When we Call Evil Out, We Will be Accused of being “Radical” and Faithless

Joh 8:12-14 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (13) So the Pharisees said to him, “You are bearing witness about yourself; your testimony is not true.” (14) Jesus answered, “Even if I do bear witness about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I am going.

Years ago when I was a police officer, smoking was allowed in the workplace. The chief’s secretary had ashtrays on her desk right outside his office and chain smoked there throughout the day. So it was all through city hall and even in the police cars. You went home having breathed all that corruption and your clothes smelled like stale smoke.

One day a lieutenant approached me (himself a non-smoker) and asked me if I would like to sit on a city-wide committee that was being formed to formulate a new policy about smoking in the workplace. I said that I would, but that the fact was the solution was plain and simple – no smoking would be allowed in offices, in city vehicles, or anywhere else that second hand smoke would be sucked up by others.

He told me that I was way too radical and that he had better find someone else.

Years later, what conclusions have we arrived at? No smoking in the workplace, unless it is at some designated area out of breathing shot from others. My “radical” idea was in fact the solution.

My point is not to tell a story showing you that “see, I was right,” but to illustrate for you what happens when an issue is seen for what it really is and a real, proper solution is proposed. Those who are, shall we say, ahead of their time and who understand what must be done are typically criticized and shut down for being “too radical.”

And this is exactly what you can expect is going to happen when we call for substantive, corrective action in dealing with evil among us. Let me give you another example.

Winston Churchill understood early on in WWI that the horrid policy of winning the war by “attrition” (ie, wearing down the enemy over the long haul) was totally wrong and would lose the war for the allies if persisted in. He called for action to break the stalemate in the trenches on the western front. He wanted tanks designed and built. He wanted new weaponry for cutting through the barbed wire. He wanted a new air ministry established. But at each point he was shut down – for years. All the while over one MILLION English soldiers (not counting the French or Americans and other allies) perished, went missing, or were horribly wounded.

Guess what was ultimately one of the key factors in giving the allies success (besides the arrival of the American “doughboys”)? Tanks. Tanks that were finally built. Tanks that should have been built years before. The tanks for which Churchill was called a crazy man.

And I will give you still another illustration. Years ago I told our church that we needed to have armed (yes, armed) security in our building, particularly on Sundays. Having been a police officer, I was quite comfortable with this measure and I implemented it. We had one elder at the time who loved to play the “most holy saint” role (we removed him years ago and sent him down the road). He mocked. He criticized. He accused us of not “having enough faith” or of being “afraid to die for the gospel.” He said, in other words, that we were too radical. But what has time demonstrated? It has vindicated our policy as we read far too often not only of school shootings, but of murderous invasions of church services where people find themselves at the mercy of an evil devil set on killing.

And here then is my point in the article. You can expect, when you confront evil and call it out and call for proper measures to deal with it, to be accused of being foolish and extremist. When this happens, you must not yield to those charges. You must cling to what you know is right and proceed. Evil uses these accusers to protect it and let it continue to have unhindered access to innocents. You will run into the very same thing when you call for your church to do background checks on newcomers, especially those who want to “serve the Lord” and work with children. We have had some newcomers never come back once they learned that we do such background checks. “It just isn’t faith. It isn’t Christian” they say.

Really?

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.

A Common Accusation Made by Evildoers Against the Righteous

1Co 2:14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Isa 28:13 And the word of the LORD will be to them precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little, that they may go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.

In my three decades plus years as a pastor, I have experienced a particular phenomenon numbers of times. It took me quite a long time to sort it out and see it for what it really is. It is evil.

Let me explain. Listen to “Jack” as we will call him as he comes into my office. “Pastor, you are very difficult to talk to. You won’t listen to me. And I am not the only one in this church who feels this way.”

There it is. Jack would lay that same accusation on me in a hallway, at a social event at church, sometimes at an elder board meeting. But generally he would level this charge when I was the only person there besides himself.

Now, when you are young and you really want to serve the Lord, when you want to be humble and be a true shepherd of Christ’s people, you are open to examining yourself. To hearing criticism. But this can be taken way, way, way too far. In fact, this is what I was taught in seminary, in “Christian” books I read by supposedly experienced and godly people and so on. Always listen, they said. There is always, always, always something of truth in any criticism that comes against us. No matter who is saying it, you need to listen.

And so, I did. For years. And years. And years. Just like so many of you who have been targets of wicked, evil, domestic or other kinds of sociopathic abusers. We listened. And that was our problem. The result? Discouragement. Feeling like you just want to quit. Feeling like a failure.

It makes me angry at myself now when I think how foolish I was to listen to that garbage for so many years. But then, evil is quite deceptive, isn’t it?

