Itching Ears that Hate the Truth


In one of the apostle Paul’s last letters — the one he wrote to Timothy — he gave some vitally important words of caution and warning. 2nd Timothy 4, starting at verse 2: “Preach the Word;  be instant in season, out of season;  reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine;  but after their own lusts, shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables.”

Then, he added, “But watch thou, in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

I have been working in full time ministry for nearly 20 years now. I remember when I began, I was astonished at the many churches that were no longer enduring sound doctrine.  The “seeker friendly” movement, which morphed into the “Emergent Church” movement was on a “fast track.”  Mega churches were springing up with massive buildings. So large, in fact, they call them “campuses.”  And many of these mega-churches have MULTIPLE campuses in various areas of their cities, because one building will not hold all those who want the feel-good, false “love gospel” message that is preached there.

I was saddened in those early days of this work, to see so many formerly rock solid, Bible-based, Scripturally sound churches DEvolve into nothing more than “happy fun time.”  A “feel-good experience,” where one could go and see a show, lift their hands in mock reverence to God, dance and sway, while being promised all manner of prosperity, health, wealth, and a life of abundance.  “Your BEST life NOW.”  This is just SO contradictory to everything God’s Word says about the Christian life.  Sin is no longer a word allowed to be spoken of in many churches, and if it IS spoken of, it’s only to say that once we simply say a prayer or walk an aisle (or worse yet, just raise our hand “with all eyes closed and all heads bowed”); we are “good” with God.

We can then go about our normal lives as usual.  Except now, we are told, we are assured of heaven… just because we repeated a few words and sheepishly raised our hand while no one was looking.  COME ON folks!  Talk about biblical illiteracy.  Talk about wolves in sheep’s clothing…. HIRELINGS lulling fat and happy fools into a false sense of eternal security.  This is so sad.

But you know, we cannot put all the blame on the pastors. They’re just giving the people what they want.  Look again at the Scripture from 2nd Timothy:  it says THE PEOPLE will not put up with sound doctrine any longer, and so THE PEOPLE heap up for themselves teachers to tell them what they want to hear, to soothe their itching ears.

It is the great apostasy, the great “falling away.”  And I have watched it begin as a tiny sprout many years ago, and I’ve watched it grow, blossom, flower and then re-seed itself many times over the years…  Today it is so prevalent in Christendom that one is hard-pressed to find a faithful congregation of true believers anywhere.  I guess that’s why God’s Word says there will only be a small “remnant” that stand firm to the end.

During my time in ministry, I have seen the old timers, the pastors who were faithful in teaching the WHOLE counsel of God’s Word grow older and retire from the ministry… or in many cases, be FORCED OUT of their ministry by church boards and elders — only to be replaced by somebody younger, more “hip,” more “in step” with the culture and times we are living in.  In other words, a more CARNAL “pastor.” These “cool” new pastors often use Hollywood films on their big projection TV screens to illustrate their sermons… they make off-color jokes from the pulpits.  They wear t shirts and ripped blue jeans as they speak, to appeal to the average “Joe six-pack” in the audience.  They have a “hot” worship team, complete with electric guitars, drums, smoke and mirrors and in some cases even laser light shows.  “It’s all about the EXPERIENCE,”they say.

Friends, I’m not some old fashioned stick in the mud. I’ve been around.  And I can tell you, this ain’t “church.”  At least not a biblical church.  It MAY be a “synagogue of Satan.”  But it’s not church, and it most certainly is not God-honoring. There is NO reverence for Him; no fear of God there at all.   I have seen youth leaders take their group of kids to R-rated movies as their Youth Group “activity” for the week;  I have seen pastors hold community events called a “car smash,” which apparently the kids love… they get an old car, put it in the middle of their parking lot, and let the kids destroy it with baseball bats, spray paint, and tire irons. This is their “entertainment” for the evening — a way to get kids to “come to church.”

I’ve seen pastors dress up like Hollywood movie characters, or the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus.  I’ve seen the bounce houses and carnival games and rock concerts… nowadays, they will do ANYTHING to get kids — AND ADULTS — to come to church, and KEEP coming to church… KEEP RIGHT ON filling those collection plates.  Just don’t DARE tell them what the Bible REALLY says…. are you KIDDING?  That’s MUCH too harsh.  That’s no fun.  Who would want to hear THAT?!

So when it comes to doing things of any real significance; when it comes to being SALT AND LIGHT and IMPACTING our society and culture with what our society and culture is in DESPERATE NEED OF — the TRUTH, for heaven’s sake — they are all AWOL…  oh NO!  They CAN’T “go there!”  People don’t want to hear about sin and evil, or the consequences of sin and evil in their lives.   They don’t want to be CONVICTED in their hearts.  They want to be COMFORTED and entertained.  And they call this “going to church.”  Preach the WORD?  Are you kidding?  Reprove, rebuke, exhort with all LONGSUFFERING and DOCTRINE?  WHO in the world wants THAT?!  Endure afflictions for the sake of the Gospel?  “NO, thank you.  I’ll take a large coffee, please, and if it’s not too much trouble, please make sure the service is over with by noon, because we need to get home to watch the game.”

