2 Corinthians 4:1-2 ESV
“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.”
A Little Background
I am 72 years old. I grew up going to church services from infanthood. I began teaching the Scriptures at age 16 (in 1966) and from that point forward, for as long as I was part of an institutional church, I was involved in ministry within the church most of that time, which was up until maybe 2006. I finally stopped going to institutional churches in 2013, for the Lord had been teaching me for some time that the institutional church is Babylon.
My husband and I were both involved in ministry within the institutional church from before we were married up until maybe 2006, though he has continued with the institutional church. Anyway, the point of all of this is that we have many years of experience with the inner workings of the institutional church, even serving as church planters twice, so we have a pretty good pulse on what is presently going on inside the institutional church, which is not the body of Christ.
We have lived a lot of different places so we have also been a part of many different church congregations of multiple church denominations, too. I began with the Christian and Missionary Alliance, my husband joined me, and then when we moved places where that denomination was not available we also attended Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian churches, most of which were in the US southern states. But we were originally from Ohio.
Disgraceful and Underhanded Ways
So, from my many years of experience in ministry within the institutional church I have witnessed many different disgraceful and underhanded ways coming from pastors and elders and other church leaders within the institutional church. They weren’t all bad, mind you, but many of them were. And in today’s modern market-driven churches many of them are being taught underhanded and disgraceful ways of operating and dealing with people. And we were taught some of those, too, as church planters.
At one of our training sessions we were taught that when we begin a church (an institutional church) that we will have needy people helping us get started. We were told we were to use these needy people to get up and running but once we got established that we were to discourage the needy people from continuing with us because they would drag us down. Wow! And much worse than this is being taught our leadership. We refused!
I had one pastor tell me that in his training he was warned about people like me – people with strong convictions – that he was to discourage such as us from participating in his church. He also told me that I was to let him be God’s voice to me. Another wow! That sounds like a cult leader, and many of these pastors are being trained to be like cult leaders and to conduct their “churches” much like cults. And he invited me to go someplace else where I would be a “better fit.” And I wasn’t doing anything wrong.
Many of these pastors and church planters are being trained in being like cult leaders. Many of them are doing away with elders and deacons and they are gathering around them a handful of loyal followers who will do whatever they tell them to do. And everything is centered around their purpose statements and their business goals for how they are going to grow their churches, and some are even having their people memorize these human marketing goals and purpose statements.
Anyone who is not on board with their humanistic marketing goals is called out as a disunifier and is told if he/she doesn’t like the church’s (business’ marketing plans) goals that he/she should go someplace else. And then they are being taught to market their “churches” to specific “target audiences,” just like any other human business. And so they have altered the whole meaning of church and they have diluted the gospel of Christ, too.
The goal is to do whatever will draw in large crowds of people and if you are not a crowd drawer then you aren’t useful in many areas. There is no sense of the body life and of what the Scriptures teach us the church is supposed to be like, but these are human based businesses being run like businesses and being marketed to the world and so they are being conformed to the world. And so many pastors are following these marketing techniques, some of which are indeed underhanded and disgraceful.
And many of them are practicing cunning for many of them are being taught that is the way to get things done and to manipulate the people into doing what they want them to do. And they are tampering with God’s word because the truth of God’s word offends people and you can’t draw in large crowds of people if you offend them with the truth of the gospel. And so they have changed wording and they have removed things that offend and have made everything sound nicey-nice in order to appeal to human flesh.
But we should refuse to follow suit. We should be those who renounce disgraceful and underhanded ways. We should not be people who use cunning and manipulation to get people to do what we want them to do. And we should definitely not tamper with God’s word to make it more appealing and acceptable to the people of the world and to human flesh.
Instead we should be people of integrity. We should be people who represent well our Lord and his word and his ministry. We should be those who teach the whole counsel of God and not just the parts of God’s word which don’t offend people. And we should not teach doctrinal passages of Scripture outside their context and twist the Scriptures to say what we want them to say and what itching ears want to hear.
But we should be teachers of the truth. We should be telling people the whole gospel message that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. We should be telling them that Jesus died, not just to forgive us our sins, but to deliver us out of our slavery (addiction) to sin so we will now be slaves of God and of his righteousness in the power of God, by his grace.
And we should be letting them know that if they do not die with Christ to sin, and if they do not live to God and to his righteousness, but if they continue in deliberate and habitual sin and in willful disobedience to our Lord that heaven is not their eternal destiny. They will not inherit the kingdom of heaven, for it is those obeying the Lord who have the hope of eternal life with God.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:21-25; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-10; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; Heb 10:26-27; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Matt 7:21-23; Ac 26:18; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
He Gives Purpose
An Original Work / June 9, 2012
“Listen to Me when I’m calling to you.
Obey freely My word.
Follow Me in all of My ways.
Do all that I say.
Hear Me gently whisper to you
My will for your life and future.
Give all of your life and heart to
Follow Me always.”
Repent of your sins and worship Jesus.
He’s your Lord and Master.
He died for your sins so you could
Live with Him today.
He has a plan for your life and
He gives purpose and direction.
He gives meaning to your life,
So follow Him today.
“I love you so much I gave My life for
You to walk in My ways,
Living for Me each day as you
Bow to Me and pray.
Witness for Me of your love for Me and
Of My grace and mercy,
How I died to save you of your
Sins now and always.”