It is joy for me to introduce to you a guest blogger for this weekend’s post. I’m sure, if you have visited Possessing the Treasure before or Slice of Laodicia or other godly Blogs across the Internet, you have read comments by “bruisedreed.” The following post was written by my friend “bruisedreed” and I believe it is timely, relevant and fits very well with our current study of the Compromised Church. As you will read, “bruisedreed” is actually Elizabeth Patterson Scott. The subject of this post is one that is vital and needed in today’s suffering church.
“There are a few left in Sardis …and they are worthy.”
by Elizabeth Patterson Scott
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Rev 3:1-6
There is no doubt that the church in America is compromising. The compromise is complex. It is not enough to just say, oh the leaders in the church are selling out, they are not being faithful to the Word. The reason is this: there are a few left in Sardis. There are a few ministers left, who have not compromised, and are not going to compromise. I am married to such a man.
We have been in ministry for many years, (20+) and I must admit that we entered the ministry naively. The pastor who ordained my husband told him, “If you just preach the word, God will bring the people.” While it is imperative for a minister of God to preach the Word of God uncompromisingly, there is no guarantee that the people will come, nor is there a guarantee that the members in the church will value the pastor’s heart to preach the uncompromised truth. No…we are in a society that looks at numbers, programs, feelings, and managerial abilities to determine whether or not a ministry is successful. There are VERY FEW who sit in the pews who value the Word of God above all. As I have been reading article after article blaming the state of the church in America on the ministers, I really believe the remnant needs to be aware, “There are a few left in Sardis.”
While there are MANY pastors and leaders in churches today, that are looking for new methods to get people in their doors, there are a few well meaning pastors who have sought to be faithful to the Word and just want to be significant in furthering the Kingdom of God in the corner of the world where God has seen fit to place them. These pastors, young and old, have watched area mega churches swallow up people much like a black hole in space swallows up particles around it. These churches have an ability to sell their version of church more effectively than the smaller churches, who have less people and less money. The faithful pastor finds himself scratching his head and questioning himself, his ministry and his message. He wonders, “Is there something I am doing wrong.” “Maybe my message is off.” Or even” “The problem must be me; I am just not an effective leader.” Because he needs fellowship, he finds himself in circles with other pastors who boast of the success that their church is having by using this program or that program. And he thinks, “Well…perhaps if WE did that program then we would be able to grow a church here. Maybe we could at least get some to come.” He does not want to compromise, no; he just wants to be relevant. He just wants someone somewhere to tell him how to do this impossible job. He is willing to do what ever He knows God is calling him to…but is God calling him to grow a large church, or be an effective leader, or be relevant? I think many sitting in the pew today would say yes to those questions, but I think instead of determining what a pastor is to be according to the mind of man…we should look to the Word of God for the job description of God’s Minister.
Unfortunately many ministers are weary from battling within the walls of churches with ungodly church members, therefore their spiritual lives are suffering. They are not in the word themselves, because the demand that the church puts on their time does not allow for time to study and pray over the Word. They are required to manage every area of the church’s activity. (Yet, in some cases are not given the authority to even do this. But this would be for another article.? ) They are also involved in spiritual warfare that is indescribable to the average church member. They are being told by their ungodly members, you need to do this, our church needs to have this program, this color of paint on the wall, a themed children’s ministry etc. The minister is torn. He knows he is called by God to declare the truth, yet he is having temporal matters thrust upon him, and the church is demanding that he meet them and if he does not…well, the result would be excruciating for the minister if he does not at least try to meet them. So what does he do? He tries fruitlessly to do both. He tries to manage the earthly matters and to give the truth. But this does not work. Why? Because the “urgent matter” will always take precedence over the Word of God, because to study the word properly requires TIME!!
God is faithful, and he does revive His men. As God moves in the man of God and changes his heart, placing in him a desire for the Word and a desire to declare the word faithfully he begins to again be convinced that the only thing that accomplishes anything of lasting value is the Word. He seeks to again preach this. He encourages his people to seek God through the study of the Word, and gives them opportunity to know God through Christ-centered, biblical preaching. His ministry is God glorifying. But the pragmatic people reject the pastor’s leading and in effect reject the Word of God. They want results! They are interested in not just hearing faithful preaching…they want entertainment, programs and fun filled fellowships. The pastor at this point experiences complete rejection…which may very well lead to total discouragement and despondency. This is where many are today. They want to do what God has called them too…they are even being faithful, yet they are alone. The worldly measure of success has become the church’s measuring stick. And they are under constant attack from members who think they know better.
So what does God’s Word say that the minister of God is to do and be? Acts 6:2-4 So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables. “Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
This passage makes it clear that the true minister of the Word of God is to devote himself to prayer and the ministry of the word. Paul, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, stated THE purpose and call of ministers is to devote themselves to the study of the Word and prayer. While the details of the church have to be dealt with, it is not the call or the job of the men that are called to study the word, in order to equip the saints for the work of the Lord, to spend their energy in taking care of the temporal needs. Their job is to focus on the eternal needs. As they study the word of God…praying over it, and applying it to their own lives, they are then able to feed the flock. This does not happen when a man is forced to use all of his energies putting out fires, and defending this God-given call to the members of his flock. When he is forced to do this he is depleted and not able to devote himself to the study of the word. There is no energy left to do what God has called him to do.
The member, who has such a man, should take heed, and not squander the truth that has been declared to them from the Word of God, by the man of God. Instead of looking elsewhere for the direction of their church, perhaps they should fall on their knees and ask God to convict them of their sin, and ask for faith to live righteously putting to death the deeds of the flesh, and get busy furthering the Kingdom of God. Perhaps too they should pray for the man that God has placed in leadership in their church, and they should seek to defend his honor when they hear his character being torn down. Perhaps they should openly and publicly thank the pastor for his faithfulness, and encourage him by ministering to his family’s needs so that he is free to do what God has called him to do. These are just some suggestions. ?
Lastly, we all need to realize this: A true man of God is called into the ministry by God. He does not choose this vocation as if one might choose to work as an attorney, engineer, or salesman. No. He does it because God has placed a call on His life to be a Declarer of Truth. This is why he needs our prayer. Again the pastor who ordained my husband also told him this, “If you can do anything else…do it.” If you can do anything else…then you most likely are not called to be a Declarer of the Truth.
The fact remains there is NOTHING that impacts men with an eternal change except the Word of God. Men who are called to preach the Word must remain faithful…and those of us who are children of God need to pray for them. Many, including us, are considering leaving the pastorate because of the wounds and beating they have taken. They are worn out, used up, and discouraged. They love God more than ever, because this is what is produced when you face suffering for the sake of Christ. They must be sustained by God an His grace. Pray this for them…and for the remnant who remain. There are a few left in Sardis….and they are worthy!