- The church has sinned by preaching false gospels! Today in the churches, false gospels abound. Preachers are preaching Christ dishonoring gospels that uplifts the flesh and satisfy human ego and yet, they say nothing of sin, righteousness and judgment. It seems that the true Holy Spirit that convicts the world of sin, righteousness and judgment has long left a banner written “the glory has departed” because such great unique works that are attributed to the Spirit’s movement are lacking. The preacher who preaches has long ceased to be the preacher of the gospel, but has turned aside after fleshly motivations and exhortations. A false gospel is characterized by several trends: 1) it promises people what God has not promised, 2) it undermines the power of the Cross; 3) it exalts human experience and traditions over the truth and 4) it presents another Christ.
Promising people what God has not promised is the most current trend in the church. People come enquiring for the word of the Lord. They are so hungry and thirsty for a message of God in fulfillment of the prophet Amos’ oracle, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD” (Amos 8:11). There is a great famine in the land; people are starving and are spiritually dying because the word of the Lord has become rare like in the days of Samuel. Believe it or not, many folks who are coming to our churches are not interested in the entertainment that we give, the eloquence and charismatic enigma of the preachers, but, they are looking for the undiluted and true word of God as some of our musicians have well put it in song, “Pastor, give us the word please! We have done everything you promised; we have given our tithes and offerings, but now, we want to see God at work!”
There lies the Church with the divine mandate to preach the word, in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2), but sadly, there is no word from the Lord! The pulpit is occupied by spiritual mercenaries that preach for profit and prophesy for gain. They cannot give you a word of the Lord if you do not have a gift for the man of God. You have to seed for your prophecy; seed for your miracle and seed for your healing and deliverance; you have to pay something to get something from God. There is nothing for free. We are like what the secular musician; Dr. Thomas Mapfumo described in his song long back, “Corruption, corruption, in the society. Nothing for nothing; something for something”. While Dr. Mapfumo was singing of the corruption that had been prevalent in Zimbabwe at the time, his words are an apt fit for the church community in Zimbabwe.
As a result, for the preacher to keep his position and safeguard his spiritual business he has to come up with schemes of getting another word to the people and of course, you might have guessed it right, in the name of Christ! Listening to many preachers today, one would definitely wonder what has gone wrong with the preaching ministry especially at a time when every preacher has transformed himself to be a prophet. “Let me prophesy!” “Shall I prophesy?” I declare and decree…” are some of the common church phrases that have taken us by storm as preachers do their thing in the congregations, prophesying and giving oracles that are supposedly coming from the Lord. The spiritually hungry believer, upon hearing such words from the trusted man of God, goes home rejoicing that the Lord has touched his or her life and some go eagerly anticipating that what has been said will come to pass. But alas, it comes to pass that the word of the prophet is not fulfilled. The believer is accused as the reason why the word from the man of God has failed. The preacher tries to explain away the prophecy and suggests all various kinds of befitting explanations as to the reason why the word has not happened “in accordance to the word of the Lord through His prophet”. I have been in gatherings where believers were accused of some hidden sins, lack of faith, etc. that might have contributed to the prophecy not being fulfilled.
To make matters worse, these believers are left in a spiritual turmoil as they seem not to understand why of al; the people, God has chosen to neglect and forsake them. Some of them have given their entire fortunes to the ministries as seed money to get the word of the Lord that they so desperately needed, but here again, God has failed them; so they think. Yet, the problem is not theirs neither is it God’s. There is a false prophet in our midst who is speaking when God is silent. Like in Jeremiah’s days, these false prophets steal God’s words when God has not sent them and because they are greedy for materialism and financial gain, they should have a word somehow.
A few sensitive believers leave the service crying like Marry, “they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him” (John 20:13) while others, like King Jehoshaphat speaking to Ahab, keeps asking, “Is there not here a prophet of the LORD besides, that we might enquire of him?” (1 Kings 22:7). They have been betrayed by the preachers in the pulpit who have brought God’s name into disrepute. Unlike Solomon acknowledging before the Lord, “according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promise, which he promised” (1 Kings 8:56), these brethren leave the church services crying, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” (Psalm 22:6-8).
Yet, we should ask, whose message did the preacher deliver and on whose authority did he stand? By what power did he give his message? Who has sent him? Strange as it may sound, many believers today have hated God for the things that they were promised by preachers in the name of God that have not materialized. We have sinned as a church when we have sought for other voices apart from that of God. We have sinned by promising people certain things in their lives that God has not or isn’t promising them. I have heard many preachers saying, “By this time tomorrow, next week, next month or next year” such and such a thing will have happened, but when you look back, no such thing has ever happened.
