Paul Washer’s 10 Indictments Against the Modern Church
Preached Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 at the Revival Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. Paul Washer delivers an urgent appeal to the Christians and Churches in North America (mostly pastors and church leaders in the audience) that many have been believing a false gospel and have false assurance of their salvation. He lists 10 indictments against the modern Church system in America.
The first indictment: a practical denial of the sufficiency of Scripture, especially my denomination, a practical denial of the sufficiency of Scripture.
When you come to believe as a people that the Bible is inspired you have only fought half the battle because the question is not merely is the Bible inspired, is it inerrant. The major question following that that must be answered: Is the Bible sufficient or do we have to bring in every so called social science and cultural study in order to know how to run a church? That is a major question. Social sciences, in my opinion, have taken precedent over the Word of God in such a way that most of us can’t even see it. It has so crept in to our Church, our evangelism and our missiology that you can barely call what we are doing Christian anymore. Psychology, anthropology, sociology have become primary influences in the Church.
The second indictment: An ignorance of God.
Sunday morning, because of all of this, I would submit to you that it would be better not even to have a Sunday morning. Sunday morning is the greatest hour of idolatry in the entire week of America because people are not worshipping the one true God—the great mass at least—but are worshipping a god formed out of their own hearts by their own flesh, satanic devices and worldly intelligence. They have made a god just like themselves and he looks more like Santa Claus than he does Yahweh. There can be no fear of the Lord among us because there is no knowledge of the Lord among us.
The third indictment: A failure to address man’s malady.
When a man says he has no ministry dealing with the sin of men, the Holy Spirit does. It is a primary ministry of the Holy Spirit to come and convict the world of sin. And so know this. When you do not deal specifically, passionately, lovingly with men and their depraved condition, the Holy Spirit is nowhere around you… No one has ever been able to bear the preaching of the gospel. They will either turn against it with a fierceness of an animal or they will be converted.
Our fourth indictment: An ignorance of the gospel of Jesus Christ and an ignorance of the doctrine of regeneration.
So many people have this romantic, powerless view of the gospel that the Christ is there hanging on the tree suffering under the wounds of the Roman Empire and the Father did not have the moral fortitude to bear the suffering of his Son so he turned away. NO!! He turned away because his Son became sin. And so many when he is in that garden and he cries out, “Let this cup pass from Me,” people speculate, “Well, what was in the cup? Oh, it is the Roman cross. It is the whip. It is the nails. It is all this and all that.” I do not want to take away from the physical sufferings of Christ on that tree, but the cup was the cup of God the Father’s wrath that had to be poured out on the Son. Someone had to die, bearing the guilt of God’s people, forsaken of God by his justice and crushed under the wrath of God, for it pleased the Lord to crush him.
We have traded regeneration for decisionism. Decisionism, the idolatry of decisionism. Men think they are going to heaven because they have judged the sincerity of their own decision.
When Paul came to the Church in Corinth he did not say to them, “Look, you are not living like Christians so let’s go back to that one moment in your life when you prayed that prayer and let’s see if you were sincere.” No, he said this, “Test yourselves, examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith.” Because I want you to know, my friends, salvation is by faith alone. It is a work of God. It is a grace upon grace upon grace. But the evidence of conversion is not just your examination of your sincerity at the moment of your conversion. It is the on going fruit in your life. It is the ongoing fruit in your life.
Fifth indictment: An unbiblical gospel invitation.
“What? God loves me? Well, that’s great because I love me, too. Oh, this is wonderful. And God’s got a wonderful plan? I got a wonderful plan for my life, too. And if I accept him into my life I’ll have my best life now. This is absolutely wonderful.” That is not biblical evangelism.
An unbiblical invitation. If they ever doubt, if they ever doubt their salvation again, here we go again. If they ever doubt their salvation, “Let’s go back to a point in time. Was there ever a point in time in your life when you prayed and asked Jesus to come in?” “Yes.” “Were you sincere?” “I think so.” “That’s the devil bothering you.” And if they live without growth even in the context of a church without growth in continued carnality, no fear. We blame it on the lack of personal discipleship and we write it off as the doctrine of the carnal Christian. The doctrine of the carnal Christian has destroyed more lives and sent more people to hell.
A tree is known by its fruit.
