I am a nobody. I don’t have a large ministry or platform. I am merely one of many nameless, faceless, little sheep who have been wandering in the evangelical wilderness for a long time. I don’t have much money, or even the strength and enthusiasm of my youth anymore. I’m not worth much to the typical pastor. Even so, I have something to say. And I hope that my obscurity won’t be a cause for dismissing my concerns.
Just in case those who are in positions of leadership haven’t noticed–the sheep are scattered. Many in the flock have given up on shepherds completely, forming home churches, or even quitting church altogether. Many are fed via the internet. They long for fellowship and love, but for them, the churches have become battlegrounds, rather than sanctuaries.
We are living in a time when many shepherds have gone astray from the truth of the Bible, yet they still carry the name of Jesus. It’s very difficult to know which shepherd is trustworthy. (It’s gotten so confusing that at this point in time, what one part of the church is calling apostasy, another part of the church is calling revival!)
This has caused some of the mature sheep to bleat loudly because they want to warn the flock, but it’s very bewildering to the little lambs who don’t understand why they can’t trust their shepherd. They don’t believe that the food or water they’re being fed is unhealthy or even poisonous. They feel love coming from the shepherd. Unfortunately, like a young, teenage girl, they aren’t able to discern between the language of true love and the language of seduction.
Because of this inability to discern, I believe that the pathway of truth needs to be made more clear . . . and I’m begging the good and faithful shepherds to provide well-lit trails of safety and refuge that the little flock can easily follow.
One day the hirelings will have to give an account to the Great Shepherd–whose heart’s desire was to gather his flock like a mother hen gathers her little chicks under her wings. Some of his last, precious words were those of a shepherd: “Feed my lambs . . . feed my sheep . . . feed my sheep.” He spoke this to Peter, who would later write to those who were to become elders:
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:2-4)
Are there no shepherds who take these words to heart? Are there no shepherds who desire to watch over the flock and long to gather those who are scattered? Are there no shepherds who have the courage to fight off the “grievous wolves” who will not spare the flock? (Acts 20:29) Are there no shepherds who have the heart of Jesus?
If these pastors exist, I cannot seem to find them in my corner of the world. My husband and I often spend a year in a church before we discover the heart of the shepherds and leaders. Often times the doctrinal statements and sermons are sound, but the further we venture into the congregation, the more book studies, prayer methods, and false doctrines we uncover. We feel like Ezekiel who discovered “greater abominations” as he was led further into the temple (Ezekiel 8).
The evangelical church is more like a minefield than a green pasture. There are dangers everywhere. The church has been decimated by prosperity preachers who use the flock for “dishonest gain” (and actually worship mammon), false revivalists who bring in lying signs and wonders, and postmodern preachers who lead the flock away from trusting in the Word.
The latest trend is toward “Cathangelicalism,” a blend of Catholicism and evangelicalism. The worst part of this Cathangelical movement is that it is rooted in the writings of the “ancient” Catholic mystics . . . those who knew nothing about repenting from dead works and putting their faith in the finished work of the Cross.
Consider this gallery of horrors:
- Kenneth Copeland (of the Charismatic/Word Faith stream) has led his flock toward union with the Catholics and Pope Francis.
- James Robison (a Southern Baptist) has met with Pope Francis and co-wrote a book with Catholic Jay Richards.
- John and Carol Arnott (of the Toronto movement) have met with Pope Francis and are now hosting ecumenical “Fire and Fusion” conferences with the Catholics.
- Brian Stiller, the Global Ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, has met with Pope Francis.
- Thomas Schirrmacher, “the Pope’s most beloved Protestant,” and chairman of the theological commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, has met with Pope Francis.
- Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, former Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of the World Evangelical Alliance, met with Pope Francis.
- Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer has met with Pope Francis. He has also promoted the works of Ignatious of Loyola and Teresa of Avila, Catholic mystics who opposed the Reformation.
- Rick Warren (a Southern Baptist) has met “our Pope” Francis and admits that he is a fan of EWTN, the Catholic cable channel.
- The line-up at “Together 2016” (which included a message from Pope Francis) included Francis Chan, Southern Baptist Convention president Ronnie Floyd, Ravi Zacharias, and many other popular evangelicals.
