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Archive for July 24th, 2016

No Word of God

1 Samuel 2

Eli Rebukes His Sons

22 Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23 And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24 No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25 If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?”

Christians of many denominations are greatly and passionately concerned about the falling attendance rates of congregations.  Many solutions are earnestly put forth. The cry goes up, “Why?!  What can we do?! How can we grow the church?!”  There is a lesson for us today from the current Old Testament readings in the daily lectionary but it won’t be a lesson on “growing the Church” but the reason for the sickness in the Church as it was at Shiloh in Israel.

1 Samuel’s beginning chapters are about one narrative:  the birth and calling of Samuel, true prophet of the Lord.  The spiritual condition of Israel was again grim.  We are told, “…the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.”  Why?  Answer:it seems that  the heresy and the  immorality of the priests, Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of the priest Eli, were causing chaos.

The first we hear a report of them is bad:  “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.” (1 Sam.2: 12). In the next verses it reported that Hophni and Phinehas would threaten “force” (1 Sam. 2: 16) to get more of the meat and fat of the sacrifice than the Lord allowed in the Law.  They would have their servants lie to the worshipers (vs. 15), to have more.  They were feeding their own bellies but not the children of Israel.  Lastly, “Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” In other words, it was what we call, “sexual abuse” but which the Lord calls adultery and evil.

Note the first bad report regarding the priests of the Temple:  “They did not know the Lord”.  They no doubt talked about their faith but had none.  They did not know the ways of the Lord that He revealed in His Word.  They finally did not preach and teach the Scriptures.  This has happened in denomination after denomination, both liberal congregations and the much ballyhooed conservative mega-churches.  Both teach their own doctrines and opinions as the Word of God and then sell books about their heresies.  Then what has been associated with many of these ministers:  not knowing the Lord and teaching heresy and then it follows, as night follows the day: using the ministry for the income alone and sexual immorality. We have read article after article about clergy sexual abuse . We all feel the dis-ease in the Church of Jesus Christ. It always begins with teaching and preaching false doctrine and it is as old as the true Church in Eden when the devil asked Eve: “Did God actually say…?”(Genesis 3: 1).  And when that question is first asked is by a respected ‘theologian’ who’s book every one wants to read.   We go clamoring from church to church to likewise feed our own sin to be comfortable to hear your sin is  really okay.  There is only one imperative that the Lord has to us all:  Repent!

Friends in Christ:  you may have a faithful pastor and servant of the Word leading you. Pay him! I have seen it as a parish pastor and so many colleagues that their salaries have flat-lined for years. People will pay good salaries for heretics because it feeds the Old Adam’s lusts.  Your pastor is feeding you the true Word of God.  Martin Luther taught in his explanation of the 4th Commandment, Honor your father and your mother, that there are also spiritual fathers, pastors and pointedly states:

 Yet there is need that this also be urged upon the populace, that those who would be Christians are under obligation in the sight of God to esteem them (elders/pastors) worthy of double honor (see 1 Timothy 5:17) who minister to their souls, that they deal well with them and provide for them. For that, God is willing to add to you sufficient blessing and will not let you come to want. But in this matter every one refuses and resists, and all are afraid that they will perish from bodily want, and cannot now support one respectable preacher, where formerly they filled ten fat paunches. In this we also deserve that God deprive us of His Word and blessing, and again allow preachers of lies to arise to lead us to the devil, and, in addition, to drain our sweat and blood. (emphasis my own)

Respect your pastor’s office as he faithfully carries it out in these dark days because he is preaching and teaching the Word of God when it is rare in our blessed native land and the world.  Rejoice this Sunday morning and every Sunday morning that you are being fed God’s Word not the fast food of false feel good pastors.  

 

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