Protestant Reformation

Are Those Who Want to Be Under the Authority of Scripture Alone 'Fat Lazy Christians'?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
Much of the postmodern church is adopting this reprobate state of mind.

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

Part three of a series. Read part two.

A leading megachurch pastor calls those who want to go back to the authority of the Word of God alone "fat lazy Christians." Much of the postmodern church is adopting this reprobate state of mind. But the greatest thing that stands out about the Protestant Reformers is that they were men who went back to the Bible, and led their people back to Scripture. They said, "Nothing matters but this."

October 2022 - A growing number of "woke" pastors echo the words of megachurch leader Steven Furtick: "If you want to be fed God's Word or have the Bible explained to you then you are a fat lazy Christian." God has given much of the so-called church over to this reprobate state of mind. Authentic Christians, in contrast, will relentlessly pursue the unique knowledge to be found in God's Word alone.

The Christian's Superior Knowledge

In Colossians chapter one, the Apostle Paul declares that the key to living a godly life in the midst of a pagan world - and even paganism in the visible church - is to "be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (verse 10) and to "walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God" (verse 11).

Such knowledge is, in the original Greek of the New Testament, not merely gnosis (the general knowledge that the world apart from Christ possesses) but epignosis - the superior knowledge that is accessible only to the Spirit-regenerated believer, who now has that same Spirit, the illuminating Author of the self-interpreting Scriptures, living within.

How is this knowledge superior to the world's? First and foremost, the Christian's knowledge is unique. It is entirely different from the world's knowledge. It has an entirely different basis.

The Christian's knowledge is not the speculative knowledge of human philosophers or the mystical knowledge of false religions - even the false knowledge that is taught by counterfeit versions of Christianity. Epignosis signifies superior knowledge - precise and correct knowledge; real knowledge; true knowledge; confirmed knowledge; tested knowledge; knowledge that conveys understanding, not merely the accumulation of facts without a true understanding of the significance of those facts.

Romans 1:28 tells us that in contrast to this, unbelievers do not even like to retain God in their knowledge. The sense of the original Greek is that the unbelieving mind has tested God against the false standard of human wisdom, and the human mind has declared that it rejects God. Unregenerated man says, "The God of the Bible does not meet my intellectual standards." What the unregenerated man really means is, "The God of the Bible makes demands of me to which I will not submit." And so, in that same verse in Romans, Paul says that God has given unbelievers over to a reprobate mind. In the original language, the sense is that God has given them over to the control of a mind that would not even meet the test of measuring up to the purpose for which a mind was meant.

Someone once said that a mind is a terrible thing to waste, and that is exactly what the unbeliever does by rejecting God. Our minds, our thinking, were meant to glorify God and to seek to know Him. But the sinful mind rejects God, and goes after anything and everything else that calls itself wisdom, rather than seeking after the true wisdom that is found in the knowledge of God and His Son Jesus Christ.

The Effects of Ignorance in Society and the Visible Church

We see this in society at large today. The epignosis of God and of Christ is rejected. The very idea of precise and correct knowledge is rejected. The knowledge of the basic fact that 2 + 2 = 4 is rooted in a knowledge of the facts that God created an orderly universe in which He has established laws and principles for its operation, and that Jesus Christ is the One who by His almighty power holds the universe together. "In Him all things consist" (Colossians 1:17); He is "upholding all things by the word of His power" (Hebrews 1:3).

Today's society rejects these facts more vehemently than ever. Children are now taught "woke" mathematics in school - that 2 + 2 does not necessarily equal 4, that "fuzzy" answers are acceptable, and that the very idea of 2 + 2 = 4 is to be rejected as a symbol of so-called white privilege, homophobia, and a long and growing list of other alleged evils that godless leftists continually devise as assaults upon the very idea of society and government based on Biblical precepts.

We also see it in the so-called church today. Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and a product of the Southern Baptist Convention's seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, summed up the attitude of growing numbers of post-Evangelical pastors when he said this to his congregation:

We don't teach from books of the Bible because it gets in the way of evangelism. We don't offer different kinds of Bible studies because it gets in the way of evangelism. We don't teach doctrine because it gets in the way of evangelism. If you want to be fed God's Word or have the Bible explained to you then you are a fat lazy Christian and you need to shut up and get to work or you need to leave this church because we only do evangelism. [1]

"Evangelism" in Furtick's vocabulary is nothing but raw numerical growth based on psychological self-improvement preaching, and has nothing to do with regeneration by the Holy Spirit. He also tells his people, "If you know Jesus, I am sorry to break it to you, this church is not for you." Such a man, arrogantly promoting Biblical illiteracy, knows nothing of genuine evangelism or the genuine Jesus, and is disqualified for the ministry.

It is men like this who are deliberately cultivating the environment in which self-described Evangelicals reject the essentials of the Christian faith and the superior knowledge of Christ. Furtick's congregation of people who "love to have it so" numbers over 20,000. That number is multiplied by millions in similarly-darkened "Evangelical" churches across America and the rest of the world. Furtick, among others of similar mind, is a celebrity and hero in the post-Evangelical Hillsong Church movement based in Australia, which reaches into the United Kingdom, most nations of continental Europe, several nations in South America and Africa, and now also the United States. Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and other agents of unbelief borne of Biblical illiteracy have their own worldwide followings in the tens and even hundreds of millions.

