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Discussion Forum : Articles and Sermons : The Preachers Whom I Respect and Follow by Zac Poonen

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Joined: 2002/12/11
Posts: 37921
"Pilgrim and Sojourner." - 1 Peter 2:11

 The Preachers Whom I Respect and Follow by Zac Poonen

Jesus said, “Follow Me” (Luke 9:23)

Paul said “Follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Cor.11:1, Phil.3:17)

In those words of the apostle Paul, we see what the Holy Spirit expects every godly preacher to be able to say to all those to whom he preaches.

Many preachers say, “Don’t follow me, but follow Christ”. That sounds very humble. But it is only an excuse to cover up their defeated life; and it is totally contrary to the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

The only preachers I respect and follow are those who can say, “Follow me, as I follow Christ”. But sad to say, such preachers are rare in our day.

Before Paul’s conversion, he was a total failure. Yet God changed him and made him a great example for others to follow, even though he was not perfect (See Phil.3:12-14). (Even the best Christian in the world is not perfect but only pressing on to perfection.)

So, even if you have been a total failure in the past, God can still make you an example for others to follow.

There are seven characteristics that I look for primarily, in a preacher, before I can respect him and follow him as an example:

1. He must be a humble, approachable man. Jesus was humble and approachable (Matt.11: 29). People could approach Him anywhere and at any time. A Nicodemus could visit Him in His home at midnight; and anyone could talk to Jesus at any time in public places. Jesus’ humility made Him eager to preach the gospel to the poor (as we read in Luke 4:18). Paul was a humble man who was quick to acknowledge his mistakes and apologize for them immediately (Acts 23:1-5). I will follow only such preachers who make no distinction between the rich and the poor, who have no “superior airs” about them, who are quick to apologize for their mistakes, and who always remain as ordinary brothers.

2. He must be one who never asks anyone for money – either for himself or for his ministry – and who has a simple life-style. If he does receive any freely-offered gifts (like Paul occasionally did – Phil.4:16-18) he will receive them only from people who are wealthier than him – and never from anyone poorer than him. Jesus never asked anyone for money either for Himself or for His ministry. And He received gifts only from those who were wealthier than Him (Luke 8:3). Jesus and Paul had simple lifestyles. I will follow only those preachers who have this same attitude that Jesus and Paul had, towards money and material things.

3. He must have a testimony as a godly man. He must be known as a godly, upright man who has a passion for holiness – one who does not seek his own in anything, who controls his tongue (James 1:26; Eph.4:26-31), is merciful to those who fail and who never boasts about his praying, his fasting or his giving (Matt.6:1-18). He must also have a testimony of total purity towards all women – young and old (1 Tim.5:2). I will follow only those preachers who have such an aroma of godliness in their lives.

4. He should have brought up his children in a godly way. His children should be following him as he follows Christ. The Holy Spirit says that no-one can be a leader in a church, if he has not first led his own children to godliness (1 Tim.3:4,5; Tit.1:6). Our children know us better than others, because they see us all the time at home. And if they see us living in a godly way at home, they too will follow the Lord wholeheartedly. I will follow only those preachers who have brought up their children to be godly and humble and respectful to all people.

5. He must be one who preaches the whole counsel of God fearlessly. He should proclaim everything written in the New Testament – every commandment and every promise – without seeking to please any man (Acts 20:27; Gal.1:10). If he is truly anointed with the Holy Spirit continuously, then, like Jesus and Paul, his messages will always be challenging and encouraging. I will follow only such preachers – in whom I sense the anointing of God when they speak.

6. He should have a passion to build local churches as expressions of Christ’s Body. Jesus came to earth not only to save people from all sin, but also to build His church – as a Body that would manifest His life (Matt.16:18). Paul’s passion therefore was to plant local churches like that everywhere, that would function as Christ’s Body (Eph.4:15,16). And he worked hard towards that end (Col.1:28,29). I will follow only those preachers who seek to build local churches as functioning expressions of the Body of Christ.