Ultimately as the Lord “turned on the lights” in my mind (in the course of my study of domestic abusers hiding in the church), I realized what was really going on. YES! I WAS hard to talk to! At least it was hard for Jack. Why? Because I would not just obey him. I would not do what he said. There was still within me this dissonance between the words he spoke and how I felt about what he was saying in my spirit. That is to say, Jack was not able to control me like he wanted. And that is why he would regularly accuse me of being “hard to talk to.” What Jack really meant, let me translate, was – “Jeff, why won’t you just do what I tell you to do?”

Ultimately, as so often eventually happens, Jack’s real motive spilled out of his mouth. We had to deal with a wicked sin in our church that was very devastating. As I look back on it, I know we did what was right. But what we did was not what Jack had insisted we do (namely, feel empathy for the perpetrator and tell the victim to suck it up and get over it). And as is so typical in such situations in a church, some people (already alienated by Jack) left the church. At a subsequent meeting, Jack announced to me and the rest of our leadership team, “You never listen to me. You never do what I say. If you had only listened to me and done what I said, everything would be much better now.” Yeah, right, Jack. The victim would be further blamed and victimized and the perpetrator would be embraced and “forgiven.”

See it? Jack’s habitual accusation that I am difficult to talk to stemmed from several planks of Jack’s worldview rolling around in his head:

  • Jack knows.
  • Jack is more godly than anyone else
  • Therefore, everyone must listen to and obey Jack

A “Jack-o-Centric” worldview, you see.

The righteous are indeed hard for the unrighteous to talk to. Our words are stinging to the wicked. The truths of Christ’s word that we proclaim expose the darkness of evil.

And the Jacks of this world hate us for it. Do not listen to their accusations.

 

Evil Has no Shame – An Identifying Mark of the Evildoer

Jer 6:15 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the LORD.

Rom 1:32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The wicked have much to be ashamed of. The domestic abuser, for example – particularly the one who has claimed all along to be a Christian yet has carried out years and years of constant abuse upon his victim. How, we ask, can such a person even show his face at church? And yet he does. He even seems to thrive at doing so.

It is because he has no shame. If you have been the target of such an evildoer, you know this very well. Shamelessness. Just like the wicked ones Jeremiah rebuked, such people do not know how to blush. God promises that in the Day of the Lord you can be sure that these creeps will finally experience true shame. Oh, not for repentance, but they will be shamed by the Lord for all creation to see.

Over the years, I have seen this shamelessness in domestic abusers and other wicked hypocrites. Once they are called out – perhaps by a victim whose eyes are cleared of the fog abuse produces – they often grow even more bold. They have no shame to keep them from demanding court appearances where they stand up in front of the judge and lie and deny and accuse. They have no shame to prevent them from persevering in contacting their victim – even after the divorce. They have no shame to dissuade them from marching into the local church on Sunday, standing and weeping and praying and using the Lord’s name in efforts to deceive and garner pity for themselves.

These evildoers will insist on contacting their victim. Proper shame would cause a person to hang their head and be too ashamed to push themselves upon the person they had wronged. But not so with these shameless ones. They email. They telephone. They send cards. They insist on seeing the children. Understanding this, I myself always mark “return to sender” on any such shameless communiques I might receive without ever reading them.

On one occasion long ago a person who had acted very, very wickedly – to the point of being put out of the church due to unrepentance – telephoned me and began to question me, carrying on in conversation as if nothing had happened at all. I finally interrupted and said, “you have no shame.” Click. End of conversation.

This shamelessness is a common and regular mark of evil. Think of the pastor or elder who is an abuser for instance. How in the world could anyone, you ask, stand in a pulpit and preach every Sunday when all the while he is cruelly abusing his wife behind the scenes? Answer – no shame. No conscience. In fact, not only is he unashamed of his evil deeds, he is proud of them. As Paul told the Romans as quoted above, he even encourages others to jump right into the pool of evil with him.

Where there is no shame you can be sure evil is lurking and practicing its wickedness. When you see someone who has done great evil, who it turns out has been walking habitually in that evil for years without repentance yet all the while masquerading as a Christian, you can be sure that shamelessness will evidence itself. This is still a further confirmation of the kind of person you are dealing with.

 

Many of Today’s “Christian” Counselors are Descendants of the Sons of Sceva

Act 19:13-16 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” (14) Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. (15) But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” (16) And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

Like these strange Jewish exorcists, we have many people in our own day who claim the name of Jesus Christ for themselves and their “ministries,” but who are unknown to Christ and whose “power” is non-existent as the devils well know. As a result, they are not empowered by Christ’s Spirit and all of their works are a sham, leaving the oppressed in worse condition than before. Let me illustrate.

