2 Timothy 2:4 says, Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
It seems to me that the confessing church has forgotten it’s first love. They forgot why Jesus came in the first place. Every apostate church I have attended talks more about improving the society around them, rather than improving people’s theology and being part of one of the harvest workers that plants the seed of salvation for the lost souls in their midst. You will always hear a false church make a plug for feeding the poor, helping the oppressed, widows, and the orphans. While these are good things a Christian can and should do, it should never become your Gospel. Second Timothy says, to preach the word, whether it is popular or not, reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and DOCTRINE! Once we have accepted the Lord has our Savior we are to begin our sanctification as disciples of Christ. In Matthew 14:7 Jesus said that the poor will always be among us. This was in response to the women pouring expensive alabaster oil on Jesus. Jesus told the disciples to leave her alone because she was doing a good deed for him. Jesus then said that wheresoever the gospel is preached throughout the world, that this good deed she did for Jesus will be spoken as a memorial to what this woman has done. This women believed that Jesus was the Messiah and she was acknowledging she knew him as Messiah by anointing Him with expensive oil, not by selling the expensive oil to feed the poor. And, it also seems, she knew He was going to be crucified on the cross for the sins of the world because Jesus also said in Mark 14:8 she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying. What did Jesus want us to do as Christians? He wanted us to spread the gospel. He wanted us to teach and make disciples of ALL nations. In other words the Great Commision. What good will your efforts be if the poor go to Hell with full stomachs, a roof over their heads, and clothes on their backs. The song, “They Will Know We are Christians by our Love,” means that the most loving thing you can do is to share the saving truth of the Gospel. That Jesus died for the sins we all have committed and paid the penalty of our sin. But He did not stay dead, on the third day he arose from the dead, and defeated death. And the free gift of grace is given to anyone who repents and believes in their heart that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, will be saved from an eternity in Hell.
This social gospel is very popular in the evangelical church. Go and make the world a better place they will tell you. Feed the poor and cloth the naked, they will tell you. Then what? Doing these things for people does not offend anyone, but calling out sin and telling people that the only way to Heaven is thru Jesus does offend. So you may eradicate poverty in your area, but hopefully you will share the gospel as the main focus of your ministry. I would rather be poor and hungry knowing I’m going to Heaven then to have all the riches of the world and be on the road to Hell.
As we take a look at another aspect of pragmatism we can look again at it’s simple definition. Pragmatism is an approach that assesses the truth of meaning of theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application (Oxford Dictionary). It’s a philosophy that states the ends justify the means. And for the church, this is a disaster. Why? Because you don’t take into consideration of how God wants you to do things and God does not call us to success, but faithfulness.
Pragmatism runs rampant in many churches. I left Archbold Evan because of this reason. Even though I was not a Christian at the time, I could sense the fake experience that was being manufactured. My husband grew up in this church, so when we landed in Archbold we could not decide which church to attend, so we just ended up there. After about 3 years of attending this church my husband and I both decided that we had enough of the emotionalism, the manufactured stage acting that happened in the name of God. It was so superficial, and it always seemed to me they were always try to conjure up some kind of sincere Christianity. I could no longer play along anymore. Pastor Jesse decided to do a sermon series with very expensive cars that were actually driven up onto the stage, I told my husband I had enough. Sure, they had a playland for the children, a coffee bar, and a very nice library, but I felt more like I was at the mall than church. The worship music was repetitive and emotion driven. How many times does a person have to sing the same thing? The songs were not doctrinally sound, most of the time, and made no sense. Bibles were not used, and scripture was put up on the screen to make the pastor’s point, not God’s point. This is pragmatism. No where in the Bible is this type of church portrayed. Now a days Archbold Evan looks more like the World than the church. They have staging and the lights are dim for Sunday morning services, there is no pulpit. There are a few times I have heard Pastor Jesse compare Jesus to Harry Potter!! Now that I am saved, we don’t even watch or entertain anything with Harry Potter. The Lord does not think wizardry, witchcraft, soccery, or anything of the like is honoring to Him. This is Pragmatism. Even if these tactics bring in the crowd, and some people may be saved, does this make it right? We are suppose to flee sin! We are to be set apart, not to be like the world, but like Christ. This type of church is looking for Ministry Greatness, instead of the Greatness of God’s Holiness. They are looking for numbers. The complete Gospel is lost in the shuffle. They boast in themselves rather than in God.
What does pragmatism look like when Ego is involved? The definition of ego is a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. If you are a pragmatic church you base your church off of your vision your desires and wants, instead of building the church the way God would want. For example, having women elders and deacons.
Some of these says bring to mind 2 Timothy 3:3-4
This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.
