Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior. This kind of talk spreads like cancer, as in the case of Hymenaeus and Philetus. They have left the path of truth, claiming that the resurrection of the dead has already occurred; in this way, they have turned some people away from the faith. -- 2Timothy 2: 15-18 (NLT)
It seems sometimes we who are called to divide the Word of God lose our focus. We lose our sense of priorities. I understand the desire to be protective over who we might view as our own. Sometimes ministry can be exasperating. Sometimes it can seem as if everyone is against you. Sometimes it seems as if we are required to play by a different set of rules than everyone else. As if more is required of us.
Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. -- James 3: 1 (NLT)
That is because more is required of us! And amidst the daily grind of life and the business ministry can often become, let us not lose sight of what this is about. It is not about me. It is not about you. It is not about Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, or any other public ministry figure. It is about Jesus. While that is true it is about even more than Jesus. It is about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While that is true, it is about even more than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is about the eternal destination for the souls of man. It is not about your best life now. It is not about building a purpose driven church. It is not about erecting million dollar arenas, having 50 ministries, and getting a show on TBN. It is about the crack addict sitting in your last pew. It is about the single mother, pregnant again and homeless. It is about the average every day person who is still on the outside of salvation looking in. Because at the end of the day it is not about their addiction, their pregnancy or their seeming "normalness" -- it is about the simple fact that they are separated from God and are destined for an eternity in hell. I know these aren't the flowery messages we hear anymore from the seeker friendly pulpits but this is the truth. There is a heaven and there is a hell and standing in the gap between them are the ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That Gospel must be bigger than any one of us. It must be bigger than all of us. When did we become so thinned skin that any legitimate criticism is met with such derision? If we cannot tolerate correction for vital portions of doctrine, how in the world will we tolerate real persecution?
"Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. -- Matthew 24: 9 (NLT)
How are we leading people to tolerate the coming persecutions? In other countries ministers are forced to hide underground, share scraps of the Gospel, and die for their beliefs but we get upset because we think someone has said something mean about us? I write this as a backdrop to the issue known in Christian circles as "naming names." This comes up seemingly whenever there is something really offensive to the true Gospel put forth by someone who had been considered sound doctrinally or commands a large portion of the Christian audience. In the inglorious past of Pentecostalism, known apostates such as Paul Crouch would call us "heresy hunters." Infamous heretic Benny Hinn once said he wished he had a "holy ghost machine gun" so he could blow these people away. What people? People who would dare question the fact that he is an operative of Satan, exploiting Christianity for his own personal profit. More recently, we have seen people like Mark Driscoll, who is no stranger to stretching the Gospel beyond what it was written for, whine in sermons about people who dare question him.
For the record, we are talking about matters of crucial doctrine, not petty matters reasonable people can disagree about. I prefer that people talk about what they have in common -- not what separates them. But there has to be a dividing line. There has to be a line we refuse to cross when it comes to the integrity of the Gospel message. While I understand why those who are facing the truth about their own heresies would bristle I am amazed at the defenders they have. We are supposed to contend for the faith -- not the flesh. We are supposed to defend the Gospel -- not the preachers. In this age of watered down churches have we fallen so far away that we minimize the importance of the Gospel? Have we arrived at the point that we really think that everyone in a church is going to heaven? That a simple two sentence prayer is all that is required? That we don't have to get into the dos and the don'ts? That we think as Osteen, that doctrine is a dirty word that "weighs people down?" That it is more important to place people into ministry than into the Kingdom? Do we really think that any old Gospel message will do as long as we think we are "reaching them for Christ?" Allow me to remind us of the severity in which we operate: