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Subtitle: Philippians 2:19-21

The problem is nothing new. It has been around since the Church was in its infancy. But in these last days the blind leading the blind (Matt.15:14) has become pandemic and a major contributor to the spiritual apostasy within Christendom.

The Apostle Paul recognized that sad reality and made the following statement:

"But I hope and trust in the Lord Jesus soon to send Timothy to you, so that I may also be encouraged and cheered by learning news of you. [20] For I have no one like him [no one of so kindred a spirit] who will be so genuinely interested in your welfare and devoted to your interests. [21] For the others all seek [to advance] their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). Philip. 2:19-21 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified, emphasis mine).

Who were the "others" to whom Paul was referring? Both he and Timothy were ministers of the Gospel--spiritual shepherds who were supposed to be interested in the welfare and interests of believers. So it is quite clear that at least some of  the "others" were professed ministers. One of them--Demas--was a "fellow laborer" with Paul (Philemon 1:24; Col. 4:14), but later deserted him, "for love of this present world" (2 Tim.4:10, KJV).

To put things in context, Paul said this to say about the believers with him in Rome:

"And [also] most of the brethren have derived fresh confidence in the Lord because of my chains and are much more bold to speak and publish fearlessly the Word of God [acting with more freedom and indifference to the consequences]. [15] Some, it is true, [actually] preach Christ (the Messiah) [for no better reason than] out of envy and rivalry (party spirit), but others are doing so out of a loyal spirit and goodwill. [16] The latter [proclaim Christ] out of love, because they recognize and know that I am [providentially] put here for the defense of the good news (the Gospel). [17]  But the former preach Christ out of a party spirit, insincerely [out of no pure motive, but thinking to annoy me], supposing they are making my bondage more bitter and my chains more galling" Philip. 1:14-17 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified).

Some of those who preached did so with good motives, but others did not. And the sad thing is that none but Timothy measured up to Paul's need for a preacher to go minister to the needs at Philippi. Paul's friend and companion Epaphroditus (vs.25) was sent along with Timothy, so I do not think he was included in the statement about those who sought their own interests.

Does your pastor really have your best interest at heart? Or would you have to admit that while he (or "she" in many cases today) has many good qualities, deep down you suspect some empire building is going on? Well, if you do you are not alone!  The megachurch is undeniably the trend today and multitudes of assistant pastors are hired to take care of the sheep--because the "senior pastor" cannot possibly do so. My friends, sheep dogs are not shepherds! (Take it easy--I am not calling those people dogs--just trying to make a point). Somewhere along the line congregations have lost sight of the fact that pastoring people and herding them are two different things.

My second question is this: Are you really being taught "all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27), or just having your "ears scratched"?

"For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, 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" 2 Tim. 4:3 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified, emphasis mine).

Human nature loves to be entertained. And many individuals possessing personal charisma can quote the Yellow Pages and charm people. Throw in some music carefully selected to promote emotion by mixing the rhythms of the world with a shallow message in the lyrics--and the combination is potent! Adolph Hitler did not claim to be a minister of the Gospel, but he used similar tactics to secure the approval of most of Germany's Christian population prior to WWII.  So if you think you cannot be deceived and misled in such matters, history says otherwise!

Preachers are using sermons (if they can rightly be called sermons) to tap into human emotion and mesmerize crowds of people. Peace, love, and a sense of belonging are basic needs rooted deep within the human psyche. And many unscrupulous individuals are pandering to those needs in order to manipulate the masses. If you doubt this assertion, just look carefully at some of the video footage of TV news programs when they, for whatever reason, show church congregations as part of their coverage. Almost without exception they show people in a near trance-like state, swaying to the music and "holding up their holy hands in worship." Such crowds have been emotionally energized by a package of sermon and song carefully crafted to achieve that very result. The effect is addictive, because people want more and more of it and feel a sense of loss if they do not receive their weekly emotional high.

And speaking of which, I am reminded of the following passage:

"Who [virtually] say to the seers [by their conduct], See not! and to the prophets, Prophesy not to us what is right! Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceitful illusions" Isaiah 30:10 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified, emphasis mine).

