I have yet to talk to my problems with the head guy. I have figured I should talk to the pastor and the elder first because the Bible dictates this.
I had a conversation with someone whom I really respect here, even though his beliefs are more charismatic than anything -- so a lot of faith alone stuff. I see him as a brother, not a father figure. I struggle with what he said to me as I asked for advice in this situation: If I should present this to the head guy of the organization, or to the pastor. I live with the pastor so it's always a stress for me. The pastor and I don't have a relationship at all even though I have lived in his house for almost six months. I know him about as much as I know people on television. But this guy I look up to in a sense because he has helped me out a lot.
He said I don't need to address the issue of sexual immorality in the church because it has nothing to do with me. When the pastor dies and goes before God, God will judge him on this. I told him I understand and I am no judge, but God says certain people do not inherit the kingdom of God and I care for these people. I wish to see them in heaven. Someone who practices adultery would not go to heaven.
He told me he and his wife were in the church, were baptized, but weren't married. They later married after one year of going to the church. He tried to say in the Great Commission in Matthew says you teach people after they are saved. I told him it says you teach people before they are saved and when they decided to leave their old ways and follow Christ, then they were baptized and walk more in Christ. I cited examples in Scripture and the way the Great Commission is referenced in the New Testament. Plus you can't save someone if you haven't taught them anything but simple facts.
The guy puts a lot of emphasis on feelings. I told him when I was younger, I messed up with my girlfriend and practiced fornication. I honestly knew if I died I would go to hell and nothing changed the fact. I was practicing fornication. I chose sex over following God when I was younger. God says fornicators will not enter heaven. But he is charismatic. In a lot of things, it's hard to deal with his feelings.
But then he said to me, you need to be peaceful when you are here because you have six more months and then you go back to the states. It is not your problem and you need to be at peace like me. I told him it is not my problem but it could become my problem if I am to bring people to Christ and they see this sin in the church that isn't taken care of correctly. They might think it's all right to have sex without marriage. We won't be able to help them out, but they will still say they are Christians, and it sends the wrong message. So if they ask me why does your church accept this, I will say because they are in the wrong. So I said if I am to invite people, I need to know what is going to be done about it.
His response was well just don't invite people while you're here. It hurt a lot, but I don't know how to explain it. I have been told you're here for a short time from people and I feel I am the lowest person on the food chain. People don't mind if I do evangelism, don't mind if I keep to myself, but when I question things, which I do often because I want to learn and I'm curious, I get hindered so many times because it goes against the grain.
If this issue honestly cannot be resolved, when I go back to the states I will suggest all funding be stopped to this church because of this. It's just so hard because I love the people, but the leaders at times have these big misconceptions about things. I think it's mostly due to their feelings. I mean all people who are not married and living together have been punished by not being able to do anything in the church, yet none repent. There is only one more thing to do which is to kick them out, and I hate doing it. I have done it with one person, a kid in the states because he was threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend and said a whole bunch of bad stuff. I gave him a few warnings, then the youth pastor and I said you can no longer go to small groups or to the youth group, which was during Sunday service. You are not allowed to leave your parents' side and are not even allowed to talk to the family of your ex-girlfriend. The kid decided it was best to go to a different church. I love the kid because I saw the need in his life, but I chose the right thing to do. Instead of saying, well he needs Christ, we should let him keep doing what he's doing because he may eventually come around.
I'm struggling because this guy is someone I held confidence in. He basically told me that I'm here for a short time and I need to mind my own business. That if it is a problem for me, then I need to stop inviting people to church or small group and stop evangelizing because it was pointless.
He told me another story about when he was in Spain that he kept his thoughts and stuff about the church to himself because he was there for two years and there was no need because he wasn't the solution. I understand his point but at the same time I was thinking, "Wow, thanks dude for saying I don't matter."
His wife is a lot nicer, and she treats me so well -- always with love and kindness as mothers are usually more nice in this area. She doesn't know about the disagreement we had. She has always been honest with me but kind and encouraged me in everything I have done. So when I was at their house tonight, after our conversation, I was feeling pretty low because of what he said to me. He was the only main person I held confidence in here, and it was like a kick in the face.
