“Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
Date: 14th Feb 2014
Are you, the reader, still not convinced about the error in Greg’s preaching? Regardless of whether you like Greg or not, which is irrelevant, do you objectively think that his preaching has always been faithful to God’s Word? Let me give you another clear and simple example to let you judge for yourself. Do you remember the “Happy Family” series of three sermons that Greg preached about how to have a ‘happy’ family?
1: Happy Husbands, Happy Home
2: Happy Wife, Happy Life
3: Happy Children, Happy House
Sounds good, right? But what kind of gospel is this ‘happiness gospel’ that Greg brings to us? What source is it based on? It’s certainly not from God’s Word, for the Bible gives no such formulas for a happy life. “Because it is written, Be holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), not “Be happy; for I am happy.” Greg’s idea of happiness sounds like the kind of aspirational, worldly ideal promoted by self-appointed success gurus, motivational speakers, and authors of best-selling self-improvement books that appeal so much to the mass public. In fact, I’d rather listen to the charismatic Dalai Lama than to Greg talk about happiness. Honouring God and living holy lives are the main purposes of a Christian’s life, not finding happiness and prosperity in this world.
“But seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)
What has Christian living got to do with happiness? Joy, rejoicing, delight in the Lord yes, but not happiness. In fact, quite the opposite of happiness is assured for the true Christian in 2 Timothy 3:12:- “Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”
The problem for Greg is that he equates spiritual joy with emotional happiness. He should rather be speaking before a secular audience, who would be much more agreeable to his TV-ad concept of happiness, than preaching to us, Christ’s Church. Joy is a state of being that is derived from the hope that we have in Christ; happiness is an emotional response and a temporal outcome of immediate circumstances. Happiness is elusive because we cannot control our circumstances or the way in which our brain spontaneously reacts to stimuli. In fact, anyone who has lived long enough will realise from experience that complete or continuous happiness is an illusion and that it is a mere collection of brief ‘happy moments’ that we can realistically describe as being a ‘happy’ period of our lives. This is all secular psychology, which Greg is no doubt aware of, yet he insists on carrying on with his equivocation on the word ‘joy’ and its incorrect substitution with ‘happiness’ in Christian life. Why would a pastor preach on how to be happy? Possibly because he wants to tell the people what he suspects they want to hear, like the preachers the Apostle Paul warned about in 2 Timothy 4:3 :- “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound teachings. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
Let’s check Greg’s logic once again. If someone is unhappy, is that a sign of ungodly living? Or does Greg not care if we live godly lives as long as we appear to be happy? Greg may imagine that a Christian family should be like The Brady Bunch: picture-perfect and sound-bite optimised. But where is God in that picture? It’s the world that promises superfluous happiness in our material existence. We don’t need a pastor to tell us how to be happy; we’ve got the media and Hollywood to tell us that.
What concerns us as Christians is what God’s Word says about this topic, including what it says about those who are not happy. We need to understand the clear distinction between joy and happiness, for one can be joyful and rejoice even in sorrow.
“But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13)
“Be not therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God.” (2 Timothy 1:8)
“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:3-4)
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed.” (1 Peter 3:14)
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” (James 1:2-3)
In his “Happy Wife, Happy Life” sermon Greg preached that husbands should ensure their wives were happy by providing them everything they need, which was incorrect in terms of its basic premise. A husband must indeed provide for a wife’s necessities, but that will never lead to a ‘happy’ married life. The Christian husband’s primary role is to ensure that his wife grows spiritually in the Word, and having her needs satisfied does not make a wife ‘happy.’ Rather, joy can only come from living by faith and in loving submissiveness, in the biblical sense, to her husband.
