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Sermon of the Month

I JOHN 4:6


A man, the movement, and then the monument – is the progression always the same? Sadly in my near 40 years of preaching the gospel, denominational demise has been an obvious given in the documented history of Christendom. Mind you, I did not say, the history of His church. The church that Christ built has not nor ever will rise in reformation out of error, Mother Rome, or any such deception. The Lord said emphatically, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The church is on the offensive and without question remains victorious. The very gates of hell cannot withstand the forward, aggressive march of God’s true church. The very meaning of ekklesia runs contrary to denominational organization or some executive hierarchy. Please dear brother and sister, look carefully at the New Testament church. May God help us to see these man-made devises with inevitable demise built in. As the clock ticks and pages of history turn, fewer today understand the church through Biblical perspective. This unscriptural, ecumenical, pluralistic scourge creeps in like a cancer of death. Tele-evangelists, radio preachers, “Christian” magazines, and warehouses of books echo this same sort of eclectic voice that produces the confusing cacophony of Bible versions. Many say we have “come out from among them” while continuing to use their preachers, literature and participate in a co-operative based program. Separation indeed, yet the milieu remains the same. Conference and keynote speakers are selected from the best sellers list of business world and motivational gurus. Even an ecumenical collection of new age, purpose driven, Southern Baptist and other denominational notables occupy the platform. Psychological and sociological surveys, polls and case studies will never define the True New Testament Church. The charismatic and interdenominational movements along with high-powered media may attempt to package and market “church” but out of corrupt comes corruption. Behold the monument to the past.

But Brother Williamson, are you saying the Lord has never used men involved in such organizations or associations? In spite of men, failure and flesh, the Sovereign God of the universe in His mercy, love and grace accomplishes His good pleasure. The biographies and ministries of Asbury, Booth, Carey, Moody, Spurgeon and Wesley all were quite different but have been a blessed challenge to this preacher. These men did not agree on every point just as Paul and Peter got crosswise. But The Book is THE BOOK, good is good, evil is evil, God be true and every man a liar. For almost 40 years I have preached The Book, and for the last 18 years I have traveled across America, Canada and around the world multiplied times. Pastors, missionaries, and ministries are unique and different. What a joy it has been to know some of God’s choicest servants -- rich and poor, educated and uneducated, folk of various tongues, tribes, and nations who love the Lord, His Word and desire to obey Christ’s commands. Customs, culture, language, organization and methods are different. Often there are differences I could not tolerate as pastor. Yet God has given all His children scripture enabling us to “know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error”(II John 4:6). When men, methods and manner differ, we must step up and look to God’s Word. We have His power, provision and promise to know the spirit of Truth. Ask these three questions in relation to the evaluation of teachers and movements or issues:

His Message
What is the spirit toward the Scriptures?
What is the spirit toward the Saviour?
What is the spirit toward Salvation?

We can know the spirit of Truth, and we can discern the spirit of error. In relation to Scripture the spirit of error typically is “adding to” and “taking away.”

In respect to The Scripture “the spirit of error” will deny His true deity and His true humanity--The One, True, and Living God. (Jn. 1:1-14; I Jn. 2:22; II Jn. 7; II Pe. 2:1).

In terms of Salvation the spirit of error will be a works system taking away from the finished work of Christ or adding to – making man capable of obtaining or earning salvation. Romans 1:16; 10:9,10,13; Eph. 2:8 & 9, Gal. 1:9.

Again, men will differ and God has taken that uniqueness to accomplish a work of grace confounding the wise with seemingly the foolish. However, God does not take the false to birth the Truth. It’s not reformation but rather transformation. In most cases those reading these words would never argue against the fact that Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and a host of cult and occults are false teachers. Yet, out of that very list have crept in damnable heresies promoted with evangelistic zeal. In crept New Age Meditation and prayer techniques, African style dance and music plus a vocabulary and philosophy totally foreign to Scripture.

