Catch The Fire Ministries has Changed it's Name

Catch The Fire Ministries Inc. has changed its name to Reformation Harvest Fire, and moving forward, you will see references to this name. We aim to complete this name change as soon as feasible and by 30 June 2020 at the very latest.

By Greg Laurie,

Greg LaurieAs a 17-year-old boy, I had looked for truth and answers in this world and found none. Then, to my own amazement, I found myself completely won over by the bold, unashamed witness of a group of committed Christians on my high school campus.

People could have tried to be cool and win me over, but it would have never worked. I’d had enough of “cool” in the crazy home I was raised in to make me choke. I had pretty much seen it all, and nothing to me was lamer than people trying too hard to be cool.

The Christian kids I encountered in high school weren’t working overtime to be cool – and didn’t even seem to care about such things. They cared about knowing and following Jesus, and that deeply impressed me. There was an authenticity about their lives that drew me to them, then to Jesus Himself.

I had been looking for something to believe in, something worth living or dying for, something that was genuine, real and authentic. But most of all, I was looking for something that was true.

By the way, young people are still looking for this today. I have seen generations with names like Boomers, Busters, X, Y and Z come and go. At Harvest Christian Fellowship, the church where I pastor, music and worship styles have changed over the years. But our message has not changed, and will not! In fact, it cannot, because the Gospel is the Gospel.

I have the privilege of sharing this transforming message with thousands of people every year in the large-scale events we hold around the country. This year I will be speaking at Angel Stadium in Southern California, Madison Square Garden in New York City and also in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

The Gospel message, Paul reminds us, is “the power of God to salvation to everyone that believes” (Romans 1:16, NKJV). I believe this message with all of my heart, and that is why it grieves me to see it under attack from some unlikely places.

The church has always had its minor disagreements. But this isn’t about music, style of worship, the order of prophetic events, or even the never-ending debate concerning the sovereignty of God and freewill of man.

This is serious. This is life and death.

What I refer to is a debate among a growing number in the church as to whether or not Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. Or whether or not “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. …” (2 Timothy 3:16, NKJV).

One of the candidates who professes to be a Christian running for the presidency recently said in a speech, “There are a lot of Jewish people who are just as moral, or even more moral than I am. There are a lot of Muslims who are decent, good, kind people. I don’t think they are any less children of God.”

Now, that sounds very inclusive and kind, but I have to tell you it goes against the very core of the essential Gospel message. Yes, it is certainly true that people of faiths other than Christianity – or even no faith at all – can be “decent, good and kind.” But the simple fact is, a man or woman does not come into a relationship with God by being “kind and good,” but rather by admitting that he or she is a sinner who needs forgiveness from God.

This is why Jesus died on the cross. He was paying the price for our sins, because as the Bible says, “All have turned away from God; all have gone wrong. No one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12, NLT).

That verse isn’t saying there are no “good” people, but rather that no one is “good enough” to please God on his or her own. Jesus took care of that for us, dying in our place, paying the full penalty for our sins.

Now, I don’t expect every talking head on cable news to necessarily understand the Gospel message. But I do expect other ministers to. This latest attack on the Gospel, however, seems to be coming from within the church itself. I refer to a rapidly growing movement known as “The Emergent Church.” It is very popular, especially among young people raised in the evangelical church who are looking for a fresh expression of their faith. There is certainly nothing wrong with that! They want to “be real,” “authentic” and “honest,” just as my generation did.

That’s fine, but in the final analysis, “being real” is not the most important thing. Being right with God is. Quite frankly, you can be “real” wrong! And there are some pied pipers out there who are leading many young people down the wrong road.

One of these leaders made this statement: “I must add, though, that I don’t believe making disciples must equal making adherence to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many, not all circumstances, to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts.”

This sounds very inclusive and loving, but it is flat-out wrong and unscriptural! We want people to become followers of Jesus in a biblical context! The Bible teaches that you become a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly tells us, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NKJV).

Jesus plainly said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the life. …” (John 14:6, NKJV) Yet despite this clear biblical teaching, another “emergent” leader says, “I see the world through the images of Christianity, which teaches me that I encounter God in everyone I meet, regardless of what they believe.”

This is New Age mysticism, not New Testament Christianity. The truth is, you will only find Christ living in those who have put their faith in Him. Scripture reminds us, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12, NKJV). The doctrines of the “Emergent Church” do not represent the faith that was once and for all delivered to the saints. In fact, it is a dangerous counterfeit.

At the same time, I see other churches becoming distracted from the proclamation of the Gospel and instead focusing their primary energies on issues like “global warming.” I’ll tell you about global warming; it’s when people spend eternity separated from Jesus Christ in hell! Jesus said of hell, “The fire never goes out” (Mark 9:48, NLT).

I know some of you just cringed when you read the word “hell.” A couple generations ago, you would hear churches criticized for preaching “too much hellfire and brimstone.” Honestly, when is the last time you actually heard or read such a message? Many pastors don’t even use the “H-word” anymore.

Well, I do. But not because I take any pleasure in it. Please know this: The last thing God wants for any man or woman, created uniquely in His image, is to spend eternity in a place called hell. Jesus wants you in heaven with Him!

So, while some are wrapped up in the global warming panic, I would like to issue a global warning today. We in the Church of Jesus Christ had better get back to basics, or we will lose what little influence we have left in our culture. To those who do not yet know the Lord, I urge you, believe in Him. Find complete forgiveness for all your sins, and have your eternal address changed from hell to a place called heaven!