7. He should have raised up at least a few co-workers who have his vision and his spirit. A godly preacher will always be concerned about the testimony of the Lord being preserved in purity in the next generation. Jesus raised up 11 disciples who imbibed His spirit and lived by His standards to carry on His work. Paul raised up Timothy and Titus, who lived by his spirit of humility and selflessness to carry on his work (Phil.2:19-21; 2 Cor.7:13-15). I will follow only those preachers who have raised up at least a few co-workers who have the qualities listed above.

If you are called by God to be a preacher, you must pray that He will anoint you with His Holy Spirit continuously and enable you to have all the qualities listed above, so that you can be an example for others to follow.

In this day of compromise and worldliness in Christendom, we are called to raise the standard of life and ministry, high in the church. May the Lord help us to do that. Amen.

SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2018/2/9 20:58Profile

 Re: The Preachers Whom I Respect and Follow by Zac Poonen

This is a very high standard for a preacher...

It is very rare to find preacher like this holding these characteristics...


 2018/2/9 22:26

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 3348

 Re: Evangeline

I agree! I think Jesus may be the only pastor with those credentials.


 2018/2/9 22:56Profile


Obviously Zac considers himself to have these traits therefore that breaks the humble rule :) So if your not humble then you are proud, oops there goes another. I have met many pastors in my life, some well known on this site and well respected, but they have all been flawed and would fail Zac's list. The one's I have most respected are the one's that what you see on the platform is what you get in private. No airs and graces. The people I have most disliked are those who are "actors," they pretend to be one thing in front of people but there is a very different man that lies behind the mask. They speak in what Tozer used to disparagingly call "pious tones." ..........bro Frank

 2018/2/9 23:48

Joined: 2007/2/15
Posts: 205
NSW Australia

 Re: The Preachers Whom I Respect and Follow by Zac Poonen

I have personally met and spoken to Zac and I have to say he is a very quiet, humble man. I am sure he lives up to the standard he has set here. Infact I do not think it is too high a standard to set, not just for preachers but for anyone that would call themselves a mature follower of Jesus Christ.

The fact we do not expect this way of life from preachers let alone ourselves just goes to show how lackluster true Christianity is in the developed world.

Blessings Steve


 2018/2/10 16:08Profile

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 3348

 Re: Steve

Steve said...The fact we do not expect this way of life from preachers let alone ourselves just goes to show how lackluster true Christianity is in the developed world.

Brother Steve, I personally think all born again Christians do expect this way of life from all Pastors, so I have to disagree with you when you say "the fact we don't expect this way" is not really a fact. Personally I feel you might be a tad bias since you have meet Zac, but if he does hold all the credentials as the post said, when he passes, he will probably be setting at Gods left hand.

Here's a quote from Brother Zac:

“A dog cannot understand multiplication – how three ones when multiplied can still be one: 1x1x1=1. Neither can we understand how God can be Three Persons and yet One God. A dog can understand only another dog. He cannot understand a man fully. In the same way, a god that could be explained and understood by our human reason would only be another man just like ourselves. The very fact that the God of the Bible transcends our reason is the clearest evidence that this is indeed the truth.”

You know whats really heart breaking, there are many younger wonderful pastors today, that get covered up by the old school pastors, they don't get the credit they deserve. I linked a YouTube video the other day from Brother Greg Laurie..."How To Go To Church" it has to be one of the top 3 best sermons I've ever heard in my life, but Brother Greg never gets mentioned here. Is it that only the old school pastors have a clue? Because remember they to were young once, I have nothing against the older pastors, I just don't understand all the noise about all the old ones, maybe someone can clue me in. Personally I think if any of the younger pastors today can still preach the true word of God in today's world, their burden is a lot heavier, because the world has really gone south a lot since the early days.


 2018/2/10 18:36Profile

Joined: 2011/8/20
Posts: 1908

 Re: The Preachers Whom I Respect and Follow by Zac Poonen

I do not see it as a very high standard at all. Which standard emphasized here is not supported by Scripture? Let me tell this, if you need a surgery and you have an option to select the surgeon, who sets a very high standard in Surgery like using sterilized equipment and another who does not sterilize equipment, then who will you select? I am sure none of those who complain that this is very high standard will ever choose a surgeon who does not set a high standard in surgery. This shows that we are more concerned about Physical health than our spiritual health. When it comes to spiritual life, we are content to hear speakers who are not themselves interested in following christ. If we see such articles we complain that it is a very high standard! No wonder scripture clearly says that in the end time there will be those who want ear tickling preachers!

