“They Meant Well?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
“They meant well?” The question is necessary because we, the church included, evaluate actions by stated intentions. It is very rare that anyone would express evil intentions to explain his actions. It is my general observation that no matter the depth of depravity or lying that we observe it is mitigated by professed good intentions.
As a Christian, I know that the Bible clearly declares that only God knows the heart of man. The heart is used in Scripture to describe that which motivates men to do the things that we do. David was declared to be a man after God’s own heart, 1Samuel 13:14; 16:7. God knows the heart of man. Godly intentions proceed from a pure heart. A pure heart is one that has been changed by God, Psalm 51; Ezekiel 36; 2Corinthians 5. Yet one who has been changed by God is continuously being changed. The new desires that God gives in regeneration continue to desire God more each day.
Professed intentions must therefore take a secondary place for Christians as we discern right and godly actions. Jesus said that “You will recognize them by their fruits,” Matthew 7:18. Christians are to be discerning. Those who profess Christ are professing the One who is Truth. Those who profess Jesus declare Him to be the Lord of their lives. Christians submit to the Lordship of Christ. Submission to His Lordship means to live under His word! In common terms, Christians are accountable to God to “consider the product.” That is, Christians are to discern truth from error. Christians live in response to the grace of God in Christ that caused them to see the Kingdom!
Yet when I survey the churches surrounding us, I fail to see Christians discerning truth from error. Rather, I see Christians being led astray by the false gods of our age. One particularly damaging false god is the god of prosperity. Christians and the leaders of churches worship at the altar of prosperity.
The intentions are often professed as being good. Leaders are expressing the desire to attract people to their churches. I actually heard a pastor say that we need to show people the success of programs in the church so that “they may see the return on their investment.”
I thought, why continue to write about God, His holiness, His majesty, His sovereignty, etc.? It seems that God’s self-revelation simply falls to the ground. Churches still pursue men by pleasing men. What’s the point?
I am convinced that God holds pastors, like me, accountable to faithfully declare His word. My responsibility before God is, “Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season;” 2Timothy 4:2. As God called Ezekiel to be a watchman, Ezekiel 33ff, He has called each minister of the gospel to guard the flock. “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” Acts 20:28
I speak to those who claim the title, “Pastor- Teacher”. I also speak to those who profess Jesus Christ as He is offered in the gospel. Pastors/Elders are to guard and care for the sheep by rightly handling the word of God. All Christians are accountable for what they hear, James 1:22. For the church to be the church God must be the object of our worship, not men. For the church to be the church, the word of God must be read and preached, not skits that entertain or snappy testimonies that elevate experience over truth. For the church to be the church, wisdom must be understood to be the right application of God’s word. For the church to be the church, regenerated men called by God to preach must pursue godliness and holiness.
May church leaders repent of the insistence on applying methods and programs to attract people, to grow their churches bigger and submit to obey the Great Command, Matthew 28:19-20. May every professing Christian not stand for man-centered preaching and ministry philosophies and seek to glorify God in all actions in and outside of the church!
Finally, I am reminded of Paul’s words l to recognize that men will seek to love themselves and be led by those who appear godly, but deny its power.” Paul said avoid such people.” 2Timothy 3:1-5