The Problem Of Church Criticism


The Problem Of Judgmental Criticism

1 Corinthians 4

Criticism is the art of scrutiny and scrutiny means a critical examination!

A critic is one who has exalted himself to the position of “a judge” of others!

In the church many times there are those who seek to find the faults of others without considering their own faults.

We actually have only one Judge and He is also our Creator!

Gen 18:25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right”?

Paul will use two words that we must consider in these Scriptures.

**Ministers: The Greek word used for minister in this verse is “huperetes”.

This Greek word has the meaning of an “under oarsman”.

In the time of the Apostle Paul the “oarsman” were in the belly of the ship and they had only one job and that was to row on command.

They did not see in what direction the ship was sailing, their job was only to move the ship along in the direction that the Captain chose and at the speed that He chose.

In many ways the Church is like a mighty ship sailing through the Church Age and it the Ministers job to keep the ship moving while Captain, Jesus, chooses the direction and the speed of the Church.

**Stewards: A steward on the other hand was employed by a master to manage the daily affairs of that master, including in many cases the financial accounts but also the provisions for that family.

The truth is, that the Lord calls out certain individuals to be the ministers and the stewards of the Church.

He has many names but here we call this man the Pastor or the Preacher or the Evangelist!

Paul continues in Chapter 4

*****1Co 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
1Co 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

If we remember this Church at Corinth was a divided church and one of the things that they were divided about was the men who had come to preach to the church.

Some insisted Paul was the best and others Apollos, and others Peter and yet others who only considered Jesus Christ to be just another prophet and just a man.

Paul had already shown them the “Gospel” of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul now was teaching that it was not so important who the messenger was that was sent of God.

Of most importance, were they indeed “faithful” to teach the “Gospel”, were they “faithful” to the God they served and to His entire Word!

Christian stewards are to be stewards of the mysteries of God!

The mysteries of God are all those things of Jesus Christ, that were hidden in the Old Testament that are revealed in the New Testament!

Christians are also to be stewards of the manifold “Grace Of God”!

1Pe 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

God expects all those called to be Preachers, Pastors and Evangelist or wherever God calls each of us, to be faithful to His “Grace” and to share the literal biblical explanations of the mysteries of God!

These men are subject to God for their message and for their faithfulness to their calling but only God can give the increase to the Church!

It is the job of the Church to listen to the message that comes from the Word of God and not to judge the messenger who is sent of God!

We are only to compare that message to the actual written Word of God to know if it is a true message!

We are all accountable to God, who is our sure Judge, during our life time and in the end, when we will face God in judgment either at the “Judgment seat of Christ” or the “White Throne Judgment”!

If we are to be stewards of the Word of God then we must be faithful to the truth of the Scriptures!

*****1Co 4:3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.
1Co 4:4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

The judgment of all humans lies in the hands of God. Mankind is not capable of judging each other!

We may or may not despise the judgment by others but in reality it amounts to almost nothing as compared to the judgment of God!

We live now in man’s day and will continue to do so “until the Day of the Lord”!

Paul is saying that even though he has been found faithful in delivering the mysteries of God, he does not need man’s approval and he continues by saying that he did not even assume the right of judging himself.

It is only the judgment of the Lord that has any real importance!

It is still a fact that we as humans live only on average around 70 years. This is certainly not enough time to gain enough wisdom to judge other human beings!

For most of us, it is only after our death that we will be remembered or judged for the things we accomplished in our lifetime and that usually only by our own families.

But one thing is sure and it is that if we accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior in this life time we have now, then we can be judged and justified by the Lord even before our death!

Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

The heart of all humans is much to full of deceit to be an accurate judge of any other human being but only by their actions toward the Word of God!

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
Jer 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

*****1Co 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

In reality, we of the Church have no right to judge the messengers that are called into the work of the Lord.

If that Messenger is conveying the actual Word of God, “rightly divided”, and in context, then our one thing is to listen to that message that is sent from God and concentrate on being obedient ourselves!

You see it is only the Lord that can see into our hearts and expose those “hidden things of darkness”!

Heb 4:13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

All things of our heart are naked and open to the eyes of the One who has called us out of the bondage of Satan!

If our own heart is the seat of our intellect and emotions, and it is, then only God can know what goes on in the mind of each of us!

The praise of God is so infinitely precious to all those called of God that it reduces to nothingness the value of human praise or of human blame!

Every child of God simply wants to hear these certain words in the end!

Mat 25:23 His lord said unto him, “Well done, good and faithful servant”; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: “enter thou into the joy of thy lord”.

If our hope is not in the joy of the Lord then we need to question our salvation!

When we do not look forward to entering into the “joy of the Lord”, then we will only become judges in this world and suffer loss because of it!