This little “recipe” for ecumenical stew came across my desk:  (1) chop up the gospel thoroughly, add water to dilute effect (2) mix in some tolerance to suppress the unpopular taste of doctrine (3) add enough self esteem to neutralize the bitterness of sin (4) heat until mixture becomes lukewarm in need of nothing else (5) serve with Eucharist wafers, but avoid feeding to those who live by every Word of God. Funny? no—tragically sad. It has been said to me—my Catholic friend loves Jesus, prays and reads the Bible. Are you saying he is not a Christian? A pastor friend was kindly explaining his stand on the King James Bible and was rebuked in no uncertain terms, “I know Christians who use the NIV and they are as godly as you are!”

Who Moved?
I thought I had an opportunity to preach for a brother pastor in a neighboring state. Dialing his number I greeted with, “Hello brother, how are you?” After only a moment of general exchange, I proceeded to say I’ll be in your area and would like to stop in and give your church a challenge from God’s Word. Out of the blue, this pastor begins a litany of excuses about his people. “These are working folk and some of the ladies wear pants to the services.” He asked me what all the controversy was about concerning the KJB and other Bible versions. Out of the fog came no appointment to preach! At a recent camp meeting two preacher friends told me at the lunch table that fewer pastors would extend an invitation for me to preach because of the stand The Voice in the Wilderness took. Well, my question is, who moved? When it comes to THE BOOK, music, separation, standards, new age,worldly and modernistic philosophies, who moved? Men that I have respected, some I went to Bible College with, preached in their churches – now embrace things they once preached and warned against, so, who moved? Yes, they are now watering down the gospel and doctrine. But one thing for sure, they are not tolerant of a preacher like me who stands where they and their pastors once stood! So I ask again, who moved?

When I first got saved, I heard a many a preacher rail against afternoon soap-operas, movie theatre going and mixed swimming. I lived in the heart of North Carolina tobacco farming, but the preachers still condemned smoking it, chewing it, dippin’ it, and growing it. Hair, dress and laying out of Wednesday night prayer meeting for little league baseball was still in the sermon. Back then hell was hot, heaven sweet, sinners were lost and church folk even came to the altar. Laying out on the beach or walking around town half naked was ungodly. God hated divorce and children were to honour their parents. Oh, yes, spanking was still in The Book.

God deliver us from this bunch of psycho-analytical professional clergy. This mamby-pamby, back-scratching, soft-soapin, ear ticklin, therapeutic sermonettes in churchettes for christianettes.

Our children are having babies; the schoolhouse is a killing field with druggies, drunks, and debauchery. It used to be running in the halls, talking out of turn and chewing gum. Now it’s murder in the halls, abortion, condoms and perversion of the unspeakable sort. The divorce and remarriage rate is as high in the church as it is in the world; and the music coming out of those church house speakers sounds like the downtown barroom.
This come-as-you-are, leave-as-you-were, user friendly, first church accommodation looks like the shopping mall or sports center. Young people are asking why do I need the church and are leaving by the droves.

It’s ME
Just think about it. “Why bother?”  “The week-end is mine. That’s the only time I have to hunt, fish, go to the beach, garden, mow grass, shop, buy groceries, do chores or just relax and recreate. I don’t want to get up early on Sunday morning nor go back out Sunday night. That crowd down at the church lives just like I do. They dress like I do. Their music is no different. Why give 10% or more of “my money” so some egotistical preacher can build his fancy buildings and empire. I work with those church people. You should see their children.”

Indeed the blood will be on the hands of so many who carelessly squander the opportunity to be salt and light to a lost neighbor, let alone a lost world. Yes, the world is watching and the lost man holds the church to a higher standard. Yes, God looks on the heart, but the world doesn’t know God. The world is looking. Even though God knows our heart, He told us to be salt and light—to be different. Pastor, youth leader, dear Christian, you can make all the excuses, but the truth is, the unsaved are indeed watching. They will size you up. In terms of this world, our business dealings, reactions to difficulties, honesty, kept commitments, even our dress and music – the world expects the Christian to be different. And the world knows the difference. Go ahead, try to be like’em in order to win them. Dress like’em, sound like’em, drink with them, dance with them, but it will not work. It will not be an eternal work. The carnal, fleshly base will yield the carnal, fleshly base. Eternal results will be done in the light of the Eternal-God’s Eternal Word, will and way. Not the ways of this world! To lift them up you must stand higher.