If you want to know why our world is the way it is, it’s because professing Christians have given up.  It began at least a generation or two ago — and maybe longer.  But at some point, we stopped taking God and His Word seriously.  And the Great falling away began.  Instead of serving CHRIST and HIS KINGDOM, we began seeking after things we perceived to be “good, fun, enjoyable, entertaining.”  Instead of afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted, we BECAME the comfortable, …and we like it that way.  So as for those old time preachers who just want to preach the “hard stuff,” “hit the road, Jack, we’ve decided to go a different direction.”  Yes, indeed, they have.

Over the years I have known countless faithful men of God who have been run out of town by these congregations that no longer wish to hear the truth.  I, myself, have been “disinvited” from more churches than I can count.  But let me tell you about a friend of mine who has recently experienced this at his church in California.  His name is Pastor Justin Hoke, and he is a faithful truth-teller, a watchman on the wall.  He doesn’t allow political correctness to dictate his message.  He speaks the WHOLE counsel of God’s Word — out of love for the lost, and to inform those who profess Christ of the spiritual culture war we are SUPPOSED to be fighting— as we stand our ground against the enemy and his demons.

He recently put a message on his church sign stating common sense, simply TRUTH.   The sign read: “Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still sin.  The culture may change.  The Bible does not.”  According to a news story by, LGBT activists swarmed the church recently, claiming the sign was “hateful.”  They later vandalized the sign.  And less than a week later, Pastor Hoke made the following announcement on his Facebook page:

“As of today, I am no longer the pastor of Trinity Bible Presbyterian Church.  After much prayer and counsel, I have decided that it is best to briefly communicate what has taken place.   1)  I was informed by our other elder that he felt he could no longer follow my lead as pastor.  2)  I was informed that essentially all but one couple in membership would leave the church if I continued as pastor.  3)  Our other elder and the couple felt that those who left would likely return if I would leave.”

Pulpit And Pen commented, “Apparently, the public outrage was enough to cause discontent within the local congregation, which appears to value the opinion of men more than the Word of God.  May it not be said of us.”  I should note that this came after the pastor gave one of the most powerful sermons I’ve heard in a long time, entitled “Love Warns.”  In his sermon, Pastor Hoke noted that to “accept and affirm” what the culture embraces, but which God’s Word calls abominationis NOT to love those trapped in sin; but rather WARNING the wicked of their need for repentance and forgiveness by the shed blood of Christ is the definition of truly LOVING your neighbor.  It was an incredibly powerful message he gave.   And then he was immediately tossed out of his role as pastor.  For simply telling the TRUTH, straight from God’s Word.

I’m reminded of the prophet Jeremiah, known as the “weeping prophet,” because he wept for the nation of Israel.  God sent him to declare His Word and Truth to the people, and sound the warning regarding all their iniquities.  But the people did NOT want to hear.  Instead they demanded, “Jeremiah, tell us something GOOD for once… tell us what we want to hear!”

Let’s read just a little bit from chapter 7 as God explains things to Jeremiah:  “But this command I gave them: ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people.  And walk in all the ways that I command you, that it may be well with you.’  But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.   From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all My servants the prophets to them, day after day.  Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their necks. They did worse than their fathers.”

And so God continued, “So you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you. You shall call to them, but they will not answer you.  And you shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that did not obey the voice of the Lord their God, and did not accept discipline; truth has perished; it is cut off from their lips.”

Does that not sound like America today?  Truth has perished.  It’s DEAD!  Evil is called “good” and good is called “evil” and we LIKE it that way. And anyone who DARES defy the celebration of sodomy or speak TRUTH on this matter is virtually crucified by all — even those you would THINK would be on your side — the “church” people. Indeed, we are at a place and time now where even those who profess to be people of God will no longer endure sound doctrine.  Instead, they heap up for themselves teachers who tell them what they prefer to hear.

I can tell you, from PERSONAL experience, being a watchman on the wall puts a target on your back — for Satan to aim at, AND, sadly today, for many church-goers to aim at as well.  You WILL be persecuted for speaking truth.  It is SO SAD realizing just how many — I dare say, the VAST MAJORITY of regular church-goers today — have NO IDEA what the Scriptures actually say; nor do they have any intention of finding out, of “studying to show themselves approved.”  They would rather just attend the weekly meetings at their local “Religious Service Provider” … as long as it’s a message that makes them feel good about THEMSELVES.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “IF YOU HOLD TO MY TEACHING, you are really My disciples. THEN you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  You see, every church-goer claims to want to follow Jesus — until they find out where He’s taking them.  If the truth be told, they don’t really want Jesus, nor do they want His TRUTH.   They just want the benefits.  They just want to feel good.  But apart from Jesus you can’t even knowthe truth…  and unless you HOLDto His teaching, you are not His disciples at all.  So if you’re not serious about being His disciple, then by calling yourself a “Christian” — you are actually taking the Lord’s name in vain.  So stop it. America is in the midst of serious judgment.  We are a nation of depraved minds.  God has sent strong delusion upon our people because we refused to hear and heed His Word.

If you want to know WHY the world is in such a mess, I can tell you.  We have deserted our Heavenly Father, and shunned His Son.  America will never be great again, unless we turn back to God, — who promises if we do, THEN He will heal our hearts and our minds, and our land.  America needs Jesus.  And men and women of true faith and courage, willing to preach the Word — in season and out.  Reprove, rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering and SOUND doctrine. Unfortunately, in our world today, TRUTH sounds like HATE, because our people hate the truth…

Audio CDs and transcripts of this message are available when you call me at (715) 486-8066 or email Ask for message number 245.
By Rob Pue

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