Subtitle: How Are They Supposed To Be "Rated"

 One time a preacher friend of mine, while kidding around, said that he knew that he had been called to the ministry when he woke up one morning, didn’t want to go to work, and was craving fried chicken! All of us laugh at that, but unfortunately many individuals have "taken up preaching" for less honorable reasons. We cannot warn you too often or too much that "grievous wolves" have entered among the flocks (Acts 20:29). This has been a problem since the very early days of the church and is even worse today. What some men (and women) will do for money, power, and prestige is downright scandalous. The past few years have seen numerous prominent preachers, pastors, and evangelists disgraced and defrocked—and in come cases even prosecuted and jailed—when their dirty little secrets were exposed. In most of these cases, greed was revealed as being their motivation and unsaved (unregenerate) people just nod their head knowingly because they suspected it all along. It always amazes me about how much more perceptive some unsaved people are to this type of thing than many sheep! Trusting one’s spiritual leader is one thing, but gross stupidity is quite another. When the leader in question is living "high on the hog" and his (or her) lifestyle is all out of proportion to that which is reasonable, those who are being "fleeced" are guilty too—for allowing it.

A reasonable salary and expense account—or even generous remuneration by a loving and grateful congregation, or following—is fine, but lavish living by a man of God is to be avoided. He should have enough common sense to live modestly, if for no other reason than to avoid "the appearance of evil". Church boards and organizational oversight committees should help him maintain a proper lifestyle, and donors should try to make sure how their offerings are spent. Money has ruined many a preacher and many a preacher has thereby done damage to the body of Christ.


Why did I begin this message with a discussion about money? Because it is one of two ridiculous criteria by which preachers are rated today—the other being the relative size of their church. Huge churches and salaries commensurate with the numbers are tantamount to success in the eyes of most observers, but is this necessarily a good indicator of the spiritual condition of the church? No, it is not! As a matter of fact, I look with great suspicion upon such ministries because there is cause to believe that something is greatly amiss! Folks, I am rapidly closing in on sixty years of age and have been around the block a time or two.

Being involved with church congregations for over half of that time—both as a deacon and then as a pastor myself—has taught me many lessons about human nature. One of the main things I have learned is that preachers are supposed to preach against sin and when they do, the flesh opposes it. Now I’m not saying that the preachers of all large churches are easy on sin, but I am saying that most are! As the Declaration of Independence says, "We hold these truths to be self evident…" Where the Word of God is faithfully proclaimed and sin properly denounced, the devil will do everything in his considerable power to disrupt that church! Mega-churches that merrily and musically plow along with something for everybody and no problems in sight are spiritually contradictory. Never lose sight of the fact that we are in a life and death spiritual battle.


By what criteria, then, should we "rate" a preacher? How can we discern a man of God from among the social climbers? It might surprise you to find out how many different ways are found in the Word. First and foremost the preacher’s "job description" is found in 2 Timothy, chapter four, where the apostle Paul exhorts Timothy:

"I charge [you] in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus Who is to judge the living and the dead, and by (in the light of) His coming and His kingdom; Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency (stand by, be at hand and ready, whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it be welcome or unwelcome, you as a preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong) and convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching. For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instructions, but having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, and will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary).


The number one priority for a God-called preacher is that he must preach the Word of God—not tell jokes, give book reviews and political commentary on the environment. When preaching the Word is done right—it will make people uncomfortable. Some have rightly pointed out that a preacher’s job is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. While he should try his best to get along with his congregation, he is not called to be a politician. As the apostle Paul said in Galatians 4:16—"Am I, therefore, become your enemy because I tell you the truth?" Great numbers of churches today have turned into social clubs and their preachers into entertainers, motivational speakers, and pseudo-psychologists. "Oh brother Ron, there you go being negative again!" Yes, I’m rough on some preachers because all of us are supposed to be above reproach. Check out the personal qualifications for a preacher found in the Book of 1 Timothy, chapter 3, verses 1 through 7: "The saying is true and irrefutable: if any man [eagerly] seeks the office of bishop (superintendent, overseer), he desires an excellent task (work). Now a bishop (superintendent, overseer) must give no grounds for accusation but must be above reproach, the husband of one wife {and this makes it tough for women preachers}, circumspect and temperate and self-controlled; [he must be] sensible and well behaved and dignified and lead an orderly (disciplined) life; [he must be] hospitable—showing love for and being a friend to the believers, especially strangers and foreigners—[and] be a capable and qualified teacher. Not given to wine, not combative but gentle and considerate, not quarrelsome but forbearing and peaceable, and not a lover of money—insatiable for wealth and ready to obtain it by questionable means. He must rule his own household well, keeping his children under control, with true dignity, commanding their respect in every way and keeping them respectful. For if a man does not know how to rule his own household, how is he to take care of the church of God? He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride, [be blinded by] conceit, and fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did. Furthermore he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap" (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified Bible Commentary, comments and emphasis mine).

The second priority for the God-called preacher is that he must preach the Word of God. I find myself often quoting the apostle Paul, but let’s face it—he wrote the majority of the New Testament. He said this to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2:

"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified" (KJV, emphasis mine). I suspect that Paul, if he had so desired, could easily have held his own with the greatest orators of his time. He was an intellectual and had received the finest education available to him, but yet he insisted upon being plain of speech—almost to the point of being blunt—and was criticized by some for his supposed inability to speak. Why do you suppose that he would do this, when he probably had the ability to "thrill the socks off of people" with flowery and lofty rhetoric? It should be plain to us that he refrained from doing so in order that all of the emphasis be placed upon Christ, where it rightfully belonged. Preachers make a huge mistake when they attempt to "win friends and influence people" by means of personality and sales techniques.