Far more perniciously, in “Happy Husbands, Happy Home” Greg stated that the three most important things in a man’s life were:
That’s right, sex in the top three! With what authority does Greg claim to know what the three most important things are to any (married) man? Certainly, God didn’t say that, Greg said it. Was that based on another one of his statistical surveys? More likely it came from Greg’s distorted priorities and his misunderstanding of what marriage ought to be about. Here was a minister of the Word preaching that one of the three main elements at the foundation of a marriage is satisfying a man’s sexual urge. Here was a pastor of the Church saying that men who don’t have the gift of living celibate lives dedicated exclusively to the Lord’s service can only be ‘happy’ if they get from their wives the same three things our common pets value most after food. What about love above everything else? What about faithfulness, sacrifice, trust, reassurance, inspiration, tolerance, understanding, commitment, stability, spiritual strength, complementariness, etc.?
While deep underneath Greg’s sermon it’s possible to make the argument that a husband and a wife have unique roles and obligations to perform, Greg’s message and the way it was presented are incorrect and open the door to justifying adulterous behaviour. Error remains error, even if you sprinkle some truth in it. Let us consider what the foundation of a godly Christian marriage should be. Should the profound, intimate connection between a man and a woman be a primal sexual function or should it be part of an all-encompassing loving relationship? Love and sex need not be mutually exclusive, but the marriage that is founded on love will stand the test of time even if sex is missing in it. It’s amazing that at Greg’s age and as a ‘shepherd’ of the church he is still not aware that strong marriages are founded on sacrificial love and not sex. What happens if the wife falls sick for a prolonged period or for whatever cause becomes incapable of sexual intimacy? Should the marriage crumble and fall apart because the husband is a carnal man with his needs unfulfilled?!!! Or would the husband in that situation have a license to fornicate by fulfilling those needs outside the marriage?!!! Greg erroneously pursued this point by illustrating a “sobering story,” a scenario that, according to Greg, is very common. A man who is not getting the respect and the attention he expects from his wife may become “friendly” with a female co-worker and, in the course of “innocently” going for coffee, may feel the need to confide in her about his marriage troubles, in particular the fact that his wife thinks he is “useless.” The female colleague, in response, will praise him and comfort him, thus fulfilling the man’s need for respect and companionship. This will be followed at some point by a discussion about the absence of sex in his marriage and his new companion’s willingness to also satisfy this third, unfulfilled need. An absurd illustration of premeditated adultery, for what man would toy with temptation in a way that can so easily lead to giving in and falling in sin if he were not willing to act with wrongful intent from the outset? Greg’s message, then, is that adultery is the inevitable result of a wife not gratifying her husband sexually. In other words, it’s the wife’s fault for not knowing her place and fulfilling her marital obligation.
I wonder whose marriage Greg was describing. Greg was preaching his own gospel while claiming to be based on the biblical characterisation of marriage in Ephesians 5. Obviously, the Bible does not legitimise adultery regardless of a man’s circumstances. It is, however, straightforward to draw from Greg’s message that both past and future adulterous behaviour could be excused if a man convinces himself that his needs were not fulfilled at home, so he had no choice but to go elsewhere.
Ephesians 5:22-33 says:-
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Saviour of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church… 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Love is meant to be the foundation that God intended for every marriage and every home. It has always been Satan who wants to distort this foundation that God established for marriage and the family unit and it’s Satan who tries to replace God’s values with selfish sensual needs and instant gratification. The husband in the Ephesians 5 passage is asked to love his wife as he loves himself and as Christ loved His Church, for which he died. The comparison is with the sacrificial love of Christ for the Church. If a man loves his wife as he loves himself, should he hurt the person he loves as much as he loves himself and sin against God and against her and indeed against himself by committing adultery? That’s not love, that’s just lust and selfishness acting out. Yet Greg did not condemn it; instead, he legitimised it by implying that a man’s selfish desire is always stronger than his love and his capacity to control his urges and by removing guilt from the scene. What if not our conscience powered by the Holy Spirit in us to discern right from wrong separates us from animals? “Oh, this happens far too often,” said Greg … How does he know that? And even if it is true, it is what happens in the world, but children of God are called to have a higher standard of behaviour that rises above the circumstances to curb our carnal nature. So, if Greg is talking about the godless man in a godless everyday world, then why on earth is he preaching to God’s people to whom such an example is not relevant? And if his example is from a ‘Christian’ marriage, what kind of Christianity is exemplified with a story like that?! Either way, his logic and his godly character are once again questionable.
