Warning Signs of Bewitchment II

In the previous article, we considered three signs that could indicate that a Church is veering off the track of sound doctrine.

In this concluding part, we discuss three more warning signs we are heading down the path of bewitchment.

Dear Christian,

Watch it if,

The Pastor and Elders Avoid the Doctrine of Christian Suffering

I have found that an inadequate theology of Christian suffering breeds all kinds of erroneous teachings.

Pastors and teachers who water down or dismiss Christian suffering promise you a Christianity that is entirely devoid of challenges, failures, or any form of hardship for that matter.

When there is no robust theology of suffering, believers are not prepared for the rudiments of living in a fallen world. Pastors who teach a suffering-free Christian life promise their members something the Bible does not.

Jesus said,

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

(John 15:20)

In the same breath that Jesus promised to build His church, he predicted that the gates of hell would strive to knock it down, but it will not prevail (Matt. 16:18). Clearly, Jesus wanted His disciples to prepare for persecutions.

We see the apostles of Christ doing the same.

When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14:21).

This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—

2Thess. 1:5

and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know. 

(1Thes. 3:3-4).

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

(2Tim 3:12).

Sufferings and persecutions are part and parcel of the Christian life. Not just persecution suffering, but bodily suffering as well, including sicknesses and disease.

Paul said in this body, we groan as we await the redemption of the body which is to come, when our imperfect bodies will be clothed with immortality (Rom. 8:23, 2Cor 5:1-2).

We see from Scripture that God has ordained suffering as part of our sanctification (1Pet. 4:12-14; 2Cor.12:7-10).  

An absence of a robust theology of suffering should cause the alarm bells to go off in our hearts.

The Pastor and Elders Justify an Extravagant Lifestyle

During Paul’s ministry, there were some who opposed his apostolicity, because they thought that he suffered too much to be a true apostle. In contrast to Paul, these false teachers seemed to live large off the congregation that Paul had laboured to establish through the grace of God. Those guys were making a merchandise of the gospel (2 Cor. 2:17, cf 2Pet. 2:1-3).

In his defence, Paul argued that although he had every right to demand material benefits from the congregation, he and his companions refrained from doing so, but instead worked hard with their own hands to not be a burden on them (2Cor. 11:9; cf 1Thes. 2:9). Self-denial is the mark of faithful servants of Christ.

When a Pastor is obsessed with the latest and most expensive cars, is overly concerned about wearing the latest trends in clothes, and brags about his travels around the world, the property he owns or intends to acquire etc, it is a warning sign that all is not well.

Congregations who indulge extravagant elders and Pastors find that there is an undue emphasis on giving to servants of God, mostly, to keep up the lifestyle of extravagance.

Congregations show warning signs of bewitchment when they find that they gradually desire that same life of extravagance, rather than simple living and contentment with whatever God grants them out of His Sovereignty.

You find Yourself Justifying Everything Your Pastor Does and Says Even When It Is Unbiblical

In a church that my family and I attended for a while, the sub-group in which I served set up an online group for Bible discussions. In one our discussions I shared some Scriptural passages that seemed to contradict what the Pastor had taught the previous Sunday and asked if anyone had any clarification or insight on those readings?

One of the responses I got was that as for that ministry, this was what they believed, and if I had a problem with what the Pastor had said, I could always leave the Church.

We eventually left, but the attitude of my sub-group members demonstrated warning signs of bewitchment.

When you find that you stand by what the Pastor always says, even when it is in blatant contradiction of Scripture, then it is a sign that Scripture no longer holds sway over your life, the Pastor does.

Does the Pastor openly show remorse for his shortcomings if he falls to temptation? Does he acknowledge his need of grace and prayers to the congregation, or does he act like a superman? Does he hold Scripture as the overall authority over his life and ministry?

What Can We Do to Help?

Dear Christian. do you recognise any of these signs in your local assembly? If the answer is yes, what can you do to help? I will like to hear your views.

In our next article, we will discuss some practical ways we can contribute to the health of our local church assemblies.

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