You received the man of God, sent by the Holy Spirit to minister God’s Word to you. Your numbers have declined over the past few years. You are in distress. You want to blame your pastor. Is it not written? Have you not read? Have you not heard how Jesus’ ministry decreased when He issued the hard sayings (Jn 6)?
The Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19). He loses none of them, and no one can pluck His people out of His hand (Jn 10:28). Why are you afraid little flock? Has God not promised to give you the kingdom? Your distress is not warranted. The number of people in a congregation is known to God, who works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11).
Why is there remorse for your choosing this particular pastor? He is a believer in Jesus. He is a man of God. He preaches the Word of God. His sermons are meatier than you have known in quite a while. This should encourage, not trouble you.
Church, why do you cringe when your pastor preaches the sovereignty of God. Have you never heard these things before? Have you never read them for yourselves? Instead of questioning your pastor, maybe you should question yourselves, “Why am I offended by this pastor’s preaching, when I was not offended by the feel-good topical sermons of past ministers?
When your pastor preaches through a book of the Bible, he is taking you on a line by line, sometimes word by word, study of God’s ever-searching Word. Your angst may be God chastening you for sins harbored in your heart. This method of preaching is invaluable because it causes your pastor to address every single doctrine presented in the Scripture. It causes you to face doctrines you may have never faced before. This is good for you.
Some who have left the church have accused your pastor of being a Calvinist. Why the nickname? Why the scorn? Have any of you read John Calvin? You may be surprised by how warm and encouraging pastor John Calvin is as he wrote some five hundred years ago. You may also find how logical and God-honoring his musings are…in abundance. Christ is immensely exalted from Calvin’s pen. Why do you actually object to Calvin? Where did John Calvin get his ideas? Are you reacting to a mob mentality? What does that say about you?
Calvin’s theology is better named, “the doctrines of grace.” Do you protest against God’s grace? How bizarre! The fact that your pastor preaches grace should be celebrated by you. But all you hear is, “The numbers are way down.” Are you misguided?
The Protestant Reformers preached the Gospel of God’s grace, as does your pastor. Do you object to the Reformers? Where does that position you? It puts you back in the heresy of works-based salvation. You are on the road back to Rome. Are you conscious of this fact? It is either grace or works that secures eternal life for you. It is either God saving you by grace, or you saving you by works of your will. Does not the apostle John reprove you when he writes of one’s receipt of Jesus and the will of God (Jn 1:12–13)?
Consider how the preachers of the Word of God, in the Bible, were greatly troubled for being faithful to teach and preach the Scriptures. Pastors who focus on the Bible and on Christ’s person and work are your ally, not your enemy to be discarded. The true Gospel tells you what God has done for you, while the false gospel tells you that you must do something for your salvation. How strange, and yet, how common is your error, today.
Dear church, you must pray for and rejoice in the man that God has sent you. You must learn the doctrines of grace from him. You must refrain from the idolatry of counting sheep, especially when you find it difficult to discern sheep from goats. Pray that God would grant you repentance for mistreating His chosen servant for you. Pray that God would open your ears to hear His voice. Pray that God would open your eyes to see the truth of the doctrines of grace and pray that He would forgive those who have abandoned His local church for the self-willed pleasure of another. May God have mercy on you and grant much grace to you in these matters, brethren.
Spokane Valley, Washington
October 15, 2021