- At “Azusa Now” Lou Engle and Catholic Matteo Calisi kissed each other’s feet in a demonstration of unity.
- Megachurch pastor Joel Osteen has met with Pope Francis.
- Pope Francis even met with Stacy Campbell, the “hissing prophetess” who prayed and prophesied that he would be the next Pope.
- The Pope has met with Che Ahn.
- The pope has met with Kris Valloton of Bethel Redding Church.
- Luis Palau believes Pope Francis is a Christian.
- Many seminaries and universities are required to provide spiritual formation to be a part of their program in order to receive accreditation.
- Lutherans have taken communion with Pope Francis.
- The evangelical move towards Catholic, contemplative, mystical prayer has been well-documented by Lighthouse Trails and Ray Yungen.
- Catholics and evangelicals have joined together under two declarations: “The Manhattan Declaration” and “Catholics and Evangelicals Together.”
- Christian publishers such as Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, InterVarsity Press, and Multnomah have each published multiple books on contemplative prayer.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on. And all of this compromise, idolatry, and corruption in the temple of the Lord has trickled down to the local church. It’s rampant! How are the sheep (or the little lambs!) supposed to make their way through this mess?
Is it necessary for me to remind the church of those who gave their lives in the flames of the Inquisition in order to preserve the truth? Wycliffe, Huss, Luther, and Tyndale were courageous and stood fast against the false teachings of Catholicism. As Protestants they separated from the Roman Catholic Church and lit the way of truth for their generation. And now, are we just willing to forget their efforts and become a generation that allows Christianity to be plunged into another thousand years of darkness?
Greg Laurie, who has himself embraced Cathangelicalism, had his Harvest Crusade not long ago. He expected to reach over 100,000 people with the Gospel. I can’t help but ask: WHERE WILL THEY GO? Who will disciple them? Jesus confronted this exact problem when he cried out to the Pharisees:
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15)
How many of those fresh little baby lambs will go out into the evangelical community and become meat for a false shepherd? AND HOW LONG WILL FAITHFUL SHEPHERDS TOLERATE THIS?
“As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand.” (Ezekiel 34:7-8)
It’s time for the faithful church to prepare places where the scattered sheep can find refuge from their battles, places where the little lambs can be gathered and given clean, clear water and be led to green pastures. We need sanctuaries with lamps in the windows, so that the scattered and wandering sheep are able to see the light from afar.
Perhaps the Great Shepherd is calling His flock out of the defiled, unholy, and lukewarm blend that is developing right before our eyes. Perhaps this is what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church in this hour. Perhaps this is the true revival the Lord wants to bring.
“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
This isn’t the first time it’s been necessary for the Lord to call out a remnant, but Jesus won’t leave His remnant untended. He wants the gates to be opened, the roads to be cleared of all impediments, and built up to withstand the floods, with large signs put up to lead the way. It’s time for the church (especially the shepherds) to lead the flock safely home.
“Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples.” (Isaiah 62:10)
Amen and thank you. There is a remnant, and I join you in this plea; also a nameless, faceless little sheep. My husband and I have found a faithful pastor and elder board, and we now join in that work here in Alaska. I also volunteer in a radio ministry reaching into the darkness of the Alaskan bush villages where no churches exist, but we also broadcast into the more populated area of Alaska to compete for the hearts and minds of those exposed to heresy in music and heretical radio teaching. Do not get discouraged sister, The Lord will bring His people out…..stay faithful, continue to be a voice crying in the wilderness. Thank you for your article and I praise God for your faithful heart.
Thank you for your encouragement Debra. I also thank God for your faithfulness. You are lighting the way of truth for the little flock. May the Lord bless you as you abide in His Word!
Speaking of heretical radio teaching, most Christian radio stations (Not All), only care “if the check clears the bank”) I know of at least 14 anti-Trinitarian radio programs airing over many Christian stations. Many of these programs/organizations, have mislead many. Many of these Christian stations will have programs, warning Christians to beware of false teachers, doctrine, and so forth, and at the same time air false teachers. Speaking of music, Joel Hemphill of the well known Southern Gospel group, The Hemphill’s, continues to attack and deny the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Trinity. He has received 8 Dove awards, and has written many well known Gospel songs. His well known Sunday school song is “He’s Still Working On Me” I thought the cults were bad in their attacks on the deity of Christ, “HEMPHILL TRUMPS THEM!” Yes, you can listen to a teacher on Christian radio, mentioned Jesus, and you can listen to a Christian musician mention Jesus in his music, but is it the Jesus of the Bible, the early Christian faith, and the Christian faith today?
