Be Careful Studying the Bible, You Could Be Deceived

Ok, ok, I admit I’m about to contradict myself and I say that to head-off the negative comments, the subject elicits enough of its own. In my last post, I argued that the reason end-time prophecy has been made complicated is because almost everyone comes to the biblical text with an end-time view before they have actually read the end-time prophecies themselves. Therefore, rather than our end-time view coming from Scripture, we read a view into Scripture. These ideas we bring to the Sacred Text are called presuppositions. And I spent close to a thousand words (which was way more than you wanted to read) in that post urging you to put yourself in theological neutral when you come to the Bible, throwing off all your preconceived views and read the Bible and let it shape your view.

But now in the first post of my follow-up series, The Endtime Views Series, I’m going to argue that there is a presupposition we all MUST take to the text. I realize the contradiction—throw off presuppositions last week and a presupposition is necessary this week.

But this presupposition that you must have guards against other presuppositions that are dangerous.

And what is this must have presupposition?

The presupposition of deception.

When we come to read, interpret, and understand the Bible we MUST know that the Bible warns that we haven an enemy whose number one tool is deception and that we are susceptive to that deception (1 Peter 5:8, John 10:10, John 8:44, Eph. 6:11-12, 2 Cor. 2:11). Not only are we warned that our enemy deceives, but we are warned that we will gravitate to teachings that allows us to carry out our own evil desires (2 Tim. 4:3-4). We’re also warned that our hearts can be fickle (Jer. 17:9), and that we struggle to give ourselves trustworthy self-assessments (James 1:23). And on top of all that every New Testament book, but Philemon warns of false teachers (1 Tim 4:1-4).

So, let’s think through this.

The last book in the New Testament was finished no more than sixty years after Jesus ascended into Heaven. The majority of the Epistles which tell the recipients that they have already been bewitched or led astray were only thirty years removed from Jesus’ return to the Father. Those first Christians only thirty to forty years away from the start of this Movement were warned they had been and could be deceived, they would gravitate to false teaching, and there would be false teachers.

Therefore, now nearly two-thousand years later, we’re in a mess. Satan and demonic

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vermin have had six-hundred times the amount of time they had to bewitch the believers of Galatia and Thyatira. We’ve had two-thousand years to bend and mold Scripture to fit our own desires. And in two-thousand years the false teaching profession has masterfully grown. We’re drowning in deception and each day new schemes are created. And if I make it sound bleak—it’s because it is. And it’s with the weight of this bleakness in which we should come to the Text. We should know that we’re a boat on the sea that can be easily tossed by the waves and pulled by the undertows. We need to know that EVERY pastor, scholar, teacher, professor, commentary writer, author, and advice-giving friend is also susceptible of being deceived.

When we see our enemy is scheming, doctrinal booby traps have been set, and we need Holy Spirit-provided armor then we are set to more accurately read and interpret the Bible. It is in the sweating that we may understand the Bible wrong that we can begin to accurately divide the Word. It is at this point that we have developed the presupposition of deception and we know to be careful studying the Bible—you could be deceived.

 

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Bonus: Helpful Hints to Utilize the Presupposition of Deception

So…now what? For one, don’t be too afraid to read and study the Bible, but we must respect that we are at war in finding the truth. But we can know the truth. We have been given the Holy Spirit to illuminate and guide us. We’ve also been given solid hermeneutical practices. I want to share a few things that I utilize to try to work through the deception.

 

  1. Read the Bible – Yes, it’s that simple, read what the Bible says. Meditate on what it says. Go beyond just isolated verses and read the context and the whole council. Don’t just take someone’s word for it, read it for yourself and again read in context.

 

  1. Seek God Holistically and Balanced – I know this sounds crazy but believe it or not many try to read and study the Bible without seeking any other spiritual growth or by the same token they do spiritual practices without reading the Word. In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul tells us to fight Satan’s attacks by putting on the full armor of God. He doesn’t just tell us to read the Bible or just share the Gospel. We’re to equally cover our life in all aspects of following Christ.

 

  1. Walk in the Spirit – This goes with the previous point, but make sure you have a regular time with God. A quiet time, devotional, or whatever you wanna call it. Regularly seek Him.

