Many years ago the seminary where I attended had invited a guest speaker to preach at one of the chapel services. While I don’t remember anything about his subject I remember something he said in passing: “I have heard a lot of Pharisee frogs in my ministry. Always croaking ‘Yea but!’”
For some reason that has stuck in my mind all these years and throughout my ministry every time I would hear a deacon, elder, worship leader or member use this term I would want to say, “Are you trying to be a Pharisee frog?”
I know that most of you have heard a quite a few “yea buts” if you have spent any time in church or ministry work. If fact, it seems that this statement has become even more prolific in modern times due in a large part to the fact that we humans have access to more information than at any time in history. The internet has seemed to make everyone an expert on everything, including theology. No matter what you discuss about the Bible someone will do a quick Google search and want to debate you on the placement of every comma, period or quotation mark.
This has indeed made ministry more challenging than at any time in the past. Although we would never say it out loud, in the secret places of our mind, most of us, who have been called to ministry, long for the day when people were ignorant of Scripture and just believed what we told them. However, I present to you that this information boon is not a curse, but a blessing for the following three reasons:
- We are now challenged to make sure that the people to whom we are ministering are trained properly so they can sort through the noise on the internet and find sound truth and teaching. We humans have always been fascinated with the “latest discoveries.” We love hearing something new or discovering “a bigger, better deal.” Because of this fascination, many have followed trends and teaching that are contrary to sound spiritual principles. Now, more than ever before it is important to help people properly know what the Bible actually says, not just what we think it says. There is nothing new when it comes to truth because from the very beginning God has always been the source of truth. We are not guiding people into a new theology but something that is as old as Christianity itself. So let us remind all believers of the words of Jeremiah: “Stand in the roadway and look. Ask about the ancient paths, “which is the way to what it good?” Then take it and find rest for yourselves.” Jeremiah 6:16 CSB
- The more the sheep know, the more the shepherd needs to know. Too many ministers graduate from seminary or Bible College and never learn anything more. They want to spend their ministry regurgitating what they spent all their money to learn. However, what we all know is that the real world is much different than the sanitized world of seminary. Out here, people do not take everything we say as the “gospel.” As has been state above, they will challenge everything we say or think. This means we must continue to learn; to seek God for revelation of truth so we can speak with a clear, resolute voice that His sheep will recognize and follow. The only thing I learned for sure after 9 years of Bible College and seminary is how to be a student and this is to be a life-long endeavor.
- Never allow Pharisee frogs to cast doubt on the true Gospel. As most of you are aware, the word gospel has come to be associated with everything we preach, and in a way it is all good news. However, there is one aspect of our message that is the true Gospel: Jesus Christ died for our sins and it is only through him that we can find salvation. The Apostle Paul expounded on this fact many time throughout his writings but the one thing he made clear over and over is that Salvation is by grace alone and we have no ability to earn it. “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is God’s gift – not from works so that no one can boast.” Eph 2:8-9 CSB. The Pharisee frogs will begin to speak up at this point and say things like, “Yea but, after we are saved we have to work to keep it!” If this is the case then what Paul told the Romans in 4:4-5 would be a lie: “Now to the one who works, pay is not credited as a gift, but as something owed. But to the one who does not work, but believes on him who declares the ungodly to be righteous, his faith is credited for righteousness.” CSB There is nothing we can do to earn it in the first place or earn the right to keep it. It is not a wage we deserve, it is a gift we have been given because only in Christ can we find the righteousness of God.
Don’t allow the Pharisee frogs to discourage your message of grace and truth. Jesus Christ came to save those who have missed the mark and without him alone we are all lost. Thank God there is no “yea but” in the Gospel.
R.A.G.E. Ministries, INC