Another cultural trend in the church pertaining to Ego, is the self affirmation cult. Allie Beth Stuckey recently spoke about this with Alisa Childers. The self affirmation, ego feeding Christian church. It plays off of ego, and it tickles the ears. These Christians will tell you that you are enough, you are worth it you are perfect they way you are, or more recently around here, you matter. These types of churches or books that Christians write are feeding right into that ego. Not only are they trying to boost your ego, but they are saying you can’t feel good about yourself unless you have us! This is pragmatism. Of coarse the Lord does not want us to wallow in self pity and despair, but He also does not want us to become self- reliant or self important. Many churches feed the ego with their recovery programs and 10 steps to a better you, 5 ways to make money, how to have a better marriage, etc…. Instead of relying on God’s Word and the Lord, you are told to rely on these human authors who say you need my book to do better. This is Ego! This is pragmatism, because even if these things work, at the end of the day you are not repenting of sin nor are you spending time with the Lord in his Word. You are not putting to death your fleshly desires.
Then you have the pragmatic prideful Christian. This is the Christian who, when you point out to them their era, and that they are going against God’s Word, they will shun you. They are pragmatic in a sense they will make excuses for staying in rebellion against God. I can personally think of some reasons why I would do this, because I have. First, it has to do with pride. Not wanting to admit, humble yourself, and say you are wrong. Or they don’t want you to stop listening to them or following them. They are afraid of loosing church membership, friends, or family members. They don’t want to offend others. They are people pleasers. They are full of pride. They are unapproachable. Or they say things like, though shall not judge, you are not loving, your are an idol worshipper, or as one pastor said that some doctrine is out dated, in reference to women elders and deacons.
Pragmatism is every where. Honestly, it’s not good for secular society either, but it’s definitely not good for the church. The Bible says you are not great, you are not enough, and you are not good. You matter because God made you, but the only person who truly matters is God.
Pslam 26:8 Lord I have loved the habitation of they house, and the place were my honor dwelleth.
Last time I wrote on pragmatism I spoke about the actual building structure and the style of the sanctuary, or as some emergent churches like to call it, “the worship center.” Next, I would like to address how some pastors present themselves in attire, titles, and traditions.
You can find a variety of dress in the “pulpit” from very casual to the pomp and circumstance of robes and hats. Then you have the practical and respectful attire of the suit coat and tie. Keeping in mind the verse I just shared with you, especially the latter part of the verse, and the place were my honor dwelleth. We will examine what is a proper way to dress and what are appropriate titles, and traditions.
Here we have the religious garb. This type of dress is all about tradition and symbolism. People will wear this because they think it gives them authority. These men are not called by God, to be a pastors or leaders in the church, but they think God has ordained their ministry. The more symbols and traditions your church holds, the more apostate they are. They are religious and depend on their deeds for their entrance into Heaven or they use these symbols to conduct religious ceremonies based on their own traditions. They think these symbols and traditions bring them closer to God. They may also do such things as light candles, say canned creeds and prayers. They have labyrinths and stations to mindlessly recite empty words too, or worship as if it is God himself they are addressing.
The Pharisees and Sadducess are the religious people of Jesus’s day. Jesus rebuked them harshly.
Matthew 23:1-39 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi[b] by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.[c] 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+23%3A1-39&version=ESV
This passage brings to mind many churches I personally have attended. The Catholic Church, St. John’s of Archbold, and recently Archbold Evan. The Catholic Church calls the priest Father, which goes against this passage above. Jesus was not talking about our earthly fathers, but our spiritual Father. This entire passage is the entithisis of the Catholic Church.
Then you have the churches that love to flaunt their good deeds. They have ministries that give to the poor and help out their communities and everyone knows about it. They do not follow the passage in Matthew 6:1-4
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.Matthew 6:1-4
I know personally that St. John’s does not follow the biblical teaching of how the elders and deacons are to be according to the Bible. They are not big on the gospel, sin, or repentance. They are big on doing good deeds for all to see. They support organizations that help the poor and needy, but do not share the gospel. They have canned prayers and creeds. They are big on religious symbols and traditions. They boast in the ways they help the community.
Archbold Evan just did the same thing recently, and showed a video at a Sunday morning service of Jesse giving money to the homeless shelters, worse he then this, he put a burden on his people. He said, now that they have given money to the the homeless shelters his congregants are on the hook to helping out these homeless shelters, because they are going to come to Archbold Evan for help. This is the legalism Jesus spoke against! It’s good to help out the poor, but it’s how you do it that is laid out in God’s Word.
Our church helps out people in need but we don’t advertise it and we (congregants) know nothing about it. We trust that our deacons are allocating the money where needed. We have two ladies groups that work to support fellow believers needs in our church body and our missionaries. The main focus of our church is supporting missionaries that share the Good News of the Gospel. Sharing the Gospel is the greatest and best work a Christian could ever do!
