Untempered Morter

Dr Pierre Coovert

Ezekiel 13:1-16 is a condemnation of the preachers (prophets) in Israel. It uses the phrase “untempered morter” four times Normally when we say something is tempered we mean that it has been strengthened, usually by fire. It is often used of tools that are hardened so they will maintain a sharp edge. The usage in these verses have a slightly different meaning. The word has to do with the proper mixing of ingredients.

All though the word “morter” is added by the translators, it does shed light on what is being said in this passage. Mortar (the way we spell it today) is a mixture of lime, sand, and water used to cement stones or bricks together. If it is not mixed properly it will not hold and the wall that is built will not stand when pressure is put on it.

I think we are turning out too many preachers in America that are untempered. I think that both meanings of the word apply. We are turning out preachers that have not been tempered by the fires of life.

I once asked a Romanian pastor what he thought of American Christians. After much though he answered with one word, “shallow.” This man had been tempered by the fires of life. He had pastored ten churches in Romania under the evil communist regime. He was faithful through much persecution and you can be sure these churches were not “contemporary.”

In America it costs little to be a Christian. Things are changing. We need men who are tempered by the trials of life. This means they will have gone through some hard times in their lives and seen God work through these times of testing.

We also need to take great care in what the preachers are mixing with the precepts of God. The Bible does not change yet every new translation changes things. For example, was Jesus the only begotten Son of God or was He the one and only Son of God? If you think on this you will see there are some very serious doctrinal issues here. If Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, He is of the same nature as God and is God Himself. If Jesus is the one and only Son of God He could be adopted and be of a different nature like my aunt’s one and only son. He did not carry the same genes as my aunt because he was adopted.

Also, if Jesus is the one and only Son of God this means there are no other sons of God. This would mean that those who have received Christ are not the sons of God. Which Bible a preacher uses does make a difference because the wrong translation adds a corrupt ingredient.

Many pastors are adding the world’s methods to the mix. They are using bribes and entertainment to bring people in to their churches. They say that the methods are justified because it brings the lost under the sound of the Gospel so they can get saved. Is that what has really happened? Those of us who are old enough to remember the way it used to be done can answer with a resounding NO! A look at modern so-called Bible believing churches will see that these methods have, for the most part, only made the churches more worldly and have weakened the message preached.

I write this as a Baptist without apology. As more and more Baptist churches have sent their young preacher boys to be trained in Bible colleges and seminaries they have become more and more protestantized. Once upon a time Baptist preachers were trained by their Baptist pastor. Today, in the Bible schools, they are taught from books that are written by Protestants. This mix has weakened that stand for separation commanded by the Scriptures.

Finally there is an improper mixing of the ingredients of the Great Commission. The Commission has three parts. The first is evangelism (teaching all nations), the second is getting the converts into a good New Testament church, and the third is teaching those converts ALL things whatsoever our Lord has commanded us.

Most independent Baptist churches today have mixed in an overdose of evangelism. Don’t panic and don’t leave me now. I am not saying we shouldn’t have evangelism in the mix. What I am saying is that there is so much emphasis on reaching the lost we forget to grow the saints. Let me give you a couple of examples of what I mean.

Years ago I knew a young man who was new in the ministry. He served as an associate under the pastor of the church where he grew up. He was a good preacher, lived a separated life, and preached sound doctrine – until he was tested. One day he met a high school buddy who was having marital problems. His friend asked him to have a beer with him and discuss the problem. The young preacher had preached against alcohol many times, but how in the trial he could find no reason not to have a beer with his friend. He had been taught that alcohol was wrong, but he had not been taught why it was wrong.

There may be some of you reading this that see nothing wrong with a beer or a glass of wine from time to time. Let me tell you the end of the story. This young man is no longer in the ministry and is divorced. Satan used this to destroy a potentially great man of God. A little more teaching on why we believe and a little less pushing our people to be out winning souls may have saved this young preacher.

One more quick example of the overemphasis on evangelism. One man who came to a church where I pastored was always talking about soul winning. When he left our church for another that was more of a “soul winning” church he started bragging about how many souls his church was winning every week. The number was usually around 50 souls per week. After this had gone on for several months another man in our church who worked with him said, “Your church must really be growing.” The response from the “soul winner” was, “No, but it is only our responsibility to get them save, not to get them into church.”

I could say a lot more about both of these examples but this is enough for you to see what I mean by an overemphasis on evangelism. As important as evangelism is, true evangelism will die if the rest of the Great Commission is neglected. Emphasizing all of the Commission will result in more evangelism.

We need preachers who are tempered by the trials of life and have remained faithful through the trials. We also need preachers who have a proper mix in their ministries. They need to teach and preach the whole counsel of God rightly divided.

The bottom line is that we need preachers who are tempered themselves and build with tempered or properly mixed mortar. The Baptist preachers who stood against the Catholic Church of the dark ages and the faithful Baptist preachers who stood under the persecution of evil governments, like my Romanian friend, were properly tempered and built with proper mortar. We need to be preparing preachers with this same temper for the trials ahead.

Copyright 2017 Pierre Coovert, All rights reserved

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