If you are going to present him, say this. “This man tonight has made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. And because of our fear of God and our love for the souls of men we will now be working with him to make sure that Christ has truly been formed in him, that he truly has a biblical understanding of repentance and faith and great assurance and joy in the Holy Spirit. That is what we are going to do.”
Sixth indictment: Ignorance regarding the nature of the Church.
Today because of the lack of biblical preaching the so called Church is filled up with carnal, wicked people identified with Christianity. And then because of all the goats in the midst of the lambs, the lambs are blamed for all the things the goats are doing and then the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of us.
Stop saying all these silly things that you are saying, that the body of Christ is divided and it is a mess and it is full of sin. I would not talk about the bride of Christ that way if I was you. What you have got is a bunch of goats and tares among the sheep. And because very little biblical, compassionate Church discipline is practiced, they live among the sheep, they feed on the sheep and they destroy the sheep and those of you who are leaders in the Church are going to pay a high penalty when you stand before the one who loves them because you did not have enough courage to stand up and confront the wicked.
The seventh indictment: A lack of loving and compassionate Church discipline.
Now we ought to disciple, but that is not why they are leaving. They went out from us because they were not of us. And they hardly got a chance to be of us because they never heard a true gospel and no one ever dealt with their soul. So we spend a fortune discipling goats, hoping they will become sheep. You can’t teach a goat into a sheep. A goat becomes a sheep by the supernatural working of the Spirit of almighty God. Now Church discipline… I moved my family to this church because they practice Church discipline, because I need to be under Church discipline, the watchful care of elders and other members who take this seriously. I want my children, if they are converted one day, they are all tiny right now, but if they are converted or they make a profession of faith and then go awry, I want to know that my children will be brought before the Church, if necessary for the salvation of their soul. Some of you in here would get so mad if a pastor walked up to you and said, “Honestly, I have been praying about your child and I fear that they are unconverted.” You would get so mad you would rally up a group to have that pastor kicked out instead of realizing, “Oh, praise God, we have got a man of God here.”
Eighth indictment: A silence on separation.
There is a void of serious teaching about holiness… Your bodies. Why does he say “body?” I think to avoid all this super spirituality. “Well, I have given Jesus my heart and you can’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, as a matter of fact, you can judge a book by its cover. Jesus never said you couldn’t just a book by his cover. He said you could. “You will know them by their fruit.” And if you think that you have given him your heart, then he will have your body. And I will tell you why. The heart, my friend, is not some blood pumping muscle or some figment of a poet’s imagination. It refers to the very essence or core of your being. Don’t tell me Jesus has the very essence and core of your being and it doesn’t affect your body. It is just not going to happen.
Ninth indictment: Psychology and sociology have replaced the Scriptures with regard to the family.
What does it matter if a man win the whole world and lose his family? And let me just put it to you this way. Based upon what are you raising your children and loving your wife? Based upon what? If you can’t start going into Scriptures right now and pulling them apart and showing me how your family is founded upon it, I can assure you, you are a captive of psychology, sociology, the whims and the lies of this age.
Everything for Sunday school, everything for Sunday school. But there is hardly a conference in this entire country to teach men how to teach their children. And most of the time in the Sunday school it is nothing more than entertainment because the Sunday school teacher doesn’t have the authority to discipline your child. And even if they did they wouldn’t do it because they don’t believe in it.
Who ever told you youth ought to be together? Who ever told you that? I’ll tell you who told you that. 1960s psychologists, generation gap. Youth are to be with adults so that they stop acting like naïve fools and join adulthood and put away foolishness which leads to destruction. Now I am not saying you can’t bring youth together, but I submit if you do, have all their parents there.
Tenth indictment: An absence of self-discipline.
The men who have accomplished much and been used of God have been men of labor in the ministry. This 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. Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. Oh, my dear friends, who cares about your best life now? Eternity. The day you stand in those granite halls before the Lord of glory and kings and the greatest men on earth are divided and split and culled, some cast into eternal hell and some invited into eternal glory live for eternity. These Olympians, how majestic they are, but only for a moment. They start training when they are four and five years old. They never do anything but train until they are 22. They run a nine second race for a medal they hang up and that’s it. Cannot you give equal for eternal things?
Pastor, please do that for your people because he says, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” I want… Let’s just finish with this. This verse means almost nothing in the evangelical community today. How many pastors do you think and preachers take it seriously, “I need to pay close attention to myself to insure salvation for me and for 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?