A recent Barna poll showed that only 18% of all professional (paid) pastors hold a Biblical world view. I hope the actual percentage is higher; but it certainly demonstrates that we are nowhere near the 100% it should be. If the teachers don’t believe in Biblical inerrancy, neither will the students. It’s always been that way. Read the Old Testament Prophets and also consider how Jesus spoke to the religious authorities of His day. Ineffective leadership equals ineffective congregants, and as a rule folks in the pews look to their reverend, pastor, priest, etc. for direction. If it sounds like all the blame should fall on the leadership, consider Jeremiah 5:31: “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?”  James 3:1 confirms that leaders do have a greater responsibility; but their burden doesn’t excuse those who are being led astray. Where does this leave us?

I think the first step is to dispel the myth that ordinations from man confirm Biblical understanding. The alarming numbers from the Barna poll bear out that we need to ask: What do you believe? Not: What’s your title? Anyone who stands in the pulpit of a Christian congregation should absolutely believe that the Bible is the Word of God. All of it. Far too frequently different folks are deciding what’s really commanded as opposed to just suggested. That simply can’t work. Christianity is not akin to items at a grocery store: pick this one, discard that one. It has to be all or nothing. The Bible is our ultimate authority, or the voice of this clown or that clown is. If it’s the latter, our faith means nothing. The two primary contributors leading to watered-down and/or seeker friendly theology are cowardice and laziness.

I can’t tell you how many church marquees I’ve seen boasting of words to the effect that: “We affirm everyone.” To be clear believers should NEVER shun anyone who is truly seeking. We are a spiritual hospital with the goal of healing. But it does no good to pat folks on the head and tell them it’s okay to sin. Conforming to societal norms in order to be all-inclusive and popular is cowardice. Calling yourself a Christian and sitting in a comfortable pew without working on your relationship with your Creator by diligently studying His Word is laziness. Read your Bible. Gospel means good news, but it doesn’t mean, or promise, easy. Quite the opposite in fact. We are involved in spiritual warfare, and if you aren’t arming yourself with God’s Word you cannot be battle ready (see Ephesians 6:11-17).

I became a believer late in life. I was compelled to examine my worldview, and after much seeking and studying I concluded that the God of the Bible is the one true God. Initially, I wasn’t thrilled with this revelation. I liked (or so I thought) making my own rules. But the evidence proved to me, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the Bible is demonstrably a supernatural book, and the resurrection of Jesus is a historical fact. While parts of the gospel made me uncomfortable, I understood I was in no position to overrule my Creator. This points to the crux of much difficulty: Who’s in charge? No one is going to be immediately onboard with 100% of Scripture. Too many leaders allow, or even encourage, folks to deal with difficult truths by looking for outs: “God really didn’t mean that!” or “Paul’s just a man from another time,” and on and on. God’s Word can then conform to you, instead of you conforming to God’s Word. The fallacy of this thinking is obvious. Can God be subject to any man? Or to anything else for that matter? If you believe God is God you must therefore know that you are not God. Very necessary aspects of being a Bible-believing Christian are repentance and obedience to His direction. He doesn’t change. It has to be His way over your way. Otherwise, He isn’t really God; you’re assuming that role. I hate to burst any bubbles here, but you, me, or any of us, are not qualified for His job.

Whether you believe in the God of the Bible or not, this much should be coming into focus: the seeker-friendly, anything-goes crowd are nothing more than playtime posers. Revelation 3:16 really brings this into focus. Jesus says: “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold [a non-believer] nor hot [a true believer], I will vomit you out of my mouth.” Jesus is actually saying here that He prefers non-belief to casual belief. Many don’t take the Bible as God’s Word and that’s okay. What’s not okay is to say you believe in the God of the Bible but then discard anything you’re uncomfortable with. Christianity is not coercive. We are called to witness at risk of oppression, even unto death. We are not called to oppress or kill. Honest conversations about differing worldviews are healthy. Those of us who diligently follow Christ seek to preach the gospel. Money, fame, fortune and power are of no interest to true believers. So, what do the “lukewarm” bring to the table, and how are we to perceive their motivation? Regardless of what you believe, conviction is paramount. C. S. Lewis said: “I can understand how people fervently believe. I can understand how people don’t believe. What I can’t understand is how people casually believe.” John 16:2 lets us know what we can expect from many of these casual believers: “They will put you out of the synagogues [churches]; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”  Do atheists or agnostics attend synagogues/churches? Of course not. Jesus is clearly referring to those who take His name but align with worldly powers when the rubber meets the road.

Jesus upset the status quo and threatened the existing power structure among the religious. Pilate didn’t want to crucify Jesus (see Matthew 27-24). The religious leaders had Him put to death. They persecuted Him, so they will surely persecute His servants (see John 15:18). Jesus showed us the Way. We need to walk in the Spirit, not the flesh. Enemies of the cross will place power, position and comfort above His Word. He has to come first. I love eating every day, indoor plumbing, electricity, etc. I hope I never have to go without basic creature comforts. But if that’s what I’m called to do, may His mighty Spirit equip me. I count on His strength, not my own, thankfully. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Trust Him in everything. There is no greater blessing than to realize that the trappings of materialism are nothing compared to the joy of knowing Him (see Philippians 3:8).


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