One of the words I watch for is “redeem.” You see it thrown around all the time, particularly in the “Christian” counseling arena. Redeeming marriage. Redeeming anger. Redeeming finances. Yada, yada, yada. Words like this are so over-used in so many areas that they become meaningless. So it is with the word “redeem.” Modern day counselors (or better, conjurers) publish their books and give their conference talks on “redemption.” Their purpose, they say, is to redeem your domestic abuser or your sexual predator child molester. Listen to them. Follow their formula and incantations and you will be redeemed from….whatever. Are you listening CCEF bigwigs?

But Jesus does not know them. And even the devils know they are powerless fakes.

Redemption is effected only by Jesus Christ – and He has already pulled it off on the cross. Christ died to redeem, to buy back, to set free, HIS people. The Christian is redeemed. Fully and completely. But Jesus did not die on the cross for your marriage. He did not shed His blood for your reconciliation with your rapist. He did not give Himself on the tree for your finances. No, He died for YOUR redemption from sin, from bondage to the devil, from the power of death. He redeemed you by effecting a perfect righteousness that becomes your righteousness through faith in Him. That is redemption.

Christ alone is our Redeemer. Christ alone is THE Redeemer. No one else.

So when these “biblical” counselors come along, as they so often do, promising to exorcise most anyone from their various ills, they come preaching a different gospel, a different Jesus, evidencing a different Spirit. Jesus does not know them. The devils laugh at them.

Only in this case they aren’t the ones who end up naked and wounded. Oh no. It is the oppressed, the downtrodden, the victims of evil that are injured. Of course, say these Scevites, it’s not their fault. The victims didn’t follow their incantations and formulas correctly. Guess these “redeemers” better write some more books for us so we can get it right next time. Oh, that will be $19.95 plus shipping.

The Bible Emphasizes “Being” – We Must not be Satisfied with “Doing”

Eph 4:20-24 But that is not the way you learned Christ!– (21) assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, (22) to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (23) and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (24) and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Consistently the New Testament reminds the Christian that he/she is a new creation and therefore is to live consistently as that new creation. Be who you are. That is the Bible’s instruction to us. Realize who you now are and don’t live like the person you used to be. Being, you see. Not just external doing.

The false Pharisaical religion of course was all about doing. Do this. Don’t do that. The heart remains hard and unchanged, desiring evil but man-made religion says “I know that is what you really want down in your heart, but don’t do it. Do this instead, even though you would rather not.”

It is this second false religion that is characterizes most professing Christians today, and that is a main reason they turn out to be dens of evil.  And most churches are satisfied with it. Let me give you an example.

Let’s say a local church decides steps should be taken to prevent pedophiles from molesting the children. That’s a good thing to do. Yes it is. Background checks are required for volunteers in various ministries. Windows are installed in classroom doors. More than one adult is required to be present in a class. Staff is trained in these procedures. All well and good.

The problem is, everyone is satisfied. “There, we have placed constraints in our programs so that molesters cannot harm our children.”

Or, another example. To help ensure that adulteries and fornications don’t flame up among church members, certain rules are put in place. Some formal and written. Some unwritten and informal. A man is never to be along with a woman not his wife. A woman is never to be alone with a man who is not her husband. Husbands and wives are to have full access to one another’s email accounts. Computer software is to be installed that will prevent going online at a porn site. Women are to dress in a certain way. The “six-inch” rule of no touching is taught and enforced among the youth.

And again, the problem is, everyone is satisfied. “There, that should do it.”

But it won’t. In fact, if the power of sin is the law (as Paul told the Corinthians) then these kinds of rules often simply dump gasoline on the fire.

So what is the biblical way of handling such things? Be who you are. This is who the Bible says you now are, Christian. Be that person. Be led by the Spirit. Put to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit. Any other means of “mortifying” the flesh simply feeds the flesh.

This requires, therefore, a congregation of Spirit indwelt people. In other words, a church where the people are actually Christians!! Pretty radical, huh? But that is NOT the case in most local churches. No. Someone is a Christian if they say a prayer and get baptized, either as an infant or adult. No matter really how they are living the days of their lives (none of us are perfect, after all) or whether they show any spiritual growth or not. They are pronounced Christians. But you’ve just got to keep these “christians” in tow – and thus the rules like the ones I mentioned above. John may be an adulterer at heart (well, in his “flesh” as they say) but as long as we make John follow the rules, he won’t adulterize. If he does slip, well, we are a forgiving bunch here, you know.

And the child molester? The rules. Make everyone follow the rules and all will be well – they say. But, let me ask – “just how well is that working for you all?”  Answer: It isn’t. Why? Because your “church” is full of people who aren’t saved at all – they don’t know Christ and He does not know them. They are still slaves to sin and Satan.

And this is why I am always highly suspicious of local churches that seem to grow in numbers so easily. What this most always means is that the unsaved are being pronounced saved, welcomed into the church, and held to a very low standard of holiness in the name of “love and grace and forgiveness.”

The proper course? The biblical one? People who claim to be Christians must evidence they are Christians if they are going to be in the local church. Well, there is one other category that is welcome – those who openly confess they do not know Christ but are seeking Him. NO third category of person is to be in the church!! Have your rules for children’s ministry and so on, but if anyone thinks that the key to Christ-honoring local churches is “be sure everyone follows the rules,” you are grievously mistaken.

1Co 5:11-13  But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. (12) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

“But,” you say, “that will mean that local churches will be quite small in number.”

Yep. They will be. They should be. That, in fact, is what you consistently see in Scripture. A body of believers that is called, “the remnant.”

 

How Most Evangelical Churches and Ministries are Selling Indulgences, Just Like Rome

Galatians 1:6-8 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– (7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) 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.

My thesis in this article is just as stated in the title: Many if not most evangelical churches, teachers, and counselors are teaching a system that is a false gospel. A system of rules and methods which, it is promised, will “redeem” the soul – both your own soul and the souls of others, even the unrepentant! Let me explain. First, some background.

I am currently re-reading Roland Bainton’s wonderful biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand. Early on, Bainton describes the world Luther grew up in and the “church” he was taught to believe in before Christ opened his eyes. Rome has not changed, by the way nor has she ever repudiated the doctrines taught in the 1500’s. How can she? After all, Rome is infallible, right?

Well, listen to some things Luther was taught:

Luther simply had not the capacity to fulfill the conditions [ie, of the holiness of God]. But if he could not, others might. The Church, while taking an individualistic view of sin, takes a corporate view of goodness. Sins must be accounted for one by one, but goodness can be pooled; and there is something to pool because the saints, the Blessed Virgin, and the Son of God were better than they needed to be for their own salvation. Christ in particular, being both sinless and God, is possessed of an unbounded store. These superfluous merits of the righteous constitute a treasury which is transferable to those whose accounts are in arrears.

The transfer is effected through the Church and, particularly, through the pope, to whom as the successor of St. Peter have been committed the keys to bind and loose. Such a transfer of credit was called an indulgence.

Precisely how much good it would do had not been definitely defined, but the common folk were disposed to believe the most extravagant claims. No one questioned that the pope could draw on the treasury in order to remit penalties for sin imposed by himself on earth. In fact, one would suppose that he could do this by mere fiat without any transfer. The important question was whether or not he could mitigate the pangs of purgatory.

During the decade in which Luther was born a pope had declared that the efficacy of indulgences extended to purgatory for the benefit of the living and the dead alike. In the case of the living there was no assurance of avoiding purgatory entirely because God alone knew the extent of the unexpiated guilt and the consequent length of the sentence, but the Church could tell to the year and the day by how much the term could be reduced, whatever it was. And in the case of those already dead and in purgatory, the sum of whose wickedness was complete and known, an immediate release could be offered.

There were places in which these signal mercies were more accessible than in others. For no theological reason but in the interest of advertising, the Church associated the dispensing of the merits of the saints with visitation upon the relics of the saints. Popes frequently specified precisely how much benefit could be derived from viewing each holy bone. Every relic of the saints in Halle, for example, was endowed by Pope Leo X with an indulgence for the reduction of purgatory by four thousand years. The greatest storehouse for such treasures was Rome. Here in the single crypt of St. Callistus forty popes were buried and 76,000 martyrs. Rome had a piece of Moses’ burning bush and three hundred particles of the Holy Innocents. Rome had the portrait of Christ on the napkin of St. Veronica. Rome had the chains of St. Paul and the scissors with which Emperor Domitian clipped the hair of St. John. The walls of Rome near the Appian gate showed the white spots left by the stones which turned to snowballs when hurled by the mob against St. Peter before his time was come….Another had a coin paid to Judas for betraying our Lord…able to confer an indulgence of 1400 years.

The false Roman gospel, you see. It still stands today. None of these things have ever been pronounced error by Rome.

But the spirit of this same false gospel is alive and well not only in the Vatican, it is thriving in the evangelical churches as well. Indulgences are being announced and sold. How so? Let me show you.