*****1Co 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

Paul continues to show his love for these, his brothers and sisters in Christ, the Brethren. Paul also does not point out those that chose to follow the teaching of Apollos and those that have said that followed his own teaching because Paul knew they both taught the same message of the “Gospel”.

Paul also did not mention Peter who at this time had not preached the “Gospel” in Corinth and may not have ever but was well followed in Jerusalem.

The message of Paul was that all the messengers called of God are laborers in the building up of God’s Kingdom. No one more important than any other!

One would simply be the planter and the other the waterer because only God can give the increase!

To exalt one above the other would also be to depreciate one below the other!

When church members get puffed up, one against the other, it’s like trying to build the House of God with a balloon rather than on the truth of God, which are to be the building blocks of every church!

These Corinthians were still full of emptiness rather than accepting that the gifts of God may differ in each individual, but the Word of God must remain the same in all of us!

God distributes gifts to His children according to their need and their abilities to perform the work that He has called on them to do and these things will never change until He returns!

*****1Co 4:7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

Even when we believe that one speaker or one preacher presents the “Gospel” in a better way we must realize any gift that they have came from the Living God!

God’s gifts are not for bragging!

God’s gifts are for using!

While bragging on or choosing one above the other we should also consider our own gifts from God “that we are not even using” for the work that God has called us all to do!

The truth is that God has given each of us gifts to use to carry the “Gospel” to the lost!

1Pe 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1Pe 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

We are arrogant to believe that God exalts His workers one above another!

We are not superior one above the other!

We absolutely have no right to sit in “judgment” one above any other!

When we glory, then we must glory in the Lord who has placed us where He wants us to be and has given us the tools we need, whether they be spiritual gifts or carnal gifts.

All we have belongs to the Lord!

Even John the Baptist was well aware of these things!

Joh 3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

*****1Co 4:8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

As “Babes in Christ” it is easy to have the opinion that you are saved and you need nothing else.

These Corinthians were full but they were not full of Christ, they were full of themselves!

In their own still fleshy minds, they believed they had already reached perfection in the eyes of God and really had no further need of any instructor in the Word of God.

They certainly felt they had no need to pick up their own cross and follow the Lord Jesus.

They forgot that before the “Kingdom of God” could come that they would also suffer.

They forgot that before there was a fullness of joy, there would be persecution.

They forgot that before the marriage supper of the Lamb, they must eat the meat of ridicule in this world.

They became self-complacent and self-sufficient and felt they had no sin and no need of anything else of God!

We should remember the Age we live in now, which is the last of the Church Ages!

Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Rev 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.

These Corinthians were still blind to the complete truth of the “Gospel” of Jesus Christ!

They had one foot in the Church and still had one foot in the carnal world!

*****1Co 4:9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

It was obvious to these Corinthians the way the world was treating the Apostles of Jesus Christ.

It was obvious to these Corinthians that persecution followed the Christian where ever they were.

Many of this church had actually come from Jerusalem because of the persecution of Christians!

It should be sobering to us all that Christians, especially those Christian leaders such as the Apostle Paul are actually on a stage being carefully watched by the audience of the world, to point out every mistake of the Church and it’s followers, ready to persecute and humiliate everyone in an attempt to stop the message of God!

These things are not going to change and to correctly understand these words of the Apostle Paul, we can see that for more than one reason, even the Angels of God also keep a close eye on each believer.

1Pe 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; “which things the angels desire to look into”.

*****1Co 4:10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.
1Co 4:11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;
1Co 4:12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:
1Co 4:13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

What is the difference between a true Christian and a counterfeit so-called Christian or even a carnal Christian?

The counterfeit is so full of themselves, rather than Divine Knowledge, that he thinks he needs no further instruction.

The counterfeit is so rich in his own grace, that he exalts himself above those who are spiritually poor.

The counterfeit is so confident in his confession of himself, that he would try to rule others who he believes are of a lower class of Christian than he.

The true Christian regards himself as the least of all Saints.

The true Christian submits willingly to suffering for Christ sake.

The true Christian repays all evil with good!

The Apostle Paul left the schools of higher learning, which would have led to untold riches, and devoted the remaining days of his life to the work of Christ, totally understanding that his only riches would come from his “faith” and the “Grace” of God!

Paul said in the eyes of the world, he was certainly a foolish man!

The model for the Apostle Paul was Jesus Christ Himself, who left the riches and glory of Heaven, to give his life in order that we might live!

How did Jesus respond to such people?

Luk 9:57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
Luk 9:58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
Luk 9:59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Luk 9:60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
Luk 9:61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
Luk 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.

The Bible teaches us that because of our loyalty to Jesus Christ,the world will despise us and consider us all mad and ignorant.

These Corinthians sought ways to make the teaching of the “Gospel” a means of becoming a celebrity and these “type” are still around today!

Christianity brings with it sacrifice, sometimes shame, many times suffering, and certainly a true work ethic.

