I (John) wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18) among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth…. 3 John v.9&10.
If any man teach [by word or deed]….that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. 1 Timothy 6:3-5
When we were young we had as a pet the King snake. This snake was not poisonous nor was she temperamental. She was around (3) three feet long and (1.5-2.0) an inch and a half to two inches in width. There is one characteristic however that causes the King snake to stand out. The King snake is immune to the bite of other poisonous snakes and it will eat other snakes, whole. They kill by the method of constriction.
What could the title, the verse references, and the King snake have in common? Let us see.
By the title and the verse you might gather that there is such a time to leave a church or for a preacher to be excused. You could also gather that many times it is because of a preacher that one must withdraw themselves and their family. Now onto the King snake. In the description it was pointed out that the K. snake is immune to the poison of other snakes and it will eat the venomous opponent. This is true of God’s chosen and empowered prophets/servants.
As you study God’s Word you will find that many of God’s prophets came up against lying prophets and it was their job to expose the lie and the false prophet. There is much written in the Word about false prophets, teachers, preachers, and how to recognize and deal with them. Every inspired holy man wrote on the topic or dealt with the enemy in real time.
Each God-called prophet is to point out, call out, and to cast out the false prophets because they are a clear and very present danger to the little flock of Christ and the God called and God centered prophet will not apologize, candy coat or soften his blows.
Some of these men should be obvious to an exercised believer. Men like Joel Osteen, the majority of preachers on T.V. channels like TBN, the “name it and claim it” types are obvious, the prosperity preachers are easily recognized. Those preachers in high places ministering to wicked men can be dangerous (not a slight against Graham; he is faithful to God). What about those that are not so easily spotted? Here are some marks of preachers that should be watched closely. We must be careful here because some of these traits may show up in all ministers at different times, as they should, but if they are ever present then they are the ever present witness against the minister. An example of what I mean about being careful. If one attends a church for the first time and the minister is speaking about giving, one should not walk out at the end of the service and label him as a money hungry preacher. A minister must at times deal with the topic of giving and the blessings that come to a generous spirit. If this minister speaks on giving the next week and the next and the next then you know.
Traits or statements to be weary of (and again be careful when making judgments).
- “Serving God is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.” This is very telling. The man that believes this does not have a healthy prayer life and much or most, if not all, of his ministry is of the flesh.
- If a minister ever makes the statement that preaching is the same for him every week instead of recognizing that the Power of God or the Presence of God is stronger at different times. This man is again of the flesh and you did not receive a message from God but a lecture from an empty man.
- When a minister examines his ministry and he bases its worth on the number of people that have raised hands, been baptized, etc. one must be weary. He is measuring godliness by gain. If you were to read 1 Chron. 21 you will find David counting his people, against Joab’s sound counsel, in preparation for war and he was severely chastened by God for this act. In fact, in verse 1 you will be startled to see that satan influenced him. Every preacher knows of this record or should, yet they still continue to count, count, count. Upon meeting a fellow preacher the first question is usually “how many did you have” or “how many were saved.” This is a satanic and worldly trait.
- The “every eye closed; every head bowed” type is extremely dangerous. Why? Because they are again counting and giving false hope to many. We will be like the magician that reveals the tricks of the trade only we will not wear a mask. Some preachers will ask for all heads bowed and all eyes closed and will ask for the hands of those that have said a stale, practiced prayer and if there are no hands being raised he will bear false witness and say “I see that hand” then hand start to be raised and he starts to count. This type is very dangerous. Christ always called men openly.
- Those that rarely speak on holiness, repentance or even the Very Son of God are to be steered clear of.
- If the preacher fails to rebuke open sin in a persons life he is to be prayed for and confronted by a more mature believer. This preacher is not doing his job faithfully. If a preacher allows someone in open sin to take part in the Lord’s Supper he is weak and needs encouragement, or he may need to be excused.
You may say that if a preacher followed these guide lines the church would be very small. It may be small, but it would be healthy and on the narrow way. In closing, we would encourage, or rather we would challenge thee to compare the minister mentioned above and compare him with the apostles and ministers in the Word of God, with the reformers or with the puritans. I mention those groups because it was during their times that the church was at her best.
Grace and peace be with thee,