That’s not just a warning – it’s a promise.

8 Responses to “‘The Emergent Church’: A Dangerous Counterfeit”

  1. 1 Thetruthwillsetyoufree

    Isn’t this just the product of disillusionment in the Church? Many have been manipulated, and are being manipulated by men whose agenda is to fill seats to further their Church careers. People are waking up, and I think the recent televangelist investigation in the US by Charles Grassley, (a Christian himself) is a reflection of an ever-growing suspicion of these money driven ministries. Yes, we must be wary of cultic elements within the growing “home Church’ and “emerging Church” movements, but on the same token, we should be even more watchful of such elements in our well established institutionalized denominations. As a member of a Pentecostal Church, I can certainly say that such elements are well ingrained in our dogma, and widely accepted, as a result of generational indoctrination. I believe further fragmentation of the church will inevitably bring down the institutional structures, which in turn will free those who earnestly seek God back to the simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and according to scripture we are all saints and priests. Acts 17:24 also tells us “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, DWELLETH NOT IN TEMPLES MADE WITH HANDS”, so why are we imprisoned in the four walls of our Churches, and subject to a bureaucratic apparatus that has no Biblical basis?

  2. 2 Nigel


  3. 3 Scott


    Thankyou for that stimulating article. There are a couple of points that I would like to briefly note. First, I do have some of the same concerns you do regarding the emreging (or emergent) church: there does seem to be a dilution of the gospel in order to speak, or “converse” more readily with culture, which is somewhat worrying. However, I would say that this is partly a reaction to the often rigid and uninspired ways the church has often preached the gospel. Even though I believe it is an extreme reaction, it is perhaps something we need to take note of. The church has from time to time been guilty of failing to actually engage with the surrounding culture. Indeed, in an effort to not “be of the world,” I think the church has often forgotten to be radically “in the world.” On this point, I would use Christ himself as an example. He didn’t dilute the good news of the gospel, but he radically identified with those whom he served – humanity. John Chapter 1 sums it up eloquently – “The word became flesh.” As the ones who are meant to model Jesus here one earth, maybe we have to do a better job of living incarnational lives. Though I don’t subscribe to the ideas critiqued in the above article, they might pave the way for those in “established” churches to reflect upon the way we speak to the prevailing culture.

    The second point I would like to raise is the very brief comment you made regarding “global warming.” True, some Christians are simply interested in social activism, without the concomitant commitment to preaching the gospel. However, it seems that your comment reveals a disregard for the pressing issues of our time – war, environmental degradation, poverty, etc. – and the advocacy of an escapist conception of the gospel. Perhaps I am reading far too much into your comment (and if I have, I apologise), but we as Christians have not been saved simply so we can escape this rotting world, and live far away in a far off place called “heaven.” We as Christians are saved so that we can begin to reflect the glory of God into all creation, including – and especially – those who are uniquely made in his image (as you put it so well). That means preaching the gospel, certainly, but it also means doing what we can to minister the redemptive – and recreative – love of God to the world. This is not to advocate the old “social gospel,” but to recognise that God is in the business of new creation. With that in mind, he is not going to let this world burn, but wants to redeem and restore it, using his people as partners in this cosmic project. That is why things like global warming, war and poverty are important, and we as Christians ought to bring our voice to those issues. None of this is to deny the reality of eternal loss, because I also believe that there will be some who will spend eternity apart from God, and that should motivate us to proclaim the gospel. But we should also proclaim the gospel because of a firm commitment to God’s desire to bring about new creation in this world – of which Christ is the firstfruits, and we are participants – and flood it with glory.

    Christ be with you.

  4. 4 Steve P

    Over 18 yrs I have had experienced church through the lense of both evangelical and pentecostal experiences. Here are some of my thoughts regarding this article.
    Who is to judge? God is looking for hearts towards him? Authentic and genuine – warts and all. We like to wrap christianity up in a way that works for us and then expect others to accept it. We filter our faith through our values and experiences in the hope that it helps us make sense of this world then expecting it to ‘work’ for others.Too much time is spent telling people how and why they need to become a Christian, but what about genuinely connecting with people with a Christ like heart with ‘no strings’ attached and journey alongside – that is what the emegent church is about- genuinely connecting and caring for people whether or not they ‘give their heart to Christ’. Life is about a journey towards insight and truth – this is a process. Our current ways of doing church are not meeting the ‘real needs’ of our community. We need to listen to the heart of our community and the struggles of individuals and families, and respond with patience, genuineness, compassion and respect. These are the stepping stones of building trust. With out trust ‘what gives us the right to input into another person life? Real answers come out of a heart to heart, often through and in pain. Lets move away from all of the quick fix’s, and support people through a healing process that often takes time.
    Let’s spend less time proping ourselves up and our own ministry by putting down others, and put our energy into ‘really’ connecting with people. God is not interested in where we preach, how we perform, how we sing, how much money we have, and so on, he is interested in who we are becoming. Are we becoming more Christlike or are we setting ourselves up to be the judge. What really motivates us? Let’s not hide behind scripture and Christianize. Let’s start being honest with ourselves and Christ, only then can we really engage at a meaningful level with others. The real strongholds are what we don’t want to see in the mirror. My thoughts anyhow. Steve P

  5. 5 Barry Kearns

    Why one could think Christ was divided.
    God will always be sovereign no matter what we say ,hypothesize or do.
    Jesus is the only way ,but others may not appreciate nor be called to wear the same street clothes of a particular culture that we find familiar and comfortable.
    Narrow minded ness is certainly not next to Godliness that some would have you believe.
    May the love of God win you over.
    He will meet every need.
    When? It is His sovereign call.
    Even in the depths of Hell our God in Jesus will reach out and rescue all.

