My Church is Messed Up Doctrinally, What Should I Do?

By David J. Stewart | April 2018

       I recently received an e-mail from a faithful web visitor, who expressed his frustrations and asked me if he should stay or leave his Baptist church in Texas. ...

Dear David,

I am writing you once again for your valuable advice, I wouldn't bother you but I don't know who I can turn to in my predicament. I remember reading an article you wrote concerning "does your church have two Gospels" and I'm convinced our church does unfortunately. I have been reading your articles for many years and was able to lead myself and my wife to Christ from learning about God's way of salvation thanks to your precious website.

We took your advice and joined a Fundamental Independent Bible Believing Baptist Church and got baptized shortly after. I love the people at our Church and would never want to cause strife among the brethren but many things simply do NOT seem right. Our Missions Pastor was teaching a class that I attended to audit.. not for credit. I wanted to know what his belief on Repentance was simply to see how he would answer.. he told me it was "a change of mind that results in a change of ACTION". Huge Red Flag for me, this man has been in ministry his whole life and who am I to challenge him! I believe it is a "change of mind" but NOT necessarily "resulting in a change of action", wouldn't that add works? If salvation included a change of action that seems to open a huge can of worms when trying to lead people to Christ.

1. How much of a change?
2. What if it's only a small change?
3. What if it's a big change at first then someone backslides?
4. What if there is no change at all?
5. Is it possible for a person to come under such attack from the enemy that he is more sinful than before he was saved?
6. Shouldn't we simply trust the Holy Spirit has indwelt us and let him take care of any changes? "What I personally believe".
7. Ect..ect.. ect.. the questions become endless.

Our Senior Pastor seems to have the plan of Salvation and Repentance correct although he never preaches about the heresy of lordship salvation and wrong repentance, I'm concerned he doesn't want to offend the half or more members of our church that do buy into some variation of Lordship Salvation including some of our assistant pastors. He also has an invitation for people to come forward to be saved at the end of every service.. I never would come forward as a young adult out of shyness and not wanting attention on me. Shouldn't a good church explain the simple Gospel so people could get saved in their seats? Dr Yankee Arnold does this and it seems like the perfect thing to do! I am skeptical about giving to our missionaries simply because if the majority of our church believes Lordship salvation I wonder if our missionaries in the field might be teaching another gospel and I DO NOT want to provide support if that is the case.

Anyway, sorry for bloviating and jumping around but these are my heartfelt concerns. I have been considering leaving our church and having it at home with my family and friends. Maybe even watching Yankee Arnold as our church service through live streaming and sending tithes and missionary support his way. At least I know he would make sure the money went to support the true Gospel. Any thought sincerely appreciated.

Thank you,

Here is my lengthy response to my friend...

Hello *****,

Thank you for valuing my Christian opinion, and for your continued interest in my website ministry. I appreciate the privilege to be a part of your life for Christ.

Your present situation is all too common in these apostate times. I have been in the same situation multiple times at churches and it is indeed very frustrating. If there is one place in the world where the truth ought to be told, sanctioned and upheld, it is in a local New Testament church. I had been attending a local Baptist church for the past 2 years. Like you, it concerned me that I saw wrong repentance being taught in the religious tracts. Here is one of the churches tracts that they use, which I looked up online and refute here...

At first I only visited the church from time to time, but being a believer and desiring to be faithful to church I found myself attending more often, in lieu of my neck problems which cause constant pain. The pastor is a graduate of Ambassador Bible College run by Evangelist Ron Comfort. I asked the local pastor if he believed that Jesus' blood is on the Mercy Seat in Heaven. To my dismay he hadn't a clue. Bible college grad? Goodnight! I wanted to help the pastor on the matter of repentance, giving him the benefit of the doubt that perhaps he was just sincerely naive, rather than uncaring, hard-hearted and indifferent. SO I gave him a hardcopy of "I Never Knew You" by Michael P. Bowen. Here's an online version. I love this book, which clarifies the Gospel very well...

The pastor never got back to me. So then I gave him a CD with Dr. Max Younce's excellent 24-part MP3 sermon series titled, "SO GREAT SALVATION"...

Again, the pastor was oblivious and didn't have anything to say, as if I hadn't given him anything. I never criticized him, never tried to correct him doctrinally, I simply handed him these valuable truthful resources to help him. I finally out-right asked him what he believed on repentance, telling him that some of his tracts contained wrong repentance. Like you experienced with your present pastor, he seemed to be correct in his beliefs, but was UNWILLING to remove the bad tracts with the false teachings. He was correct that God saves us and then the Holy Spirit changes us. So I asked him why he continues to promote bad tracts? His lame excuse was that you have to turn FROM something in order to turn TO something. In other words, he is making light of the whole thing, trying to justify wrong repentance with the truth that to turn to Christ necessitates turning from something.

