"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . . Our Website is UNDER CONSTRUCTION, please be patient!

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Sunday, October 6, 2019

DO NOT DIMINISH A WORD - JEREMIAH 26:2-3

Servant Leaders Conference at ETERNAL LIVING WORD Church on: A Special Message - SEPT. '19

by pastor Sonny Islas 

Jeremiah 26:2,3 says Thus says the Lord: ‘Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah (in our own day, the church), which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command you to speak to them. Do not diminish a word. Perhaps everyone will listen and turn from his evil way that I may relent concerning the calamity which I purpose to bring on them because of the evil of their doings (staying true to God’s Word is mercy extended).

As I was reading the book of Jeremiah under a palm tree at my house (it's a very nice spot by the way!), there was a command of GOD that was made up of only five words that arrested my attention; five words the LORD gave to His prophet Jeremiah. And when I read these five words, I couldn't seem to shake it off; where you just know for a fact that God is talking to you and you're wondering if this is something that the LORD is giving personally to you, or if it's something that He wants you to relay to His people. This is a special message only in that it doesn't have anything to do with David, necessarily - the theme for this conference was the latter life of King David. It's more of an urgent call, to those who handle God's Word, for pastors, preachers and Bible teachers, to remain faithful to the entire Word of God! And that's the call of this ministry, to stay faithful to Jesus, stay faithful to His Word, no matter what!

Jeremiah was commanded by God to warn Judah and all it’s leaders of God’s imminent judgment. It says there, "perhaps" Israel will listen to the call to repent, and then the LORD could extend His mercy, wouldn't have to send judgment - Jeremiah’s message was basically, “The Babylonians are being sent by God to destroy us, so repent of all your sin before it’s too late.” And what was their sin? Such sin as: unrestrained idolatry, sexual immorality (of all kinds), lying, cheating, stealing, murder and injustice on every level!
It turns out, they didn’t repent (and obey God); God’s wrath was poured out in full fury. and unrepentant Judah drank the cup of God’s just wrath on sin and so did his neighbors. They were taken captive for 70 years by King Nebuchadnezzar. The majority were killed by the sword, famine and wild beast. God was true to His Word! God let loose His judgment in its full fury! Israel was devoured by the sword, they were devoured by famine, and they were devoured by wild beasts!


I get a hunch that God knew that this being such a hard word or a severe warning, Jeremiah may have been tempted to soften it up for the people, so God adds “Do not diminish a word.” By the way, Jeremiah stayed true to the task, but it was very costly as we’ll see in a minute. . . 

Notice, God says, “Do not diminish (The Hebrew word gara means "to withhold") a (single) Word.” We have here 66 books in the Bible, but really it's one story line and there are literally thousands upon thousands of words, and all of these words are GOD's WORDS! Don't take any one of these words and make it less than it is, Jeremiah! tell it just like it is!
This is not only a call to pastors and ministers, to not diminish a single word in your teaching and preaching, but also the hearers of these messages - don't diminish a single word!
Today we are called to remain faithful to “the whole counsel of God,” from cover to cover, from Genesis to Revelation and everything in between. Every word, every command, every warning, every promise! Every revelation, every prophecy, ever doctrine.

To put God’s command in simple terms and idioms we clearly understand, Jeremiah was told - Don’t dishonor Me. Don’t put your words in My mouth. Don’t get in My way. Don’t muzzle My mouth. Don’t hold back. Don’t soften the blows.

Try asking Mike Tyson, the ex-heavy weight champ in his prime to add cushion to his boxing gloves and see what he says – he'd laugh at you, why? Because he wants his opponent to feel the full punch! God's blows are out of a heart of love, and compassion, not desiring to see utter ruin for His people.
Don’t downplay truth. Don’t mess with the message(you can mess with the messenger all you want, but don't mess with the message!). Don’t water down the medicine, the warning. Don’t dumb it down. Don’t get cute or clever. Don’t tone it down. Don’t cut corners. Don’t fog up the mirror (of God’s Word). Don’t de-tooth the bite. Don’t dull the blade. Don’t numb the sting. Don’t break the tip of the arrow. Don’t beat around the bush. Don’t cheapen the cost. Don’t shrink back. Don’t lower the bar, but tell it like it is – exactly like it is.


If GOD is going to get the effect that He wants, then His Word must remain pure, in all of its force, in all of its penetrating power, it must be brought for as clear and as perfect as possible, just as GOD said it, we have the responsibility to say it the same way. If it's a tough word, then say it with toughness. If it's a word of promise or joy, then we say it with conviction and joy! We don't diminish anything that we find in Scripture to suit ourselves or to suit the fallen interests of this fallen world!
This is GOD's Word, this is GOD's church, you are GOD's people, the church is ALL HIS!
Everything we do is governed by the written Word of GOD!
So don't touch the ark with your hands, even if you think it's going to fall (2 Sam 6:6), amen?

The more we understand this, the more blessed our lives will be and the more blessed our ministries will be.