Please allow me to pose a hypothetical situation in order to make a point. What if a general used that type of crowd pleasing rhetoric to address his troops prior to sending them into battle? Do you suppose a "warm and fuzzy" feeling would stand them in good stead as they faced the horrors of war? Reality is often unpalatable, but always necessary for believers because we must cope with the spiritual battles of daily life. And preaching that fails to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort" (2 Tim.4:2) because it is too busy making people feel good is dangerous. When the devil is walking about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet.5:8) and is about to break the door down--that, my friends, is no time for "smooth things"!

A preacher who fails to "break some eggs" on a regular basis because he wants to be popular, is not fit for the ministry. Because if he does his job properly, he will not be popular with the unsaved majority filling pews today. So the obvious temptation is to keep a low profile and give 'em what they want, hoping they will come back next Sunday. Then if you are really good at such compromise, their friends will come with them and pretty soon a big reputation is born. But social clubs built upon the Name of Jesus Christ are not New Testament churches.

As I have mentioned in previous articles, the intent of a worship service is to acknowledge the infinite worth of God and direct our prayer and praise to Him. It is all about giving and not receiving, but somehow this principle has become reversed over the years. So that now most view going to church as a spiritual gas station where they get pumped up for another week. And they are downright disappointed if the entertainment is not up to par. Doctrinal sermons have become as rare as sabre tooth tigers, because everyone knows Bible doctrine divides people. Preach it, stress it, and pretty soon you will be able to have meetings in the preacher's living room because the crowd will have melted away. But I ask you--is that such a bad thing? Just speaking for myself, I would rather have the opportunity to pastor a small group of genuine believers than ten thousand pretenders!

The Lord's command to evangelize says "Go ye..."  to the believer (Matt.28:19; Luke 16:15), not "come here" to the lost! Have you ever given serious thought to that? There is no teaching in the New Testament that says we are to invite the unregenerate to our churches "to get them under the sound of the Gospel." Would you knowingly ask the devil to come sit by you in your church? I know I will be criticized for saying so, but that is essentially what you are doing when you pursuade a child of his to visit. Besides, when an ekklesia, or "church" are the Holy Spirit filled believers they should be, that non-believer will be absolutely miserable there. And if they are not uncomfortable, the church is at fault! The explosive apostasy now taking place is undeniable proof that this particular practice has contributed greatly to the proliferation of tares among the wheat. Worldly methods and good intentions have allowed such people to not only be comfortable, but to be downright exhilarated by the experience! Then they wind up becoming members and, like the weeds they are, choke the spiritual life out of a church.

What we are supposed to do is go to the lost and give them the Gospel message. Then receive into our number all who respond and show evidence that they are born again, to help them grow in grace and knowledge of Christ. This involves evangelism at the personal level. And due of a lack of committment and laziness, it has become much easier to "let the preacher do it." Just invite them to church where the preacher can work them over real good and hopefully they will be saved. Add to the mix overzealous preachers who apply psychological pressure and bingo! the devil has openings to step in and rack up some more tares.

Apparent zeal for God, but without knowledge (Rom.10:2--where the Gk.word for knowledge is "epignosis," denoting full discernment) is, unfortunately, characteristic of most ministries today. A lust for numbers to enhance the image of one's spiritual success is the rule and not the exception. Every trick known to the Madison Avenue advertising crowd is being used (and very effectively so) to "build ministries." But are those ministries really churches in the New Testament sense of the word? Do they equip believers to live for Jesus Christ in a hostile world and face the persecution that such a life is bound to attract? Or would we not have to admit that the vast majority are being led by pied pipers whose main concern is that people keep coming back?

No preacher who truly loves his people wants them to fall by the wayside. But if he fails to "reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine," in an effort to keep from being offensive--he is doing them a terrible disservice! The preaching of God's Word involves an element of discipline and when "smooth things" are substituted, it inevitably results in spirtual anemia among the possessors and apostasy among the mere professors.

So if you should look around next Sunday and realize you are in the middle of a humongous preacher-worshipping "feel good about yourselves" personality cult, my advice is to bail out while you can!

"So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor"  2 Cor. 6:17 (Parallel Bible, KJV/Amplified).

If you have been born again and received 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 placed your trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, but have come to sense His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to receive His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you truly believe in Him as Lord and 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.