1 John 3:14-19
14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth!
Then you have the casual and jean wearing pastor
Going back to the first point from Pslams 26:8, a place were my honor dwelleth. I think most people if they think this through, can conclude that a pastor who dresses casually is not showing honor to the Lord or his dwelling place. Is your church building a place that honors God? Are you dressing in a way that honors God. If you would wear a suit and tie for a wedding or to meet a president, prime minister, or to stand in front of a court judge, how much more should you show respect for the King of Kings? Are you being honoring? I would say NO! Your are trying to be hip and relevant to attract people? When you do this you are saying I don’t take my job seriously and nor do I respect God enough to dress my best. Not in a pious way like some, but in a respectful way. You are also showing how superficial you are and people who are true disciples of the Lord can see right through this. The true Christian who wants sound doctrine can not take you seriously if you are drawing attention to yourself rather than the word of God. I have seen men wear jeans so tight that could cause lustful thoughts, or draw the attention from God’s Word. When I worked at Serenity Haven, the women would come back to the facility from Archbold Evan and comment on the pastors looks in a lustful manner. They were not respectful comments like that pastor looked handsome in his suit. Their was no mention of being saved, sin, or conviction of their eternal destiny.
Here are some men you may or may not know. But they do not like lofty titles, because they are/were just faithful servants of the Lord. They were called by God to their position of pastor. To rightfully divide God’s word with humility and reverence for the Lord. They also excepted the title of pastor, and didn’t try to drop it so not to offend people. When you are pragmatic you can change how to do church so that you get people to follow you and not God. Pragmatism is ungodly and worldly. The Bible says to separate yourself from the world, to come out from among them. Not so people will revere you but God!
This is a topic has been heavy on my heart for a while and I honestly think this is the biggest problem in the church. It;s has been the problem in the church since Adam and Eve. Satan is not that cleaver and comes up with all kinds of ways to deceive people, that are not new, just repackaged. So what is pragmatism? Pragmatism is a philosophical movement that includes those who claim that an ideology or proposition is true if it works satisfactorily, that the meaning of a proposition is to be found in the practical consequences of accepting it, and that unpractical ideas are to be rejected. Seems harmless enough right? Well, let take a closer look.
Tim Challes, Christian blogger, and author explains the history of pragmatism this way. Pragmatism is rooted in the philosophy of men like John Stuart Mill who had a great formative influence in philosophers like John Dewey who applied pragmatism to education and William James who applied it to religion. These men taught that the only way to determine truth was by practical results. Having been founded by philosophers, pragmatism was cemented into the Western mindset by the Industrial Revolution. Pragmatism in industry has changed the way we live. James Boice says “The goal is to find the fastest, least expensive way of producing products and getting things done. Pragmatism has improved living standards for millions who now enjoy the benefits of home ownership, adequate clothing, indoor plumbing…and abundant food.” (Whatever Happened To The Gospel of Grace p.50) This has been achieved, of course, at the cost of quality and craftsmanship.
Pragmatism is defined by Webster’s as “the doctrine that practical consequences are the criteria of knowledge and meaning and value.” In short, truth is determined by consequences.
One would have to ask if this really is how the Lord wants us to live our lives let alone conduct our churches. In other words, does the end justify the means? Does the Lord want obedience for results? I have heard many excuses from Christians about why it’s important to have all different types of churches. I’m not talking about the layout of the foundation of a church building or the color scheme a church uses. I’m talking about pragmatism. Setting up a church in a worldly way to bring people into your church by trendy movements and cultural expectations. I’m not trying to be nit picky but pointing out that when we do things, it should be according to God’s Word and the standards and principles that He has established in His Word. Not the style or trends of culture.
Let’s take at the Church building itself as and example of this.
Let me be blunt. Which one glorifies God and His Word? Which one glorifies man? Which one is about God’s Word? Which one is about entertainment? Which one is about excellence and craftsmanship? Which one looks like a Holy Ground? Which one looks more like the character of God according to His Word? Which one looks like the character of man?
In many modern churches there is not even a pulpit!!! Preaching is out of vogue today.
Compair this to the Westminister Chapel where Martin Llyod Jones Preached!!!
Which church do you think God’s Word was the main attraction? The pulpits where bigger than life and set up high at Westminster. Why? Because of who God is and how lofty His Word is, because God is Holy and the sanctuary is to be a “holy ground.” It’s not a place the preacher was revered but God! A place where God’s Word was revered and obeyed. The Sanctuary could not be turned into a basketball court!! The Bible was the main attraction, not the worship band, the worship center, the coffee bar, or the children’s play area. This my friend is a proper meeting place, a place a believer can hear and receive the preaching of God’s Word.