Q: Who was the first one to diminish God’s Word? A: Satan – and look where that’s brought us. “Has God indeed said?...you will not surely die.” Satan was testing Eve’s bible knowledge (if you will) and was questioning the severity, goodness and honesty of God’s commands and warnings. Satan stripped both the clarity, truthfulness and conviction from God’s command by diminishing and twisting the truth – by diminishing the Word. And that's what false teachers do - they diminish, they twist, they alter the Word of GOD. 
And we if not careful, we can do the same exact thing. All while thinking that we’re doing God and our people a favor (??!).

In Jeremiah 23:30 God says, “I am against the prophets, who steal My words everyone from his neighbor.’’ They and sometimes us - we would try to soften the blow of GOD's Word by saying, "That's not what it really means!" We try to lessen the impact, to diminish it. This is Satan’s work – the first and ultimate seed thief!
People in the church hear such a Word as this and say, "but that's not for me! This is meant for someone else - it might work for them, but not me". 

Faithfulness to all of scripture was both Jesus’ and Paul’s main goal. In Acts 20:27, Paul says to a group of pastors, “For I have not shunned (shied-away or avoided) to declare to you the whole counsel of God (all that God has spoken).
In John 12:49 the LORD Jesus says, “For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak.” And in John 17:14 while praying to His Father, Jesus says, “I have given them Your Word.” He's going to the cross eventually and said, I did what I was supposed to do, and I said what I was supposed to say just the way You told me to say it - and people have turned their backs on Me (John 6:66)! Jesus was all about pleasing His Father, not people - and if He is, then we are too! Amen?


Preaching is not for spineless jellyfish. If we're not men who fear GOD, who are determined to stand strong before people and speak on behalf of GOD, all that He has spoken, then truly - we have not been called to this task! If we are willing to 'water down the medicine' for whatever reason - let the work go.
Preaching is for men who fear God and who will speak on behalf of God – all the words that God has spoken -  both the blessed promises and the fearful warnings. Both “The goodness and the severity of God” (Romans 11:22).

At the end of very preachers’ life, we should be able to say to the LORD with confidence “I have given them Your word.”
I’m convinced that the greatest responsibility in all the world is to rightly teach the Word of God. James 3:1 warns “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.”

The main motivation for faithfulness in preaching God’s Word is to remember that it is God’s Word – not man’s word. Jeremiah understood this. In Jeremiah 26:12 he says, "The Lord sent me to prophesy against this house and against this city with all the words that you have heard.” And in Jeremiah 26:15b he says, “for truly the LORD has sent me to speak all these words in your hearing.” The priests and the people were angry with Jeremiah, saying, "Who do you think you are?! Talking to us like that, don't you know who we are?!!"

Jeremiah told them, "These aren't my words! These are GOD's words! And everything I've told you comes from GOD - that's my job!" And that't the job of every pastor and every preacher: they take the treasure of GOD's Word and puts this treasure inside of you! He has no other reason to live! When a preacher understands the gravity and responsibility of his task, he realizes he has no other reason to live, except to be faithful to this Book and every word found in it!

Let’s look at some ways in which God’s Word is being diminished in churches today:

When we purposely avoid the addressing of popular sin issues of our culture (polls showing homosexuality and abortion as being the main two); but when these are threatening the nation, and the church, threatening the family unit, we are to speak out against these sins with love - our goal is to win souls but our goal is to also honor GOD!

When the nation of Israel’s popular sin was Baal worship, that became Elijah’s target. He didn't start preaching 'Save the Whales!' But rather to 'Repent and stop falling down to these false idols!'

When we cherry pick bible verses and omit or make light of hard truths in scripture such as: eternal hell, God’s wrath, God’s corrections, warnings, the consequences of sin, a need for holiness, the final judgment, persecution, repentance, obedience and the cost of discipleship, we have diminished God’s Word. These convictions and topics of truth have long left the modern church! Today it's raise your hand, say this prayer, fill out this card and ouila! You're saved! But no fruit of repentance? No obedience to the LORD Jesus Christ, Who is the KING of our hearts - or should be!
By the way, without these hard truths the glorious gospel becomes - less glorious! Jesus said, "If you love father or mother or son or daughter more than Me, you are unworthy of Me" (Matthew 10:37)! This is what He preached: total allegiance to Him! But you don't hear this message today, because it's not popular!

There is a Great White Throne Judgment, there is a Lake of Fire that is unending and from which there is no escape! WE NEED JESUS!! You stay away from the hard truths, you put away the hammer, if you give people false confidence in a watered down Gospel (Jeremiah 23:29), and you're sending them to hell! They need to know the whole truth!
Whether believer or not, every knee will one day bow down to the KING of Kings and LORD of Lords, Jesus Christ!

