Twice Dead Trees

This essay is aimed at my generation of Independent Baptist pastors, in case there is any confusion. Parts of it may, and probably do apply to members of any generation, but I freely admit it is written in frustration with those who are called to stand right now where others have passed away or been defeated in battle. This is aimed squarely at those of us who do not have decades of seasoning and experience.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  Ephesians 4:14-15

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My generation is seeing a great falling away amongst its preachers. There, I said it. It seems as if those who claim to have a special calling of God to preach the Gospel are seeking some new thing or more respectability, or more attention. The current crop of preachers my age has turned into a harvest of self-loving philosophers meeting at the Acropolis, wanting to hear the latest wind of doctrine that seems to so easily stir the intellectual leaves of this connected “Christian” generation.

Much to the irritation of these attention seekers who are ever learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth,

The doctrine of the Bible is still sufficient.

What these glory hounds don’t realize is that the doctrine of the Bible is clearly enough. Teaching the doctrines of scripture, all of them, can take up many lifetimes. What a waste that so much attention has been turned to novelty preaching and kingdom building amongst Independent Baptist preachers. I was recently made aware of two attention-deprived pastors (young men about my age, I suppose), who were preaching against each other. As far as I know, both of these men have spent a great deal of their adult lives gaining followers by use of their talent for the dramatic with modest success. It was only a matter of time before they were detected on each other’s radar screen and, as a result, they felt threatened by one another. What a pathetic sight. What a childish fight.

Others of my generation seem to be always seeking something novel to teach to others. They are excelling as entertainers and pulpiteers and fail as preachers and teachers. You see, someone might not like them if they do not preach the unvarnished truth. Some may leave if they do something so dangerous as teach the application of Bible truth. These pastors hold back, their acceptability among men stinking in the nostrils of Christ. God wants men who will not hold back out of fear of defamation.

Regardless of the motive, whether differentiating themselves from the pack with new doctrine or refusing to apply scripture for fear of losing respectability, my generation of preachers has largely failed.

The number of people following you online is not the way to measure success in the ministry. How many people like you, whether in person or in social media, is no indicator of your acceptability before God as a preacher of the Gospel.

This is the great travesty of our time. A generation of sell-outs. It is a selling out of truth to build a kingdom. It is a leaving of the foundational doctrines of the Word of God in order to boost oneself in the eyes of other lost and sinful men. Perhaps this has always been an issue surrounding true Christianity. It is a strange thing in most circles if one preacher is not vaunted and lauded above all others as the pinnacle of piety and having “arrived in the ministry.” Of course, the preacher who is faithful through the years and walks in a Christ-like humility has been on Christianity’s endangered species list for a long time. Most will not know him because he does not promote himself, but if you find one, treasure him, listen to him, and learn from him. He has much to teach you in how to live before God.

Another issue that must be addressed here is the great coldness and lack of humility amongst my brethren today. In the conflict between pastors mentioned several paragraphs above, both claim to be Independent Baptist brethren. In cases such as these, the preacher gains his desire to tear others down from his desire to build himself up without counting the cost.

You will know a preacher who is in it for himself by the way he treats others, especially his assistants, his family and those who can do nothing for him.

What about the foundational truths of the Word of God? No need for them when you can get all of the respectability and acceptance of people you admire by catering to the crowd. Preachers who do this are , indeed, clouds without rain.

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These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. Jude 12-13
How much more time will we waste in trying to build respectability amongst our peers when Christ alone is worth vaunting? How much more of God’s money will be wasted in this wanton, fleshly kingdom-building activity instead of a full-scale assault on the gates of Hell? How many more young people will leave the churches due to the full-blown hypocrisy demonstrated by preachers of my generation?

If you are a preacher of my generation, you know what you must do. Take your precious little ministry you have built, along with the respectability and following because of your charismatic personality or compromise of the truth, throw it on the fire. When the resultant conflagration dies down, exalt Christ above all and in every action of ministry and person. Of course, there may be exceptions to the above. Please point them out to me. Their allegiance to Christ is worth following.

It is time for my unsteady, unstudied, undisciplined, and undone generation to grow up. Quit acting as a pretentious toddler. Start conducting ourselves like men. Raise our families for Christ. Show consistency to younger generations and older alike in our walk with Christ. Teach the Word of God unvarnished. Cast off the sins that so easily beset us and pick up the gauntlet of the generation of faithful men who preceded us. The remedy is repentance. It always has been.

Nevermind. 

You are too busy to do the first works; prayer, bible reading, witnessing, and worshiping of Jesus Christ, the One who died for us. He will understand, right?

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