A Final Wake Up Call
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We were musing in a conversation the other day about some of the issues associated with the difficulties of doctrinal divergence. Our discussion focused on a certain fellowship of churches. Like countless others, we were greatly disturbed by the seemingly steady shift to the slippery slope of doctrinal relativism that seems to be plaguing many within this movement at the moment.
Although we completely believe God is in control and will ultimately perform His will in and through the lives of people within His Church, we also see a call to the leadership of any movement in order to do so. A lack of action in the midst of opportunity, for the sake of “letting God handle it,” is nothing short of Christian fatalism.
We believe 2 Timothy 4:2 makes it clear
that we are to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season.
Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.” These
are not passive but an active response to the need for direction and
correction with the church. As we well know, Paul says in
Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
We were both part of a fellowship for many years. One of the main themes was the “perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry.” We were inspired by our leader to be reproducers of all we were taught by word and works.
We have both felt an “uneasiness” with this subtle shift of emphasis of ministry and saw a “new breed” of pastors being raised up. Many of them seemed to have a strangely different ethos for ministry than what we both had witnessed during our years of association with this fellowship. Some leaders often proudly announced, “We don’t need to follow in the footsteps of our leaders.” They did not seem to understand that in taking the name of the mother church, they were to adhere to some basic essential doctrines for the sake of unity in order to avoid confusion.
As we struggled to understand this new paradigm, we decided to do a simple comparative analysis of great church movements of the past and see if there were any similarities with their rise and ruin that we were witnessing within the broader landscape of this worldwide fellowship.
We hereby offer an abbreviated overview of our findings for the consideration of the leaders of this fellowship of churches before it is too late.
We have all heard of the M-Model for the life cycle of movements of God through men. We heard the founding pastor of this movement once teach that God starts with a Man who is given a Mission by God that becomes a Ministry. It may later grow and turn into a Movement which ultimately ends up a Monument. Are we therefore destined to see the day when the movement we once participated in will end up as another monument that will be dissected in Church History lessons and discarded by critics like all other movements before it?
What is fascinating about this M-Model representation is although it accurately identifies the five phases of past movements that became monuments, it does not address the “how” question. How does this problem arise, and will the leaders resign themselves to their ultimate destiny by becoming yet again another Monument rather than a Movement that continues from generation to generation?
In summary, we have found through our research and observation there is a P-Model (as we call it) that is interesting to consider as we believe there are a number of examples of this principle in Scripture. Simply put the Man on a Mission with a Ministry generally starts out with a heart for the PEOPLE. The people are simply the focus of the ministry, and all resources flow in the direction from the minister to the people.
As the ministry grows into a Movement, some who join have their eye on a POSITION over the people. We believe these pseudo pastors are more interested in standing in the Pulpit than washing the feet of the people. In this type of ministry, the people are there to give the minister his audience.
Over time, as the popularity of the movement grows, they acquire PROPERTY. The acquisition of tangible assets within a movement is inevitable as the natural desire of most ministers is to move out of the “tabernacle and into the Temple.” They see this as God’s provision for the ministry.
But as we all know, “owning things” can sometimes really mean that those things “own us.” People are therefore encouraged to “support the ministry” and the flow now runs from the people to the “ministry.” Worse yet, now that they have a temple, they have a very large staff and a very large budget to meet. They find it difficult to address certain issues that should be addressed because they need to raise a lot of money to keep the machine running. If they were to address some of these very important issues that have prophetic importance, many of their big supporters would leave and find another church where they are more comfortable and where things are less controversial. This is a dangerous pathway that is well understood in light of what is often known as “Peter Druckerism.”
Such methods are described in the Bible as the scratching of “itching ears.” This can and will include many church-growth methods that may even introduce heretical teachings that lead to ecumenism that leads to Rome that leads to a one-world religion. This, of course, leads us back to the Word of God that many will not read nor understand because the leaders tell stories or entertain their flocks with a lot of stand-up humor. As we know, going to Hell is not funny at all. Hell is real, and Jesus said there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth there.
During this phase of development (apostasy), it could be said that the “Flock is being Fleeced” by the wolves in sheep’s clothing. The Bible does mention this has happened throughout history. Because of the many doctrines of demons, apostasy will be repeated in the Last Days before Jesus comes to take His bride.
As the property holdings of the ministry increase, the next phase kicks into gear where the ministry team is infiltrated and finally overrun by those who are interested in the POWER that Position and Property yield. At this point, the ministry to the people begins to breakdown completely as they are viewed as subservient to the leadership of an institution that has eclipsed the free-flowing movement of God.
Corporate style structures and controls are put into place to “manage the masses.” In the Bible, we are told about the Ichabod account. Some years ago someone tried to warn the leaders about what was taking place and no one paid any attention. Some became very angry and stated that this person had fired a missile over the bow. Actually, it was not a missile, it was the truth because it was biblical to warn the “brothers” of the dangers of operating a church like a business. Anyone could see this if they were not too close to the epicenter.
Now, with the people in submission to the powerful leaders, moguls in the Movement take over. The PERPETUATION of the movement becomes of paramount importance. When the original leader starts to age, those who want to take his place rear their ugly heads. While not obvious to the sheep, it is obvious to some of the Cardinals. When they meet, they ask the leader to leave the room and then they ask each other – “Who will be the next Pope?”
