The Word tells us not to be lacking in zeal and encourages us to serve the Lord enthusiastically.
“Never be lacking in zeal, but serve the Lord enthusiastically” (Rom. 12:11 – Living Bible & NIV).
It is the zeal of the Church that will convert the world. Jesus was full of zeal (Jn. 2:17) and He wore it as a cloak (Is. 59:17). It is the zeal of the ministers and saints that will birth forth change and reformation in this hour.
Zeal is a godly jealousy. It signifies eagerness, enthusiasm, intense desire, and passionate commitment.
Many of the prophets were zealous for the Lord and His covenant. Elijah was such a one.
He replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 Kg. 19:10).
Over and over in the Old Testament we find the expression, “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” There are some things that will never happen in the Church and advances that will never be made in the kingdom of God without zeal.
Elijah was zealous because Israel had rejected the covenant of Jehovah. They had torn down the Lord’s altars and killed the prophets. In many instances in Old Testament times prophets such as Elijah were called to bring reformation and restoration to Israel. This often required tearing down the altars of Baal (Jud. 6:25-29).
We need a reformation of sorts today especially in Pentecostal/Charismatic circles. Much of the mistrust that some people have of ministers in this day has come because of the questionable and even abominable methods and practices of Charismatic and Pentecostal ministers and the lack of accountability in many of them. Allow me to get on my soap box for a moment.
A number of years ago at a Charismatic conference in an East coast city a pastor stood on a stage in front of a large crowd and smugly announced that the guest speaker was more than an apostle. Then the host asked everyone to bow down to the person, claiming that this posture was necessary to receive God’s power. “This is the only way you can receive this kind of anointing!” the host declared, bowing in front of the speaker. Immediately about 80% of the audience fell prostrate on the floor. Only a small percentage walked out or stood in silent protest. Can you believe it?
This, no doubt, is an extreme example of idolatry, but this attitude is prevalent in the West. These kind of practices prevail because of gullible, naïve, biblically illiterate people who have no spiritual discernment. If we would just look at the minister’s lifestyle and standard of living in comparison to most of the people he or she ministers to, we’d receive a big clue as to the real motivation of many ministers’ hearts. If you’ll observe many of the questionable Charismatic practices today you’ll see that most revolve around money, directly or indirectly.
After all, the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10) and many ministers have lost the anointing because they’ve become too money-minded.
As one of many examples, there is a sowing and reaping doctrine that has gotten so off base with, again, so many believers falling for it. This is the doctrine that tells you that your blessing from God depends on how much you give. I cannot go into this twisted doctrine in detail now, but suffice it to say, that if the birds of the air neither sow nor reap and yet the heavenly Father feeds them, what makes us think that we have to sow for our blessing and provision from God?
If our Father takes care of the birds, how much more will He take care of us (Mt. 6:26)? We do the same for our children. We don’t provide for them based on performance. This is a sowing and reaping doctrine that separates us from our son-ship with God the Father. It is a formula to fill the pockets of ministers. It makes us into hirelings instead of sons. It is another one of those Charismatic practices that steal from the sheep. Sowing and reaping is indeed a Scriptural principle, but it’s been twisted for the minister’s gain and personal advantage. Once again, this is a form of idolatry.
Personally, I can’t relate to people and ministers who are believing God just for more things and using their supposed vision from God to milk people for more of their money. The scribes used this doctrine to devour widow’s houses (Mk. 12:40). Think about this: Where in the Old Testament was it required for the widows to give their all to the temple (v. 44) and to the scribes? Jesus rebuked their fruitless religious system when He cleansed the temple. And this is what we have in many places and churches today.
I’m mindful of how the early apostles did not manipulate people for their money nor live above those they ministered to, which is another common problem today. I really can’t relate to ministers who think God’s stamp of approval is to live like royalty. It is very disturbing. Much of Christian television today has produced this image and made a mockery of these things. Reformation and change in the Church is not going to come from big name television preachers.
If you are looking for reformation or even mild change to come from the celebrity television prophets and big-name healing evangelists, you will be waiting for a long time in vain. Many of them are so grossly deceived and really have no concept of what the real gospel of Jesus Christ actually is. They should try a dose of this (The Real Gospel). Much of their training and inspiration comes from hearing some good motivational preaching, and parroting what they hear. This kind of preaching has made multi-millionaires out of many of them. These are not preachers of the cross but slick entrepreneurs and salesmen who are stealing from God’s people. I refuse to call them ministers. As one of my minister friends so succinctly said, “They are hirelings who have no reason to stop the gravy train as long as Charismatics continue providing such rich and endless gravy (money).”
