Eight Woes 8: Dishonoring the Prophets

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 14, 2020 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’” ~Matthew 23:29-30

It is a sad reality that a prophet is only recognized after he has died. During his lifetime, a prophet is typically hated and despised because his job and calling is to call out sin and confront the culture and the comfortable. My pastor made a comment a few months back about the prospect of bringing Voddie Baucham to our church because he was so touched by Baucham’s sermon on brokenness. I said that would be awesome, but here was my pastor’s response: “He would not come as a celebrity but come to break us.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Same with Paul Washer. Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson were among the prophets of the 20th century as well. Many hated them because of their strong stance for truth and unflinching fire to call out sin.

Washer practically laughed at the notion that our generation today cannot handle the true Gospel so we have to water it down so they might receive it. The excuse is that the people today are not as hardy or as “spiritual” as they were in the days of John Wesley, George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, etc. Washer’s response to that was, “No one has ever withstood the Gospel, preached correctly. It can only have one of two results: they will hate it even more or they will be converted.” When Edwards preached “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” he simply read the sermon in a complete boring monotone, yet the power of God so fell that people were falling from their pews clutching to anything because they felt they were being dragged to Hell that very moment. Wesley would preach for 3-5 hours, and in some cases, it is reported that numerous people were lying on the ground totally unconscious because of how dreadful the weight of their sin was that had been put upon them.

Such prophets are not appreciated today. They really weren’t appreciated back then either when they were active. It is far quicker to count a prophet’s allies than enemies. Their enemies are even from within their congregation, because of how few people appreciate a man of God willing to stand up and defend a soul from Hell. So many of us say we would love to hear from Wesley, Luther, Peter, Ravenhill, Spurgeon, or any of the big-name missionaries or preachers that are known today. But would we hear the message they preached then? There is an easy way to tell. How are you handling those who preach the same message today? Or do we prefer to find pastors who preach a message that helps us cope with our problems, not deal with the sinful roots? Do we call those who preach the truth and call out false teachings as being judgmental? Or do we check them out against Scripture and if they check out, support them?

Jesus lashed out at the Pharisees and Scribes again for hypocrisy and play-acting. All their honoring of the prophets of old was just for show. It wasn’t real. They declared they would not have joined in with their fathers and literally slaughtered the prophets. Jesus said they declared their own guilt by associating with those who committed the deeds. But it is worse than that. These very people who said they never would have slaughtered the prophets as their fathers did are the same people who demanded He be crucified and then later assisted in the persecution and slaughter of the early Christians including the stoning of Stephen and the imprisonment of Peter and John. They sent Saul out to persecute Christians as far as Damascus. When Saul met Christ and became Paul, they later sought to put him to death but for Paul’s appeal to Caesar. The apple didn’t fall very far from the tree.

How do we handle those who preach the true message? I love listening to them, but I have to constantly remind myself of Paul Washer’s warning against idolizing celebrity preachers. Truth only listened to is worthless without being obeyed. In fact, truth left unobeyed can condemn you. I’m cringing as I’m writing this. The United States has had more light of the truth shed upon it than any other nation in the history of mankind. We have so many preachers we can listen do due to the internet and technology, so many sermons preserved in books and notes and audio recordings, and conferences and books galore. Yet it is not inappropriate to say that the U.S. is perhaps the most immoral country in the world. With our nation’s lust for sexual pleasure and deviancy, our lust for drugs, our lust for money and power, and our lust for blood, exactly how could anyone think that the “good” this nation does is going to counter that? This nation currently despises any voice who speaks the truth and we are fast approaching the day where the persecution will cease being censorship but instead a vicious physical persecution. Our nation is doing exactly what those who despised God’s prophets did then.

As a nation, we are not listening to these preachers, because we aren’t obeying them. There is only so much God can do to restrain His judgment before enough is enough. I would suggest that most of us are not ready for that day. We can see it coming, but are we ready? I’m not convinced I am, but I got one step closer by paying off my student loans. It is a terrible thing for your world to be turned upside down when you still have debts to pay. I am currently debt free and I have no plans to get into debt again no matter what. I’d rather pay for it all up front. That is part of my action of obedience to the urgent warnings of not being tied to this world. If we are, when the day comes, we’ll go down with them.

Do we love those who bring the Truth, even if it’s not popular? Will we obey the message God sends through these preachers, or are we just going to esteem it and sit back doing nothing? I am not innocent of the latter. But there has been truth spoken to my heart that I have obeyed. So, while I am far from perfect, I can say I have taken steps of obedience. I need to do more so I cannot be “comfortable” in what I have done so far. But I can take solace in the fact that I have not been dismissive of the truth I have been given. God rewards and is pleased with and honors those who obey Him.

Let us end our hypocrisy and our empty claims. Let it be that when God removes the veil that what we proclaim will be what we practice and what we live out, regardless of who is watching. If any of these woes spoke to you, repent and let God do His miraculous work of salvation. It’s not too late, but time is running short and fast.

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