Indictment: Pastors Malnourished In The Word
By Paul Washer
[Editor’s Note: The following excerpt is from the tenth indictment in the message “Ten Indictments Against The Modern Church.”]
Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 4:1-16
…God is seeking men of character, polished swords. First of all, son, be constantly “nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained” (1 Tim. 4:6). This “whereunto thou hast attained” is very important. It means “that which you have been following.” I think it is indicating to us that a simple intellectual study of Scripture will not achieve the goal that God has for His people. They must obey it. They must begin following it. You cannot learn doctrine well until you follow the doctrine you learn!
And then he says this, “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables…” (v. 7). My dear friend, let me tell you something. All this “emergent church” stuff, much of the “church growth” stuff, all of the cultural sensitivity stuff, throwing out the window biblical sensitivity – it is just a bunch of little boys wanting to play church without the power of God on their lives. (And I will stand on that statement.) It is a lesser than David trying to fit himself into Saul’s armor. I say: 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.
Paul then says this, “exercise thyself rather unto godliness” (v. 7). In other words, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. Man of God, you want revival? – so do I. We need an army, though. If powerful swords, if mighty, flaming swords and weaponry are to be dropped out of heaven for us to fight with, then we must be the caliber of men who can wield those things to fight with sound character. We should discipline ourselves for the purpose of godliness.
Young men, discipline yourself to prayer. Discipline yourself to the systematic reading of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation 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!
Young men, I can tell you this. Being born in the age that you have been born, unless you are some exception, if you are under 30, yea, even under 40 – you probably lack discipline because you have never been required to really work. You have never needed to work for your food – and your fathers probably never made you work so hard that your bones cried. The men who have accomplished much and have been used of God, have been men of labor in the ministry. Effectual ministry is hard, and it will cost you everything! And by the time you are an old man, you will be broken – but strong in the things of God!
Give Yourself to Eternal Matters
“...Exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come” (vv. 7-8). Oh, my dear friends, who cares about “your best life now”? It is all about eternity! Someday you will stand before the Lord of glory, and kings and the greatest men on earth will be divided and split and culled – some cast into eternal hell and some invited into eternal glory to live for eternity. These Olympic athletes, how majestic they are – but only for a moment. They start training when they are four and five years old. They focus solely on training until they are twenty-two. They run a nine-second race for a medal they hang up on a wall, and that’s it! Their moment of glory and all they have lived for is over! Cannot you give equal for eternal things?
Some of the greatest men of God have been men very limited in their bodies. In their abilities, they were so limited that they had to focus themselves into one thing: the ministry. “For bodily exercise profiteth little…This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God...” (vv. 8-10). …We serve God, and God will honor us. We affix our hope on Him and He gives us strength!
Oh, this life is a vapor. …While you have strength, preach. I praise God that, in His providence as a young man, I spent myself in the Andes Mountains and in the jungles of Peru – doing what I no longer have the strength to do. 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! “These things command and teach” (v. 11).
Be Absorbed in the Things of God
“Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all” (v. 15). Let’s say that on a wooden table my child spills a glass of water. And by the laws that God has placed in nature, the water heaps up a bit on the table, so much that you can see it as a pool. You walk by it and you say, “There is water spilled on the table.” It is apparent to all. But then I come by, take a towel, lay it across the spilled pool of water, and lift it up. And you say, “I no longer see any water.” Where is it? – it is absorbed into the towel. Men, you are to meditate on, be absorbed in these things of godliness and character. Pastors, I plead with you; listen to me – this is so important: You are not errand boys! You are not to spend your days wiping the noses of carnal churchmen. Get yourself in your study. Drink deep. Be so absorbed in the knowing of God that people say, “Where is he? He used to be such a man about town, such a friend to everyone, such a personable fellow. Where is he?” – well, just like the water in the towel, he is absorbed in these things!
We are men of God. We are ministers of the Most High. There should be an otherness about us. We should have a distant gaze in our eyes towards a distant star. The greatest thing we can do for our people is to be men of God, absorbed in the things of God, so that when we open our mouths the Word of God comes out.
Where I go to church, the main preaching pastor has always given himself to study, but when I got there, I talked to him and the other leaders. And any time someone asked me something I said this: “Please do this one thing. Take as much of the burden off of him as we possibly can and let him live in that study with God, because I have got children out here. And the greatest gift that man could give to me is to study to show himself approved, and to come out in that pulpit in the power of the Holy Spirit and proclaim, ‘Thus saith the Lord,’ correcting and rebuking, giving great promises and warnings. Please, do that for me.”
Pastor, please do that for your people, because God says, “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (v. 16). This verse means almost nothing in the evangelical community today. How many pastors and preachers do you think take it seriously? How many say to themselves, “I need to pay close attention to myself to ensure salvation for me and those who hear me”?
I have a question, pastor: When was the last time you examined your own life to see if you were in the faith, to see if you really know the Lord?
– Copyright 2008 by Paul Washer, published by Chapel Library. Used by permission. www.ChapelLibrary.org