Yes! I didn’t even mention radio and television. 😦
Oh, how these are so many symptoms to the problem that started in the beginning centuries of the Christian Church. We have lost the “priesthood of all believers” and become dependent on the hierarchy that has developed. We have become pew sitters who are not really concerned with studying the Bible and using discernment in checking out truth. If the so-called little lambs would have grown in the word and discernment, we would not have to worry about them being so unprotected!
But there is a role for the shepherd…and we were told to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together…even more so as the day draws near. The priesthood of the believer is a wonderful doctrine–we no longer need a priest (other than Jesus, our High Priest) to gain access to God, but Jesus has given pastors, prophets, apostles, teachers, and evangelists to the church for a reason .. . to appeal to, love, and care for the little flock. I pray these leaders will return to the heart of Jesus and be faithful to His will and Word, leading souls to the love of the truth.
Amen. Well said (all of your post).
Signed – one of the bleaters.
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Thank you for that clarification. I can recall many years ago (late 80’s maybe), when the Southern Baptists did a winter doctrinal study on “The Priesthood of the Believer.” The study was so poorly written that it did more to destroy pastoral authority than anything else. In effect, it swung the door wide open to anyone who “felt” they’d received something “from God.” Shortly thereafter, the common excuse for following doctrinal perversions was, “I heard God say to me,” “The Spirit told me,” and the queen of all heresies, “I FELT God telling me that you/we should…”. Let us remember that authority is rooted in inspired Scripture ALONE, and whether lay person or seminarian, YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY UNLESS, you are rock solid and soundly standing on SCRIPTURE…not your personal feeling about Scripture or your interpretation of pet doctrines. Anyone can cherry pick verses to supposedly “prove” their perspective and deceive the unwary and less-grounded. But unless the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20) is being tapped, the doctrine will lack foundation. Sorry, but phrases like, “But I’ve come to believe” or, “But I’ve always been taught…” is NOT a biblical foundation. A layperson’s voice should be allowed to be a powerful thing in the church body of Christ, but only if/when they and their promotion is firmly grounded in Scripture. “What saith the Scriptures?” Good piece and participation.
Yes, I agree that we need shepherds. However, something to ponder. Ask yourself how many sermons you remember and have grown by. Being a teacher, I know that most of learning does not happen in a lecture type format, but when people are in groups and sharing with each other. This was the original intent when believers met in the homes during the early days of Christianity.
To me, it is obvious that they were not forsaking the assembling of each other. Everyone had a psalm, a hymn, a word of instruction, maybe a tongue and interpretation, etc..They were all meant to edify and build up one another for the common good.
Another thought to ponder is that when you are in an institutional church, where are believers able share and build up one another when the whole service is scripted? It happens this way in a majority of institutional churches not only in the United States but in many areas around the world.
I find it interesting that you possess a lot of formal education, yet it seems, and correct me if I’m wrong, that you are caught up in an institutional mindset. It is my hope that I have not offended you and brought you some food for thought. I have a blog at thenewtestamentjourney.blogspot.com if you’d like to check it out and make some comments.
So you used the issue under discussion to promote your personal perspective, to in turn, advertise your blog. How nice. It’s called “blog sniping.” It’s what people do when they lack participants for their blog. Rather than allowing Truth to attract people to your communication, you use the smite/flight rule, knowing that everyone runs to smoke because it’s a sign that there’s a fire burning that’s worth watching. Sorry, but you asked for correction, here it humbly comes, if you will hear it.
First, the early church didn’t meet in homes because it was the preferred place to meet. They were forced out of the synagogues and it was not safe to meet in the Temple while it stood. The Romans had their spies everywhere. Where else were they going to meet. They met in the homes out of necessity. The home in that day was the last “private” place people under fear of persecution could gather, and even that was subject to intrusion. The Bible’s mention of that is not a model for the modern church, as much of the house-church movement likes to promote.
As to sermons, you seem to be critiquing the whole “institutional” church ministry on a single service that’s dedicated to worship and preaching…usually on a Sunday morning. First, a well-organized church offers numerous other formats throughout the week that provide ample opportunity for interaction, discussion and individual participation. Learning in those atmospheres is as unique as learning from a well-crafted sermon with application. It is true that many people neglect those other formats and think of “going to church” as attending the worship/preaching service only. But that doesn’t mean that we diminish preaching due to the fact. God ordained preaching as the key method by which His Truth is made known. He did so, not to the exclusion of any alternative forms of communication with words, i.e, our witness, testimony, written communications, etc. (I say “with words” because I’m excluding quite purposely, things like so-called, “interpretive dance,” pantomime, and similar arts heavily dependent on subjective interpretation of the viewer or spectator). The fact is, Nehemiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jonah are just a few of the men ordered to preach in the Old Testament. Isaiah said Jesus would be “anointed to preach” in Isa.61:1, 2 (see the outcome in Lk.4). Preaching is mentioned over 100 times in the New Testament. Paul commanded Timothy (2Tim.4:2), to PREACH the Word in face of times to come when heresies would prevail to lead many people astray–even when people WITHIN the churches will have lost all appetite for the Word of Truth…which, by that way, is the real issue being discussed here.
I’m not sure why you chose to attack the educational level of the writer and make the odd connection that to be educated automatically makes one a product of the institution. I don’t know the writer you imply is a cookie-cutter institutionalist and this is actually the first time I’ve read her. I judge only her comments against the Word of God.
The fact of the matter is that God ordained the church and preaching and teaching and witnessing and every other form of communication in which words communicate His Truth. The fact that it’s done wrong in any/many formats and settings, or is done poorly when properly programmed, doesn’t give license to declare God’s chosen methods out of date. In some settings, house churches may indeed be the best way for believers in isolated communities to meet. But one is not returning to some ancient or more effective method of “gathering together” just because they gather in a house instead of an “institutional” (your word) church. Many within the House Church Movement advocate their preferred method of meeting out of novelty and advance that they meet to “interact” with/about Scripture. They are often led without a formal “pastor” or “shepherd” without formal training. So while formal training is not everything, and admittedly, many seminaries are now awash in apostasy as well, a well-grounded leader (by any title), is a great necessity. But here, a major caution is necessary. A setting of believers where everyones’ opinion about doctrine is as good as the next persons is not preaching, teaching or discipleship at all. Actually, that’s known as the “dialectic” approach to Scripture–an approach that gives MUCH more room to the importance of the dialogue than the doctrine under discussion. The term is adopted from ancient atheistic philosopher G.F.W. Hegel, as is well known as the “Hegelian Dialectic.” In such settings, what’s important is that everyone has an opportunity to participate and FEEL GOOD ABOUT THEMSELVES as they’ve shared, whatever they’ve shared. This method lends itself to subjectivity, when the group is supposedly gathered to rightly divide the Scriptures and deduce from the Bible, the OBJECTIVE, inerrant Truth of God’s Words. Our words must bow at His altar. If one shares something contrary to Scripture, they are never to be corrected, as them feeling good about the fact that they’ve shared with the group, is the all important thing necessary to maintaining harmony in the group. And maintaining harmony is of the utmost importance in those settings. How I pray you can see that such ideology is not conducive to the teaching of sound doctrine or proper discipleship of the church in any setting. But if FEELS good, and everyone gets to “lead” for their moment, whether they support sound doctrine or not.
In closing, I find it interesting that you, sir, seem to have an Anti-institutional mindset. And no, I do not have a blog to advertise. You can reply right here for all to see.
I think you may misunderstand me. My husband and I might even have to start a home fellowship soon! All I am asking is for good shepherds to make it clear that they oppose the apostasy so that the little flock can identify them…Jesus said, “wherever 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” He isn’t opposed to small fellowships! And most of the apostasy is in the institutionalized church, but I have to believe there are some faithful shepherds who can actually be found by the sheep.
Thank you for your thoughts–and allowing me to clarify.
I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I truly appreciate that you took the time to respond. One of the problems that I see is the hierarchy that began with the early church fathers. I took a little license with a quote from the matrix. Tell me what you think.
Morpheus says to Neo:
“The traditional Bible-Based churches/Denominations, whether large, medium, or small, are a system, Neo. “The system is our problem”, not the believers. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Pastors, Businessmen, Teachers, Lawyers, Carpenters, etc. They are the minds that you are trying to set free from the deception of “other believers” and the “Early Church Fathers”. But until we do, these people are still part of that system, and that continues to make the traditional system our problem. You have to understand, most of these people have been fed “the error of human tradition” over their lifetimes and are not ready to leave. They are “hopelessly dependent” on the “current system.” They are “ignorant” of the facts” from the Bible and church history, so they will go to the “extreme” to “fight to protect” the “very system” that deceives them.”
When I saw “The Matrix” a number of years ago, I remember thinking how the church often used people like human batteries. The “system” just uses them up for their own gain…and it takes a willingness to take the “red pill” to get us out of the “current system.” Thank God that he doesn’t leave us in confusion! He gave us His Word and sent Jesus to confirm it. We just have to discover how important it is to keep that Word pure and remain faithful to it . . . we need messengers who will convey this truth!
careful….the Matrix is not the way to the truth and the ends don’t justify the means! Consider the scene where the little Buddhist boy is bending the spoon and he “teaches” Neo that the way to bend the spoon is to realize that there is no spoon – ie the way to bend the truth is to realize there is no truth – certainly this is the philosophy of today, that everything is relative.
The Matrix? Really? There were so many mixed messages in that movie it’s ridiculous. It’s another example of a ‘art’ (in this case, interpreted by many as an allegory), where the villain can be whoever you find oppressive. One can read almost anything it that FEEL vindicated in their views. It surely not a basis for discussion about the Word of God and the place and manner in which the Church is called to do its God-ordained task.
Look, churches can and often do get too big. “Institutionally speaking,” denominations do have a hierarchy-drive “system” that rules over the people. Jesus condemned that in the 7 letters to the 7 churches of Asia Minor (Rev.2 & 3). It was called “Nicolaitanism” back then. It became the Roman Catholic Papacy, which was NEVER a true representation of Biblical Christianity from the beginning and remains a false church today. (For my Catholic friend; I have many), Vatican II changed nothing). Mainline denominations (if you’ll excuse the stereotype for a moment), have long left faith in the inspired, inerrant Word of God in the dust of history past. To throw a bone to the “house church only” crowd, they got so “educated” and “institutionalized” that they became dinosaur fossils of ancient Christianity. Today, they’ve drifted so far that it’s hard to find the Gospel in those settings. (There are exceptions of course). But Mrs. Lesperance is correct. Aside from discussing all the groups that do it wrong, the most important issue here is what the Scriptures teach once the whole counsel of God is gathered from its pages. That can be faithfully preached, shared, taught or discussed in any setting. One setting is not better than another per se. The “institutional” church that (if a part of a denominational organism), is permitted to remain autonomous by virtue of it’s congregational charter, is permitted to self-rule, but ONLY (if legitimate), under the authority of the Word of God. Southern Baptist Churches have that type of structure. They are never dependent on the denomination, and are involved therein only as much as the individual congregation desire to be so. And just so you know that I’m not biased to the “institutional” setting, the SBC (w/ which my church affiliates), is soon to lose our participation is they don’t start correcting their course of entertaining heretics and heresies to promote themselves more than their Savior.
My own local conservative baptist church Began a 40 Church “let’s pray for the world” CathVanGeliszm. Collective prayer group. It was hidden at First. Then so many people at church asked “who are these people and what churches were Invited” ?? The leadership (most all fled) Put out a BookMark with a long list of 40 “churches BUT DELETING the Word Catholic! From that Churches Title! To fool the sheeple once again. I find this so disturbing and a herald-err. Of what the Church of Tares will eventually become. Beginning now….
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It is sooooo…easy to be seduced into the blend because joining evangelicalism and Catholicism together will give the “church” more political power, but our true power lies in our faithfulness to the truth, not in numbers. God blesses the faithful.
Well put. Ecumenicalism at it’s deceptive best!
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