Anyone who says Jesus was only about preaching a message soaked in happy, uplifting and positive vibes has clearly not read the four gospels. Everywhere in them we find Jesus speaking about hell and judgment to come more than anyone else; warning about hardships and persecution for his followers; and condemning in the harshest of terms so many of the religious leaders of his day.
For example, instead of trying to just be nice and please everybody, Jesus pronounced woe after woe on the church leaders. Just look at Matthew 23 for example. There we have an entire chapter of woes pronounced on the Scribes and Pharisees.
And we need to bear in mind just how woeful a woe was. The term was commonly used by the Old Testament prophets, and the woes were a blend of anger and lament at coming judgment. They are strong words indeed, and no one should want to be on the receiving end of them.
But plenty of other times we read about the anger of our Lord at the people – both leaders and common folks. Just this morning in my daily reading I came upon another example of this as found in Mark 3:5: “And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart”.
In this case he had just entered a synagogue. He seemed to have a habit of getting upset with the religious establishment of the day. Forming a whip and using it while overturning tables in the temple is another pretty good example of this. But I think we need to relate this to our own time and place.
Why do I suspect that if Jesus entered many of our churches today, we would find the same thing: “And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart”? So many of our churches are so compromised, so carnal, and so corrupt that I am sure he would flip over a few tables in them as well.
While Jesus may not be here to do this today, we do have at least some godly prophetic voices around who are saying similar sorts of things. Some of these mighty men of God who were on the scene until just recently would include champions like Tozer, Ravenhill and Wilkerson.
Thankfully some are still with us. One of them is American preacher Paul Washer. If you do not know of him, a quick google will do the trick. He has many of his powerful and hard-hitting sermons on video that are well worth listening to. One two-hour sermon he gave in 2008 is one such example of this. It is called “Ten Indictments”. You can view/listen to it here:
However, some of you might prefer reading instead of watching or listening. Well, now you can, as the sermon has just recently been released in book form: Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church (Reformation Heritage Books, 2018).
If Jesus pronounced his 7 woes, here we have Washer’s 10 indictments. Sure, he is not inspired or perfect or sinless as Jesus is. And he admits to that early on in his sermon, that he is a frail and weak individual. But God has clearly placed this word on his heart, and he dares not hold back on it.
So he looks at ten areas where the modern church has been so very lacking and deficient in. They are:
1. A denial of the sufficiency of Scripture
2. An ignorance of God
3. A failure to address man’s malady
4. An ignorance of the gospel of Jesus Christ
5. An unbiblical gospel presentation
6. An ignorance regarding the nature of the church
7. A lack of loving church discipline
8. A silence on separation
9. A replacement of the Scriptures regarding the family
10. Pastors malnourished in the Word of God
Let me offer some dynamic and inspiring quotes from the book version of the sermon:
“We are not to send out questionnaires to carnal people to discover what kind of church they would attend! A church ought to be friendly to genuine seekers, but the church ought to recognize there is only one Seeker. His name is God! If you want to be friendly to someone, if you want to accommodate someone, accommodate Him and His glory, even if it is rejected by everyone else. We are not called to build empires. We are not called to be accepted by men. We are called to glorify God.”
“I submit to you that America and other Western countries are not gospel hardened. They are actually gospel ignorant because so are most of their preachers. And let me repeat this. The malady in our countries is not liberal politicians, the root of socialism, Hollywood, or anything else. It is the so-called evangelical pastor, preacher, or evangelist of our day. That is where the malady is to be found. We do not know the gospel.”
“Now do you know why that little gospel you preach has no power? Because it is no gospel! Get to the gospel. Spend your life on your knees. Get away from the teachings of unscriptural men. Study the cross!”
“I want you to know, my friends, salvation is by faith alone. It is a work of God. It is a grace upon grace upon grace. But the evidence of conversion is not just your examination of your sincerity at the moment of your conversion. It is the ongoing fruit in your life. Look what we have done! Is a tree not known by its fruit? Today 60 or 70 percent of Americans think they are converted, born again. But we kill thousands of babies a day! And we are hated around the world for our immorality. Yet we think we are Christian. And I lay the blame for this squarely at the feet of the preachers.”
“My dear friend, everybody in their right mind wants to go to some kind of heaven, but they do not want God to be there when they get there! The question is not then, ‘Do you want to go to heaven?’ The question must be this: ‘Do you want God? Have you stopped being a hater of God? Has Christ become precious to you? Do you desire him?’”
