By Femi Aribisala
THE bus was going from Lagos to Benin and it was waylaid by highway robbers. They got on the bus brandishing automatic weapons. “This is a stick up,” declared the leader of the gang in a menacing tone designed for maximum effect. “Is there anybody here who has been paying his tithes? If you have been paying your tithes raise your hand.”
A few passengers raised their hands sheepishly. He told those who did to move to one side. Then he declared: “Those of you who have not been paying your tithes are thieves and robbers. You have been robbing God. Therefore, we are going to rob you.” The robbers then carted away the money and other valuables of those passengers who had not been paying their tithes.
Forgers of lies
You might not have heard this story before. But, in all probability, you might have heard a similar version of it. Different versions are common in the churches. Those who tell it insist it really happened. But every time you hear such stories know for a fact they are fiction. They are no more than the figments of the imagination of money-grubbing pastors.
You need to know that we pastors specialise in telling lies in order to “encourage” people to come to our church, stay in our church, and give us more and more money. That is why, as in the “parable” above, we even go as far as to use a thief to preach our own gospel. But only a thief would employ a thief to teach the way of righteousness.
Jesus warns believers to be wary of thieves and robbers. He says: “I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.” (John 10:7-8). Who precisely are the thieves and robbers of whom Jesus speaks? Is he talking about men who mug us in the streets? Is he talking about highway robbers who snatch our cars? Is he talking about those fraudulent “yahoo thieves” who rob us blind with a keystroke of the computer on the internet? Or is he talking about those who break into our houses in the dead of night?
Listen and understand. The thieves and robbers that are of primary concern to Jesus are the pastors of our churches. Jesus’ message is that pastors and other so-called “men of God” are thieves and robbers. According to him, we pastors have turned our churches into dens of thieves.
Jesus says: “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” (Mark 11:17).
In the Old Testament, when God speaks of pastors, it is in condemnation. He declares: “Woe to the pastors who feed themselves instead of their flocks. Shouldn’t pastors feed the sheep? You eat the best food and wear the finest clothes, but you let your flocks starve.” (Ezekiel 34:2-3).
How does God intend to remedy this situation? Solomon says we should be wary of a situation where God is said to lead his people through more than ONE PASTOR: “The words of the wise are like prodding goads, and firmly fixed in the mind like nails are the collected sayings which are given as proceeding from ONE PASTOR. But about going further than the words given by ONE PASTOR, my son, be warned.” (Ecclesiastes 12:11-12).
Accordingly, God proclaims the summary dismissal of all pastors to be replaced by one solitary true and faithful Pastor. He says: “I will establish ONE PASTOR over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their pastor.
And I, the LORD, will be their God.” (Ezekiel 34:23-24). He repeats this again: “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have ONE PASTOR.” (Ezekiel 37:24).
That one true pastor is none other than Jesus. Jesus says: “I am the good pastor; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own. As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock and ONE PASTOR.” (John 10:14-16).
This means those of us still parading ourselves as pastors today are, without exception, impostors and frauds. There is only ONE PASTOR in the church of God and it is Jesus.
David says men gave gifts to the Lord: “When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you RECEIVED gifts from men. (Psalm 68:18). But Paul changes this to say men received gifts from the Lord: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and GAVE gifts to men.’”
(Ephesians 4:8). He then uses this deliberate distortion as the basis for creating the unauthorised post of pastors in churches. (Ephesians 4:11). Jesus says: “He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1).
A thief broke into a man’s house and held him at gunpoint. After collecting as much of his valuables as he could, he asked the house-owner a question on his departure: “Have you given your life to Christ?” The miserable house-owner replied in the negative.
“I don’t believe in God,” he said. The armed robber became concerned about the man’s salvation. So he sat back down and decided to have an extensive chat with him. For the next one hour, he preached to him as persuasively as he could, “the gospel of salvation.” Then he left with the man’s belongings.
Do you think the house-owner became a Christian? If he did, what kind of Christian do you suppose he became? Think this through with me. What kind of righteousness can one expect to learn from a thief? Thus, Hosea says: “The priests are like a gang of robbers who wait in ambush for a man.
Even on the road to the holy place at Shechem they commit murder. And they do all this evil deliberately!” (Hosea 6:9). Today, there are even gangs of Catholic priests raping young boys.
The pastor was fed up. He had watched with dismay the brazen manner in which the senior area-pastor converted church funds to his personal use. Finally, he confronted him and told him, in no uncertain terms, that he would no longer countersign any cheques with him.
The area-pastor responded in a most unusual manner. He scheduled a meeting of all pastors and church-workers under him. Then he pointedly challenged the pastor to repeat publicly what he had dared to say to him in private.
However, the junior pastor refused to be intimidated. In the presence of everyone, he detailed chapter-and-verse the area-pastor’s expropriation of church funds. He revealed, in particular, his diversion of $30,000 to his daughter’s wedding in the United States. As a result, he insisted again, he would no longer countersign any cheques with him.
The other church-members present were aghast. “What’s going on?” they demanded. “What kind of church is this?” The area pastor was completely taken off-guard. This was not what he intended. He quickly decided on a change of strategy. He begged the people at the meeting to pray for him. “I am only a man,” he pleaded.
Isaiah says: “They are as greedy as dogs, never satisfied; they are stupid pastors who only look after their own interest, each trying to get as much as he can for himself from every possible source.” (Isaiah 56:11).