Modern-Day Martyr

Categories: Pastor Matt's Messages,Uncategorized

Before heading off to prayer meeting last evening, I checked my e-mail and logged on to the Internet.  My home page is Fox News, and the cover story was about Fred Winters, a pastor in Illinois who was gunned down in the pulpit while preaching in morning service.  You can read all about it here.

I checked out the church website, and from everything I’ve seen, this pastor was a godly man who was utterly committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the authority of God’s Word.  He had a great love for the Lord and for people.  Supposedly, as the gunman walked down the aisle toward the pastor in the middle of the service, the pastor said to him, “Can I help you?” – something that another pastor on staff did not find surprising at all.  Here’s the video clip this morning from Fox News:
Yesterday morning started out like just any other Sunday morning for this preacher.  He simply got up behind his pulpit and started preaching God’s Word to his flock.  As a pastor, I am reminded of how important it is for me to “to preach … as a dying man to dying men” (Richard Baxter).  And certainly all of us should pray, as Moses did, 
Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
- Psalm 90:12
What are the practical implications of this verse for us as believers?  Perhaps they are best stated in the following two resolutions of Jonathan Edwards:
  1. Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live.
  2. Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.

By all accounts, Pastor Fred Winters finished well.  God help us to do the same.

11 Responses to "Modern-Day Martyr"

  1. Rob Posted on March 10, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Leonard Ravenhill once said, “If Jesus preached the same message that ministers preached today, He would never had been crucified.” While I was shocked by the news, I was not shaken, Pastor Winters was simply following in his Master’s footsteps. He truly must have been a MAN of God.

    I had a particular interest in this story. Four days ago Dr. Steve Lawson preached a powerful message at the Shepherds’ Conference where he spoke of this very thing. His theme was “Guarding the Gospel.” Dr. Lawson began by reminding us that every generation has had to FIGHT (often by giving their lives) for the purity of the Gospel…and so must we. Dr. Lawson got fired up and pounding the pulpit when speaking on the cowardly state of many preachers today, particularly pathetic wimps like Joel Osteen. Dr. Lawson finished with a quote from Adrian Rogers, “The problem with preachers today is that no one wants to kill them anymore!”

    Phil Johnson also spoke on an important topic, “The Pornification of the Pulpit.” He mentions the sickening and shameful preaching of Mark Driscoll. Apparently there were some Driscoll fans in the audience; after Phil’s sermon, graffiti was found on the walls in the bathroom at Grace Church badly degrading Phil with some of Driscoll’s favorite filth.

    I have found few people who are willing to stand up for the truth when it is going to cost them. Guys like Osteen and Driscoll are not such men because they are not real men; they are germs. Or as Paul Washer would say, “They are little boys playing church.” Real men don’t go on Larry King and whine when asked about the truth and say, “I don’t know” and real men don’t use Scripture as a punchline for a masterbation joke.

    If you are shocked by the murder of Pastor Winters, don’t be. He was doing what real men of God do; they proclaim the truth. I also believe this is just the beginning. I believe more and more we are going to see the seperation of the men from the boys. And I, for one, look forward to it.

  2. Matt Fletcher Posted on March 10, 2009 at 10:29 am

    Rob, I’m not sure if you knew this, but Steve Lawson will be preaching HERE at First Baptist Church on Sunday evening, April 5. We are inviting all churches and believers who can come to come! We will also have a pie fellowship and book signing with Dr. Lawson in the gymnasium following the service. The service will begin at 6:00 p.m. (doors open at 5:30). Dr. Lawson will be preaching on Amos 8 in a sermon entitled “Famine in the Land: The Need for Expository Preaching.” Hope you can come! Invite others, too! People need to hear more of this kind of preaching!

  3. Eddie Posted on March 10, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    I feel really sad for Pastor Winters’ family. The Lord must be saying to Pastor Fred in heaven: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

  4. Nick and Amanda Jones Posted on March 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Rob & All,
    I am not a Mark Driscoll apologist; I think his jokes are disrespectful of scripture and should not be in the pulpit (or in private language either).

    However, I would hesitate to lump him in the same category as Joel Osteen. One man denies the essentials of the faith (salvation in Christ alone), and the other uses crass language. Granted, neither are good, but they are in two different leagues.

    Calling Osteen a heretic or saying Driscoll needs to watch his language is one thing (because they’re both true!), but calling them “pathetic wimps,””not real men,” or “germs,” doesn’t really help the situation at all.

