About a week ago I heard a sermon on the Internet in which the speaker said that God will not use people who do not in their personal lives reflect the mind of God to do a work towards the world of preaching the gospel.
This is in direct contradiction to the teaching of the Bible.
It is certainly true that God can use us more effectively the more we reflect God's way of life and character in our personal lives. The more we are like God in character, the more we are a reflection of Him, the greater God can use us and the more effective we will be in preaching the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel.
But to say that God will absolutely NOT use someone who has character problems and does not reflect God very well to do the work of preaching the gospel and warning the world is false.
God teaches us lessons in the Bible by example. "Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11). "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you" (John 13:15). "My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience" (James 5:10).
God clearly teaches us in the Bible that we should obey all of God's law in our lives, including the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. We should reflect God's righteous way of life in all our conduct, being a living sacrifice which is our reasonable service (Romans 12:1-2). And God also clearly teaches us in the Bible that we should preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel.
Does one preclude the other? Is there justification for not doing one because we have not yet perfectly done the other?
In fact, living God's way of life includes showing love towards our neighbors by warning them.
Yet some ministers who accept the tithes of the people but spend none of it on preaching the gospel say, we cannot preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel until we FIRST learn to reflect the mind of God more perfectly in our personal behavior.
There are many contradictions and inconsistencies in this position. I have covered these before in depth, but I will mention a few. Ministers who feel they cannot preach to the world because they do not reflect the mind of God apparently feel they can preach sermons to their tithe-paying members on the Sabbath. But if they do not reflect the mind of God, and if this disqualifies the ministers from preaching to the public, does that not also disqualify them from preaching to their members on the Sabbath? If a minister is disqualified from teaching even the basics to the public because he is so far from God, is he not even more disqualified from teaching Church of God members on the Sabbath how to live God's way of life more perfectly? Yet he does one and not the other. Why? Is it because he knows that if he does not preach to the members on the Sabbath he will not get paid? And is it because he knows that if he preaches the gospel to the world, that will cost money, leaving less for ministers' salaries?
Another inconsistency is leaving out the whole commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves and thinking we can reflect God's mind without it. If we love our neighbors, we will warn them. How can we reflect God's way of life without doing that?
It is as if those who advocate postponing the preaching of the gospel think we can pick and choose what commandments of God to obey, accepting one commandment, postponing another, and somehow reflect God's mind and be a good example by obeying only some of God's commandments while disobeying others.
Sometimes such people will say, "If God shows us someday that we should preach the gospel, we will do it", ignoring the fact that God has already shown them in the Bible that we should preach the gospel, but they don't believe Him. I suppose they are waiting for a thundering voice from heaven that says, "I meant what I said in the Bible about preaching the gospel".
That is like saying, "If God shows us someday we should keep the Sabbath, we will keep the Sabbath".
But besides the inconsistencies involved in this position, the Bible teaches by example that our obligation to preach the gospel is not limited by our need to get closer to God and better reflect His mind in our lives. We must obey God's commands to preach the gospel and the Ezekiel warning regardless of our spiritual state and our need to draw closer to Him.
How does God teach this? By several examples in the Bible, examples that show that God does use people who do not reflect His mind very well to preach the gospel and the warning.
One example is Jonah. You can get the whole story in the book of Jonah - it is a short book - but most of you will remember the essential points.
God sent Jonah to warn Nineveh. Jonah did not want to warn Nineveh, so he ran away. God disciplined him, and Jonah finally obeyed. But the end of the book shows that Jonah's attitude still did not reflect the mind of God. Jonah did not reflect God's mind either before or after he warned Nineveh. He was actually unhappy when Nineveh repented because he wanted to see Nineveh destroyed. He was a very unmerciful man. Yet God used him to warn Nineveh, and the warning bore fruit. Nineveh repented and was spared.
Now, if God was able to warn Nineveh through carnal and unmerciful Jonah, cannot He use the Church of God to warn the nations if we are only willing to give that warning? Are we so much worse than Jonah?
Then you have the examples of the apostles whom Jesus sent out to preach the gospel (Matthew 10:1-8). They were not converted at that time. They were carnal. They were competitive with each other, wanting to be greater than each other in the kingdom of God (Mark 9:33-34, Luke 9:46). James and John wanted to call down fire to burn up a village (Luke 9:54-56), and Jesus told them they did not know what manner of spirit they were of, implying that they were being led by Satan not Christ at that moment. Yet Jesus used them to preach the gospel. Now, if Christ could use unconverted men to preach the gospel, cannot He also use us to preach that same gospel to the world?
Finally, look at the example of Judas. He was among the twelve, and Christ sent him out to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and cast out demons with the rest of the disciples, but he was not "clean" (John 13:10-11). He was a thief who stole funds from the money box (John 12:4-6). He betrayed Jesus, and Jesus said that he would have been better off if he had never been born (Mark 14:18-22). Yet Christ used him to preach the gospel, and his preaching and work must have born the same fruit as the other apostles because they didn't recognize him as the betrayer he would become (John 13:21-26). If Judas was not able to cast out demons, heal the sick, and preach the gospel with same power as the other apostles, they would have noticed.
Does God sometimes use those who do not reflect His mind very well to preach the gospel to the world and warnings about punishment to come? The Bible, through these examples, says yes. And ministers who say, God will NOT use those who do not reflect His mind to preach the gospel, are not following the God of the Bible. They use this as an excuse for not allocating some of the tithe money their members entrust them with to preach the gospel to the world, to reflect God's love for the world.
And those who sit before them, week after week, to hear them preach sermons about how to have the mind of God should be aware that they are allowing themselves to be taught by someone who is not following God's word.