If you could be a fly on the wall in the pastor’s study or counseling room in most evangelical churches today, listening in on what victims of domestic violence are being told (or rather, “commanded”), you would hear over and over again this very scenario:

  • Even if your husband is abusing you, God does not permit you to divorce him
  • If you will become a more “Excellent Wife” [the title of one of the most notorious books promoting this nonsense] then you will be able to redeem your marriage.
  • Read this book that I wrote. It will teach you things that you can do in order to save your husband’s soul, and more importantly, save your marriage. God hates divorce, you know [that’s not in the Bible by the way]

In other words, even though the domestic violence victim is in a hellish purgatory of suffering and perhaps even death, she is a sinner just like her abuser and God has called her to pay for her own sins by humbly accepting this suffering. But there is hope. Through the books and counseling and teaching of this self-proclaimed priesthood, the abuse victim can go on a kind of pilgrimage, visit the fabled relics of saintly women who have suffered before and gone on to their reward. And if she will do all of this, these mini-popes will grant to her an indulgence, pronouncing her justified before God.

As soon as the gold in the coffer rings; the rescued soul to heaven springs

You say that I am exaggerating? I differ with you. These false Christian leaders are setting the price, selling the indulgences, and pronouncing all who drop the coin in by doing their programs to be “redeemed.”  Oh, and for those who will not pay? Off to purgatory with them! Ex-communication! Hand them over to Satan!

These evangelical indulgences are just as worthless as those sold by Rome. Christ alone is our Redeemer. Reject all who tell you that you must “do” and “don’t” to mitigate God’s wrath against you. Jesus really has paid it all. We simply embrace Him by faith alone and His righteousness, full and complete comes to us while our sin, full and complete, goes to Him on the cross to be paid in full once and for all.

Martha Peace. Jim Newheiser. John Piper. Voddie Baucham. Are you people listening? Nope. You will just get angry at what I have said. But then, I didn’t really write this for you anyway.

 

 

My Experience as a Pastor With Evil in its Favorite Nesting Place – The Visible Church

Gal 1:14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

Php 3:4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:

2Co 11:16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.

In the first part of this article, it is going to sound like I am boasting. I assure you that I am not, and so I ask you as did Paul, to bear with me a bit while I talk about myself. It is necessary in order to make my main point, as you will see.

Not far from where we now live is the small town of Monmouth, Oregon where you will find Western Oregon State University. That is the universtiy (college at the time I attended) which my wife and I receive our Bachelor’s degrees from way back in 1973.  I was thinking about those days recently and the realization struck me that in my pre-pastorate life, things went quite well for me. I was a Christian then, but not very strong in the faith yet. Here are some of my experiences from that era:

  • I won the freshman outstanding chemistry student award
  • I was regularly recognized by my science, math, and history professors as their “best student.” regularly posting the highest exam scores of the class
  • Both my wife and I graduated with honors
  • My senior year I was chosen out of a large group of applicants for a deputy sheriff’s position in Benton County, Oregon
  • I attended the Oregon Police Academy (Camp Withycombe as it was known back then) and placed second in the class academically, and I won the shooting trophy for scoring the best target with my .38 revolver
  • Two years later I once again was hired out of a large number of applicants as a deputy sheriff in Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon. I would have the same experience some 8 years later when I was hired as a police officer in Gresham, Oregon, having competed for the position with over 200 applicants.
  • In seminary I won the biblical languages award and was also given the honor of preaching at the graduate class/faculty chapel.

And then, in 1983, I was a police officer on a Friday, and a pastor of my first church on Monday.

Alright then, that’s is the end of the boasting. It was also the end of my advancement in the eyes of man.

What has been my experience these 35 years as a pastor in the local, visible church? Oh sure, there were some tough times as a police officer. I was hated by criminals I arrested, but almost always we enjoyed real comradery with fellow officers. But in the vast majority of my experience in the church, I have found that the enemy sits in the pews. Police officer and comrade on Friday. Hated and targeted by false christians on Monday. The change was that real, and that fast.

We now enjoy a very small church of genuine believers here in Tillamook, but this came only after years and years of attacks from counterfeits who had, as Jude puts it, crept in among us. They professed Christ but they hated His truth and anyone to spoke it to them. And as a result, as a whole over these three plus decades of pastoral ministry, I have been hated. There have been no accolades. No awards. Just hatred from those who claim they serve the same Lord I do.

The Lord has been very faithful to us. He raised up the A Cry for Justice ministry in which He used us to expose evil hiding in the church in the form of domestic abusers. He has continued to circulate the books he impelled me to write and we regularly receive the thanks of abuse victims who have been greatly helped by them. But, I say again, as a whole, the mass of what claims to be the Christian Church has hated me.

