks to get a person’s attention. When the truth finally sinks in, it is obvious that God can use anyone, anytime, anywhere.

The book of Nehemiah is an example of how God established His plan through man. God uses humans but only when they listen to Him. Otherwise, while it is still possible for men and women to accomplish good works, time usually reveals how the flesh overrules the Spirit. When this happens the plans of men fail.

Perhaps one of the best examples of this principle is repeated in church history. God often calls men to be the founders of movements. For example, a single man may hear from God and teach the Word of God to his flock without any other attractions. Initially, a single church will grow and become a model for other pastors to follow.

Soon this founding church will be cloned by other pastors who recognize God is at work through the founding pastor. After a generation or two, other churches are added. Eventually, a movement (or what is often called an association of churches) develops.

However, as the movement grows, something usually happens. A hierarchy develops—a pope-like leader, some cardinals, several bishops, quite a few priests, and many many sheep. Even the leader of the movement may not understand what has happened. Although he can be a spiritual man, the cardinals have the potential to operate in the flesh. They see that their leader is getting old and frail. This means that someday they could potentially be chosen to replace him. When one is chosen, there will be smoke, won’t there?

While the cardinals may not realize what they are doing, trouble unfolds. There is always at least one of the cardinals who believes he is the one chosen to be the next pope. When times change, some of the cardinals get the notion the old ways need to be remodeled and that Christianity needs to be upgraded or re-invented. While the Bible is still quoted and the name of Jesus Christ mentioned, the new postmodern generation needs more stimulation, they say. As well, they insist the “grey-haired” brothers and sisters who are going deaf need to be woken up. In order to wake them up, loud bands with strobe lights usher the young and old into the “presence of God.”

Soon the teaching of the Bible is no longer the main focus. Bible teaching is replaced by pastors telling stories or sharing good jokes that make everyone feel like they are not in a church. Church becomes more and more focused on entertainment. Convicting messages about sin, man’s fallen nature, salvation, and the return of Jesus Christ to judge the planet are ignored.

When itinerant speakers are invited to replace the pastor for mid-week Bible studies, problems happen—especially if the itinerant speaker warns about the “present apostasy” happening in that church. The pastor receives many complaints when he returns. His biggest financial donors have been upset. The pastor and the board of the church cannot afford to lose this support, so they promise never to have the itinerant speaker back.

Sometimes pastors have to find other ways to raise support to pay huge mortgages on huge buildings and wages for expanded staff. This may mean the church has to become more business-like, ecumenical, and less biblical. If you have been following me so far and you are a believer, you can see that a serious problem has developed.

Let me summarize. A man called by God is used by God for a certain period of time. Unfortunately, when other men are added to the program, the vision gets diluted. Rather than continuing to be messengers of the gospel, the movement can go off the rails and head south. While there are those in the movement who see this happening, they usually don’t say anything. Instead, they remain in the “fellowship” of churches silent as mice. They know that if they lost their church logo, church-goers would not know where they were going. At one time, the brand name was consistent. What once meant something now may mean nothing. Various ideas and trends will be embraced as the old cardinals are looking for a way to draw the crowds.

You see, there are many different views on how churches need to change and how they should operate in order to grow. Pastors forget about their calling (if they ever had one) and easily follow other men who have devised clever plans to grow churches. Megachurches, they have been told, indicate healthy spiritual growth. The bigger the church and the more grandiose the program, the more successful they will become.

Now here lies the rub. Church history tells us that movements are always recorded in history. In other words, much may be recorded, but very little is learned. Movements that once existed fade off into the distance and are forgotten, aren’t they?

Isn’t that interesting?

Now I know you might be thinking that you know of one movement that has been around longer than all the rest. Check out the longevity of movements yourself. However, I suggest you go back further than the 3rd century to Jesus Christ Himself. Do you remember what Jesus said? He referred to Himself as the chief cornerstone of the Church, right? The apostle Paul explains this:

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

I hope this commentary will help you to understand our times and a fellowship of churches you may be thinking about.

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