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Tell worshippers the truth

BY: Jude Hama
God counsels worshippers about the messages of bad and false pastors and prophets.

Pastors, prophets and preachers must tell worshippers the truth to guide them to experience peace with God and to live the abundant life that the Lord Jesus promises people.

Ekow Bondzie was a distinguished lawyer in Cape Coast who came to experience a new life in Christ, but for a large part of his adult life, he didn’t know the redeeming love of Jesus personally.

When he narrated his story, Lawyer Ekow Bondzie looked back on his life and said he was deeply concerned and expressed disappointment at the sermons and messages from the pastors and prophets who ministered from the pulpit to him and others in his church.

He lamented about the pastors, preachers and prophets. “They had not told me the truth. I was heading towards hell and eternal damnation but their messages and relationship with me never told me the truth. I now feel they were only interested in my money. I was chairman of the Annual Church Harvests on many occasions. And I chaired programmes of many church groups and gave good money to the church.

Meanwhile, I had never experienced a new birth in Christ and my lifestyle, which was known to the pastors and preachers, was leading me to hell but they never told me the truth.”

Another man, Kodwo Mensah Addo, dropped into the visitor’s chair in front of me in my office. He had returned from graduate studies at the University of Cambridge and was eager to hear God speak to him through His Word, the Bible, in church worship service. And so for a few months, on Sundays, he visited a number of Charismatic and Christian churches to worship God with the hope of settling in one of the church congregations as a member.

He lamented: “I wanted to hear the truth from sound Bible preaching and teaching. Sorry, all that I got again and again was “motivational sermons” on development themes which was my area of study in Cambridge and the preachers were most of the time messing up in accuracy of content delivery. What would be good alternatives out there?”

He wanted to listen to sound Biblical preaching and teaching in church. He wanted to hear pastors and prophets tell him the truth!
Preachers and prophets must tell worshippers Biblical truth! And that was the need of worshippers in Samaria and Jerusalem at the time of Jeremiah. In a significant Bible passage on the discussion in this article, Jeremiah 23:9-22, we see the following:
• God calls attention to the practice of terrible ungodliness by the pastors and prophets. (see Jeremiah 23:9-15)
• God counsels worshippers about the messages of bad and false pastors and prophets. (see Jeremiah 23:16-18,21)
• God corrects pastors, preachers and prophets, and directs them to how they can receive His message and pass on the truth to worshippers. (see Jeremiah 23:18&22).

First, God calls attention to ungodly practices of pastors, preachers and prophets: “Both prophet and priest are ungodly; even in my house I have found their evil,” declares the Lord.

In the prophets of Samaria I saw an unsavory thing: they prophesied by Baal and led my people Israel astray. They commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has gone out into all the land” (Jeremiah 23:11, 13-14b, 15c ESV).

In this Bible text, the preachers and prophets in Jerusalem are engaged in “horrible things” with the worshippers. They do not live morally pure and sexually pure lives with worshippers. “Grades for sex” in schools is bad enough. “Prayers and healings and fertility and prophecy for sex in church life is worse”. It is indeed horrible.
Perhaps God is angry with some of these same things happening in some of our church congregations or assemblies today.

In Jeremiah 23 verses 13 & 14, God says of the pastors, preachers and prophets in Samaria that their source of spiritual power is evil – they prophesy and do their church work using “Baal power”. “Baal” is a pagan idol. They rely on the use of powers of idolatory – including witchcraft, juju, fetish practices, ritual murders or any kind of occultic and demonic powers to do their religious services.

And because they preach and prophesy by evil powers, they lead worshippers astray. Terrible things were happening in places of worship. Maybe, terrible things are happening in some of our places of worship today.

People may go to church to hear God and solve their problems; but instead what they experience is to be misled by a pastor or prophet.

Sadly, from the prophets and pastors ungodliness has gone out into all the land.” (Jeremiah 23:15c ESV)
Secondly, God abhors these terrible practices and counsels worshippers: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord.

“They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you’” (Jeremiah 23:16&17 ESV).
Isn’t this familiar in some churches today too: “you will be head and never the tail”, regardless of whether you live a godly life or not?
Or perhaps the truth is your conduct and behaviour will most likely mess up your life; unless you turn away from that lifestyle. Preachers, pastors and prophets must tell worshippers the truth!

Worshippers should listen to what God says about these prophets: “I did not send the prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied,” (Jeremiah 23:21 ESV). So don’t just go about from place to place looking for prophecies in your life.

Thirdly, God corrects and redirects pastors, preachers and prophets who will be His true messengers: “For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened? But if they had stood in my council, then they would have proclaimed my words to my people, and they would have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their deeds” (Jeremiah 23:18&22 ESV).

We need true messengers of God and sent from God in our pulpits and churches today. Pastors, preachers and prophets must tell worshippers the truth!!

The author is a consultant in authentic Christian Spirituality and Discipleship and former CEO of Scripture Union.