When I was a police officer, I apprehended wicked people so they could receive what was coming to them. I loved it. In fact the reason I was hired over all the other applicants at the Gresham Police department was that in my application interview one older, experienced Lieutenant asked me, “Jeff, why do you want to be a police officer?” My answer was, “because I love to throw bad guys in jail.” He stood up and said “THAT is the answer I was looking for!”

I still love to throw bad guys in jail by exposing them whenever I can, and that means exposing hypocrites in local churches parading as Christians among the flock.

But my point is, I received a slap on the back for doing this as a police officer. “Good job nailing that armed robber, Crippen! That was great police work!” We were a team. We backed each other up.

That all ended when I became a pastor. Why? Because local churches are filled with people who are fake christians. Or with people who might be Christians but who have been so brainwashed by false teaching that they have been told that it is unloving to throw bad guys in jail! The former class is far more common however.

What is my point in all this? My point is that this is the very same experience the Apostle Paul had. When he was called by Christ, he left all behind. And what was he greeted with in the church? Well, he met some genuine believers. He had the faithful Timothy and Epaphroditus. There were a handful of other faithful brothers and sisters standing with him. But largely, his experience in the visible church is that wicked people would creep in and before long they would have the whole place turned against him. Peter found it to be the same, as did Jude, and of course as did the Lord Jesus Himself.

And so sometimes I find myself reminiscing about those “good ol’ days” when Jeff was advancing, when people would say “you have a great career ahead of you,” when outstanding performance was recognized and rewarded. Those were the days. And then I have to talk to myself and remind myself that following Christ looks exactly what my experience as a pastor has been. That my reward, my “atta boys” need to come from Christ, not from man. Because if all the world slaps you on the back, flatters you, praises you….well, you had better take a hard look at yourself and see if you know Jesus at all.

Local Churches are Giving Standing Ovations to the Wicked (Part 3)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1Co 5:1-2)

As we have seen in this series of posts, local churches are giving standing ovations to unrepentant (or falsely repentant) wicked people. As you can see from the verses quoted above (which I quote very, very frequently), this is the very same sin that was pervasive in the church at Corinth. Boasting about how “merciful” they were, pronouncing a grossly evil man among them to be one of the saints. Paul nailed them.

Here then is still another instance which took place recently. Once again, in the absence of any repentance, people walking in sin who claim to be Christians were give a hearty round of applause from the congregation. This is how it went down:

An unmarried couple who have been living together for quite sometime have several children. They profess to be Christians and have been attending the church regularly.  After meeting with another “mentor” couple, also members of this church, the couple appeared on the platform of the church sanctuary at the Sunday morning worship service. The man got down on his knee and asked the woman to marry him. She accepted and a ring was given….and the whole place burst out in applause. No mention of sin. No mention of repentance.

Now, not only is there the issue of fornication, but it turns out that this fellow has been in jail several times this past year. Professing Christian. Living in sexual immorality. Committing crimes. He did mention to the congregation that he had had “a difficult year for him.” To which the pastor replied in front of all, “This is what God’s grace is all about.” Applause.  Shouts of “that was so beautiful!” That pastor, in his sermon, went on to chastise “nit-picky” Christians who are ungracious and unforgiving.

Now, if you have experienced abuse at the hands of the typical conscienceless, deceiving, sociopathic abuser, red warning lights are going to be going off in your head already in regard to this man. It is quite probable that this church just handed this woman over to an abuser, serving as his ally in evil. And the pastor and church are culpable. They are guilty. They are arrogant and they are presenting a false gospel. They are pronouncing a wicked man, who has been walking in habitual sin, to be justified and righteous in God’s sight. In addition, other abuse victims who are sitting out there in the pews will be further enslaved, confused, guilted, and shamed by all of this.

Do you realize that a wicked, evil person – even the devil himself – can easily stand up in front of a church audience and weep and wail in fake repentance, pleading for forgiveness, “confessing” his sin, and all the while be lying in every single word he utters? But, you see, so many people today who sit in church pews and claim the name of Christ for themselves, love this message of cheap forgiveness. Why? Because they know that if this is true —

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, (1Jn 2:4)

–then they stand condemned before God and their claim to Christ is false.

Local Churches are Giving Standing Ovations to the Wicked (Part 2)

Php 2:19-21 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. (20) For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. (21) For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

We continue now in this series of articles to expose the evil in local churches that, as in the case of one “Pastor” Andy Savage, enjoys a comfortable place among those who claim to know Christ. That claim, of course, is very dubious and highly suspect. How can Light abide darkness, or righteousness dwell with unrighteousness?