 

  1. Interpret Scripture with Scripture – This is a hermeneutical principle and there are other like principles I could list, but I don’t share this as a principle but as a reminder that you have to not just read the parts of the Bible you want to read. If we’re to interpret Scripture with Scripture then we have to read the whole council of God’s Word. For example, it was not until I immersed myself in the Old Testament that end-time prophecy came alive. And the whole council of Scripture also points us to understanding the reasoning and purpose of certain aspects like Samuel Whitefield has written about in his new book, It Must Be Finished.

 

  1. Keep Assessing Yourself – No matter how spiritual we may think we are, we still will always gravitate to teachings that allow us to live out our desires or take the path of least resistance. We must constantly be peering into our own hearts and asking if our interpretation is self-serving or the truth. And self-serving can also extend to preserving our status in our own churches and denominations.

 

  1. Go Back to the Beginning and the Restarts – Yes, we need to read and work through Scripture ourselves, but we will have to turn for help. We must “check” our work with trusted sources. There are tons of sources to turn to—commentaries, books, sermons, and preachers both past and present. I always check my work with the beginning of Christianity by returning to the Church Fathers especially the earliest ones. Does this mean they are right on everything—NO! But I believe they have the greatest opportunity to have a less tarnished interpretation. Next, I go to the various restarts, reforms, and revivals in Christian history to see what was sought to be corrected. Of course, the largest volume of these would be the Reformers. Again, they weren’t right on everything. But not just the reformers, there have been many times throughout history when there has been an attempt to hit reset on a doctrine or practice. A recent example is over the last ten to fifteen years, as Joel Richardson has brought to the forefront the understanding that the final empire of Daniel 2 could be the Islamic Caliphate rather than the Roman Empire. Richardson’s view is new, but it calls us back to reexamine the text. When a practice or doctrine is reviewed by returning us to the Bible that is a restart we should consider.
 
 
Also join our newsletter. Twice a month get a load of tools to help you prepare for challenges now and in the future. Register here

 

 
Jake McCandless is an award-winning author and the executive director for Stand Firm Ministries and Prophecy Simplified . A long-time pastor who is now co-pastor of the innovatve “above-ground underground,” online church, Endtime.Church., Jake has a B.A. in Bible and Pastoral Studies from Central Baptist College, and an Advanced Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His latest book Spiritual Prepper released through WND Books, He also is a regular contributor to WND News with voices such as Joseph Farrah, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Ben Carson, Chuck Norris, Joel Richardson, Carl Gallups. He also writes for the The Baptist Press along with other publications. He is also a regular guest on national radio and streaming web shows, along with hosting his daily radio program Prophecy Simplified Radio and weekly podcast Hold On.  Jake is married to Amanda and they have two daughters Andrea and Addison. You can follow all Jake’s work at www.jakemccandless.com. 
  

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Declaration Series IV: Bible Prophecy Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated, Read It

So, I have this tagline for my Bible prophecy teaching ministry and it’s not very helpful.

I advertise I want to be the boring prophecy guy. I know I need some marketing tips—you know anyone? And I learned really quick, prophecy-intrigued audiences don’t want the boring prophecy guy, they want the great-code-breaker or the wild conspiracist. But I have kept the tagline because there is not an end-time code to break (even if there are thirty books in Amazon’s prophecy Top 100 with that in the title). Now there are some mysteries, but not as many as we make it out to be. I’m convinced Bible prophecy doesn’t have to be as complicated as we make it. 

I want to be the boring prophecy guy because the Bible is clear on many aspects of the end-times, and those things are what we should focus on and they’re enough to understand what we need to understand. Bible prophecy is not complicated rather we are the ones who have muddied the prophecy interpretation waters, God’s Word has not failed. Bible scholars before us have created systems or views of prophecy interpretation and we now adopt one of those views before we read. We then read with those presuppositions which often creates great complications. That is why we’re so confused.

It wasn’t until I placed my heart and mind in theological-neutral and actually read the words of the prophets and Revelation that the chaos vanished, and truth rose to the surface. It was a painstaking journey through the Old Testament that brought the end of the age to focus. And this journey was after college and seminary. So, I acknowledge, such study is work, but, frankly, I found I hadn’t read and truly worked through the texts myself. And this arrival at actually just reading the texts and trying to push my presupposition aside was only a few years ago. I want to share my journey of end-time understanding to draw attention to the fact that we are setting our minds on an end-time view before even reading Scripture.