  6. 6 Simon W

    Seems to me an almighty struggle not only between believers but within each believer is occurring at this time. On the one hand, we see a disenchanted, disconnected, suffering world around us, awash in stress, hunger and lostness (in every sense of the word) and the church not connecting with these people either through not knowing how or sometimes a callousness that is most unChrist-like. On the other hand, believers are concerned that in trying to address this, there is a new relativism developing that challenges the very pillars of our faith – authority of the Bible, personal salvation giving way to planetary salvation and downplaying of doctrine in favour of practice – in fact the very basis of the “gospel” which in itself is being questioned as to its real meaning. This emergent conversation is done with its own language that is as obscure and incomprehensible to the average person as any other church model before it – “narrative” “micronarrative” “contextualisation” “concretising” “space” “imagination” etc etc. But I wonder perhaps whether there is a third way…. the church needs to live out its love as a sum total of individuals within it showing Christ’s love toward his/her friends, neighbours and aquaintances with no strings attached…answering the Jesus questions is a natural extension/consequence of that love rather than the agenda for it. The church/individuals should go “out” rather than try to get people “in”. At the same time, the very foundation of that love that is the gospel revelation of Christ the Word made flesh (you cannot separate Christ from the Word) need not be compromised in any way in this endeavour. After all, the gospel is always going to be garbage to those who choose not to believe. Emergent and any other movement will come and go but the gospel of Jesus will remain long after the latest fad passes into the dustbin of history.

  7. 7 Doug Angove

    Bless you Brother….
    You mentioned Romans 1:16…..I believe that many are ashamed! We need to get back to the “full” Gospel…..NOW!
    We serve a Holy God who loves us so much that He sent his Son to die for us…..He rose again and had the victory over sin and death. That victory is still relevant now…TODAY. Repent and accept Jesus as Lord of your life. This Holy God who loves us will bring judgement….at some stage… is time to sort out eternal priorities today! Whilst there is still time. Hell is real a place….today is the day of salvation!
    The Emergent Church tickles ears just as Paul warned…..

  8. 8 Nigel buck

    I agree with Nigel,a generalisation that all home based emerging churches are mixed faith emergent is wrong .There is a distinction between those who mix faiths and those who want a genuine christian faith and a personal contributing to the service in their christian walk in home churches.Pastors ought trust the church to God,He did it for centuries b4 Constantine organised hirelings for state religion.Take for example the hireling latest church offering-the seeker friendly church.The focus of the seeker church then is not Christ-centered, but man-centered. The main purpose of the seeker church’s existence is to give people what they want or meet their felt needs.

    Further, the seeker-friendly gospel presentation is based on the idea that if you will believe in Jesus, He will make your life better. Relationships with your wife or husband, coworkers, children, etc., will be better. The message the seeker church sometimes passes on to the unsaved person is that God is a great cosmic genie, and if you stroke Him the right way, you will get what you want. In other words, if you profess to believe in Jesus, God will give you a better life, better relationships and purpose in life. So, for all intents and purposes, the seeker-sensitive movement is a type of system based on giving unbelievers whatever they want. What too often happens in such a system is that people make a profession of faith, but when the circumstances of their lives don’t immediately change for their material good, they forsake Christ, believing He has failed them.In recent years this new movement within the evangelical church has come into vogue, commonly referred to as seeker sensitive.So, what is this movement all about? Where does it come from? And, most importantly, is it biblical? Basically, the seeker-sensitive church tries to reach out to the unsaved person by making the church experience as comfortable, inviting, and non-threatening to him as possible. The hope is that the person will believe in the gospel. The idea behind the concept is to get as many unsaved people through the door as possible, and the church leadership are willing to use nearly any means to accomplish that goal. Theatrics and musical entertainment are the norm in the church service to keep the unsaved person from getting bored as he does with traditional churches. State-of-the-art technology in lighting and sound are common components of the seeker-sensitive churches, especially the larger ones.

    Expertly run nurseries, day care, adult day care, community programs such as ESL (English as a Second Language), and much more are common fixtures in the larger seeker churches. Short sermons (typically 20 minutes at most) are usually focused on self-improvement. Supporters of this movement will say that the single reason behind all the expense, state-of-the-art tech gear, and theatrics is to reach the unsaved with the gospel; however, rarely are sin, hell, or repentance spoken of, and Jesus Christ as the exclusive way to heaven is rarely mentioned. Such doctrines are considered “divisive.All organizations tend to lose their focus and forget their original purposes over time. I call this almost imperceptible movement “inward drift.” The attitude becomes one of protecting the way we’ve always done it rather than looking back to the original purposes and reasons for existence.“Some people want to see God with their eyes as they see a cow, and to love Him as they love a cow – for the milk and cheese and profit it brings them. This is how it is with people who love God for the sake of outward wealth or inward comfort. They do not rightly love God, when they love Him for their own advantage. ”
    ? Meister Eckhart
    We as a culture and a nation, including many of those who profess to be church-going Christians, have become so diluted in moral, religious, and spiritual knowledge and convictions that “compassion” and “love” have been redefined. “Compassion” now means “tolerance” and acceptance of “diversity.” In other words, we will not take issue with anyone on anything, we will not punish anyone for anything, and we will not condemn or pronounce as unacceptable any behavior—no matter how bizarre, distasteful, or wicked. The sad corollary is that neither do we have a wholesome regard for what is good.In the church, there is really only one who is special, one who has first place, one who is preeminent and that person is Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us shed the old garb of clergy/laity and return to a biblical understanding of the body where we can once again be simply brother and sisters in faith.Even the great Protestant Reformer, Martin Luther, believed in and understood the value of having Christians meet within homes in order to have their services. In fact, Luther wrote about three types of divine services. The Latin liturgy and the German service were for the unlearned people, many of whom were not even believers. Those services should continue, he believed, for the primary purpose of evangelism. However, a third kind of service was most needful – a “truly evangelical” one. It would be held privately for those “who want to be Christians in earnest and who profess the Gospel with hand and mouth.” Luther describes such a gathering:

