The Lord Jesus gave me this open letter to pastors to write February 19, 2005, so 17 years ago. Today he led me to go back and look at some of these earlier writings, and this one jumped out at me, and I believe I am to share it with you today, Monday, May 23, 2022.
Open Letter to Pastors
“’At last the time has come!’ he announced. ‘The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News’” (Mark 1:15 NLT)! Jesus is coming soon!
I am not an End Times Prophecy expert, but if we follow the news, we can’t help but see the signs of the times happening right before our eyes, not only in nature, but in government, in war, in the decline of morals, in our economy, and in technology. The signs are everywhere we look. I also see signs of the End Times in our churches. I believe Satan has gotten many Christians in the USA to believe several lies that he is perpetuating and God wants us to hear and to believe the truth:
The Lie: All one has to do is say a prayer to receive Jesus as Savior and that person then has a ticket into heaven (bear with me here) – like a man told me recently, “I don’t have to repent. I just have to believe.”
The Truth: Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’” “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Nonetheless, many of our churches are leaving that part out of the gospel message. The book of James says that if a man claims to have faith but there is no evidence to support that such a faith exists, then he really has no faith at all. James also says that even the demons believe in God and they shudder.
The Lie: We need to downplay our need to be crucified with Christ and focus solely on God’s grace and love. Like a pastor told me, “We have removed your logo from our newsletter because it does not represent what this church is about.”
The logo depicted the crucifixion with the cross of Christ empty and an arrow pointing to the cross stating, “This Space Available” – based on Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. …” The pastor suggested that instead we show a bunch of coke cans with one empty. The church staff was concerned that the message behind our logo might offend people. A friend of mine hit the nail right on the head in a statement he made to me recently: “People want their Easter without the cross.”
[Update 5/23/22: I am not promoting the celebration of the holiday called Easter, only the celebration of what Jesus Christ did for us on that cross and of his bodily resurrection.]
The Truth: Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”
The Apostle Paul said: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” “Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.”
If we are not offending people by our message, then perhaps we are not doing something right.
The Lie: In order to get or keep people in our churches we have to offer them a Christian version of what the world is offering them in entertainment – like another pastor told me, “you need to be thinking about whether or not your praise band will draw in large crowds of people.” He wanted to talk with the members of our praise band about considering whether or not they were in the right place of service, because he did not feel they were good enough to draw large crowds, and that was important to him.
The Truth: The gospel is not about us or our building or our band or our programs or even about our traditions. It is about a cross. It is about death, and it is about life everlasting. Most of all, it is about Jesus!! The Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York began with 20 some people in the early 70’s and by the late 90’s they had four services each Sunday with about 1600 people at each service plus they sent people out from their church to start 17 other churches. Do you want to know their secret for church growth? Prayer! That’s it!!
They just called on God in humility and in repentance and asked for a mighty outpouring of God’s Spirit in their midst and God blessed. This is not to say that all people who call on God will have large numbers of people in their churches, but rather that the secret to the numbers of people in their church was that they called on God and he is the one who drew the people there. They did not put their focus on what they could do to draw large crowds of people, but rather the focus was on obeying God.
The Word says that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him (John 6:44). We are just to fish where Jesus tells us to fish, and he supplies the fish. It’s not our job to draw the people, it’s God’s job. We’re just supposed to obey God and leave the results in his hands.
[Update 5/23/22: I am not promoting the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York as a model New Testament church or as representing the true church, the body of Christ. What stood out to me then was how they shared that their church gatherings were built on prayer not on human marketing schemes and gimmickry that so many are using today.]
The Lie: The church is definitely going to be raptured out before the tribulation (again, bear with me) and God is going to spare us that kind of suffering that he is going to bring on the world. Now, that may be true, but it may not be true.
I think the lie is in the fact that we Christians in the USA feel we should somehow be spared what Christians throughout the world have had to suffer for generations and are presently suffering. We are spoiled. We think being a Christian means going to church on Sundays, singing in the choir, teaching Sunday School, going to church socials and living a good life during the week, and that one day Jesus is going to come and swoop us all up to heaven and then all this bad stuff is going to happen after we are gone.
The Truth: What happened to “sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings”? He is coming for His Church, no doubt, but let’s be sure we are not filling people’s minds with false hopes of no suffering.
Honestly, I think there are a whole lot more scriptures that support a post-tribulation theory than do support a pre-tribulation theory of the timing of Christ’s return, and I would rather believe I am going to have to live through the tribulation and that I will be persecuted and perhaps even be martyred for the gospel, and then if Jesus does rapture out the church prior to the tribulation – wow, what a nice surprise!
But, if I believe in this pre-tribulation rapture and then it doesn’t happen that way, I am in for a much bigger surprise, and on top of that, I am not spiritually or emotionally prepared or equipped to handle it. I believe Jesus wants us to be prepared to suffer for the sake of the gospel, not just enjoy our Christianity.
[Update 5/23/22: I believe in a post-tribulation rapture but I don’t believe this is something we Christians should fight over, for Jesus is going to return when he decides and not before, so please refrain from arguing on this subject on my post. Thank you kindly.]
My purpose in writing this letter is that, although many of you are telling your people the truth, many of you are not, because you don’t want to offend people with the truth of the gospel, perhaps because you fear their rejection or that your numbers will decline.
Jesus is coming soon! He wants people to be ready for his return. He wants them to turn from their sins and turn to God and believe the Good News! Please tell your people the truth before it is too late!
Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