Book: Lord, What Should I Do?

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God is continually trying and testing every minister and pastor to determine who truly loves Him and His Word. In fact, God is making a distinction between those ministers who faithfully preach His Word in truth and those who, in complacency and neglect, fail to provide for the spiritual needs of their congregations. God is also taking note of those who are only seeking position, prestige and power.

Every minister of Jesus Christ needs to carefully examine his own heart and mind to honestly evaluate his personal motives for being in the ministry. This is the self-examination that Christ required the apostle Peter to undergo. Every minister should apply this same scriptural test to himself:

“Therefore, when they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these [the other apostles and disciples]?’ And he said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord. You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs!

“He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord. You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep!

“He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep!’ ” (John 21:15-17).

Each minister who has the Spirit of God has been entrusted as a steward, with this commission, just as Jesus charged Peter. Each minister needs to know that the very purpose of his calling is to feed the sheep of God—the brethren of Jesus Christ. If any man is a minister for any other reason, his ministry will be shallow and ineffective.

Those ministers who truly love Jesus will faithfully continue to preach the whole truth of God even at the risk of personal loss and deprivation, just as Paul instructed Timothy:

“And that from a child you have known the Holy Writings, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith, which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine, for conviction, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work…. I charge you, therefore, in the sight of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, Who is ready to judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the Word! Be urgent in season and out of season; convict, rebuke, encourage, with all patience and doctrine” (II Tim. 3:15-17; 4:1-2).

Every minister, pastor and teacher will follow the example of Paul, who faithfully taught the true Gospel message because he valued the spiritual welfare of his brethren above his own physical life. Paul endured great persecution and hardship as he faithfully taught his brethren the truth of God that leads to eternal life. Here are Paul’s heartfelt words to his Corinthian brethren:

“For those of us [ministers] who are living are always [continually] delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then, on the one hand, death is working in us [ministers]; and on the other hand, life is working in you [brethren]…. For all things are for your sakes, so that the abounding grace may cause the thanksgiving of many to overflow unto the glory of God.

“For this reason, we do not lose heart; but if our outward man is being brought to decay, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For the momentary lightness of our tribulation is working out for us an immeasurably greater and everlasting fullness of glory. While we consider not the things that are seen [the tribulations and difficulties], but the things that are not seen [eternal life]. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are not seen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:11-18).

The apostle Paul was faithful to the charge that he received from Christ. As a true minister of God, he fed the flock with the pure doctrines of the Word of God. His reward is sure! Paul will inherit eternal life with glory and power in the Kingdom of God, serving the Father and Jesus Christ in eternal love! This is the reward that God offers to every minister who faithfully preaches the pure truth of His Word, regardless of corporate organization or church affiliation.

Ministers and Pastors to Face Harsher Judgment

Without exception, every minister of Christ will be judged according to his works. If he is faithfully preaching the truth of God without compromise, he will receive an eternal reward. However, if he is compromising with the truth in order to protect his position, his prestige, his salary or his pension, he will have to give an account to Christ. In fact, the Apostle James warns that those in positions of spiritual leadership will face a stricter judgment: “My brethren, do not many of you become teachers, knowing that we will receive more severe judgment” (James 3:1).

Ironically, the majority of today’s “Christian” ministers do not truly believe the Scriptures—and thus do not obey what God commands. Jesus foretold of this very condition among “religious leaders”:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but the one who is doing the will of My Father, Who is in heaven. Many [pastors and ministers] will say to Me in that day [of judgment, when everyone—including religious leaders—will come before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account], ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy [teach or minister] through Your name? And did we not cast out demons through Your name? And did we not perform many works of power through Your name?’ And then [because of their works] I will confess to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who work lawlessness’ ” (Matt. 7:21-23).

Indeed, many ministers and pastors go before their congregations using Christ’s name—saying, “Lord” this and “Lord” that. Yet, because they don’t truly believe what the Bible says, they teach fables and traditions of men. To make them palatable, such teachings are often cloaked in analogies or “human interest” stories.

Jesus will have no choice but to say to them, “I don’t know you”—because their whole “Christian experience” is based on ideas of men, not on sound biblical doctrine. As Paul wrote, they have “an outward appearance of godliness, but [are guilty of] denying the power of true godliness” (II Tim. 3:5). The “power of true godliness” lies in heartfelt obedience to the laws and commandments of God, made possible by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. But a humble belief in the absolute authority of the Scriptures—both Old and New Testaments—is the starting point.

In fact, mainstream pastors and ministers typically do not use the entire Bible; they lean heavily on Paul’s writings while almost totally avoiding the Old Testament. This always leads to gross doctrinal error. The end result is spiritual blindness—a make-believe reality, an illusion. The average Christian simply does not realize that Satan the devil is actively deceiving the whole world (Rev. 12:9) through both government and religious leaders.

