FROM SHEPHERDS to clowns
THE PERIL OF THE MODERN CHURCH
BY MIKE MAZYCK
“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires.” – 2 Timothy 4:1-3
As the Apostle Paul sat in a Roman prison, awaiting his execution, he penned those words to Timothy. They are found towards the very end of what was, in all likelihood, his last communication to this young preacher. They were part of his last words! He used those words to warn Timothy that a day was coming when men would no longer tolerate the kind of teaching that would nourish and save their own soul. Instead, they would find teachers who would tell them what they wanted to hear. Things they enjoyed hearing. Things that made them feel good! Nevertheless, Paul admonished Timothy to remain faithful to the words he spoke.
The great Charles Spurgeon, commonly referred to as the “Prince of Preachers,” seemed to echo these words of Paul’s when he said, “The time will come when instead of shepherds feeding the sheep, the church will have clowns entertaining the goats.”
My friends, please hear me when I say: That time has come! We are NOW living in the days of which these great men spoke. We live in a generation that has access to more churches and more teaching than any other generation before us. And yet, true shepherds are rarer than ever. Sound doctrine has fallen victim to the laws of supply and demand.
But why? Why would men not want sound doctrine? Why wouldn’t they want the very food their soul is craving? For the same reason, a child would rather eat ice cream and candy three meals a day than meat and vegetables — the ice cream and candy taste yummy. The meat and vegetables do not. The stubborn and immature child sits at the dinner table, angry about what he sees on the plate in front of him. The parent looks on, caring only about one thing — the nourishment of their child.
Paul summed it up best when he said, “...they will no longer endure sound doctrine.” The dictionary defines the word endure as “to suffer (something difficult orpainful) patiently.” Sound doctrine must be endured! Sound doctrine can be painful! Sound doctrine can make you feel like that stubborn, angry child sitting at the table, despising what lies in front of you.
Many years ago, I read the book, “Money, Possessions, and Eternity” by Randy Alcorn. This book impacted my life so greatly that I now keep extra copies on hand and give them away every chance I get.
But as much as I love this book now, I remember something else about reading it. It was painful and convicting. It struck a nerve in my flesh. Maybe I should be more clear: It was a direct assault on all my worldly ambitions — my entire way of life. But at the same time, I knew I was reading truth. I was reading sound doctrine, built upon the Word, written by a shepherd who had not compromised. I had to keep going. I had to suffer through it, and I am so grateful I did. Although it was bitter medicine going down, it brought much healing in the end.
Alcorn’s book is only one example, but I could list countless more, and not just books. I’m most certainly talking about sermons and other forms of teaching as well. Throughout my life, the teachers and messages that have always yielded the most fruit were the ones I had to endure.
My friend, we are living in an extremely dangerous time. It is this generation that Spurgeon and the Apostle Paul warned us about. They saw a day when we would be surrounded by tables of ice cream and candy, where instead of faithful shepherds preaching boldly behind church pulpits, we would have auditoriums and stages — clowns and entertainers!
Do you want to grow strong in your walk with the Lord? Do you want to experience more of the Fruit of the Spirit in your life? I encourage you today: Endure sound doctrine. Seek out teaching that is hard and difficult to tolerate. Teaching that assaults your fleshly ambitions and desires. Turn aside from teachers and doctrines that tickle your ears. Be on guard against sanctuaries filled with entertainment, jokes, and laughter every week. There is no need to waste your Sunday mornings on things that a simple streaming subscription will provide. Find men who preach the Word boldly and endure their teaching so that you may grow strong in the things of God!
If you would like a list of pastors, teachers, and messages that must be endured, please find my blog post titled “A List to be Endured” at mikemazyck.com