This is when the Movement really starts to fall apart. Some see this happening and take down the logo that the movement has endorsed. They put up their own logo and even slightly change their name. Apparently, they do not want to be totally associated. Some have names already made up so that if something happens they will say, “NOT US,” we are not of that brand.
Worse yet, many of the leaders are not concerned with sound doctrine. They continue with their position of power and assemble more property and want even more and more. They also love notoriety. Rather than being led by the Spirit of God, they now are led by their flesh. As Paul wrote to the Galatians in Chapter 3 verse 3:
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
The movement finally reaches the stage of becoming no more than a monument to something that happened in the past. The leadership members are now more interested in continuing a dynasty rather than the distribution of God’s Word, God’s way. Sadly, the survival of the organization becomes more important than the service of the people. Perhaps the best way to understand what has happened is to read Zechariah chapter 11. Then it will be easy to understand why this is happening now and why it happened before throughout biblical history.
To illustrate this from a biblical point of view, we will take you to the familiar story of Gideon. Gideon had a great start. He is one of those characters who springs to mind when you consider how God uses ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things. His unique blend of humility and determination made him an ideal person for God to demonstrate both His incredible power and His supernatural provision through this judge of Israel.
In Judges chapters 6-7 we are
confronted with his modest beginnings, his zeal for righteousness, and
his deep commitment to the calling of God. His performance as an
unwavering leader in the face of insurmountable odds has become an icon
of fearless commitment to duty.
Oh my Lord, if the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt? but now the Lord hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites. And the Lord looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.
He had a passion for the People of God.
We are all familiar with his mighty victory over the Midianites because
of his obedience to God. But watch what happens after the victory.
They wanted a King. Not only did they
want Gideon to “rule over them,” they wanted to establish a dynasty.
Rather than remain humble and submitted to God, Gideon allowed the
people to “bless him.”
And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you. And Gideon said unto them, I would desire a request of you, that ye would give me every man the earrings of his prey. (For they had golden earrings, because they were Ishmaelites.) And they answered, We will willingly give them. And they spread a garment, and did cast therein every man the earrings of his prey. And the weight of the golden earrings that he requested was a thousand and seven hundred shekels of gold; beside ornaments, and collars, and purple raiment that was on the kings of Midian, and beside the chains that were about their camels’ necks. And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it: which thing became a snare unto Gideon, and to his house.
Gideon’s mishandling the result of God’s victory became a “snare” to him and also to his house. HOW? Property always seems to be an Achilles Heel for many ministers over the years.
The problem really escalated with one
of Gideon’s sons named Abimelech. Interesting that the name Abimelech
means “my father is king.” It is also the title given to the king of the
Philistines (Israel’s arch enemy).
And Abimelech the son of Jerubbaal went to Shechem unto his mother’s brethren, and communed with them, and with all the family of the house of his mother’s father, saying, Speak, I pray you, in the ears of all the men of Shechem, Whether is better for you, either that all the sons of Jerubbaal, which are threescore and ten persons, reign over you, or that one reign over you? remember also that I am your bone and your flesh..”
And he went unto his father’s house at Ophrah, and slew his brethren the sons of Jerubbaal, being threescore and ten persons, upon one stone:
Abimelech carries out a classic corporate consolidation of power—kill-off the competition, and establish fear in the hearts of anyone who would oppose him.
Is there a lesson in all of this for the leadership of the fellowship we are writing about? While we are not giving specifics, as the saying goes, time will tell.
It is very important to follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, and not to follow any man or any movement. Otherwise the movement will be judged just like the children of Israel were judged over and over again.
God used the prophets to warn the leaders of Israel, but they hardened their hearts and refused to listen. They did not repent but instead they lied and kept on sinning. They had no fear of God. Worse yet, many did not know God at all.
As Jesus will state on Judgment Day as recorded in Matthew 7:23-24:
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock..
This is very sobering for those who think they are home free and that they will spend eternity with Jesus.
Remember the question Jesus asked in
Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Now finally, it would be good for everyone to read the entire chapter of Ezekiel 8. If you want to know the end of the story, you will have to read the secular papers. What is coming is ugly. Christianity will suffer greatly. Tragically, because of jealousy, there will be a lot of arguing and fighting. No one will want to take the blame and will pass the blame onto someone else.
What’s more, other things will be revealed that have been hidden because the God of the Bible sees everything.
History repeats itself according to Solomon (Ecclesiastes 1:9). We need to be like the Tribe of Issachar:
And of the children of Issachar,
which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what
Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all
their brethren were at their commandment.
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.
This is a serious reminder based on the Word of God.
We also know that God is merciful. He is not willing that “any should perish.” There is not one without sin except the One who took all of our sins upon Himself and shed His blood that we might have eternal life. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. Jesus lived a sinless life and then sacrificed His life that whoever believes on Him will live eternally with Him. He died, and then He rose from the grave, and He lives today.
There is still time for all those who will just bow their knee and repent from sin.
The time is short. We both know the verse we learned by memory when we were little boys – from our Norwegian Dads. John chapter 3 verse 16:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Jesus is coming soon – Maranatha.
Written by two Norwegian brothers(based on God’s Word)
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