Oh, these things will work—boy, do they ever work! Utilize the "right" procedures and the "right" techniques and success is virtually assured. People will flock to anyone who will massage their egos and "make them feel good about themselves". But the Lord Jesus Christ Himself taught us that "Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matt.5:2, KJV).

One of our main problems as sinful humans is that we feel too good about ourselves! The very best of us are rotten sinners, worthy of hell, and getting us to repent is like pulling teeth—we know it needs to be done, but we aren’t in any hurry. Isaiah tells us something else about our condition:

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away" (KJV, Isaiah 64:6, emphasis mine).

Preachers who give in to the "pop psychology" trend and cater to the neuroses of the masses by sugar-coating their sermons, are in direct conflict with the Word of God—which is, by the way, the best remedy for what ails us whether it be of the mind or heart. Just because something is proven to get results, does not necessarily indicate that the means are appropriate. The Jesuit philosophy of "casuistry"—the ends justify the means—is certainly inappropriate and must be repudiated. [This is the main Communist philosophy, as well. Now we know the Communists borrowed this philosophy from the Roman Catholic Jesuits!]

The third priority for the God-called preacher is that he must preach the Word of God. How does your preacher rate where this is concerned? It may surprise you, but your preacher can be faithful to the Word and still be disobedient! If he does not "declare all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), he is guilty of starving you to death spiritually. In their zeal to evangelize, many preachers feed their congregations a steady diet of salvation sermons. When you consider that the overwhelming majority of the congregation should be saved already, this borders on criminal! They know how to be saved because they are saved and to keep on pounding that one note does not a symphony make. The Corinthian church could not digest Paul’s spiritual steak and potatoes, because they were still immature and bottle-babies, able to drink milk only. Evangelization is definitely important and a preacher must be constantly aware of visitors being present, so he can work the plan of salvation into his message, but seldom should it be the entire message. The average pew-sitting Christian today is as ignorant as a goose about bible doctrines, church polity, and apologetics because they are not being taught in any systematic way.

Topical sermons are good and proper once in a while, but how can the Word from Genesis to Revelation be taught from the pulpit by any means other than expository preaching? I could not count the number of times Dr. J. Vernon McGee make the comment on his radio programs that "people just do not want to engage in Bible study". He was absolutely correct—they don’t! Pastors face a constant struggle as to how they are going to feed their flocks and keep them coming back for more. But giving them what they want is not the answer. Our job—our sole job—is to preach what is needed and let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest. When we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, I rather doubt that popularity is going to be a category for rewards. Personally, I long to hear the words, "Well done thou good and faithful servant."

If you are fortunate enough to have a pastor that preaches and teaches the entire Bible and tries his best to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine…", by all means listen to what he says and try to learn from it. I cannot over emphasize the point that church attendance was never intended to compete with Disney Land and the New York theaters. The subjects of sin, repentance, atonement, and reconciliation are not what one would normally find entertaining, because they are not intended to be. They are serious business—literally pertaining to life and death—and must be dealt with in the proper manner. Because of the serious nature of the subject material that is supposed to be preached and taught from the pulpit, many nominal "Christians" just wont tolerate it and will search for preachers who take a less extreme approach. We hate to lose members because when they leave, we feel like failures—somehow we didn’t do enough or try hard enough to maintain their confidence in us. This is a normal reaction and to be expected, but we should never allow the desire for numbers in any way to dictate what we preach or how hard we preach it! A balanced ministry is what we must seek—one that will educate and uplift, as well as convict and rebuke—not one that continually pounds on some pet subject to the exclusion of others. We must minister to the whole person—to the saint who is growing and maturing in the faith. And occasionally the Holy Spirit will lead us to "skin some hide" by focusing attention upon certain sins of the flesh. It all goes with the territory.

If you can go to church year in and year out and never leave a service feeling like a condemned criminal, your pastor is doing something wrong! Chances are really good that he is playing the "numbers game". The Word of God is "sharper than any two-edged sword" and its supernatural power will find where you really live. You cannot escape it if it is preached! However, if certain Scriptures are avoided because they might upset some people, their potential power is negated through omission. Check your pastor out—give serious thought and consideration to what he preaches and how he preaches it. Pay no attention whatever to his personality or whether you like him or not. The message that he proclaims is the single most important thing you must discern. His delivery and mannerisms are not to be considered—just the message. You may find to your dismay that the message preached is about as deep and Scriptural as the lyrics to the so-called "CCM" (Contemporary Christian Music).

However, on the other hand you might find out (and I hope that you do) that your pastor is a real jewel! If he passes the test, pray for him, support him, and by all means learn from him. If he fails the test, I would advise you to search for a pastor and a church where you will be given the whole counsel of God. Entertainment and "feel good about yourself" will, as they used to say about smoking, stunt your growth!

I am concerned about you and your spiritual welfare because we are undoubtedly living in the last of the "last days" leading up to the rapture of the church and the tribulation period. Deception is rampant throughout the land and many of God’s sheep are being misled by charlatans masquerading as ministers of the gospel. No reputable pastor—no man called of God—is likely to disagree with this "test of preachers", because it is Scriptural and intended to protect the sheep. The man himself is not the issue. His personal salvation is not the issue. The issue is the message preached and the fullness thereof. Do not be content until you are sure that you are being fed a balanced "diet" of spiritual food.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

  If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually. If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order -- Kingdom of Antichrist -- in their daily news.

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God bless you.