    [They] should sign their names and meet alone in a house somewhere to pray, to read, to baptize, to receive the sacrament, and to do other Christian works. According to this order, those who do not lead Christian lives could be known, reproved, corrected, cast out, or excommunicated, according to the rule of Christ (Matthew 18). Here one could also solicit benevolent gifts to be willingly given and distributed to the poor, according to St. Paul’s example (2 Corinthians 9). Here would be no need of much and elaborate singing. Here one could set out a brief and neat order for baptism and the sacrament and center everything on the Word, prayer, and love (cf. Ulrich S. Leupold, Liturgy and Hymns, Vol.53 of Luther’s Works, ed. Helmut T. Lehman [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1965] pp.53ff). What needs to be understood here is that Luther was not talking about a small group within a large parish. Rather, he was talking about small house-churches with their own sacramental practice and ministry of the Word!
    ·I also ought make the argument that the early church was forced to meet within homes because of persecution will not stand for the following reasons: (1) Persecution of Christians was not as intense and widespread as is commonly assumed. It was sporadic and did not necessarily affect all the churches at the same time. (2) When persecution did arise, they primarily gathered in the catacombs where greater safety and privacy could be found. (3) Even when persecution did break out, the early Christians made it no secret where it met; hence Saul knew just where to go when he sought to imprison Christians (Acts 8:3). The interesting point here is that when believers were faced with persecution, many of them still continued to meet within homes. This demonstrates a continued preference, even in the face of hostility, for the house-church model.
    Acts.ch7.v.59… While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

    8 And Saul approved of their killing him.

    The Church Persecuted and Scattered

    On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from HOUSE TO HOUSE, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.The building of permanent and extravagant structures appears to betray our belief that Christ is coming soon and that, as believers, we are a pilgrim people. One brother has said it well, “To spend wasted money and time building large, beautiful places of worship knowing that the Lord might come at any time was unthinkable to the New Testament church. The fact that the church today has no problem with the idea of spending both time and money building large, extravagant buildings is really only a reflection of just how much we’re not expecting Jesus to come back any time soon! The church of the first century followed in the footsteps of Abraham and other Old Testament saints who were “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10) . . . The question must be asked– has today’s church demonstrated this ‘alien’ mindset by its plethora of building plans? Or is it rather the case that our actions show forth a materialistic mindset that has been conformed to this world; one that reasons to the effect that ‘We’re going to be here for a while so we might as well settle down and get comfortable?’”To spend large sums of the Lord’s money on building projects, maintenance and renovation is a waste of God’s money (at least in most cases). It is to squander money on that which is to perish. Instead of using such funds to send out more church planters, feed the poor, assist needy believers, and promote the spread of the Gospel, we “evangelicals” have used it to build elaborate cathedrals and huge auditoriums which, in most cases, are only used once or twice a week. Is this being a good steward of the financial resources which God provides? How many churches even stop to consider the necessity of a church building in the first place? Do you think that on the great day of judgment Christ will be pleased with our plush and gaudy edifices? Does it grieve your heart that most “evangelical” churches have a larger budget for building projects, staff salaries, and maintenance; than for missions, the poor, and people-oriented ministries? What does this reveal about our priorities?
    WHICH DO YOU THINK GOD WILL BE PLEASED WITH AT THE TIME OF THE JUDGEMENT OF CHRISTIANS AT THE FEET OF THE BEAMA SEAT OF JESUS CHRIST.A home is a much better setting for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper which, by the way, is an informal meal (Matthew 26:17-29; 1 Corinthians 10:16-22; 11:17-34). The late William Barclay once said, “There can be no two things more different than the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in a Christian home in the first century and in a cathedral in the twentieth century. The things are so different that it is almost possible to say that they bear no relationship to each other whatsoever. The liturgical splendor of the twentieth century was in the first century not only unthought of; it was totally impossible” (The Lord’s Supper, p.101).To speak of a “church building” is to apply a wrong and misleading name since, according to the New Testament, God’s “building” or “temple” is not a pile of bricks but, instead, the people of God – “You are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9,16-17; 6:19; Hebrews 3:6; 1 Peter 2:5). Is it not obvious that our ecclesiastical traditions have distorted the clear teaching of Scripture? Walter Oetting writes, “If you had asked, ‘Where is the church?’ in any important city of the ancient world where Christianity had penetrated in the first century, you would have been directed to a group of worshiping people gathered in a house. There was no special building or other tangible wealth with which to associate ‘church,’– only people!” (The Church of the Catacombs, p.25).Biblical and Practical Advantages for Meeting Within Homes