Christ has not rescinded His teaching, commands and commission for the local church. No, we are not perfect. Yes, we have the perfect Christ. In all our mistakes and failures, may He correct us and guide us. How will He guide us? – Through some mystical experience, a new spirituality, contemplative prayers, “Christian yoga meditation?” No, absolutely not!

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word. Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee. I will delight myself in Thy statutes: I will not forget Thy Word. For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven. Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Thy Word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth forever. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth.

All you write about is smoking pits and lions’ den. Have you no positive message of encouragement. Is it all doom and gloom?

I heard the message and music of the 1960’s. Peace brother peace. Make love not war. Yet, the hippies could not sing in the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. I wore the bell- bottoms and long hair listening to 5th Dimension. The music, drugs, “free sex” and peace symbols enslaved rather than liberated.

Now many “churches” have caved to the steady eastern drum of mantra, meditation and mysticism. The emerging church has surfaced smack-dab in the middle of denominations worldwide. Sure these gurus use scripture to support their teaching, programs and conferences. D6, Drisco and doctrines of devils have a lot in common. Here Obama and Warren got it right. “Don’t let the difference define.” These purveyors of “New Age Christianity” have a lot of similarities to accentuate.

Riding down the highway my wife and I are scanning the radio station when we thought a Christian broadcast came up. We tuned in and listened only a few minutes. The announcer gave a promo for their afternoon music using the term, “Beatle-style ‘Christian’ music.” Is there anyone reading these words not aware of the Hindu connection with George Harrison and the Beatles? By the way, you do know what Google, YMCA, YWCA, Nike, Forbes, Apple, many hospitals, Health Spas’, Target, and too many American churches have in common? – Hindu Yoga!

Satan is so masterful and subtle at blurring the lines, doctrine and theology. The Bible clearly marks truth and error.

Several pastors met in the opulent Headquarter Hotel/Lobby before denominational meetings commenced just for a brief time of fellowship. Now these men were shocked when a well-known preacher strutted his stuff right out to the Hotel pool for a few morning laps. Well that was the talk of the convention, “Bro. so-in-so in his swim trunks taking a dip in the convention pool.” However, the buzz did not stop there. Sadly, the national youth meetings were fraught with contemporary music and the dress was poor to say the least. Now over many years, has the situation improved? No, and for a long time that same group of pastors denounced such in their local fellowship and even preached against it in their pulpits. However, time does seem to change things. Today many of those men hold denominational offices, enable the movement with their finances and do the backstroke with the pool pastor they once-upon-a-time castigated.

Charles Spurgeon gave this rather humorous testimony. He said, “I recollect my mother saying to me, ‘I prayed that you might be a Christian, but I never prayed that you might be a Baptist.’ But never the less, I became a Baptist, for as I reminded her, the Lord was able to do for her exceeding abundantly above what she asked or thought. And he did it.”
Spurgeon also made this observation. “There never ought to have been any denominations at all, for according to Scripture, every church is independent of every other. There ought to have been as many separate churches as there were separate opinions. But denominations, which are the gathering up of those churches, ought not to have existed at all. They do a world of mischief.”