It is true that in order for a man to turn to God, he must turn from something. 1st Thessalonians 1:9, "For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." But we are not saved by turning from anything, we are saved by believing the Gospel; but in order to believe the Gospel, a man must turn from whatever is hindering him from doing so. It may be unbelief. It may be sin. It may be religion. It may be money. It may be pride. It may be family tradition. That is what biblical repentance is, that is, "CHANGING ONE'S MIND" from wrong thinking to believing the Gospel. So it is true that we turn to Christ by faith FROM our sins to be saved; but it is NOT true that we must turn FROM OUR SINS in order to turn to Christ. The former is the Gospel; the latter is Lordship Salvation. There is a BIG difference. The pastor that I mentioned doesn't care enough to discern that difference. Consequently, we literally have TWO different plans of salvation floating around in the churches today.

There's a terrible local Baptist church on Guam where I live, called Harvest Baptist Church. The pastors are all Bob Jones University graduates. I attended the church for a little over one year in 2013-2015. The senior pastor gave me permission to hand out tracts by Dr. Curtis Hutson; but the pastor himself promotes, praises and distributes materials by Dr. John MacArthur in the church. Anyone who knows what Dr. Hutson taught concerning salvation, and what John MacArthur teaches, FULLY KNOWS that these two preachers are WORLD'S APART in their plans of salvation. MacArthur is a staunch 5-point Calvinist; but Dr. Hutson exposes and refutes all 5-points of Calvinism. Unbelievable, and this BJU senior pastor is okay with both plans of salvation. That is what really opened my eyes to how messed up the churches are today!

The pastor is not a bad man (as far as good men go), and I love him on a personal level, but he won't have anything to do with me, not even to share with me how his adult children are doing in Wisconsin. I had become close to them while I attended the church, but despite my inquiries to their well-being and about their children, the pastor won't even talk to me beyond a shallow greeting. Phony! I pray for them often. The pastor's problem is that he is ecumenical, making a living as a profession instead of being a genuine man of God who wants to uphold the truth at all cost. A true man of God doesn't sacrifice the truth for worldly success, financial stability, popularity, peers nor any other reason. Too many men are merely pursuing the clergy as a profession, instead of a calling from God to preach the truth. Most pastors today are merely working a job, sucking a salary, making a living, and are cowards!

That is why I love Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001), because he took a stand against his peers who were guilty of doing exactly what your pastor, and my last two pastors are doing... NOTHING! They are sitting on the premises instead of standing on the promises! They are driving in the middle of the road, which according to Dr. Curtis Hutson is where all the dead skunks are! Here's one of my favorite MP3 sermons by Brother Hyles, titled, "Where Were You In The Battle?" (the sin of neutrality in the work of God!)...

Indifference is the biggest problem in the churches today. Most pastors just want to make a living, to avoid having to punch a clock in a factory for a living; so they foolishly deceive themselves to think they are being wise, ethical and promoting Christlike unity to dip their sails, compromise, go along to get along, do nothing, avoid controversies, and let their brethren go to war alone while they sit idle on the sidelines. It is disgusting! I just wrote this needful article today, featuring some very truthful words by Dr. Peter Ruckman blasting Bob Jones University's betrayal of God's Word...

You mentioned that preachers ought to give people an opportunity to get saved in the pew. YOU ARE SO RIGHT my friend! One of my mentors and a cherished preacher is Pastor Max D. Younce (now 87 years old), who wrote an entire book on this very subject, titled, "SALVATION AND THE PUBLIC INVITATION." You will love this book! ...

You are not bothering me one bit David, that is why I am here, to feed God's sheep. This is what I do, and a grand opportunity it is for me. Thank you for letting me help you in the Lord!

You are very correct in your discernment of the heresy of having to "change" as evidence of salvation. If a person must change, it opens up a Pandora's Box, a can of worms, a very large gray area. How much sin is allowable before a person is no longer saved? How does a person know when they have crossed the line? I have literally received e-mails from people who were contemplating suicide, such as one man from New Zealand, because of Ray Comfort's lies that a person cannot be saved and still continue in deliberate sin. Ray teaches this heresy openly in his horrible The Evidence Bible, of which I have a hard copy. Mr. Comfort has been deceived by John MacArthur, as has Paul Washer and Kirk Cameron. Listen to what Ray Comfort tells this poor confused woman...

What a horrible man!

Check this out, "Pay Of The Master!" ...

