A respected Southern Baptist pastor and author says “wimpy” pastors and laypersons are the reason Christians are losing the culture war.
Why are many Christian leaders silent when religious freedom comes under attack? That question was raised Tuesday evening by Fox News Channel’s Bill O’Reilly and posed to Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church Dallas and author of How Can I Know: Answers to Life’s 7 Most Important Questions.
“I think one reason is a lot of Christian leaders have the wrong idea about Jesus,” Jeffress replied when asked the question. “They see Jesus as this little, wimpy guy who walked around plucking daisies and eating birdseed and saying nice things, but never doing anything controversial. The fact is, Jesus did confront his culture with truth — and he ended up being crucified because of it.”
The Dallas pastor chastised pastors who shy away from controversy.
“Wimpy pastors produce wimpy Christians — and that is why we are losing this culture war,” he emphasized.
These are indeed some bold, and hard hitting, comments. But are they true? Are Christians wimps for not participating in the culture war? Has Christ called his church to go to war with the culture? Did Jesus go to war with the culture?
First, to set the record straight, there are many pastors going to war with the culture, and are even willing to be led in the culture war by false teachers, such as, the historical revisionist, David Barton, Glenn Beck, the Mormon, Roman Catholics, and even “Word of Faith” & New Apostolic Reformation” heretics. So it wouldn’t be accurate to claim that pastors are not engaged in the culture war. Mr. Jeffress might not like the amount of people involved, but he should be realistic in his observation, because the majority of Western society holds to a secular world-view; thus out numbering those who still hold to traditional Christian morality.
Nevertheless, Mr. Jeffress’ statements should be challenged.
Did Jesus, in fact, go to war with his culture, by trying to compel the Jews to keep the Old Covenant law? It is true that he rightly accused the Jews, and even the leaders, by telling them that none of them keeps the law, and that they even nullify the law by replacing it with their own traditions (John 7-19, Matthew 15:3-9). But was it the law that Jesus was telling the people to obey? Jesus did not command the Jews to do a better job at keeping the law. Instead, he told them to do “the work of God”, which is to “believe in Him whom He [God] sent… Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life” (John 6:29-48). That was Jesus’ messages, and that is what he confronted his culture with, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Nowhere can it be found in the gospel, or even the epistles, where Jesus is commanding the people to do better at keeping the law. Instead, he shows the people their lost and sinful state, by showing them how they have always broken the law, and cannot keep the law, because of their sinful heart. This was made evident when he said “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matthew 5:18-30). Sinful man, even orthodox Jews, cannot live up to this standard “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8). That is why Jesus said “You must be born again”, because “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (John 3:7, 2Corinthians 5:17).
Did Jesus tell his Apostles to fight a culture war, when he commissioned them after his resurrection? No, instead, he told them to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 19:20). None of Jesus’ commands to his disciples had to do with fighting for control of the world’s culture. Instead, his commands were centered on salvation from sin, and from a world that is mark for destruction, and that is what the Apostles preached, saying “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead”, and “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 30:31, Acts 16:31).
Is Christ’s church engaged in war of any kind? Yes, the church is, in fact, engaged in, and called to a war. But it is not a war against the culture, because “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh”, and the war for the culture is a war against people, for control of a nation, which is not what Christ commanded the church to do (2Corinthians 10:3). Yet, “from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). Christ church, therefore, is engaged in a spiritual war “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10). These opposing forces wage war on the truth, which the church is called to contend earnestly for, by refuting the heresies of false teachers. This war is fought by abiding in the truth, and by “casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2Corinthians 10:5, Ephesians 6:14-18, Jude 1:3-4).
Many false teachers fight against the truth, by teaching the church, and the world, to do things in Christ’s name that Jesus never commanded, and the church must expose their lies, and “mark those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which they’ve learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Romans 16:17-18). “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage”, but Christ church must “remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit (Jude 1:16-19). Jesus also gave this warning when he told his disciples to “enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:13-20).
Therefore, Christ has called his church to engaged in a war, but it is not a war for the culture, which is doomed, according to Scripture (Acts 17:30-30, 1John 2:15-17). Instead, the church is engaged in a war for the truth of who the true God is, and for the truth of the true gospel of salvation, because many false prophets are in the world, and they are leading the world to obey false gods, false Christs, and false gospel (1John 4:1-6, 1John 5:19-21). Some are even telling the church that Jesus wants them to take charge of the culture through civil law, or through bringing about world peace in his name, even though Christ has already said “do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’” (Matthew 10:34-36). The hatred, and lack of peace, is directly linked with the world’s hatred of Christ, “because he testified of it that its works are evil”, and the church must do the same, through the power of the Holy Spirit (John 7:7, John 16:8).
Those who are not willing to follow Christ’s commands to engage in this spiritual warfare are fearful. This is because they fear sinful man more than God, who is able to kill, and send those who disobeyed him to Hell, and the “Lake of Fire” (Matthew 10:29, Revelation 21:7-8). Those are the true wimpy Christians, who will not inherit the kingdom of Heaven, just as those who have told lies in Christ name (Revelation 21:7-8). That is why the Scriptures says “…all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone…” (Revelation 21:8). “These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 1:12-13). To take the Lord’s name in vain, by telling people that God wants them to do certain things that he never told them, is not a small matter, “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).
Christians who fight in a war, who have not been commanded by God to do so, are fooled into waring against the very people that Christ has commanded them to preach the gospel to, so that they will repent, believe the gospel, and be saved, from their sins, and from this evil world. Believers are called to “set their minds on things above, not on things on the earth”, because “no one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier” (Colossians 3:2, 2Timothy 2:4). The church’s war is centered upon salvation, and upon making disciples. Christ does not burden his people with the hopeless cares of this world, that is ruled over by Satan, who is “the god of this world” (2Crointhians 4:4, John 16:11, Revelation 12:12). Instead, he says “I will put on you no other burden. But hold fast what you have till I come. And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. ‘ He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’, as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:24-29).
12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.
13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
15 For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.
16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.
17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
21 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.