1. “The light which is in thee be not darkness.”  Can we agree that the Word of God is our sole authority for faith and practice? The Bible is the inspired Word of God, yes? As Christ teaches in Luke 11 verse 33, “No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light.”  We are so blessed to have the light. What a privilege it is to let the truth of God shine forth in our lives unto a dark and dying world. Jesus continued in verse 34, “the light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body is full of darkness.”  Examine yourself to see if thine eye is evil. Jesus makes it clear that if thine eye be evil, thy body is also full of darkness. Then He makes this amazing statement in verse 35, “Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness.” How can the light in you be darkness? (please read “Is Your Light Darkness? page 10 in this edition)

2. Diagnosis – itching ears.  If you can’t beat them, why not join them and be politically correct? Some claim they have special enlightenment beyond the scripture and beyond the old fashion Bible preacher. Sadly many pastors have abdicated the call and God-given authority to preach faithfully the whole counsel of God’s Word. Indeed some have become hirelings, yes-men, yea, and puppets on a string. From the pew and beyond comes censorship of the pulpit. There will be no politics in this church.
    For me personally, I guess my definition was not up-to-date. Recently I’ve heard the word politics used several times in relationship to the church and the pulpit. Now Webster’s New World Dictionary gives the primary definition of politics as “the science and art of government.” In Newsweek magazine, Jon Meacham writes that for many people politics comes down to three things – protect my job, let me keep most of my money, and kill the terrorists. Obviously there is a lot of “me-ology” in Meacham’s statement:  Me – my job; Me-my money; Me-my safety and security.
    Now it appears politics for many church members takes on a similar meaning. No politics means preach just Bible – make me feel good religion, but leave off the personal meddling. Just last week my wife was speaking to a lady about her relationship with the Lord – to make a long story short, she had been hurt at a previous church, in her words, by gossip and politics. If she ever got back in church, it would be on the last pew without getting involved in anything. Amen brother, that’s my kind of preaching. Just preach Bible and stay out of politics. It’s amazing, with all due respect to the dear brothers and sisters with an aversion toward “pulpit politics”, that they exhibit an utter intolerance toward God’s man who shines the light on lifestyles contrary to God’s Word. Could it be that they want truth that suits them? They claim an intolerant, absolute right to censor the pulpit and no one should attempt to preach anything different. Apparently there is a list of “taboo” topics. Could this possibly be the pre-cursor to the itching ear? Across America today, without doubt, liberal pulpits have not only an agenda, but also a list of sermons that will not be tolerated. It has been stated in this publication that what is preached not only defines the pulpit ministry, but what is “not” preached as well.
To bring it down to a personal level, let me ask you this question? If your pastor were deeply moved by the Holy Spirit of God in studying the scriptures concerning a specific topic, would you not expect your pastor to teach on that subject? Eventually over a period of time, months and years, would you not expect your pastor to cover every subject that the Bible deals with? The culture and changing times have no effect on the unchanging Word of God. Just because a society re-defines lies as “a matter of opinion,” or “mis-speaking;” fornication as “affairs;” and drunkenness as “chemical dependency” or a “genetic pre-disposition,” in no-way relieves the church of its responsibility to call sin, sin. If the preaching is Old Testament and invades lifestyle, the rebuttal is “that’s Law and applies to Israel and not to me today.” If the preaching is New Testament and ruffles the feathers, then “that’s the preacher’s opinion, that’s politics, and does not belong in the pulpit. Do we have private interpretation here and an intolerant attitude toward the exposure of sin, self, and Satan? The apostle Paul said, “They shall turn away their ears from the truth.”  Yes, these are perilous times, but from the pulpit to the pew, the call is to stand on the Word of God. “Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears….”

3. A watered-down generic. Why would the devil oppose watered-down Bible versions that omit a little here and add a little there?  “Yea hath God said?” 
    Several years ago I was in Mexico and a brother was buying prescription medication right over the counter. I asked him if the drugs in Mexico were safe. At that time he said they probably were. The biggest risk is that the U.S. dosage and strength may be diluted or watered-down in Mexico. There may be fillers and the needed potency has been altered. Obviously, that can be dangerous and in some cases deadly. If the prescribed strength and dosage is not correctly followed the malady that is being treated may become worse, even fatal. A careful examination of those promoting modern day Bible versions and contemporary church worship styles is very revealing. There are specific liberal trends, buzzwords, and philosophies adopted by those promoting and associated with today’s compromise.
    It does appear many have “rational – lized” their way beyond the Holy Spirit’s conviction against unscriptural philosophies and dogmatisms.

