As I scan through my cable channels in search of a good sermon to listen to, or perhaps a worship service I can enjoy, I often find myself frustrated with the choices I’m faced with. There seems to be a very limited selection of pure bible teaching preachers on T.V. these days. Now when I say bible teaching don’t get confused with just anybody that open a bible and starts preaching. At first glance you might believe that your favorite preacher is teaching you the truth. You may be shocked to find out that you have been listening to lies for many years.
Many of today’s preachers have moved away from the central message of the bible which is Jesus Christ coming to die for the sins of the world, to a Gospel which is really no gospel at all. Not only did Jesus warn us about false teachers, Paul addressed the issue several times in his new testament writings. Still it seems that these false teachers have crept into our minds and our hearts by appealing to our sensory perception. It use to be that we could see a cult or false teacher coming a mile away. We could readily identify a group or individual who just didn’t seem right, or had some obvious false doctrine that was easy to refute. Now the false teachers come wrapped in nice shiny packages, with bright shiny bows. They speak quite eloquently and invite you to buy into thier views quite convincingly.
So the question is “How are they able to fool us so easily?” There are a number of reasons why these smooth operators are so convincing in thier delivery of the word to us. One component of this deception is they have a very charismatic appeal. They have a great personality! They are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. When we see them and hear then they make us want to listen to then just based on thier personal appeal. It’s very easy to like them. We are very naturally a personailty driven people. We determaine if we’re going to listen to someone very quickly based on thier perceived personality. Within the first 30 second after we’ve seen them we already either tuned in to thier message or we’ve changed the channel. If the personality doesn’t hit us we just keep going until we find someone who is appealing to us.
Another attribute that we look for in those who teach us the word is “Is he/she knowledgeable of the word?” This is where the waters get a little muddy. You would be suprised if you knew the amount of credible, verifiable bible educaction your favorite television preacher actually has. Creflo dollar, Pastor of the nearly 24,000 member World Changers Church International, holds no degrees in theology whatsoever. Yet when you hear him speak you would perceive that his teaching is sound. He has great presence and his message seems to be beneficial, but his teaching are all founded not on the teaching of the bible itself but on the teaching of his friend and mentor Kenneth Copeland.
Joyce Meyer has written more than 70 books, has her own daily T.V. and radio show, Enjoying Everday Life. Yet upon examining her educational backgroud you will find that she hold only an honorary doctorate from Oral Roberts University, and a PHD from Life Christian University, which is the same university that has given theological degrees to Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland. You would never know this as you hear her speak. She is very eloquent, convincing, and has a universal message that is very uplifting. Yet so little of it is based on scripture or sound doctrine.
Joel Osteen, Author of the Best selling book, Your Best Life Life Now and Pastor of the megachurch Lakewood Church which has over 30,000 members, dropped out of Oral Roberts University in 1982. His message is a great one center on the building up of ones self and becoming all that God wants you to be. The problem is that Joel often twists the scripture to help him make his point in his message.
Rod Parsley in wildly charismatic in his approach to preaching. His energetic messages can set you on fire and seemingly propel you towards God’s will for your life. The problem is Rod dropped out of Circleville Bible College in his second year to begin teaching bible study in 1977. Like many of the current T.V. preachers, he foresook a formal bible education in favor of mentorship, taking to the teachings of Lester Summerall. Now his program, Breakthrough is seen in 136 countries, and is immensely popular.
Another reason that these teachers are able to permiate our minds in that we don’t know the bible ourselves enough to be able to disern a lie when we hear one. We would rather sit back and let someone else give us all the teaching they want as long as there is not much required of us. The problem here is that we are lazy learners. We would rather be spoon fed rather than to seek out our own spiriutal food. I find it quite appaling how many christians routinely show up for church without a bible!What?! To me this is either laziness or just plainly a blantant disregard for the word of God. This is the attitude that allows satan to sow lies into our minds in the name of God.
So the question is this “Is a solid educational background important in teaching and preaching in the church?” Unequivically YES! The preaching of the word of God is so vitally important to the well being of the human soul that it must be done effectively and correctly. That is why we must be careful as to who we allow the privelage to sow into our lives via the word of God. There should be a great emphasis placed on correct doctrine. The ability to speak well is simply not enough. Neither is simply quoting a scripture that coencides with whatever the selected theme is. A scripture taken out of the context that the writer intended can be dangerous if applyed incorrectly. I do not intent to negate the need for personality and likability in our teachers and preachers, but because so much is a stake in reagards to our spiritual well being we must demand a high standard from those that teach us the word of God.
We must demand expository preaching and teaching of the word of God. With expository preaching and teaching what you get is the word of God line upon line precept upon precept. Careful consideration is given to the details of the word that are often overlooked. It is these overlooked elements that cause doctrinal problems. Scrutiny must be given to who the writer was, who he was writing to, and what purpose was he writing for. What also must be taken into consideration is the language of the writing, grammarical composition, and syntactical structure. It might sound like a tall order to fill but if obtaining the truth of God’s word is the goal, these are necessary in order to be acurate.
We live in a world where the importance of correct doctrine is declining rapidly. What is more important is “What’s In It For Me?” The focus on this type of doctrine is that Jesus is not the focal point of the message, man is. Millions of people are coming to God for material gain instead of salvation. Sunday morning and wednsday night is about “How To Free Yourself” and not “We Are Free In Christ.” When we take Jesus out of the Gospel what remains is no Gospel at all. We must seek what is true in favor of what is popular. God is not a slot machine nor is he a puppet who is at the whim of the finite human race. He is sovereign and able to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. Christ must be the central character of the Gospel we preach otherwise we are doomed to follow our own lusts which ultimately leads us to destruction.
Let us do all that we can to stay in tune with the one true message of salvation, that is the life, death, burial and ressurection of the lord Jesus Christ to reconcile mankind back into the hands of God, and redeem him from eternal damnation in hell. Let us also pray for the millions now being led astray by those who choose to take Gods throne and his power and make it thier own while persuading thier followers to do the same.
Evangelist Jim Green Jr.