    Whenever we think of planting churches, we imagine the process as starting within a home and, eventually, ending with the purchase of a building. We tend to pity those who do not have the means to secure their own “sanctuary.” We might even look upon them as “second-class” churches because they lack the apparent amenities of a spacious building. But should house-churches really be pitied? Are they truly “second-class” churches..For the first three-hundred years of its existence, the Church of Jesus Christ met almost exclusively in private homes, as opposed to large buildings specially designed for religious services (Acts 20:20; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon v.2; 2 John v.10).
    Christians did not begin to build church buildings until about A.D. 200. This fact suggests that, whatever else church buildings are good for, they are not essential either for numerical growth or spiritual depth. The early church possessed both these qualities, and the church’s greatest period of vitality and growth until recent times was during the first two centuries A.D. In other words, the church grew fastest when it did not have the help or hindrance of church buildings”
    There is nothing wrong about meeting in a building. However, if a group chooses to do so it must be careful to not erect a structure or procure internal furnishings which stifle mutual edification and participation from the saints (e.g., pulpit, pews, a rigid “order of worship,” etc.).
    In other words, any property or building must be held lightly and should be an expression of a clear biblical understanding of the true nature of the church. Buildings, therefore, should be functional and conducive to the body-life principles of the New Testament (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-14; 14:12,26-32; Ephesians 4:11-16; Colossians 3:16; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 4:10-11). Structure, you see, is important, for the structure of your congregational meetings can either liberate the saints for ministry, or it can suppress genuine interaction and participation.You have probably been extorted like this week in and week out, maybe for decades! Perhaps those questionings in your heart that you’ve always had regarding passing the plate around for your “tithes and offerings” were right! Yes, you were a victim of deception. Deception: to obtain from another by coercion or intimidation.

    Incidentally, this weekly exploitation known as “the offering,” used mostly to support the incomes of the professional church leaders, isn’t even authorized in the New Testament, but rather it is plainly condemned. No where in the Scriptures will you find even a hint that “the offering” is to be part of some “church worship service” or that a large part of this money should now go to the “pastor” or “elders” or “teaching elders.”Acts 20:33-35 the Apostle Paul says, “….I have desired the silver, or gold, or clothing of no one. But you yourselves know, that these hands ministered to my needs, and to those who were with me. I showed you all things, that working in this way we ought to help those being weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, it is more blessed to give that to receive.” (Inter.Grk/Eng. NT)Last Sunday, as the announcement was made: “Let us continue to worship God in the giving of our tithes and offerings,” (or words to that effect) many of you gave your money away to the church to help support the income of some of your church leaders because you were told that this is what the Scriptures command. you were a victim of extortion. This is the dictionary definition of extortion: Illegal use of one’s official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage.

    What do the Scriptures say about extortioners? If you believe the Scriptures, then you also believe that anyone who extorts shall not inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:10: “…Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (KJV).

    Those church leaders who took your money are extortioners, plain and simple. They have twisted the Scriptures, and then emptied your pockets,if they do it ignorantly we know God is mercifull.The scriptures say my people perish for lack of knowledge.Sometimes knowledge brings grief…grief at the situation ,even wishing you didnt know,but that cowardly attitude solves nothing.Amazingly enough, in the Book of Acts, which is the history of the first 30 YEARS of the early church, the word ‘Pastor’ is NOT EVEN MENTIONED ONCE. -Which is pretty astounding considering how often we use it today. In fact, even in the whole New Testament the word is only used rarely – especially when referring to ministry ‘offices’. And when it does appear, it is found near the bottom of a list of ministries in the church: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers…” (Eph 4:11, NIV).

    There were elders and ‘overseers’ (-these terms are inter- changeable) in the New Testament church. But that is totally different from the position of “one man pastor” that we have today.

    So how did Pastors end up running everything? And what effect does this have on the church?

    Well, when you study history it becomes obvious that we mostly got this concept from Rome – not from the Bible.Emporer Constantine developed a church structure that has lasted for seventeen centuries… People go to a building (cathedral) on a special day of the week (Sunday) and someone (a priest, or today, a pastor) does something to them (teaching, preaching, absolution or healing) or for them (a ritual or entertainment) for a price (offerings).It has come to pass in our day, as the apostle Paul predicted, the time has come when men “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they turn away their ears from the truth, and are turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).The implication of those who support a clergy system is that the common people cannot possibly hear from God on their own, so they need a professional to do so for them. It is an Old Testament mindset, not unlike the people telling Moses “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die” (Exodus 20:19). The truth, however, for the Christian is found in 1 John 2: 26-27, “I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.”

    Whose anointing teaches you and me? Does a minister, pastor, or priest’s personal anointing teach us? No, because each of their personal anointing can teach only them individually. So then whose anointing teaches you and me? It is our own personal anointing that each of us receives the very minute that we receive Christ that teaches us, just as it teaches everyone else individually. Anyone who says different we are to count among “those who are trying to lead us astray.”

    It would seem very likely that the whole clergy system had its roots in the Nicolaitans. Whether or not it is said in so many words, churches with a clergy system (minister, pastor, priest, etc) advocate the elevation of professional “ministers” over common people. Churches with a clergy system are churches that (like our earlier Nicolaitan definition) conquer and subdue the common people. Clergy influence the common people and claim all sorts of authority over them.