4. The ego, logo, no-go!  With denominational leaders making enormous six-figure salaries and millions of dollars gathered annually into the cooperative coffers, is it possible for this rich and fatty diet to not create heart problems? We talk about Rome and its hierarchy. Have you ever dealt with denominational machinery and bureaucracy? Your experiences are probably different from mine. Regardless, the ego’s can be big along with the power, politics and preferred personalities. Logos, labels and loyalties are and of necessity must be large. All wrong or is there right in the co-operative connectional union? Are pastors afraid of being alone by virtue of independence? Do they think apart from The Denomination there is no job security, health care, investment, or retirement plan? Maybe no one will show up for your funeral? Where will I find a pastorate or where will the church find a pastor apart from the denomination? But pastor, who called you? Who said He would build His Church? Will He ever leave us or forsake us? Can He supply our every need? Where is the pillar and ground of the truth? MUST I GO ON? No---go? It’s a no-go because denominationalism is man’s opinion not Biblical design. It’s a no-go because there is no anchor, no absolutes. Denominations say so but no it’s not true. Their standards are ever changing; music changes, dress changes, associations’ change, Bible versions change. Sin that was no longer is and those who were no longer are with a changing redefining relativistic worldview. It’s a no-go fraught with prejudicial conjecture. Whatever happened to a little Bible study? What does God say or is that no longer important since the people in the pew have 3 or 4 different versions? But my grandparents belong to this denomination and I will die a member. What a tragic bias. Inconsistencies abound. Please – Biblical evidence is irrefutable. History speaks volumes and the glaring proof of logical fallacies leave no question.
5. Mass, prayer and eulogy for the dead. America was reminded again what the Roman Catholic Church and religion is all about. (i.e. Ted Kennedy) The Bible, which Bible, what Bible? This dumbed down age lacks discernment and critical thinking skills. God and the Bible are out and the church is confused as to where the Bible is if we even have the Bible. We’ve gone from talking in class, chewing gum and running in the halls to drugs, abortion and murder as the discipline problems in government schools. Discipline my foot- it’s survival in that jungle. Oh and the children are told they are animals from the jungle so why not act like one. What’s that got to do with denominations? Ask them what they believe about Genesis chapters 1-11. Ask them about marriage, divorce, marriage after a divorce or divorces, music, dress standards, alcohol, dancing, worldly entertainment, voting records and why? Did the pope go to heaven and we all pray to the same God – Christian, catholic, Islam, etc? Just ask!

6. Where have all the preachers gone? Homes, churches, nor Bible colleges are turning out servants for Christ. More missionaries and pastors are retiring, leaving, quitting, and disqualifying themselves than are enlisting for service. Barack Obama said, Rev. Wright represents the best of what the black church has to offer. Obama believes in non-traditional faith. Could that translate into a non-Biblical faith? It’s more than cotton, spandex, and denim, it’s withdrawal symptoms. I die daily, Paul was daily in jeopardy of giving his life for Christ’s sake. Paul knew daily as he stepped out into his ministry what the risk was in taking a stand for the gospel. Do we have today a generation of believers who would die for the cause, let alone live for Christ? The scripture, the Spirit, the system, the subjective, the situation could all be discussed here. God save us from ourselves.

7. Pulpit hireling. Facilitator at best. How can a teacher be a teacher devoid of conviction and passion? Can’t discipline or hug a hurting child because of the perversion our society has plunged into. It seems the parent, pew and pulpits are out of control. My heart is grieved. I am not trying to be contentious but contend for the faith. I have precious family and friends who are members of various denominations across this country. Is this an anti Dale Carnegy Course. Am I trying to lose friends and infuriate people? I do want God’s people to think. I want you to open your Bible, KJB, and see what The Lord has to say. Thy Word Is Truth! He is not the author of confusion. Don’t be a party to confusion or corruption. Do all to the glory of God.