But Christianity brings companionship in the greatest family of all, the “Grace “of God, and rewards that cannot be known of in this world!

The Christian must be a humble, and a meek, and a patient child of God!

The signs of the Christian are these:

1Co 13:11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1Co 13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1Co 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.

Paul said to these Corinthians, “you simply need to know the truth”.

Who is the most important example for the Christian to follow?

1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, “leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps”:

*****1Co 4:14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.
1Co 4:15 For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.
1Co 4:16 Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

We can be sure that the Apostle Paul did not write these books to the these Corinthians, nor to the Church, for the purpose of causing them shame and embarrassment!

The truth is that, the liberal church cannot survive and function for the good of God!

There is a great danger to the “Body of Christ” if the majority remain “Babes in Christ”!

This is what we see in the Church of the modern day and the Church no longer has the Holy Ghost power it once had!

It was the Apostle Paul who had caused the beginning of this church at Corinth, and to Paul these were his spiritual children and there are no spiritual grandchildren!

Paul, by example, followed the life of Christ as close as he could after his salvation and this should also be our goal!

Paul is simply saying that beyond the Lord Jesus Christ, no one cared as much for the Church at Corinth as much as he did!

Paul was simply rebuking this church much like a loving father would rebuke their own children!

I see this same thing here at Gethsemane, where through the years we have had many tutors who have come through to teach us the great depths of the Word of God, but it is our Pastor who teaches us as a loving father does his own children!

And Paul further more states, that no church can have a father who is not following the Lord Jesus Christ!

Mat 23:9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.

We must never forget the One from which the New Testament Church had it’s beginnings and that One is the Lord Jesus Christ!

Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”.
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, “but my Father which is in heaven”.

The Church at Corinth was begotten through the “Gospel of Jesus Christ” and it is on Jesus Christ that the Church must stand!

Paul said he was just filling in, until the Lord returned to fulfill His own “Gospel”!

Paul as a “faithful steward” of the “Gospel of Jesus Christ” said “you can follow me because I am following the Lord”!

It is a fact that good spiritual leaders will light the way for their followers to follow!

What is the job of the Pastor?

1Pe 5:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
1Pe 5:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
1Pe 5:4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

Paul was a church planter, who totally understood his calling by the Lord Jesus Christ!

Paul was not being arrogant nor was he conceited.

Paul explained himself to the Ephesians with these words:

Eph 3:8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;

Many false teachers had come to the church at Corinth, just as happens today in most all places of worship!

We know that the Lord Jesus Christ cannot actually be seen with the eye but only with the heart until He returns, but the true man of God, such as Paul, would be more like Jesus than any false teacher could ever be!

The truth of the Church is not what we look like inside the Church, it is how we appear outside the Church!

We would be wise to follow the example of the Apostle Paul rather than the example of some false so-called man of God, who might speak great words but their lives tell a different story!

Paul had a another spiritual child of God who was following the Lord Jesus Christ by the example showed to him also by the Apostle Paul and his name was Timothy.

*****1Co 4:17 For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

No doubt that it Paul who had led Timothy to the Lord!

No doubt that Timothy was already on his way to Corinth as Paul was writing this letter and the letter had arrived before Timothy had gotten there.

It was Timothy’s job to bring this church back to the teachings of the Apostle Paul!

Timothy was also a faithful steward of the “Gospel of Jesus Christ”.

Paul was telling these Corinthians that Timothy would not only teach sound doctrine, but he would also put these people in remembrance of Paul’s ways!

They could see with their own eyes, whether the child’s walk was like those of his spiritual father and also in Jesus Christ!

It is a fact that a Man of God who generates in another the character of Jesus Christ, has done a greater work than any teaching that this world does!

But Paul also knew that not all in the church would be satisfied with Timothy but expected Paul to return himself.

Here again we see that Paul knew many in Corinth cared more for the speaker, than for the message, which is still the failure in many houses of worship today!

*****1Co 4:18 Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.
1Co 4:19 But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

Those that still allowed their own pride to interfere with right judgment would still be puffed up.

There were many at Corinth that believed Paul feared to return to Corinth, which was certainly not true.

We should be very clear that the Apostle Paul had the same powers that Jesus had granted to all the other Apostles!

Most of that power was the fact that if an Apostle asked anything of the Lord, then it would certainly take place as Jesus told to the Apostles.

Mat 18:18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

*****1Co 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.
1Co 4:21 What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

Paul informed those that rejected this letter from him, that he could come with the rod just as easy as he could come in love.

It would be their own choice!

God gave us the freedom to choose but we must certainly know that there are consequences to every choice we make!

What is God’s promise?

Isa 11:4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

We may not understand that “rod of the mouth” but it is very clear what God will do when He says He will slay the wicked!

Questions?

Let’s Pray!

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