Wolves in sheeps clothing
Ministers of anger, pride, greed and dissention are not ministers of God.
The secular press is discussing the "proper" role of ministers and what constitutes Christian leadership.
It’s a bit like the Muslim network Al Jazeera discussing the proper role of Israel in the Middle East, but it raises an important issue for those who seek to follow Jesus Christ.
As a Christian minister, I rely on the Bible to provide my guidelines for evaluating issues and leaders, including ministers. The passage that warns, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves" goes on to tell me "by their fruit you will recognize them."
While it is not appropriate to pass judgment on others, the Bible does tell us to discern the spirits in order to recognize the misguided, unbiblical and occasional outright frauds.
This is done by comparing their words and actions with the Word of God and by observing the fruit of their lives.
The extreme examples of cult leaders, like David Koresh and Jim Jones, are easy to discern.
The pain, immorality and death they leave in their wakes serve as a clear signal that these men are not of God.
Quite the opposite; they follow the example of the enemy of God, who comes to kill, steal and destroy.
More subtle false prophets can be more difficult to identify, but that does not mean that we should follow them with foolish blindness.
Adrian Rogers, the late Baptist pastor, was fond of saying that his job was to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable." It was his way of saying that while a good pastor consoled those facing difficult circumstances, he also prodded people who had become stagnant in their spiritual journey. Sometimes, this can seem harsh.
Last year, I published a message called We Have A Choice: Humility or Humiliation. It warns of the serious consequences of our nation’s sins while pointing out the path to security, peace and prosperity. Granted, it identifies many unprincipled choices people in our country often make, but it in no way condemns people or America as a whole. The purpose is to promote truth in order to lift people up, not tear anyone down. It is a call to prayer and a reminder of the mercy God so freely offers.
Likewise, my new book The Soul of a Nation delves into the social issues that divide many Americans.
I stake out my positions, based on Biblical truth, and never flinch from these unshakeable principles. But never do I curse any group of people.
Instead, I point the way to redemption and restoration available to everyone. While pointing out sin, we offer hope and forgiveness to the sinner. I believe that this is the role of a true Christian minister.
Never should we condemn or make foolish, blanket accusations against nations or races.
As ministers of Biblical truth, we must not dodge important issues, spiritual or social, while at the same time conveying the message of hope, unity and salvation for all who will receive God’s truth. An ideology that excludes any people from the hope of the gospel comes from a false prophet. There is no discrimination between male or female, Jew or gentile, black or white in Jesus Christ.
There is no exclusionary gospel. That means that there is no men’s theology or women’s theology; no black theology or white theology.
The truth of God is there for everyone regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or any other division of man. At the same time, no person should be accused of racism or sexism simply for challenging a person’s belief system or position.
Beware of those who come in the name of Jesus Christ but do not speak according to His words and example. Their message does not edify and elevate the soul. Their "fruit" often consists of arrogance, selfishness, anger, dissension, hatred and bitterness. Such a phenomenon is not new.
The apostle Paul warned against the foolishness of those who "happily put up with whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different kind of Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed."
Sadly, there is much foolishness pushed upon people in the name of Jesus or under the guise of Christianity.
But it is a dangerous religious practice that perverts the Gospel. Do not be duped by these men or women. Discern the spirits and judge the fruit of their words and actions. Some ways lead to dissension, division and even death, but the spirit of God leads to life and harmony. And one more thing...God bless America!
If you want to read my convictions and concerns related to the issues our nation faces, order my newly released book "The Soul of a Nation," published by Thomas Nelson.
James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Absolutes: Freedom’s Only Hope and True Prosperity.