You will notice the experience of the Apostle Paul as he describes it here in his letter to the church at Philippi. He is alone. Almost all alone. This is the APOSTLE Paul! The Apostle commissioned personally by Christ. The ex-Pharisee met by the glorious, risen Jesus on that road so long ago. The “certain man” who had been caught up into heaven, seen and heard things that he could not even put into words for us. Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, whose apostleship and gospel were affirmed by the Lord’s signs and wonders. And he is alone. Except for Timothy and a handful of others like Epaphroditus, he stands alone.

Consider the experience of the Lord Jesus Himself on this earth. Or the experience of Peter and the other apostles. Think about what we see all through Scripture to be the experience of God’s faithful ones.

Mat 23:37a “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

Elijah wasn’t the only one left, as he wrongly concluded. Nevertheless there were very few who remained faithful to the Lord and they had to be in hiding:

1Ki 19:9-10 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (10) He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

The Lord Jesus told us very, very clearly what we must expect if we take up our cross and follow Him:

Joh 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (19) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

If you are chosen by Christ then you dwell now in a foreign land that hates Christ and all who follow Him. Therefore, as the Lord told us, we can expect to find ourselves standing alone, or at best with a small remnant of those who truly belong to Him. That has been the experience of ALL the genuine people of God, people who are circumcised of heart, not just players at external religion. No exceptions.

Now, what has all this to do with evil in the visible church? Simply this:

Whenever we see a “ministry” that is popular and highly spoken of by people whose lives are conformed to this present world, we can be certain that such a place protects the wicked and that it proclaims a “gospel” that is anathema in God’s sight.

Let me give you a contemporary, real life account of this false gospel played out in a local church. It is not just an example, it is the norm in the large majority of so-called evangelical christianity today. This one belongs to the Southern Baptist denomination [the SBC is notorious for embracing the wicked as “brethren in Christ”].

Mike and Ashley profess to be Christians. They are members of a “fine” SBC “church” that is a happening place, offering all the bells and whistles people expect when they choose a church “home.” Ashley was raised up in a Southern Baptist “christian” home in fact and both she and Mike “walked the aisle to receive Jesus” many years ago.

So Mike and Ashley are getting married. Big wedding plans. In the church of course. Invitations sent out. Met with the pastor already and received his blessing. Everyone is so excited, you know.

Well, almost everyone.

Ruth has known Ashley for several years, having met her in a Bible study group. Ruth was invited to the wedding and since she lived some distance away, she came a few days early. Upon her arrival, she was immediately troubled. Mike and Ashley, you see, were living together. Shacked up. Sleeping in the same bed. Fornicating to put it in God’s language.

And that is not all.

It was evident for anyone with eyes to see that Mike and Ashley were living very, very worldly lives. Take Ashley’s appearance for instance – in public – with Mike’s full approval. Ashley dressed like…well…like so many men and women of the world today dress. Sexually. Very revealing (emphasis on “very”). We aren’t pushing some pioneer/Puritan era head-covering, dress to the floor modesty code here. Nope. Ashley’s – and really Mike’s as well – appearance in all things was “look at me.”

When Ruth confronted Ashley about these things, both she and Mike dis-invited her to the wedding and told her to leave.

Now, let’s think this through. Why are people like Mike and Ashley so perfectly comfortable in their “church”? Why has no one ever confronted them with their blatant, shameless sin? Why has the pastor agreed to perform their wedding ceremony in the church building in the name of Christ, when repentance for their sin is completely absent?

I can tell you why.

Because that “church” is no church. That “pastor” is no shepherd called by Christ to oversee His flock. The whole thing is counterfeit. Antichrist. Evil is comfortable in that place. It remains unexposed and even boasted about because such a “gospel” attracts crowds and money and notoriety. If Mike and Ashley, and others like them in that church, were to be confronted for their sin, all hell would break loose! The fangs would come out. Either the pastor who confronted them would be fired, or the wicked themselves would “take their money” and march out the door. And yet this is exactly what needs to happen.

Let me say it again:

Whenever we see a “ministry” that is popular and highly spoken of by people whose lives are conformed to this present world, we can be certain that such a place protects the wicked and that it proclaims a “gospel” that is anathema in God’s sight.

And we see it everywhere today. Everywhere.

Isa 1:11-17 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. (12) “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? (13) Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations– I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.

(14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. (15) When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. (16) Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, (17) learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

At the root of all of it lies the unconverted, wicked heart of people who have been assured that they are “saved” no matter how they live. And the experience of every real Christian who dares to confront this false gospel is going to be the same as that of Christ, of Paul, and all the other faithful ones. Alone. Surrounded by people who mouth a confession of Christ but whose hearts are far from Him. People who seek their own interest.

Every once in a while you will find a Timothy. Or a Mary. Or an Epaphroditus. And when you do, be encouraged. You have found the real Body of Christ.