When referring to hell, I heard a preacher once call it “H – E – double hockey sticks” (to apparently avoid any discomfort because even saying the word hell was too much). Earth to preachers – Jesus warned about hell more than all the Prophets and Apostles combined! And He didn’t call it “H – E – double hockey sticks” neither. He told us that if your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; better to go to heaven looking like a pirate than to burn in hell with both eyes to see the horrors there!
I'm sure He said these things with passion and compassion, and seriousness and power; this place is too real, and people are going to live forever either in heaven or in hell and there are no exit signs in either place! So, there is no time or place to get 'cute and clever' about these things!
Along with the message of the Cross and the Gospel, I would say this is the most important message that must be shared in full, and not diminished, not a word!

And if we say that we don’t like teaching on hell – what we’re really saying is, we don’t like God’s way of punishment. We question His justice and holiness. I say, if you have a hard time warning people about an eternal hell – quit preaching! Because, to compassionately warn people about the unquenchable flames is the most loving thing we can do!

When we know of someone in the fellowship who has been living in open unrepentant sin for some time (there should be a grace period) and are hesitant to start the Matthew 18 church discipline process, we have diminished God’s Word.
When we shy away from calling out popular wolves (false teachers), false religions and false evangelical movements by name, we have diminished God’s Word.

When someone is dating an unbeliever or living in fornication or some other sexual sin (actual or video) and we tell them “it’s not God’s best” instead of telling them that “it’s not God’s will” and that those who without restraint practice such things will be damned, we have diminished God’s Word.
When our preaching becomes more like cotton candy instead of a hammer (that break the hard heart) and a fire (that burns away all that’s no good and refines all that is good as the LORD told the prophet in Jeremiah 23:29) we have diminished God’s Word.

When we try to defend, apologize for or excuse the quote/unquote “Angry God of the OT” and His quote/unquote “irrational actions” we have diminished God’s Word. If God decides that He’s going to wipe out a whole nation women and children included because of sin – who’s to say that He can’t do what He wants with His property? And “won’t the judge of all the earth do what’s right” anyway?

When we deny the sufficiency (the power) or the inerrancy (the perfection) of scripture – we have diminished God’s Word.
When a church calls their baptisms a splash party (like a church in Tucson did recently; affiliated with the New Apostolic Reformation movement; their apostles and prophets command their followers that they must be baptized under their authority, even if they've been baptized already) God’s Word is diminished.

When we doubt or allegorize any miraculous account such as: The parting of the Red Sea (I heard a “preacher” recently deny the Red Sea account while speaking to his large congregation), the world flood, a literal 7-day creation, Jonah in a whale for 3 days, or Jesus’ bodily resurrection, we have diminished God’s Word.

When we focus more on “felt needs” (catering to peoples fallen desires or wants rather than what their soul needs (Joel Osteen is the king of this) we have diminished God’s Word. It’s Matthew 6:33, “seek God first” – His glory and His holy ways – then the earthly stuff we need like food and clothes will be provided.  True preaching raises people’s eyes and hearts high above material and temporal needs – high above - where Jesus sits at the right hand of glory! The problem is not that people don't have a nice car or a big house or delightful food to eat, the problem today is that people don't know GOD! They don't know His WORD! PEOPLE NEED GOD! That's the problem!

Matthew 4:4
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God
.


By the way, God is more concerned with cleaning our dirty mouth than He is about filling it with fine foods (Read Lamentations 4:10 – where women cooked and ate their children – the ultimate consequence for diminishing God’s Word). He’s more concerned with what drives us than what we drive (hearts above cars). He’s more concerned about our bodies being a holy house than us buying a house. But don’t misunderstand me – our God cares about every detail of our lives.
At the same time, when we downplay God’s glorious grace, His mercy, His saving power and abundant love and care, we have diminished God’s Word. A fine balance is key.

Phil Johnson (John MacArthur's sidekick) says, "Too many evangelical preachers tip toe around hard truths" This doesn’t happen when it comes to happy truths in scripture.

The effects of diminishing the Word: In Lamentations 4:1 Jeremiah cries out "Oh how the gold has become dim!" Here he’s referring to the Temple and the people. The gold from the temple is now scattered on the ground full of dust and the people are full of smoke. When we diminish God’s Word in any area – God Himself is in a sense diminished (dishonored). The church/God’s people are diminished, spiritual growth and holiness is diminished, worship and evangelism are diminished. The Holy Spirit’s converting, convicting and cleaning power is diminished. This is a serious offence. No wonder judgment will be more severe for bible handlers.

As the days of the final fall of religious freedoms in America comes: We may be tempted to diminish God’s Word like Jeremiah in 20:9No more” after being struck and locked up by Pashhur/priest and chief governor... But I’ve told the LORD that I would rather die than to dishonor His holy Word. The LORD told Jeremiah “Don’t fear their faces!”

Many have diminished God’s Word today due to fear. The fear of people not giving. The fear of people not coming. The fear of being called critical and narrow minded. Some do it for the praise of men etc. Let’s stay far away from all of this!

For the full message as delivered by pastor Sonny, check out this Facebook video, recorded at ETERNAL LIVING WORD Church!

For more articles relating to this subject matter, consider these:

AS SURE AS HELL 

CHRIST'S COURT - SOON IN SESSION (Part 1 of 3)

The NARROW VIEW of  the SCRIPTURES

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