    A great example is a fellow named Diotrephes. 3 John 9-10 says, “I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.” Diotrephes had a Nicolaitan spirit about him. He elevated himself and oppressed the common people. He set himself up as THE Minister, THE Pastor, THE Priest. In so doing he conquered and subdued the common people. Churches that have clergy systems today are no different; they also have a Nicolaitan spirit about them.There is another school of thought on who the Nicolaitans were. To see this, we must first look at the etymology of the word “Nicolaitans.” It comes from two Greek words, “Nike” (or “Nikos”) and “Laios” (or “Laos”). The first word (Nike) means to conquer, subdue, or overcome. The second word (Laios) means a body of people, or the common people. When we put these two words together, we arrive at a definition of Nicolaitans as “conquerors of the common people.”

    Then, in Revelation 2:14-15, the Nicolaitans are spoken of in the same breath as the teaching of Balaam. Now I’m less of a Hebrew scholar than a Greek scholar, but as I understand it, the word “Balaam” also comes from two words; “beli” which means “conqueror”, and “haam” which means “the people.” Put together, Balaam seems to be the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek Nicolaitan, or “conqueror of the people.”

    If we look at it this way, is it possible that the Nicolaitans were people within the body of believers in Ephesus and Pergamum who came to have a major controlling influence among the people? By virtue of their name, were they people who positioned themselves above the common people and who claimed some sort of authority over them? Certainly if we look at the etymology of the word “Nicolaitans” this does seem likely.1st 8-15 David publicly criticizes king Paul rebukes publicly apostle Peter.Paul said the truth of the gospel had to be protected…many pastors today would see this as a negative rant.
    It would of been a sin not to say something publicly.Nathan rebuked David.Jesus rebuked and exposed the religous leaders.Paul exposing Hymaneus and Alexander as false teachers ..etc.What harm does it really do?

    Below are the specific ways that this “one man pastor” model does enormous harm to the church:

    (1) It puts one person on a pedestal – above all others. In many churches this veneration of the pastor closely resembles Idolatry. His word is law and the entire church revolves around this one man.

    (2) This leads directly to PRIDE. The position that we place these men in is terribly dangerous for them and for the whole church. It is very difficult NOT to develop Pride when treated in this way. Pride is the most subtle and spiritually fatal of diseases. It wreaks havoc wherever it finds a home.

    (3) Control, manipulation and spiritual abuse become common where power is concentrated in the hands of one ‘venerated’ figure. Power corrupts. Flattery corrupts. Veneration corrupts. And before you know it, people are being terribly damaged and wounded by the control and the “management techniques” being exerted from the top. Then new teachings on “covering” and “submission” are wheeled out, to lend an air of legitimacy to the oppression that is being visited upon people. Everyone is told to ‘submit’ and not to question. The “one man pastor” system lends itself to this whole scenario like a hand in a glove. It is virtually made for it.

    (4) It turns the church into a bunch of “spectators”. In other words, everybody sits around and watches while the ‘professionals’ do most of the work. It is their “job” after all. -This is an absolute disaster. For we ALL have gifts and callings and annointings from God.

    (5) The position lends itself to “robes and titles” – or perhaps expensive 3-piece suits! Jesus said to his disciples, “You are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Christ.” (See Matt 23:5-12, NIV). -None of this seems to stop men from taking on “titles” today.

    (6) Many pastors by their nature tend to be “play it safe” types. They don’t like the boat being rocked and they are often resistant to real change. The fact that today’s church is in the hands of pastors, rather than apostles and prophets (as it should be) who are the “risk-takers” of the church, means that it is slow to react and is easily out-maneuvered by the enemy. We desperately need anointed ‘risk-takers’ and change-oriented leaders today.

    (7) Because the position of Pastor is often the “only job going” besides clerical in the church, it forces many who are actually evangelists or prophets to become Pastors, just so they can get to minister. Often they are quite out of place, and many times this leads to disaster.

    (8) All of this creates such a load on the shoulders of the man that is appointed Senior Pastor, that this job has one of the worst BURNOUT rates in the western world.

    (9) At the end of the day, just like church buildings, the best reason for rejecting this model of leadership is that it is simply NOT IN THE BIBLE.Hyped Conferences

    The hype for these conferences start months before hand. Other church members look at you strangely if you are thinking about not going. What, you can’t afford the huge entry fee? What’s wrong with you, don’t you love God? Don’t you want to be blessed? Don’t you want to be successful and wealthy? Don’t you want to be part of us? Because you won’t be, unless you go to THE CONFERENCE!

    Each speaker is completely amazing. The next best thing to the second coming.

    He’s built a church up from nothing to one with thousands of people. She’s the most Godly woman in the universe who is the best wife ever with the best kids and the best lifestyle, and she’s the pastor’s wife too. He’s from overseas. She’s a corporate CEO. Wow. It’s going to be awesome. It’s going to be triple awesome! It’s going to be mega massive triply awesomely awesome!

    The spiritual reward for going is implied to be life changing. The conference fee is nothing, compared to the fire-fighting-bomber worth of blessings and wealth God will dump on your head from upon high.

    And Jesus had conferences too, don’t forget, like the Sermon on the Mount, where He charged, oh, he didn’t charge anything for that spiritual teaching. In fact it was free wasn’t it? Hmmm. Well, often the first-movers can’t figure out how to monetize their success, we can’t blame Jesus for that, can we? Gosh, if only He had some books to sell at the back…

    Understand, I’m not against conferences. I’m against overly expensive hyped conferences that deliver hardly any lasting value to their attendees; Conferences that are linked to your standing in your church, and supposedly what God thinks of your commitment to Him.