 

 

 

Local Churches are Giving Standing Ovations to the Wicked (Part 1)

Every single week, if not every single day, Christians who are either victims of evil in their local churches or witnesses to that evil, contact me and tell their stories. Over and over again. If you have been watching the news this past week, you may have read the report of one “Pastor” Andy Savage, a pastor in Memphis, being given a standing ovation by his large congregation after he “confessed” (under pressure of course) to a certain “sexual incident” 20 years ago while he was a youth pastor. It was neatly covered up by the other pastors of that church, the 17 year old girl sodomized by him being told to shut up about it. Standing ovation. Yep. You can get one too. Just commit a heinous evil and then be sorry about it. Or say you are sorry at least. If you are caught that is.

You can read the details here: “Pastor” Andy Savage’s Sodomy of a Teen

NOTE: Sodomy is the correct term according to Oregon Law. Oral/Anal sex forced are defined as “deviant sexual intercourse” and that is sodomy in our legal code.

We can no longer simply encourage people to “go to church on Sunday” and assume they will be better off than if they did not attend the services of a local supposedly Christian church. In fact, we may be sending them to a den of robbers and perverts worse than we find outside the local church.

1Co 5:1-5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. (2) And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 

Do you think that I am overly pessimistically critical? I am not. Let me give you some real life examples of what is going on in most (I used to say “many”) local churches. They have ceased to be true churches if they ever were at all. Here you go. Case #1-

Prohibited by the Court, Permitted by the Church

In this first case, “Randy” we will call him, is divorced from his wife. She divorced him because he is a wicked, abusive drug user showing absolutely no repentance. He continually degraded and verbally demeaned her throughout their relationship. Randy (as so many of these kind do) claims to be a Christian. The court agreed with the charges of his abuse, and ordered that he only be allowed to visit his children ONLY in the presence of his ex-wife.

But that is not all. Oh no.

Randy likes his drugs. In fact, recently he was caught red-handed in his work van high as a kite on cocaine. He had been involved in the church’s drug and alcohol recovery ministry for years and claimed to have been sober from drugs. After he was found out, he told his ex-wife, “Well, I have to live my life!” No sign of repentance or remorse,. He was just as he had been throughout their marriage.

And there’s even more.

Randy has been “ministering” in his local church children’s ministry, in violation of the orders of the court. Randy is not supposed to be around ANY children unsupervised. The church did not take the wife’s word that he was not supposed to be around their daughter unless supervised by her, claiming she was being a vindictive ex-wife. So, what did Randy’s “church” do when they finally read the court papers? What was their response when they found out that they had failed to do an adequate background on this guy before handing children over to him? Well, here is what they did. This is an email sent to Randy by one of the pastors:

After informing Randy, in a tone of “I am so sorry we have to do this,” the children’s pastor told him: “Thanks for meeting with me. Your openness is so refreshing to me. Unfortunately the court documents leave no room for you to continue as a children’s ministry volunteer. I know you did not mislead us intentionally or maliciously, but this is what we must do to protect the church from liability. I am sorry, especially since you have been a faithful volunteer. Of course, Randy, this church is still your home. We love you and welcome you to be involved in one of the many other ministry opportunities here.”

Through several other emails, this pastor referred to Randy as “bro,” using apologetic and friendly language. This pastor even had breakfast with Randy! Apparently God’s Word  means nothing to this pastor:

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. (1Co 5:11)

The pastor never met with the ex-wife, asking her side of the story, or apologized to her for their failure to keep her child and the children of the church safe. In fact, this same pastor called her and berated her, using a condescending tone, saying she was at fault for not producing the divorce papers earlier.

And Randy IS continuing in ministry there. In what capacity you say? Well, Randy is helping lead the drug and alcohol recovery group, in “Jesus’ name” of course.

Oh, and what of Randy’s ex-wife and children, the victims of his evil? Well, you know, because they just aren’t as gracious and merciful and forgiving as Randy and his wonderful, loving church home, they have left that place. She was the only one who was a member of the church for a long time, very involved in a women’s Bible study group, and her daughter attends the school at the church. She feels hurt and betrayed, since she lost her close group of Christian women friends, and her daughter misses the only church she has ever known.

In reality this mother and child were driven out of their church. Why? Because that counterfeit, wicked “church” parading as Christ’s church, embraced the evil one and arrogantly boasted about how gracious they are. If victims of rape and abuse and child molestation cannot forgive their oppressors and sit side by side with them in church, I suppose that is their problem. So sad you know, that after Randy said he was sorry, they just wouldn’t let bygones be bygones.

And THAT is a peek into the typical goings on every single day in most local churches.

I was going to give you more examples, but that will have to wait for part 2, and part 3, and part 4, and…….