Many of today’s “Christian” pastors and ministers are responsible for carelessly deluding their followers into accepting a no-works, no-cost, carnal-friendly “Christianity” that leaves them unsatisfied and spiritually empty. The prophet Isaiah warned of just such a condition:

“It shall even be as when a hungry one dreams, and behold, he eats, but he awakes and his soul is empty; or as when a thirsty man dreams, and behold, he drinks; but he awakes, and behold, he is faint and his soul is longing…. [They think they are being fed spiritually, but are actually starving.] Be stunned and amazed! Blind your eyes and be blind! They are [spiritually] drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink, for [because of your unbelief and disobedience] the LORD has poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes [spiritual ignorance and blindness]; He has covered [made blind] the prophets [pastors and ministers] and your rulers, and the seers. And the vision of all has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which they give to one who is learned saying, ‘Please read this,’ and he says, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’ And the book is delivered to him who is not learned, saying, ‘Please read this,’ and he says, ‘I am not learned.’ [The Scriptures are closed to them because of their lack of genuine obedience.] [And what is the CAUSE of this condition?] And the LORD said, ‘Because this people draws near Me with their mouth, and with their lips honor Me [they use all the right-sounding “religious” phrases], but their worship of Me is made up of the traditions of men learned by rote, and their fear [and obedience] toward Me is taught by the commandments of men’ ” (Isa. 29:8-13).

This key passage is a powerful indictment against today’s “Christianity”! Yes, men desire to be religious—to give “lip service” to God—while delighting in their own works and traditions. Overwhelmingly, this world’s ministers and pastors have convinced themselves that God approves of their ways—even when they know many “Christian” practices (such as Sunday worship and the popular holidays of Easter and Christmas) are actually pagan and contrary to the Word of God.

Because of such irresponsible compromising with the Scriptures, God blinds their eyes and understanding. Notice verse 14: “Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do again a marvelous work among this people, even a marvelous work and a wonder, for the wisdom of their wise ones [their pastors and ministers] shall perish, and the wisdom of their intelligent ones [their scholars and theologians] shall vanish”—and, thus, they become fools (Rom. 1:19-22).

Religious leaders who compromise with the truth become blind to the true plan of God. Paul writes: “But if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are perishing; in whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe…” (II Cor. 4:3-4). In unbelief, they do not genuinely obey God’s laws and commandments. Thus, they are blinded—an automatic spiritual penalty for disobedience.

To Knowingly Teach False Doctrine Is Willful Sin

While the majority of “Christian” pastors and ministers are, without a doubt, sincere in their beliefs and convinced they are correct, there are “wolves in sheep’s clothing” who are bent on deliberate deception. In fact, such religionists twist and distort God’s word in rebellion—denying the true way of life described in the Scriptures. Of them Isaiah says, “Woe to those who go deep to hide their [secret] purpose from the LORD! And their works are in the dark, and they say, ‘Who sees us? And who knows us?’ Surely, you have turned things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the potter’s clay; for shall the work say of him who made it, ‘He did not make me?’ Or shall the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘He had no understanding?’ ” (Isa. 29:15-16).

Likewise, the prophet Ezekiel exposes the schemes of those pastors and ministers who would knowingly undermine the truth.

There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst, like a roaring lion tearing the prey. They have devoured souls; they have taken the treasure and precious things; they made many widows in her midst. Her priests have done violence to My law [claiming that it has been abolished] and have profaned My holy things. They have put no difference between the holy and the profane, and have not taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and THEY HAVE HIDDEN THEIR EYES FROM MY SABBATHS, and I am profaned among them…. And her prophets have covered themselves with whitewash, seeing false visions and divining lies unto them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD’ when the LORD has not spoken” (Ezek. 22:25-26, 28).

God does not view this as simple ignorance or a lack of knowledge by religious leaders. He declares it for what it truly is—a deliberate conspiracy! God has made it quite plain in the Bible how He expects men to live. But many of today’s ministers and pastors have closed their eyes to the truth.

For example, the majority of Orthodox Christendom knows that the observance of Sunday is nowhere sanctioned in the Bible—that it is of pagan origin. But too many ministers and pastors willingly continue in the charade that it is an “authorized Christian practice”—authorized by men. They have deluded themselves (and their congregations) that Sunday worship is “sanctioned” by God. But to them God says: “What right have you to declare My statutes, and to take up My covenant in your mouth? [Again, they love to say “Lord, Lord” and sound religious.] Yea, [but in reality] you hate to be taught, and you cast My words behind you” (Psa. 50:16-17).

Similarly, Isaiah describes those religious leaders who knowingly mix error with truth:
Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin with cart ropes; who [disingenuously] say, ‘Let Him hurry and hasten His work, so that we may see it; and let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, so that we may know!’ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who put darkness for light and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink [from the golden cup of spiritual fornication in the hand of the harlot—Babylon the Great]; who justify the wicked for a bribe, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! Therefore as the fire devours the stubble, and the flame burns up the chaff; their root shall be like rottenness, and their blossoms shall go up like dust because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the Word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore, the anger of the LORD is kindled against His people, and He has stretched out His hand against them, and has stricken them…. In all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still” (Isa. 5:18-25).