If we were in the Old Testament era, we could have stoned such prophets to death. I heard one senior bishop defending these prophets by saying that “they are true prophets indeed; it’s only that the spiritual world is so vast, so sometimes they wander in the wrong direction but in the spirit. This does not mean they are false prophets”. What a shocking and misleading statement from a senor bishop! If God would operate that way, what confidence would we have had in the Bible? Wandering prophets in the spiritual arena promising things that God has not promised? This is not the Church I have learned from the Old and New Testaments. The true Church should have the spirit of truth and remain truthful to its Lord and savior and safeguard itself from lies and deception. When we embrace false gospels and propagate them, we sin as a Church.
Can you picture yourself at one moment seating with the king of Israel and Judah in 1 Kings Chapter 22? There are 400 prophets who are being led by another prophet, Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, pushing imaginary Syrians with horns of iron, speaking the word that others are speaking, speaking the word that men want you to speak and there, comes another prophet, Micaiah who refuses to speak anything less than what the Lord has said. He alone stands in direct opposition to all other prophets despite his friend’s advice to speak well to the kings and sell them fantasies of victory despite the Lord having determined that Ahab was to be smitten at Jezreel. Who would you have sided with: the voice of the majority false prophets because they spoke well of the king and the battle, or the true prophet Micaiah, who was sent with the word of the Lord, and stuck by it even when the odds were against him?
As the church, which voices have we stuck to? Have we stuck with those voices that speak God’s word in spirit and truth and do not care if they are fed with the bread of affliction for standing true to their convictions and the message that they have been sent with? Or, we have chosen to listen to another spirit that promises us victory, please, self contentment and freedom from pain if we only we could but for a moment, shut ourselves to the true voice of the Spirit that calls us to a life of total obedience and self denial as we bear the Cross and follow Christ and the reproach that is associated with it?
Years ago, I read one of Rick Joyner’s books The Harvest that, God is raising the last days’ army that will not be popular. They will not be famous or known for the standards of this world that measure greatness cannot fit them. While I do not subscribe to most of his theology, I concur with this observation because “the ways of God with men in the Christian religion constitute not a scheme that we can work out according to principles of our own” wrote the late J. Gresham Machen. The true prophetic message that we have been sent with as a church will not make us popular especially in light of its content. It is a message of warning, calling the people to make straight paths for the Lord and be ready for His coming. It is a message about sin and repentance; a message of damnation and condemnation if people chooses darkness because of their evil ways.
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11) and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), the world will not parade to decorate with splendor, a man of God that stands firm and rebukes it for sin and judgment. The message of sin and judgment brings every heart to a point of decision; it melts like fire, the hardness and stubbornness of men’s hearts as they see themselves being “sinners in the hands of an angry God”. This is no simple thing as to rejoice in; the world does not want to be disturbed and shaken out of its comfort zone. No wonder, many of our preachers and prophets in the church today are so silent as to injustice and sins that permeates our societies and cultures because they do not want to offend anyone. Where are the real prophets of today, and can they stand up and denounce the ways of sin, social injustice, bribery and all other social evils in our country?
But alas! They are ease at Zion and feeding in the king’s chambers, dining on the pleasantries this world has to offer. They have betrayed the Lord who called them and went after the way of Judas Iscariot, who sold the Lord for the sake of money. They have turned themselves into spiritual mercenaries, who preach for financial gain, and have become men pleasers, not saying anything that is bad or evil to those that occupy places of power. Instead, they bless them and prophesy “peace, peace” but the Lord has not sent them. As in the days of Israel and Judah, people do not want those that stand true to their God given callings. All they need are people who give them some encouragement and motivation. They want to be told all is well even when it is not well. They want people who say to them, “God is with you” even when the Lord has departed. They want to be told, “Go and prosper, for the Lord will give you whatsoever ye desire”; they do not like to see gloomy visions of all Israel scattered upon the hills as sheep that have not a shepherd because all they seek is the favor of the crowd.
How long oh Church should we continue living as if we have bought ourselves and we are our own? Do we not know that He who purchased us is God in Christ and we are no longer living for ourselves but for Him? Have we forgotten the admonition to be diligent and to pursue after righteousness and holiness without which no one will ever see God? (Hebrews 12:14) Do we love God or fear Him enough to avoid ourselves as becoming men pleasers by ambassadors of the Lord himself?
- The church has sinned by preaching a bloodless Gospel! Over the years, the preaching in our churches has moved from being a blood Gospel to a bloodless Gospel. Back in the 90s, we could preach salvation through the blood of Jesus. The sinners would be brought to the foot of the Cross to that fountain that is filled with blood, drawn from Emmanuel’s vein. I long for those days when we could hear a preacher say, “Nothing but the blood of Jesus can save your filthy sin stained soul!” Those days, the Gospel was presented in proper ways, telling sinners that they are in great danger if their lives are not washed and cleansed in the blood of Jesus that can make atonement for one’s soul; that blood which speaks better things than that of Abel!