I have personally known Zac Poonen, I do not even consider myself worthy to defend him, nor am I taking any effort to do it. I know all these points are true about him. None of these points are higher than the standard set by scripture and apostles. One thing that stands out about him is, he is not a pleaser of men at all. He will be quick to rebuke his fellow workers if they set their mind on ways of men. He never preaches to please men, the reason he was rejected in India for many years is that he never tried to please men. For a person of such a gift, if he had little bit reduced his standard to please people then he could have become a very powerful Christian leader in India. But he never does. Most of his life was faced with severe poverty while he published his contents for free and never accepted money for service.

Another thing that I find unique about him, is the standard of his cowokers. My own father in law is his coworker. A very Godly man whom I have witnessed at a very close range! I have also worked closely with Zac's Coworkers, I know they all set very high standard in their life. As far as I know all his co-workers ( I have known), will easily pass these standards.


 2018/2/10 22:39Profile

Joined: 2017/7/14
Posts: 1164
Snoqualmie, WA


When I read stuff I like I love it and hate it at the same time.

I love it because the insistance upon Godliness and holiness is right and true, the necessity of bearing good fruit and being an example to the flock is stressed.

I hate it because people reading this sort of thing will think of their own preacher whom they know and have a wayward son or daughter...therefore they are not a preacher.
Some have suffered at the hands of wicked mates who committed adultery and deserted them...they must be not be a true preacher.

As you go through the list you realize that the men God uses are not great and their so-called earned respect is due to the grace-working of God in their lives. So, Brother Zac has only just a few men he can approve and respect.

I don't see Jesus as doing any such thing. Jesus said 'feed my sheep to a failed, betraying peter...after 3 years of ministry and discipleship with Jesus. I see the rest of the disciples are forsaking him.

In Zac's Christian world there is no room for the failures, or the sinners of a bible. The david that wrote psalms...well there's no way Zac can approve or respect an adulterer and conspiritor to murder. That Abraham saved his skin by lying about his wife...yea Pharoah might sleep with her but at least I wont be killed. There is no way Zac could respect him.
Jeremiah had his doubting and painful moments, letting God know I can continue to do this preaching...all they want to do is kill me...and you do nothing about it. That's a failure to remain consistent and shows no example of perseverance under stress. Zac cannot under his criterial accept such a flop.

But we all know Zac accepts all these men because God accepts them. Maybe we would do well to understand that godly men are so not because they are great, but because God is great.

When I read this self-serving litmus test I recognize that all he said is true and needed in the body of Christ...but acceptance and usability by God is not according to this list, it is found in the grace of God given when we were yet enemies and alienated from God.

Nope, keep the list I'll judge for myself according to the Spirit and word who I give respect. My list is larger and Im good with that.


 2018/2/11 14:19Profile


Marvin, your post was a mirror of my thoughts, right down to the same heroes of faith that you mentioned.

"Nope, keep the list I'll judge for myself according to the Spirit and word who I give respect."

Amen, it really does come down to that. Poor old Wesley with his terrible wife who did not even make a profession of faith for 20 years after Wesley was in the ministry, he would be found wanting. Having said all that, I would expect nothing less from any saint than to live an exemplary life and to truly be a witness to a dying world.........bro Frank

 2018/2/11 15:03

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 3348

 Re: Marvin and Frank

Great posts Brother Marvin and Brother Frank, If God would have only used men with Zac’s credentials, one might wonder if we would have ever known the word grace. I’m always trying to “with Gods help” improve myself, but I’m sure not going to live under any bondage of condemnation, while he’s working in me, I’m going to live like he is using me just as I am today. They’re to many different shoes to fill in the old world, and God knows the ones that can fill the shoes to minister to every hurting heart on earth. I don’t care how approved you might be according to man, remember all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a filthy rag; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind, our iniquities sweep us away. That kinda dampens all those good credentials.


 2018/2/11 16:18Profile

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