Services at many of today’s churches look, sound, and feel decidedly different than they did in the not so distant past. Instead of donning their Sunday best for church, a lot of modern parishioners wear the most comfortable items in their closets. Rather than listen to soulful hymns at their paces of worship, many members welcome contemporary Christian music blasted on loudspeakers.
Obviously, with the passage of time, some things are bound to change. And, certainly not all change occurring in places of worship is bad. However, renowned author and minister John MacArthur feels the exception to this rule is when pastors stand in the pulpit and practice “promoting a soft version of the scriptures in order to stay relevant.”
Recently, the pastor at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California shared this view in a sermon aptly labeled “Sanctification and the Pastor’s Passion” at the yearly Together for the Gospel conference held in Louisville, Kentucky. The theme of the latest Together for the Gospel session was “Distinct from the World.”
“If we want to make a difference in the culture, we must be distinct,” the website for the event described. “It’s definitional for Christian discipleship. It’s part of the church’s mission. Renouncing the world for the sake of the world. Rejecting sin in order to save sinners.”
MacArthur started his sermon by quoting Galatians 1:9. This verse states, “As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse.” The Grace Community Church’s minister went on to mention Galatians 4:19, which says, “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you.”
After reading these verses, MacArthur, President of The Master’s College and Seminary in Santa Clarita, California, talked about the rage of the apostle Paul whenever he encountered any teachings that were not in accord with the gospel of Jesus. The pastor of Grace Community Church believes sanctification is “the work of the Holy Spirit separating sinners from sin.”
Paul scolded the Galatian believers when he discovered a wrong mind-set in those who felt their sanctification resulted from “external ceremonies.”
In his sermon, MacArthur said, “I think this is pretty typical of evangelical Christians today. They were saved by believing the true gospel, but in order to be more friendly to religious people, they tolerate a false gospel…Bad theology bewitches true believers. It can bewitch them about the very gospel they believed for salvation, and bad theology about sanctification bewitches many, if not most churches. There are so many bad theologies of sanctification that can’t restrain the flesh.”
During his message, MacArthur reasoned that if Christians are instructed in problematic theology, they will start to engage in a false version of Christianity. As the apostle Paul did, the Grace Community Church pastor feels numerous ministers today are presenting a message of false sanctification.
MacArthur is convinced preachers should base their ministries around certain, key words including, “biblical, holiness, humility, purity, godliness, separation, self-denial, sacrifice, faithful, and sanctified.” Sadly, the President of the Master’s College and Seminary believes a lot of pastors’ ministries revolve around the words “relevant, real, authentic, missional, exponential, cool, disruptive, innovative, multi-site, multi-ethnic, multi-anything, cultural, contemporary, millennial, no eschatology intended, post-church, post-truth, international, formational, social, inclusive, and heroic.”
You will not be judged on the size of your membership,” he warned pastors. “You will not be judged on the size of your auditorium. You’ll be judged, you’ll give an account, Hebrews tells us, on the Christ-likeness of your people. Agonize over that.”
For Christians, attending churches where they’ll hear the unfiltered, unaltered Word of God every Sunday is vital. Pray that pastors in America and all over the world will worry less about being “relevant” and more about doing what’s right.
~ 1776 Christian