    But as to your point on pastors needing to stand up to the truth and live lives (and preach messages) that are worthy of persecution, I think you are right on. We need more men like this.

    Again, I don’t want to sound like an apologist, because I’m not. I just think many pastors are so quick to point out verbal sins like Mark Driscoll’s and be totally ignorant of their own pride and vanity, which are equal, yet more socially acceptable sins. I hope that pastors are careful that in their zeal for the purity of the church they are not actually defiling it by their own arrogance.

    nick jones

  5. Rob Posted on March 10, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Nick,

    I appreciate your comments; however, I do not believe that real men are afraid of truth and they do not ever use profanity. Weak men use profanity, school bullies use profanity, unregenerate people use profanity.

    These men ARE germs, they are infecting and influencing millions with their sermons and doing it in the name of Christ. Phil Johnson made an interesting remark of how it was unthinkable not that long ago that this type of talk would exist in the pulpit; nevermind be defended by evangelicals.

    Mark Driscoll’s jokes being “disrespectful of Scripture” and his “verbal sins” as you referred to them are VERY serious matters according to Scripture. This is beyond using some bad words. This is a man who claims the name of Christ and is using the pulpit to peddle this filth and causing many to do the same. He is in sin and he should be removed from ministry, not defended.

    Of course, I apologize to you if my comments offended you and I will be more mindful of that in the future; however, I stand by them because they are the truth. I am not afraid to tell the truth, even though sometimes the truth does hurt.

  6. Nick and Amanda Jones Posted on March 11, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Rob,
    There is no need to apologize to me; I am not offended. I hope you weren’t either.

    Again, please do not think that I’m defending Mark Driscoll or his use of sinful language. Some of the things he’s said have really upset/angered me and I do think he needs to repent. It’s true that there is no place in the pulpit for that.

    My point is simply two-fold:

    1.) Every pastor is either a sinful person, saved by grace, who is still in the process of being sanctified or he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Pastors are not perfect and do make many, many sinful mistakes. Cussing and sexual joking are bad. But so is gossip. So is pride. So is greed. So is materialism. And these, by in large, go unchecked (if not condoned) in most evangelical churches today.

    So, to lump someone who cusses in the same camp as school bullies and unregenerate people is unfair to all parties involved. Are we willing to lump a pastor who wears a thousand dollar suit and drives a fifty thousand dollar car in the same group as the greedy executives who helped cause the current financial crises? Are we calling from them to be removed from the pulpit? I hope they don’t start calling for the obese pastors to be removed for their gluttony or I’m in serious trouble!

    Perhaps at this point, we can ask ourselves three questions that can benefit us:
    1. Is the pastor in sin, but repentant?
    2. Is the pastor in sin, but not repentant?
    3. Or is he a wolf in sheep’s clothing who is denying the scriptures?

    How we answer these determines our response.

    2. But my second point is more at what I was hitting at earlier. If Ephesians 4:29 tells us to, “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear,” then we need to make sure, even our rebuking of others, to do the same.

    So if we think that someone is in need of Biblical rebuking, then we need to proceed with Galatians 6:1 in mind: Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

    Furthermore, the biblical precedent from the apostles for those who are doing horrible, sinful things is: the Lord will repay him. If we are to respond strongly, let it be that way.

    In all of this, though, there is a pastor who (from what we know) has fought the good fight and finished his race. His life has been a good testimony. We should praise God for that and encourage others to do the same. If he was a “real/strong man” it was because of the work of the Holy Spirit who was constantly at work in him, sanctifying him until his final earthly day. May He continue to do the same in us.

  7. Eddie Posted on March 11, 2009 at 2:25 am

    The other day, I was thinking about how much pastors do, and the responsibility they have before God for their ministry. Most of us are simply not gifted by the Lord to be able to serve in this way. We need to be thankful for the dear shepherds God does give to us, who work so diligently amongst us to help us all grow in the Lord.

  8. Rob Posted on March 11, 2009 at 3:15 am

    Hey Nick,

    Thanks for writing back! Perhaps my comments exploded the dynamite before you could see the fuse burning; a disadvantage of blogging when space is limited. But make no mistake, the explosion is needed.

    Maybe I should have just used Jesus’ favorite expression, “Brood of vipers!” I believe that would also be an appropiate remark for what we are dealing with. Although Jesus (and myself) would not win any points with Dale Carnegie on how to win friends and influence people. Neither one of us would fit very well into that accommodating, lovey-dovey kind of approach that doesn’t want to confront anyone about anything. But one thing is for sure, when rebuke needed to be given, Jesus gave it without hesitation.