During those days, we sang many songs that showed how important salvation is because it was blood bought by the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man himself. However, today, there has been a new paradigm shift. People are no longer coming to Christ to have their sins forgiven and washed in the blood of Christ so that they can have peace with God which was only made possible by the sacrifice and he offering of the body of Christ.
In some charismatic and Pentecostal churches, preachers have come up with new revelations. I have heard some preachers say Jesus was just a sinner like us until the day he received a supernatural revelation from heaven that came after filled with spirit of God. Others have gone to say that he cannot be the ultimate Savior; there are other ways that leads to heaven, spiritually made ways that can guarantee your salvation apart from the blood. One other church I know said that it will not speak about the blood or teach about it, and it removed every song that had to do with the blood in their churches.
One eloquent, young energetic and yet misguided preacher claimed that the Cross is a sign of defeat and their church would only speak of the resurrection power. I was with this young man at one time at the bible school and he had been so mesmerized by the teachings of the word of faith movement and was busy believing strange doctrines he thought had a biblical base simply because there verses (proof texts in theological terms) that seemed to support several such notions. Today, he has his own church and makes people eat holy sand because he believes he has reached a significantly Fourth Dimension according to Paul Yongi Cho’s teachings, and in that dimension, miracles are an everyday reality and people can graze grass, eat sand, or do anything stupid as spiritual because they are gods walking on planet earth. They now have power and even sickness and disease cannot even touch them. To them, this is the law of the spirit of life in Christ.
Our salvation was blood bought, and that truth will last for all eternity as long as the Savior has the scars of the nail prints and the spear that pierced through his side. When we stop teaching salvation by the blood of Christ, we are doomed and the people we are bringing to church are filthy sinners that will never experience the power of Calvary and what it means to have a cleared conscience form sin and guilty. We are making sinners feel safe and secure in their sins. No wonder, in some churches, they no longer preach or teach about sin because it’s an offensive subject. “The blood is offensive and so we cannot teach about it. What use is the blood after 2,000 years? People needs better preaching on glorification and victorious Christian living”.
On another extreme, we have under emphasized or overemphasized the use of the blood of Jesus. Because of the deliverance ministry people have come up with strange ideas and theories concerning the blood of Jesus which are not taught in the Scriptures. We have dipped Satan ad his demons in the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ is now said to be the liquid fire of the Spirit. Food is covered with the blood of Jesus as plead it before partaking of it. A student who wants to sit for an exam covers the exam with the blood of Jesus; cars, airplanes, businesses, etc. are covered and insured by the blood of Jesus. Everything is now dipped and has to go through the immersion of the blood of Christ, otherwise Satan will win. Revelation 12:11 is our proof text, “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death”.
I just wonder, is this the biblical way of using the blood of Christ? What is the purpose of the blood and to what end does it help the believer and the sinner? It is surprising to note that the above described ways fall short of what Scripture teaches. The purpose of the blood of Jesus was to make peace with God; it was to bring propitiation for sins and mate a covering (atonement) for our sin. The blood washes and cleanses us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:7-9). If we dip the devil and his demons in the blood (let’s assume that strategy works), what are we doing? Making peace with them, atoning for their sins and cleansing them? Is this what it is all about? Over recent years, people have started praying saying their prayers “in the name and the blood of Jesus” as if this is a Scriptural induction. I wonder where we get such kind of theological thinking in the church. I propose therefore, that the church has not only sinned by preaching a bloodless gospel, but also by abusing the blood!
You see my dear friends, the supposed revelations of the blood have been made prominent in our day by several teachers in the Pentecostal and charismatic movements who believe that God is still giving newer revelations. One other writer, devotes 4 volumes of books into a series called The Reality of the Blood of Jesus, and adds that what he was writing was God’s revelation. When he came to Zimbabwe and distributed his free books to the pastors and church leaders, there was a new paradigm in the churches as people began to pray in the blood name of Jesus! I attended several of his crusades and saw the preacher expel demons in the blood name of Jesus and everything was blood, blood, blood!!!! When he left the country, we started practicing what we had seen because it was associated with marvelous displays of power, but none went to check the Scriptures and do, “the WORD test!”
This is a call to spiritual reform; this is a call to action. How does God think of the Church today when we stand and preach a bloodless Gospel? Or, how does he feel if we abuse the privilege of using His blood? Furthermore, how does God feel if we trample it underfoot or ignore it in a bid to invent other spiritual means that can secure for us an audience with the Holy King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Instead, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)