Jesus made it quite clear who is a true shepherd: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep” (John 10:11-13).
A false shepherd does not care about his flock, but will instead allow the enemy to come in and wreak havoc. He will tolerate and even promote false teaching and immoral conduct. And Paul warned that in the last days this sort of thing would be on the increase:
“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears” (Acts 20:28-31).
We are seeing this all over the place today. We are seeing sham shepherds setting up sham churches, resulting in sham congregations. Examples abound, but let me highlight one recent example. A social media site had posted a poster which I assume is legit.
The reason it seems perfectly legit is because even a cursory glance at their website shows that they have left the planet of biblical Christianity and are in the rarefied air of deception and falsehood. The poster in question shows a church sign with these words:
SOME PEOPLE ARE GAY
GET OVER IT
OK, so for starters, we have a direct violation of the Ninth Commandment: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” In this case they are bearing false witness against God. They are of course simply calling God a liar. Bearing false witness is a big time sin, and it does not get much bigger than this.
God has never, ever said we are to just “get over” sin – any sin. Whether it is the sin of homosexuality or pride or adultery or what have you, we are not to accept it, ignore it, cater to it, or excuse it. Instead we are to rebuke it, repent of it, flee from it and renounce it.
Indeed, to highlight what complete and utter foolishness this church is up to, simply swap terms here:
Dear Christians, some Christians are adulterers, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are fornicators, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are drunkards, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are thieves, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are arsonists, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are liars, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are murderers, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are rapists, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are gluttons, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are atheists, get over it, love God
Dear Christians, some Christians are Muslims, get over it, love God
The list is endless. They are presenting a god of their own fallen and depraved imagination – not the holy and righteous God of the Bible. They are confusing God’s love with God’s acceptance. He may love us all, but he never for a moment accepts our sin, our rebellion, our depravity, and our wickedness.
God is not in the business of accepting sin, but of doing everything he can to stamp it out. That of course is why he went to the cross: to suffer horribly by taking the just punishment of God for our sins, so that we might find reconciliation with God through faith and repentance.
We don’t find this reconciliation by disagreeing with God, hanging on to our sin, justifying our sin, and continuing to embrace what God calls an abomination. Yet we are not dealing with a biblical church here, but an apostate church. To show just how far out of sync they are with God and His Word, simply get a load of this, as taken from their site:
“Jesus came to show us the ‘Kingdom’ not to die for our sins! Progressive Christians believe that Jesus came to manifest the Kingdom. That is to reveal the Sacred in our every day life.”
When you blatantly, publicly and defiantly lie about the very heart and soul of the gospel message, then you know perfectly well we are not dealing with Christians here, but the very agents of Satan. Of course Jesus came to die for our sins – that is the fundamental reason why he came, as he and his disciples so very clearly and forthrightly said. Consider just a few such passages:
-Matthew 9:13: But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
-Mark 2:17: On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
-Luke 5:32: I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
-Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
-1 Timothy 1:15: Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.
But we expect this from a “church” which has simply embraced and baptised the world’s values, while rejecting God’s. Consider also this from their site:
Jesus’s central message is about radical inclusion, thus we welcome anyone to participate in our fellowship without judgment or forcing them to conform to our ‘likeness’ or affirm our creeds in order to be accepted. We invite and offer all a place at the table – no exceptions.”
Um, no, his central message was not about “radical inclusion”. His central message was this: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17). And of course seeking to have a repentant and redeemed people conformed to his image and likeness is also at the heart of the gospel message:
-Matthew 5:48: Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
-Romans 8:29: For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
-Galatians 4:19: My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you,
-Ephesians 1:17: I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
-Ephesians 4:13: until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
And of course creed matters. What you believe is vitally important, and the New Testament everywhere makes this perfectly clear. But this is a “progressive” church, one which believes nothing and accepts anything. They perfectly reflect the liberal theology which H. Richard Neibuhr warned about decades ago: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”
Or as Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it in The Cost of Discipleship: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
But I have written about the oxymoron of “Progressive Christianity” elsewhere: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/01/23/progressive-christianity/
So let me conclude with a possible divine word which would be much closer to the mark:
Dear Gosford Anglican Church
Some people are false shepherds and they will face my eternal wrath and judgment for deceiving my people.
That is not something you will be able to just ‘get over’.