    And why are they so expensive? Where does all that money go ?
    Dang what if i cant afford to go to a healing seminar or prophecy seminar…?
    Doesnt the bible warn about this attitude saying to the rich you sit here and the poor,..well if you cant afford it dont come..They did not become rich by selling toothpaste; they became rich by hyping dream-promoting books, tapes, DVDs, and conferences to their own private market of dream believers.

    This same pattern is practiced bymany Christian leaders and their churches. The dream is the prosperity gospel. Their captive market is their congregation. The products are, well you guessed it: books, tapes, DVDs, and conferences, and t-shirts, and most ominously spiritual rewards and the prevention of spiritual punishments.

    These leaders use their faked “success” to promote a distorted gospel which basically says: “tow the line obeying the leaders buying whatever we tell you to buy, and donate money whenever we tell you to donate, and then God will pour riches into your life.” They tell us that they became successful by following this dream, but in reality they became rich by sucking money out of those caught up in the buzzing environment where this distorted gospel seems real.
    Using the connection they claim to have with God they threaten you with the stick of spiritual curses if you disobey them, and dangle the carrot of spiritual blessings if you comply. They seek to dominate your life; often implying that they have say in where you work, where you fellowship, who you marry, and of course, when, where, and how much you should give.

    This is a false spiritual authority not supported by Scripture. In fact I believe it to be quite devilish (the desire to control and dominate others).

    In these pastor’s prosperity teaching, obeying the pastor and giving money are the two pillars necessary for a successful Christian life. If you sit back and think about it, you will quickly see what a con it is.

    These men want to be at the head of everything, they want to dominate you, they want to be seen as the big man, and some even secretly desire adoration (almost worship). This is the opposite of true Christian leadership:

    Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. – Luke 22:24-27

    I call God as my witness that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm. – 2 Corinthians 1:23-24

    Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. – Mark 10:42-44

    Threatening people with curses if they do not obey or donate is spiritual extortion. It is contrary to the nature of grace and the person of Jesus.These pastors are not only money hungry, but often power hungry too. They want to be both pastor and master. They commit the sin of the Pharisees and appoint themselves as middle men between God and you. They seek to replace the Holy Spirit in your life. They “lord it over” their flocks. They refuse to listen to any criticism whatsoever..they are little popes.Their Fabricated Tithing Doctrine

    This is the big daddy. This is their sacred cow. This is the beating heart of their evil empire. The crown jewel. The Death Star. The one ring to bill them all. The pot of gold. Their matrix (into which they want to plug you). Their Wizard of Oz. Their magic spell. Their special power. Their secret recipe with the eleven herbs and spices. Their Golden Goose. The very air upon which they breathe!

    Question this doctrine and watch these money hungry pastors bare their fangs. This is a teaching that they will bear no compromise on. Tithing, or at least their own version of tithing, is their one true love.

    Here are some bullet points about tithing that these money hungry pastors don’t want you to know:

    The New Testament Church did not tithe.
    The New Testament does not teach tithing for Christians.
    Their favorite Malachi verses cannot be used for Christians since Christians are not under the law of Moses.
    Abraham’s one off tithe of his war booty did not set up a precedent for Christians to regularly tithe their income.
    The version of tithing they teach cannot be found in Scripture (see below).
    The “Storehouse” in Malachi cannot be equated to your local church organization.
    There are plenty of rich (money wise) Christians who do not tithe. This would be impossible if their version of tithing was true.
    The New Testament teaching is that you decide how much to give, and there are no rules about where it goes. You cannot be compelled to give.

    It may come as a surprise to learn that their tithing doctrine is a combination of twisted scriptures and wishful thinking, as opposed to solid Biblical exegesis reflecting a central thrust of New Testament teaching. Here is their tithing doctrine stated in a nutshell:

    “Christians must give ten percent of their gross income only to their church organization. If they do, then God will bless them for any offerings they make to the church organization beyond this ten percent. But if they do not give ten percent gross, then they are stealing from God and God will curse them.”

    There are variations of this teaching, and sometimes it is called a “principle”, but the above definition contains the core essence of this doctrine.

    It is vital to grasp that tithing is not for Christians. Tithing was part of the old law (of Moses) which was fulfilled (completed) by Jesus. You know that Christians are not under the law of Moses don’t you?

    But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. – Romans 7:6

    know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. – Galatians 2:16

    All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” – Galatians 3:10

    New wine should not be put into old wine skins, nor should new unshrunk cloth be used to patch an old garment; if you think you need to obey the law of tithing then you need to obey the whole law (or you will be cursed, Galatians 3:10).

    What is more, this tithing doctrine they teach isn’t found in either the New or Old Testament. Tithing in the old testament does not match what these pastors preach – this unique tithe teaching is of their own invention.More than a decade ago, a new technological advance – the computer controlled projection screen – entered America’s sanctuaries. Suddenly churches could project song lyrics for all to see. Hymnals became obsolete. No longer were Christians limited to 1,000 songs handed down by our elders.

    At first, churches simply projected the songs everyone knew – hymns and a few simple praise songs that had come out of the Jesus Movement. People sang robustly.

    But that began to change about three years ago. Worship leaders brought in new songs each week. They drew from the radio, the Internet, and Worship conferences. Some began composing their own songs, performing them during worship, and selling them on CD after church.

