But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. - Hebrews 5: 14 (ESV)
When the Apostle Paul was instructing his protege Timothy about being successful as a minister of the Gospel he told him to guard only two things. His life and his doctrine. He also said that by doing so he would save both himself and his listeners. Do we understand that today? Do we grasp the severity of what is at stake when we ascribe to false teaching? Do we understand the ramifications for those that would follow our teaching? Why those who labor in preaching and teaching are due double honor and will be held to a higher standard for judgment? How the very blood of the listeners rests upon the heads of those who claim to speaking on behalf of God?
And at the end of seven days, the word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me.If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul." - Ezekiel 3: 16-21 (ESV)
God has given us His Word. The wicked will indeed perish if they do not come to penitent faith in Jesus Christ. Spending your pulpit Sundays crafting well sounding missives of temporal betterment will not solve the eternal problem of those who are listening. This does not mean that every message has to be screaming repent but as my pastor once taught me, every message should be able to come back to the cross or it is not worth preaching. So we come to the curious case of Francis Chan. I always fancied Chan a solid biblical preacher. Never heard a lot of fluff. Then seemingly out of nowhere, Chan spoke at the One Thing Conference at the unbelievably heretical International House of Prayer. Beloved this is not something that is confusing. IHOP openly admits to following the Bridal Paradigm, which is loaded with inappropriate sexual connotations of Christ and Scripture. They openly teach dominionism, which falsely teaches we are to prepare the earth for the second coming of Christ. They teach contemplative prayer, eastern mysticism, and largely rely on an experiential version of Christianity that is rife with false signs and lying wonders. It is run by the renowned false prophet Mike Bickle, who routinely claims direct revelation from God and runs in the same circle as even more renowned false prophets including "General" Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, Kim Clement, and Rick Joyner. Anyone who is a solid preacher should want nothing to do with such a gang of bible twisting false teachers. First of all because you loan them your credibility when they have not earned it. Secondly, because their false beliefs can begin to seep into your doctrine. In the case of Chan, both have apparently occurred.
Not only did Chan loan his credibility but he openly gushed at the conference about how much he loved Mike Bickle. Said he loved his heart. The problem? He had just met him that day. He did not even know him. He openly admitted that friends had warned him to not speak there but he ignored the wise counsel of close friends. My hope that day was that it was an anomaly. Just a speed bump in an otherwise sound preaching career. Then came this article today in the Christian Post:
And so we see the theological backslide continue. We start to see now that his involvement with famous false teachers has perhaps started to skew his own doctrine. I say that because this article is so not what Chan used to preach about. In fact, this sounds more like it could have been written by Rick Warren. It is more of this purpose driven slop that has infected our church for too long now. In this article, Chan actually claims that he views Christians as the fattest people on earth who have consumed so much food they cannot even walk. Seriously? Are we looking at the same church? There are two inherent problems within this thinking. First of all it is an incorrect statement. Secondly it is a fundamentally flawed line of reasoning; not in line with Scripture.
The vast majority of Christians today are not fat Pastor Chan. They are so malnourished they are starving to death spiritually. You have confused church attendance with being fed and therein lies your error. The vast majority of seeker friendly, purpose driven churches, do not feed the sheep. They will openly admit that to anyone who asks. They are in the business of attracting goats. Just look at the smattering of sermon offerings any given Sunday. Four part series on bettering your marriage. Five part series on increasing your sex life. Heck, we had one mega church preach wisdom from our favorite commercials on Super Bowl Sunday! Anyone who wants to go deeper is ridiculed. Perry Noble calls them jackasses - from the pulpit. There was another mega church pastor who referred to those seeking to be fed more as the "excrement" of the body of Christ. Fattest people on earth? Do you think the people who follow Joel Osteen are getting fat spiritually? What about Rick Warren? Joseph Prince? They are not getting fat Pastor Chan. They are being fed a steady diet of spoiled milk.
Which brings us to the second problem and the key verse for today. The entire premise is false. Chan goes out of his way to infer that people who listen to the Word should be undertaking some form of "action" because of it. It is unclear what he means but it sure smells like the traditional purpose driven mantra. The true reality is that any coherent reading of the Bible shows a church that is supposed to devote themselves to the teachings of God. They are supposed to get together each week and hear the preached Word. Should they be applying it to their own lives? Absolutely. Should they all then run out into the mission field? Absolutely not. Most of us will have a mission field exactly where God plants us. In our homes to our unsaved loved ones. At our job to our unsaved co-workers. In our neighborhood to our fellow human beings. Not that we go door to door as Jehovah Witnesses, but that people see who we are as Christians. That they see Christ in us. That they would want what we have. We can invite them to church if our churches are preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ and not three sermon points on how wonderful we are. The key verse delineates what is supposed to happen eventually with believers. They are to advance off of spiritual milk and graduate to solid spiritual food. Why? Because we need it in order to train our powers of discernment. So that we can distinguish between good and evil. This is not some temporary condition. There is no third level of spiritual consumption to then graduate to. We are to continue in solid doctrine, ever increasing our discernment because the times are evil. We are to continue to seek out solid biblical preaching to develop our abilities to distinguish between good and evil and right and wrong because Satan will not stop. The false teachings that we see today are ever more brazen than they were just 50 years ago. We need solid food because the Bible teaches us that doctrine can save our very lives and the lives of those who might listen to us. Do not think for a second you have arrived and that now you do not need the meat of the Word. Because if someone as grounded as Francis Chan once appeared to be can start down this horrible false path, no one is safe. Gird yourself up in the Word. Your purpose is to grow evermore firmly in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, knowing that the times are evil.