Change and reformation can only come at the grassroots level from what we call the common people. It is not going to come from disqualified leaders at the top. The aforementioned minister friend of mine also made this observation: “What we are needing right now is being paralleled in the political arena of this country. People are fed up with the same ole, same ole corruption and wicked politicians who constantly lie for their own benefit and welfare. People are so fed up that an actual political revolution is taking place in our country.
“For example, Jeb Bush lived the high life and threw over $100 million at political advisers and pollsters. His pollsters and advisers raked in millions. But what did the voter get? Nothing. Bush didn’t get anywhere. Why? Because, excuse me, but people reached the point where they wouldn’t buy the same old political crap the Republicans and Democrats have been selling for the last 40 years. No amount of big money made any difference in the primaries. I see a parallel happening in ministry.”
There is so much waste and fraud in ministry today. The big celebrity TV preacher and mega slick pastor gets richer while the little guy who has the word of the Lord struggles. I’m not saying every “little guy” preacher is holy and every TV preacher and mega pastor is corrupt, but many are. False teachers, false prophets, and false apostles fill our land. It’s nauseating to see what passes for Christian ministry today.
No amount of hundreds of millions of dollars pouring into Christian television and many others will make any difference when Charismatics decide they will no longer enable and fund, excuse me again, the spiritual and theological crap that is being dished out by many of the major Charismatic ministries today. There is such a love of the world and a lust for power and greed in today’s Charismatic world. So many ministers live like kings in castles. Something needs to be said, and I’m getting old enough to say it (of course, I was never one for letting youthfulness hold me back).
My Bible tells me not to love this world nor the things in it, so I can’t relate to Christians just believing God for more things while they lack in zeal for the true work of the Lord. I’ve also been mystified and really sick and tired at how many so called ministers, really they’re charlatans, manipulate people for their money and live financially far above the people they minister to. The apostles did the quite the opposite. Once again, I just can’t relate to those who think God’s stamp of approval is to live like royalty. And yet, naïve people support these scoundrels! How can this be? Have some discernment people!
My wife and I have been in ministry for 30 years and have never had a fixed salary for most of that time. We lived by faith as missionaries for many years and now we live by faith as traveling ministers. On rare occasions we go to churches of 1,000 and 500 people, but the majority of the time we go to churches with less than 100 people – many times to groups of 20-50. I’m not complaining, just stating facts of the lack of equality I see in ministry today. Not only that, but most big name preachers have to have a certain amount of money guaranteed before they can even minister somewhere. Where in the world do we see that in the New Testament?! God help us! It is time for all of this to end. Stop filling the pockets of these charlatans and hucksters, people!
Too many in the Church are without zeal in this hour. As a result, we put up with falsehood, superficiality, heretical teachings, questionable and even abominable practices, and money grabbing preachers. We have much barrenness in the work of God today and souls not being saved, true disciples not being made, good works not being maintained, and the work of God suffers. In a recent Barna survey statistics reveal that 85% of American churches have flatlined or are in decline, and most of the remaining 15% are growing due to transfer growth with believers leaving one church and going to another. Only 2% of American churches are growing as a result of souls being saved.
Jesus has redeemed us and purified for Himself a special people who are to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14).
There are many young people coming up today who are hearing a lot of, excuse me again, theological crap from unsound ministers who lack proper Biblical foundations. I receive regular communication from readers who have very little basic understanding of the Bible. Many of them are in the dark concerning prayer and the will of God for their lives. They don’t know how to hear from God. They are not familiar with the Holy Spirit and His gifts and operations. They don’t know about healing and the baptism of the Holy Spirit because traditional churches have told them that these things are not for today.
On one side there is this ignorance, but on the other side there is weirdness and superficiality, especially among Charismatics. We need the demonstration of the Spirit and power of God along with soundness of doctrine preached to us instead of Charismatic myths, errors, mumbo-jumbo, and cunning trickery used to wring money out of people’s pockets.
So, how will change come to the Church in these things? If leaders don’t humble themselves and allow God to change them, there will be a grass roots revolution among the common people. It has already begun as many are leaving the structures and systems of men to pursue the Lord with those of like faith and pure hearts. Beware of Charismatic crap and hirelings who will never clean it up. We need a spiritual reformation that will arise among the common people led by humble shepherds and obscure apostles and prophets who cannot be bought.