    There were several occasions when Jesus called the Pharisees a generation of vipers, and that was about as fierce an accusation as He could utter to them. I believe there is a time and a place to say that, and it is to be said most fiercely against those who propagate a false religion as if it were the true one, because that is what damns men’s souls; the false security of a false system.

    Jesus reserved statements like this for religious false shepherds (like Osteen and Driscoll). I would encourage you to make a firm decision on what you believe Mark Driscoll to be; you can’t have it both ways. Interestingly, Jesus selects vipers because they were perhaps the most dangerous creature in the world. They were subtle and deceitful with poisonous intent. Jesus calls the Pharisees subtle killers with poisoned tongues.

    I heard a comment Spurgeon made when speaking about the heresy and false doctrine of the Roman system and the illegitimate priesthood of the Pope. He said, “War, war to the knife with her, peace there cannot be, she cannot have peace with us, we cannot have peace with her, she hates the true church, and we can only say that the hatred is reciprocated…let them be free but their doctrine we would destroy from the face of the earth as the doctrine of devils so let it perish O God and let that evil thing become as the fat of lambs into smoke let it consume, yea, into smoke let it consume. We must fight the Lord’s battles against this giant error which ever shape it takes and so must we do with every error that pollutes the church, slay it utterly let none escape, fight the Lord’s battles even though it may be an error that be in the evangelical church, yet we must smite it.”

    John MacArthur on the same subject said, “Are we going to betray the martyrs, are we going to betray the history of our faith, are we going to betray those who lived and died to get us the truth…are we so senseless, are we so blind, are we so ignorant, are we so faithless, are we so cowardly that we will not fight. The doctrinal ignorance of the evangelical church is shocking, matched only by its cowardice I fear.”

    There is error in the evangelical church. I pray the Lord will raise up more real men to fight it. Not make jokes about it, not hide from it, and not justify it.

  9. Matt Fletcher Posted on March 11, 2009 at 11:37 am

    Wow, what a dialogue! I have found the exchange between Rob and Nick to be thought-provoking and productive, to this point. But, as Rob pointed out, only so much can be conveyed through a blog site. So we’ll have to wrap this discussion up. Since Rob started the discussion, we’ll let Nick share a final response, if he so desires. Thanks for your contribution, guys (and to Eddie as well, for his own comments).

  10. Nick and Amanda Jones Posted on March 11, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Hey Rob, All,
    Maybe we can continue this discussion over lunch? I like Moe’s and Chili’s, but if we go somewhere else you’ll have to buy!

    Jesus did call them a brood of vipers. So did John the Baptist. He reserved these names for the self-righteous legalists who were too busy looking down their noses at other people’s sin that they forgot they needed grace to.

    But we know scripture does not contradict itself. Yes we see Jesus and John doing these things, but WE are given specific commands of what our speech should be like, even in the midst of judging and rebuking. That’s what my point was and is.

    Spurgeon is one of my favorite pastors, but you have to remember that while many people flocked to his church, many others (including pastors) thought his tongue was too loose and hated his humor.

    Again, I have not, do not, and will not condone Driscoll’s language in the pulpit. As I have said repeatedly, it is sin. My point is that I don’t know Mark Driscoll well enough to make a judgment on whether or not he is a false teacher. Yes he has said sinful things in the past – and repented. He’s also championed the cause of God’s sovereignty and biblical manhood and womanhood.

    So, does his unwholesome talk make him a false prophet, or just a sinning believer who needs to repent?

    At this point, without more information, I am unwilling to call him a heretic and lump him in the same group as Joel Osteen or Benny Hinn. At this point, without more information, it seems to me that he is a believer who has sin and needs to repent (just like three of the greatest preachers of the past few hundred years: Spurgeon, MacArthur, and Pastor Matt). These were/are godly, imperfect men who were/are in constant need of God’s grace.

    Our tendency so many times is to take a pastor like Spurgeon and put him on a pedestal as if he were perfect. He had major sins (so did Peter, so did Paul). But God’s grace showed itself more and more in their lives as they got older.

    This is where I think/hope Driscoll is: a man who has major sins in his life, but you see evidences of God’s grace doing a work in him. I pray it continues to do so, and increases.

  11. Matt Fletcher Posted on March 11, 2009 at 1:15 pm

    Good thoughts, Nick, although I must say: “Spurgeon, MacArthur, and Pastor Matt”?? Oh, please. Very funny. Most people would tend to lump me in with Moe, Larry, and Curly.

Leave a Reply