So much of what is wrong with mainstream “Christianity” is the result of its leaders rejecting the Word of God in favor of human tradition. But if pastors and ministers would honestly and humbly search the Word of God—and put it above any and all traditions—they could begin to understand the truth.

Paul’s inspired message to the Hebrew Christians is a timeless warning to all who turn away from the truth and begin to believe or teach false doctrines. As Paul pointed out to these early Christians, to knowingly turn away from the truth and accept false doctrines that deny Christ is willful sin and will bring God’s just retribution. How much more so for those who claim to be ministers of the Gospel!

He declared, “For if we willfully go on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of inevitable judgment and of fierce fire, which will devour the adversaries of God. Consider this: anyone who rejects the law of Moses dies without mercy under the testimony of two or three witnesses.

“How much worse punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, as an unholy thing, and has scorned the Spirit of grace?

“For we know Him Who has said, ‘Vengeance belongs to Me, I will recompense,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:26-31).

No minister or pastor can afford to ignore this solemn warning! If we deny Jesus Christ and the truth by knowingly teaching false doctrines, we are removing ourselves from God’s grace and are placing ourselves under His judgment! It is a fearful thing to face the judgment of the living God and the prospect of eternal death! Far better to humbly repent and seek God’s mercy and grace before it is too late.

Those who do not repent of their unfaithfulness are in danger of becoming hardened in their own deception. Paul warned, “Beware, brethren, lest perhaps there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in apostatizing from the living God. Rather, be encouraging one another each day, while it is called ‘today,’ so that none of you become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we are companions of Christ, if we truly hold the confidence that we had at the beginning steadfast until the end. As it is being said, ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion’ ” (Heb. 3:12-15).

When those who once believed the truth of God become fully hardened in their hearts, they are no longer convicted by the Spirit to seek repentance. There remains no more grace for them, but only the judgment of God. Just as God destroyed those who sinned in the provocation in the wilderness, God will destroy all sinners who will not hear His Word and who despise the Spirit of grace.

Compromising Ministers Must Repent!

If you—as an elder, minister or teacher—have been compromising the truth of God, watering down Scripture, or preaching “smooth things” in order to remain in good standing in an organized church, you are in great spiritual danger! To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48)! The Word of God clearly shows that a Christian who knowingly condones sin and error is defiling his or her conscience. A defiled conscience will eventually grow calloused and indifferent to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul describes the end result of yielding to the pressure and temptation to teach false doctrines: “Now the Spirit tells us explicitly that in the latter times some shall apostatize from the faith, and shall follow deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons; speaking lies in hypocrisy, their consciences having been cauterized [as if] with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:1-2).
Every “Christian” teacher who has yielded to false teachings is in danger of ending up in this unregenerate spiritual condition. It is the continued condoning and acceptance of sin and error that leads to loss of salvation. Opposing false doctrines—even when they are promoted by church “authorities”—will never cause a Christian to lose his or her salvation.

If you have been compromising the truth by accepting or teaching false doctrines, you need to repent and return to God—for He will cleanse each one who truly repents with humble supplications. Only then can you be restored in love and faith to God the Father and grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Importantly, do not wait on a “general movement” toward repentance among churchgoers! Such a movement will almost certainly never come. It is a grave mistake to delay our personal repentance when the Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and error in our lives!

David, a man after God’s own heart, was wholehearted in his repentance when the Spirit of God convicted him. When David had sinned greatly against God, this was his prayer of repentance: “LORD, be gracious unto me; heal my soul, for I have sinned against You” (Psa. 41:4). Again, when repenting of his adultery with Bathsheba and the killing of Uriah her husband, he pleaded:

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving-kindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin, for I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.

“Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done evil in Your sight, that You might be justified when You speak and be in the right when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.

“Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts; and in the hidden part You shall make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness that the bones which You have broken may rejoice.

Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Cast me not away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psa. 51:1-11).

Any minister or pastor who has sinned against God by compromising with the truth needs to have David’s attitude of deep repentance and humility. Such a person needs to ask God to cleanse his heart from the sins of neglect, apathy, compromise, complacency, ineptness—or of knowingly casting aside the truth of God and teaching falsehoods! Ask God to heal your mind and heart—for He will hear and He will answer.

Jesus gave this sobering admonition to the church at Laodicea—though the warning is applicable to all churches: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold purified by fire so that you may be rich; and white garments so that you may be clothed, and the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and to anoint your eyes with eye salve, so that you may see!

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore, be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.

“To the one who overcomes will I give authority to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and sat down with My Father in His throne. The one who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Rev. 3:18-22).

May God grant you the ears to hear, the heart to repent, and the courage to stand for the truth. May God grant you the understanding and strength you need to fulfill your personal, sacred duty as a minister to defend the faith once delivered to the saints.