Ray rakes in about $2,000,000 a year!!! It is disgusting. Satan blesses false prophets!

I LOVE Pastor Ralph "Yankee" Arnold. What a beautiful preacher! This is one of my favorite MP3 sermons by Dr. Arnold, called, "CAUGHT BETWEEN GRACE AND WORKS!"...

That sermon hits the nail on the head. Many preacher started off believing correctly, but were led astray by internet, radio and TV preachers like MacArthur, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Pat Robertson, Todd White, Billy Graham, Melissa Scott and Ray Comfort (to name a few). Preachers get caught between grace and works, like your pastor now. I understand your reluctance to tithe, which was one of the bog problems I had. I cannot attend a church without tithing, it goes against everything I believe; but I cannot tithe to a church that is wrong on the Word of God and the Gospel.

As far as what to do in your present situation. First, I would openly talk with your pastor about your concerns and offer him some helps, like "I Never Knew You" by Michael Bowen. If he is arrogant and proud, then he is subverted of himself, and double accountable to God. In rare cases, he might repent and come over to the side of truth. If he won't listen, you have done all you can do. It is unethical to cause trouble in another man's ministry, which is why I left the last two Baptist churches reluctantly. God must deal with stubborn pastors, and HE WILL!!! If the pastor won't budge, then I would look for a different local New Testament church. I prefer independent fundamental Baptist churches but this is NOT a must. Pastor Ralph "Yankee" Arnold's church is non-denominational, Calvary Community Church in Tampa, Florida. Billy Sunday was a Presbyterian, although Presbyterian churches today have embraced queer marriages. ...

You couldn't make this shocking stuff up! I get innumerable e-mails from believers, who are frustrated because they cannot find a good church in their area. I tell them to try to gently and respectfully talk to their pastor, first. Second, look for another church if he doesn't care. Third, if you cannot find something better, stay put for now until you find something else. We all need fellowship with other believers. So I would bite your tongue, be patient, pray for the pastor and his family, and bide your time until you can find something better, BUT ONLY IF YOU ARE SPIRITUALLY GROWING in the church. I would toss $5 in the offering plate, but not give large amounts of money. I was growing at Harvest Baptist Church. I tithed. I gave to missionaries. In hindsight I regret leaving, as messed up as the church still is today. I wish I had just kept quiet, for my own benefit, and TOOK THE GOOD AND LEFT THE BAD. That's the key!!!

David, I have seen families fall apart and end in divorce and ruin, because when we get out of church, we lose focus. For this important reason, it is better to attend a messed-up church than no church. I do teach web visitors not to attend a church that uses TWO different Bible versions, BUT that is only if you have a better place to go. So I would advise you to stay in your church unless you can find something better. Love your pastor with a pure heart and don't be a burden to him. Here is a helpful listing of over 9,000 independent Baptist churches. Not all of these are good, but they are churches...

The first church I faithfully attended, Harvest Baptist Church, kicked me out, but I didn't force the issue and actually force them to remove me, which they would have quickly, I left willingly in uncontrollable tears with a broken heart. I know God is proud of me for taking a stand for THE TRUTH!

Here's the full story if you'd like to read it...

I hope some of this can be of help to you my dear brother.

God bless and have a good day,

It is my privilege to help others navigate through the minefields of heresy to find the blessed truth of God's Word. If you are in a less than perfect church, STAY THERE until you can find something better. We all need a church family. Have a servant's heart, looking for ways to be a blessing to others in the church. Take the good and leave the bad. Pray for your pastor and his family. Albeit, if the Gospel is being grossly perverted, you should leave, because it is no longer a biblical church.

Albeit, please keep in kind that there are NO PERFECT CHURCHES! There are NO PERFECT PASTORS! There are NO PERFECT CHRISTIANS! Praise God, we do have a PERFECT KING JAMES BIBLE! We do have a PERFECT HOLY SPIRIT. We do have a PERFECT SAVIOR! Please read Dr. Jack Hyles' excellent book, “THE CHURCH,” so you'll understand the purpose of going to church.

“Now you say, 'Brother Hyles, you make an issue.' You dead sure better know I'll make an issue!” —BATTLE OF THE AGES (MP3, Dr. Jack Hyles, “The King James Bible crowd is going to come out on top!”)

Souls Are Dying!

Precious Christian Testimonies

How Permanent Is Your Salvation?
(an excellent MP3 sermon by Pastor Hank Lindstrom, 1940-2008)

“The mark of the child of God is that he loves everybody!”
(a quote from Pastor Jack Hyles' classic MP3 sermon, “FORGIVENESS”)

Ye Must Be Born Again! | You Need HIS Righteousness!