Long before I even read the “main” end-time verses, my mind was set on how they should be interpreted. Long before I read about the end-times, I had read and watched the Left Behind series. I had watched A Thief in the Night. I listened to DC Talk. The only sense of the end-time scenario I had was a pending, quick as lightning, neatly-folded-clothes rapture.

I went into Bible College with this view while the only verse in Revelation I had really read was Revelation 3:15-16 (which again was prompted by DC Talk). In the summer, after my freshman year,  before I had any teaching on the end of the age, I picked up a book on Revelation from my local Christian book store. I actually knew nothing of the author nor his view, but as a passionate youth pastor, I spent the summer teaching through that book. A book , that I now know, only contained proof texts.

Finally, in my sophomore year I had Eschatology and was taught premillennial dispensationalism was the one and only way in which The Book of Revelation could be interpreted. Therefore, I chose my stance I was a Clarence-Larkin-chart-memorizing Dispensational Premillennialist, hard and firm, that the rapture would be before the tribulation. I read nothing from opposing views, rather swore them off as evil.

Fast forward to seminary, my first semester Systematic Theology class further persuaded me to be a staunch dispensationalist. But as I progressed in my studies and began to take on the air of a scholar—I came to believe that premillies were hoaky  and uneducated, and for one to truly be a scholar than he or she must be an amillennialist. Reluctant, to take the amillennial title, I just quit teaching and talking about end-times stuff—rather I became just focused on the Gospel. I took on a more-worthy cause because (I hope you read this with the sarcastic tone I’m typing in) the end-times is only peripheral to the Gospel, Missions, and Church planting.

Then came fourth-year summer term course on The Book of Revelation. That professor was a real scholar (again that tone), he taught that The Book of Revelation was just a spiritual metaphor to the completion of suffering. I now had my ammo to take on the banner of an amillie. And to sound even cooler, I was an amillennialist who viewed The Book of Revelation through an eclectic interpretation. Some literal. Most spiritual and metaphorical. It depended on which commentator sounded the best.

Let’s fast forward a few more years, I was pastoring and had realized (following my Hebrew grades) I was not a scholar. And my tree-stand readings had been from David Jeremiah, so again I came over to the premill camp, but I wasn’t sure about dispensationalism. As you can see I’ve had quite the end-time view journey, but this latest chapter of the journey has brought me to a point of stability. 

If you agree with Jake that Bible prophecy should lead to action. Then get his latest book, Spiritual Prepper.

Three years ago, I taught an Old Testament Survey course at a lay seminary. And it was through that painstaking study through the Old Testament focused on the covenants, that I finally dug in and read Scripture. Now I had read the Bible cover to cover, but never dug in and really focused on books like the Minor Prophets. That grind through the Bible with presuppositions thrown to the side woke me up. It woke me up to the importance of end-times prophecy and how that it was not as complicated as we make it.

A month ago, I celebrated my twentieth year in ministry. And I now realize I spent the first seventeen years treating end-time views like a pizza buffet. I would look at the options—premillennialism, postmillennialism, or amillennialism and then pick the one that sounded best. Pretribulation, mid-tribulation, pre-wrath, or post-tribulation—again which ever looked best. Futurism, preterism, or symbolism—again whatever flavor I felt like picking.

We can’t do this! End-time views or theological views of any kind aren’t slices of pizza on a buffet. Rather, they need to be birthed from the text. Scripture itself is to lend us the view we should take. And a straight forward reading of the Bible makes the selecting of views quite easy.

So, how have you come to your end-time view? Was it selected off a buffet or birthed from the text? Was it concluded from reading the Bible or through recommendation of a friend? Have you put in the hard work and actually read the Bible?

The issue is too important to just pick a view especially if you are teaching and leading others.

So, what are the end-time views I have now become convinced to be true? Well, if I told you that would go against the point of this post. Instead of me telling you that, how about you read the Scriptures because Bible prophecy doesn’t have to be complicated.  
 