Authentic Christianity In Contrast

Authentic Christians must reject all such efforts to keep them in the inferior knowledge of the unbelieving world, and pursue the superior knowledge that is to be found in God's Word alone.

A church will only be a body of truly regenerated people who understand and practice sound doctrine, if it is a Scripture-driven church. A Scripture-driven church pursues a walk that is worthy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its pastor seeks to lead the people in "growing into" the vast knowledge of Christ so that they may be equipped to walk that walk. The Bible must be its exclusive source of doctrine - its sole authority, and infallible critic, in every area of life and ministry. Christ must be the undisputed Head of the church. He must be the only One whom men and churches follow. All illegitimate authorities must be rejected and removed.

True believers must pray for revival, beginning with the Holy Spirit's changing of their own hearts. They must come out of, and be separate from, local and denominational bodies and other ecclesiastical associations that are "Evangelical" in name only, but no longer truly committed to Christ and His Word.

"Men of Granite!"

In the first two articles of this series we have quoted Martyn Lloyd-Jones remarked of sixty years ago on these issues in his address, Remembering the Reformation.[2] It is noteworthy that he also focused a bright light upon the character of the Protestant Reformers - and its source:

Here are men worthy of the name! Heroic, big men, men of granite!...In an age of pygmies such as this, it is a good thing to read about great were giants in the land, able men, men of gigantic intellect, men on a big scale in the realm of mind and logic and reason. Then look at their zeal, look at their courage! I frankly am an admirer of a man who can make a queen tremble! [He refers, of course, to John Knox.]

These are the things that strike us at once about these men. But then I suppose that the most notable thing of all was the fact of the burning conviction that dwelt within them; this is what made them the men they were.

"Nothing Matters But This"

But then he went to the heart of the matter, the greatest of their convictions:

What were these convictions? We have already been referred to some of them; let me add some others. What did these men believe? What did they teach? What were their characteristics? Here is the first, obviously: their belief in the authority of this Book. The pre-Reformation church was moribund and asleep under a scholastic philosophy that displayed great cleverness, with intellectual and critical acumen. But it was all in the clouds and dealt with vague generalities and concepts, while the people were kept in utter ignorance. The men who did the teaching and the lecturing argued about philosophic concepts, comparing this view with that, and indulging in refinements and minutiae. But, in contrast, the great thing that stands out about the Reformers was that they were men who went back to the Bible. They said, nothing matters but this.

For this generation, in which the Evangelical church is falling into the grip of a strange mixture of postmodern intellectualism, secular humanism, medieval mysticism, and perspectivalist love of paradox, Dr. Lloyd-Jones' next words are a searing indictment of the church's departure from the Bible, and a call to "move forward by going back" -

This, they said, is the Word of God in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, this is not theory, supposition, or speculation, this, is the living God speaking to men: He gave His Word to the prophets, they wrote it; He gave it to the apostles, they recorded it; and here it is for us. Here we have something which is in a category of its own, the living Word of God speaking to men about Himself, about men, about the only way they can come together and live together. They stood for the authority of the Bible, not for scholastic philosophy.

You see, my friends, the importance of looking back at the Reformation. Is not this the greatest need at the present time, to come back to this Word of God? Is this authoritative or is it not? Am I in any position to stand above this Book, and look down at it and say, That is not true, this or that must come out? ls my mind, is my twentieth-century knowledge the ultimate judge and decider as to the veracity of this teaching? It is since the time, [a hundred and fifty] years ago, when that notion began to creep in, that the church has been going down. But the Reformers based everything upon this Book as the Word of God to man, which they were not to judge but to preach.

And you and I have got to return to this. There can be no health, there can be no authority in the church, until she comes back to this basic authority. It is idle to talk about this as the Word of God in a sense which still allows you and me to decide that certain things in it are not true! The Book hangs together, the Lord Jesus Christ declared the Old Testament. After His resurrection, He took His disciples through the books of Moses and the Psalms and the prophets. He says, I am there, let Me show you Myself there. Read them, why have you not understood them? Why have you not believed all that the prophets have written? That was their trouble, it has always been the trouble of the church in periods of declension, and we must come back to the Protestant Reformers' position and recognize that we have no authority apart from the authority of this Word of God.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones next asked, "What is the greatest Reformational battle of our time?" - and we find that it was also one of the key battles of the 16th century Reformation. We shall take up this question in our next article.

Next: The Greatest Reformational Battle of Our Time


1. As quoted at and a number of other sources.

2. Quotations in this article are from D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "Remembering the Reformation" in Knowing the Times: Addresses Delivered on Various Occasions, 1942-1977 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth. 1989).



Copyright 1998-2023


All rights reserved. This article may be reproduced in its entirety only,
for non-commercial purposes, provided that this copyright notice is included.

We also suggest that you include a direct hyperlink to this article
for the convenience of your readers.

Copyright 1998-2023 TeachingTheWord Ministries