Just be praying for more strength for me. At times I realize because of the way things are, and the way people view this year, my confidence will have to be all in God. I realize people in authority here really don't think much of me. I am looked at as an intern in so many ways instead of a brother in Christ. Be in prayer for strength to strive each day to listen to God and follow him no matter what the cost. Give every situation to Him.
"Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us" (II Timothy 1:6-14).
Sometimes I read your letters and my mind is awhirl with all the things we need to talk about. Where to start? The passage above came to my mind. In fact, there are quite a number of passages in both I and II Timothy that you need to look at again. Timothy was a young man, like yourself, committed to teaching the gospel. There are numerous hardships that go along with that commitment and Paul spent a lot of time both warning Timothy of the problems he would face and encouraging him to stay the course. Just after this passage Paul starts talking about others, both the failures and successes he himself had with others. Yet, through it all, is the theme: "Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me." It is because of Paul's own conviction that he was able to say at the end, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing" (II Timothy 4:7-8). Paul wanted the same for the young man who followed him to preach the gospel of Christ.
I can't figure out at the moment a nicer way to say this, but never have I heard the Devil speaking more clearly than in the words of this guy you are talking to. I listed out summaries of his arguments and I feel like David, "I said, "I will guard my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, while the wicked are before me." I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; and my sorrow was stirred up. My heart was hot within me; while I was musing, the fire burned. Then I spoke with my tongue:" (Psalm 39:1-3). Or as Jeremiah, "But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not" (Jeremiah 20:9).
It Doesn't Involve You
Unlike this man, I'm going to treat you as who you are and not as others think of you. You are a preacher of God's Word. You know I strongly disagree with the errors taught in your denomination and it is my desire to persuade you to follow the pure gospel. You are learning daily what is the truth and that is setting you at odds with those who have little concern for accuracy. But I fear you are losing sight of the duty given to you when you picked up the mantle of preaching.
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me: When I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet, if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because you did not give him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. Nevertheless if you warn the righteous man that the righteous should not sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; also you will have delivered your soul." (Ezekiel 3:17-21).
This man is as wrong as he can be. Your salvation is in jeopardy if you do not warn these people from their sins. Whether they listen to the warning or not is their business. Whether they decide to kick you out of the program or not is their business. But your business is to be God's spokesman, His town crier, bringing knowledge of God's laws to His people. And if you don't, if you let these people continue in their sins without giving them warning, then you have joined them in sin. "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (James 4:17).
God Will Judge
What a callous argument to say, "Don't warn the wicked because God will handle it on the Judgment Day." Yes, God will justly deal with the wicked, but this man has announced that he doesn't care about these people's souls. Contrast what he said to Paul's statement about the Judgment: "Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences" (II Corinthians 5:9-11). Paul said because I know the dangers others face is real in appearing before God with stains of sin on their souls, I can't sit still and let it happen. I make it my business to persuade men out of sin.
This man doesn't care about the lives of others!
People Can Learn Later to Do Right
Some people can and a few do learn to be righteous, but it doesn't allow anyone to give them a false sense of security by telling them they are fine while in their sins. To do that would be to lie -- Satan would love to have that happen.
People do not become Christians by bringing their sins with them.
"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? May it never be! We who died to sin, how could we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism to death, that just like Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. But if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him; knowing that Christ, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him! For the death that he died, he died to sin one time; but the life that he lives, he lives to God. Thus consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore don't let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. Neither present your members to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin will not have dominion over you. For you are not under law, but under grace" (Romans 6:1-14).
Now does that sound like someone saying, don't worry about it, you can always change later? Sure, people had grave blots on their souls before becoming Christians. "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (I Corinthians 6:9-11). But Paul's point is that they left those sins behind when they were washed in the blood of the Lamb. He did not say they would eventually deal with their old ways later.
You Only Have a Short Time Left Anyway
This one really irritates me; perhaps because I look at the little time I have left on this earth. I keep thinking there are too many things I need to get done before I "retire" in death. "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!" (John 4:35). Jesus' point is don't wait for an opportune time. You have the opportunity now! Use it! "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10). "Therefore watch carefully how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise; redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:15-16).