    Years ago, worship leaders used to prepare their flocks when introducing a new song. “We’re going to do a new song for you now. We’ll go through it twice, and then we invite you to join in.”

    That kind of coaching is rare today. Songs get switched out so frequently today that it’s impossible to learn them. People can’t sing songs they’ve never heard. And with no musical notes to follow, how is a person supposed to pick up the tune?

    And so the church has returned to the 14th century. Worshippers stand mute as professional-caliber musicians play complex instruments, and sing in an obscure language. Martin Luther is turning over in his grave.

    What does this mean for men? On the positive side, men no longer feel pressure to sing in church. Men who are poor readers or poor singers no longer have to fumble through hymnals, sing archaic lyrics or read a musical staff.

    But the negatives are huge. Men are doers, and singing was one of the things we used to do together in church. It was a chance to participate. Now, with congregational singing going away, and communion no longer a weekly ordinance, there’s only one avenue left for men to participate in the service – the offering.
    Notice i did not mention the abomination called tithes for hirelings… Is this really the message we want to send to men? Sit there, be quiet, and enjoy the show. And don’t forget to give us money.

    There’s nothing wrong with professionalism and quality in church music.The problem is the rock band, the lights, and the smoke machine.People did without this entertainment for years b4 the current crop of pastors and musicians arose… The key here is LOUDNESS and also familiarity and whether it is focused in words on ..I I I YOU or GOD, JESUS,HOLY SPIRIT .This can be ascertained by examining the words..And the loudness.Just like the afore mentioned abomination i bet your hoping hes not right…YOU forget their are many more like me.Before the Reformation, laypersons were not allowed to sing in church. Sacred music was performed by professionals (priests and cantors), played on complex instruments (pipe organs), and sung in an obscure language (Latin).Quite a performance…

    Reformers gave worship back to the people, in the form of congregational singing. They composed simple tunes with lyrics that people could easily memorize. Some of the tunes came out of local taverns,
    Now pastors seeking to make it IN STYLE MUSIC THAT HAS A WORLDLY LOUDNESS have done what the church did prior to the reformation…they have taken worship away from the flock and replaced it with loud entertainment that drowns out your efforts to focus on God..May God have mercy on their souls..The False “Touch Not God’s Anointed” Doctrine
    Not surprisingly, controlling “pastors” often profess that they are “anointed” and that you are not anointed and so they often invoke the popular “touch not God’s anointed” false doctrine to try to discourage would-be challengers from questioning their alleged authority. In order to justify this line of thinking, they misinterpret and misapply the totally unrelated Old Testament account of David and Saul, which clearly shows that they think of themselves as a king and think of you as a lesser who is trying to do them harm by merely questioning and correcting them. Of course this is nonsense. David respected Saul and was determined not to harm (touch) him physically (see 1Sam 26:11). This has nothing to do with dealing with doctrinal error today. This is not some kind of proof that it is wrong to confront and expose the error of a leader. In fact, ironically, David did correct Saul and he did point out his error (v. 18-20).
    Also, the Bible says, “…the anointing which you have received of Him abides in you…” (1John 2:27)
    To gain even more insight, let’s consider this verse in fuller context:
    These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in Him. And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at his coming. 1 John 2:26-28
    We can gain an even larger context of 1John 2:27 by reading a little earlier on in the chapter, where we see that the passage above is written to “fathers”, “young men” and “little children” (see verse 12-14), which essentially means to all Christians. This is not written as being something exclusive to pastors / elders. These verses show us that all Christians are anointed, not just pastors. So even within their out-of-context view of the account of David and Saul, these leaders should at least not be “touching” you either with their mistreatment and abuses. But of course it almost never works out that way because, regardless of their claims to the contrary, men like this do not truly recognize and acknowledge the basic equality of all believers (where while we may have differing roles, we are all equally important). This passage also shows us that we do not even need these men to teach us. God is ultimately our teacher who teaches us through His written Word as illuminated by the Holy Spirit.If the Word shatters cherished beliefs, then we are willing to be shattered, no matter how painful it is. Isn’t God’s Truth more important than personal belief, and loyalty to that Truth more important than loyalty to traditions, the commandments of men, or our local church?

    When we are willing to drop all our pre-conceived ideas and ask the Lord for His wisdom and only His wisdom, then we will be on the right path to learning what is truth and what is error. When we become willing to believe what God will teach us, regardless of what anyone says, then we will be on the right path to learning truth.

    It is a shameful tragedy that many men will exert such anti-biblical rule and control over the saints of God and brazenly assert that binding your consciences to care for your pastors is in harmony, even the requirement, of our Lord Jesus Christ. What is needful is for God’s people to realize that what IS in harmony, and what IS a requirement of our Lord Jesus Christ is to expose and stand in opposition to this outrageous claim by those who “lord it over” those in the church.

    The church has become, as Jesus foretold, a field of wheat and tares; a field of genuine believers and counterfeits. These are indeed perilous times we live in. The devil’s favorite place to trap people and bring them into bondage is not your local tavern or drug dealer, nor is it with religions like Hinduism, Islam, etc. No, the devil’s favorite place to render powerless God’s people is a pulpit in a church that advertises itself as a “God glorifying” and “Christ-centered” church.

    We need to very carefully examine ourselves and ask where our loyalties rest. Have we believed and practiced something just because our church or pastor said it was biblical and true?

    Can’t we see how dangerous this is?

    “Now the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually examined. But he that is spiritual examines all things, and he himself is examined of no man.” 1 Corinthians 2:14-15

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