“This idea of the carnal Christian has destroyed more lives and sent more people to hell than you can imagine! Do Christians struggle with sin? Yes. Can a Christian fall into sin? Absolutely. Can a Christian live in a continuous state of carnality all the days of his life, not bearing fruit, and truly be Christian? Absolutely not, or every promise in the Old Testament regarding the New Testament covenant of preservation has failed, and everything God said about discipline in Hebrews is a lie. A tree is known by its fruit.”
“Today, because of the lack of biblical preaching, the so called Church is filled with carnal, wicked people identified with Christianity. And then, because of all the goats in the midst of the lambs, the lambs are blamed for all the things the goats are doing. And then the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of us.”
“What you actually have in so many congregations today is a bunch of goats among the sheep, the sowing of tares among the wheat (Matt. 25:31-46; 13:24-30). Because very little biblical, compassionate church discipline is practiced, goats live among the sheep and wolves feed on and destroy the sheep. And those of you who are leaders in such churches are going to pay a high penalty when you stand before the One who loves them, because you did not have enough courage to stand up and confront the wicked.”
“Because the preaching of the gospel is so low, the majority of the church consists of carnal lost people. Then, because the church is run as a democracy, the unconverted people, by and large, govern the direction of the church. Because the pastor does not want to lose the greatest number of the people, and because he has wrong ideas regarding evangelism and true conversion, he caters to the wicked in his church. So his little group of true sheep, who truly belong to Jesus Christ, are sitting there in the midst of all the theater, worldliness, and multimedia.”
“Now we ought to disciple people, but that is not why they are leaving. ‘They went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us’ (1 John 2:19). And they hardly got a chance to be ‘of us’ because they never heard a true gospel – no one ever dealt with their souls. So we spend a fortune discipling goats, hoping they will become sheep. You can’t teach a goat to become a sheep. A goat becomes a sheep by the supernatural working of the Spirit of almighty God.”
“If God truly converts a man, He will continue working in that man, through teaching, blessing, admonition, and discipline. He will see to it that the work He has begun will be finished. And that is why the writer says that without holiness, ‘no man shall see the Lord.’ Why? Because if there is no growth in holiness, God is not working in your life. And if He is not working in your life, it is because you are not His child!”
“I do love the Puritans. One of the reasons why I love them is because I believe they honestly made an attempt to bring everything in their lives under the lordship of Jesus Christ. Everything, such as their minds! They wrote eight-hundred-page books on what we should think about according to the Scriptures.”
“You say, ‘I want the power of God on my life.’ Do you? Then something has got to go. ‘I want to know him,’ you say. Then some separation from the world has to occur! Everyone else is running around in all their little retreats, getting together with group hugs and singing ‘Kumbaya’ or whatever it may be. Perhaps you need to get alone in the wilderness with God, fasting for seven days on your knees and studying the book of Psalms. You need to be alone with God, belonging to him. To be a man of God there must be times when even your wife – who is of your own flesh, one with you – looks you in the eye and she knows she cannot go with you into that hidden place with God into which you go.”
“All this emergent church stuff, much of the church growth stuff, all of the cultural sensitivity that throws biblical sensitivity out the window – it is just a bunch of little boys wanting to play church without the power of God in their life. It is David trying to fit himself into Saul’s armor. To the wind with it! The more you trust in the arm of flesh, the less you are going to see the power of God.”
“Discipline yourself to prayer. Discipline yourself to the systematic reading of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation over and over and over and over again. Discipline yourself in your speech. Discipline yourself in the company you keep. Discipline yourself in when you go to bed, and when you rise up. This is a war. Discipline yourself!”
“While you are a young man, while there is strength in you, labor with all your might. Take those stupid video games of yours and crush them under your feet. Throw the TV out the window. You were made for greater things than these. If you are a child of the King, nothing on this earth can satisfy you – nothing!”
Wow. I could keep adding such quotes, but hopefully you get the drift. I implore you to set aside two hours of your busy life and listen to this powerful and anointed sermon. As I say, some folks may prefer to just read the sermon. Of course you get a much more powerful presentation of the material when you hear and see him preaching the sermon on the video.
But the best option in my view is to get the book and read it along with the video. That makes the most impact. And be prepared to stop the video and reading often, as God starts to speak to you and convict you. And doing all this on your knees may be the best place to make it happen.
God bless you as you let God do a mighty work in your life.
(Australians can find the book at Koorong: www.koorong.com/search/product/ten-indictments-against-the-modern-church-paul-washer/9781601786272.jhtml )