There are times when the most responsible thing you can do is to warn someone of impending danger. You do that because people could be hurt. Danger could be lurking in the shadows. There could even be the potential for death. In sounding the alarm, you are not being cantankerous or neurotic. You’re not a naysayer. You’re not a doom-and gloom prophet. You’re a realist. If you or I see something or know something that has the potential of bringing harm to others, to give a bold, strong warning is our duty! Not to do so is neglect.
–Charles R. Swindoll, The Church Awakening:An Urgent Call For Renewal.
Jesus’ Warning Against Hypocrisy
It’s been five years since I read Charles R. Swindoll’s The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call For Renewal. An admonishment to the church to join “Jesus in the greatest challenge we have ever faced–THE CHURCH AWAKENING!”
This is a very sad time in our nation’s history, as well as the church. As I’ve watched the chaos unfold over the past several years. There has been a growing division In the United States that is heartbreaking. The nature of the Old Testament prophets in times of trouble were to sound the alarm. What is taking place in America will have an impact both naturally and spiritually for years to come, as well as other on other nations.
…God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:21 New King James Version (NKJV)
God has spoken through prophetic voices since the beginning of Creation, and He is still speaking today. It is God’s very nature to communicate with His people. We see this in both the Old and New Testament. In challenging times God sends the prophetic Word to guide His people. After two thousand years prophetic voices are still in operation throughout the church. Ephesians 4:11-16 says,
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, `12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
When it comes to building up the church the prophet’s role is just as important as the apostle, evangelist, pastors and teachers for equipping of the saints for the work of service associated with God’s eternal plan. The prophet’s role is to…
A few days ago I was pondering over Matthew chapters 23 and 24. A very powerful warning to the church against hypocrisy, destruction of the temple and signs of the end times.
Jesus’ Warning to the Spiritual Leaders and His Followers
Jesus warned the multitudes and disciples against hypocrisy and issued seven woes to the teachers of the law and the Pharisees (Matt. 23:1-4). His intent was to warn His followers about the scribes and Pharisees. He issued several strong warnings regarding their pride, worldliness, tyranny, and pretense of religion. He warned the crowd to be careful to follow biblical law, but not to do as the scribes and Pharisees do because they did not practice what they preached (vs. 3). Jesus said, they do their works to be seen, and they live for the praise of men. The scribes and Pharisees were bad examples because they expected more of others than they did of themselves.
The religious leaders loved it when people admired their supposed spirituality. They coveted the seats of honor at banquets and at the synagogue, and they loved the honoring titles such as Rabbi and father. Jesus reminded His followers that they “are all brethren” and that one should not be exalted above others by titles that are either demanded or received. Jesus warned His listeners and us against giving anyone inappropriate, excessive honor (vs. 5-10).
In the Church of Christ, all titles and honors which exalt men and give occasion for pride are here forbidden. —Charles Spurgeon
Was Jesus explicitly telling His followers not to consider any spiritual leader as a father? I believe Jesus was warning His followers not to love or cherish titles given to men. We know this because, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, godly men spoke of themselves with some of these titles.
- Paul called himself a father: 1 Corinthians 4:15, Philippians 2:22.
- Paul called other Christians his children: Galatians 4:19.
- Paul called himself a teacher: 1 Timothy 2:7, 2 Timothy 1:11.
While we weren’t paying attention, everything changed–our world eroded from a Christian era to a post-Christian era. It’s a new kind of Dark Ages.
–Charles R. Swindoll
An exhortation which today’s church should take more seriously. Christian leaders, regardless of spiritual gifts, should be respected because they hold an office of authority, ordained by God, but they are not to be worshiped because of the title they hold. Jesus said,
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Matthew 23:11-12
Jesus also said that the scribes and Pharisees, “tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.” He cautioned them about the nature of prideful men who impose upon themselves great and mighty names, titles, and pretensions to power (Matt. 5-12). He ends by saying, “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matt. 23:11-12)
Jesus then issued seven woes on the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees which I will cover in part 2 of this post.
In His Service,