Also join our newsletter. Twice a month get a load of tools to help you prepare for challenges now and in the future. Register here

 

 
Jake McCandless is an award-winning author and the executive director for Stand Firm Ministries and Prophecy Simplified . A long-time pastor who is now co-pastor of the innovatve “above-ground underground,” online church, Endtime.Church., Jake has a B.A. in Bible and Pastoral Studies from Central Baptist College, and an Advanced Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His latest book Spiritual Prepper released through WND Books, He also is a regular contributor to WND News with voices such as Joseph Farrah, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Ben Carson, Chuck Norris, Joel Richardson, Carl Gallups. He also writes for the The Baptist Press along with other publications. He is also a regular guest on national radio and streaming web shows, along with hosting his daily radio program Prophecy Simplified Radio and weekly podcast Hold On.  Jake is married to Amanda and they have two daughters Andrea and Addison. You can follow all Jake’s work at www.jakemccandless.com. 
  

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Declaration Series III: It’s Not Wrong to Warn about the Future, the Bible Does

If I’m crazy or irrelevant for preaching about future challenges to the faith, then so is Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Ezra, David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Matthew, John Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Jude, and even Jesus. They all warned of future challenges and called the people of God to ready themselves to persevere. I would venture to say that those men are good company and good examples to pattern one’s sermon material.  

I have to admit, evangelists and itinerant preachers have it much easier in preaching. Pastors, can I get an AMEN? While pastoring, I had to have a different sermon each week and often more than one. At times three different sermons, and at that traditional pace of three sermons a week—that’s over one-hundred and fifty messages a year.

Now that I’m doing the itinerant thing, the most I have to have is five different sermons when I preach a revival. But often I’m preaching the same message over and over again. Now I say this all tongue and check, it’s true pastors have a difficult task of continually to preach new messages, but I don’t think we should ever view it as having “to have” a sermon. Each time we preach should be a message or teaching that the Holy Spirit has led us to share with our congregation.

But it’s a good thing that I only have to have a message or two, because there is one thing I am overwhelmingly burdened to share—believers need to prepare to stand firm for challenges to their faith now and especially those in the future.

Yes, challenges in the future.

Future challenges that are both normative that we could face any day, as well as, those that are prophetic and will one day befall us. But often the response I hear towards preaching on being spiritually prepared for future challenges, is “That’s not the type of thing we talk about our church.” Or “We focus on messages that are relevant to everyone’s life and prophecy doesn’t really fit that.” And “We make sure we have practical messages that the congregation can apply to their life.”  

Listen, I’m glad churches have strategies and know the demographics of their congregation. I also know all too well that preaching on prophecy and end-times stuff has been greatly abused–the stigmatism is understandable. I’m also glad messages are intended to be relevant and practical, but as I wrote about in my previous post American Christians aren’t prepared to remain faithful.

Relevancy is not set by the culture or what we are doing tomorrow, rather the reality presented in Scripture shows what is relevant. And leaders of God’s people in history and the Biblical writers have felt that future challenges are relevant and important to their people. So, what has led us to change that precedent?

Moses warned of the challenges the Israelites would face in the land.

The prophets warned of the looming consequences if Israel did not return.

Jesus warned the disciples they would be hated and persecuted.

Paul called the believers in Ephesus to put on the armor of God for the pending attacks of the devil.

Peter called the believers scattered in the diaspora to be alert because challenges were prowling in the shadows.

John relayed the words of Jesus given on the Isle of Patmos, that the believers in the seven churches of Asia needed to be overcomers and hold on until the end.

It’s relevant for eternity and it’s relevant for our souls to hear messages about what lies ahead, even if that keeps us from hearing a relevant message of how to deal with our anger at work that next week.

Even before I became overwhelmed with the message to stand firm, I learned the

Find out what Jake believes we need to be prepared to face, and more encouragement to hold on.

hard way that pastors need to not only equip church members for today, but also prepare them for the future. In my time as a youth pastor, I focused on challenging students to live for Christ that week in their high school and how to date in a God-glorifying manner. Helpful stuff, but they were only in high school for four years, while they’re going to be adulting for the rest of their lives. I should have been preparing them to follow Christ for the long haul.

Believer please look past what you practically need right now and utilize the Word to prepare yourself for future trials. Pastor, small group leader, or Bible Study teacher, yes, your people need practical application, but that application also needs to extend to future challenges. It’s not wrong to warn about the future, the Bible does.

So, preach about future challenges and prepare for them. And if you’d like to invite me to help in the process, please do.
 
 
Also join our newsletter. Twice a month get a load of tools to help you prepare for challenges now and in the future. Register here

 

 
 
 
Jake McCandless is an award-winning author and the executive director for Stand Firm Ministries and Prophecy Simplified . A long-time pastor who is now co-pastor of the innovatve “above-ground underground,” online church, Endtime.Church., Jake has a B.A. in Bible and Pastoral Studies from Central Baptist College, and an Advanced Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His latest book Spiritual Prepper released through WND Books, He also is a regular contributor to WND News with voices such as Joseph Farrah, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Ben Carson, Chuck Norris, Joel Richardson, Carl Gallups. He also writes for the The Baptist Press along with other publications. He is also a regular guest on national radio and streaming web shows, along with hosting his daily radio program Prophecy Simplified Radio and weekly podcast Hold On.  Jake is married to Amanda and they have two daughters Andrea and Addison. You can follow all Jake’s work at www.jakemccandless.com. 
  
 

 

 

 

 


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Declaration of War: People are Leaving the Faith, I Want to Help

I’m declaring war against an epidemic in America. No more timidity. No more holding back. There is too much on the line. What is at stake is too important.

If you follow Stand Firm Ministries or anything I’ve been up to the past couple of years, then you have heard my story. And I know, it’s yada, yada, but again–here I go. If you’re familiar with the story, you have my permission to skip the next paragraph, but not permission to exit the screen!

I was serving as pastor at a church I loved, with people I love. Life and ministry was great. We’d been there for 11 years. The church and the community were our life, and life was good! Then I began to follow a long-time prompting of the Holy Spirit to write. In doing so, somehow, I began to write about prophecies in the Bible that we often overlook, prophecies that not only tell about the political and doomsday-type stuff at the end of the age, but rather tell how we will be in terms of our faith and morality. The image Scripture gives us is not good. Matthew 24:10 warns, many of us will turn away. That prophecy opened my eyes to the reality all around us—many had already left the faith in America. An astounding forty-two million by 2015. When faced with challenges in life, many professed Christians are splitting from the church and often the faith. This was alarming, especially since other prophecies tell us those challenges will only grow more difficult.

In response to the leading of the Spirit and the findings mentioned above, I left that pastorate and began Stand Firm Ministries and Prophecy Simplified. Stand Firm Ministries was established to encourage believers to hold-on to their faith, and Prophecy Simplified to share Scripturally and simplistically the challenges that will come our way in the future.

My number one hope is to encourage local churches across the nation with the message to hold on to their faith and identify the coming challenges to the faith. Due to the stigmatism that accompanies prophecy, I have carefully guarded what I say, not wanting to hinder future opportunities. Let’s be honest, we tend to think prophecy teachers are tin-foil hat wearing crazies. At least I did. So, I have walked on eggshells constantly laying out the prayer-fleece, so I’d not cross the line into crazy-town. But I can’t walk that tight rope anymore. I can’t suppress the truth. Too much is at stake. 

Millions across the nation are departing the church and faith. Europe already has. This very morning, the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting held a meeting on the possibility that the denomination was dying. Yes, part of all this turning away is just the “wheat and tares harvest”, but the causalities do not have to be so high. Church members need to be encouraged to hold the line now, and we need to begin ministries to welcome back those who have walked away.

We need to know what the Bible is clear about in terms of the end. We need to recognize what has been and is being fulfilled before our very eyes. We need to be prepared to remain faithful now and in the future.

There I’ve said it.

I put my foot in my mouth.

I committed myself.

I exposed a calling, I’ve carried out sheepishly.

I hope you hold me to it. The stakes are high. Therefore, I declare war. My gauntlet is thrown down. On this hill I die. I declare war on silence. I declare war on not shouting down warnings from the wall. I declare war on the challenges that are blindsiding Christians and causing them to abandon their faith. I declare war on not being chicken-little announcing the sky is falling because it is.

Please, consider having me share in your church about this message. More than that, declare war yourself, commit to hold on.

The stakes are high—Stand Firm.

 
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Jake McCandless is an award-winning author and the executive director for Stand Firm Ministries and Prophecy Simplified . A long-time pastor who is now co-pastor of the innovatve “above-ground underground,” online church, Endtime.Church., Jake has a B.A. in Bible and Pastoral Studies from Central Baptist College, and an Advanced Masters of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. His latest book Spiritual Prepper released through WND Books, He also is a regular contributor to WND News with voices such as Joseph Farrah, Pat Buchanan, Ann Coulter, Ben Carson, Chuck Norris, Joel Richardson, Carl Gallups. He also writes for the The Baptist Press along with other publications. He is also a regular guest on national radio and streaming web shows, along with hosting his daily radio program Prophecy Simplified Radio and weekly podcast Hold On.  Jake is married to Amanda and they have two daughters Andrea and Addison. You can follow all Jake’s work at www.jakemccandless.com. 
  

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A Forgotten Responsibility of the Pastor

Since high school I’ve been working in churches, and the past ten years as a senior pastor. And I believe pastoring is one of the most difficult jobs in the country. For me it was the wearing of the thirty million different hats that made it so difficult. You know how it is—as a pastor, we must be administrators, counselors, wedding planners, funeral directors, chaplains, architects, janitors, teachers, preachers, and the list can go on and on, right? So, the last thing I want to do is add something to your already overwhelming list.

But I want to tell you of a forgotten aspect of pastoring that is absolutely necessary for this time in history we now live. It’s a responsibility that pastors of the past and in other parts of the world today carry-out, but not so much here in America.

In the midst, of all the different hats we wear and activities we do, we’re driven by God-given spiritual tasks that we as pastors seek to accomplish within our congregations. As a pastor, we know we are called to evangelize. In each activity within our ministries, we try to share the Gospel with our flock. We also know we are called to disciple and again in each thing we do, we work to foster spiritual growth within our congregation. We also have been given the spiritual task of equipping our congregation for missions and ministry. These three spiritual tasks are why we plan the events that we plan. These tasks are why we establish the programs in our churches. They permeate every different proverbial hat we wear out within the pastorate.

But one other task needs to be weaved in the mix. Pastors, we have a responsibility to prepare our congregation.

Maybe you know this, but I didn’t. I never looked at one of my pastoral responsibilities being to prepare my congregation to stand firm and hold on to their faith in difficulties now and in the future. The books I read and conferences I attended, encouraged me and helped me assimilate new members, share the Gospel more effectively, train leaders, take members deeper in the Word, and how to structure our church; but, never once did I hear anything about preparing my people.

In the process of preaching through the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, I was captivated by Matthew 24:10 in which Jesus warns that “many will turn away.” Each time after this moment, when I stood in the pulpit and looked out at my congregation, my heart was haunted with the question—have I prepared them enough to not turn away? This verse warns that a majority of those who profess to be Christians will turn away; therefore, if my congregation faces that prophesized time many of them will turn away.

As I was asking myself this question, I realized if you took our “membership roll” you would see that many had already turned away. And for many of those on that list, they had shared with me their story. When I would follow-up on members who were no longer attending our church, the conversion typically went, “Pastor, I used to attend church and was involved in this and that, and then this or that event happened in my life and I just left.” In other words, when faced with difficulty, they turned away. I began to realize that I had these conversations all the time. Usually, the event that caused the turning away was the loss of a family member, a divorce, or hurt feelings within the church.

Not only did I realize this was happening in my neck-of-the-woods, but as I began to write my book, Spiritual Prepper, on the issue, I saw that the statistics pointed to this happening all over the nation. In fact, 42 million professed Christians who once attended church were no longer attending. So, chances are you are hearing the same conversations I was hearing. Like me, I’m sure, you’re frustrated with the lack of commitment and participation you see from your congregation.

Now I don’t know if we are at the prophetic fulfillment of Matthew 24:10 because Jesus was talking about a specific time—the birth pains. But regardless, we are seeing people under our pastoral care leave the church.

Are we preparing our congregations to remain faithful?

Now, there is no doubt that we have taught the truth enough that our congregations should have the ammunition to remain faithful. But have we intentionally prepared them to remain faithful?

Pastor, I believe we need to start.

Of course, since I’m so passionate about this subject I have some suggestions. But more than sharing those thoughts, I hope you become captivated by the need to prepare your congregation as I became captivated.


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Does the WHOLE Bible Story Guide Your Church Leadership?

What part or books of the Bible do you believe most sermons today are derived from? What about your own sermons? I wish I had a scientific survey, but I don’t. But I do have the fact that I have heard a lot of preaching! And I believe it’s a safe bet to say that most present-day preaching is derived from the Gospels, the Epistles, and occasional blockbuster Old Testament stories. Would you agree? My sermons were. The Gospel of Matthew probably leads the way in my sermon history.

I’m not here to debate what our sermon passage quota should be, but I’m hoping you can visualize how that if most sermons are from the teachings of Jesus and teachings in the Epistles then therefore our churches and Christian practices reflect those sources. And it does, doesn’t it?

In this post, I start with the biblical root of our sermons because that picture is easier to see. If I preach on the instructions Jesus and the apostles gave then my congregation is going to focus on living out those teachings.

But now, think with me, what part of the Bible or Bible book does our philosophies of ministry, mission statements, vision statements, etc. for our churches and ministries derive? What biblical instruction shapes your paradigm for pastoring and church leadership?

Again, I wish I had a scientific study, but I’ve been to a lot of church growth conferences and have read most of the books on the subject. And again, the Gospels and the Epistles lead out with the addition of The Book of Acts. Our church leadership is modeled after the apostles. Our leadership paradigm is motivated by the instruction of the Great Commission. And this is definitely how it should be, for the Great Commission is our mission. I’m not opposed in any way to this foundation for our church leadership practices.

But, I believe we lead our churches without considering the whole story of Scripture and the whole story of salvation history.

Digressing a bit, but at some point, in my elementary career, I was told the easiest way to complete a maze was to begin at the end and work our way out. It’s definitely easier to begin at the end of the maze, right? Do you know this secret? If not, try it!

Now if we only had the knowledge of the ending of the mission of church and ending of salvation history, then we would have the end of the maze of life, right?  We then could lead our churches through the maze much easier. Pastoring would be much easier!

Wait a minute! We do have the end. In Scripture, we know how this age ends. We know what the age-to-come is like. We know how the church age will wrap up. Yet, how many church leadership decisions are we making based off this knowledge? Yes, our mission will always be the Great Commission, but The Book of Revelation and prophecy throughout the Bible provide even greater clarity and motivation for the Great Commission.

Pastor and church leader, we are leading through paradigms that only consider part of the story.

Pastor and church leader, we are leading from the middle of the maze and not the end. When we actually have the end of the maze!

Pastor and church leader, we need to look at the end, and let it show us how to lead now.

And pastor and church leader, looking at the end will give us a leadership paradigm that priorities preparing our congregation to remain faithful—to stand firm.

 

 

Connection: So, if we need to prepare our congregation then what do we need to prepare them to face? Learn here!

 


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15 Ideas to Be a Stand Firm Church

 

  1. Host a Stand Firm Emphasis Sunday.

 Yes, this is self-serving, but experience proves that ministries, issues, and doctrines that are set-aside to be remembered in an emphasis day or some other like event in our churches become important to the church. They become interwoven into the church’s DNA especially when that emphasis day becomes an annual event. Churches that recognize the Sanctity of Life Sunday—become pro-life champions. Churches who remember the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church become churches that know and care about the persecuted church. This is true for missions, family, and any other issue that is set aside in the form of a special day. Regardless, if you choose to let SFM lead your Stand Firm Emphasis Sunday you need to do one. But there is value in bringing in a guest speaker especially for your first Stand Firm Emphasis Day. SFM also is able to provide you with pre-event messages, post-event lessons, and focused experience on the subject.

 

 

  1. Continue Holding Annual Stand Firm Emphasis Sundays.

As mentioned above, Stand Firm Emphasis Sundays are powerful in establishing the importance of commitment, endurance, and perseverance in your church. These truths become part of your church’s DNA when it becomes an annual event. To encourage you to make this an annual day on your church calendar, each year SFM will make available free a message outline, presentation slides, and promotional material for you each year after we partner with you to host your first Stand Firm Emphasis Day.

 

  1. Listen and read our Hold-On Stories.
 
And again, this is self-serving I realize, but we are creating a large library of Hold On Stories written and in podcasts to be available for you to use. Research and experience shows that people are more likely to hold on to their faith when they hear they are not alone with the struggle, and that others have been through the same issues. Our Hold On Stories are available free on www.standfirmministries.com.
 

 

  1. Tell Your Own Hold On Stories.

Stories and testimonies of struggling to hold on to one’s faith are powerful tools to help someone not give up and leave the faith. Yes, we provide stories, but your church would be strengthened if church members shared their own stories at your church from the stage, in videos, in newsletters, etc. Let your people share their struggles to keep the faith and how they held on.

 

 

  1. Talk about Standing Firm & Holding On.

The word “talk” was chosen intentionally. The next idea is to “preach” on standing firm and holding on. As you know, our sermons are quickly forgotten. They are important, but each week we go from subject to subject and passage to passage. The messages that truly takes hold in our congregations are those we “talk” about all the time and in all the things we do. They are the subjects we share when we share our “hearts.” They are what is said in conversations, in song choices, in small group discussions, in newsletters, in social media posts, etc. Make standing firm and holding on just part of the natural flow of your conversations.

 

 

  1. Preach On Standing Firm & Holding On

 Although what we “talk” about becomes more of the DNA of a church than what we “preach,” you need to regularly preach on standing firm and holding on. One of the responsibilities of the pastor is to prepare their congregation. These subjects don’t even have to be the primary focus of every sermon, but you will have opportunity after opportunity to bring out this point in most sermons.

 

  1. Talk & Preach about Persecution.

Since the distinction has been made between “talking” and “preaching” from here on out on this idea list the two will be combined. Persecution has been a regular topic for churches in Christian history and throughout other parts of the world but has not been addressed regularly in our churches in America. One of the most effective ways to inform your congregation, is to celebrate another emphasis day—the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

 

  1. Care about the Persecuted Church.

Again, it’s not enough to just preach or teach on a topic, if you want to bring that issue into the continual conscious of your congregation. Encourage your church to continually care about the persecuted church. This begins with celebrating the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church and preaching on persecution. But take it further by incorporating regular updates and sponsorship of ministries like Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors USA, and others. One of the most, helpful tools we utilized in our church was to have a church member become a “church voice” for VOM within your church. Also I highly recommend Author Tom Doyle’s books.

 

  1. Talk & Preach About End-Time Prophecy

As Christians who have the Word of God, we can know a lot about what is coming. We have the TOOL to prepare our church for what lies ahead. We have 25% of our Bible that has prophecy. We just have to TEACH it. Navigating the subject can be tricky but check out our partner ministry www.prophecysimplified.com.

 

  1. Talk & Preach about Heaven.

Not only does the Bible provide us with what is going to happen through end-time prophecy, but we also have the greatest motivation to “hold-on” and “stand firm.” Just as we are given many details of the end-of-the-age, we are told a lot about Heaven and the coming Kingdom. This is our motivation, keep it before your people. Look forward to our soon to release book on Heaven.

 

  1. Talk & Preach about Faith.

No matter how much we talk about endurance and provide the motivation of the eternity to come, ultimately holding on to our faith and standing firm will come down to faith. Continually preach on the need for faith and share stories of faith to build-up the faith of your congregation.

 

  1. Provide Accountability.

We have to talk and preach about the subjects mentioned above, but talking and preaching can only go so far. No matter how much you intentionally preach on these topics and these Scriptures to encourage your congregation to remain faithful—they will turn away. Realize this and build-in programs to help them hold on. Create accountability so that when someone has a weak moment of faith, they can be encouraged and held to the commitments they have made.

 

  1. Keep Track of Attendance & Follow Up.

One on one mentorship is the best method of accountability. Small groups or life groups follow in second. But just simply tracking attendance and actually following up when someone is out of church goes a long way. Not tracking attendance nor following-up tells your congregation that you don’t value their commitment or attendance. There are great software programs and practical methods to keep track.

 

  1. Go After ‘Em.

 Don’t give up on church members who go astray. If you are keeping track of attendance and do follow-up when someone is absent, don’t give up going after them! Show them how important their faith by leaving the ninety-nine and going after that wayward one.

 

  1. Engage Your Church in Something Big.

A few ago, America, saw many young girls leave the freedom of the United States to travel across the world to become young wives of ISIS soldiers. The phenomenon seems absolutely crazy, but ISIS propaganda fed them a message of being part of something big. Churches fail to show the grand scope of our involvement in ministry and mission. We are a part of sharing the greatest message the world can ever know and each one of us is needed—make sure your people know this. Build up their participation and celebrate that participation and volunteerism.


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