Greg’s “sobering scenario” is poison for any marriage. He justified the actions of all the men who have used or would use the same satanic argument that he preached from the pulpit to cheat on their wives. A pastor should be encouraging husbands to love their wives even in difficult situations; to love in the same way as Christ loved and died for the Church while we were sinners and undeserving of His sacrifice. He should be searching in the whole of Scripture for answers to the difficult questions about marriage. The Bible sets out clearly the equal conjugal obligation that husband and wife have to each other, not just the wife to the husband, as Greg preached, in
1 Corinthians 7:3-5, “Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife has not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband has not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Deny not one another, except it be with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your lack of self-control.”
So, it follows that, if there are problems in the marriage that cause husband and wife to be separated and to have emotional and physical barriers between them, it is a loving husband who works on resolving the cause of such problems so that they may come together again. I would ask Greg to remember his wedding vows in the presence of God and of men: “In sickness and in health, in good times and in bad times…” It is not acceptable to take the easy way out and intentionally seek out an opportunity to be tempted by approaching another woman and ‘whining’ to her about his marital issues. Why would a man do such a thing? In part, he might do so to get some sort of consolation from this other person, whereas he should seek in prayer the comforting of the Holy Spirit, the comforter that Christ promised. But even so, why choose a woman to confide in and not a close, male friend or family member? Evidently, because he has adultery as a motive, there can be no other reason. So, there is absolutely nothing “innocent” about such a state of affairs (pun fully intended). It isn’t something that just happens and far too often, as Greg suggested. It is fully intentional, conscious, premeditated adultery because of unbelief, which leads to sin. Such a man as the one in Greg’s story cannot call himself a Christian, for he is demonstrating a willingness to act out what he knows to be sinful and in contradiction to God’s Word. So again, I ask, who is Greg exemplifying and who is his message intended for? Is the man in his story the type of man he expects to be a member of our congregation at Moonee Ponds Baptist Church? If that were so, then we would have become a church of heathens and unbelievers! But the Church is not made up of such people as are in the world, the unsaved. The preaching we hear is supposed to be the gospel of Christ crucified, which is intended for the saints, for “those who are called,” as 1 Corinthians 1:24 states. Greg is preaching both the wrong message and to the wrong people.
Ephesians 5 also says: 5 “For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not become partners with them; 8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.”
Greg’s “sobering scenario” is from the pit of hell. Such scenarios would never play out in a true believer’s marriage and Greg as a pastor should be guarding the church against thinking that such things would easily happen to anyone, soundly admonishing the men based on the Word of God. Greg’s distorted “theology” is the one that Satan has been using since the creation of mankind to destroy the family unit, but God loves and protects the family. Greg was teaching that if the wife at any time does not meet the sexual needs of her husband, the only outcome will be that the husband will commit adultery and destroy the marriage – a “sobering” warning to all wives!
Ephesians 5:3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”
Even when we as Christians come under temptation, God provides an escape from sin:
1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Greg’s message undermines the love and sovereignty of God for His children. When he preaches such things, one has to not only question his calling to be a pastor but, based on the following verses, even his conversion becomes suspect.
2 Pet. 2:18, “For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.”
Jude 1:4, “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”
In Corinthians 6:9-10, the apostle Paul lists some sins that, if continued in without confession and repentance, will prevent the one who commits them from entering God’s kingdom:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Included in this list is the sin of adultery. This further emphasises how seriously God views this sin. God always knew the devastating effects adultery had on individuals and families, and He wanted to protect us from that evil and the heartbreak and destruction it causes. God still feels the same way today, for He “is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
You can read more about this topic in the following resource: