Faith Baptist Church
4258 Botetourt Road
Fincastle, Virginia 24090
Heb.4:12 “For the word of God is alive and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner (critic) of the thoughts and intents (motivations) of the heart.”
Bible doctrine in our hearts gives to us discernment concerning our motivations as Christians. It also gives to us perspicacity toward others who try to handle us to get what they want. Remember, as sheep of God’s pastures, we have more than Satan, the roaring lion to contend with, our Lord said we must also contend with wolves, Matt.10:16. Wolves prey on sheep. They depend on sheep to satisfy their appetite for power. Some wolves use flatteries to lure sheep, but only the unsuspecting sheep are caught.
The wise sheep are protected by their shepherd when such wolves come to visit. They are known as wolves by their smooth words and plastic smiles and flattery. Paul warned the pastors in the city of Ephesus, Acts 20:17, to take heed to their own lives and to the flocks to which God had called them and made them overseers; that they must feed the flock of God the whole counsel of God’s word; that wolves would enter in and not spare the flock, Acts 20:27-31. The word of God gives to both the pastor and the people spiritual discernment which protects all of us from erring from the faith. Paul reminded Timothy of the same thing, I Tim.4:12-16.
Watch out for those who flatter you. If you are an approbation (self-praise) oriented person, and you love the sound of your name; and you want people to think you are wonderful, and then you are a ready candidate to become someone’s fodder. You are a ready candidate to become someone’s next stepping stone. Preachers are some of the worst flatterers. When I was in Bible College I was taught that when I went on visitation to look for family pictures and articles in the home of the resident and to say nice things about the family or the home. I was being programmed to flatter people so as to get on their good side. Basically I was to be chummy before I stated the purpose of my visit. Did the end justify the means? Some would say yes, whatever it takes. However, I never saw this approach sanctioned from the scriptures. I was always uncomfortable with looking for an angle to reach people; I still am.
The Apostle Paul lists in I Thess.2:1-5 several behavioral patterns that we should observe when it comes to witnessing to the lost and fellowshipping with the saved.
1. Our witnessing is not in vain. Spreading God’s word is always good. v.1
2. Our witnessing is not to be suppressed by those who are negative. v.2
3. Our witnessing must in no way deceive people, and it is must never be watered down to make it appealing. v.3
4. Our witnessing is a privilege and the responsibility has been entrusted to us. v.4
5. Our witnessing never calls for the use of flattery to get something from others. v.5
I have known preachers who used flattery to get others to do certain jobs in the church that no one wanted to do. I have known preachers to use flattery to get unsuspecting members to leave their good Bible teaching, loving church to join their church.
I highly doubt that some preachers believe God knows what they are thinking, and much less that God actually sees what they are doing. Some preachers aren’t church builders, they are church wreckers. They spend as much energy if not more conjuring up ways to steal other churches members as they do in growing their own work. It’s one thing to go door to door telling people the gospel and per chance running into some people who already go to a church, and for some personal reason those people just may happen to come and visit your church. It is quite another thing to purposefully call on people who attend a sound biblical church asking them to leave their church family to join yours. This is dead wrong and biblically it comes under the sin of sowing discord among the brethren. To discourage someone who is in a good Bible teaching church to leave to support another work is detrimental to that person’s spiritual welfare, and to the welfare of their home church. If a believer is in a church that does not major on the word of God, but something else, I say invite them to attend your church. Such believers need to grow, but if they are already in a Christ centered, Bible teaching church do not mess with them. They are where God wants them to be. Are we preachers so desperate today to get members that we will stoop to stealing sheep to fill our barns? If we steal sheep that God has placed in other pastures, it is the same as stealing from God.
Some preachers have a hard time keeping their members and visitors, and in this case they may be tempted to flatter them to keep them. Praise oriented sheep love this. They may actually think they are some kind of hot commodity or celebrity. The preachers may bribe, beg, cajole, flatter, give them a job, send them reminder letters, brow beat them, twist their arms, make them feel guilty and use other psychological tactics to get these spiritually disinterested folks to keep coming to church.
I can understand a church doing this if they are not a good Bible teaching church; they think they exist to please men. But if you have a sound teaching ministry with biblical exposition and friendly maturing church members you don’t have to do a thing to keep your people. They will come because the word of God draws them. Their motivations are pure. A hunger for righteousness keeps them coming as long as they can grow and serve.
If I had to do what some preachers and church members do to get the unfaithful to be faithful in attendance [which is still not faithfulness] then I would quit the ministry. Look, you lead sheep, you do not drive them. They will follow their Chief Shepherd. Jesus Christ said my sheep hear my voice and they follow me, John 10:27.
The pastor is Christ’s undershepherd and his job is to keep putting the voice of Christ [Bible doctrine] out in front of the people, the believer’s job is to follow.
God knows how to corral his wayward sheep. Our heavenly Father uses testing and trials and discipline to get his child to see the error of his or her way, Heb.12:5-11.
When I think of all the crazy ideas floating around today about how to get people into the church I am amazed. There is this mad scramble to conceive a plan to get them in. There is obviously little thought given to the free will of those prospective attendees, and there is even less thought given to the power of the Holy Spirit to move in their lives to prompt them to turn to God or in some cases to return to God. Should a church become so desperate that it stoops as low as many have done today? Surely the church is in the last of the last days. The Lord has said his church would not endure sound doctrine in the last days; that men would be lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God. Will He find us scrambling to keep people in the church? I believe that as long as the word is taught and we stay focused on Christ we will not have a problem moving forward. I believe others will get tired of coming up short on God’s answers Sunday after Sunday, and they will be sent to places such as ours to get answers. As for our efforts we must continue to spread the gospel through personal evangelism and offer the Word for edification.