By Lou Coleman
Our age is characterized by pathetic preachers and pitiful churches. Christ Himself gave this evaluation of the Laodicea church: “Thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, blind, and naked.” [Revelation 3:15-17]. The Head of the church [Jesus] was nauseated and said, “You make me sick!” You are a spectacle in the pulpit and a disgrace in the community and need to be exposed for what you are. This was a church filled with self-deceived hypocrites. As a result of their ambivalence to spiritual things, Jesus would have nothing to do with them. He would “spit them out.” How did they get this way? [Jeremiah 14:3] says, “They came to the pits [cisterns], and found no water; they returned with their vessels empty.” The weeping prophet, Jeremiah, lamented, “They are not valiant for the truth… they know not me” [9:3].
Listen, you can’t put live chickens under a dead hen. There are too many preachers standing behind a sacred podium who have never been born again. They are spiritually dead. Their messages and manner of living reveal their inner condition. Christ warned, “By their fruits ye shall know them” [Matt. 7:20]. Paul admonished, “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things” [I Cor. 2:15]. Don’t hate the messenger! I just deliver the mail….You cannot have the life of the kingdom of God until you have entered the kingdom of God. What you need is a conversion experience like that of Saul of Tarsus. You need a trip to Calvary. Let’s face it! Nehemiah was frank when he declared, “And, lo, I perceived that God had not sent him” [6:12]. Preaching is a calling. It is not enough to like to preach or merely feel that one ought to preach. There must be a holy compulsion that says, “Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!” The spiritual plight of many ministers is found in the parable of the persistent friend [Luke 11:6]: “And I have nothing to set before him.” Job complained, “Miserable comforters are ye all” [6:2]. The Apostle Paul warned, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” [CoI. 2:3]. Don’t get stuck on stupid! The religious world is full of unsent preachers. “Wherefore wilt thou run, my son, seeing that thou hast no tidings ready?” [2Sam.18-22]
I tell you, there are a lot of windbags in the pulpit. Isaiah expressed the same opinion: “We have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth” [26:18]. Jeremiah deplored, “And the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them” [5:13]. The writer of Proverbs states, “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain” [25:14]. Job declares, [13:4] “But ye are forgers of lies, ye are all physicians of no value.” Shall I remind you that the Laodicea church is headed for judgment? “God says in [Jeremiah 12:10] you have destroyed my vineyard.” The Head of the Church, Jesus Himself, is nauseated with a flabby, flaccid, halfhearted church. It is dope addiction of the spirit, alcoholism of the heart, cancer of the soul, and blindness of the mind and poverty of vision from which the people perish.
How did you get this way? The Prophet Haggai put it thus, “Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came too little” (1:9). Isaiah gives the reason: “This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and of blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth” (37:3). I tell you, the early church turned the world upside down. Today the world is turning our churches upside down! Almost a generation ago A. W.Tozer wrote: “The preaching that once angered the atheists and brought them charging out against God and the Bible has pretty much disappeared. Hellfire, miracles, and the necessity that men please Almighty God are no longer a serious part of current Christian teaching. Christianity has been watered down until it is little more than “cheer-’em-up stuff.” We are so afraid of being narrow that we have opened the doors to worldliness. Christ would share the grief of Jeremiah who grieved, “Mine heart within me is broken because of the prophets” (23:9). So many preachers these days are talking but not saying anything. The tragedy of today’s preaching is that most preachers give the people what they want to hear, not what God’s Word declares. Woe unto you!
So what can be done for pathetic preachers and pitiful churches you may ask? Consider the Potent Cure; “Begin at My Sanctuary,” says the Lord [Ezek. 9:6]. “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord,” declared Prophet Isaiah [52:11)]. “Carry forth the filthiness out of the Holy place” [II Chron. 29:5].
Listen, Christ said, “He would spew the Laodicea church out of His mouth.” “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the House of God…” “The hour is late. The invitation is open by the Savior Himself: Repent! “Behold, I stand at the door~ and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door~ I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me,” [Rev. 3:20]. Don’t wait too late! The clock is ticking… Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock!