Only the purpose driven mind cannot see that discernment is preaching the Gospel and leading people to Christ.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures -- 1Corinthians 15:1-4 (ESV)
This is not a woe is me piece beloved. It is an attempt to cast some perspective. Research takes time. Writing takes time. Answering messages regarding the ministry takes time. For the vast majority of folks who are called to discernment ministries there is no financial benefit. There is not fame or fortune. There are few if any "amens." We do not undertake these responsibilities for any carnal reasons but rather that some who may be lingering in darkness can come into the light before Jesus returns. This includes people falsely converted who can now hear the true Gospel and be saved as well as those who may have fallen away from the faith by chasing myths. I remember several years ago I was going to stop the ministry. I was feeling tired and was doubting if anyone actually read the work being produced. That night I received an email from the daughter of a friend. She had suffered a horrific motorcycle accident in her young 20s that left her a quadriplegic. Even though she was raised in church by god fearing parents, this accident and life had drawn her far away. Yet still she wanted to be on my devotional list and had been for a couple of years. Her email was requesting to be removed from my list because her condition made it difficult to focus for as long as it took to read them (yes I know they tend to be long). She did however want me to know that they had "restored her faith."
She passed away that night.
A not so subtle reminder from God that my job was to write and spread the Word of God and it is God's job to make sure it accomplishes His purposes. Fast forward to this week and a very different email from a pastor asking to be removed from my devotional list. The request was very polite and we remain friends but the surrounding context was sad (yes context always matters). The suggestion was that I should use my platform to preach the Gospel and bring people to Christ. This was sad to me because that is exactly what I have been doing through this ministry. I think it is time to examine some of the language and church culture issues that we have created in this mega church paradigm and how they distort biblical reality.
First of all, what is the Gospel? Thankfully God defined it for us in the key verses today. Paul reminds us that it is the Gospel in which we make our stand. It is only the Gospel by which we are saved. He then says something very interesting. He says we are either holding fast to the real Gospel or we believe in vain. Keep that in mind beloved. There are people who believe as strongly as we do but their belief is useless because it is not in the real Gospel. Then Paul defines the Gospel. Jesus Christ died for our sins in accordance with scripture, and was buried and rose on the third day, also in accordance with scripture. That is it. No mention of wanting our best life now. No mention or carnal prosperity. No mention of spiritual gifts. No mention of sloppy agape love. No mention of becoming little gods and word faith nonsense. No mention of seven mountains and preparing the earth for His return. Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose on the third day. Why did God boil the Gospel down so finitely? Because that is what you need to have faith in to be saved. You must recognize through the law that you are a sinner in need of a savior and believe through grace that Jesus is that Savior because He conquered the grave -- promising us eternal life. You can keep all the smoke machines and skinny jeans. You can keep all the silly sermon series' and fleshly "worship" music. The Gospel does not need any of it.
Now, what do most pastors today think the Gospel is? Unfortunately, most pastors have been raised by the purpose driven church movement and even those who did not read the book cannot help but be influenced when it is all around them. The mega church mentality surrounding the Gospel is simple. You cast a net at the end of service through what is known as an altar call. It doesn't even matter if your sermon even mentioned a sliver of the actual Gospel. You talk about this Jesus in relatable terms and assure them it will only take a few minutes of their life. You ask for a show of hands for who wants to invite this Jesus fellow "into your heart." Then you ask those that raised their hands to repeat a three sentence prayer (in the Purpose Driven Life it is actually eight words). You then count them all statistically as "salvations" and proceed to give them a SHAPE application the following week so you can plug them into ministry to discover their "purpose."
Except none of them were actually saved.
Yes, you read that right beloved. If we remember from the key verses as well as the Book of Romans, no one can get saved without the Gospel being preached. You have not shown them the law so they can see their sin. You have not explained that God requires a sacrifice showing them the need for a savior. You may have mentioned Jesus but not as that Savior who will take their place on the cross. What you have done is convince a handful of goats to raise their hands. With all due respect to my friend and well-intended pastors around this country -- I wish you would use your platform to preach the Gospel and lead people to Christ. So then let's take a look at the Gospel in discernment ministry action. Here is an excerpt from the devotional yesterday that prompted my friend to remove himself:
"This is the textbook presentation of sloppy agape preaching. Everything for Wilson and the majority of the purpose driven industrial complex is a false presentation of the love of God. They seek to overwhelm the unbeliever with carnal expressions of love wrapped up in scripture fragments that avoid what God is actually saying. The first word uttered by Jesus in His ministry was not love -- it was repent. The entire bible is a story. It is the story of redemption but Darren Wilson does not dare speak of why we need redeeming. In his theology he seems to believe that John 3:16 only says so God so loved the world. He leaves off the qualifying context that reveals true love:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. -- John 3:16 (ESV)
Darren Wilson never addresses that God gave His only Son or that faith in Him is crucial to avoid perishing -- or you know -- hell. The truth is that it is not more effective to preach as he does; it's just easier. It is far easier to never have to speak about the fact that we are hell bound sinners. The presentation of the law without the Gospel is cruelty and will not save anyone but the presentation of the Gospel without the law will do exactly the same. If you merely present a sugar coated Jesus to serve as your blessing dispenser and wing man that is exactly how you end up standing before Jesus and He saying that He never knew you. Make no mistake about it beloved -- what Darren Wilson does is evil."
