My first two blog articles were light-hearted and had a bit of my own testimony included, but I wanted to write this one on a more serious subject ~ the ethics of preaching and teaching Jesus’ plan of salvation.
More and more we are seeing a rise in cults, witchcraft, mid-eastern religion and false doctrines. I will say that if you talk to virtually anybody in one of these cults, you will at least know exactly where they stand and what they believe. But do you really know what your church/pastor believes about the plan of salvation?
This article is not necessarily to start a deep theological discussion but simply to talk about the ethics of pastors preaching, or not preaching, exactly what they believe.
I believe that the Bible teaches us that if you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, believe that He died on that old rugged cross for everyone’s sin and rose three days later, now sits at the right hand of God- soon to return again, and with all your being and to the best of your ability and knowledge, repent of your sins and turn from the life of sin you had been living ~ that exact moment that you do all of this, you will be born-again and saved from spending eternity in hell. You don’t have to do anything else to receive eternal life with Christ. It is by faith that we are saved, not by our works or any ritual we take part in.
At least that is what my Bible says and I have several different Bibles. Let’s see, I have a King James Bible, NIV, the Living Bible, the Message Bible, Amplified Bible, several study Bibles, including the Jimmy Swaggart Expositor’s Study Bible and the Criswell Study Bible by W.A. Criswell. Yep – every one of them say exactly the same thing in regard to what a person needs to do in order to be saved — accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, believe by faith that He died on the cross and rose three days later, repent of your sins and turn away from your previous sinful life – BAM – that’s all it takes. Jesus didn’t make this hard for us folks, it just takes a little bit of faith.
I have attended a church before where I just happened to find out by accident that they did not believe in the same plan of salvation that I did. I never once heard the pastor preach from the pulpit the additional ritual, according to their doctrinal statement, that you would need to do before being truly saved. In my opinion, they were trying to add something to the plan of salvation that Jesus clearly speaks about in the Bible.
It does not matter how large or small your church is, how exceptional the choir sounds, how wonderful the youth group is, or the blessing you receive from all of the amazing fellowship you were involved with. If you are wrong about the plan of salvation, it does not matter what else you are right about. I mean, good grief, we are talking about what you preach and teach your church congregation on how to get saved and spend eternity in heaven with our Lord and Savior. It just doesn’t get any bigger than that my friends!
I think that if you are a pastor of a church you need to let your people know exactly what you believe in order to get saved. Period. You should be shouting it from the pulpit and the rooftops! This is what I mean when I talk about the ethics of preaching/teaching the true Word of God.
In my humble opinion, the only reason a pastor would not be totally upfront and honest about their belief in what it takes to be saved, is that they know there might be people in the congregation from different backgrounds and denominations that if they actually heard the pastor adding works and rituals to the plan of salvation that Jesus preached, well, let’s just say they would start losing people in droves. At least that’s the only reason I can think of – can you think of any other possible reason a pastor would not share such vital information with his sheep?
Even if a pastor truly believes in his heart that adding certain works or rituals to the plan of salvation is what you need in order to be saved, then good night nurse – why wouldn’t you be preaching that every single time you are in the pulpit? I mean if you really believe this, you REALLY believe this, don’t you want every single person that walks in those church doors to know, according to YOUR beliefs, what it takes for them to spend eternity with Jesus? Although I disagree with anyone adding or removing anything from the Word of God, I do respect pastors who at least have the courage to stand up for what they believe and preach exactly that to their congregation.
Have you ever encountered a similar situation in your church? Do you truly know what your pastor and church believe about the plan of salvation? Something else that I find very disturbing is that some people don’t really care. They are more interested in having fun, the fellowship, the awesome music, the games and trips the youth group does with their kids, the wonderful inspirational sermon and funny stories the pastor preaches, etc. I just don’t understand that if you believe the plan of salvation that Jesus preaches in the Bible, how can you continue sitting under leadership in a church that you know is teaching a false doctrine? Isn’t that heresy when someone adds or removes anything other than what Scripture tells us to be true?
In today’s society it just seems to me like churches are becoming more like stadiums than sanctuaries. They’re starting to look and act more and more like the world instead of preaching on the Cross and trying to save souls for the Kingdom of God. It’s all about the lights and loud music and wearing shorts and jeans to church and taking your coffee into the sanctuary, and trying to be hip for the younger crowd, etc. I believe that in some churches there is no real reverence and absolutely no evidence that the Holy Spirit is present. How sad is that?
One poll taken says that if you take every one of the very best kids in the church – I’m talking about the kids that are very active in church, read their Bibles on a regular basis, are there whenever the church doors are open – by the time they are 25 years old, 94% of them will never again enter a church building except for a wedding or a funeral. 94%!! That is a tragedy and very heartbreaking indeed.
I believe you are playing with fire if you do not know exactly what your church believes in regard to THE most important issue for you and your family. Just think about how long your young child will have to go to a church that doesn’t preach what they truly believe before that child learns the true plan of salvation.
After I left this church and got over my guilt of not doing my own due-diligence in researching what they believe, I started checking out all of the famous authors and televangelists that I was listening to at the time. Oh my goodness, I could not believe how virtually all of them believed and taught a false doctrine. My heart was broken once again. I loved listening to some of these people preach/teach. They were funny, down to earth and had so many excellent sermons that I could relate to and had even quoted. And these are all the very well-known authors/televangelists that are coming to your mind right now as you read this. Yep, even those that you love and probably have listened to for years. But let me say this again – if you are wrong about the plan of salvation, it doesn’t matter what else you’re right about. You can be the most charismatic, good-looking, charming, funny storyteller pastor or evangelist on TV, but if you’re not teaching the TRUE gospel of Christ, you are teaching a false doctrine.
Now let me just pause for a moment. I do believe that there are people in churches like this that have accepted Jesus as their Lord, repented of their sins and are born-again Christians, they have just chosen to stay for whatever reason. Unfortunately, there could also be potentially millions of people who only listen to these TV evangelists and/or pastors and have not heard the true plan of salvation and are lost and headed to eternal damnation.
You can be the most loving and caring and generous person on earth, serve as a deacon or small group leader, choir director/sing in the choir, organ player, cook for all the church functions, head up all the committees to make sure the decorations are in place for every seasonal event, even be the senior/lead pastor — but if you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior and repented of your sins, you are not saved. Hell is full of very sweet, honest men and women of good character and integrity, and yes, even pastors and evangelists. But that is not what saves you. Jesus is the only way to heaven.
I have heard both Dr. Harold F. Hunter and Dr. Braxton Hunter preach every time they are in the pulpit – it doesn’t matter if you walked down a sanctuary aisle, filled out a card, was baptized or even prayed over by the pastor himself. There is only one way to be born-again and these rituals are not it. Now don’t get me wrong, doing all of this is perfectly fine, I have done all of these things. But that is not what saved me. Whether you stayed in the church pew as the invitation was being given after the sermon, or sitting in your home alone, the very second you cry out to Jesus to come into your heart and save you, believe by faith that He died for our sins, repent of your sins and ask for forgiveness – you my dear friend, AT THAT EXACT MOMENT, are saved and born again! Hallelujah!
We can agree to disagree about a lot of things ~~ such as how to worship – lift your hands or don’t lift your hands; the type of music we sing – traditional, blended, contemporary; speaking in tongues or not; which Bible the pastor preaches from; sprinkled or immersed in baptism; altar call or no altar call; Sunday and Wednesday evening services or Sunday morning only; having the Lord’s Supper every week or once a month; deacons or no deacons; the color of the carpet, etc. But there are fundamental, absolutes that I believe the Scriptures tell us and these I will not waiver or compromise: The Divine Inspiration and Authority of the Scriptures; The Existence of Only One True God in Three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; The Deity of Christ, His Incarnation, Atoning Death, and Resurrection; Salvation by the Grace of God Through Faith by the Power of the Holy Spirit; The Second Coming of Jesus Christ; and The Gift of Everlasting Life in Heaven With Christ, for All Who Have Trusted in Him for Salvation.
I know some of my family and friends think I am too fanatic about my beliefs and that I take this too seriously. But when we’re talking about the plan of salvation – well, that is the BIG enchilada there – like I said, it just doesn’t get any bigger, or more important than that! To add or delete from any of this, in my humble opinion, is heresy and teaching a false doctrine. The Bible warns us against false teachings (Rom 6:17; Gal 1:6-9; 1 John 4:1-3; Matt 7:15-20; 2 Tim 4:3, etc.). Scripture teaches us that we must test every teacher, correct their errors, and even rebuke them if necessary (Titus 1:9, 1:10-13, 2:15; 1 Thess 5:21; Acts 17:11; Rev 2:2, etc.).
Now I am not a scholar or a theologian, but I certainly wouldn’t even think twice about leaving a church that teaches anything other than what the Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us! As I mentioned previously, I think the thing that is most disturbing and disheartening to me is that some people just don’t care. They want to go to the big city church, or the small country church; or the church closest to where they live so they don’t have to drive very far; or the church that has the most charismatic preacher; or the church that has the best music ministry in town, etc. etc. etc. I just don’t get that mentality and I never will understand it. As believers, we must all take a stand for truth.
I believe we are now living in the end-times and there are literally millions of people that are still lost. If we don’t even know what we believe, much less what our church and pastor believes, how on earth are we going to be able to witness to others and bring them to Christ?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not involved as much as I should be in my church; I don’t pray or read my Bible as much as I should; and I don’t witness to someone every single time God opens that door. I’m a sinner saved only by the grace of God, faults and all. Trust me, the Holy Spirit convicts me often and although I am truly trying my best to make some changes, I am still a work in progress. Thank you Almighty God for Your grace, forgiveness and mercy!
As I mentioned above, I am not necessarily wanting to get into a deep theological debate here on this blog. I merely wanted to share my beliefs and point out the danger of not knowing what gospel your pastor/church believes and are teaching, or not teaching.
I would be interested to hear if you have ever been in a similar situation. Please write a comment below this blog and let me know what you think about my article. You’ll need to type in at least your first name and email – we can track the comments much easier this way from the actual website. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Just remember, this is only my third blog article, so go easy on me!
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Thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to read my blog article. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you. And always remember, you are loved, cherished and the apple of His eye…never, ever forget this!