You should be looking at this situation and saying to yourself, "I only have a few months left to persuade these people to do what is right because I may never have an opportunity to come this way again."
You Need to be Peaceful
What twisting of the words of Christ! "Don't think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn't come to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man's foes will be those of his own household. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn't worthy of me. He who doesn't take his cross and follow after me, isn't worthy of me. He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:34-39).
Yes, there is peace in Christ, but it exists because we know we are in Christ. We make peace by bringing people into a correct relationship with God. In our approach to teaching people the truth, we do so in a peaceful manner, but it doesn't imply we accept people's sins because we want "peace." Nor does it mean that their reactions to our message will be peaceful. "Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by his good conduct that his deeds are done in gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, don't boast and don't lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition are, there is confusion and every evil deed. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceful, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace" (James 3:13-18).
Do you recall the condemnation of the false prophets in the Old Testament?
"For they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, 'Peace, peace!' When there is no peace" (Jeremiah 6:14; 8:11).
"Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, 'Peace!' when there is no peace-and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar - say to those who plaster it with untempered mortar, that it will fall. There will be flooding rain, and you, O great hailstones, shall fall; and a stormy wind shall tear it down. ... Thus will I accomplish My wrath on the wall and on those who have plastered it with untempered mortar; and I will say to you, 'The wall is no more, nor those who plastered it, that is, the prophets of Israel who prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and who see visions of peace for her when there is no peace,'" says the Lord GOD" (Ezekiel 13:10-11, 15-16).
""There is no peace," says the LORD, "for the wicked"" (Isaiah 48:22; 57:21).
"The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace" (Isaiah 59:8).
Paul warned about people like this man: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4).
If Their Sins Bother You, Then Don't Preach
And my sarcastic response is, "Yes, why don't you make Satan's job easy?" Won't he be happy to see another preacher close his mouth? Look at what Paul told Timothy to do before and after telling him that people are going to reject the truth in preference for lies that make them feel good about themselves:
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (II Timothy 4:1-2).
Why? Because people are going to be eager for this message? Not hardly! Timothy is told to do this because people are going to prefer fables to truth. So what should be done in response?
"But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (II Timothy 4:5).
Don't ever accept the lie that it is better not to teach the truth because there is sin in the church. Stand against the sin! And fill the church with true lovers of truth. "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:10-13).
You Aren't the Solution
Humph! That will certainly be true if you keep your mouth shut. The Lord doesn't have any need for such people. "Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." And He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and return and be healed." Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered: "Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, the houses are without a man, the land is utterly desolate" (Isaiah 6:8-11). Can you imagine getting such a commission from God? Go and teach these people until they are sick and tired of hearing the message. How long is it to be kept up? Until there are no more people because they all rejected the message.
But you know, the commission hasn't changed. That is what every preacher must do -- and we all eagerly volunteer for the assignment. We teach, nag, scold, debate, and plead knowing that the world, in general, is sick and tired of hearing us remind them of their sins. But we do it because it is the only way out of sin and there are a few that listen. "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (I Corinthians 1:21).
See the Truth
Stop seeing yourself as a nobody intern. You are a young herald of God with a message that must be proclaimed. "Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine" (I Timothy 4:12). [Note that this follows the section about preaching despite people wanting to hear lies.] "Speak these things, exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no one despise you" (Titus 2:15). You are not speaking on your own authority. You are a representative of God, speaking God's message. Straighten up and act like it! Show the glory of God in your presentation.
"Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations." Then said I: "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am a youth." But the LORD said to me: "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you," says the LORD. Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant"" (Jeremiah 1:4-10).
""I will utter My judgments against them concerning all their wickedness, because they have forsaken Me, burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands. Therefore prepare yourself and arise, and speak to them all that I command you. Do not be dismayed before their faces, lest I dismay you before them. For behold, I have made you this day a fortified city and an iron pillar, and bronze walls against the whole land - against the kings of Judah, against its princes, against its priests, and against the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you. For I am with you," says the LORD, "to deliver you"" (Jeremiah 1:16-19).