When a discernment minister reveals why a certain theology is false he is not only adhering to a biblical mandate (Titus 1:9) but by default he is pointing the listener back to what is true. In this snippet I speak to why Darren Wilson is so wrong to say that we should not mention hell to an unbeliever but I also address the tenets of the Gospel such as needing a savior, redemption, and the fact that without one we will perish. This is accomplished by leading people through the Word of God. This is the Gospel. The problem is the mega church mentality thinks the Gospel is casting the net and saying the sinner's prayer. It is not. It is presenting the law and the grace of God. In case you think this was just a snippet, here is more from the same devotional:
"Really. YOU saved them from hell? I guess I understand why you feel you do not need Christ since you think you can save people. Let me be very clear Darren. You saved no one. If "hell had nothing to do with it" -- those two women are not saved. You cannot "lead someone to Christ" and leave out the first word of His ministry -- repent. Beloved this right here is the true danger of false doctrine. Darren Wilson and his cohorts presented a false christ to these two unsaved women. A christ that speaks about an abstract concept of worldly love but requires nothing of them but assent. This is how mega churches grow. They convince goats that if they say a three sentence prayer that they are guaranteed an afterlife without having to change. Without having to give up the very sin they are bound to. These two women are just two in a long line of victims sold a false salvation. It is a salvation that will lead them right to hell after standing before Christ and crying Lord Lord."
This is presenting the oppositional forces of the true and false gospels! We talk about the need to give up sin that binds us. About how we need to repent. Included is a real life incident where two women were falsely converted by Darren Wilson! Beloved this is the Gospel! The Gospel does not merely say God loves you but how much so! So much that He sent his only Son to die for you! Gee, why would that be necessary? Because we are horrible hell bound sinners in desperate need of a savior! The mega church mentality will NEVER preach that. NEVER. They are not selling a savior Jesus but a buddy Jesus. A Jesus that can help with all your earthly problems and maybe even make you rich. The last thing they can do is sell the Lord Jesus Christ because they cannot market Him! Preaching a sermon series on mending marriages or finding significance is not the Gospel beloved. Preaching a sermon on feel good abuses of scripture such as slaying your giant or having faith to step out of the boat is not the Gospel. I remember one time telling my pastor that I felt you had some sermons that were more instructional and some that were more Gospel-net casting in nature. He said that any sermon that cannot be brought back to the cross is not worth preaching. THAT is the Gospel.
Lastly, let us deal with the elephant in the room. The mega church system and purpose driven church models of growth all rely upon a cult of personality pastor. Someone who is a dynamic public speaker that acts as the CEO of his little church silo. The true offense of discernment ministries for many people is the sense that their heroes are being attacked. That the idols they worship, quite possibly unconsciously, are being maligned. With seemingly no concern for the mauled sheep and the bloody goats, the only one that is protected is the wolf. This is a hard truth for many to grasp but we are not called to play with wolves, pet them, or even pray for them. We are called to mark them and avoid them. Before you start asking if that means they cannot be saved let us turn to scripture:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. -- 2Peter 2:1-3 (ESV)
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. -- Galatians 1: 6-9 (ESV)
Now please we are talking about heretics, not people with doctrinal errors. The local pastor who ascribes to some purposed driven theory is not a false teacher. Who is? Someone who presents a different Gospel then we see in the key verses. Peter teaches us that their condemnation was from long ago and Paul flat out states that they are to be accursed! These are not trivial matters beloved. A false gospel leads people to a false christ resulting in a false conversion.
Just as the Galatians were so readily deserting the true for the false so it goes in America today. The apostate church is growing exponentially while the remnant starves and waits for Christ's imminent return. Don't ever forget that FEW are those who find the path to eternal life. Even well intended pastors are falling prey to the mega church mindset and confusing a carnal trick to get people to raise their hands with the actual Gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing warms my heart more than emails from people I will never meet who write to say that the ministry efforts has brought them out of darkness and that now they are in the glorious light of Jesus Christ. Preach the Gospel and lead people to Christ? That is what discernment is.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- January 31, 2019
Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.